The character as she appears in Bayonetta
|Created by||Hideki Kamiya|
|Designed by||Mari Shimazaki|
|Voiced by (English)||Hellena Taylor|
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Atsuko Tanaka (Bayonetta: Bloody Fate, Bayonetta 2)|
|Portrayed by||Penny Drake (promotion)|
Bayonetta (Japanese: ベヨネッタ Hepburn: Beyonetta?), real name Cereza, is a fictional character and main protagonist of the video game Bayonetta and its sequel, developed by Platinum Games and published by Sega and Nintendo respectively. She was created by Hideki Kamiya, designed by Mari Shimazaki, and is voiced by Hellena Taylor in English and Atsuko Tanaka in Japanese.
Bayonetta is one of only two surviving Umbran Witches, along with being the child of a Witch and a Lumen Sage. During the first game, she goes in search of her forgotten past, heading for her old home of Vigrid, and fighting the angelic forces of Paradiso on the way. She is also to be main protagonist of Bayonetta 2, and is a downloadable playable character in the 2013 beat 'em up game Anarchy Reigns.
Reception of the character has been positive overall, with the common point of praise being her highly feminine image, which makes her both stand out among female characters in video games and go against several set conventions. However, her sexuality has also been a point of criticism and contention.
Conception and design
Given the suggestion to create another action game by producer Yusuke Hashimoto, project director Hideki Kamiya decided to create a female lead for the title, having felt he had already done all that could be done with male protagonists. To this end, he told character designer Mari Shimazaki to create her with three traits: a female lead, a modern witch, and to use four guns. Her name was inspired by a bayonet, meant to imply there was "more to her than meets the eye", while her four guns were named parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme after the old English ballad, 'Scarborough Fair', due to Kamiya's love of folk music. The process, which took a full year, went through a hundred character designs and alterations, with early appearances resembling a traditional witch, with a frayed black outfit and a "veil-like look" on her head. The outfit color persisted, described by Shimazaki as being her "theme color" due to being a witch. She was given longer legs and arms to make her more appealing as an action-game character, countering what Shimazaki felt was a trend of female characters in such games having short and thin limbs. Her limbs and the rest of her design were appealing to Kamiya, and development proceeded on the character's attire.
Bayonetta's beehive hairstyle was an aspect Shimazaki insisted on, using it as an alternative to the usual pointed hat seen on witches. However despite concerns, Kamiya had no qualms about the hairstyle one way or another. She was additionally given glasses at Kamiya's insistence, intended to differentiate her from other female characters as well as give her a "sense of mystery and intelligence", though Shimazaki attributed it to possibly his preference for women with glasses. Her guns were modeled after a derringer pistol, in order to remain convincing and familiar, as well as to give her weapons "capable of rapid fire; a simple, rugged gun". Kamiya approved the idea, on the grounds that he felt the weapon would look "hot" in a female hand. Holsters were additionally considered for her feet, however the developers discarded the idea after feeling it wasn't feminine.
The concept of creating her outfit out of her hair was intended to fit into her design as a witch, which the development team felt meant she derived power from her hair. It was designed to both be a "means of adornment and protection" while also giving her appear "fashionable" and accentuate the movement of her limbs. During this process it was decided that as she summoned creatures to attack her enemies during the game she would lose partial control of her hair and end up in more "comfortable" attire; Shimazaki noted this as one of the aspects of the character she loved. Kamiya in addition wanted to avoid giving her large breasts and cleavage, feeling that normal sized breasts were adequate and that being mysterious was more attractive than "baring it all". The character's model was created by Kenichiro Yoshimura, who observed non-Japanese models to keep her proportions authentic, giving particular focus to her backside which, as a result, led to it being made wider and more rounded than the typically slim-hipped female characters designed by Japanese artists. While the character Jeanne came to be better liked by most of the team, Bayonetta was Shimazaki's favorite character, while Kamiya referred to her as his "ideal woman".
Her outfit in Bayonetta 2 was again designed by Shimazaki. It was generally designed more around straight lines than curves. All her jewelry and accessories were designed around this initiative apart from her glasses. There was debate about where to show skin, but when it was decided to create a cape at the front of the outfit, the front of her outfit was closed and instead they opted to show a large area of her back. For her new look, blue became a key color as opposed to the first game, where it was red: this was because water was a key theme for the second game and Hashimoto requested blue to become the design's key color. This eventually proved difficult as, combined with the black and silver incorporated into her outfit and the game's general color palette, it did not have the sharp qualities of her former appearance. Shimazaki described trying to make her stand out in her black outfit as "a nightmare". Her overall design theme was "solid". The character's hairstyle underwent a major redesign. Hashimoto's main reason behind this was that "[Bayonetta's] personality is the type that would not want to remain stagnant. She would want to change her style, taste in fashion, and her costumes. Down the line in the series, she may make further changes to her appearance." The texture of her outfit was designed to appear similar to leather, despite it still being made from her hair. Her new guns, Love is Blue, were also difficult to design, as making them too large or too similar in color to other elements of Bayonetta's outfit would not have fitted her. In the end, they were made a more striking shade of blue, as well as being given some gold to match Bayonetta's chestpiece and a silver sheen. Each of the guns, Night, Jealous, Eye and Life, were given antique charms adorned with flower designs and named according to their color and the ideas they evoked to further promote and augment the new look.
