Kasumi (Dead or Alive)

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Kasumi
Dead or Alive character
Kasumi (Dead or Alive).png
First game Dead or Alive (arcade) (1996)[1]
Created by Tomonobu Itagaki
Voiced by (English) Lucy Kee (DOA2)[2][3]
Kari Wahlgren (DOAX2-Dimensions)[2]
Lauren Landa (DOA5-present)[2]
Amanda Troop (DOAD (Alpha-152))[2][4]
Voiced by (Japanese) Sakura Tange (DOA-DOA2, DOAD (Alpha and Alpha-152))[2][3]
Houko Kuwashima (DOA3-present)[2]
Portrayed by Mari Shimomura ("DOA in Hawaii")[5]
Devon Aoki (DOA: Dead or Alive)
Fictional profile
Birthplace Japan
Fighting style Mugen Tenshin Ninjutsu (Tenjin Mon style)[6]
Weapon Wakizashi (Dead or Alive)
Katana and kunai (Ninja Gaiden)
Occupation Runaway shinobi[6]

Kasumi (Japanese: かすみ?, also written as 霞, meaning "mist") is a player character and the prime protagonist in the Dead or Alive fighting game series by Team Ninja and Tecmo (Tecmo Koei). Kasumi has served as the lead character of the Dead or Alive franchise since its premiere in 1996; she was the official protagonist in the first two games in the series. She is also a main character in the film DOA: Dead or Alive in which she was portrayed by Devon Aoki.

According to the games' canon, Kasumi, also known as "the Kunoichi of Destiny", is a teenage female ninja skilled in the Tenjin Mon (天神門?) style of Mugen Tenshin (霧幻天神流?) ninjutsu. In the games' storyline, Kasumi leaves her clan and becomes an outcast, and she is pursued by her younger half-sister Ayane. There are several Dead or Alive player and boss characters who are clones of her.

Kasumi is a symbol of the Dead or Alive franchise and is the personal favourite of Team Ninja's founder and the series' creator Tomonobu Itagaki. She has been the subject of various merchandise and was used to promote the Xbox consoles in Japan. Kasumi has become a popular sex symbol in video game culture and an iconic ninja character and has attracted controversy involving sexualization and the use of underage female characters in video games.

Appearances[edit]

In video games[edit]

Dead or Alive series[edit]

Kasumi is the main character[7][8] and protagonist of the first two games in the series.[9] She and her brother Hayate are the respected heirs apparent of their clan, the Mugen Tenshin. According to the series' backstory, she was destined to become the 18th Master of the Mugen Tenshin ninja clan when Hayate was left comatose after an attack by their renegade uncle Raidou. On a personal quest of revenge, Kasumi fled to enter the Dead or Alive tournament and defeat Raidou, becoming an outlaw and outcast to her clan.[10][11] Kasumi kills Raidou and avenges Hayate, winning the first DOA tournament.

After the Dead or Alive 1 World Combat Championship, she is abducted by Dead or Alive Tournament Executive Committee (DOATEC)'s Super Human Development Project,[6] which uses her genes to create a clone called Kasumi Alpha as part of its project to develop supersoldiers. Kasumi escapes, defeats her clone and attempts to return to her village; but she is banished because a dishonored ninja cannot rejoin their clan. She is labeled a traitor because leaving the village is punishable by death, and she is constantly hunted by assassins.[11] Despite this, she still wishes to see Hayate—the clan's leader—and half-sister Ayane, and she enters the third tournament to meet them for the last time.[10]

She eventually meets her brother, and after trying to persuade him to forget DOATEC and return to the Mugen Tenshin village with her, she is attacked by Ayane, but is victorious. Kasumi follows Hayate to the DOATEC Tri-Tower to confront Helena Douglas, who has taken control of DOATEC. Kasumi fights her way past Helena and heads for the laboratory to destroy her powerful clone, the Alpha-152. Kasumi fights to the best of her ability, but Alpha-152 escapes in the chaos caused by a Mugen Tenshin attack. Upon spotting Helena entering the blazing helipad, Kasumi risks her life trying to intervene, but Ayane prevents her and saves Kasumi's life seconds before the building explodes.

