A concept art for Taki in Soulcalibur IV
|First game||Soul Edge (1995)|
|Created by||Kouji Mitsunaga|
|Voiced by (English)||Desirée Goyette (Soulcalibur II)
Cynthia Holloway (Soulcalibur III, Soulcalibur Legends, Soulcalibur IV, Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny)
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Fujiko Takimoto (Soul Edge, Soulcalibur, Soulcalibur II, Namco × Capcom, Soulcalibur III)
Sachiko Kojima (Soulcalibur Legends, Soulcalibur IV, Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny)
|Birthplace||Unknown, feudal Japan|
|Fighting style||Musō-Battō-Ryū[note 1] Ninjutsu, the technique of Dream-Slashed Sword (夢想抜刀流)|
|Weapon||Ninja swords (primarily)|
|Weapon name||Rekki-Maru (裂鬼丸)
|Occupation||Kunoichi, demon huntress|
Taki (タキ Taki , also written as 多喜) is a fictional character in the Soul series of fighting games produced by Namco. Taki, one of the series' main characters, is a 16th-century Japanese demon huntress and a runaway kunoichi (female ninja), who is traveling the world on a quest to destroy an evil sword known as Soul Edge.
Taki was introduced in the arcade version of Soul Edge in 1995, in which she and Sophitia were the two official protagonists. She was featured as a player character in every title of the Soul series until 2011's Soulcalibur V, in which Taki's place was taken by her young disciple Natsu. Taki is also featured in some other works, including Namco × Capcom and Queen's Gate.
The character has achieved popularity, receiving mostly positive critical feedback. She is often regarded as one of the top female ninja characters in video games, and a sex symbol of the fighting genre and gaming in general. Several publications, which noted her iconic status in the Soul series, regretted her absence in Soulcalibur V.
In the Soul games
Taki debuted as one of the eight original characters in Soul Edge (1995, Soul Blade in PAL countries), set in a historical fantasy version of the year 1584. In it, she is a 22-year-old Sengoku-era "Hunter of Darkness" (闇の狩人 Yami no Karyuudo ) who has dedicated herself to fighting supernatural evil and travels around Japan using her "seal magic" (封魔 Fuuma ) against demons. Taki has been raised by the Fu-Ma ninja clan since they adopted her after her parents and brother died from an unknown disease. She is a skilled and stern fighter, as well as an accomplished spy and blacksmith. Within the series' lore, what "lies within her soul" (a character's defining concept) is honor. In her in-game story in Soul Edge she finds that her self-made magical blade Rekkimaru has weakened by the powerful, evil sword known as Soul Edge. Taki decides to travel west to save her treasured Rekkimaru and to destroy Soul Edge. The prologue of Soulcalibur (1998) tells of how she has eventually confronts and defeats the first game's main villain and Soul Edge's wielder, Cervantes de Leon, and obtains a fragment of the shattered sword. In the process, she also saves another character, Sophitia. In addition to Sophitia, Taki later also befriended Mitsurugi.
Soulcalibur Legends (2007) takes place between Soul Edge and Soulcalibur, and pits Taki against Geki and his partner Maki, both of whom have been transformed into monsters by Soul Edge's power. In this struggle, she receives support from the Holy Roman Emperor. Taki tries to merge the Soul Edge fragment with her Rekkimaru without success, but when she fuses it with her other weapon, the kodachi Mekkimaru, she creates a new evil weapon that she seeks to pit against Soul Edge, hoping both blades would then destroy each other. Her old master Toki (トキ, also written as 斗鬼) tells her that Fu-Ma's former leader, Hachibei (八兵衛), has stolen Mekkimaru and fled, becoming a nukenin (fugitive ninja). Toki orders Taki to hunt down and kill Hachibei and his daughter Chie (千恵), a childhood friend, and bring back the blade. Taki locates Hachibei quickly, but learns about Toki's obsession with the powers of the blade. Hachibei urges her to not let Toki take hold of Mekkimaru and gives it to her. Taki later gives a false report to Toki, leading his forces to pursue Chie's lover Li Long but Geki, Toki's right hand man, discovers her deception and she becomes a nukenin outcast herself as she tries to destroy Mekkimaru.
