japan’s bloody blood types and how they relate to videogames

May 31, 2010

Red blood cells! Blood types come in A, B, O, and AB classifications. I promise this relates to videogames and Japan.

Blood type is a big deal in Japan. Why? Because they’re vampires it’s a long-going trend that helps define and (unfortunately) typecast a person’s personality. Based loosely in science (emphasis on loosely; scientists in Japan disprove these blood-type related theories all the time), blood types can effect just about every part of your life from making friends to getting a date, or even a job.

Pervasive as it is, blood type often comes up in Japanese media, including manga, anime, dramas and videogames. You may be leafing through a game manual (yeah, right—who uses those?) or a strategy guide (again, Wikis are the new GameFAQs) and see a game character’s blood type listed. So what? Who cares if that lanky, blue-haired JRPG protagonist’s blood type is A/B/O/AB? Although listing a game character’s blood type seems to be becoming less common now that localization teams realize audiences outside of Asia don’t understand this malarkey, blood types are meant to encapsulate and convey the character’s persona in two letters or less.

So what’s your favorite game character’s blood type say about them? Check the blood type definitions and game character list after this short history of blood typing in Japan to find out. (Game character blood type info gathered from game Wikias and Japanese forums. Definitions and cultural information via The Independent, BBC).

Stepping Back from Videogames — The Blood Type Problem in Japan

The terms burahara (ブラハラ) and ketsuhara (ケツハラ), both meaning blood type harassment, are good indicators that blood typing is becoming a social problem in Japan. There are instances that effect work, love and life.

In this BBC article a Japanese man explains how he was asked his blood type at a job interview because the company president “obviously had a bad experience with a B-type blood person”. He got the job, but later found himself being kicked out of a company party because his boss wanted to send the B blood-types home early. Dating by blood type is popular as well and is a consideration in match-making services and speed-dating, where men or women may be seeking a specific type.

These blood type guide books are EVERYWHERE in Japan from bookstores to the 7-Elevens.

Blood typing also extends into some areas of life you wouldn’t expect. The women’s softball team that won gold at the Beijing Olympics used blood group theories to determine each player’s training, according to an article from the Huffington Post. Some kindergarten students are divided into classes by blood type. An article I recently read in my Japanese class detailed an elementary schoolteacher dealing with typecasting his or her own students’ personalities by bloodtype, while expressing disgust for the prevalence and unfairness of the blood type system.

The Huffington Post article mentioned above provides a concise history on blood-typing:

The theory was imported from Nazi race ideologues and adopted by Japan’s militarist government in the 1930s to breed better soldiers. The idea was scrapped years later and the craze faded.

It resurfaced in the 1970s, however, as Masahiko Nomi, an advocate with no medical background, gave the theory mass appeal. His son, Toshitaka, now promotes it through a private group, the Human Science ABO Center, saying it’s not intended to rank or judge people but to smooth relationships and help make the best of one’s talents.

The books tend to stop short of blood-type determinism, suggesting instead that while blood type creates personality tendencies, it’s hardly definitive.

[From the beginning of the HuffPost article] In the year just ended, four of Japan’s top 10 best-sellers were about how blood type determines personality, according to Japan’s largest book distributor, Tohan Co. The books’ publisher, Bungeisha, says the series—one each for types B, O, A, and AB—has combined sales of well over 5 million copies.

The Videogame Character Blood Type List

Blood Type Compatibility
A is most compatible with A and AB
B is most compatible with B and AB
AB is most compatible with AB, B, A and O
O is most compatible with O, and AB

Blood Type A: Dependable and self-sacrificing, but reserved and prone to worry.
•PROS: Conservative, introverted, reserved, patient, punctual and inclined to be perfectionists
•CONS: Obsessive, stubborn, self-conscious and uptight.
Balthier (FF12)
Chun-Li (Street Fighter)
Miles Edgeworth (Ace Attorney Investigations; Phoenix Wright series)
Leon S. Kennedy (Resident Evil)
Kilik, Seong Mina, Raphael (Soul Caliber)

Blood Type B: Flamboyant free-thinkers, but selfish.
•PROS: Animal-loving, creative, flexible, individualistic, optimistic
•CONS: Passionate, forgetful, irresponsible and self-centered.
Vaan (FF12)
Ken (Street Fighter)
Shi-Long Lang (Ace Attorney Investigations)
Tifa (Final Fantasy 7)
Sophitia, Heihachi, Cassandra (Soul Caliber)
Kyo Kusanagi (King of Fighters)
Jill Valentine (Resident Evil)
Lance (PokeMon)
Blood Type O: Decisive and confident
•PROS: Ambitious, athletic, robust
•CONS: Self-confident, arrogant, insensitive, ruthless and vain.
Solid Snake (Metal Gear)
Kay Faraday (Ace Attorney Investigations)
Ryu (Street Fighter)
Aerith (FF7)
Cervantes de Leon (Soul Caliber)
Chris Redfield (Resident Evil)
Giovanni (Team Rocket)


Blood Type AB: Well-balanced, clear-sighted and logical, but high-maintenance and distant.

•PROS: Cool, controlled, empathic, introverted
•CONS: Rational, aloof, critical, indecisive and unforgiving.
Lightening (FF13)
Squall Leonheart (FF8)
Cloud Strife (FF7)
Fran (FF12)

[Character blood types are assembled from game wikias and Japanese game-related forum threads like this and this]

+p.s. i’m blood type O. Start making your judgments accordingly! :P+

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