Bayonetta (character)

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Bayonetta Bayo2 render.png
The character as she appears in Bayonetta 2
First appearanceBayonetta (2009)
Last appearanceSuper Smash Bros Ultimate (2018)
Created byHideki Kamiya
Designed byMari Shimazaki
Portrayed byPenny Drake (promotion)[1]
Voiced by
Motion captureStephanie Sheh (young)[4]

Bayonetta (Japanese: ベヨネッタ, Hepburn: Beyonetta), real name Cereza, is a fictional character and protagonist of the Bayonetta video game series, developed by PlatinumGames and published by Sega and Nintendo. She was created by Hideki Kamiya, designed by Mari Shimazaki, and is voiced by Hellena Taylor in English and Atsuko Tanaka in Japanese.

Bayonetta is one of only two surviving Umbra Witches, being the child of a Witch and a Lumen Sage. During the first game, she goes in search of her forgotten past, heading for her old home of Vigrid, and fighting the angelic forces of Paradiso on the way. She also appears as the protagonist of Bayonetta 2 and as a special guest character in other titles such as Anarchy Reigns, The Wonderful 101, and the Super Smash Bros. series.

Reception of the character has been positive overall, with the common point of praise being her highly feminine image, which makes her both stand out among female characters in video games and go against several set conventions.

Conception and design[edit]

Sketch of two long haired, black-clothed women in two poses, side by side. To their left is a cat-shaped earring. Above the woman on the right are six circular items of gold jewelry. Around them is a white background with Japanese and English text throughout
Mari Shimazaki tried to make the witch Bayonetta more appealing with longer limbs and adjusted proportions.[5]

Given the suggestion to create another action game by producer Yusuke Hashimoto, project director Hideki Kamiya decided to create a female lead for the title, having felt he had already done all that could be done with male protagonists.[6] To this end, he told character designer Mari Shimazaki to create her with three traits: a female lead, a modern witch, and to use four guns.[5] Her name was inspired by a bayonet, meant to imply there was "more to her than meets the eye",[7] while her four guns were named parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme after the old English ballad, 'Scarborough Fair', due to Kamiya's love of folk music.[8] The process, which took a full year, went through a hundred character designs and alterations, with early appearances resembling a traditional witch, with a frayed black outfit and a "veil-like look" on her head.[7] The outfit color persisted, described by Shimazaki as being her "theme color" due to being a witch. She was given longer legs and arms to make her more appealing as an action-game character, countering what Shimazaki felt was a trend of female characters in such games having short and thin limbs.[5] Her limbs and the rest of her design were appealing to Kamiya,[7] and development proceeded on the character's attire.[5]

Bayonetta's beehive hairstyle in the first game was an aspect Shimazaki insisted on, using it as an alternative to the usual pointed hat seen on witches. However, despite concerns, Kamiya had no qualms about the hairstyle one way or another. She was additionally given glasses at Kamiya's insistence, intended to differentiate her from other female characters as well as give her a "sense of mystery and intelligence", though Shimazaki attributed it to possibly his preference for women with glasses.[5] Her guns were modeled after a derringer pistol, in order to remain convincing and familiar, as well as to make her weapons "capable of rapid fire; a simple, rugged gun". Kamiya approved the idea, on the grounds that he felt the weapon would look "hot" in a female hand.[9] Holsters were additionally considered for her feet, however the developers discarded the idea after feeling it wasn't feminine.[7]

The concept of creating her outfit out of her hair was intended to fit into her design as a witch, which the development team felt meant she derived power from her hair.[7] It was designed to both be a "means of adornment and protection" while also giving her appear "fashionable" and accentuate the movement of her limbs. During this process it was decided that as she summoned creatures to attack her enemies during the game she would lose partial control of her hair and end up in more "comfortable" attire; Shimazaki noted this as one of the aspects of the character she loved.[5] Kamiya in addition wanted to avoid giving her large breasts and cleavage, feeling that normal sized breasts were adequate and that being mysterious was more attractive than "baring it all".[10] The character's model was created by Kenichiro Yoshimura, who observed non-Japanese models to keep her proportions authentic, giving particular focus to her backside which, as a result, led to it being made wider and more rounded than the typically slim-hipped female characters designed by Japanese artists.[11] While the character Jeanne came to be better liked by most of the team, Bayonetta was Shimazaki's favorite character, while Kamiya referred to her as his "ideal woman".[12]

