|Parasite Eve character|
Aya Brea in The 3rd Birthday
|First game||Parasite Eve (1998)|
|Created by||Hironobu Sakaguchi|
|Designed by||Tetsuya Nomura|
|Voiced by (English)||Kathy Sokol (Parasite Eve II)
Yvonne Strahovski (The 3rd Birthday)
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Yumiko Shaku (Parasite Eve II)
Maaya Sakamoto (The 3rd Birthday)
Aya Brea (アヤ・ブレア Aya Burea?) is the central character and main protagonist of the Parasite Eve video game series developed by Square Enix (formerly Square). The character first appears in the 1998 role-playing video game Parasite Eve. In the game, she is a rookie NYPD officer who faces off against Eve, a being created by sentient mitochondria wishing to conquer life on earth. In the 2000 sequel Parasite Eve II, Aya, now working for the FBI, is investigating further activities involving mitochondria. In the 2010 game The 3rd Birthday, an amnesiac Aya is found by the Counter Twisted Investigation (CTI) unit to fight against the "Twisted", a mitochondria-spawned creature that has taken over Manhattan.
Created by Parasite Eve 's producer Hironobu Sakaguchi, she was designed by Tetsuya Nomura after her original artist failed to realize Sakaguchi's vision for the character. Nomura ended up blending two different character designs to create her final appearance. He also returned to design her in the two sequels, although she was mostly designed by another unnamed artist for Parasite Eve II. Her depiction in The 3rd Birthday was meant to be both realistic and attractive. The character has been well received by critics.
Creation and development
Aya Brea was created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the producer for Parasite Eve, and designed by Tetsuya Nomura. Aya was originally being designed by someone else, but the original sketches did not satisfy Sakaguchi, who had wanted a long-haired character like Aerith Gainsborough, a central character from Final Fantasy VII. At the time, he was creating another unspecified character for a different project who sported short hair: he got confused while designing them and accidentally combined the two designs, creating the then-current Aya. The original concept for her was to have her as strong, sexy and "bewitching". Her design in Parasite Eve II was to have been handled by a different artist again, using her original design as a template. While most of the design was finalized, the designer quit halfway through the game's development, meaning Nomura had to be called in again. As the in-game model had already been created, he preserved what had already been done while adding touches of his own.
Nomura returned again to design both Aya and Eve for The 3rd Birthday, although he had originally only meant to design those two characters. In the event, he ended up designing the entire main cast. A challenge for the game's developers was to make her seem realistic when compared to her previous appearances. One of the other things Nomura did for her design was to make her less stocky than the original design, which Nomura was always uncomfortable about. Aya's attractiveness became a central element to the game, and was emphasized by a shower scene. Her English voice actress in The 3rd Birthday was Yvonne Strahovski. A fan of the character, when approached by Square Enix to play the role, she was "immediately interested". Having grown used to playing strong and confident female characters, Strahovski liked Aya's initial vulnerability and the emotional growth she had during the story. As she needed to convey these feelings during her performance, Strahovski found voicing Aya "fun and challenging". She also felt that people could relate to Aya as she was "normal" in most respects.
In the Parasite Eve series
According to the games' backstory, Aya Brea was born in Boston, Massachusetts on November 20, 1972. She is of mixed ethnicity, as her father was of European descent and her mother, Mariko, was Japanese. Due to this, she has Asian facial features, such as the shape of her face and eyes, while possessing typically Nordic blue eyes and fair blonde hair. Aya had a sister named Maya who, along with her mother, died in a car accident in December 1977. At a very young age, she and Maya were subjects of the evil experiments of Dr. Hans Klamp. After Maya's death, her organs were preserved, which allowed for one of her corneas to be transplanted into Aya in 1986. At the same time, one of Maya's kidneys was transplanted into a young girl named Melissa Pearce, who was also an experimental subject of Klamp, and Maya's malevolent mitochondria began changing Aya and Melissa's genetic structures. As a young woman, Aya studied criminology at the University of Virginia, and was involved in their ROTC program. She later became a detective with the NYPD's 17th Precinct., forming a sort of father/daughter relationship with her partner and mentor, a veteran NYPD detective Daniel "Bo" Dollis.
