Fighting Games Obsession With Kawaii Anime Girls

Kawaii Anime Girls in Video games

The rise of female fighters who are clearly created for the sole purpose of appealing to the "moe/kawaii" subculture in Japan is causing a rift between the fighting game community. Let it be known, there's no problem with a female inspired anime character per say, until they start multiplying and taking over a franchise.

With all these anime cutesy fighters, where is room for more original and mature looking character concepts? It appears recently in every Japanese fighting game you'll always come across a dozen 'kawaii' fighters who have little purpose other than to appease a otaku audience.


With all these anime cutesy fighters, where is room for more original and mature looking character concepts?


The word kawaii was primitively used to describe only children, little animals and dolls but it has come to represent Japanese pop culture. Cute is cool in Japan and as expected, kawaii culture is dominated by Japanese females. This epidemic has since taken over Japanese fighting games.

In the nineties we saw more less cringe worthy and more authentic character concepts, but unfortunately that's been thrown out the window in favour of younger looking anime school girls. We can't recall when this phenomenon first caught on but fighting games haven't been able to recover.



Tekken 7's new female fighter "Lucky Chloe" caused some controversy online when she was first unveiled in 2014, so much that the director Katsuhiro Harada jumped on Twitter to defend the J-pop cat girl, sarcastically threatening to pull her from the western version.

Fighting game fans wasn't fond of the new character—many not feeling her appearance, which they felt was uncreative and generic in comparison to the older and more mature looking characters the Tekken series was once praised for (animals and robots aside).

Even before the arrival of Lucky Chloe Namco Bandai has been known for creating kasg, which is why Harada isn't given kudos for creating a fighter like Lucky Chloe. Had the character been a less represented race, ethnicity or concept then maybe the reception would have been different.

Tekken isn't the only game with a kasg fetish, Dead or Alive is another fighting game notorious for kawaii anime girls, one of the reasons why the series is severely lacking in diversifying it's cast.


Dead or Alive 5 Honaka

Since Dead or Alive 5 released in 2012 Team Ninja has included several new characters for their players to use and guess what? Three of those characters were kawaii anime girls. The first new character was Momiji, a female ninja who sort of resembled Mai from KOF, but it all went downhill from there.

Marie Rose was introduced to Dead or Alive Ultimate as the shortest fighter in the series, standing in at only 4'10. Marie is childish and looks extremely younger than the age she was given. Her initial design was based on Gothic Lolita Fashion.

The next otaku fan service introduced in Dead or Alive 5: The Last Round was Honaka, a Japanese school girl whose default outfit consisted of a school blazer, she was also somewhat similar to Marie Rose in height. Now are you saying that Team Ninja couldn't come up with less generic characters, or are they are just catering to the moe crowd?

The King of Fighters XIV has a whooping 50 fighters to choose from but over half of those characters are kawaii anime girls. It's like game developers are running out of ideas or simply catering to a certain demographic. Other games like Guilty Gear XRD are slowing following suit with characters like Jam Kuradoberi and Elphelt Valentine.

Kof XIV Mui Mui

The problem with all these cutesy anime archetypes is that they're very similar to each each other in not only appearance but also personality. If you look at all the latest Japanese fighting games out now, you're bound to see more than one anime girl. Where's the originality factor that older fighting games used to bring? That's the issue here.


The more kawaii characters we get is the less chance of a more original character concept pulling through. Just look at the mixed reactions to a character like Lucky Chloe and you should understand why it's beginning to become a problem.

Now you're probably thinking that if we didn't get the 'kawai animu girl' then game developers would opt for the generic tough guy, but why do fighting game fans have to settle for only two tv tropes? There should be a variety of different looking characters for players to choose.

Kawaii anime girls in fighting games


Fighting games are over saturated with anime tropes that we've seen time and time again and they no longer add anything worthwhile to the genre. So would it hurt to see less of these cliché characters in favour of more fresh designs?

Now before you get in your feelings, in no way or form is this article bashing anime inspired female characters. One of the first kasg introduced to Tekken 3 was Xiaoyu, she was one of the best female newcomers. At the time it was refreshing to see a young female martial artist kick so much ass in a macho male dominated series.

She was the only school girl in Tekken 3 and as you can see, that game has debatably one of the best rosters of all time. There wasn't a need for two or more animu girls, the roster was in perfect ailment, leaving room for other character concepts that possibly wouldn't have seen the light of day this decade.