Kasumi returns in Dead or Alive 5, where she is unable to return to her village, lives on the run and continues to be a target.[12] Kasumi joins forces with Helena to find Alpha-152, refusing help from other characters, including her brother. After defeating her clone, she is attacked and killed by Hayate and Ayane. However, it is revealed that she was an Alpha clone programmed to believe she is the original, while the real Kasumi is in Japan with Ninja Gaiden's Muramasa at a hidden village. Kasumi receives a message from the ninja master Ryu Hayabusa, telling her that Hayate is in danger and she is needed in battle. She reaches the oil platform where her brother is, and discovers a secret laboratory belonging to Victor Donovan's new organization, MIST. Kasumi finds that he has created several Alpha clones to sell to the militaries of powerful countries. She frees Hayate, who helps her, Ayane and Ryu destroy Alpha-152 and the laboratory. Afterwards, Kasumi decides to find Donovan and defeat him.

Kasumi clones[edit]

According to the series' storyline, DOATEC uses Kasumi's DNA to create many clones as part of its Project Alpha, which aims to create a perfect fighter. The first of these to appear in the series was Kasumi Alpha (カスミα (アルファ) Kasumi Arufa?), which appeared as Kasumi wearing a crimson ninja suit. Kasumi Alpha is a boss character in Dead or Alive 2 and also appears in Dead or Alive Ultimate. She is defeated by Kasumi and the project undergoes another phase known as Project Alpha-2. Most of Kasumi's capters in the story more of Dead or Alive 5 are actually following her another, unknowing clone.

Kasumi's clone Alpha-152 in Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate

The character was later redesigned to appear as a translucent, liquid-like form of Kasumi—the ultimate stage of Alpha series human weapons known as Alpha-152 (アルファ・イチゴーニ Arufa Ichi-gō-ni?), who "detests all things and her goal is only to destroy."[13] At the end of Dead or Alive 4, Alpha-152 flees DOATEC's Tri-Tower after a brief fight with Kasumi. Although not designed as one by Itagaki,[14] Alpha-152 is known as a very challenging final boss[15] in several characters' story mode and the time attack mode in DOA4, and is an especially difficult opponent for slower characters.[13][16] Alpha-152 can be unlocked as a playable character in Dead or Alive Dimensions. She returns in Dead or Alive 5,[17] in which she can be unlocked again as a playable character.[18][19] In the story mode of DOA5, Alpha-152 is again the last opponent. She takes on Kasumi's exact form and can also transform into Ayane, Hayate and Ryu during the final battle.

Phase 4 (フェーズ・フォー Fēzu Fō?) has first appeared in Dead or Alive 5 during the story mode's introduction cutscene, where she attacks Bayman's team. She was announced to debut a playable character in the Arcade version of Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate, after which she is going to be made available as downloadable content (DLC) in console version after with the new character Marie Rose. Unlike the other clones, Phase 4 wants to live as a human being. She has her own, very different[20] fighting style, which mixes the moves of Kasumi and Ayane.[21] According to Joystiq, Phase 4's various costumes "bear the trademark hyper-sexuality that Team Ninja infuses into all of its games" but "generally revolve around a hood, making her the most brooding, angsty version of Kasumi to date."[22]

Other games[edit]

Kasumi appears in the 2003 sports video game Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball (DOAX). Kasumi is invited to a fourth DOA tournament; upon arriving she discovers the invitation is a hoax, and she and the game's other characters play beach volleyball. Kasumi also appears in the sequel, Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 (2006), and in the portable version Dead or Alive Paradise (2010). She also appears in the iPhone game The Girls of Dead or Alive: Blackjack (2009) as a blackjack dealer.[23]

Dead or Alive: Code Chronos, a DOA series' prequel game which was to feature Kasumi and Ayane, was cancelled in 2010 following Itagaki's departure from Tecmo. In 2003, Itagaki said, "the fact that we registered this trademark for Kasumi-den should tell you that we have a big plan for it."[24] Kasumi appears as a playable character in the 2012 action game Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, which was made available as free DLC for the Wii U,[25] and was included in the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions. In it, she is armed with a long sword and kunais and by default wears hooded black armor with a scarf.[26] The player can also select three of her costumes from DOA5.[27] In 2013, Kasumi appeared in the smart phone action card game Hyakuman-nin no Ninja Gaiden,[28] in which Hitomi from Dead or Alive and Rio from Rio: Rainbow Gate! also appear dressed in Kasumi's DOA costumes.[29][30]

Kasumi makes a cameo appearance in 2009's Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 wearing a new outfit. Kasumi also appears as an optionally playable monster in the games Monster Rancher 2 (1999) and Monster Rancher 4 (2003). Her blue ninja outfit is an unlockable costume for Arin in Super Swing Golf (2006) and Super Swing Golf: Season 2 (2007),[31][32] and is an alternative costume of Mio Amakura in the Director's Cut version of Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly for the Xbox (2004). Kasumi also appears as a playable character in Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate (2013),[33][34] where she suddenly falls through a space-time distortion while pursuing Alpha-152 and arrives in another world wearing her standard costume and armed with a short sword.[35] Sega's free-to-play game Samurai & Dragons added a rare Kasumi card in 2013.[36][37] Her costume is also available for character avatars in Koei's social browser game My GAMECITY.

