Bayonetta: a woman made of women

Bayonetta: a woman made of women


Bayonetta is one of the most charismatic characters in the videogame world, able to establish herself in a universe purely oriented towards a male audience both as a sexy bomb and as an icon of female empowerment. Her strength and her elegance, her irreverence and her sweetness, her beauty and her brutality: Bayonetta thrives on contrasts and balances, managing to capture the affection of many fans around the world who wanted to go beyond the first , provocative, appearances.

Having now reached the third chapter of the saga (you can read our review here), we wonder if perhaps the success of this character lies in being born almost for fun - the choice of having a female protagonist was almost a coincidence - or even in having entrusted many elements of its genesis to women capable of creating true magic. And the witch jokes don't matter here.

Mari Shimazaki, like most of the PlatinumGames staff, had experiences under the Capcom label in her curriculum, in particular the work of Character Designer for the graceful and dreamlike Okami. After studying some ideas without reaching the desired result, he finally came to the finalization of the first prototype, which hit the spot in many elements that remained definitive.

In adorning a witch, the main color could only be black, but to give an extra touch to the characterization, Shimazaki decided to make the hair an integral part of the outfit, as if it were a dress that wrapped around Bayonetta's body and could accentuate the dynamism of her movements.

The curious hairstyle of Cereza is another precise choice of Shimazaki, proposed with insistence for the entire period of creation of the character. Being Bayonetta a witch, her intention was to evoke the imagery of the classic pointy hat, without necessarily using it. The last touch of class is given by the glasses, under the specific indication of Kamiya. Adding a fashionable touch and an evident reference to the aesthetics of characters such as Madama Butterfly, the most characteristic accessory of the whole design has therefore taken shape and, with this, Bayonetta in its definitive version.

Shimazaki today is among the most popular character designers of the Japanese scene, and continued to offer his art for both Bayonetta 2 and the third chapter, without missing other opportunities to express his creativity, as in the case of collaborations with Bandai Namco for the franchises of Tekken or Soul Calibur.

Ikumi Nakamura - Concept designer

Became a true icon of the gaming world with her presentation of Tokyo Ghostwire on the Bethesda stage during the 'E3 2019 (don't ignore it, you remember her very well posing while she says "Mitene!"), For many Ikumi Nakamura revealed herself as a new face for gaming, when in reality she already had a lot of experience behind her.

A bit like Mari Shimazaki, Nakamura also came from a past between Capcom and the birth of Platinum Games, arriving at the development of Bayonetta in the role of Concept Designer - with the task of giving life to the game world in which the events of the first chapter take place, including scenarios and details.

An important, crucial role, one might say, in setting the tone of the experience. Being a story of mysterious witches, who find themselves reliving the fragments of a lost era, Nakamura has prepared his designs on the idea of ​​the past, starting with the treasure boxes that recall ancient tombs (in which the essays of Lumen have trapped the rebellious witches) to move on to accessories that reveal cultural elements from different sides of the globe.

To highlight the protagonist, Nakamura has chosen the contrast between a graceful and sensual character with the vast world, with imposing and sometimes oppressive architectures. Much of her work passed from direct confrontation with Kamiya, with whom she had already dealt with in Okami's time, which she describes as a clash of "outrageous" ideas.

There are many the characteristic elements of the title that emerged through this continuous "challenge" to the director, who had the strange habit of getting excited about the proposals that Nakamura considered less convincing. In the end, however, the red and black hues, the moon, the demonic circle and all the other details found in the logo derive from this creative contrast.

Today Ikumi Nakamura is the head of his own studio , Unseen, created following the abandonment of Tango Gameworks following some concerns about his health. After working as a director for Tokyo Ghostwire, now his goal is to create projects that are not just related to gaming, working with people and companies from all over the world.

Maiko Uchida - mocap for dance

After talking about women with a certain experience in the world of video games, it is time instead to call into question a real successful outsider, that is the person who literally gave birth to the sensual and hypnotic movements of Umbra's witch.

