Happy new year!
Previous visitors will likely know this, but it takes something pretty significant to actually make me update this blog - or at least finish an update without just leaving it to rot (had a thing on all this year's big movies but couldn't summon enough energy to get all the way through). They will also know that Nina Williams absolutely falls within the 'something pretty significant' category.
So yesterday's announcement of her long-overdue addition to Tekken 7 - in time for its Fated Retribution update (those subtitles aren't getting any less silly, Namco) - would be pretty much guaranteed to get my brain working, even if there wasn't something immediately obvious to talk about, namely:
...girl, the hell you wearin'?
And official character-select render:
TFW you had to run through a golf course to reach the chapel
but still remembered to pack the murder essentials
Yeah, so...it's a wedding dress. A very nice, but clearly very worn-down, wedding dress, topped off with a handgun, some spare clips and at least one flash grenade on a garter. Also some beautifully styled hair at the back instead of the usual utilitarian ponytail. And a...mid-calf bracelet? Or maybe just uneven shoes. Who knows.
It's a pretty big change for a character that hasn't worn anything (as a regular, non-customized outfit) bare-legged since...well, ever, though she did have a stockinged cocktail dress in Tekken 2 which sort-of counts. Nina has almost exclusively been a catsuit girl, and even when moving out of that comfort zone she aims for pants instead of skirts. Call it a concession to practicality, or whatever passes for that in the Tekkenverse. Leave the panty shots to Paris Hilton or Chubby in that there Alleyway Brawler series, or whatever it's called. Nina's classier than that. Um, usually.
Before I get any deeper into the analysis, some other notes from the trailer:
- Nina's moveset is instantly familiar to me and has undergone only minor changes at best. Her 'Blonde Bomb' (tap forwards plus both punch buttons) seems to have inherited the properties as Tekken Revolution's 'invincible' moves, i.e. it can't be stopped by a faster attack once it starts. I didn't know this gimmick was returning in T7 'til now, which shows how much attention I've been paying.
- Her Rage Art (super move) looks to be an all-new animation, where Nina does a repeated lucha libre-esque flying headscissors before rolling her opponent into something like a Gogoplata choke. That last touch makes it connect with the limb-snapping chain throws she's had for years, though the meat of the animation feels indebted to Black Widow's fight moves from The Avengers and other Marvel Studios movies.
- At least one new intro animation has been added, the one with the roll and the gun-pointing. They've also added in different dialogue quotes for her, though these aren't actually new: both the "going somewhere?" and "what's done is done" are taken from Tekken 6's Scenario Campaign cutscenes (you can find the former in this video and the latter in this one), voiced by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn. That's good because her voice is perfect, and bad because it ever-so-slightly clashes with Nina's existing quips from T5 onwards, voiced by Lisle Wilkerson instead. I may be the only one who notices, however.
That's what you get for trying to peek.
Going back to the dress, though, I have a very obvious question: what's the meaning here? A lot of outlets reporting on this have passed it off as a sort of bonus costume, like the ones done by big-name guest artists in previous Tekkens, but like I've shown you, this is what Nina wears for her character select render. And nobody gets multiple renders, not since the size of Tekken's roster ballooned past 30. So this is her default.
Now, does this mean my virtual dream girl's gone and gotten hitched between games? Not necessarily. I'm no expert on the symbolism of bridal gowns - also I have never been to an actual wedding, on account of the people hosting them knowing better than to ask - but beyond the obvious ideas of romantic attachment, it can indicate a moment of growth. After all, once you're married, you're a 'Mrs', not a 'Ms' anymore, a grown woman instead of the girl you were, and there's no going back. Perhaps something major since T6 has caused a change in Nina that's got her feeling older (albeit not looking it - that cryosleep session will likely keep her fresh for another decade at least) and her presentation is reflecting that, perhaps even celebrating it if it's something she's actually buoyed by. That render certainly has her looking a lot happier than the last couple games have - she's almost actually smiling!
At the same time, this dress has been torn and dirtied, which also feels significant. If a bridal gown means finding true love, does a ruined gown mean losing it? Of course, Nina has had no real attachment of that kind before now, even with a son running around (whom she basically ignores). But she does have Anna, her sister, her rival, and in a very real sense the only person in the world she cares for. Granted, said 'caring' is expressed through vicious fights, exchanged gunfire and violent, juvenile pranks, but I think we can all agree that if either sister truly wanted the other dead, it wouldn't take them over 6 games to pull it off. There is mutual affection there, and, well...Anna's still MIA. She's popular enough in her own right that leaving her out of T7 seems silly to me, but I would've said the same before T4 and look what happened then. Anna 'dying' or otherwise being put out of commission, especially if it came at another's hands, would leave Nina in a state of mourning and out for revenge (Tekken stories use 'revenge' the way comic books use exclamation marks), and the knackered bridal gown - while a bit of a stretch - would tie into that, especially given the nod to Kill Bill that everyone's already acknowledged.
That got a bit dark. How about some sillier suggestions?
Floored by the sexy.
- Nina married Jin! The shipper-friendly option. I don't really buy this, chiefly because Jin has to remain single for the sake of his fangirls. Plus, he should've been in a nice dinner jacket to match Nina's dress, but instead he's gone back to his mega-emo T4 hoodie. In case you suspected that dying while punching a living sphinx monster would make Jin less of a twat.
- Nina married Lee! Hey, he already wears a tux, so it wouldn't be much of a stretch for him at least. That said, the connection between Lee and the Williams sisters is a lot less strong in the games than it is in other material, plus Mr. Chaolan is also MIA from T7 - wait, does that mean HE died and that's why Nina's sad now?...nah.
- Ogre's back and he's using his previously-established mind control over Nina to make her his wife! EW NO. Piss off with that. I'm ashamed of myself for even typing it. Move on.
- Nina is hiding her identity! Not a suggestion of mine, but one I've seen crop up on a few other sites. I...do not really grasp the logic here. It's not like she's got a veil over her face or anything. Would this 'disguise' really fool anyone?
- Nina was in the middle of an assassination job at a wedding when the tournament got announced! And I guess had to rush to make it into the first round without bothering to change first? Another idea from elsewhere. Also not very convincing. I can certainly imagine Nina pulling a switcheroo with a bride in order to get close and murder the groom/priest/whoever, but I can't imagine that being a major enough story factor to inform her default look.
- Nina is screwing with Miguel! Not gonna take whole credit for this one either - I'm sure I've seen someone bring up that Miguel's sister died at her wedding in a comment thread regarding this news. There hasn't been any direct link between Nina and Miguel before now, but remember, Nina worked for the Mishima Zaibatsu in T6 while they were essentially staging a world war, and it was the Zaibatsu's military that killed Miguel's sis. Previously he wanted to kill Jin for that, but maybe he's found a reason to redirect his rage toward Nina? Though admittedly, I don't know why Nina's reaction would be to actively goad him. And cosplaying as the dude's dead sibling is in helluva poor taste.
- Nina's married to her job! Well, yeah, no shit. She's been that since day one. Never needed a goofy visual metaphor to make it explicit before now.
Feel free to leave a comment with your own interpretations - it's not like they could possibly be any sillier than mine. Until next time...
GET READY FOR THE NEXT NUPTIALS!
...I don't actually have anything else to add.
Just wanted something else to gawp at.