Taki returns in the next sequel, Soulcalibur II (2002), set seven years after the events of Soul Edge. After hearing about the destruction of Soul Edge, she tries to tame the evil kodachi, but discovers that Toki has obtained more Soul Edge fragments and decides to keep both Soul Edge and Mekkimaru away from him. In Soulcalibur III, Taki returns to Japan and learns that because of Toki's madness, the Fu-Ma have descended into an internal conflict. Contacting the rebellious faction within the clan, Taki faces the Soul Edge-corrupted Toki at the underground sanctum within the Hoko Buddhist temple, where he absorbs the Oni spirits within the shrine. She defeats him but the spirits dwelling within him leave and travel west. Knowing they are seeking Soul Edge, and that the cursed sword's power was weak enough to allow its destruction, Taki begins a new journey to extinguish Soul Edge. In Soulcalibur IV (2008), Taki witnesses how the battle between Siegfried armed with the Soul Calibur and Soul Edge-wielding Nightmare unleashes a powerful cataclysm, motivating her to destroy both Soul swords.[note 2]
Formerly, it was announced that Taki would return in the sixth installment, Soulcalibur V (2012) set 17 years after the events of the previous game, where she was expected to appear alongside her young, female disciple named Natsu (凪津), who is one of a number of new player characters in the series. However, she did not appear in the game, and is only mentioned in Natsu's backstory as well as the game's official artbook, SOULCALIBUR - New Legends of Project Soul. According to the artbook, Taki was responsible for the sealing of the demon Arahabaki (アラハバキ, also written as 荒吐鬼) inside Natsu, after his previous container, Juju (ジュジュ) was killed by Taki. Because this caused the young girl to be ostracized by her peers, Taki took the responsibility to personally raise her so she may grow her confidence. As explained in Natsu's backstory, Taki traveled west in search of her mentor, Toki, promising that she would return in two weeks. She has never returned since, prompting Natsu to travel in search of her mentor. The game itself does not reveal whether Natsu finds Taki, but it was announced that Taki would "eventually" return, possibly in another sequel. In 2013, Taki would make appearance in the high definition port of Soulcalibur II, entitled Soulcalibur II HD Online.
Taki also appears as a playable character in the 2005 crossover tactical role-playing game Namco × Capcom. In it, she represents the Soul universe alongside Mitsurugi and is paired with Waya Hime (Princess Waya, a boss character in Bravoman) and teamed with fighting game icons Jin Kazama (Tekken) and Ryu (Street Fighter). In 2009, Taki's costume for the player character Estelle was made available as free downloadable content (DLC) in the action role-playing game Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology.
Taki plays a lead role in the 1999 Soulcalibur manga series, in which she fights together with Sophitia, first killing Cervantes and then destroying Nightmare. She has also joined the cast of Queen's Blade characters and is featured (in a cartonish version of her appearance from Soulcalibur IV) in her own erotic gamebook Queen's Gate Taki (神速の封刃 タキ), published in 2011.
Namco released a Taki keychain figurine and a 'standing clock' watch in its Soul Edge line. Yujin released two 4-inch (10 cm) immobile figurines of Taki in her primary outfit from Soulcalibur II as part of its gashapon figure collections "Namco Girls Series 1" and "Namco Girls Series 4" (in her alternative costume based on Waya-Hime's design). In 2003, Wave released a 1/8 scale 7.5 in (19 cm) resin (garage) kit figure of Taki from Soulcalibur II. In 2006, Namco released a MegaHouse PVC statuette based upon promotional artwork of Taki for the game as part of a Soulcalibur III set "Game Character Collection Soul Calibur III Series 1", while an alternative color and unmasked version was also released in a secondary set, which was not posable and came with three interchangeable weapons for it to hold. Triad Toys released a 12 in (30 cm) action figure of Taki from Soulcalibur IV in red and blue versions in 2008, which David Houghton of GamesRadar criticized as oversexualized. In 2007-2010, companies Futene Karada and Aya released two resin kits for Taki's appearances in her prime costumes in Soulcalibur III, 6.7 in (17 cm) (crouching) and 9.4 in (24 cm) (dashing); an alternate version of the latter was also released.
During the early development of Soul Edge, Taki was conceived as a Yoshimitsu-like ninja character, armed with a long sword and wearing a loose outfit and large helmet covering her upper face. She underwent several major design changes before the game's release, evolving into an athletic, iron-masked, buxom woman with a chest size of 90 cm/E, clad in a partially armored catsuit. Taki used variations of this outfit throughout the series; by default her primary costumes were colored crimson or navy blue. A cloth mask returns with Taki's primary costume in Soulcalibur—the only game in which her breasts are partially exposed—and an iron mask with her blue-colored main costume in Soulcalibur III. A similar red costume is featured in Legends. Other demonic motifs have appeared on her armor since Soulcalibur.
