Finally, a lead female PokeMon trainer who can stand on her feet

May 17, 2010

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.

Female trainer concept art for PokeMon Black and White

The female trainer concept art for PokeMon Black and White. Hooray, she's not pigeon-toed and looks capable! Her amount of confidence must be directly proportional to how large her hair is. :P

Why is being pigeon-toed significant? Many, many, many women in Japan walk or stand pigeon-toed often. There’s conflicting opinions on why this is (some insist its because they sit in seiza all the time and thus permanently damage their knees, ankles and lower body alignment), but the largest consensus on the Internet seems to be:

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. Since playing as a female trainer became an option a majority have been pigeon-toed. Ms. HeartGold looks like she just tripped 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, however, roughly 18 out of the 41 individual female trainer sprites or 40 percent are represented as being pigeon-toed. (Embarassed to admit, I counted).

The sprites from HeartGold and SoulSilver. Red circles = female sprites with incredible pigeon-toeing. Yellow circles = female sprites without incredible pigeon-toeing.

Eight pigeon-toed female trainers

I have no idea how the top-left trainer or Team Rocket girl are standing like that AND defying gravity at the same time.

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 female 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.

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3 Responses to “Finally, a lead female PokeMon trainer who can stand on her feet”

  1. Mars Says:

    Bugsy isn’t a girl.

  2. Vix Says:

    Reasonable to notice and valid when considering their character traits included, but Its common for a prominent body feature in a county to be portrayed in their media, but as a side note, many people actually are pigeon toed and cant help it, such as myself. That doesn’t make us any weaker or unbalanced, but my legs can bend in “unnatural” ways to most people because of the twisted femur. Growing up I was a little relieved to find out I wasn’t the only one since it was portrayed in characters.
    Perhaps the personality and actions are what makes those characters seem weak more than anything.

    • author Says:

      Oh, man, I’m very sorry that this article was so ignorant of those who can’t help being pigeon-toed. :( This was more about people who force being pigeon-toed to appear demure, and how having so many female avatars designed with such a trait could make them seem submissive. Thanks for writing — definitely made me reconsider this article in new ways.


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