Her outfit in Bayonetta 2 was again designed by Shimazaki. It was generally designed more around straight lines than curves. All her jewelry and accessories were designed around this initiative apart from her glasses. There was debate about where to show skin, but when it was decided to create a cape at the front of the outfit, the front of her outfit was closed and instead they opted to show a large area of her back. For her new look, blue became a key color as opposed to the first game, where it was red: this was because water was a key theme for the second game and Hashimoto requested blue to become the design's key color. This eventually proved difficult as, combined with the black and silver incorporated into her outfit and the game's general color palette, it did not have the sharp qualities of her former appearance. Shimazaki described trying to make her stand out in her black outfit as "a nightmare". Her overall design theme was "solid".[13] The character's hairstyle underwent a major redesign. Hashimoto's main reason behind this was that "[Bayonetta's] personality is the type that would not want to remain stagnant. She would want to change her style, taste in fashion, and her costumes. Down the line in the series, she may make further changes to her appearance."[14] The texture of her outfit was designed to appear similar to leather, despite it still being made from her hair.[15] Her new guns, Love is Blue, were also difficult to design, as making them too large or too similar in color to other elements of Bayonetta's outfit would not have fitted her. In the end, they were made a more striking shade of blue, as well as being given some gold to match Bayonetta's chestpiece and a silver sheen. Each of the guns, Night, Jealous, Eye and Life, were given antique charms adorned with flower designs and named according to their color and the ideas they evoked to further promote and augment the new look.[13]


Bayonetta is voiced by Hellena Taylor in English and Atsuko Tanaka in Japanese.[2] For the original game, despite production being based in Japan, Kamiya was particular to insist that the character have an English voice actor, and had no Japanese voice actor assigned due to his belief that speaking Japanese would not suit the character.[16] Tanaka first voiced the character in the anime Bayonetta: Bloody Fate, an adaptation of the original Bayonetta, and subsequently assumed the role in Bayonetta 2 and the re-release of the original title on Wii U.[17] Tanaka also voiced the character in commercials for the original game in 2009. She was chosen due to the fact that her name kept cropping up when the team asked who could best portray the character in Japanese.[18]


Bayonetta series[edit]

Bayonetta was born in Vigrid from the forbidden union of Lumen Sage Father Balder and Umbra Witch Rosa: the Witch was imprisoned and the Sage exiled from his clan. Bayonetta's birth caused a rift between the formally peaceful clans and eventually led to them engaging in a war.[19] Bayonetta became a black sheep among the Umbran Witches, and during the war, Jeanne, her former childhood friend and rival, sealed her away and wiped her memory to protect her from those who would exploit her power.[20] For the next five hundred years, Bayonetta was sealed in a coffin at the bottom of a lake. She is later rescued, at Father Balder's instructions, by a journalist, who is then murdered by Balder's angels as his son, Luka, looks on.

In Bayonetta, the witch sets out for her hometown Vigrid, where Father Balder is preparing to awaken the creator Jubileus and trigger the creation of a new world at the cost of the old one. She is followed there by a now grown-up Luka, who has become a journalist and has set out to show Bayonetta to the world, as an act of vengeance for her supposed part in his father's death.[21] She also encounters Jeanne, who is under Balder's control, and Cereza, Bayonetta's younger self sent through time by the Lumen Sage. Cereza and Bayonetta become close, with Cereza thinking Bayonetta was her mother and Bayonetta eventually telling Cereza that she should keep things she treasured close to her heart (referring specifically to a charm Cereza's mother had given her as a birthday present).[22] Eventually, Bayonetta learns the truth of recent events after defeating Balder and sending Cereza back to her own era: the "Left Eye" is actually Bayonetta herself, and regaining her memories allowed her to awaken her latent power. By bringing Cereza into the present, Balder set events into motion that would prevent Bayonetta from forgetting her past when Jeanne sealed her away.[23] Knocked unconscious by the awakening of her power, Bayonetta is sealed within Jubileus by Balder, only to be rescued by Jeanne, newly freed from the Lumen Sage's control. Together, the two destroy Jubileus and save the planet.

