Morrigan in Darkstalkers Resurrection (2013)
|First game||Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors (1994)|
|Created by||Alex Jimenez and Akira Yasuda|
|Designed by||CRMK (Darkstalkers, Darkstalkers 3, Marvel vs. Capcom, Marvel vs. Capcom 2)
Ikeno (Night Warriors)
Shinkiro (Capcom vs. SNK)
Kinu Nishimura (Capcom vs. SNK 2)
Shukō Murase (anime)
|Voiced by (English)||Saffron Henderson (cartoon)
Kathleen Barr (anime)
Erin Fitzgerald (Cross Edge)
Siobhan Flynn (Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Ultimate MvC3)
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Yayoi Jinguji (most games)
Rie Tanaka (Marvel vs. Capcom 3, Ultimate MvC3, Project X Zone, Onimusha Soul)
Rei Sakuma (cartoon, anime, drama CD, Gunbird 2)
Kikuko Inoue and Yumi Tōma (drama CDs)
Morrigan Aensland[note 1] (Japanese: モリガン・アーンスランド Hepburn: Morigan Ānsurando?) is a video game character from the Darkstalkers series of fighting games by Capcom. Morrigan is a succubus and a princess of the demon realm Makai, who is very vain and lives for little more than the excitement of battle, but slowly takes up more of her royal responsibilities seriously despite her obsessive fascination of the human world.
Morrigan was introduced in 1994's Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors and has since appeared in every game in the series and in various related media, as well as in multiple video games outside the Darkstalkers game series. She is the central character of the extended Darkstalkers franchise and is widely perceived as one of the most iconic Capcom characters as well as one of the most popular female characters in all gaming.
History and conception
Morrigan usually appears as a beautiful young woman with long sea-green hair, wearing a sleeveless black bustier-like top adorned with white feathers and a small heart cut out of the midriff; purple nylons emblazoned with bat patterns; black boots; and conspicuous batlike wings protruding from her back and the sides of her head. She can reshape these wings and her limbs into different types of spikes and blades when attacking her enemies, as well as using them to shield herself from enemy attacks; her wings can also separate from her, forming into an army of bats. She is also able fire blasts of magical energy, and to split herself into two different mirror images that remain her physical forms until joined into one again. (This ability was later used for one of Spider-Man's special moves in Capcom's Marvel Super Heroes.) Her human form is similar, but wingless and sometimes with blonde and not green hair. Morrigan preys on stolen dreams and life essences of sleeping men, and just a kiss can be enough for Morrigan to completely drain energy from her victims.
The character was originally envisioned as a female vampire but Darkstalkers creator, Capcom producer Alex Jimenez, changed her into a succubus because they already had a vampire in the game. She was designed by Akira Yasuda (Akiman). Early in the development of Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors, the team decided to have two female characters: a catwoman and a female vampire, characters who would become Felicia and Morrigan, respectively. Initially, Felicia was intended to be the "sexy" female character of the title, while the vampire would be the "cute" female character. However, Morrigan's design took on a tone that emphasized sexiness, causing Felicia's character concept to be altered accordingly. Her costume mirrors "her personality: somewhere between a batlike demon and a charming lover." Kotaku called her one of Capcom's "least-dressed female characters" and "one of the most fan servicey".
In most of her appearance, Morrigan has had exactly the same 2D sprite set as far as Capcom vs. SNK 2 (2001) as she did in the original Darkstalkers game (1994). Her sprites look especially poor and out of place in the Capcom vs. SNK where they got visibly pixelated and gained a black outline. She received an updated character model in 2008's Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, which was also the first game in which she was featured as a 3D polygonal model. An altogether different super deformed style design sprite is used in Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo and Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix, in the latter of which she has an alternative nurse costume. In Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Femme Fatale Pack, which has been also available for free with pre-order from GameStop, Morrigan received a downloadable content (DLC) "casual outfit" costume based on her human form from the Darkstalkers games and the anime series. She has several additional alternative costumes in Cross Edge.
Though Morrigan originates from Scotland in the Darkstalkers canon, neither her first nor last name is of Scottish origin. She is named after the Morrígan, an Irish mythological goddess whose name translates to "great queen," while "Aensland" is a nonexistent surname in any Gaelic language, and is possibly a derivative or alternate spelling by Capcom of the Scottish surname Ainsley. A nod was made to this by Capcom in their 2005 action game Devil May Cry 3: Dante's Awakening wherein a devil woman named Nevan (a Japanese transliteration of "Nemain") is able to manipulate bats; in some versions of Celtic mythology, Nemain was one of the aspects of the Morrígan.
