Daikatana: Mikiko

Towards the end of Episode 1, you finally rescue Mikiko, a sexy rebel woman who sought to use the power of the Daikatana against the Mishimas, from the deepest cell under their fortress. She joins you as a sidekick, completing the trio seen posing on the CD case like an excessively earnest 80s pop band. These last two missions of the episode are also when the sidekicks suddenly come down with a case of the stupids and spend a lot of their time running in place, held back by slight irregularities in the ground, or repeatedly jumping up and down at the foot of a staircase. “Ah yes”, I think, “This is what I was promised. I should not have doubted that this game would deliver.” Although it’s strange that this is so variable. Maybe these levels are harder for the AI to navigate because they have more moving parts? Or maybe the makers of patch 1.3 just never got around to them?

Mikiko’s design looks a bit strange to me. I suppose that’s mainly because she’s a Japanese woman who, in contrast to the vast majority of Japanese women in videogames, isn’t drawn anime-style. But there’s the thing: Anime and manga often looks to white westerners like depictions of white westerners. That’s because it isn’t really a photorealistic depiction of anyone. It’s stylized in a way that says “This is someone like you”. Whereas Mikiko is clearly foreign, exotic. Once again, this is the outsider’s view, Japanophile rather than Japanese, and not even the sort of Japanophile who watches anime. But what makes it feel really strange is that it doesn’t give this treatment to the player character, Hiro Miyamoto, who’s just as Japanese as she is and even more enthusiastic about it. Hiro has a face that, to me, reads as not just white but space marine. He even has a space marine voice, a little growly and gravely and with an American accent. Mikiko speaks with a Japanese accent. I think all the characters other than Hiro and Superfly do.


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