Those of you interested in games and/or anime have probably heard: Fate/EXTRA from the popular *Fate series has hit stores. I usually don’t blog about games, but I couldn’t ignore this one. I’ve never played one of the games, but the Fate series caught my attention via the anime remake Fate/Stay Night a few years ago. I was intrigued by one of the main characters, a stern-looking female warrior who goes by the alias of Saber in the series. So many female warriors presented to us in fictional medias with visuals look more like deformed prostitutes participating in some kind of kinky role play so, while it’s not perfect, I was impressed by Saber’s character design. Unfortunately, I’m not so impressed by the newest Saber character design, but before I get to that let’s talk about the original Saber.
The original character design is the picture above. Right off the bat: yes, Saber has a feminine look, but she’s not sexed up. There are no watermelon-sized boobs, short skirts to show off shiny thighs, or other cheap tricks used to objectify her. I’m not sure how practical a skirt is during a sword fight, but hey, at least she’s wearing armor that actually protects her. I also like the fact that Saber has such a commanding and tough presence unlike the pouty, come-take-me faces that so many other female “warriors” are depicted with (check out this post and others on Go Make Me A Sandwich if you don’t know what I mean). Men have been going to war for centuries and they’ve done just fine without utilizing their sex appeal in battle. This look demands the respect that Saber receives from opponents; she’s a serious threat and she looks like one. The outfit helps, but it still could have looked too girly if Saber didn’t have the tough expression to go with it.
Fate/EXTRA pretty much took everything I liked about the original Saber and toned it down so that those elements are almost non-existent. Take a look for yourself:
If I were to pretend that there were not much better character designs previously, this design is not the worst female one I’ve ever seen. However, because better designs of the same character exist, I can’t help but cringe at the backward step the franchise took with Saber. My first impression is that this Saber doesn’t look nearly as tough; in fact, she doesn’t look tough at all. I’ve been sifting through Saber artwork on the internet trying to find official artwork that depicts her with any kind of intimidating feel, but I’ve had no luck. The closest look to tough that I found was the picture below. She appears doe-eyed and bemused and even in the picture below only depicts a neutral face. Then we have her “armor” or rather lack there of. The only armor she has is made to look like a fashion accessory-sexy, knee-high boots. The rest of her outfit looks more like the outfit previous versions of Saber have worn under her battle wear not as her battle wear. However, the dress goes beyond simply being pitiful battle wear. What’s up with all this peek-a-boo stuff? A sheer front to the skirt so that we can all see her panties, low cut-outs on her back, and a lower top than her previous designs takes away her coolness and replaces it with cuteness/sexiness. The outfit also draws much more attention to her chest. That’s great if you want to give your opponent an easy target. She looks more like an unorthodox princess than a warrior.
I also want to compare this new Saber to other versions. Saber has had two other character designs that I know of previous to this newest one from Fate/EXTRA- Dark Saber and Saber Lily. Dark Saber is just as good as the original Saber (if not better on a level of intimidation) and I appreciate that she almost looks scary even. Again, Saber is supposed to be a bona-fide warrior not a girl at a beauty pageant. Saber Lily is the weakest of the three older designs because of her design looks more like a dress than armor, but even Saber Lily looks tough. That expression says she means business so, even though the dress/armor is unpractical, I still can take her pretty seriously.
I know people like to be creative and make new character designs, but the only thing that was achieved in this one is Saber now looks like a pretty/sexy girl. Some of the previous designs have been depicted as more pretty than fierce, but at least a good amount of the depictions are also more warrior-like. Can I have cool Saber back now?
*I realize that the original Fate game was an “adult” game, but I think it should be noted that not all games released in the series are such and revised, non-porn versions were released of the original. The anime adaptation, of course, followed the revised version of the game and Fate/EXTRA is not an “adult” game.