By Josh Speer / October 14th, 2014
So I previously did a Building Character article on the most naughty, lascivious character in the Senran Kagura universe. While it was a lot of fun talking about why I liked Haruka so much, and why she is more than a drool-inducing minx, I felt it would be even more of a challenge to discuss the most innocent character in the series – Hibari! When you start the game, Hibari frankly seems like a complete ditz. She trips over her own feet, accidentally gets into trouble and generally makes a mess of things. Worse yet, she has ridiculously low self-esteem and seems to be the weakest fighter at the Hanzo Academy. So, why is it I find her so compelling? Quite frankly, it’s because of her amazing internal strength of character and utter determination to improve herself.
Like I said above, Hibari starts out as a bit of a mess. It’s not cause she’s stupid, though it may seem that way initially. Hibari is just the definition of the word “innocent” – she’s trusting to a fault, and completely lacking confidence. Early in her story, this leads her to lean heavily on Yagyu, treating her as a older sister of sorts. Though Hibari initially is seemingly rejected by the dispassionate umbrella wielder, it later turns out that Yagyu has a hidden wellspring of affection that Hibari’s childlike demeanor brings out. Though Yagyu starts out stronger, Hibari quickly matches her strength for strength after many trials and tribulations. The pink-haired cutie refuses to give up, and treats each failure as just another stepping stone on the path to greater strength. This is in stark contrast to many of the other girls, who start out strong, but suffer from other neuroses.
Perhaps the best thing about Hibari is her kindness. She may be a bit ditzy, but she treats everyone with kindness and respect. Even her foes from the Hebijo Academy — who are the sworn enemies of Hanzo — she treats with compassion, even when they give her little reason to do so. An especially apparent example is Haruka, who becomes dangerously obsessed with Hibari and treats her as her own adorable little doll, even threatening to make her a real doll by sealing her forever in a plastic shell. Even her, Hibari treats with human decency, and it’s this act that eventually softens Haruka’s heart and makes her a better human being.
Another reason I love Hibari is her spastic fighting style. Her Ninpo makes use of the power of rabbits, and she even summons one to aid her in battle. While rabbits might not sound like the most fierce spirit animal, especially when compared to a phoenix, squid, dragon or snake, Hibari takes this unique fighting style and makes it truly her own. Nobody in the game fights quite like her, and the only way I can describe it is that her fighting style resembles a nitro-powered kitten. She bounces around, pummeling foes with rapid fire kicks and punches, not doing much initially, but eventually resulting in huge accumulated damage. It’s always a blast to play the game as her, and I find her style a true joy. Especially her ludicrous Special Attacks, such as growing giant and falling on her foes. She might not be the most balanced, but she sure is the hardest to predict and counter.
When all is said and done, I think I like Hibari most because she is a delightful mix of good and bad traits. Her clumsiness and innocence bring out the best in people, and her determination to better herself is truly an inspiration. Sure she’s an airhead a lot of the time, and completely unaware of danger, but ultimately she defines herself as the heart and soul of Hanzo Academy. For any that look at this series and think it’s only about T & A, they should truly reconsider. It’s really about the complex girls from both Hanzo and Hebijo Academy, and they are each deserving of having their tales told. If you haven’t played Senran Kagura Burst already, perhaps you might be interested in trying out Shinovi Versus this month. As for me, I’m going to play through Hibari’s story one more time.
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