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Ayane
Dead or Alive
Ninja Gaiden series
Ayane (Dead or Alive)
Ayane in Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge
First appearance Dead or Alive (1998)
Created by Tomonobu Itagaki
Voiced by
(English)
Gina DeVettori (DOA2)
Janice Kawaye (NG)
Janna Levenstein (DOAX2)
Wendee Lee (Dimensions)
Motion capture Natassia Malthe (film)
Voiced by
(Japanese)
Wakana Yamazaki
class=" infobox hproduct" style="float:right; width:264px; font-size:90%; text-align:left;" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="3"
Fictional profile
Nationality Template:Flag icon Japan
Fighting style Mugen Tenshin Ninjutsu (Hajin Mon style)
Weapon Fuma Kodachi
Weapon name Fuma Kodachi
Occupation Kunoichi

|- |} Ayane (あやね 綾音?) is a player character in the Dead or Alive and Ninja Gaiden fighting game series by Team NINJA and Tecmo Koei. Ayane has also a complex relationship with Kasumi, the leading heroine of the Dead or Alive series, ever since they grew up together. Even though she is often overshadowed by her Kasumi even in the real world,[1][2][3] Ayane is still one of the most popular and recognisable received Tecmo characters. Outside of Japan she was also a subject of some controversy regarding her age and sexualization.

Ayane is an expert of ninjutsu; her deadly fighting style has given her the nickname "Female Tengu". She is Kasumi's half-sister, whom she bears jealousy and hatred for being a shinobi destined to live in the shadow of her older sister. She admires Hayate, her half-brother and also has some connections with Ryu Hayabusa, who is a trusted ally of the Mugen Tenshin clan.

In video games

Ayane was born as the result of Raidou raping Kasumi's mother, Ayame. Though Ayane was allowed to stay in Mugen Tenshin village, she was always looked down upon and generally detested by many in the clan. Ever since they were children, Ayane looked up to Hayate as a way of increasing her self-esteem and lifting her sadness. Hayate as well was fond of her; he might have learned of the true circumstances behind Ayane's birth and did not see the point of isolating her as everyone else did. Along with a burning hatred for Raidou, the man who ruined her life by creating it in the first place, the focal point of her ire rested on the one who had been treated like a princess, Kasumi, while Ayane was treated like dirt. This envy that Ayane harbors can be greatly compared to the hatred Raidou had over Shiden, Kasumi's father. Quiet and reserved, Ayane has honed her skills in an attempt to make others see her to be more than the "demon child".

With the death of her former master Genra at the end of DOA3, Ayane is now the strongest ninja of the Hajin Mon, the covert splinter the Mugen Tenshin clan. She may have managed to reconcile her feelings of hatred towards Kasumi somewhat, as demonstrated when she stops Kasumi from entering the burning DOATEC building seconds before it explodes in DOA4.

Design

Ayane (Dead or Alive) 2

Ayane's classic appearance in Dead or Alive 4 as compared to her more detailed and realistic[4][5] design from Dead or Alive 5

According to the book Video Game Art, Ayane's design requirements are of "beauty and mystery".[6] Ayane is the youngest girl in the series, at only 16, but possesses the second largest bust (stated at 93 cm / 37"), falling just behind Tina Armstrong.[7] Her fighting style is very different from Kasumi's Tenjin Mon style (according to Kung Fu Cult Masters, Ayane's "pirrouetting slaps are harder to imagine in a film, but draw from a spinning/twisting dynamics of martial arts choreography"[8]).[9] She also has one of the most distinctive appearances out of the DOA girls because of her unusually-colored eyes and hair. Character designer and producer Tomonobu Itagaki described her character and personality as much "harder" than Kasumi and said she fit in the "very hard-edged" universe of the Ninja Gaiden series.[10]

