Hey there, nerds and nerdlettes. A new video showcasing snippets of Pokemon Black and White versions, a completely new version that will break the dry spell of re-releases and debut in Japan fall 2010, was recently dredged from the slightly creepy PokeMon Sunday talk show and posted (via ComputerAndVideoGames.com).
While the info on the special events with the Legendary Dogs and new PokeMon were interesting, my hands-down favorite reveal was—holy Zubat, er, Batman—a lead female trainer who wasn’t standing pigeon-toed and didn’t look like a slight breeze would knock her over.
The female trainer concept art for Pokemon Black & White. Hooray, she's
not pigeon-toed and looks capable! Her amount of confidence
must be directly proportional to her hair size.
Why is that significant? Many, many, many women in Japan walk or stand pigeon-toed often. Opinions conflict on why this is (some insist it's because they sit in seiza all the time and thus permanently damage their knees, ankles, and lower body alignment), but the largest consensus I've found on the Internet is this, and many sources I know personally agree:
The real answer is that it is a holdover from the days when people still wore kimono. If you walk normally while wearing one, the kimono tends to comes open so for modesty people began walking pigeon-toed. Even though people no longer wear kimono, a shuffling walk with one's feet turned inward is still considered modest, feminine, and even cute. —The Quirky Japan Homepage
I don't think I'd be excited about this if I hadn't felt like every other female trainer in HeartGold was ridiculously pigeon-toed. Ms. HeartGold looks like she's in a constant state of tripping over something.
Female trainers throughout the Pokemon ages. From left to right, Gold/Silver/Crystal,
Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald, Diamond/Pearl, FireRed/LeafGreen, HeartGold/SoulSilver.
In HeartGold/SoulSilver roughly 18 of the 41 female trainer sprites, or 40%, appear to be pigeon-toed (I'm embarrassed to admit I counted). Most of the remaining female trainers are doing something equally hyper effeminate, like jumping and tweaking one of their feet mid-step (which is a close cousin of the pigeon toe, I guess).
I’m tired of seeing so many female characters (especially in Japanese games) being represented in such a demure, passive light. Sure, a big draw of PokeMon is that it’s supposed to be super adorable and it’s not realistic to have ragingly ripped body-builder women sprites, but I want to see some female characters who look like they aren’t going to be overpowered by a random leaf blowing off and tree and hitting them in the face. A female character who is strong and looks like she can withstand traveling in the world alone.
I’ll finish this post with a fun localization fact: the female trainers that are called “Lass” in the American versions are called ミニスカート (Mini-Skirt) in the Japanese version. There’s also a similar reference in the Japanese Pokemon anime’s opening song for the very first season, but that’s a whole other blog post.
Pictured left: I have no idea how the top-left trainer or Team Rocket girl are standing like that AND defying gravity at the same time.