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Asuka Bounces Into Action
What is Senran Kagura and who is this strange kunoichi?
Senran Kagura is a series of action video games developed by the Japanese developer Tamsoft and produced by Marvelous Entertainment. Yes, the same Marvelous Entertainment that bought us a fantastic game like Story of Seasons. The franchise revolves around groups of female ninjas, and has received several manga adaptations. A television anime adaptation produced by Artland aired in Japan between January and March 2013. The anime had been license by FUNimation Entertainment in North America. It did also branch into a few other genres like an online trading card game and a pretty "interesting" cooking game. By August 2015, worldwide sales for the games in the series had passed one million copies. So while the franchise is pretty niche, its huge cult following is nothing to scoff at.
Asuka is a playable character from these games as well as the main protagonist. She makes her debut in Senran Kagura: Portrait of Girls (Known as Burst in Western versions). A 2nd-year Hanzo Academy student, Asuka is energetic and willing to work as hard as she can. Her grandfather was apparently a great ninja himself, whose influence contributes to Asuka's earnestness about her shinobi training. Most of her time, she would partake in a series of dangerous missions while having her clash against the Heibijo Academy's kunoichi (especially Homura) at times. Her height includes a great 5'1'' while having some impressive measurements like 35-22-33.
What are her special abilities and how is she unique?
Like many playable characters in the Senran Kagura franchise, she does have a wide range of abilities and skills in order to take on the strongest of opponents. She is a master of stealth that can reach speeds comparable to most ninjas, which comes in handy for running from foes or dishing out dirt in the skies with Aerial Raves (air combos). She is mostly a swordswoman with quick attacks and only resorts to using dual blades when the going gets tough. Mostly mostly starts out in fights in her sailor fuku attire, that is until you activate Shinobi Tranformation (which results in one of the most over the top and fanservicy transformations you have ever seen) for her more stronger attacks. But the only downside is that she can suffer from clothing damage in the heat of battle if a stronger opponent or many nooks overpower her (which can also happen even if you didn't trigger the Shinobi Transformation).
There is also a series of Ninja Arts that can be used in a variety of games with each character following a certain motif or element. Dual Slash and Hanzo-Storm Full Bloom are attacks that require successful draws with twin blades, the latter being a more amped up version of the previous attack. Another famous Ninja Art of hers relates to her toad motif, in which she summons a giant toad that ravages his prey with a fierce lashing tongue. She also have her fair share of Aerial Ninja Arts which includes the Hanzo-Style Storm Kick (an aerial whirlwind generated by her own legs) and Hanzo Style-Blooming Slash. If that's not crazy enough for you, then you should know about her Ultimate Form. The Ultimate Form is an alternate character she becomes when using five scrolls (depending on the series: main or Versus) which allows her to fully use twin blades in battle with longer hair and terrifying green aura. And broken doesn't even begin to describe how this form works.
Why Asuka of all third parties? Isn't she a pretty unknown character?
That is pretty true, she is indeed one of those characters that a small audience would know. But who's to say that not everyone needs to support a superstar third party for Smash? The games are slowly starting to become more known due to word from mouth and it did take nearly 5 years for it to finally achieve sales of one million. Several more people should know what Senran Kagura is thanks to FUNimation licensing the rather mixed anime adaption and some go as far as playing the games after what they've seen. The mains series of games were Nintendo exclusive and took full advantage of the 3DS basins gyroscope (jiggling the breasts by shaking the 3DS can be a chore for some) and 3DS visuals. Though it is true that a majority of the Versus spinoffs (the ones that take place after Senran Kagura Burst and 2) had it easier for being on the Vita and other Sony platformers. There's also interest in a Nintendo Switch game in addition to a more serious Senran Kagura 7 teased by the newest entry Peach Beach Splash.