In the games, Ayane uses a variety of female ninja suits and other attires (including a schoolgirl uniform[11] and a Carnival of Venice-style costume[12]), often coming with a miniskirt or tunic, repeatedly with use of a butterfly motif.[13] In Dead or Alive Ultimate, one of her 20 outfits is inspired by this of the character Millennia from Kagero: Deception 2, and in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 one of her alternate costumes pays homage to Sun Shangxiang (Lady Sun) from Koei's Dynasty Warriors series. Ayane's face changed slightly for Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2;[14][15] the game that according to GamePro "has the lovely Ayane at her sexiest".[16] Her controversial design for Dead or Alive: Dimensions, however, "upset fans" when the game was announced in 2010.[17]

Character design

Ayane design

Ayane's concept art sketches showing the character's evolution from a blonde Kasumi's twin to the final design in the first DOA game (an iconic costume which was even used in DOAX3[18] despite not being a beach wear)

Ayane is the youngest female to appear as a playable character in the Dead or Alive series, having been introduced at the age of only 16. She stands at 5'2" and weighs 104 lbs, with a bust size of 93 cm (37"),[19] and has one of the most distinctive[20] appearances out of DOA girls due to her unusually colored purple hair and red eyes. Her face changed slightly between Ninja Gaiden II and Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.[21][15] As in the case of other Dead or Alive 5 characters, her face and general aesthetics are noticeably different in this game, due to DOA5's more realistic design style in comparison to a more cartoonish style of the previous DOA games.[22] Team Ninja leader Yosuke Hayashi said "Ayane and Hitomi retain their signature spirits while complimented by a new look that reflects amazing beauty, grace, and a strong sense of presence."[23] Ayane's Japanese voice actress has been consistently Wakana Yamazaki, dubbed into English by Gina DeVettori, Janice Kawaye, Janna Levenstein, Wendee Lee and Brittney Harvey.

IGN's Hilary Goldstein wrote in 2004 that visually the character "is most notable for her anime purple hair and jigglin' jumblies," but her appearance of a "sweet girl" is misleading and hides her "devious nature".[19] Ayane wears a variety of mostly purple and black female ninja suits and other attires (including a schoolgirl uniform[24] and a Carnival of Venice-style costume[25]), often coming with a miniskirt or tunic and often featuring a butterfly motif (later even on her weapons[26]). Among about 20 Ayane's outfits in the 2004 compilation game Dead or Alive Ultimate,[27] one was inspired by the character Millennia from Kagero: Deception 2.[27][28] One of her alternative costumes in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 also pays homage to Sun Shangxiang (Lady Sun) from Koei's Dynasty Warriors series.[29] Her wardrobe in Last Round also includes outfits designed by Tamiki Wakaki, a destructible green dress in 2014[30][31] and a purple armor in 2016,[32] ad well as downloadable costumes based on the Clockwork Princess Millennia from Tecmo Koei's Deception IV: The Nightmare Princess,[33] Fie Claussell from Nihon Falcom's The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II,[34] Satoka Sumihara from Square Enix's School Girl Strikers,[35] Cocona from Tatsunoko's Nurse Witch Komugi,[36] Nene from Samurai Warriors,[37] and Yukino Aguria from Fairy Tail,[38] among others.

Ayane's fighting style is very different from Kasumi's Tenjin Mon style.[9] Her signature weapons are a pair of twin short swords named Fuma Kodachi (風舞小太刀 Wind Dancer Short Swords?). According to Kung Fu Cult Masters by Leon Hunt, Ayane's "pirrouetting slaps are harder to imagine in a film, but draw from a spinning/twisting dynamics of martial arts choreography."[39] Kasumi's clone Phase 4 uses some of Ayane's fighting style.[40] Team Ninja founder Tomonobu Itagaki described Ayane's character and personality as much "harder" than Kasumi's, making her fit better in the "very hard-edged" universe of the Ninja Gaiden series.[41] His successor Yosuke Hayashi said the image of Ayane covered in her enemies' blood can symbolise the intensity of Ninja Gaiden.[42] Hayashi later requested a special appearance by Ayane in the Fatal Frame series, wherein the developers "spent a lot of time adjusting things like the wobble of her chest. Team Ninja gave them lots of advice."[43] The game's director Toru Osawa said adding Ayane as a guest character was first suggested by Nintendo.[44]

Dead or Alive series

In Dead or Alive 2, Ayane joined in the Dead or Alive World Combat Championship as an assassin in pursuit of her sister Kasumi, a runaway shinobi who has left the Mugen Tenshin behind and was promptly branded a "traitor" to their clan. Ayane encountered and rescued an amnesiac Hayate, who went by the name "Ein". When confronting Helena, Ayane was accused of murdering Helena's mother Maria, but later it was revealed the assassin was really Christie.