Within the first six months of working at the precinct, Aya becomes deeply involved in a catastrophic event later known as the New York Blockade Incident. It begins on December 24, 1997, when she goes on a date to an opera performance at Carnegie Hall, which stars Melissa Pearce as the lead. During the performance, Maya's advanced mitochondria, which had lain dormant in Melissa for 11 years, awaken and transform her into Mitochondria Eve. As her first act against humankind, Eve kills everyone in Carnegie Hall via spontaneous human combustion, except for Aya who is immune to the effect. Over the next six days, Aya battles Eve and the creatures she spawned, known as Neo-Mitochondrial Creatures (NMCs), all across Manhattan, greatly assisted by the strange powers that she starts to exhibit. Aya later discovers that she also possesses Maya's mitochondria, transferred to her body during the corneal transplantation, but it is unable to take control of her as it did of Melissa because of Aya's evolved cell nuclei. Aya joins forces with the U.S. Navy to destroy a strain of rapidly evolving mitochondria that threatens to enslave all humanity. Eventually, she engages and defeats Eve in a showdown on Liberty Island, and, with help from Daniel and Kunihiko Maeda, a Japanese scientist assisting them with advice in these matters, also manages to destroy the Ultimate Being that Eve gave birth to, becoming a hero among the government ranks. During the game's ending, Aya and her friends try to make up for a lost Christmas by going to the opera at Carnegie Hall once again. There, Aya communicates with the entire audience's mitochondria and their eyes begin to glow red, leaving the ending ambiguous. However, if the player goes through the Chrysler Building and defeats the Purebred Eve, Aya will lose her mitochondrial powers (albeit gaining newer, less superior ones, leading up to the sequel), thus saving the audience as well as all of mankind.
A few months after Eve's rampage in New York, Aya leaves the force and joins a newly formed branch of the FBI known as MIST (Mitochondrion Investigation and Suppression Team), based out of Los Angeles with a purpose to hunt down and destroy any remaining NMCs. During her time as a MIST agent, Aya always works alone due to the abnormality of her powers. However, though she chooses not to use them, she cannot truly hide them; she is never sick and appears younger than her biological age because of her awakened mitochondria that find a young, healthy host advantageous. These psychological factors have acted as a mental block on her abilities, rendering them much weaker as compared to the first game. In early September 2000, Aya is following a lead to a tiny town of Dryfield in the Mojave Desert, where she meets and forms a partnership with Kyle Madigan, a private investigator from Texas. With Kyle's co-operation, Aya soon discovers a shadow government facility called Neo-Ark, where scientists are using her DNA to breed Artificial Neo-Mitochondrial Creatures (ANMCs). To control the ANMCs, the Neo-Ark brainwashes a young girl named Eve, a clone of Aya. After discovering that Eve and the ANMCs were all made from her, Aya feels obligated to once again save humanity from an ominous fate which was ultimately the cause of her own physical existence. Following the destruction of the Neo-Ark facility, she leaves MIST and takes the young Eve in, forming a motherly/sisterly bond with her while her friend and the new director of MIST (the former boss, Eric Baldwin, was discovered to be a mole for the shadow government and arrested for treason), Rupert Broderick, pulls some strings and creates a profile for Eve, saying that she is Aya's sister. Kyle Madigan, who disappeared after the Neo Ark events, meets with Aya and Eve in New York.
During The 3rd Birthday, despite being in her late thirties, Aya still appears to be much younger, due to the awakened mitochondria in her cells. Because of this, she is also the only applicable candidate viable for the Overdive System. Aya has lost her memories as a result of unknown circumstances, which has led to a drastic change in personality since the first two Parasite Eve games: she is shown to be more vulnerable, and fights for unknown reasons. With the ability to travel through time via the Overdive System, and also having gained the new ability to body swap, Aya is the secret weapon for the human race in the fight against the new life forms called Twisted. Using a machine built by the Counter Twisted Investigation (CTI) team, Aya returns to two years in the past, when the Twisted first appeared. At the end of the game, it is revealed that the real Aya was destroyed by her own sister Eve at Time Zero, which took place during Aya's wedding to Kyle Madigan in 2010. It transpired that Eve had tried to save her but accidentally developed Overdive into Aya's body, causing Aya's soul to create the Twisted. Aya and Eve swap bodies, Eve then shoots Aya in order to prevent the twisted from being created. The game's ending shows Eve in Aya's body, meeting a mysterious woman with similar voice to Aya whose identity is left ambiguous. Kyle is also shown saying he is going to search to try and find Aya.