Taki also wears some alternate costumes, such as her green attire in Soulcalibur II, which was modeled after an outfit worn by Waya Hime in Bravoman and Namco × Capcom. In it, she appeared for the first time with loose hair instead of her usual ponytail. Her hair is also tied back in her Soul Edge alternative costume. Until Soulcalibur II, Taki only appears unmasked in some of her alternative costumes, but in this game and in Soulcalibur IV she is unmasked in all costumes. In Soul Edge, one of the secret characters is "Nugi Taki", an alternative version of Taki who is unmasked, has short hair, and wears a unarmored blue bodysuit with a mesh shirt underneath. Soulcalibur III director Katsutoshi Sasaki described her as his personal favorite character from the series. The game's producer Hisaharu Tago said of her appearance in Soulcalibur V, in which Taki is depicted as over 40, "In terms of her outfit, we don't know if she'll be in body tights." One artist said he "got in trouble with Nintendo for showing Taki’s tits too much and had to slide her down for decentcy [sic]."
Taki's height is 170 cm (67 in) and weighs 55 kg (121 lb) (later 53 kg (117 lb)). Her original weapon in Soul Edge is a ninjatō,[note 3] called Rekkimaru (Rekki-Maru), which she made by infusing it with mystical powers. This is her preferred weapon and is one of the few original weapons that have not been replaced in subsequent games. Her secondary weapon, the kodachi Mekkimaru (Mekki-Maru), formerly property of Yoshimitsu's deceased clan, was added for her dual-wielding style in Soulcalibur as the lower blade on her back. Though Taki uses a single weapon in Soul Edge, Mekkimaru was featured in this game as an unlockable weapon. Her other optional weapons include a jutte, a kunai, a tantō and a bladed iron fan. Immediately after the release of Soulcalibur V in Japan, the game's director Daishi Odashima said that he had decided that at 46, Taki would be too old to be an active ninja, and she retired to train the next generation and is now watching over her pupil Natsu from the shadows.
James Price of DC-UK wrote that in Soulcalibur, Taki is "fast and agile", capable of "swift and deadly attacks" as well as "of making somersaults over and around her opponents," but at the cost of having a limited range. According to Jesse Schedeen of IGN, the character's fighting style "improved dramatically" between Soul Edge and Soulcalibur due to being given dual swords to use at once. In Soulcalibur Legends, Taki is the only character capable of performing a double jump (a video game character's ability to jump a second time in mid-air). Soulcalibur V's Natsu borrows "many of Taki's trademark moves."
In GameSpot's guide to Soulcalibur II, Stephen Kleckner wrote that Taki has "a lot of options and variety which allow her to really mix up her attack heights" and very quick moves making her highly capable at close range, but might "essentially become a moving target" if her player "can't rush down someone who is really good at sustaining a range game, such as Kilik." Andrew Alfonso wrote in GameSpy's Soulcalibur II guide that "what makes Taki so fearsome is her speed. She's still the fastest character in the game, and despite this her damage potential is still very good at times. However, unlike the big power hitters like Cervantes and Astaroth, she needs to work for her wins." Alfonso added that Taki can be "somewhat hard to learn and execute with" and the key strategy "is to maintain her flow of attack."
Taki was one of the four characters available in the pre-release demo version of Soulcalibur IV. According to Alex Jenkins of 1UP.com, in this game she lost some of her prior advantages but is still an agile and fast character who can cause considerable damage and is meant to be played aggressively, as well as a strong counter-attacker. Her weaknesses include difficulties in playing against ranged-type characters and having many risky special moves. Schedeen wrote that, due to her lightning-quick ninja reflexes, Taki is "a vicious combatant that new and old players alike love to control."