In video games
In Darkstalkers canon, Morrigan is a succubus born in 1678 in Scotland and is the adopted daughter of the demon king Belial of the Aensland House. When she was born, Morrigan was extremely powerful, so much so that Belial sealed away part of her power, one-third in himself to be returned upon his death, and one-third in a pocket dimension, which eventually became a being of its own, a child succubus named Lilith. Unaware of Belial's action, Morrigan grew up and found her life as a sheltered princess in the Aensland castle dull, so she frequently visited the human world to look for entertainment. On one occasion, Morrigan was drawn to a strange power (which would turn out to be the alien fire demon Pyron) and ventured into the human world once again. Upon her return, she was informed of Belial's death and that she was the next successor to the Aensland throne. Although she is now rightfully the ruler of the Makai, she shirks her responsibilities and seeks to continue her hedonistic life as before. Morrigan eventually meets Lilith, and the two beings merge into one, fully restoring Morrigan's power.
Morrigan was the original darkstalker to break out of her original fighting game series and be transplanted in to the Marvel vs. Capcom series. In Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes (1998, remade as Marvel vs. Capcom Origins in 2012), not only was Morrigan present, but an alternate "Lilith-style" Morrigan was a secret character; in her intro cutscene sprite, Lilith appears and merges with her in a nod to when the two merged in Morrigan's ending in Vampire Savior. In Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes (2000), she is joined by fellow Darkstalkers characters Anakaris, B.B. Hood and Felicia. Morrigan acts as the sole representative of the Darkstalkers series in the Capcom vs. SNK games, making appearances in both Capcom vs. SNK: Millennium Fight 2000 and Capcom vs. SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium 2001. She appeared together with Felicia and B.B. Hood in SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium (1999) and was accompanied by Felicia and Hsien-Ko for crossover fighting games Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Cross Generation of Heroes (2008), Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars (2010), Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds, and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 (2011).
Morrigan has also represented Darkstalkers in non-fighting games, appearing in the crossover tactical RPG Namco × Capcom (2005) and the multi-company crossover tactical role-playing games Cross Edge (2008) and Project X Zone (2012), in all cases appearing with other Darkstalkers personalities, as well as in the puzzle game Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo (1996), in the fighting game Super Gem Fighter Mini Mix (1997), in the card games SNK vs. Capcom: Card Fighters Clash (1999) and Street Fighter X All Capcom (2013), in the Sega Dreamcast port of the shoot 'em up game Gunbird 2 (2000, as a secret character), in the North American version of We Love Golf! (2008), and in the Japanese version of the action role-playing video game Monster Hunter Frontier (2011). With all of her appearances in Capcom crossover projects, Morrigan is the single most common Darkstalkers cast member to appear outside of the origin series. She is also featured in her own mobile game, titled Osanpo Morrigan (お散歩モリガン Morrigan Taking a Walk), makes a cameo appearance in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game, and is playable in the browser-based social game Onimusha Soul, where she was redesigned to fit its feudal Japan theme.
Morrigan's "Soul Fist" special move is very similar to the iconic "Hadouken" fireball from Capcom's Street Fighter fighting game series. She is noted to be easy to use and her "Valkyrie Turn" is an especially damaging special move, but is also difficult to connect. According to the Sega Saturn Magazine guide to Vampire Savior (Darkstalkers 3), "many DarkStalkers fans complain that Morrigan is the cheapest character in the game. Dragon Punch ripoffs and fast fireballs put her in the Ryu clone corner, but her flight powers, speed and strength make Morrigan the equal of [the game's boss] Jedah. More powerful than her sister and faster than Demitri, this she-vampire is awesome." Writing about the first sequel, the magazine had previously opined: "Those thinking that Demitri was the Ryu of the piece should consider Morrigan to be distinctly Ken-like, as she imitates Mr Masters' Dragon Punch expertly, but has more moves than the crimson gi karate master. Easy to use, and with a Valkyrie Turn that'll inflict more damage than you thought possible (despite being difficult to connect), Morrigan remains a firm Saturn Mag favourite, not least because of her costume change cheat [code]."
In the original Marvel vs. Capcom, Morrigan calls upon Lilith to perform her Hyper Combo "Silohuette Blade". In Marvel vs. Capcom 3, this is replaced by "Shadow Servant", where Morrigan a split version of Morrigan copies all of the attacks of the original one.