Character design[edit]

Kasumi is 5 feet 2 inches (1.57 m) and weighs 106 pounds (48 kg).[38] She wears many costumes in the series, including female ninja outfits, feminine casual clothes, Japanese schoolgirl uniform[39][40] and bikinis. Her hair has been variously blonde, auburn and red. According to IGN, she had the best outfits of the characters in Dead or Alive Ultimate—the expanded compilation of the first two DOA games—in which "she looks great and her outfits are fantastic."[38] Jim Sterling of Destructoid claimed that a new costume in Dead or Alive: Dimensions was "upsetting fans" when the game was announced in 2010.[41]

Like the other female characters in the Dead or Alive franchise, Kasumi was designed with large breasts; her official measurements are 35-21-33.[38] She was the youngest character in the original version of the first game.[42] When asked if he was comfortable with sexualizing a 17-year-old female, the character's designer Tomonobu Itagaki answered, "In Japan, that's okay. Maybe it's 20 in America."[43] He also said, "I was 27 when I created Kasumi. I'm older now, but 17-year-old girls are still gorgeous."[44] Multiple books used her and Lara Croft as examples of the characters embodying "unique aesthetic for perfection" - a hyperreal, exaggerated 'hyperbody'.[45][46][47]

Itagaki described Kasumi as "very soft". The Dead or Alive series contributed its character Ayane, rather than Kasumi, for a cameo appearance in 2004's Ninja Gaiden because Kasumi did not fit with the game's "very hard-edged" basis. Itagaki said, "DOA is based on a 'softer' concept, and she is rather symbolic of the game as a whole".[48] He said that if Ninja Gaiden had featured Kasumi, it would have become less a "story of [Ryu] Hayabusa and ninjas" and more a story of Kasumi ("Kasumi-den") and a "DOA action game".[49] Itagaki said he is "a fan of Kasumi" and called her his favorite DOA character.[50][24][51] He said he felt "responsible for her" and was "very close to her".[44] When hackers found a way to remove her clothing in DOA2, Itagaki felt this "was an attack on her".[43] Tecmo's lawyers sued software company West Side, the authors of the hack, for violating Kasumi's dignity, and won the case[52] and damages of two million yen (over US$20,000).[53] Kasumi's nude model can be also accessed using a GameShark cheat device in the DreamCast version of the game.[54]

In 2012, 16 years after her debut appearance, Kasumi was redesigned to look less cartoon-like and more realistic with a "grown up" appearance in DOA5.[55] The game's art director Yuta Saito said, "From DOA4 we wanted to evolve the characters in a slightly realistic direction. The most difficult, and you don't have to ask, is Kasumi. Kasumi is the face of DOA and the eternal heroine. And for such a popular character like Kasumi, to change her form we really needed a lot of courage and it really was a big challenge. But if we didn't do that, we couldn't make DOA5 and we wouldn't be able to show you anything."[56] GamesRadar noted that "the manga influences on her facial features—while still apparent—have been scaled right back [a]nd her boobs seem less ludicrously unmanageable."[56]

Gameplay[edit]

Beyond her dazzling beauty, Kasumi combines powerful kick attacks and great speed, with some of the best punch and kick combinations in the game. With good throws to complement her punches and kicks, no player - scrub or master - can go wrong with Kasumi.

