Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yoshinori Ono on Final Fight's Poison: She's supposed to be mysterious

Attention Poison fans: EGM just (well, yesterday) posted an extremely interesting interview between its own Eric Patterson--you may remember him as Shidoshi from the old Diehard GameFan magazine--and Capcom's Yoshinori Ono.

"Poison" by Speeh
Rather than pick Ono's brain about his upcoming 360, PS3 and Vita brawler, Street Fighter X Tekken, Patterson picks the producer's brain about one of that title's key cast members: Poison, the lovable female thug who first appeared in Final Fight.

The highlight of this fascinating tête-à-tête, in my opinion: Ono seemingly backtracks on his earlier assertion that the fuchsia-coifed character is trans- gender. (In late 2007 he told EGM that "in North America, Poison is officially a post-op transsexual. But in Japan, she simply tucks her business away to look female.")

While chatting with Patterson, however, Ono said, "Capcom’s official stance has and will continue to be that we don’t have a stance technically. It’s supposed to be mysterious; if people want to talk about it on forums or what not they’re welcome to, but we’re not going to give you a straight answer because, well, there isn’t one. We deliberately want to make it a mysterious thing—that question of what’s at the core of this character. At the end of the day, we don’t have an actual canonical answer to that."

That's not the only eyebrow-raising comment included in this Poison-focused Q&A. Read the rest of them by checking out the full interview here. You may also want to check out this NeoGAF thread, which was started by Patterson and features a number of interesting insights.

15 comments:

Motherplayer said...

I've always wondered the secret as to how the japanese Poison has managed to hide her stuff so well. You really can't tell and that would be key.

Bryan Ochalla said...

I can't say I'm at all knowledgeable about the art of "tucking," Motherplayer, but look at Poison's too-short-shorts I'm guessing she's a master of it.

That said, I like to think of Poison as being post-op myself.

Also, I've always found it sad that the folks at Capcom originally made her transgender because they thought people wouldn't want to hit a woman -- the implication being, of course, that it's perfectly fine to hit a woman who used to be a man :(

Although I'm glad they've opened up their minds a bit since then, I think it's clear they still have a way to go in this area (as do most game devs and publishers, admittedly).

Motherplayer said...

You know I never did think about that aspect of them doing that on the grounds of thinking its a better idea to let a former man be hit. Still I have to applaud them for such a bold choice of a character to make like poison. Never would've expected something like this in those days and even then, she had to be edited out in later western ports of final fight anyway. But I'm still more sad that people back then thought it was bad for men to hit women even if they have shown in a lot of games (specifically beat em ups) that they have the means to defend themselves. I found that more sad than the whole trangender thing.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yes, it's certainly interesting that they decided to introduce a female character into a game like Final Fight in the first place. That alone could have brought up all sorts of interesting debates -- ex: Should gamers avoid Poison/Roxy altogether? How should they feel about beating them up? Does it matter that Poison/Roxy are trying to beat *you* (the gamer) to a pulp?

Granted, articles asking such questions may have been written back in the day, but I've yet to come across one of them :)

Viewtiful_Justin said...

Sounds like spineless backtracking, if you as me.

Viewtiful_Justin said...

*ask*

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yeah, I don't like it either, Justin -- especially since the earlier assertion was so definite. Oh, well, I'm going to continue to think of her as transgendered.

apricotsushi said...

I, too, was pretty disappointed by the backtracking on the part of Ono/Capcom. That said, I was really impressed with how well Eric Patterson handled the interview–and now that I'm looking into the NeoGAF forums, that as well. He seems like a swell guy and it's nice to see someone in game journalism who doesn't make cheap jokes on the expense of gender minorities

Bryan Ochalla said...

Yes, I agree, Anne! Eric handled the interview perfectly. 99 percent of folks would have used the interview as an opportunity for laughs -- or worse. Eric's questions, on the other hand, were intelligent and really tried to get to the heart of the matter. Good for him :)

tortuousGoddess said...

It's obviously just spineless backtracking. Poison is one of the greatest examples of horrifying bigotry in gaming, and the fact that she's become so popular despite that shows the great amount of progress we've made on that front as an industry. The fact that Capcom wont even acknowledge this, however, shows how far behind they are as a company, as if their terrible games and shocking business practices weren't evident of this enough already. Capcom will reign supreme as the worst developer in existence until their inevitable bankruptcy. It's so sad to me that one of the greatest developers of our time has turned into such an incredible pile of shit.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thanks for commenting on this, tortuousGoddess. As much as I agree with you RE: Capcom, I think they're pretty par for the course at this point rather than an exception to a rule when it comes to bigotry and acting as though they care about equality.

Anyway, I fully agree with what you said RE: it being sad that Capcom has fallen so far since the days of the NES, SNES, Genesis, etc.

Drew said...

It's definitely disappointing. I think everyone here would think agree that it would be cool to have a trans character in such a mainstream game, but even with Poison's history retconned into something a lot quieter, we know what her deal is. I mean, this happened with Birdo, and just about every player -- gay, straight or otherwise -- still has it hovering in their head that she's a transvestite. So given that her history is impossible to completely erase -- thank you, Immernet! -- this new stance on Poision's anatomy is sucky but not completely terrible for this one reason: If this is how we can get her trans character into such a high-profile game, then I guess we'll have to take that.

Besides, what can get retconned once can always retconned again.

Drew said...

Oh, and it's fucking rad to hear that the Diehard Gamefan staff have remained in the industry. God, I miss that magazine.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Drew: I agree with you completely. We all know that she's a transgender character, a no amount of backtracking, etc., can change that.

Also, like you said, they can always change her story again in the future -- esp. in a positive way for the transgender community.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, and I miss GF magazine, too. I bought every damn issue for quite some time. A bunch of them are still in the basement of my childhood home. Anyway, it was amazing how much the GF folks opened my eyes to Japanese games and systems :)