Taki has become one of the most popular characters in the Soul series; Official Xbox Magazine described her as "a favorite of many". In 2008, UGO.com ranked Taki as sixth best Soulcalibur character. In 2008, IGN's Jesse Schedeen ranked her as the fifth top fighter in the series and wrote that "it's hard to imagine a Soulcalibur game without Taki. It just wouldn't be the same." In 2010, Alex Mahan of Examiner.com called her "doubtlessly the most recognizable member of the Soul Calibur cast" and "the closest thing that the franchise has to a mascot." GameDaily's staff called Taki one of the most elite fighters in the Soul games, adding that she "has left an impact from the very start" of the series. According to GameDaily, "there are many women worth mentioning in the Soul Calibur series, but if anyone really knows how to handle Darth Vader, Yoda and the Apprentice, it's Taki." Complex placed Taki sixth in their 2013 ranking of the best characters in the series, calling her "an unstoppable force" and adding, "We love Taki!"
Taki has also been repeatedly listed as one of gaming's top ninja characters; Schedeen wrote in 2008: "Everyone loves a good ninja, and Taki just so happens to be one of the best." In 2007, Joystiq's JC Fletcher called her "everyone's favorite underdressed ninja". She was ranked as fifth best ninja hero in video games by Virgin Media in 2008. In 2010, Game Informer chose Taki as one of the 20 Namco characters they would like to see in a rumored crossover fighting game Namco Vs Capcom, her Capcom side equivalent being Strider Hiryu, adding that "most fighting game characters can’t quite keep up with Taki’s rapid (and annoying) leaps." That same year, GamePro's Chris Jager ranked her as the second best video game ninja character, comparing her with the similarly proportioned Mai Shiranui, and wrote that they had "originally contemplated giving Taki two places on this list in honour of her formidable pair of assets" and called her "arguably the toughest and most skillful ninja on our list" next to Mai in such circumstances. In 2011, UGO ranked her as one of the top 25 "hot ninja girls" in all media. In 2012, Complex ranked her as the fifth-swiftest video game ninja, and wrote that because of her bust size, "the only female on this list is also probably the most incredible ninja on here."
Some publications have regarded Taki as one of the best female video game characters for a variety of reasons. In 2003, WomanGamers.com opined Taki was "a strong and independent female character in all of the games" and gave her an overall score of 8.4/10, especially applauding the character for her tough attitude and for marketing efforts towards women "despite the obvious sex-appeal role Taki has taken." That same year, play called Taki and Ivy Valentine "arguably the finest females in all of 3D fighting." In 2007, Rob Wright of Tom's Games chose Taki as one of the 50 greatest female characters in video games, calling her "a skilled and noble warrior with a shining spirit and stunning beauty" and suggesting that Zhang Ziyi should play her in the live action adaptation of the Soulcalibur series. GameDaily featured Taki in many entries of its "Babes of the Week" gallery series, including in the 2007 special "Babe of the Week: Taki", which stated that she has been "becoming more agile – and big-breasted – with each new entry. She made such an impact [...] that we awarded her a solo gig." In 2011, FHM featured her as one example of "some of the wonderful women of videogames", but one that would be impossible to date.
The character is often noted for her attractiveness. In 2008, GameDaily ranked her as 17th "hottest game babe", stating that "female ninjas will always hold a special place in our hearts, especially Taki, what with her muscular physique and insanely large chest." That same year, Taki emerged as the winner of Unreality's "Queen of the Iron Fist Tournament" 2008, described as "the complete package, in body, face and skills alike." In 2009, Rich Knight of Complex listed Taki as one of top ten "hottest game girls" and later also pitted her against Mortal Kombat's Kitana in its "battle of the beauties" feature, category "female ninjas", calling her "hot, face mask on or off". In 2010, UGO listed her among the 50 "hottest girls" in video games, describing her as "quick, efficient, and super-deadly". In 2011, Bob Muir of Japanator.com described Taki as "easily the hottest one in the cast" of the series and included her on his list of Japanese gaming's top ten "hottest girls" for her "sexy [armor] that insists on not covering up anything that's fun to look at on her voluptuous body, including her generous chest" and "a dark humor to all of her taunts." In the Polish console magazine PSX Extreme, Taki was voted second place in the 'Soul Calibur' category of "Miss of Video Games 2012". In 2012, Gelo Gonzales of FHM included Taki on its list of nine "sexiest ninja babes" in games, comparing her to Solenn Heussaff.