In Dead or Alive 3, Ayane's former teacher and foster parent, Genra, the leader of the Hajin Mon (覇神門?) sect of the Mugen Tenshin clan, has disappeared. Ayane, now as the de facto leader of Hajin Mon, learns that Genra has been turned into a puppet by the Dead or Alive Tournament Executive Committee (DOATEC) and its sinister Omega Project. Seeing what has become of her beloved father, Ayane realizes that the fate commands her to put Genra out of his misery. According to the DOA series' creator Tomonobu Itagaki, Ayane is the canonical main protagonist of the DOA3;[45] she is also the official winner of the third DOA tournament.

In Dead or Alive 4, Ayane has pledged her life to her half-brother and Mugen Tenshin clan leader Hayate in his cause to destroy the DOATEC for all the suffering the company has caused the ninja clans. Ayane has a threefold stake in this revenge trip for Raidou being changed into a monster, for Hayate being brainwashed in their attempt to realize Project Epsilon, and for the manipulation and death of Genra. At the end of the game, Ayane uses her secret ninpo technique to blow up the DOATEC Tri-Tower.

Ninja Gaiden series

In Ninja Gaiden, Ayane plays a minor role, showing a younger her as she assists Ryu during his bloody vengeance against the Vigoorian Empire and the Greater Fiend Doku, serving a courier at the age of 14 (Ayane is 16-year-old in the DOA series[19]).

In Ninja Gaiden II, she appears only near the end of the game, to give Ryu the treasured Dragon's Eye, a jewel that increases the power of Ryu's fabled Dragon Sword, and defeating the resurrected Fiend and the Black Spider ninja clan's leader Genshin. However, in Ninja Gaiden Σ 2 (conversion of NGII for the PS3) Ayane plays a more potent role as a playable character in one level (showing how she obtained the Dragon Eye for Ryu, which also has a brief cameo of Kasumi at the end) and also becomes available in the co-op and multiplayer modes.

Spin-off games

Outside of the main DOA series, Ayane appears as one of the player characters in the beach volleyball spin-off games Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 (where her current relationship with Kasumi is unclear) and Dead or Alive Paradise. She is also featured in Zen Pinball: Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, a pinball game for the PlayStation Network.[46]

Dead or Alive: Code Chronos, a DOA series' prequel project which was supposed to center on Ayane and Kasumi, has been officially cancelled in 2010 after Itagaki had left Team NINJA and Tecmo.

Guest appearances

Ayane makes an unplayable guest appearance in Koei's Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce (her Fuma Kodachi twin short swords are also available there as a player's optional weapon).[47] Her signature purple dress is also an unlockable costume in Super Swing Golf: Season 2 for the character Kooh[48] and in the Director's Cut version of Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly as an alternate costume for Mayu, one of this game's two protagonist sisters (the other one, Mio, may wear Kasumi's costume).[49]

Gameplay

If you like fast, unpredictable characters, there’s simply no one better than Ayane. Ayane is fun to play, and she is usable at just about any level, from beginner to expert, due to her unorthodox fighting method and speed.

