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Momiji
Ninja Gaiden series
Momiji NG3RE
Momiji in her "Hidden Black Flower"[1] costume from Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge
First appearance Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword (2008)
Voiced by
(English)
Kate Higgins
Motion capture Samantha Jo (Ninja Gaiden 3)
Voiced by
(Japanese)
Yūko Minaguchi
Shino Kakinuma (Yaiba)
class=" infobox hproduct" style="float:right; width:264px; font-size:90%; text-align:left;" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="3"
Fictional profile
Birthplace Hayabusa Village, Japan
Fighting style Hayabusa-style aikijutsu
Weapon Heavenly Dragon Naginata (天龍薙刀 Tenryuu Naginata?)
Heavensong Bow (天歌弓 Tenkakyu?)
Weapon name Heavenly Dragon Naginata (天龍薙刀 Tenryuu Naginata?)
Heavensong Bow (天歌弓 Tenkakyu?)
Occupation Shrine maiden, kunoichi

|- |}Template:Japanese text

Momiji (紅葉?) is fictional character from the Ninja Gaiden series of video games by Team Ninja and Tecmo. She is a ninja shrine maiden and an apprentice and team mate of the series' protagonist Ryu Hayabusa, who was introduced as a supporting playable character in 2004's action game Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword. Momiji later returned in this role in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 (including their Plus ports for the PlayStation Vita) and Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge, and is also available in Musou Orochi 2 Special, Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate and Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper. The character was generally well received by critics.

Appearances

Ninja Gaiden series

Momiji was raised to be Hayabusa ninja clan's Dragon Shrine Maiden like her older sister Kureha who was Ryu's childhood friend.[2] She was tasked with keeping the ancient relics passed down the Hayabusa village from the ancient Dragon Lineage and carrying out the Shrine Maiden's rites and rituals to purify the world of evil forces. Among the relics that the maidens were tasked with guarding is the Eye of the Dragon, a jewel said to contain the souls of the ancient Dragons. Kureha was killed when the village was attacked in 2004's Ninja Gaiden and the devastated Momiji began training under Ryu as a precaution, becoming a skilled kunoichi along with her shrine maiden duties and abilities.[3] Since then she supports and follows her master whenever he comes around. Momiji is a very gentle and caring young woman who is seen as an older sister figure by all of the village's children,[4] including the boy Sanji. Like her mentor Ryu Hayabusa, Momiji trains extensively to become one of the deadliest warriors in the Hayabusa village.

In Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword, Momiji is playable in the game's first chapter,[5] but it is also possible to play her through the entire game after unlocking the special difficulty setting "The Way of Kunoichi".[6][7] After her session of training with Ryu, Momiji tells him to go ahead while she stays behind to pick flowers for Kureha's grave. She is attacked by the Black Spider clan who came retrieve the ancient relics of the Hayabusa clan. Though she manages to kill many Black Spider ninjas, she is overwhelmed by the fiendish Red Dragon and taken prisoner. At the Black Spider clan's base, Momiji is interrogated by Black Spider's Obaba for the Eye of the Dragon but turns out she managed to fuse the jewel into her soul, preventing Obama from killing her. The Fiends' leader Ishtaros eventually takes possession of the captive Momiji in hopes that she may lure Ryu and kill him. Dring the battle between Ryu and Ishtaros at the Gates of Hell, Ryu is overwhelmed by the Dark Dragonstones' power but the ghost of Kureha appears and draws out Momiji's soul. Together they release the Eye and imbue the Dragon Sword with its power, allowing it to become the True Dragon Sword that Ryu uses to defeat Ishtaros. Nicchae, the Greater Fiend of Destruction and Ishtaros's twin, appears and takes Momiji, Ishtaros' body and the eight Dark Dragonstones deeper into Hell in an attempt to reawaken the Vigoor Emperor. Nicchae's plan ends in failure, as the Dark Dragon consumes the Emperor and Ishtaros before bursting forth to threaten the world once again. Ryu defeats the Dark Dragon with the True Dragon Sword, and Momiji is finally rescued. After the incident, Momiji is reunited with the children of the Hayabusa Village and mourns Kureha alongside the children. She makes a vow at Kureha's grave to become stronger so she can defend herself and the village. She leaves Ryu a letter as she departs the village to train in her travels.