IGN's guide to Dead or Alive 3[57]

According to GameSpy's guide to Dead or Alive Ultimate by Andrew Alfonso, Kasumi's key moves in Dead or Alive 2 include high kicks and a cartwheel attack, which is perfect against low attackers.[58] In this game, her tag team partner is Ryu Hayabusa.[59] She was the second most popular character among online players of Ultimate, after Ayane.[60] In GameSpy's guide for Dead or Alive 3, Anthony Chau wrote "Kasumi's all-around game combined with her quickness makes her one of the best fighters for any level of player. Strong stunning attacks, great combinations, and her speed, she's got it all." In DOA3, "Kasumi's got some very good long-range attacks; combined with her speed and she's able to hit opponents from a good distance away," especially since many of her attacks can stun with one hit, allowing her "to deliver her great punch and kick combinations, regarded by some as being the best in the game," that are especially dangerous since many of them end in a powerful launching attack. In addition, "to balance her great speed and superb punch-kick combination game, Kasumi also can throw with the best of them." Chau opined Kasumi is a good tag team partner for any fighter, but especially for Ryu, Bass, Helena and Ayane.[61] GamesRadar US recommended that "beginners should start with Kasumi because she's got some nice combos"[62] and IGN called her "a great character for any level of player; novices will certainly enjoy her easy mechanics, while master players will find some of the most evil combinations in the game with Kasumi."[57]

According to Prima Games' official guide for Dead or Alive 4 by Bryan Dawson, in this game Kasumi is "faster than ever" and her techniques have been modified considerably; she was ranked overall 8/10, while her clone Alpha-152 was ranked 10/10.[13] In GameSpot's guide to DOA4, Matthew Rorie wrote Kasumi is "an interesting character for many reasons. While she doesn't rely on brute strength to get the job done, she has a dizzying array of quick strikes and more than a few teleportation moves to dazzle your opponents and pull them off guard, allowing you to sneak behind them and attack from the rear, or just confuse them mightily."[63] In GameSpy's guide to DOA4, David McCutcheon wrote that "Kasumi is a very well-rounded character that is diverse in usefulness," that she "can be a pure powerhouse character outside of her looks that will certainly drive the point across even to the most defensive of fighters," and that novice players might especially appreciate her very accessible high combos.[64] In an official description of Kasumi in Dead or Alive 5, she uses "beautiful yet varied attacks executed at a high speed that few can guard against."[12]

In the Dead or Alive Xtreme beach volleyball series, Kasumi has excellent technique and jump abilities, but average speed and defense, and very low power.[65] According to Official Xbox Magazine, "Kasumi has almost the exact same strengths as Ayane [excellent at long spikes, digging, and soft dinks], but she's even weaker at the net. She must be partnered with a good spiker and kept in the back whenever possible."[66] Shelby Reiches of Cheat Code Central wrote Kasumi's fighting style in Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge "appears to fall somewhere between the more acrobatic Ayane and Ryu’s baseline swordsmanship" but she also "brings rampant teleportation and a focused, laser-like Ninpo [magic attacks] to the table."[25] David Lynch of X360 opined all the "girls" of Razor's Edge (Ayane, Kasumi and Momiji) are "just as deadly" as Ryu has always been in the Ninja Gaiden series.[67]

Other appearances[edit]

In film[edit]

Devon Aoki role as Kasumi in the film DOA: Dead or Alive was met with largely negative reception

Kasumi appeared as a lead character in the 2006 action-comedy film DOA: Dead or Alive, which is loosely based on the game series. In it, she was played by Devon Aoki, an American actress of mixed ethnicity who has previously portrayed the ninja Miho in the film Sin City. Itagaki later expressed a preference for a Japanese actress, ideally Kumiko Gotoh, but had no authority over the casting process.[68] Aoki said about Kasumi: "Yes, she's pretty badass ... and she's a princess. She's never been outside the palace walls. She's been very, very sheltered, because she's a princess and that's the way it is ... until the point where she actually decides to leave, she's basically been pretty sheltered but she's a capable fighter."[69]

According to Kung Fu Tai Chi, DOA: Dead or Alive "focuses its pugilistic mayhem on the eye-candy surrounding the mythos of Princess Kasumi".[70] In the movie, Kasumi escapes her clan and joins the tournament upon receiving an invitation. She fights against Leon and wins. Later, Kasumi stabs the villain Victor Donovan with an acupuncture needle. He is paralyzed and perishes in an explosion. In the end, she goes home with her brother despite being a runaway shinobi, but has to fight against her clan with her new friends to be allowed to stay.

In the 2002 comedy film Run Ronnie Run, the character Jerry Trellis plays Dead or Alive 2 Hardcore as Kasumi in two different scenes in the film. He later uses some of her moves in real life.

