Josie Rizal Enters Arena; Jimmies Got Rustled

Josie Rizal

Poor Josie got haters already.

Just recently, Bandai Namco revealed another character for the upcoming Tekken 7 game named Josie Rizal. If you grew up having the knowledge in Filipino history, you probably won’t miss who this character was based from. For the sake of those who don’t know, Josie Rizal is a Filipina character whose name was based from Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero. “Quite a lazy name,” you may say, but we’ll get there soon. She is this cheerful girl in what seems like a summer outfit whose fighting style specializes in eskrima and kickboxing. It’s kind of nice for the game developers to create a character based on your nationality, don’t you think?

But lo and behold, here come the offended critics. Right on schedule.

Some Philippine officials and people from the National Council for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) are displeased with how the game character was depicted, saying that Josie’s existence, mostly her looks and her outfit, just gave a wrong impression on the image of the late national hero. They added that they will look for ways in which to “correct” the wrong impression although they haven’t specified how they will do the “corrections” yet.

First things first: Josie Rizal is not Dr. Jose Rizal. To anyone who believes that they are the same person: you need to have your eyes checked. From the little info that has been given so far, Josie was named after Dr. Jose and that is it. She is not Dr. Jose Rizal reincarnated as this energetic girl who is adept at fighting. There hasn’t even been any info if Josie is a descendant of Dr. Jose though it’s quite possible that she might be. Dr. Rizal’s legacy for the country has been set on the Filipino history for the longest time and I don’t know why these people are so worried that his image would be tainted by someone who isn’t even a real person. (Although I really wish she was real. Josie is a real cutie.)

Some say that her outfit is quite offensive, being this skimpy and revealing like a prostitute and that it bears the colors of the Philippine flag. To be honest, at first, it didn’t even cross my mind that her dress was supposed to be the flag’s colors; probably because I’m a guy and I don’t really nitpick on what other people wear. Heck, I thought she was dressed as Snow White with all the shared colors. What? Would they want her to be dressed in a Filipiñana attire while fighting instead and desecrate the image of the said attire? Or would they rather have her wear the usual casual clothes of an average Filipina nowadays: a shirt or a blouse with slacks or maong pants while wearing slippers or sneakers? That’s lame. She’s gonna be the lamest looking character in the game and that wouldn’t really help at all.

Josie and Snow White
See what I mean?

Let’s face it: Josie was dressed this way to look more interesting as a female character in a game. It’s sad to say that she has this sexualized look but the game has to market itself somehow. Filipino players of Tekken are doing great and has somehow made a name in the international Tekken scene and one way for the developers to acknowledge that is to create a character that will pander to the Filipino fans. It’s like their way of saying, “Hey! Good job you guys! Here’s something for doing great in the game!” I doubt the developers would rather pick an average manang (Tagalog term for middle-aged woman) in lieu of Josie, although I must admit that it would be ironically cool to see one kick Heihachi’s ass. And this was supposed to be a game wherein you can play as a panda or as a wooden person. In short, this is a work of fiction wherein things are stretched beyond incredible and it shouldn’t be taken that seriously.

Another thing that got the people whining was the fact that Josie is a Filipina but she was speaking in English in the trailer. Yeah, that would have been a great argument if it wasn’t for the fact that she is the only Filipina in the roster and we doubt that there is someone else who could actually understand Tagalog. Mokujin, maybe? Do these people really expect that the game developers would actually create another character just to serve as a translator for Josie? Talk about being ungrateful and demanding.

Don’t you guys find it funny and ironic that when our country comes up with this stereotypical person from another nation shown on any media, most of us just dismiss it as comedic but when other countries do it to our country, most probably the same people who found it funny when done to others would be barking like defensive dogs and retaliate? Just look at Bruce Lee. He may not be a national hero but for some he is a hero and he might even have inspired as many people as Dr. Rizal and he didn’t even existed as long as Dr. Rizal. Marshall Law was inspired by Bruce Lee but nobody seemed bothered by it. Sure, Bruce Lee was a martial artist and he’d fit right in this game unlike Dr. Rizal. We could argue that the developers should have just made the character a direct interpretation of the national hero; skillful at fencing and complete with the quill attacks and word summoning. Tekken is ridiculous to some extent but not that ridiculous; that depiction would not fit in. Why can’t we just be grateful that some people went out of their way to create a character that supposedly came from our country? From the trailer, you could see that Josie was crying even after winning a match. Have the developers somehow predicted that this issue would happen beforehand and that they did this to show that some Filipinos would actually whine even though they are given this recognition? I dunno, just speculating.

Dr. Canete's search results
Dr. Cañete was one of the people who voiced his opinion on this issue. I tried looking for his credentials and this is what I saw. I wish I could say that this was just a Photoshopped image and it was just an April Fool’s prank but you could see it for yourself.

From what I’ve learned from another game, Kantai Collection or KanColle, bringing historical figures and events back to relevancy in their own little ways actually helps in bringing awareness back to the newer generation. I doubt that the same number of people would even be aware and care about the recent discovery of the Japanese battleship Musashi wreckage within the Sibuyan Sea if it wasn’t for the personified version of the ship in KanColle. In my experience, I had a newfound appreciation for the ships and for the historical war ever since I started playing that game and I even saw other people, who don’t really seem like the kind who are into historical things, who are taking a lot of interest about World War II.

As of this writing, there hasn’t been any word from the NCCA on how they would do the said “corrections” regarding this matter. I’m actually quite intrigued as to how they would pull this through or at least try to raise it up into a formal discussion. Even Katsuhiro Harada, the chief producer of Tekken, admitted that Josie’s name was a play on Dr. Rizal’s name, which is really obvious. Josie Rizal is actually garnering a lot of positive feedback from the fans and Harada even declined when someone asked him to change her name into something else. And a little fun fact: Josie’s name may have been derived from the Japanese word for a girl (女子 Joshi). Not so lazy of a name now, huh? As expected from the Japanese, their play on words never fails to amuse me.