Not only that, but the series hd been gaining some special crossovers with other franchises over the years during it's gong popularity. The most recent iteration of Dead or Alive 5 had received DLC costumes based on the girls of Hibejo and Hanzo for the main and support female cast of the game. Tecmo Koei would eventually return the favor by having the popular Ayane appear as a guest character in the Senran Kgura: Estival Versus. In the same game, the three main girls of Ikku Tousen (Known as Battle Vixens in the West) would appear as playable fighters through DLC like Ayane. Marvelous also made a promotional crossover poster to advertise Estival Versus and the High School DxD game they were developing for the 3DS. The Hibejo shinobi Homura would be a guest fighter in the upcoming anime fighter NitroPlus Blasterz. And both rival shinobi schools would appear in two card based games in the form of Sega's Samurai & Dragons and Square Enix's Million Arthur. And more recently, Ayane returns with fan favorites Marie Rose and Honoka in Peach Beach Splash next to Nitro's famous mascot Super Sonico.
With all the suggestions for other ninja characters like Kasumi or Ryu Hayabusa, why not a kunoichi from an over the top action series that had presence on recent Nintendo platforms. The combo heavy nature of the game can easily be translated into Smash's engine with quick strikes and great aerial mobility. Her strongest attacks would cover a lot of ground, while being easy to dodge if you are dealing with a skilled character. Her Ninja Arts would also be proven for a very tricky play style when dealing with characters that are faster or slower than you. And there would be issues like the sexuality, but that can easily be toned down by removing the clothing damage mechanic and obviously censoring the underside of her skirt despite it being a bikini bottom. As for the jiggle physics, it's obviously impossible for it to happen with Smash's engine.
It's no surprise that these games have an excellent soundtrack for what could be a series of scandalous beat em ups. To fit in with the shinobi setting of the games, the songs take a huge Jpaanese influence to them and they sound like they could fit will with any other ninja themed video game. The sound tracks have been getting so massive within each game that even Senran Kagura 2's special edition would come with a disk containing these songs. Here are an example of what possible songs would fit Smash or need that remix magic to make them exciting for a battle.
Asuka's Secret Shinobi Moveset
Entrance Animation: Asuka jumps into the scene with her blades ready and fiercely faces her foe before saying "Let's dance!" (A reference to her entrance animation in Burst).
Idle Animation: Asuka does a sideways ninja stances that involves her hopping while holding her blades out. She would sometimes twirl her blade or even bounce on one foot while standing too long as a refenrece to her fighting stance in Burst.
Walk: She walks forward with her body leaned forward while holding her blades in anticipation of an attack.
Run: She dashes forward like any other dual swordsman with a serious look on her face, her speed rivals that of Sheik.
Sleeping Animation: She falls asleep with hr head down and her legs bent as if they are giving up on her.
Dizzy Animation: She sighs in a dazed manner with swirly anime eyes and stammering on her legs. Her blades are also waving around slightly like she's attempting to hold them.
Dodge Animation: She sidesteps like a swift ninja in a blur.
Jab: She swings her blade forward with the second one being swung towards her. Then she follows up with a minor stab with her right blade and heavy stab with her left blade (which is guaranteed to knock her foes away).
She deals a quick slash with her right blade and followed up with an upwards slash.
She does an upwards kick with her right foot.
She deals a crouching kick with her right foot while holding her blade.
She does a sliding kick with her foot (Her first dash animation in most SK games).
She does a sex kick while holding her weapons. Great for starting up a combo.
She deals a series of consecutive slashes while leaning froward.
She quickly slashes behind herself twice.
She executes a spin kick while hanging her body upside down.
She does a diving slash that "traps" her foe and sends them to the ground.
Asuka holds her blades back and slashes both of them forward in a crossing manner. This is a great move for sending any foe flying at high damage.
Asuka holds both blades to the side of her and quickly swings them upwards while yelling.
She holds her blades to her side while facing forward then swings them onto the ground to knock foes way with an earthy tremor from both directions.
Asuka reaches out with her arm while holding the blade within her underarms.
She knees her opponent in the shin with her legs.
She headbutts them then follows up with a right slash with the blade she was holding.
She tosses the foe aside and follows up with a backwards kick.
She tosses the foe into the air to follow up with a twin slash with both blades.
She slams the foe down and finishes off with a butt slam with all her weight.
