6 – Aya Brea | Parasite Eve
Remember learning about mitochondria in biology class? According to Parasite Eve's canon, they’re actually sentient beings bent on enslaving the human race. Through various means we can’t go into here, Aya Brea gains genetic abilities that enable her to fight these malicious organisms, making her just as fantastical as the mutated beasts stalking New York City. But before that, she was a stunningly accomplished woman that worked her ass off as a regular ol’ detective.
Above: Getting shit done
Aya’s police background and comparatively mundane attire make her feel much closer to “real” than most other leading ladies. Additionally, her blond hair and penchant for finding supernatural trouble makes us wonder if JJ Abrams had Aya in mind when casting Fringe’s Olivia Dunham, this generation’s Dana Scully.
Inevitable objectification: Though she tools around in dirty cop cars wearing baggy jeans, most of the series’ official art portrays Aya in sensual positions and increasingly less clothing. There’s nothing wrong with being strong AND sexy, mind, it’s just that by the time Parasite Eve 2 rolls around, we see less “normal” Aya and more machine-gun toting, miniskirt-wearing combatress Aya.
Above: F*CK YEAH LET’S DO THIS
5 – Faith | Mirror’s Edge
Forget raiding tombs – we’d rather leap from rooftop to rooftop with the sensibly realized Faith, who manages to be athletic, stealthy and attractive without relying on suggestive camera angles or physically impossible cleavage. She’s also dressed for success, wearing clothes runners actually don while hopping through parking garages. Time to buy actual pants, Lara.
Above: Faith disarming and KO-ing an armed guard
She also walks the extremely thin line between tough girl and “grrrl,” assaulting corrupt cops and turning her nose up at authority without coming off as a confrontational, overcompensating bully. Sometimes, in the pursuit of making a strong leading lady, creators go too far. Faith was a case of just-right balance.
Above: And then Kotaku pointed this out
Inevitable objectification: For every realistic depiction of women, there are about a hundred cases of people undoing all that hard work with one crass image. In this case, a forumite decided Edge’s official art wasn’t “Eastern” enough and changed Faith’s look to something more appealing to Asian audiences. On the left is the real version, while the right has larger eyes and significantly larger boobs with faint nipples poking out.
Tom Farrer, producer on Mirror’s Edge, had this to say:
“We wanted her to be attractive, but we didn’t want her to be a supermodel. We wanted her to be approachable and far more real. It was just kind of depressing that someone thinks it would be better if Faith was a 12-year-old with a boob job.”
On one hand we agree with Farrer, as changing facial structure is one thing, but adding visible nipples probably extends beyond cultural preference. On the other hand, knowing Faith (along with every other tasteful heroine) is systematically designed to be “approachable” and “real” makes her seem anything but.