In other media
The anime OVA series Night Warriors: Darkstalkers' Revenge features Morrigan more like her game appearances, portraying her as an idle rich member of royal family who is more interested in going to Earth than in her duties. She would often leave at will out of mere boredom, much to the frustration of her guardians, elder men of the Aensland family. Her father, Belial, is not mentioned. Morrigan's role as a heroine is a focus, with her activities as a succubus downplayed. Morrigan is shown fighting the werewolf Jon Talbain in the openings for the first three episodes. She battles the vampire lord Demitri Maximoff when he attempts to return to Makai but their battle is interrupted when they are sensed by Huitzil. In the last episode, Morrigan goes to Earth after Demitri was bested by Pyron and she encounters him unconscious in the ruins of his castle. Demitri suddenly awakens and attempts to vampirise Morrigan, but she does not resist, much to his surprise. Morrigan tells Demitri that he may become the leader of Makai after all, since a change of leadership is needed to help its current disarray from falling into destruction. They both later observe Donovan's victory over Pyron.
In the UDON Comics series Darkstalkers, Morrigan is a brash 300-year-old succubus who wants nothing more than to visit the human world and have a good time, often at the expense of the men she seduces, and completely ignores her duty as future ruler of the Makai Realm. Morrigan's attitude annoys her father, Belial, and gets her two servants, Lucien and Mudo into trouble. Eventually she hears of Demitri's restoration, and goes to her father to warn him, only to find that he is in no position to fight. For the first time, she takes on the responsibility that she has often put aside, and returns to the human world to fight Demitri, and prove herself worthy of the Makai Realm and the power that Belial sealed away many years ago. In the special issue Morrigan vs Demitri it is implied that had Belial not sealed away her power, Morrigan might have evolved into a being similar to Pyron and destroyed the Earth.
Morrigan also appears in the comedic Darkstalkers drama CDs Vampire Knight (ヴァンパイア・ナイト), Darkness Mission (ダークネスミッション) and Dengeki CD Bunko EX: Vampire (電撃CD文庫EX ヴァンパイア), as well as in multiple yonkoma parody comics for that were largely compiled from fan submissions. She is often a lead character in the various manga adaptations of Darkstalkers, including Run Ishida's 1996 manga that was later adapted by Viz Comics under the title of Night Warriors: The Comic Series, and Mami Itou's 1997 Red Earth crossover manga Maleficarum that was released in English by UDON Comics in 2010, as well as in Akihiko Ureshino's gaiden novels Witch of the Crimson Moon and Where Souls Return To, and a number of other Darkstalkers licensed works. A serial manga Messenger of the End reinvents Morrigan as using her secret identity human persona of the researcher "Professor Mori" to study the human world.
In the U.S. made non-canon cartoon series Darkstalkers, Morrigan was redesigned as character and changed into a villain. Morrigan's character in the cartoon was jealous, rude, power-hungry and despising humans, and stated to be a direct descendant of the evil sorceress Morgan le Fay (with the series' protagonist, an original character named Harry Grimoire, being a descendant of Merlin). Her appearance was also altered, making her look older and wear a less revealing costume; GamesRadar commented USA "gave her a look more appropriate for the wicked witch of the west then a sexy, soul-sucking, battle-loving demon."
In fan service anime series Ultimate Girls, the character Tsubomi makes an appearance dressed up as Morrigan in the second episode. The character has also featured in many doujinshi unofficial self-published content, including erotic comics such as Hiroaki Samura's Night of the Succubus (サッカバスの夜) and pornographic films like Layers Cute Hard: Yuuna.
Scores of various figures and stauettes of Morrigan were produced by different manufacturers. These include the figures released by Capcom themselves, Bandai, Banpresto, Diamond Select Toys, E246, Epoch, HBC-Brote, Heihachi Zazen, Kotobukiya, Kurushima, Marvel, Max Factory, Mersa, Moby Dick, Modeler's High, Oonishi Kouji, OOXOO, Organic, Pop Culture Shock Collectibles, SOTA Toys, Yamato, Yoiko, and Yujin, among many others. Other Morrigan-themed merchandise include Capcom's wall scrolls and posters, T-shirts, covers, and so forth. She is also prominently featured in various Darkstalkers art books, including adorning the covers of UDON-published books Darkstalkers Graphic File, Darkstalkers Tribute, and Darkstalkers Official Complete Works.