Promotion and merchandise[edit]

Kasumi has been featured in a wide range of merchandise, including figurines, statuettes and action figures that have been released by Tecmo,[71] Sega,[72] Kaiyodo,[73] Max Factory,[74] Kotobukiya,[75][76][77][78] Takara,[79] wall scrolls,[80] and others. One figure was bundled with a special edition of Dead or Alive Paradise for the PlayStation Portable;[81] another exclusive figure was bundled with the magazine Hobby Japan in 2010.[82] Some Kasumi figures can be stripped down to their underwear[83] or stripped topless.[84]

"Kasumi-chan Blue" Xbox special limited edition

Other items include an Xbox 360 face plate,[85] a PSP protective cover,[81] a "3D breasts" gel mousepad[86][87] and a "3D" mug,[88] trading cards,[89] a Dead or Alive 5 arcade stick by Hori decorated with a graphic of Ayane and Kasumi,[90][91] a "squishy pillow",[5] and a lifesize 160-centimetre (5.2-foot) dakimakura "love pillow"[5][92][93] which was bundled by Microsoft with the 5,000-unit "Kasumi-chan Blue" limited edition batch of Xbox consoles sold in Japan with a matching Xbox Controller.[94][95][96][97] Kasumi and Hitomi were also used in a iPhone digital clock application Bijin Tokei[98] and a Dead or Alive voice clock was bundled with a figure of either Kasumi or Ayane.[5][99] In 2007, Side A: Love! Kasumi was released as one of two picture books to mark DOA's tenth anniversary;[100] Kasumi-themed credit cards were also released.[101] Dead or Alive 4 pre-orders in Japan included bonuses marketed as "the most beautiful slipcase in the world" and "the most beautiful poster in the world", the case having an almost-naked Kasumi on one side and Ayane in her standard fighting outfit on the other.[102]

Dead or Alive 5 pre-order bonuses included an exclusive Kasumi-themed iPhone case from the online retailer ShopTo.Net.[103] Merchandise released for DOA5 include another Kasumi-themed 3D mousepad[104] and body pillow cases.[105] Kasumi was featured on the covers of Dead or Alive 5 Postcard School Calendar 2013[106] and on 2005's comic anthology companion for Dead or Alive Ultimate.[107] Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate "Kasumi-chan Blue" limited edition includes Kasumi-themed 3D mousepad, playing cards, lifesize tapestry and bath poster; the game's collector's edition also contains a Kasumi 3D mousepad and playing cards.[108] She is one of four playable characters available in the 2013 free-to-play game Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate: Core Fighters,[109] and free downloadable costumes for Kasumi were offered as pre-order bonuses for the full version of DOA5 Ultimate at Amazon.[110] First-print copies of Tecmo Koei's Musou Orochi 2 Ultimate (Japanese version of Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate) were bundled with DLC costume codes for Kasumi's special “Orochi” themed costume in DOA5 Ultimate.[111]

In 2010, an erotic gamebook Destiny Kunoichi Kasumi (運命のくノ一かすみ) was published (in the Queen's Gate series, in the Queen's Blade franchise),[112] for which another Kasumi figure was released.[113] She is also a subject of an unoffical pornographic film starring Nao Oikawa[114] and an also unofficial doujin erotic game, for which a CD featuring erotic vocal sample; 14 of the game's songs were also released separately.[115] Kasumi's signature very high kick attack was featured in a television commercial for Dead or Alive 3.[116] Microsoft's promotion of the Xbox in Japan included their 'Kasumi and Hawaii' campaign at the Tokyo Game Show 2003, where several gamers would be "invited by lottery to fly off to a sunny beach to be pampered like a king while playing the latest games."[117]

Reception[edit]

Critical acclaim and popularity[edit]

Kasumi on a billboard for the Xbox 360 at a Sofmap store in Akihabara, Tokyo. According to Kotaku, she has become "nothing short of an icon" in Japan[118]
Kasumi has become a frequent subject of cosplay, especially in Japan.[119][120] An image from the Tokyo Game Show 2011

