Waifu Wednesday: Sumika Tokiwa

Being a Compile Heart game, Death end re;Quest is, naturally, overflowing with colourful, interesting and delightful female characters.

In fact, women make up the majority of the cast… though, again, this is nothing unusual for a Compile Heart game. What is a little unusual this time around is the fact that the game unfolds across two discrete “worlds” — the “real” world and the “game” world.

For today’s Waifu Wednesday, we’re taking a look at one of your companions during your time in the “real” world, as you attempt to uncover the conspiracy that has led to heroine Shina Ninomiya — and possibly others — becoming trapped in the virtual reality massively multiplayer online game, World’s Odyssey.

Sumika Tokiwa is introduced pretty early on as a colleague of protagonist Arata Mizunashi at Enigma, the software company where they both work. We learn that the pair have always got along and respect one another as peers, though it seems that Mizunashi advanced through the ranks a little faster than Tokiwa did. This isn’t a reflection on Tokiwa’s abilities or any sort of attempt to comment on sexism in the IT sector; Mizunashi is simply better at what he does, and Tokiwa will freely acknowledge that.

There’s no bad blood there, in other words, and the two share a friendly, close relationship as colleagues and, as the story develops, confidants. While the dangerous situation the World’s Odyssey case puts everyone in leads Mizunashi to want to get everyone else to safety as soon as possible, Tokiwa is too stubborn to simply roll over and let one person handle all the heavy lifting. On top of that, Tokiwa also respects Mizunashi’s work ethic and how far he is willing to go for Shina, someone he clearly cares about, and thus wants to do everything she can to support him.

Tokiwa is a good example of a trend in recent Japanese popular media to show female characters fulfilling roles that are stereotypically associated with men in society at large, more specifically in media and even more specifically in anime that involve video games and have an exclamation point in their title. She follows notable cases in the latter regard such as the all-female Eagle Jump development company in New Game! and the prominent female contingent in Gamers! But she’s also the latest in a long line of highly capable Compile Heart women, who stand up for what they believe in, get things done and certainly don’t need no man for validation.

Tokiwa’s main quirk is an interest in the occult, a hobby she shares with the cafe owner Anjo, who Mizunashi meets in the early hours of the narrative. It seems that Tokiwa and Anjo are well acquainted, with the former referring to the latter as “Master” (in the “boss” sense rather than anything subservient or sexual — Mizunashi quickly picks up on this and starts following suit shortly after coming to understand the terms of their relationship) and the pair of them frequently indulging in flights of fancy involving all manner of interesting subject matter.

The occult plays a key role in the overall narrative themes of Death end re;Quest, but we’ll talk more about that in detail when we come to analyse the game’s story as a whole. Suffice to say, though, Tokiwa’s interest in the subject area — along with Anjo’s connections and wealth of research material — proves to be something of an asset to Mizunashi’s attempts to crack the case.

From a design perspective, I absolutely love Tokiwa. Like most Compile Heart characters, she’s immediately recognisable thanks to a combination of a unique silhouette and a distinctive colour scheme. Her mode of dress puts across the image of a young, fashionable up-and-coming professional in a field not typically known for its reliance on formality. (How many programmers do you know who wear suits?)

Her combination of slogan-emblazoned T-shirt, ripped denim hotpants and elaborate, fashionable boots give her an air of sexy, feminine confidence, but the addition of a long cardigan to her ensemble makes it feel like she doesn’t particularly want to flaunt her undeniable attractiveness. Instead, it puts across the impression that she dresses the way she does because she likes it, and perhaps because it’s comfortable, rather than in an attempt to attract attention to herself or seduce anyone… though, again, this is a Compile Heart game, so there is at least one slightly awkward, sexual tension-filled scene between her and Mizunashi to look forward to!

Tokiwa’s voice actress is Shiori Izawa, who is a fairly prolific seiyuu in both anime and video games. In the latter case, she can also be heard playing the Witch in Inti Creates’ Dragon Marked for Death, Mega Drive in Superdimension Neptune vs Sega Hard Girls, Assassin Wu Zetian in Fate/Grand Order and Kafuru in the Senran Kagura series. As for a small selection of the anime in which she appears, she plays Sodoko, Gomoyo and Pazomi in Girls und Panzer, Kawara in Log Horizon and both Argo and Pina in Sword Art Online — roles she reprises in the video game adaptations.

Tokiwa is a great addition to Death end re;Quest’s ensemble cast, and even though she isn’t one of the core playable characters in the “game” part of the, uh, game, she’s definitely an important part of the experience as a whole. She’s a good foil to Mizunashi and isn’t afraid to tell him when he’s being unreasonable; at the other end of the spectrum, the surprising depth of her specialist knowledge (particularly in fields such as obscure or dead languages) proves to be a literal lifesaver on more than one occasion.

I guess the lesson that we can all learn from this is that we should probably learn to code, huh?


More about Death end re;Quest

Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed this article. I’ve been writing about games in one form or another since the days of the old Atari computers, with work published in Page 6/New Atari User, PC Zone, the UK Official Nintendo Magazine, GamePro, IGN, USgamer, Glixel and more over the years, and I love what I do.

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