I’ve been playing a lot of Warriors Orochi 3 lately, so I feel it’s high time we had another Warriors waifu to celebrate.
This time around it’s the turn of Nene, a character who has had several names over the years. While she’s known as Nene in the Warriors Orochi series, she’s also been known as One (pronounced oh-nay), Nei and, probably most commonly when referring to the real historical figure, Kōdai-in.
Like most of the characters from the Warriors series, there’s a variety of interesting things to learn about her. So let’s dive in and investigate!
Nene (as we shall refer to her hereafter) was born sometime between 1541 and 1549. Her lineage was a respected one; on her father’s side, she was a descendent of the Taira clan — a lineage, which, interestingly, birthed recurring Warriors Orochi villain Kiyomori Taira — and her mother’s side of the family had connections to Yorimitsu Minamoto, a somewhat legendary figure from the 11th century.
As the daughter of a samurai with such respectable lineage behind her, Nene was obviously somewhat “in demand”. She was originally supposed to marry Nobunaga’s general Toshiie Maeda, but ended up marrying Hideyoshi Toyotomi instead. Her mother opposed this union because despite Toyotomi’s later accomplishments in unifying Japan, he was not particularly well-known at the time of their marriage. It ultimately worked out, though; Nene became one of Toyotomi’s most trusted confidantes — though that didn’t stop him philandering with other women — and a respected figure in her own right.
Nene’s family connections helped her husband secure a variety of helpful allies, and her keen mind helped him with matters of government. She seemed to have a good understanding of the people and how they reacted to Toyotomi’s policies once he took power, and he was known on more than one occasion to unquestioningly follow her advice when she felt it important enough to provide.
Despite her husband’s somewhat loose morals, Nene remained true to him, and she was popular with a variety of people thanks to her courteousness, intelligence and willingness to help. Nobunaga Oda supposedly wrote her a letter offering her encouragement to remain “lofty and elegant” even as her husband complained and seemed to constantly be seeking new women with whom to procreate; Nene never bore him any children. She remained by his side even as he was on his deathbed, petitioning the Imperial Court to hold a sacred dance ritual in an attempt to encourage his recovery.
After Toyotomi’s death, Nene became a nun, and was respected as a maternal figure for the clan’s many retainers, who remained loyal to her. She developed a cooperative relationship with Ieyasu Tokugawa, giving some of her lands to him so she could relocate to the imperial palace, and sided with him during a conflict with Toyotomi’s son by another woman, Hideyori Toyotomi. With the assistance of Tokugawa, she established a Buddhist temple, which became the burial location for her husband, his mother and, later, Hideyori as well. One of many signs that during this turbulent period in history, there were sometimes no truly long-lasting hard feelings when family is concerned.
In the Warriors games, Nene is depicted as a lively, friendly and youthful-looking young woman with formidable ninjutsu skills. Mechanically, she was originally incorporated into Samurai Warriors 2 to replace Kunoichi as a female shinobi — though the two appear alongside one another in Warriors Orochi — and in narrative terms, her renowned maternal nature from her life after Toyotomi’s death means that she often acts as something of a motherly figure towards other characters.
She’s often depicted as scolding the officers she defeats in battle — in several Samurai Warriors stages she is depicted as delivering an impassioned, motherly speech to both sides for not getting along with each other after the battle is over — and having a kind ear for anyone’s troubles back in camp. In design terms, the Samurai Warriors team started from the concept of “cute mom” and built out from there, exploring the idea of her considering several members of the cast (including Mitsunari Ishida, Katou Kiyamasa and Masanori Fukushima) as her “children”.
Her cute aspect is drawn out through character traits such as her referring to her ninja techniques as “Nene Ninpou” (literally, “Nene Ninja Arts”) but this is entertainingly contrasted with her formidable presence on the battlefield — and her legendary anger any time she suspects her husband of straying too far. In Warriors Orochi, Toyotomi compares an angry Nene to an angry Sun Shangxiang; indeed, the two have quite a bit in common with one another despite originating from such different periods of history.
Nene has a cheerful sense of fun about her but understands when it’s important to take things seriously. She often maintains her light-hearted nature as a means of boosting morale, and is more than happy to offer advice or praise to those she feels deserve it. In the Warriors Orochi series, she seems to develop particularly close relationships with Yueying, Guan Ping, Zhurong, Daqiao, Bao Sanniang and Sophitia from Soul Calibur. Nothing like a bit of dimension-hopping and time travel in an attempt to avert the apocalypse to bring people closer together, huh?
On top of all this, Nene is just fun to play as. Her quick and nimble kunai attacks make her a formidable warrior — albeit one without a great deal of reach — and those with a thing for snug, shiny leotards will almost certainly get a kick out of her outfit in Samurai Warriors 3 and Warriors Orochi 3.
In some ways, she subverts the expectations you might have when you think of a “mom” character in an anime-inspired game — but there’s little doubt that she’s a comforting presence to have around. Just don’t get on the wrong side of her; those knives are sharp!
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