Thursday, February 19, 2015

How does your beam katana swing?: gender identity and sexuality in No More Heroes - part eight: Death Parade

This is the eighth entry in a series of short articles I will be posting that explores the gender roles and sexuality of various characters within the NMH titles. As mentioned in the first mini-article, some of what I will be covering deals with information that is explicitly stated within one game or the other, while other portions are pulled from my own personal speculations and fan theories. Fair warning: as the No More Heroes titles both bear 'M' ratings, there may be adult language and/or content referenced in these articles, as well as spoiler content for anyone who has not yet completed the games.

Death Parade

Santa Destroy is home to many voluptuous ladies, but is also boats its fair share of muscle-bound men. There are three major figures within the UAA that fit this body type, not counting the hulking henchmen Travis cuts down prior to some of the fights and in the assassination side gigs in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. The one we know the least about in terms of his individual character traits is Matt Helms. He is a hulking figure who wields a lethal axe-flamethrower combo weapon, and makes very slow yet very powerful swings at Travis. However, Matt Helms’ image is more to pay homage to horror genre staples, such as a laughing mania killer in a run-down cabin, quite some distance from a largely populated area. The level leading up to him is a nod to Resident Evil 4, and his eerie smile-bearing mask seems to be a similar reference to Robbie the Rabbit of Silent Hill fame. Beyond that, though, there’s little more that we can gain from Matt Helms – he is described as being ‘undead’, that he killed his family in order to haunt the Earth, but there is no explicitly stated motivation for doing so.

Charlie Macdonald, on the other hand, is an easier character to glean from. He’s a hunky college football player, with twenty-four cheerleaders backing his twenty-fifth rank, and seemingly a meathead at that. Sylvia describes him as “a natural playboy”, a “celebrity of sorts”, and that his cheerleader ‘groupies’ are on their hands and knees for him. His squad of cheerleaders present a particular fetishistic appeal, as they are all twig-thin blondes with their hair pulled back into ponytails and their shirts cut short so as to expose some underboob.

Charlie greets Travis with the oh-so-imaginative one-liner of: “After this, I’m gonna touch you down!” Charlie seems quite proud of his little zinger phrase, as he follows it up with a wink, which cues the cheerleaders to all vocalize high-pitched squeals of approval.

Charlie: “A butt-kicking day to you all! Especially you, cupcake. Mr. Touchdown, it’s an honor to face you. Man, I love your name!”
Travis: “You gonna fight me with all of your hoes?”
Charlie: “That’s my game! But we need a better arena, don’t you think?”
Travis: “Huh?”
Charlie: “Let’s go, ladies! Santa Death Parade!”

The entire cheerleading squad then rockets into space, following Charlie to summon a giant football-shaped robot that pays clear tribute to the hyper-stylized mecha anime, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Travis then calls upon his own giant robot, the Space Runaway Ideon-inspired Glastonbury. While perhaps less direct than the symbolism of the Nathan Copeland fight mirroring the Death Metal fight from the first No More Heroes, this fight with Charlie Macdonald – despite its format breaking the conventions of nearly every other boss fight in NMH2 – once again paints Travis as the master, the so-called ‘crownless king’, and Charlie as little more than another cocky up-and-comer who thought himself hot stuff. Their giant robots match this theme as well, with Travis stomping around an old-school mech and Charlie piloting one of a rounder, new-school appeal.

Charlie is seemingly unfazed when Travis refers to the cheerleaders as his ‘hoes’, and he relies on them to both call upon and help power his Santa Destroy mech. In this regard, it would appear the Charlie views these lean ladies as tools to support his own goal. And perhaps they are just fine with that relationship – after all, they all seem to work together in perfect synchronization, and display not ambitions of attempting to off one another or Charlie in order to improve their individual rankings within the UAA. They do, however, display some ambitions of bloodshed, which is directed at Travis (and perhaps, by association, anyone else who might threaten Charlie’s twenty-fifth ranking), with a cheer they deliver just before the Glastonbury uses its rifle to blow the Santa Death Parade into dust: “Two, four, six, eight, who can we decapitate?”

Boasting a star-spangled Evel Knievel costume and zapping Travis Touchdown with a high-voltage hand buzzer, Destroyman is crude and cocky, believing his bag of mechanized tricks will grant him the upper hand on Travis up until the final moments of their fight. Least subtle of Destroyman’s attacks is his powerful crotch laser, which unleashes in a wide spread after he performs a thrusting motion with his pelvis. He also sports a set of machine-gun nipples, and given the sly grin he wears right before he attempts to fire upon Travis with them, it would seem he gains some satisfaction in his theatrics and overtly sexual arsenal prior to electrocuting, gunning down, or even vaporizing his enemies.

Destroyman also appears to have a split personality, or at the very least, his mannerisms dip back and forth between sporting gentlemen to the sadistic show-off who laughs like a hyena when Travis falls for his tricks and traps. These two personas come into their own as distinct and separate characters in the sequel, when Shinobu takes on New Destroyman on Travis’ behalf. Prior to their fight in a warehouse, Shinobu shares a brief exchange with the now-severed halves of Destroyman.

New Destroyman #1: “What do we have here? A young lady? You know, it’s dangerous coming to a place like this alone. You ought to be more careful. Seriously, terrible things can happen. I see it on the news all the time.”
New Destroyman #2: “Hahahahaha, maybe that’s why she came? It’s what she wants; two grown men to keep her company. Heheheheh… horny slut.”
Shinobu: “My master’s got his hands full, so I’m taking his place. Not that it matters. The result’s gonna be the same. I don’t have time for this.”
New Destroyman #1: “You’re taking Travis place…? Wow, I gotta say, I’m feeling pretty disrespected.”
Shinobu: “Just shut up and fight!”
New Destroyman #2: “Oh, listen to this whore, acting like she’s some kind of femme fatale! ‘Shut up and fight’ she says! She’s really PISSING ME OFF!”
New Destroyman #1: “Seriously, she’s so rude! Reminds me of my complaining customers. Now, Travis, he knew how to fight like a gentleman – sliced me in half, sure, but he did it with grace! I mean, come on, put her there!”
Shinobu: “Huh?”
New Destroyman #1: “You know, let’s shake hands. Sportsmanship is paramount to a fair and clean fight.”
New Destroyman #2: “Hurry up and shake! …Dirty nympho! Mhmhmhm!”
Shinobu: “Whatever. But, which one?”
New Destroyman #1: “Doesn’t matter. Your choice.”
New Destroyman #2: “The one that’s throbbing, nyhehehaha!”

The two Destroymen then attempt to zap Shinobu in a similar fashion to how Destroyman zapped Travis during their ranking fight in the first No More Heroes. However, something within the more vulgar Destroyman’s arm malfunctions, resulting in Shinobu being able to easily tear his hand off and teasingly ask, “Was this suppose to spark? Lame.” in a tone not unlike when she asked Travis if his beam katana was ‘a toy’ two years prior.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...