Well, that didn’t take long. Only two days ago, Marvelous Europe and XSEED Games (also known as Marvelous USA) confirmed to Niche Gamer that Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson was making its way to both North Americans and Europeans. Now, we’re already seeing the outcry from puritans who simply don’t want the game to exist, or at least not in its current form.
First we have Swedish game critic Kerstin Alex who is reportedly critical to “game developers who make entertainment out of objectification,” most especially when “there are no obvious elements of parody, satire, or a deeper message.” It gets interesting when Kerstin says that it’s “very unfashionable to make games that mostly focus on bumping female breasts.” Finally, Kerstin closes with a plea against both Sony and Nintendo approving the Senran Kagura games to both the Playstation Network, and the Nintendo eShop, making a point in Senran Kagura: Bon Appetit! being released only a few months ago. Kerstin puts a focus on the bonus scenes in the game, which feature naked women lying about, covered in chocolate sauce, etc. Kerstin says that it’s regrettable that both developers want to make this kind of game, and that console giants accept it and, finally, that people buy it. It’s worth mentioning that Kerstin says, “Nintendo has a responsibility to stop products of this kind.”
Next up, we have a poster over on the Marvelous USA forums, who seems to be a lot more critical of the series and its content. “Sexualizing Of Children, Objectification Of Women Etc In Senran Kagura,” reads the thread title. “You think it’s OK to do anything in fiction? Would you think it would be OK to make a racist game? No? Then why is it OK to make a sexist game? Why do you think it’s OK to treat women like this?” writes forum user SaraKollin. “Also, sexualization of children. We all know very well that most of the cast in Senran Kagura are underaged girls. I know XSEED removed their ages […] but we can still plainly see how old they are in the Japanese version which is identical otherwise. And while I don’t won’t look up the very worst the series has to offer, just look at this (she links an image of Mirai wearing nothing but a bra and panties).”
She goes on to again ask if fans of the Senran Kagura games would be okay with a “racist” game, and finishes off her strawman by saying she’s “not calling people here sexists and pedophiles, but I’m saying the series do attract those kind of people on purpose.”
Stepping aside from these completely insane, regressive thoughts, let me pour some reason into your head. We’ve talked about censorship and controversial source material here a lot on Niche Gamer. You could say our website is very anti-censorship, but is there a line? At what point do we keep allowing things which tip-toe on the edge of what is socially acceptable? It seems like pedophilia, pubescent teens, rape, and baseless murder are where our Western cultures draw the line. It’s a very hard thing to pin-point and find a stance that everyone, if not at least the majority of cultures, might agree on.
We could have a long discussion here about the difference of beauty standards in the west vs. the east, the tolerance of violence and sexuality in different cultures (which you can read more about here), but ultimately I think we can all sit down and agree on one universal truth: creators, in this case a team of creators, are enabled to create what they wish, as we mostly live in societies that embrace freedom of speech, and therefore freedom of expression. The issue here, is whatever they create is not exempt from criticism, and this is where we butt heads.
I’ve written quite a bit about how I grow tired of games that get a pass simply because they embrace hyper violence over sexuality, love, and empathy, or how gameplay mechanics are almost universally centered around the art of killing, both cute and savage. I like to think I’m more on the side of wanting more games that show human sensuality, empathy, and sexuality—as these are things we can at least (in my opinion) feel a real connection with. Seeing people ask for games like Senran Kagura to not only be censored but to not exist is an insult to my intelligence.
If you’ve actually played the Senran Kagura games, you would have found that each of the girls are not only written pretty well, the story itself is quite fun to follow. The hilarious irony is that passersby will simply see giant flopping tits attached to doe-eyed anime girls, while fans of the series will learn what makes each girl tick, both the good and the bad. I’ll be honest, I went into the series with that exact same assumption, but I was proven wrong very quickly because I gave the games a chance.
If we start censoring or banning one particular thing to make one particular person or group of people happy, it opens the path for anything else to be censored or banned. The beauty of living in a free society like the United States is that we can buy things like Senran Kagura, Hitler’s Mein Kampf, or any of the books by L. Ron Hubbard off Amazon, without fear of them being censored or unavailable to us due to cultural laws. There’s also another debate over games being the subject to harsh criticism due to being a newer form of media, but that’s grounds for another editorial.
The people who want to stop games like Senran Kagura from existing, or in their current form, are the ones who simply wish for the United States to be like North Korea or China, where every piece of media has to be approved by a cultural committee, lest it gets banned in the country and the only way to get it is via smuggling or the black market. We have rating boards that can help the uneducated parents get themselves quickly informed of a games content, while also keeping content sold in stores (digital and retail) somewhat in check, although sadly most parents still buy their pre-pubescent child a copy of Grand Theft Auto V.
All I’m asking for is some understanding, and hopefully some tolerance, from these people. Please, before you go screaming about how this game offends you, how you want it to be censored or banned, try to understand why people might like it?
Stop the ignorance, stop the misinformation, the public smearing of a series that makes a lot of people happy. Stop bringing us closer and closer to having games banned in stores nationwide, simply because of a petition saying you don’t like it.