Many publications commented on her large bust and revealing outfits. GameSpy in 2003 described her as "the bounciest ninja this side of Mai Shiranui." In his review of Soulcalibur II, Gaming Target's Ryan Genno wrote: "I love the ninja Taki and her very skin tight red number which I'm surprised got by the censors." GameDaily praised her "superb fashion sense" and positively contrasted with Mortal Kombat's Mileena. GameDaily also repeatedly contrasted Taki's "inexplicably big" breasts and her "swift ninja moves," and rhetorically asked "how does she fight with those big boobs." Michael McWhertor of Kotaku wrote about Soulcalibur IV: "Sure, Taki's boobs flopped about ridiculously with the slightest breeze it seemed, but that's not necessarily a complaint," while Vicious Sid of GamePro wrote: "Taki's, um, assets bobbed and jiggled after each move. We expect that fighting fans – and pubescent teen boys – will have a ton of fun with Soul Calibur IV". Ross Lincoln of GameFront included Taki's breasts on his 2011 list of "greatest boobs in video game history". Knight wrote that Taki's knowledge of mastery of ninjutsu and ninja magic that must be reason how she is able to do all her acrobatic moves with such a chest, adding that "most women with a cup size that big would have back pains and would have to sleep on their side at night" yet Taki "takes it all in stride, moving around the stage of history like the most athletic girl on the volleyball court." UGO commented: "To be honest we don't really care, but there must be some kind of ninja-magic that supports those behemoths."
There was also some criticism in this regard. According to McWhertor, Taki's "tighter than skin tight ninja outfit leav[es] absolutely nothing to the imagination, making her high kicks the stuff of Hustler magazine spreads." EGM commented on "ridiculously endowed ninja gal Taki, who demonstrates what happens now that consoles can chum out superflucous polygons to render realistic nipples under a skintight leotard." Shawn Sines of GameFront used the images of Taki from Soulcalibur II and Kasumi from the Dead or Alive series to illustrate the 2007 critical article about "the video game implementation of modeling female breasts." GamesRadar UK wrote that in Soulcalibur IV Taki’s breasts look if they "have been designed by a hormone-addled 13-year-old. They’re simply unfathomable and totally impractical for the fighting physique. If she gets punched in them it’s going to hurt and she isn’t even wearing a sports bra." Grant Howitt of FHM wondered about "how she kept those enormous breasts supported during fights". GamesRadar's AJ Glasser added: "Sure, Ivy's a couple of cup sizes larger, but Taki probably has less back pain."
Reactions to substitution
A number of media outlets strongly criticized Taki's replacement with Natsu in Soulcalibur V. In 2011, GamePro stated it as one of the reasons why they were "worried" about the game. C.J. Smillie of Game Rant wrote that the "long-time favourite" Taki was one of the "most notable of the absentees", Daniel Maniago of G4 TV listed her among the characters that are "noticeably absent", Nick Dinicola of PopMatters listed as first among the missing "fan favorite fighters", and Kotaku's Evan Narcisse described the replacement of "established characters Talim, Taki and Kilik" as Project Soul's "most baffling decision". Following the release of Soulcalibur V, the staff of IGN named Taki "the most obvious choice for the first DLC character" because her omission from the game was "ridiculous". In an accompanying poll that asked IGN's readers which character they would they choose to be added through downloadable content (including new characters from outside the series, such as Darth Maul), Taki placed third out of seven candidates. Angelo M. D'Argenio of Cheat Code Central included Natsu and "every new character in the game" in a 2012 list of top ten "lamest" video game characters of all time, and wrote: "Instead of Taki, the mysterious ninja, we get Natsu, a bored girl with the same backstory as Naruto."
Some sources approved of Taki's replacement. Taylor Cocke of the Official Xbox Magazine stated that "you'll be happy to know that newcomer Natsu is taking up [Taki's] mantle and then some." Similarly, Derrick Smith of Game-insider.com wrote: "Taki, my personal all-time favorite doesn’t make the Soul Calibur V trip. Yet she is nicely replaced with Natsu, her apprentice who brings with her the complete Taki package with some added youth to spice things up." Jeremy Duff of GamingNexus.com suggested players who are "not happy with the fact that Taki was left out" to restore her through the game's "better than ever" character creation mode.
- In the English version of Soulcalibur the name of her fighting style was transliterated as 'Musoh-Battoh-Ryu'.
- In her Soulcalibur IV ending (which is later proved noncanon), she tracks down and defeats Siegfried, who takes the evil sword and allows himself to be crystallized while she silently walks away. According to the epilogue, "There is no way to know how Taki lived her life from that point on. She sealed such a great evil and disappeared from history."
- In Soul Blade (the English localization of Soul Edge) described as 'Katana "Rekki-maru"'.
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