Maiko Uchida, this is her name, comes into play in the Bayonetta project in pure cinematic style, presenting herself to the auditions with naive lightness (and a bit of clumsiness) that we find in teenage films, in which the protagonists hope to change their destiny by aiming for a leading role.

The idea of ​​the team was that Bayonetta could unite in a single character the 'expertise of several professionals in the sector, taking qu then the movements of martial arts experts for combat, of athletes for acrobatic situations and of dancers to recreate the most harmonious dances and movements.

Uchida was among the 8 dancers who had passed the initial selection, who were called to audition in the studio in front of the staff. All were also provided with a musical track in advance, to allow them to listen to it and practice in time.

After the first auditions, the team had practically already identified a figure able to satisfy the required requirements. This at least until the arrival of the last candidate, who even managed to annoy the staff by showing up late and saying that she had not listened to the piece as requested. It was precisely Uchida.

Challenging Kamiya's patience, she asked to listen to the piece once, remaining motionless in place under the bewildered gaze of those present. Once the listening was over, she began a performance that literally left the spectators speechless, who forgot the previous candidates in a whisper, convinced that they had found the real Bayonetta. We do not know today what turn Maiko Uchida's professional career has taken, but the fact is that she represents the indeterminate and crazy element that made our witch really special.

Hellena Taylor / Atsuko Tanaka / Jennifer Hale - voice actors

We can't ignore it: the recent controversy surrounding the failure to reconfirm Hellena Taylor as the voice of Bayonetta has created an unpleasant atmosphere around the release of the 3rd chapter, on which is weighed down by the exchange of accusations via social media and the unreasonable request for a boycott of the game that the actress has addressed to her fans.

Regardless of how things went, it is undeniable that Taylor played a fundamental role in supporting the personality of the witch, offering a sensational interpretation that will remain in the hearts of all lovers of the saga (despite everything), marking an evident gap between the "before" and "after".

In the creation phase of Fr. character, it was Kamiya who dictated the choice of an English voice, because in his opinion no Japanese voice actress could do justice to the vision that she was taking shape. Taylor, thanks to her theatrical experience, gave the right charisma to Bayonetta, putting in her lines irreverence and sensuality in equal measure, seasoned with that posh touch that makes her almost irreplaceable.

Such was the goodness of the results that Taylor came confirmed to take part in all side projects of the franchise, starting with Anarchy Reigns to get to Super Smah Bros. for Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. She was also chosen to interpret the western voice of Bayonetta in the animated feature film Bayonetta: Bloody Fate.

And it is thanks to Bloody Fate that Atsuko Tanaka comes into play, today the voice japanese witch. With the release of Bayonetta 1 and 2 for Wii U, PlatinumGames and Nintendo decided to introduce Japanese dubbing for the first time, and given the success of the animated film among fans, Tanaka was also confirmed as an interpreter in the video game.

With the release of the third chapter and the events that we all know, Taylor is no longer Bayonetta's English voice, replaced by the highly acclaimed Jennifer Hale (Commander Shepard in Mass Effect, to name one role). The end result is in line with the quality that Hale has always guaranteed in her long career as a voice actress, and this must be acknowledged, but she inevitably remains a step behind the interpretation of Taylor, which is far more natural and in character. A real shame, but from now on we will have to deal with it.

After this brief journey into Bayonetta's past it is curious to remember how this character was the result of so many curious, exaggerated choices , conflicting and in some cases absolutely unpredictable. When we think about the creation of a female figure for commercial purposes, we always have in mind a production dictated by specific needs related to the male audience, but this was perhaps the first case in the video game to see an almost spontaneous genesis, the result of contamination and comparisons.

The witch of Umbra has managed to overturn conventions, literally escaping from the hands of her creators to pursue the ideas and performances that have finally shaped her. It would seem that a bit of magic in the end really was part of the equation, as if the protagonist - in her own way - had managed to create herself by moving the threads of reality. Will something like this ever happen again?

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