Aya makes a cameo appearance in the racing game Chocobo Racing as a hidden character, using a police car as her vehicle, and has a promotional card in the Final Fantasy Trading Card Game. One of her outfits from The 3rd Birthday serves as an alternate outfit for Lightning in the fighting game Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, who is also portrayed by Aya's Japanese voice actress Maaya Sakamoto (in turn, one of Aya's own alternate costumes in The 3rd Birthday is Lightning's). Action figures of Aya and Melissa from the original Parasite Eve game were released together in one set by Takara. and an Aya wallscroll from The 3rd Birthday was released by Square Enix.
The character was critically well received for a variety of reasons. The "sexy, intelligent and tough" Aya Brea was chosen as one of the 20 "muses" of video games by Brazilian magazine SuperGamePower in 2001. In 2001, Omar Ali of Gaming Target included her among his favourite "leading ladies in video games" for having "the right combination of looks and intelligence." In 2007, UGO listed her among the top 11 New York "cops" in all entertainment, while her guest appearance in Chocobo Racing was included in GamesRadar's 2008 list of 55 best video game cameos. In 2009, GamesRadar also ranked her sixth on the list of the most "tasteful game heroines", adding that "her blond hair and penchant for finding supernatural trouble" has made them "wonder if J. J. Abrams had Aya in mind when casting Fringe’s Olivia Dunham, this generation's Dana Scully," and Ryan Woo of Complex included her on his 2011 list of the 25 most stylish video game characters for both her "classic T-shirt and jeans" and "her high-slit (yet classy) black widow dress". In 2011, Rely on Horror listed her as one of top ten out-of-luck horror game protagonists "for experiencing several tragedies and losses at a young and impressionable age, ultimately being used as a weapon and a source of fanservice, only to die and spawn a race of terrible monsters from her body that do the very thing she was trying to stop." Aya and Kyle were listed among the 25 best video game couples by IGN's Emma Boyes in 2012. She was included among the "old school hotties that still got it" by Travis Hubert of Cheat Code Central in 2014, who stated that he could not "think of another single female cop character that made me rethink the concept of digital crushes like Aya Brea. Not only was she smokin’-ass hot, she was also a total badass."
Aya was also often noted for just her sex appeal. According to PlayStation Universe, "slender, blonde and generally easy on the eyes, it’s no wonder Parasite Eve protagonist Aya Brea has resonated so profoundly with gamers since fluttering her eyelashes for the first time on PlayStation back in 1998." In 2010, Complex ranked her 32nd in their list of "hottest" women in video games, being also featured in GamesRadar's female editor's list of "ladies worth scissoring" and included on Gadżetomania.pl's list of top sexiest and fiercest blondes in games. In 2011, FHM stated that "Aya Brea was, and still is, one of the sexiest video game babes of all time. As far as we’re concerned, she’s right up there with the Lara Croft’s and the Chun-li’s of the world in terms of digital hotness." That same year, UGO ranked her as third on the list of "hot girls we wish were real", while Japanator.com included her on the list of top ten "hottest girls" of Japanese gaming. Also in 2011, Lisa Foiles of The Escapist put her among the top five "hottest blonde chicks" at number number two, calling her "beautiful and a very real, relatable character" and noting her resemblance of young Samus from Metroid: Other M. Aya's shower scene in Parasite Eve II was ranked as the third top in games by GamesRadar UK in 2008, while UGO ranked a similar scene in 3rd Birthday as the seventh best shower scene in all media. In 2012, Aya won the title of "Miss of Video Games" from the Polish console gaming magazine PSX Extreme. Tom's Guide included her on their 2013 list of the 20 "hottest video game babes" and called her the reason the Parasite Eve series "is a cult favorite." That same year, she was ranked as the fifth sexiest female video game character by Scarlet Clearwater of Soletron.
GamePro described her return for the first sequel as "eagerly awaited". In 2013, Aya was ranked as the 35th greatest heroine in video game history by Michael Rougeau of Complex, who called her "one of the most loved female characters of the PlayStation generation." Discussing the general lack of female characters in 2012's PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, PSX Extreme listed her, Lara Croft and Tifa Lockhart as the characters considered icons of the PlayStation brand, even as they all belong to the companies unaffiliated with Sony. Aya has also gained a big enough fan following to be a popular subject of cosplay.
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