By Andrew Mathieu / March 8th, 2016
In celebration of International Women’s Day, several oprainfall staff have chosen their favorite female gaming and anime characters. Whether they were the star of their respective franchise, an ally to the main protagonist or a cool side character, these women run the gamut throughout gaming history. Without further ado, here are some of oprainfall’s favorite female game and anime characters.
Princess Peach (Super Mario Series)
It’s hard for me to think about awesome female game characters without bringing up the matriarch of the Mushroom Kingdom. I’ve always thought Princess Peach was an awesome character, she’s sweet, resilient, beautiful, and just a whole lot of fun. Despite being a damsel in distress for most of here gaming career, I’ve never let that define everything about her character. Peach never seemed like the type of character that is all that distressful. In several of the Mario RPGs she never just sits on the sidelines. Whether it’s helping Mario search of the Legendary Stars in Super Mario RPG, trying to sabotage her kidnappers’ plans in Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door, or grabbing her parasol to know some sense into Count Blek in Super Paper Mario, Peach isn’t just waiting around to be rescued.
I also just love Peach’s look. I mean, seeing her hop along with Mario, Luigi, and Toad in Super Mario 3D World with her crown, dress, and heels holding her back is just awesome to me. She’s just a pleasant character. I know she’s not realistic, but she doesn’t have to be. There’s no need to modernize Peach because she’s already pretty adaptable. As one of the most iconic characters in gaming, I have no problem calling Princess Peach my favorite female game character.
Colette (Tales of Symphonia)
Tales of Symphonia was my favorite RPG on Nintendo Gamecube. Out of all the games in the Tales series, I haven’t enjoyed a group of characters more than the ones in Symphonia. One of the characters just so happens to be one of my favorite in gaming: Colette. Colette is interesting in that, despite being an accomplished fighter with a tremendous amount of spirit, is also unbelievably kind-hearted and understanding. Not only does she complement series protagonist Lloyd really well, but she’s great in her own right. Without giving too much away from the game’s story, Colette is incredibly important to the future of her world, and willingly goes to great lengths to save it. She is the living embodiment of a hero, no question.
One thing I love so much about Tales of Symphonia is that the characters drive the story, not the other way around, and Colette is a central figure of that story. She may not be able to get as far as she does without her amazing friends, but she wouldn’t have gotten very far at all if she were not such an amazing character.
Starlow (Mario and Luigi series)
Starlow, a floating, talkative star sprite, made her debut in Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story. She played a Navi-esque role, following the series heroes, along with Bowser, to help save the Mushroom Kingdom. Since then, she’s been a series mainstay, rare of original Mario RPG characters, helping the duo along in Dream Team, and most recently Paper Jam.
I always thought Starlow was a fun character. Since Mario and Luigi are mostly mute, having a character keep them on track and interact with other characters is a fun role. I also really like Starlow’s interactions with Luigi, since she is all to familiar with his second fiddle status and teases him for it every now and then. On of my favorite dialogue sequences in Dream Team is when a denizen of the dream realm comments on Starlow’s nakedness, with Starlow taking offense and pointing out that she’s clearly wearing shoes, and even asks Mario and Luigi to back her up. Like I said, she’s just a fun character!
Lightning (Final Fantasy XIII trilogy)
Lightning, the sole protagonist for Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, the narrator for Final Fantasy XIII-2, and a guest character for Final Fantasy XIV‘s event “Lightning Strikes” and the Dissidia series, is a female character that grows from a cold-hearted and distant person into a compassionate individual who trusts others over the course of the Final Fantasy XIII franchise.
Rather than falling into the all-too-common trope of being a girl in need of rescue, Lightning first helps to lead the effort to rescue the orbiting moon of Cocoon from destruction, and then goes on to later fulfill the role of ‘God’s savior’ to save all of the people who inhabit the planet below of Grand Pulse from the imminent end of that world.
Ordinarily, that is more than what any one person to handle. However, Lightning manages to, without losing her very dry (albeit serious) sense of humor and sarcasm, do it all successfully.
That is why she is a great and powerful character, and one of the best examples of a female character that video games has to offer.
Neptune (Hyperdimension Neptunia series)
Neptune, The Console Patron Goddess of Planeptune may seem a bit lazy at first glance. She doesn’t like to work and would rather spend her days gaming and eating snacks. However she never hesitates to get job done when it comes to helping a friend or saving the world. Her ability to keep a cheerful disposition in the darkest is of times is a trait I think all of us wish we had. Throw in the fact she is a total bad ass with a sword and the protagonist of protagonist and you have one of the best women in gaming.
Nadia/Marle (Chrono Trigger)
Princess Nadia of Guardia bored with her very restrictive royal life assume the identity of Marle and sneaks out of the castle to attend Millennial Fair. There she meets our young, silent hero Chrono. There their adventures begin. She is never one to shy away from trouble and usually meets it head on. Chrono may save her early on, but she returns the favor later in one of the most touching scenes in gaming history.
Mirai (Senran Kagura Burst)
Being one of the youngest in the elite group of Hebijo Ninjas. Mirai joins the group after suffering some horrible bullying at the hands of her classmates. Here she finds herself some great friends that are willing to stand by her. After some unfortunate events occur she feels she will only endanger them if she stays, so she decides to run away. After giving Hikage quite a shock they find her and convince her to come home. She finds that true strength is not always about taking revenge but by having great friends and a place to belong she is much more powerful than they will ever be.