Momiji returns as a playable character in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.[8] While Ryu is away at Tokyo, the Hayabusa village is invaded once again by the Black Spider clan. As Jo battles Genshin, Momji rallies the Hayabusa ninjas to protect the rest of the villagers. Ryu later returns to the village and repels the invasion, killing almost all the invading Black Spider ninjas. Momiji soon realizes that Sanji has been taken captive, prompting her to go rescue him. As she travels to Tokyo, she encounters one of the Tengu Brothers and soundly defeats him. This leads her to Sanji, who is being held prisoner by both brothers. After her victorious battle, she reassures Sanji that she will always look out for him until he becomes a master ninja. As they return home, they are unknowingly saved by Muramasa, who kills a Black Spider ninja who is about to shoot an arrow at them. Momiji is also featured in the spin-off title ZEN Pinball: Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.[9]

In Ninja Gaiden 3, after Sanji finds Ryu unconscious outside and brings him to Momiji, she watches over him and helps him recover. During his journey to find his father in the shrine, she assists him in dealing with the Grip of Murder curse while helping him defeat the Black Spider ninja clan. Whenever the curse almost takes complete control over Ryu, Momiji uses her power to protect his mind and help him regain his senses. As they get near to the shrine, they are attacked by Obaba, but they manage to defeat her. Near the end of the battle, Momiji is knocked unconscious by Obaba, but Ryu manages to save her and brings her to the shrine to be taken care of by his father. When Canna attacks Tokyo as the Goddess and Ryu begins to become overwhelmed by Fiends, Momiji and Jo arrive just in time to save him. She gives her master the Eye of the Dragon before he departs, leaving her and his father to fight off the surrounding foes.

Momiji became playable again in the NG3 update Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge.[10] She also makes an appearance in the spin-off game Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z,[11] as an ally and lover of Ryu, who is an antagonist in this game. She arrives to give the Eye of the Dragon to him, and then Ryu saves her from peril.

Other appearances

In the fighting game Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate, Momiji joins the tournament in order to put what she has learned to the test.[12] She a makes playable appearances in the Wii U edition of Warriors Orochi 3 (Warriors Orochi 3 Hyper[13]), including in the game's duel mode.[14] She has previously also made an unplayable guest appearance in the Warriors series in Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce for the PlayStation 3, where she gives a series of quests to the player character who can earn the right to wield her Heavenly Dragon Naginata in battle.

Design and promotion

Momiiji DS

Mariko Hirokane's original design of the character in Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword

Momiji (meaning "Autums Leaves" in Japanese) is a tall, young girl with hazel eyes and long black hair tied in a ponytail. She is both a shinobi (ninja) and a miko (shrine maiden).[15] The character was originally designed for Tomonobu Itagaki's Ninja Gaiden: Dragon Sword by a woman (Mariko Hirokane[16]), whose work on the game was her debut.[17] Director Yosuke Hayashi, who cosiders Momiji his "very own" character,[18] made his Sigma 2 design priorities clear: "How much sexier can a female ninja get?"[19] Hayashi said he has originally rejected an idea to make Ayane and Momiji playable in the original version of Ninja Gaiden 3 because he wanted to focus on Ryu.[20]

File:Momiji TGS 2009.png

Momiji originally wore a white Hayabusa ninja training[1] outfit with green-black hair, but starting in Sigma 2 she has black hair and her main[21] costume became a revealing[22] battle-priestess outfit where the colors red and white represent dragon's flame and purification.[1] Her alternative costumes in the game, "designed for action and style,"[23] include a variation of her shrine maiden costume that "mixes a skirt with a traditional ceremonial top," an "easy-to-move clothing for combat whose violet design still maintains a sense of serenity," and a "traditional clothing for those taking part in secular festivals"[24] that is very similar to Kasumi's original costume in the early DOA games. Another costume was first made available as part of a paid DLC,[25] and more arrived with Razor's Edge.[26]

Additional costumes for were included in pre-order bonuses for Sigma 2[27] and Razor's Edge.[28] The "Momiji Red" version of Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate Japan-only limited edition contains, among other things, Momiji-themed bonuses such as a 3D mousepad.[29] In Japan, first-print copies of Tecmo Koei's Musou Orochi 2 Ultimate (Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate) were bundled with DLC codes for special Orochi-themed costume for Momiji in DO5U,[30] and special edition of Yaiba: Ninja Gaiden Z included an exclusive Yaiba-themed DLC costume for Momiji in DO5U.[31]