Bayonetta is voiced by Hellena Taylor in English and Atsuko Tanaka in Japanese. For the original game, despite production being based in Japan, Kamiya was particular to insist that the character have an English voice actor, and had no Japanese voice actor assigned due to his belief that speaking Japanese would not suit the character. Atsuko Tanaka voices the character in Bayonetta 2 and the anime adaptation of the original Bayonetta. Tanaka also voiced the character in commercials for the original game in 2009. She was chosen due to the fact that her name kept cropping up when the team asked who could best portray the character in Japanese.
Bayonetta was born in Vigrid from the forbidden union of a Lumen Sage called Father Balder and an Umbran Witch: the Witch was imprisoned and the Sage exiled from his clan. Bayonetta's birth caused a rift between the formally peaceful clans and eventually led to them engaging in a war. Bayonetta became a black sheep among the Umbran Witches, and during the war, Jeanne, a former childhood friend and rival, seals her away from the world while wiping her memory to protect her from those who would exploit her. For the next five hundred years, she is sealed in a coffin at the bottom of a lake. She is later rescued, at Father Balder's instructions, by a journalist, who is then killed by Balder's angels as his son, Luka, looks on.
In Bayonetta, the witch sets out for her hometown of Vigrid, where Father Balder is preparing to awaken the creator Jubileus and trigger the creation of a new world at the cost of the old one. She is followed there by a now grown-up Luka, who himself has become a journalist and has set out to show Bayonetta to the world, as an act of vengeance for her supposed part in his father's death. She also encounters Jeanne, who is under Balder's control, and Cereza, Bayonetta's younger self sent through time by the Lumen Sage. Cereza and Bayonetta become close, with Cereza thinking Bayonetta was her mother and Bayonetta eventually telling Cereza that she should keep things she treasured close to her heart (referring specifically to a charm Cereza's mother had given her as a birthday present). Eventually, Bayonetta learns the truth of recent events after defeating Balder and sending Cereza back to her own era: the "Left Eye" is actually Bayonetta herself, and regaining her memories allowed her to awaken her latent power. By bringing Cereza into the present, Balder set events into motion that would prevent Bayonetta from forgetting her past when Jeanne sealed her away. Knocked unconscious by the awakening of her power, Bayonetta is sealed within Jubileus by Balder, only to be rescued by Jeanne, newly freed from the Lumen Sage's control. Together, the two destroy Jubileus and save the world.
In Bayonetta 2, a few months after the events of the first game, Bayonetta and Jeanne are fighting an outbreak of angels when a demon summoning goes wrong and Jeanne is killed by Gomorrah. Bayonetta then sets out to rescue Jeanne's soul from hell, heading to the sacred mountain of Fimbulvinter to find the doorway to Inferno.
At the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Sega chose Penny Drake to model as Bayonetta after auditioning 100 women. To promote the character and the game, Playboy featured several models dressed as her for viewers to vote which they considered the best. Sega also joined men's lifestyle website Maxim.com to run a contest to find women who looked like Bayonetta; the grand prize winner was Andrea Bonaccorso.
Bayonetta starred in the animated film Bayonetta: Bloody Fate, an adaptation of the first Bayonetta game. She also appears as a downloadable character in Sega's multiplayer fighting game Anarchy Reigns, and as a special guest character alongside Jeanne and Rodin in Nintendo's action game The Wonderful 101.
Critical response to Bayonetta's character has been mainly positive. Computer and Video Games praised her as more interesting than the game's storyline, describing her as the "sexiest collection of pixels [they've] ever seen", though not a character they considered a sex object. They further compared her to "Lara Croft without the prudishness, Rubi from Wet played with honest sexuality", and one of the most memorable characters they'd seen. GamesRadar stated the character deserved plenty of respect, describing her as "sexy, witty and can certainly handle herself in a fight" and further named her one of the game's most positive points as she "kicks all sorts of ass and is funny too." GamePro felt that the character's "overt sexuality and frantic anime-inspired shenanigans" hampered the game's presentation, adding they would have enjoyed the character more if less focus had been put on her sexuality. IGN's Ryan Clements described the character as a "hardcore badass" that was also "brimming with sexual energy", further describing her as an "immensely powerful protagonist". However, associate editor Nicole Tanner disagreed, noting she did not find the character's sexuality at all empowering as "just because you give a girl an attitude and guns isn't enough to offset what she looks like". Other members of IGN's staff named her their favorite video game character, describing her as "the playfulness and versatility of Dante" combined with "visually inventive combat". They cited her constant nudity as a point of appeal, calling the mechanic of her hair serving as her clothing both one of the stupidest and one of the coolest elements of a character.
In 2012, the staff of GamesRadar ranked her as the 100th best hero in video games. The same site later lister her as the 17th best character from her generation. Larry Hester of Complex ranked her as the 19th hottest video game character in 2012, and as the 20th "most badass" video game character of all time in 2013. On the other hand, Marissa Meli of UGO included the "transvestite witch" Bayonetta in her 2010 list of top 20 "unsexiest sexy" video game characters. Lisa Foiles of The Escapist named Bayonetta's boots as the craziest footwear in video games, saying she was "totally okay with the absurdity of these."
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