Tekken 7 Xiaoyu

Again take a look at Tekken 7, the current roster isn't much to talk about and the veteran fighters appear to be getting replaced in droves. Lucky Chloe uses break dancing as a fighting style, which is similar to Eddy Gordo and Christie's capoeira. Meanwhile emotional Josie Rizal uses the same move set as Bruce Irvin, see a pattern forming yet?

Speaking of Josie, there's also controversy surrounding Tekken's first Filipino character. who is also named after one of Philippines national heroes José Rizal. Some fans don't feel that the character is fit to represent their nation in either her appearance or outfit.


Yeah it's Japan but if you're marketing a game towards a western audience, it's always best to diversify characters so you can attract more players. Japanese fighting games haven't been the same since their kasg compulsion. We single out Japanese games because western fighting franchises Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct don't have this issue.

What's your thoughts? Do you feel as though there's too many animu female characters been shoved down our throats to appease the moe/kawaii crowd, or rather do you find no issue with them? Let your feelings be known in the comment section.

26 comments:

  1. THANK you for bringing attention to this pet peeve, these kawaii anime school girl characters just feel like lazy fan service in fighting games. Like a complete lack of creativity has been applied to these characters and they don't stand out from the old ones in any way.

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  2. I remember When Tekken was all about representing different martial art fighting styles, good times. Characters like Lucky Chloe shouldn't be on the initial roster.

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  3. Lucky Chloe character is garbage. Tekken already has Lili. I wasn't thrilled with her either but she at least filled a need for those who wanted a Loli. These new characters in Dead or Alive 5 and Tekken 7 are ridiculously basic.

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    1. Agree to a certain degree they really should have stopped at Lili, adding Lucky Chloe to Tekken 7 was unnecessary.

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    2. I didn't even like Lili but at least she was tolerable.

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    3. Can't stand all these cutesy anime female characters because they're all airheads but Lili was 'ok'.

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    4. Looks like another Otaku bait character design, nothing new nor surprising for a Japanese game.

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    5. Not a fan of the character at all...but this is definitely one of many things I haven't liked about tekken in the past iterations.

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  4. I think the simple reason kawaii characters like Marie Rose, Alisa, Elphelt and Ibuki are all pushed so much is because if you look at most anime and nerd culture in Japan, cute and moe things are just really popular right now and devs like Capcom, Namco and Temco wants to capitalize on that market by promoting the characters who would appeal to those people who might not be interested in fighting games otherwise.

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  5. Alisa is a symbol of things going down hill for Tekken in terms of the feel and story. She unapologetically feels like she's there as a 'pandering to the what's popular currently in Japan/doushin fighters' audience.

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    1. The fact that she was shoved down our throats by being a secondary lead in Tekken 6 and the movie, even though she feels more like a side throw away character at best, didn't win her any favors either.

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    2. True, I was so disappointed when I found out Alisa was going to return in Tekken 7. I felt they should have retired her in T6 for good, they done it to the capos and Bruce.

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    3. Wait what?! Eddy and Christie ain't in Tekken 7? I haven't been following the game.

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    4. Eddy Gordo and Christie haven't been de-confirmed yet, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

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  6. What did they do do Ibuki in Street Fighter V? She no longer looks cute.

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    1. I don't think she's as far gone as Ken. But her face looks, weird, it certainly could use some improvement. It kind of looks like where Chun Li's face was before they fixed it.

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    2. Ibuki should just keep the mask on becauseshe has a butterface in sf5

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    3. Yeah her face is ugly as sin, hope they fix or leave the mask on... but it's her tradition to take the mask off for the win pose, so fix the face please Capcom.

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  7. I don't hate anime characters in general. Some of my favorite characters are from anime. The problem is the school girls representing the worst aspects of the medium and being generic as hell.

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  8. I'll gladly take "regular old" martial artists over nonsense like this. It was those martial artist characters that made fighting games like Tekken popular to begin with, with their authentic looking martial arts techniques.

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  9. This kinda thing just makes Japanese fighting games devs seem desperate to find new audiences.

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  10. Cutesy barely-legal girls in fighting games are the worst inventions.

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  11. Otaku/moe/ pandering at it's finest.

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  12. It was only a matter of time before Namco, SNK Playmore and Capcom went full moe.

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  13. They should stop it with this KASG pandering. It's the reason why I didn't like Asuka ever since her inclusion in T5. They're just making these characters to appeal to all these otaku fans.

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  14. I would not put Ibuki or Ling in that category.. Yes they are cute, but they old school original.

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