Gameplay

In Sigma 2, besides her unlockable[32][33] single-player chapter in the story mode,[34] Momiji is also available for co-op multiplayer gameplay on 30 special missions,[34] as well as additional Tag Mission and Ninja Race mode in Sigma 2 Plus.[35][36] She is an acrobatic character[37] with an unique double jump ability, and can attack enemies from the air.[38] According to GameSpot, Momiji in Sigma 2 "plays similarly to Ryu and is just as fast and formidable with a blade. She's able to leap through the air, dash, slice, dice, and more, with similar physics to Ryu" and a similar control system.[39] Between her, Ryu and Ayane, Momiji the slowest but strongest with her naginata,[40] which has the best height and reach.[41] According to 1UP.com, "Momiji's reach is her biggest advantage, and the Naginata deals insane damage to her enemies," allowing to "kill them quickly and efficiently" from a safe distance. A drawback to this is "her raw strength and long range are balanced by her slow mobility."[42] GamesRadar called her "actually the middle-ground character. Wielding a naginata halberd, Momiji’s combos require more skill, but she does have a number of one-hit kill techniques."[43] Despite Momiji's use of bow and arrows,[44] PC Magazine opined that a particular problem with Momiji in the game is that she has "no effective quick projectile," and so the players have "to rely on her jumping abilities and Ultimate Techniques to create some breathing room."[45] Momiji's breasts in the game can be manipulated with the motion sensor of the Sixaxis controller.[46][47]

In Razor's Edge, she was made simultaneously available in an update for the Wii U version[48][49][50] and at launch for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.[51][52] She can can be played in Chapter Challenge mode and Ninja Trials co-op mode.[26] Her new skills include a long-range naginata attack.[53] According to X360, all the "girls" of the game are "just as deadly" as Ryu.[54]

In DOA5 Ultimate, Momiji is still an agile character, retaining her unique double jump move from the Ninja Gaiden series.[55] Like Kasumi, Momiji is able to teleport, but her style is completely different with a relatively high learning curve.[56] According to NowGamer, in DOA5 Ultimate she has "a few aerial mix-ups and even a 360 air-throw for those who want a slightly more challenging character to master."[57]

Reception

The character was mostly well received, in part due to her sex appeal.[41][58][59] GameSpot's Luke Anderson wrote that in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 "Momiji certainly looks the part in a Tecmo game, and with that sort of getup, she's certain to send pulses racing."[39] Commenting on her more detailed appearance in Sigma 2 in comparison to this in Dragon Sword, Michael McWhertor of Kotaku wrote that "all that smooth upper thigh rendered by the Cell processor" would be one of the main selling points of the game;[60] PLAY later placed her Momiji Sigma 2 as third on their 2010 list of top "side-boobs" in games.[61] Justin Towell of GamesRadar opined Momiji adds "some welcome variety to the hack 'n' slash gameplay" of Sigma 2 and stated a hope she would appear in Dead or Alive 5 "and our Sexy Fan Art gallery too."[62] Prima Games called her a Ninja Gaiden fan favorite.[63]

NowGamer's Ryan King called Momiji "the most interesting addition" to Dead or Alive 5 Ultimate[57] and GamesRadar's Mike Reparaz included her appearance in Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce among the "awesome character cameos".[64] Craig Harris of IGN praised the "great" way of how she was used in the tutorial chapter in Dragon Sword[5] and IGN's Ryan Clements wrote that the "beautiful Momiji...will add yet another layer of gameplay to Sigma 2 that elevates the experience beyond the 360 version."[65] Speaking of different character and the change in gameplay it brings, SCEA's Jeff Rubenstein said, "personally, I was a fan of Momiji and her halberd weapon in NGS2."[66] On the other hand, Gabriel Zamor of PC Magazine singled her out while writing about how "frustrating experience" using female characters can be for the players in the Ninja Gaiden series as it can force "a significant play-style change on them."[45]

GamesRadar's Brett Elston opined Momiji looks "a lot more family friendly" than the characters from the previous Ninja Gaiden games,[17] even as Earnest Cavalli of The Escapist called her a "hilariously stereotypical" example of an "overtly sexualized Japanese woman."[67] VideoGamer.com noted her for a "class and charm"[68] and GameSpot's Kevin VanOrd wrote he "cringed" when he found a poem written by Ryu "in which he professes his adoration of Momiji and refers to his own manhood as a 'wee-wee'" in one of the toilet humour jokes in Ninja Gaiden Z.[69]

References

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