In the official guide for Dead or Alive Ultimate, Prima Games' Eric Mylonas wrote that if one likes "fast, unpredictable characters, there's simply no one better than Ayane." She "is fun to play, and she is usable at just about any level of play, from beginner to expert, due to unorthodox fighting method and speed" as well as "devastating holds and throws." Ayane may not be favored by those who prefer "huge, over-the-top moves", but for a "more patient sort, there's probably no better character in the game."[50] According to GameSpy's guide by Andrew Alfonso, Ayane's key moves include her high kick—which is "a lot" better than Kasumi's—with another move so powerful "it's almost unfair to use it." She is more effective with her back turned towards her opponent, despite the fact that the characters cannot block when facing away from an enemy.[51] According to GameSpy's guide for Dead or Alive 3 by the same author, Ayane is a very unpredictable and quick attacker, even more than in the previous games in the series, and should be played primarily for her backwards position, hers being the best such stance of all the characters in the game. Ayane's speed and deceiving attacks make her a "pretty good" partner for slower fighters for tag team battles, but her primary partners are the other ninja characters.[52]

In the official guide for Dead or Alive 4, Prima Games' Bryan Dawson wrote that while in the previous games Ayane has been "one of the easiest characters to use and was very difficult to fight against", in this game she "now requires much more skill in high-level players, as her best attack as nowhere as dominant as they were in the past." She was rated overall 7/10.[53] According to GameSpot's guide to Dead or Alive 4 by Matthew Rorie, Ayane is "one of the more devious characters" of the game, "capable of devastating speed and some ingenious little fake-out animations", but she requires "a lot more practice than is apparent at first glance."[54] In GameSpy's guide, David McCutcheon wrote that "widely regarded as the Ken/Ryu of the Dead or Alive series, Ayane can be both incredibly cheap and remarkably skilled," as "rolling and spinning will work wonders for your countering effects" and one "can juggle enemies to endless amounts of pain."[55] Ayane's move set in an early version of Dead or Alive 5 seems almost identical to this in DOA4,[4][56] but she has some new moves;[57] Team Ninja wrote that "her mastery of ever-changing moves means her opponents never know what is coming."[57]

In the DOA Xtreme and Paradise beach volleyball games, Ayane has excellent technique and jump abilities, at the cost of poor defence, power and speed.[58] As such, she is most effective as a supporting player. In Ninja Gaiden Σ 2, Ayane's attacks (many of her Fuma Kodachi combos resemble her combos from Dead or Alive) and finishing moves are far faster than these of Ryu, but the player has to learn to dodge much more as she has worse blocking abilities.[59] According to the official guide for this game by Prima's Bryan Dawson, Ayane's short range and limited attack power "make her the worst choice of the three new characters for almost every mission" and "her only saving graces" are a powerful ninpo spell and deadly Flash Kunai projectiles. In addition, the CPU-controlled character "doesn't seem to know what to do in any situation."[60] Mitch Dyer of IGN wrote that Ayane is "a damn fine addition" to Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, where she is "just as capable as Ryu Hayabusa when it comes to slaughtering terrorists" with her "quick and vicious" melee attacks and explosive kunais, adding that she is "functionally similar to Hayabusa in terms of combos and skills, complete with a screen-clearing special move."[61]

Other appearances

In film

Natassia Malthe as Ayane DOA

Natassia Malthe's role in the film DOA: Dead or Alive was mostly poorly received, including criticism from Tomonobu Itagaki

In the live-action film DOA: Dead or Alive, Ayane is a ninja assassin and Kasumi's former servant who is dedicated to seeking out and killing her, as Kasumi is considered an outcast to the clan. Ayane first confronts Kasumi before she flees the temple, then several times on the island. She has romantic feelings towards Hayate (she is not his half-sister in the movie, and neither she is Kasumi's),[62] and initially believes him to be dead. Ayane fails to kill Kasumi but finds Hayate and aids him against DOATEC. During the film's finale, she saves him from a potentially fatal fall.[63]

Ayane was controversially portrayed by Natassia Malthe, a half-Norwegian half-Filipina actress who was also much older than Ayane is portrayed in the games. Malthe's Ayane uses a Japanese long sword and also wields two longs swords in the various promotional images in and out of character.[64] Tomonobu Itagaki later said he "wanted to have Japanese actresses portray Kasumi and Ayane" but the film's director Corey Yuen "believed strongly in his casting choices." Itagaki said he would have chosen Aya Ueto to play Ayane.[65]

