Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Vanillaware Month: Top 5 Character Designs

In celebration of the upcoming release of Dragon's Crown, I'm going to write several Vanillaware-related posts; mainly "Top 5" lists of several topics involving the Vanillaware games.

First up is a big one: character designs. Now, after making my choices for this list, I've realized that I have only one main hero(ine) on the list. I believe this is because the main characters in Vanillaware games tend to have a more simply design (well, simple by Vanillaware standards), while antagonists or side characters tend to have more intricate designs. The reasons for this is because antagonists have to be imposing, and thus need more detailed or exaggerated character designs; furthermore, these detailed designs don't need to be animated as much as the main playable characters, thus they can have such detailed designs.

Also, it goes without saying that choosing a "Top 5" for anything involving Vanillaware is pretty hard, and most are almost certainly going to disagree with my lists, heh.

And with that said, let's begin with #5 ...

5) Chartreuse Grande

Chartreuse's design shows how George Kamitani can really think outside of the box both in terms of design and story. Chartreuse's design just oozes "magic and mystery" and really sets the tone and setting well within Grimgrimoire. In a game full of amazing character designs, Chartreuse really stands out.

4) Necro Samantha (no official art available)

Necro Samantha is a tough character design to describe if you haven't played Princess Crown, so I won't go into it too much. I will say that Kamitani added a surprising amount of detail to her character design and sprite despite the fact that she only makes three appearances in the game. She is basically a zombie ninja. She darts around the screen and throws knives, and breaks into pieces only to form back together after getting hit. All of these crazy actions combined with her black, white, and red color scheme works very well visually. Necro Samantha also has a very strong presence, mainly due to her tall height and large breasts. In fact, Necro Samantha is, as far as I know, George Kamitani's first busty female character; and, imo, she remains one of his best. 

3) Elpharia

Nature is a big theme in nearly every Vanillaware game, and that theme is reflected in many character designs, but I find the Fairy Queen Elpharia's design to be the quintessence of Kamitani's nature-themed character designs. The shrubs located on her head and shoulders, her long, golden hair, her long, flowing dress, and, of course, her large and beautiful butterfly wings. Despite only using a few distinct colors, Elpharia's design really stands out with a strong presence. And, like with Necro Samantha, Elpharia's tall height and large breasts help give her a very strong presence. 

2) Odin

Here's a big one. Odin's character design is all about presence. His stature is extremely large, with his torso being much large than this legs, thus shifting focus to his upper body where the eyes are drown to his enormous arms and flowing cape. The wings on his shoulders and helmet, as well as his crown give off the presence of a king. And when Odin brandishes his psypher, the Balor, his presence and intimidation factor is doubled. Overall, a superbly executed character design that cannot be denied attention. 

1) Odette

Creative and striking, that is Odette. What I love the most about her design is how she visualizes her role in the story perfectly; she is the queen of the underworld in both title and in design. Her headdress is large and beautifully detailed, which accents her beautiful face. Going further, she has a very large bust and an extravagant, flowing dress. All of this being a ruse to take focus away from her arms, back, and neck, which are nothing but skeleton. This all makes for a creative mix of beauty and monstrous. And it is executed beautifully. Her lamp and moon just complete her picturesque design. 

When I think of Vanillaware, Odette is always one of the first things that pop into my head, for she is, imo, the most striking design from George Kamitani and the quintessence of his style. 

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