This is gonna be another of those rants that’s railing against something that came from (and is much more prevalent in) anime, only a part of RPGs because so many of them are stylistically tied to anime. But a stupid thing is a stupid thing, regardless of whether it’s intrinsic or adopted, so I hold RPGs no less accountable.
What the fucking HELL is up with the way some women run in Japanese RPGs? You know what I’m talking about. It’s when the chick is...I’m not even sure you could call the leg motions “running” actually, it’s more like jogging most of the time, even in instances where running is clearly supposed to be what’s happening. She’s jogging along, and for some utterly inexplicable reason, instead of pumping her arms back and forth like any normal human being does while moving quickly to facilitate oxygen intake and dispersal and whatnot, or even just generally keeping her arms still as some people do, she’s waving her arms back and forth, alternating with each step. I realize that my ability to verbally describe this is limited, so I’ve got a visual aid:
I call this Anime Girl Run Syndrome.
Now, that there is a light case of Anime Girl Run Syndrome, the one which I just described and showed, presenting with only the mildest of stupid symptoms. A more severe case will have the lady’s elbows firmly locked against her sides, and often splay her waving arms in an upwards diagonal direction, bringing her uselessly flapping hands to semi-circle her shoulders. In addition to these bizarre upper-body contortions, severe Anime Girl Run Syndrome will cause the female’s hips to sway unnaturally with each step, such that they appear to actually be working against one another, and causing constant near-collisions between her knees, which are avoided only through some unfathomable dark magicks. A further symptom of this terrible malady will be an almost violent bouncing of the woman’s upper body with each step, such that I suspect her spine may be getting damaged from the vibrations, which of course also means that her breasts are just hopping all over the place, defying several basic laws of physics and anatomy with the tenacious will of a Mexican jumping bean. I think this is meant to have a mildly arousing effect on the audience, but honestly it’s only ever seemed amusing to me, since the wild in-out-in-out flailing of the arms means that the chick is in the perpetual act of very nearly pummelling her own bust. It actually almost seems like a natural response when one considers that her boobs are behaving more like they’ve been possessed by a supernatural entity than as an extension of her body, but I doubt that’s the intent.
Or maybe it is. Japanese culture can be weird.
Anyway, the whole thing looks like someone looked at Turk’s White Person Dance in Scrubs (seen here at about 0:23) and decided to make it into a mode of travel.
Why the rip-roarin’ hell do people insert this idiotic concept into RPGs? Or use it at all? Next to trying to skip to your loo while wearing skis, this is the least effective form of movement imaginable to me. I certainly have never heard of or seen anyone run anything like this in real life, save when they’re actively trying to mimic the fictional characters who do, which obviously doesn’t count. And even if people really did waste their time with this ridiculous jog, they’d never do so at times when they’re actually trying to cover as much distance in as short a time as possible. RPG characters (and anime ones, too, for that matter), on the other hand, are quite often clearly supposed to be in a hurry when they run places, what with the many emergencies and life-or-death situations they find themselves in, so it just looks that much more dumb and inefficient. And it gets even sillier when they get really dedicated to the “running” concept. The Wizard of Oz: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road RPG has Dorothy suffer from Anime Girl Run Syndrome, but when she runs, she’s really booking it, leaning forward and motoring those legs like a track star. But, even as she does that, she steadfastly refuses not to have her arms flap back and forth with each step she takes, so the end result of this is that she’s just flying down the road, full-speed, with her arms limply slapping back and forth like someone’s attached a pair of dead, de-boned trout to her sides.
Now, my sister, who I recently realized I basically never credit for the massive part she plays in this rant blog so expect more mentions of her from now on, is a pretty smart cookie, and she theorizes that this bizarre run’s origins in Japanese culture might be a result of the kimono. Given the long-sleeved, enwrapping, and drape-y nature of a female’s kimono, it might be that this Anime Girl Run is the natural result of a woman trying to run while wearing one--or even just some iconic animator’s imagination of how that might look. After all, if a kimono is done up right, she and I think (neither of us has ever worn one) that one’s knees are quite restricted to a very small movement range, which would explain some of the hip-sway and near-knee-knocking. This also would affect one’s balance, necessitating holding the arms out at the sides to maintain it. And if you can’t step forward properly because of this restricted leg space, it might be easier to move quickly with more of a hopping gait, which would account for the exaggerated upper body bouncing. Seems a plausible enough theory to me.
That, or it’s just to accentuate boob bounces.
However, even if it does have this semi-sensible origin, it’s pointless to have a lady do the Anime Girl Run when not wearing specially-restrictive garments, and it looks silly as hell. I’m also not thrilled about the way it seems fanservice-y at times, and how utterly ineffective and pointedly non-threateningly feminine it makes female characters seem...kind of like how old cartoons and TV shows would consistently throw their women into the kitchen, because a man cooking food himself and a woman with any ambitions aside from housewife? PSHAW, STUFF AND NONSENSE, I SAY!* Maybe that’s just my imagination (I have, after all, seen a male character with Anime Girl Run Syndrome before),** but I flatter myself to think I have some fairly good instincts on such matters. One way or another, though, it’s strange, it’s silly, and it’s dumb. Anime can keep this Anime Girl Run Syndrome nonsense if it really wants it, but I wish RPGs could have the sense to ditch it.
* I would be very much obliged if you read this part to yourself in the voice of a plump-ish, English retired military gentleman straight from an Agatha Christie story. Bonus points of he’s indignantly sputtering around his mutton chops.
** Suikoden 4’s main character Lazlo, if you’re wondering. It’s not exactly the same as Anime Girl Run Syndrome, but whatever freaky shit he’s doing when he runs is closer to it than any other mode of travel I can think of.