Major Kusanagi (Ghost in the Shell series)
Possibly the most famous woman in anime, and famously badass, is Major Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell. It is interesting that in the age of cybernetics, when biologically evolved strength does not matter any more. Masamune chose to have a woman be the baddest bot on the block. She is both intimidating on an intellectual level, and also as a device of destruction.
When it comes to picking out our favourite woman/girl/heroine in the realm of pop culture it generally comes down to a few factors: strength, badassittude, sexiness. Usually strength wins out and the woman conquers all by toppling the evil regime, destroying the alien threat, bringing about peace to her people and mainly saving the world. Usually the ‘softer’ personality traits are secondary and eclipsed by strength. For instance, Terra struggles with her Esper self and the damage she has caused in her past but she is able to overcome her what she was and turn into the hero she was meant to be. But Terra is not my choice for this list…
I want to showcase someone with flaws that don’t just disappear, someone who doesn’t save the universe, someone who regrets and makes mistakes, someone doesn’t end up just a love interest or a bad ass, basically someone who is ‘normal’. This is a character that is just a voice in the trees and is never seen. It’s not a wood nymph or a spirit or anything like that; it’s a regular Jane working a not so regular job. And while her story is not as dramatic as her namesakes’, you can see some of the Biblical references come through if you squint hard enough to the horizon to her ranger’s cabin.
Delilah is the manager of a number of fire lookouts in Campo Santos game Firewatch. And much like the main character Henry, she’s gone to the Wyoming wilderness to escape the shadows of her past. While she does act like a mentor figure, it doesn’t stop her from her vices; she drinks and curses, teases and prods, lies and steals. But she also cares about her rangers and develops a real and deep friendship with the protagonist. She just isn’t there as an ear to Henry’s troubles as she stumbles through her own hardships and history.
Her voice actor, Cissy Jones, nails the sarcastic humour and charming banter of Delilah. Through her stories of her strained relationship with her pot addicted sister (while being ironically unaware of her own struggles with the bottle) and her tales of her overgenerous nature with one of the ex-lookout’s nerdy son you see the humanity behind her cool demeanor.
She was my friend and my guide through the forests and potential blazes of Firewatch. I wanted to meet her in person, both in-game and in real life. But she was always out of reach. She wasn’t my saviour and disappeared at hard times. She wasn’t my BFF or wasn’t always the best company. But she was there, and she cared, and she was damaged. Delilah can be strong at times, but that isn’t her defining feature and she is my choice for my favourite female character in video games.
We also took to Twitter to see what characters fans wanted to celebrate. Here are the tweets!
@oprainfall All the gals in Xenosaga. Shion gets shit done!
— GarbageTierAnt-P (@Nicalrant) March 8, 2016
@oprainfall FF6 Terra, FF13 Lightning, Rise, Miku, Ayesha Altugle, DOA's Helena/Leifang/Tina, Samus, Bayonetta, Shiki/Ryouna from Senran.
— Magitek Mike (@Mike_Nieto) March 8, 2016
@oprainfall Yoko Shimomura, Michiru Yamane, Miki Higashino, & Yuki Kajiura. Some of the best game composers out there and all badass ladies!
— ndoto (@ndoto) March 8, 2016
@oprainfall Katsuragi from Senran, Heather Mason, Rebecca Chambers, Samus Aran, Ayane from Dead or Alive, Beyonetta, Lulu from FFX, Vert.
— Zaku (@Katsu_Dude) March 8, 2016
@oprainfall INCLUDE SUPER SONICO.
Fiora from Xenoblade, Elma from Xenoblade X, KOS-MOS, Bayonetta, and Ayane from DOA
— Giany / ジャンニ (@CptWiggleFuffle) March 8, 2016
@oprainfall Jade from BGE, Princess Daisy, who doesn't deserve the hate, and Gretchen, my Xenoblade X avatar.
— Internet's PanurgeJr (@PanurgeJr) March 8, 2016
@oprainfall Aya Brea frm Parasite Eve, Samus Aran frm Metroid, Princess Peach frm Super Mario Bros, Noire frm Neptunia, Tohsaka Rin frm Fate
— heavens_feel (@heavens_feel) March 8, 2016
— SuperGamerGuy64 (@SuperGamerGuy64) March 8, 2016
Last but not least, I’d like to showcase tweets from game and anime publishers and developers celebrating International Women’s Day. Thanks to everyone who contributed, and let us know what your favorite female game or anime character is in the comments!
— BioWare (@bioware) March 8, 2016
— KOEI TECMO AMERICA (@KoeiTecmoUS) March 8, 2016
It's Women's Day! Take a moment celebrate all of the badass women in your life. pic.twitter.com/aVjTlx5Ji0
— NecroDancer (@NecroDancerGame) March 8, 2016
— Manga US (@mangacom) March 8, 2016
— Rayman (@RaymanGame) March 8, 2016
— Funimation (@FUNimation) March 9, 2016
— Ebba (@Rumpenstiltzkin) March 8, 2016
Final Fantasy XIIIHyperdimension NeptuniaInternational Women's DayPrincess PeachSenran Kagura (series)