In Bayonetta 2, a few months after the events of the first game, Bayonetta and Jeanne are fighting an angel outbreak when a supernatural summoning goes wrong and Gomarrah kills Jeanne. Bayonetta then sets out to rescue Jeanne's soul from a realm called Hell, heading to the sacred mountain Fimbulvintr to find the doorway to Inferno.[24] Arriving at the town of Noatun, she encounters a mysterious boy named Loki who serves as her guide to the mountain. She also reunites with Luka, who tells her about the legend of the deity Aesir, who created and ruled the human realm. During their journey, the pair is attacked by a masked Lumen Sage who targets Loki. When they reach the Gates of Hell, Bayonetta meets Loptr, who is apparently working with the Masked Lumen and knows Loki very well. Through a vision, he reveals to her that her father Balder was not responsible for the witch hunts and tried to save her mother, who was killed by an unknown assailant who looks like Loki. To escape their attackers, Bayonetta and Loki flee into Hell, but the Masked Lumen follows them. Separated from the boy, Bayonetta fights through hordes of demons and successfully rescues Jeanne but finds Loki being attacked again by the Masked Lumen. Intervening, Bayonetta fights the Sage, revealed to be a younger version of her father Balder who had been targeting Loki for Rosa's murder. Suddenly, Loki unwillingly sends both Bayonetta and Balder back into the past during the Witch Hunts. Bayonetta meets her mother Rosa, and the two of them fight against the angels. During the battle, she fights a younger version of Loptr, and she realizes that he murdered Rosa and framed Loki for the crime. Later encountering Balder, the pair enter the Umbra Witch sanctuary to find that Loptr had killed Rosa. When he escapes, Bayonetta tells Balder that the killer was not Loki. She then opens a time portal and the two of them return to the present. With the help of Jeanne flying a fighter jet, Bayonetta and Balder set out for Fimbulvientr to confront Loptr, who has captured Loki. He reveals that he and Loki are the two halves of Aesir. When Aesir divided his power into the Eyes of the World, he split his soul into two: Loki being the good half and Loptr being the evil half. But Loptr decided to take back his power and become Aesir once again. Draining Loki of his power, Loptr takes the Eyes from both Bayonetta and Balder and transforms into Aesir. While the Witch and the Sage team up to fight Aesir, Loki erases the Eyes and weaken Loptr. Bayonetta and Balder defeat Loptr and split his soul from his body. When he tries to escape into the past to be reborn, Balder stops him by sealing the soul inside his body, despite Loki warning that it will corrupt him. Bayonetta tearfully bids farewell to her father as he is transported back into the past and becomes the corrupted Father Balder. As Loki begins to fade, he promises to Bayonetta that they will meet again when he is reborn.

Other appearances[edit]

Penny Drake dressed as the character at E3 2009

At the 2009 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Sega chose Penny Drake to model as Bayonetta after auditioning 100 women.[1] To promote the character and the game, Playboy featured several models dressed as her for viewers to vote which they considered the best.[25] Sega also joined men's lifestyle website to run a contest to find women who looked like Bayonetta; the grand prize winner was Andrea Bonaccorso.[26][27] A Spanish cosplayer known as "Judy Helsing" portrayed Bayonetta as she appeared in Bayonetta 2 for Playboy.[28]

Bayonetta starred in the anime film Bayonetta: Bloody Fate, an adaptation of the first Bayonetta game.[29] She also appears as a downloadable character in Sega's multiplayer fighting game Anarchy Reigns, and as a special guest character alongside Jeanne and Rodin in Nintendo's action game The Wonderful 101.[30][31]

On December 15, 2015, Bayonetta was announced as the final downloadable character for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. Following a Nintendo-sponsored fan poll asking for character suggestions for the game, Bayonetta was the most popular choice among "negotiable" characters worldwide, placing among the top five vote-getters in the United States and placing first in the polls in Europe. She sports her primary character designs from both Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 with her design from the second game being her default appearance, and retains many of her abilities from both games, such as extended combos, Witch Time, and Infernal Climax. She was released alongside a stage based on the falling Umbra Clock Tower from Bayonetta on February 3, 2016 in North America and on February 4, 2016 in Europe.[32] She also appears in the sequel Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, this time in the initial release.[33]

Hideki Kamiya was approached about having Bayonetta included in Project X Zone 2, to which he refused as he wanted Bayonetta and Dante from Devil May Cry to meet "on his own terms". However, he has stated that he has come to regret this decision due to realizing how the fans would have loved the two interacting, and that if there is a Project X Zone 3 he would be all for Bayonetta's inclusion.[34]

Bayonetta also appears in 8-Bit Bayonetta, a free game that SEGA released on 1 April 2017 on Steam.[35] The game's achievements led players to a "coming soon" page, with a countdown that ended with the release of the first game on PC.[36]