Neutral Special: Dual Slash
Asuka sheathes both of her swords, slowly leans forward, then quickly draws both of them at once and dashes forward; slicing through any and all that are in her path. This move is pretty chargeable and it becomes stronger and goes farther based on the charge. This is a great way of clearing a path or even horizontal recovery at times.
Side Special: Aerial Rave
Asuka does a quick upwards slash while saying " Here it comes!". If the foe is hit, they will fly straight into the air and she would follow them with the press of the special botton again. This allows for her to easily combo her opponents in mid air with any of her aerials more easily. Unlike the original game however, this technique can only be sued once instead of twice.
She can be easily left vulnerable to other airborne enemies and this move is only effective when fighting near the stage itself instead of out of bounds. This can lead into mistakes where she falls to her doom or can recover by any means easily.
Up Special: Toad Summon
Asuka makes a series of hand signs, attempting to summon a large toad; which she is later successful. Once summoned, she celebrates and jumps onto the toad's back. However, the toad ignores her commands and acts on its own The toad then leaps into the air with Asuka still holding on for dear life and makes a dive for the opponent(s). She can easily jump off of the toad before making contact by hopping off like Wario's Wario Bike special.
This is a risky mov since the start-up is pretty slow and can leave her vulnerable. Unlike Rush, the Toad himself can run around freely and attack foes with his tongue. He can be defeated however with he is dealt with enough damage in a puff of smoke. His jumping is pretty high and he can dive down instantly to self-destruct (which is why you need to hop of of him when using this move away form the stage). This move can be used once for recover until he either dies or disappears in a good 7 seconds.
Down Special: Hanzo-Style Storm Kick
Asuka says "This is the pride of Hanzo Academy!" before jumping into the air with a short hop. While in the air, Asuka sheathes both of her swords, then sticks her leg out and spins around, creating a whirlwind to attack enemies as she descends. The whirlwind can suck any opponents and object in to ravage them with furious slash attacks.
The move can also be used in midair like the original game, except the hop is absent and she simply says "Storm Kick!". This is a great anti-air move to stop opponents in the air or protect yourself from any form of projectile. The only downside is that you'll automatically descend slightly before being left in a defenseless state. So this is in no way a great way for recovery despite its name.
Final Smash: Ultimate Asuka
Asuka says, "Now I'm really going all out," while crossing her blades with a serious face. Then she would be engulfed in a rising pillar of green aura while yelling to gather the strength necessary for this ultimate technique (intentional pun, is intentional). Then the aura would die down to reveal a serious Asuka with longer her and green aura engulfing her entire body (including weapons).
In this state, she is much stronger while sacrificing most of her speed. Her attacks are mostly the same, while focusing on more aggressive slashes with no kicks like in the original. The aura adds more to her defense (where she can't flinch from any attacks) and she has more range with her blade attacks. Her Standard Special is now replaced the deadlier Hanzo-Style Full Bloom in which she deal a series of rapid slashes when she comes in contact with her foes. Her Up Special is now an Extremespeed-esque has that allows her to blast off in any direction to damage foes with the aura.
When the transformation is over in 6-8 seconds, her aura dies down while her hair retains it's original style as she calms down. She is a bit woozy while and comically sighs while holding hr body down in exhaustion. Then she retains her original fighting stance.
Taunt 1: Briefly transforms into her academy gear before transforming back into normal.
Taunt 2: A chibi version fo Asuka's toad appears beside her an hops happily while croaking. This would lead Asuka into laughing at her ninja animal before it disappears.
Taunt 3: She slashes her blades twice while saying "Never underestimate me!" with a serious look during a few serious poses.
Victory Animation 1: She jumps up and down while saying "Yes! I've did it!" before doing a two finger pose with her body leaning. (Her victory animation from Burst).
Victory Animation 2: Kagura appears behind her while Asuka does a victorious pose with her blades crossed. "Hanzo Academy will never lose to the likes of anyone!" she says during this moment.
Victory Animation 3: Asuka quickly transforms into her bikini form (as a reference to Frantic Mode) while saying "What's the matter? You were distracted by my good moves?" with a smug grin.
Roster Icon from KMDP
Hanzo Academy's Ninja Rookies
Awesome the Shinobi
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