In promotion and merchandise

A number of merchandise items featuring Ayane was created as well, such as a range of statuettes and action figures, including by Shunya Yamashita,[66] Kotobukiya,[1] Volks,[67][2] Mr Big[68] and others (including one of which came with the limited edition Japanese release of Ninja Gaiden[69] and another which could be undressed to a bikini[70][71]), a UFO Catcher claw crane figure by Sega,[72] a very special coffee mug for Banpresto's arcade redemption games,[73] etc. In 2004, a pinup picture of Ayana from Ultimate in a bikini outfit was printed in Playboy.[74]

Reception

Critical reception and popularity

Since her introduction, Ayane remains a face of the series alongside her older half-sister,[75][76] and was featured through the fan-made CGI series Dead Fantasy from beginning.[77] While awarding The Annual GameSpy E3 Award to Dead or Alive Ultimate in 2004, a GameSpy editor Psylancer (Raymond Padilla) wrote: "Ayane should be my new girlfriend."[78] However, in contrast to Kasumi, often commended for her personality, overwhelming most of critical attention Ayane received regarded solely her physical appearance. According to IGN in 2004, "Ayane is most notable for her anime purple hair and jigglin' jumblies."[19] When featuring Ayane as the Videogame Babe of the Day in 2006, IGN added: "After that awkward goth stage in high school, not many people continue to rock the violet locks, but Ayane is different… she's hot enough to get away with it."[79] GamesRadar ranked hers, Ryu's, and Momiji's guest appearance in DW: Strikeforce as 49th on their list of 55 awesome character cameos in 2010.[80] In 2006, the Polish edition of GameStar had her among the 20 candidates in a poll for the title of Miss of the Video Game World.[81] In 2009, Ayane was ranked seventh on the list of top 10 fictional ninjas by Fandomania[82] while Gavin Mackenzie of Play jokingly rated her breasts as two of the 10 top best things one can expect to see in Dead or Alive 5.[3] Ayane shared being GameDaily's Babe of the Week with Momiji and Rachel in 2009, and along with the other DOA girls was ranked tenth on the list of The 50 Hottest Women In Video Games by Complex in 2010.[83] In 2011, Complex also ranked her alone as 14th on the list of The 25 Best Looking Sideline Chicks in Games, adding: "Kasumi's cool and all, but we definitely prefer Ayane's cold and killer demeanor."[84]

On the other hand, Ayane's portrayal by Natassia Malthe in the film DOA: Dead or Alive was panned by fans and critics alike. GamesRadar nicknamed the motion picture version of Ayane as "White Girl Who is Somehow Also Japanese",[85] while UGO.com wrote about Malthe's role as Ayame: "Defining Moment: Zzzzzzzz".[86] Some also criticised the eye candy aspects of the character. In 2009, GamesRadar ranked the series of Team Ninja's controversial series of Sigma 2 commercials designed to draw attention to the fact that the "notoriously big-breasted" Ayane was a playable character (one of which was called by Destructoid "the best and worst thing to have ever been created"[87]) as the fourth most blatantly sexist game advertisement ever, adding: "God forbid a moment goes by where any part of her body might be covered up".[88]

Underage controversy

Just like Kasumi's (supposed to be 17), Ayane's age was not listed in the western versions of the games[9] to avoid backlash regarding underage characters. Nevertheless, some outlets raised and sometimes questioned the issue how much Ayane, an adolescent girl, is sexualized in the games (in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 players were even given control over the movement of her breasts using the Sixaxis game controller[16][89]).[90] A writer for Destructoid has voiced concern about how a supposedly 14-year-old character (Ayane's NG Sigma 2 age) has such "huge busters", tongue-in-cheek commenting how this made him "worried that this now means I'm a pedophile".[15] In 2011, Nintendo of Europe decided to not distribute Dead or Alive: Dimensions in Sweden, apparently because of the local child pornography law encompassing drawn and animated characters (and despite the age of consent in Sweden being only 15).[91]

See also

References

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External links

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