Kasumi has been well received by gaming fans and professional critics for her sex appeal and her martial arts abilities, both in Japan and in the West. In 1998, Computer and Video Games featured Kasumi as its Star of the Month, calling her "so sexy, and so deadly (and so a-lively),"[121] and Sega Saturn Magazine featured her on the cover with a caption stating "Drop dead gorgeous!" in capital letters.[122] Talking about her popularity in Japan, Itagaki said in 2004, "It's almost like there are too many Kasumi covers. If you look at Japanese magazines, maybe 10% of them have Kasumi on their cover."[123] In 2005, she won G4's show Video Game Vixens in the category 'Dressed to Kill'.[124] That same year, Kasumi won the "Who is the hottest female character on Xbox?" poll by Official Xbox Magazine, when 52% of all votes were cast on her (Chun-Li came second with 11%), with the staff commenting that it was no surprise.[125] She won the G-Phoria 2007 award in the category "Best Hottest Babe", garnering 55% of all votes,[126][127] and was voted second in the "Miss of Video Games 2012" poll by Polish magazine PSX Extreme.[128] In 2013, Retro Gamer chose Kasumi as one of the 19 "coolest fighters from the last 30 years" and noted she is "clearly the face of Dead or Alive."[129]

Kasumi has been repeatedly named as one of gaming's top female ninja characters. In 2007, Rob Wright of Tom's Games featured her as one of the 50 greatest female characters in video game history and one of "the video game vixens of today" for being "one of the most powerful—and sexy—ninjas in the world."[130] UGO ranked her tenth in its list of 2007 "video game hotties", calling her "freakin' hot" and "the most attractive ninja you'll ever see."[131] Chris Buffa of GameDaily ranked her at number eight in its 2008 list of top "hottest game babes" due to their love of "female ninjas, especially ones with gigantic breasts," and wrote, "Kasumi remains the most recognizable Dead or Alive girl, and one of the most dangerous."[132] In 2010, G4tv.com called her "the iconic female ninja",[133] and PLAY ranked this "everyone’s favourite ginger ninja" as the second "hottest redhead" in games.[134] Machinima.com's Steve and Larson placed her third on its 2011 list of "top ten ninjas in all of gaming",[135] and Gelo Gonzales of FHM included Kasumi among the nine "sexiest ninja babes in games" in a 2012 list, calling her "about as pure as ninjas go" and comparing her to Bela Padilla.[136] In 2013, WatchMojo.com ranked her as the fifth top playable game ninja.[137] According to Chris Carle of IGN, "this sultry redhead is also a fan favorite, and it's not difficult to see why. In addition to being gifted as a fighter, she's been graced with one of the finest digital bodies ever. Also, she is a freaking ninja."[138] According to Gavin Mackenzie of PLAY, Kasumi's "breasts explode the myth that ninjas like to go unnoticed, as they make it impossible not to notice Kasumi."[139]

Kasumi has also been positively received for her other traits. According to Joystick Division's James Hawkins, "Kasumi is a deadly fighter when she has to be, and a caring, passionate person when she doesn't. In a game full of sexy, fatalistic fighters, separating from the pack is a truly impressive feat. And Kasumi has done just that."[140] TeamXbox ranked Kasumi as the third-top "Xbox babe" in 2004, declaring: "When we imagine our ideal Tecmo babe, Kasumi fits the bill perfectly. She has fought her way into the hearts and minds of millions of gamers."[141] The Age ranked her 36th on its 2008 list of the top 50 Xbox characters of all time.[142] PC Games Hardware listed her as one of the most important female video game characters.[143] GameDaily featured her in a 2009 article about gaming's "greatest patriots" and stated that "it's hard to imagine a video game world without the lovely Kasumi."[144] In 2011, Polish web portal Wirtualna Polska listed her as one of the 15 "girls that will kick your ass" and said that even though she was created as a strong female character just to appeal to "low tastes of some male players," she is still "a tough chick".[145] In 2012, WatchMojo.com ranked her as the ninth most iconic fighting game character, calling her an arguably perfect woman.[146] On the other hand, Kurt Kalata of Hardcore Gaming 101 criticized her as an "insufferable Mary Sue," especially in Dimensions.[147]

Kasumi cosplayer at Comiket 2009 in Akihabara

WomanGamers.com appreciated Kasumi's portrayal "as a woman of action and deeds" who is "willing to risk everything in order to search for her missing brother". The website opined the character suffered from "the 'jiggle wiggle peek-a-boo factor' for which the series is both famous and infamous", but nevertheless rated her 8.14/10 as "a very pleasing character." It also positively noted "the popularity of the DOA characters with Japanese females, coupled with the fact that these ladies are not portrayed as damsels in distress but instead are shown to be dangerous opponents with their own agendas."[120] Sega Saturn Magazine Kasumi is "guaranteed to offend sexists everywhere" as she is "easily capable of holding their own against the game's macho male fighters."[148] The pseudonym of professional gamer Marjorie Bartell "Kasumi Chan",[149] was inspired by the character.[50] The alias of another professional gamer, Marie-Laure Norindr "Kayane" from France, was created from a conjunction of the names of her two favourite DOA characters, Kasumi and Ayane.[150] In 2012, writing about the character's popularity among cosplayers, Brian Ashcraft of Kotaku stated: "Kasumi is one of the most iconic characters in Japanese gaming. Her ninja outfit in its various colors is instantly recognizable. She isn't merely in Dead or Alive; she is Dead or Alive."[119]