Morrigan is widely seen as the most iconic character of Darkstalkers and one of the most popular female characters of video games in general. Upon her introduction, Mean Machines Sega described her "one of the most bewitching girl characters ever to appear in gaming." Morrigan was named the 17th best character of 1997 by Japanese magazine Gamest. Featuring her and Felicia in their Girls of Gaming special in 2003, play wrote that the two are famous for how they "unified the haunting with the erotic, along with previously unseen level of animation and creature design." Kotaku's Luke Plunkett wrote he has "always found Morrigan a fascinating character. Darkstalkers is a fairly obscure series, one which few people will have played on a regular basis, and yet Morrigan is always front and centre when it comes to fan art and cosplay." According to Kotaku's Mike Fahey writing in 2012, "Morrigan Aensland from Capcom's Darkstalkers is one of the most widely depicted characters in video games. Her distinctive features have spawned dozens of statues, hundreds of cosplays and thousands of pieces of fan art." Tom Goulter of GamesRadar wrote in 2013: "Few characters have consumed as much fan-ink as Darkstalkers' seductive succubus and the Street Fighter series' high-kicking bunhead. Both have sustained popularity for decades (Morrigan's 20th anniversary comes next year [July 2014]), and they outlasted countless imitators to become standouts of the Capcom cast." That same year, GamesRadar staff also included Morrigan among the 30 best characters in the three decades of Capcom's history, commenting that "it’s hard to think of any [one of them] more famous for their beauty" and noting that "she has a deeper backstory than some fan art would lead you to believe."
Kotaku's Brian Ashcraft wrote in 2012: "Since debuting in 1994 Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors, Morrigan Aensland has become one of gaming's most iconic characters. A fan service favorite, Morrigan continues to attract cosplayers, eager to put on succubus's revealing outfit." Already in 1996, Capcom's representatives were quoted as saying: "If we add female characters, it is very popular. Have you every been to the 'Cost-play' [sic] show in Japan? People dress up as Morrigan or Felicia to [costume-]play the games." The 2009 book 500 Essential Anime Movies: The Ultimate Guide by Helen McCarthy cited Morrigan as an example of the popularity of the Darkstalkers character designs, with fans frequently cosplaying as the character at various conventions since the original game's release. In 2010, UGO's Chris Plante called her "Darkstalkers' most recognizable character [and] also wildly popular with cosplayers" and French television TF1 included Morrigan among the sexiest video game characters to cosplay, also noting her as one of the most charismatic. Cosplayer Linda Le "Vampy" said Morrigan was her "favorite by far" character to do, calling her "just damn amazing" and "the epitome of Succubus chic." Cosplayer Meg Turney she would "love to do Morrigan someday" even as "whoever designed the costume without shoulder straps was either someone who hated cosplayers and wanted them to suffer - or a dude." In GameFront's 2011 article showcasing some of Morrigan (and Lilith) cosplayers, Phil Owen called it "probably the sexiest gallery I’ve ever posted." Destructoid's Brittany Vincent wrote in 2014: "For some, Morrigan Aensland is the face of Darkstalkers. For every cosplayer who runs around in loose-fitting fur as Felicia, there are a hundred Morrigans basking in the glory that only comes from hitting up cons in a winged gymnastics costume. And we love it."
According to GameSpot, "Morrigan has been a mainstay in the Capcom crossover fighting games and is definitely a fan favorite." Play featured her in the "Girls of Anime" special, later regretting her absence in Capcom Fighting Evolution in their "Girls of Gaming" special. GamesTM commented that Capcom's choice of Anakaris instead of Morrigan or Talbain to represent Darkstalkers the 2005 game Capcom Fighting Jam was "a strange selection, to say the least." Her costume was one of the two added to We Love Golf! by popular vote in a poll among players. Kotaku's Fahey, calling Cross Edge an "RPG fan's wet dream," stated that "a game with Etna and Morrigan together alone is worth eleventy million dollars." In 2010, Game Informer chose Morrigan as one of the twenty Capcom characters they would like to see in a rumored crossover fighting game Namco Vs Capcom, her Namco side equivalent being Ivy Valentine. In 2012, Complex ranked the "super sexual but also super deadly" Morrigan as the 13th "most dominant" fighting game character, also including "Capcom vs. DC Universe" as third fighting game crossover idea they would like to see the most, for a battle between Morrigan and Wonder Woman. That same year, Lucas Sullivan of GamesRadar ranked her as the fourth best character in the fighting game genre's history and WatchMojo.com ranked her as the sixth most iconic fighting game character. In 2013, Complex placed Morrigan ninth on their list of video game characters that deserve a spin-off and Mike Andronico of Gamenguide named her as the "fiercest female in today's fighting games" who "has stood the test of time as one of fighting games' most iconic faces."
