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Rainbow Mika Returns to the Ring In Street Fighter V! She Hasn’t Changed A Bit Since 1998.

Not a stitch.

The latest addition to Street Fighter V‘s upcoming roster has been announced today, and it’s Rainbow Mika! Street Fighter fans will remember this grapple-focused wrestler from her 1998 appearance in Street Fighter Alpha 3. Also, um, one can’t help but notice that she is still wearing the exact same outfit that she wore in 1998, except her bra is lower-cut now if anything, and it doesn’t have little hearts on it anymore.

I’m sure I don’t need to explain, yet again, how silly it is that women in fighting games often perform a particular type of campy, posed sexuality that is often surreal at best and alienating at worst (and also something that I’ve forced myself to grow desensitized to after playing these games for many, many years). That said, I still think there are a couple aspects to R. Mika that make her a little more interesting than a character like, say, Cammy, whose sexualization is a bit more insidious.

cammy-sf5

Cammy’s outfit in Street Fighter V is just as silly as R. Mika’s, if not sillier (see above). Cammy has been wearing a tiny green thong leotard for years now, but unlike R. Mika, she doesn’t seem willing to wink at us about it. She’s presented as a relatively serious character who also happens to be conventionally attractive, and who earnestly wears an outfit that is unintentionally comedic. In past iterations, Cammy has even painted camouflage markings on her legs instead of just wearing pants or even leggings. I have to laugh at that; I have no other choice. (Speaking of laugh-or-else-you’ll-cry, be thankful that I’m not writing a paragraph about Sakura’s underpants here.)

R. Mika is anything but a self-serious camo-clad fighter; she comes off like a tongue-in-cheek goofball, albeit a sexy goofball. Lewd comments about her physical appearance abound in every forum about her announcement, to be sure. But she’s not exactly a straightforward sex kitten, either. I do miss the hearts and more-prominent ruffles in her original design; even though she’s a wrestler who idolizes Zangeif (a male SF character), R. Mika’s style projects an unabashed femininity. That quality is presented for laughs, perhaps, but I don’t think it’s funny so much as amazing. The combination of swinging pigtails plus rippling muscles? It’s not something you see every day. (Except for Lucky Chloe, a new Tekken character who is so feminine that she’s made some male fans suspect that they’re being trolled. Please, fighting games, let this be a new trend?)

I’d still love to see R. Mika in a sports bra, because owwww, but I know that her painful boob-bouncing appearance is being presented as part of the “fantasy” sold here (sigh) and, as I’ve said, this is far from the first time I’ve seen a woman presented as a sex object rather than as a character with a personality and a sense of humor and agency and, yes, sexuality, but without it being presented as either a joke or a “fantasy” or somehow both (sigh). Much like Juliet in Lollipop Chainsaw, I don’t want R. Mika to be presented as a hyper-femme character whose femininity is the joke; I love that she’s a goofball, but I don’t want the joke to be on her. I’m reserving a little hope, because I actually dig the core concept, but I’m just not sure where it’ll end up.

What’s more, it’s super cool to see R. Mika’s tag team member Yamato Nadeshiko re-appearing as well (in my head-canon, they are totally dating, in spite of the origins of Nadeshiko’s name), swooping in to help out with R. Mika’s special moves. That’s the type of “fantasy” that I can use to outweigh the fact that so many of the women in this game must use reams of double-sided tape before going into battle.

As for the reception to R. Mika that I’ve seen so far? Let me just say, it would be really cool if fans of Street Fighter didn’t immediately sexualize her. And also, stop making fun of any woman who says she’s uncomfortable about how people are immediately doing that. I’m probably going to play as R. Mika a bit, even though I’m sure that the slow-pan camera angles during her specials will make me roll my eyes. Even that boob-focused camera can’t deny that she’s totally jacked, her moves are awesome, and her mask is friggin’ adorable. And she’s got ruffles. So there.

(via Nerdist)

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Maddy Myers, journalist and arts critic, has written for the Boston Phoenix, Paste Magazine, MIT Technology Review, and tons more. She is a host on a videogame podcast called Isometric (relay.fm/isometric), and she plays the keytar in a band called the Robot Knights (robotknights.com).