Sex symbol[edit]

Multiple publications have featured Kasumi as a sex symbol of video games. In 2005, Chris Reiter of Gaming Target ranked Kasumi as the fourth best "PlayStation 2 babe".[151] In 2009, TeamXbox included her among its 11 "hotties in the Xbox universe".[152] That year in Poland, she was listed as one of 21 "sexy ladies of computer games" by Fakt,[153] while benchmark.pl included her on its list of the most sexy female video game protagonists.[154] In 2010, Joystick Division's James Hawkins ranked her as the sixth most sexy video game character, adding that "there is something really sexy about Kasumi that the other characters in the series seem to be missing."[140] UGO ranked her as ninth in its 2011 list of the "hottest" female fighters in fighting games.[155] In 2012, Kasumi was declared the sexiest character in video games by Fernando DaQuino of Tecmundo,[156] as well as ranked as the 17th "hottest" female video game character by Kristie Bertucci of Gadget Review,[157] while Interia.pl included Ayane, Christie and Kasumi ex-aequo among the "sexiest game heroines" of the year.[158] ZoominGames ranked her as the third top "game babe" in 2012,[159] as well as the number one top Asian female in gaming (for her sex appeal) in 2013.[160] Also in 2013, Steve Jenkins of CheatCodes.com declared her the third "hottest video game girl" of all time, adding that even though our voting only allowed us to rank her #3, she’ll always be #1 in our hearts."[161]

"This voluptuous vixen [with] a killer body and the moves to match" was often featured as GameDaily's 'Babe of the Week' feature,[162] including in the galleries "Girl Power", "Asian Beauties" and "Kasumi".[163][164][165] UGO featured Kasumi in its 2010 lists of top 50 "videogame hotties"[166] and 30 best swimsuits in all works of fiction.[167] According to that website, "Kasumi is the flagship protagonist of the Dead or Alive series of games, and it's for good reason. Her huge breasts, flowing hair, and butt-bumpin' volleyball skills represent at least half of what the series is all about. It only helps that she's equally deadly when the fighting portion comes around."[166] GamePro ranked her third in its 2007 list of "top asses in gaming"[168] and Joystick Division's Hawkins ranked her ninth on his list of the "greatest asses" in video game history in 2011.[169] Also in 2011, Ross Lincoln of GameFront ranked Kasumi's breasts as the 14th finest,[170] while Rich Shivener of Joystick Division chose them (together with Tina Armstrong's) as the seventh "most incredible chest" in video games.[171] Sega Saturn Magazine stated in 1997 that her breasts are "putting even [Tomb Raider character] Lara Croft to shame, [and] can only be referred to as the biggest, bountiful breasts we've ever gawped at."[148] In 2012, Zachary Miller of Nintendo World Report ranked Kasumi as the second "top chesty heroine" on Nintendo systems solely for her appearance in Dimensions for the Nintendo 3DS, noting that "Tina and Kasumi are the only ladies with bikini costumes, and they both display the usual DoA jiggle more than the other ladies."[172]

Film version[edit]

The film adaptation's reinvented version of Kasumi garnered mostly negative reception, as did the film overall.[173] A review by Noelani Torre of Philippine Daily Inquirer noted: "For some reason, the ninja princess lives in what looks like the Forbidden City. Have the ninjas invade China?"[174] This seeting confused NY Daily News' critic Jack Mathews, who thought Kasumi was a Chinese princess.[175] According to Dan Amrich of Xbox Official Magazine, "the melodrama of rogue ninja Kasumi's search for her brother doesn't work if the people telling the tale don't bother to, you know, act."[176] Mikel Reparaz of GamesRadar wrote the scene in which Kasumi leaves her clan was the film's "most ridiculous" scene and included it in his 2009 list of the 16 "most awesomely bad videogame movie moments".[177] UGO declared Kasumi's "transitioning from martial art fight scene to skydiving without blinking" as the film's defining moment, also noting her "keeping conservative in a world full of boob".[178] Polish web portal Gildia.pl featured the video game version of Kasumi as their "Gamegirl of the Week", but called Aoki's role in the film a "total setback".[179] Kurt Kalata of Hardcore Gaming 101 wrote Kasumi was "sadly played by pancake-face Devon Aoki"[180] and Roger Moore wrote in Orlando Sentinel that Natassia Malthe's (Ayane) purple hair "makes her look even less Japanese than Aoki."[181] According to Complex, Kasumi's appearance is "nowhere near as central to the movie as she is the game franchise, which of course we attribute to the intractable racism of the entertainment industry in this country".[182] Nevertheless, Complex ranked her as tenth on their 2011 list of "hottest women in video game movies," but with likeness factor of only 52%.[182]