Morrigan was often noted as one of the most sexy characters of fighting games and gaming in general. In 2003, GameSpy's Bryan Johnson ranked this "embodiment of sexual temptation" as the third top "babe in games", calling her and Capcom's answer to SNK's Mai Shiranui. GameDaily placed Morrigan number nine on their 2008 list of "hottest game babes", while UGO ranked Morrigan as the fourth in their 2011 list of the "foxiest fighting females to ever be pixelated." GameFront staff featured her twice on their list of "greatest boobs in video game history", at 37th (for the Darkstalkers version, called the "reason 12 year olds packed arcades into the late 90s") and 11th (for the Marvel Vs. Capcom version, being "50% of all Comic Con costumes"); Morrigan's breasts were also ranked as the eight best in gaming history by Rich Shivener of Joystick Division that same year. In 2012, Morrigan was ranked as the third "hottest" character video game history by Larry Hester of Complex, and as the 17th "hottest" female video game character by Kristie Bertucci of Gadget Review, In 2013, Scott Marley of Daily Record declared Morrigan the eighth-most attractive female video game character and Steve Jenkins of CheatCodes.com ranked her as the seventh "hottest video game girl" of all time. She was included among the "old school hotties that still got it" by Travis Hubert of Cheat Code Central in 2014, and ranked as the sixth sexiest female video game character by WatchMojo.com that same year.
UGO included Morrigan on their 2008 list of 11 "hottest babes to ever hit the video game world," stating that "one thing that video game babes have over the real–life variety is that it's much easier for a girl who's made of pixels to rock an absolutely ludicrous outfit and still look hot ... she doesn't look a year of her 300, and her appearances across the Capcom fighting franchises prove that the company has an excellent eye for the female form," as well as in the 2011 list of fifty "hottest girls in games". In 2009, Gelo Gonzales of FHM listed the "undeniably seductive" Morrigan among the nine sexiest "bad girls of videogame land", while Manolith included her on their top lists of "sexiest video game women" and "hottest female video game protagonists". Johnny Firecloud of CraveOnline featured this "iconic succubus" on his 2010 list of ten "hottest video game girls of all time", commenting that she "is more than just an anatomic wonder - she's also one of the single most sexually stylistic ladies in gaming land." Japanator.com's Bob Muir included her on the list of "Japanese gaming's top ten hottest girls", stating: "In fact, Morrigan is so popular that many people know of her sultry looks who have never touched a Darkstalkers game." In 2012, she was listed as one of ten sexiest video game characters by Fernando DaQuino of Tecmundo, MSN Malaysia included this "shameless succubus" among the twenty "hottest women in video game history", and UGO included her among the 99 "hottest" fictional women of the year, calling her inclusion the best thing about Marvel Vs. Capcom 3. John Corpuz of Tom's Guide included her on his 2013's list of twenty "hottest video game babes" and stated that "when it comes to 90s fighting games, Darkstalkers’ Morrigan is the definitive poster girl."
In 2008, Morrigan was included on a list of top "chicks behaving badly" by IGN's Scott Cullura for her "penchant for magic and kick-ass fighting moves," her outfit described as "one that would make even Jenna Jameson blush." While Zoomin Games named her costume as the second-most sexy outfit in games, Charlie Barratt of GamesRadar cited Morrigan as one example of what they considered "the most shameless—and least surprising—character cliché of all time" which is "the half-naked woman." Morrigan was featured in a list of ten "babes who shouldn't meet your mom" by GameDaily in 2008, as well as in a list of ten "game girls you wouldn't dare to date" by Virgin Media in 2010. In 2011, Rich Knight of Complex pitted her against Agent Rayne in the "battle of the beauties" feature, comparing them to "the sexy goth girls you were too afraid to ask out in high school" and choosing Morrigan, but Richard Coombs of Blistered Thumbs ranked her as number one video game woman "you wouldn’t want to be with" as "that would probably be the scariest romance you could ever be in." Game Revolution included an alleged rumor of Morrigan's romance with Nintendo's Princess Daisy in their 2014 April Fools' Day feature.
Despite her popularity, Morrigan, along with the Darkstalkers cast in general, has not been as well-received for her presence in the 1995 cartoon series. Rachel Jagielski of VentureBeat described her as the otherwise "normally sensual succubus" who "looked, if not terrible, really boring" in the show. Ryan Winterhalter of GamesRadar called the character "old and creepy," and Hardcore Gaming 101 opined she "look[ed] frightening in most close-ups." 411mania.com called Morrigan "awful" and her Scottish accent therein "inappropriately wrong" while castigating the show itself as "the worst video game cartoon in history."
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Morrigan Aensland.|
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