Critical response to Bayonetta's character has been mainly positive. Computer and Video Games praised her as more interesting than the game's storyline, describing her as the "sexiest collection of pixels [they've] ever seen", though not a character they considered a sex object. They further compared her to "Lara Croft without the prudishness, Rubi from Wet played with honest sexuality", and one of the most memorable characters they'd seen.[37] GamesRadar stated the character deserved plenty of respect, describing her as "sexy, witty and can certainly handle herself in a fight" and further named her one of the game's most positive points as she "kicks all sorts of ass and is funny too."[38] GamePro felt that the character's "overt sexuality and frantic anime-inspired shenanigans" hampered the game's presentation, adding they would have enjoyed the character more if less focus had been put on her sexuality.[39][40] IGN's Ryan Clements described the character as a "hardcore badass" that was also "brimming with sexual energy",[41] further describing her as an "immensely powerful protagonist".[42] However, associate editor Nicole Tanner disagreed, noting she did not find the character's sexuality at all empowering as "just because you give a girl an attitude and guns isn't enough to offset what she looks like".[43] Other members of IGN's staff named her their favorite video game character, describing her as "the playfulness and versatility of Dante" combined with "visually inventive combat". They cited her constant nudity as a point of appeal, calling the mechanic of her hair serving as her clothing both one of the stupidest and one of the coolest elements of a character.[44]

In 2012, the staff of GamesRadar ranked her as the 100th best hero in video games.[45] The same site later listed her as the 17th best character from her generation.[46] Larry Hester of Complex ranked her as the 19th hottest video game character in 2012,[47] and as the 20th "most badass" video game character of all time in 2013.[48] On the other hand, Marissa Meli of UGO included the "transvestite witch" Bayonetta in her 2010 list of top 20 "unsexiest sexy" video game characters.[49] Lisa Foiles of The Escapist named Bayonetta's boots as the craziest footwear in video games, saying she was "totally okay with the absurdity of these."[50] In 2014, La Nueva España included the "as beautiful as lethal" Bayonetta among the top ten sexiest video game characters of both genders.[51] Thanh Niên ranked her in 2015 as the 18th most sexy female character.[52]

Upon the release of Bayonetta 2 in 2014, Bayonetta's design received both widespread approval but also criticism from some reviewers. Polygon's Arthur Gies praised the developers for giving Bayonetta "some much-needed development as a human being who cares about things other than herself; her motivations go beyond the agonizingly trope-y amnesia setup of the first game", he was significantly concerned about other aspects of her depiction, such as gratuitous camera angles that were "frequently provided as an implicit reward for doing well. … It's sexist, gross pandering, and it's totally unnecessary." He felt that such issues "cause[d] an otherwise great game to require a much bigger mental compromise to enjoy".[53] Edge stated that although "Bayonetta's default design shows how to walk the tightrope between sexy and sexualised", certain optional costumes "range from the respectable to the cringeworthy."[54] GameSpot review by Mark Walton found the character praiseworthy: "[D]espite suffering crotch shots and blatant innuendos …[Bayonetta] remains one of the most charismatic and powerful heroines in the medium. There are none of the sleazy moments that peppered the likes of Lollipop Chainsaw and Killer Is Dead; the sexualisation here serves to empower, not to belittle."[55] In an editorial for The Guardian on female characterization, Ria Jenkins praised Bayonetta as a character who is "unapologetically feminine, sexual and confident. Dismissed by many as an objectified fantasy, she is a woman without compromise who refuses to be ashamed of her body."[56] In 2018, Lady Gaga expressed her love of the character, referring to her as "tough." [57]

See also[edit]


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  3. ^ a b "Behind the Voice Actors - Voice of Cereza". Behind The Voice Actors. Retrieved January 27, 2016.
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  6. ^ Kamiya, Hideki (April 1, 2009). "Greetings". PlatinumGames, Inc. Archived from the original on July 21, 2010. Retrieved August 3, 2009.
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  20. ^ PlatinumGames (January 5, 2010). Bayonetta. PlayStation 3, Xbox 360. Sega. Jeanne: That is why the Left Eye, our treasured Left Eye, will never fall into the hands of another. I will not stand for the wild ambition of a Lumen Sage who disrupted our age-old balance. Your path ends here. Do not fear your fate. Stand... Cereza.
  21. ^ PlatinumGames (January 5, 2010). Bayonetta. PlayStation 3, Xbox 360. Sega. Luka: We both know you came here for something. But what you don't know is that the closer you get, that harder it's gonna be to get away from me and what you've done. You'll have to 'fess up to it all!
  22. ^ PlatinumGames (January 5, 2010). Bayonetta. PlayStation 3, Xbox 360. Sega. Bayonetta: When you love something, never lose it. Understand, little one? You must keep it safe, close to your heart.
  23. ^ PlatinumGames (January 5, 2010). Bayonetta. PlayStation 3, Xbox 360. Sega. Balder: The Right Eye oversees the light. The Left Eye oversees the darkness. Two eyes to oversee the world. It was never the woman known as "Bayonetta" that I set my sights upon. It was you as a child, Cereza, that I set my sights upon. For she was the one who saw the world through innocent eyes, and she was the one who could give rise to a new history. It was her energy that could awaken the Left Eye.
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