Controversies[edit]

We are a Japanese developer, and we're making the female characters with our common sense and our creative sense. When you take that to countries outside of Japan, it tends to be very misinterpreted in some cases, people considering it sexist or derogatory, etc. For us, within our culture, we're showing women like that, and we're trying to make them look attractive. We can't help if other cultures in other countries around the globe think that it's a bad representation. Within our nationality and within our national borders, we obviously have morals that we create our female characters from, but within our Japanese sensibilities, we've made those characters the way they are and we're not going to stop doing that.

Team Ninja head Yosuke Hayashi in 2012[183]

Negative reception of the game character included accusations of sexual objectification and a controversy about underage characters. According to Official Xbox Magazine, "the nubile DOA girls have always been slightly controversial, with high-minded types lamenting the gratuitous use of bouncing bosoms. But on Xbox, these criticisms seem to have died away - the sheer brilliance of DOA3's gameplay must have made all gamers, feminists included, realise that Tina, Kasumi et al are actually rather fit."[184] Shawn Sines of GameFront used the images of Taki from Soulcalibur II and Kasumi from DOAX2 to illustrate the 2007 critical article about "the video game implementation of modeling female breasts" and used the Dead or Alive series as an example.[185] In 2010, David Houghton of GamesRadar used "Kazumi" [sic], Lara Croft and Ivy Valentine as examples of the female video game protagonists who are "all festering adolescent wank-fantasies".[186] That same year, Jeff Marchiafava of Game Informer chose Kasumi as a character that Twilight character Edward Cullen would like because she "is underage".[187] Wirtualna Polska also ranked Kasumi from Dead or Alive 4 as second only to Bayonetta among the "most unrealistic and sexist depictions of women in games".[188] Rich Shivener of Joystick Division included "She Kicks High" at number four on his list of the most controversial video game commercials, writing: "In a way, Tecmo is making fun of itself for including excessive cleavage and the like in Dead or Alive games. At least they're honest—Kasumi totally does kick high, and her fellow femme fatales are flashy, too."[189] In 2012, Kotaku's Harris O'Malley listed "Kasumi, Ayane or Ivy" as examples of objectified female characters in video games.[190] Stephen Crane of Bitmob included Kasumi among "the most iconic female game characters" while arguing that almost all of which "have been incredibly sexualized".[191] Josh Engen of Cheat Code Central used her image to illustrate the "frustrating (and incorrect) preconception" that gamers are sexist.[192]

The underage depiction of Kasumi and a feature in Dead or Alive: Dimensions called Figure Mode—which allows players to capture images of the characters from all angles and store them—were linked to Nintendo's decision to not sell the game in Sweden, allegedly due to the country's strict child pornography laws.[193] Hearing of the Nordic ban and that Dimensions was being sold in Australia with a PG classification, the Minister for Home Affairs Brendan O'Connor and the Australian Classification Board re-examined the game and revoked its classification, although Nintendo Australia assured the board that the game contained no material which could be considered child pornography.[194] Upon re-submission, the game was awarded the stronger (but not age-restricted) M classification and was re-released shortly after.[195] The game's cover art, which featured a high-kicking Kasumi, was slightly altered for the United States release.[196] Reports indicating it was done to appease the ESRB appeared, but Tecmo Koei spokesperson claimed that "this whole thing is getting blown way out of proportion. The truth is that when we submitted the box art as-is from Japan, there were a few parties both internal and external who thought there might be some issue with the image. Nobody 'demanded' anything be changed, it was just pointed out. You have to pick your battles, and covering up that small bit of the image seemed to be harmless."[197]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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