VF5 Final Showdown Character Countdown Part 4: Aoi Umenokoji

Beautiful, graceful, refined… and deadly.

We’re about nine days away till Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown drops on PSN and Xboxlive- and I’ve still got 17 or so characters to go in this freakin’ countdown. Hey, what the hell… who’s counting? Anyway, I’ve been trying to get myself a bit ready by dusting off the old Vanilla VF5 disc (PS3) and playing some Quest Mode- hell, just HOW do you earn enough cash in that game to afford all the items?
Luckily when we buy the Customization DLC for FS, all the stuff will be unlocked straight-away. Sad that there’s no sense of accomplishment for earning stuff like before, but that just means more time to compose your characters’ wardrobes and come up with the coolest/sexiest/silliest looks you can.
Anyway, this time we’re moving onto one of the lovely ladies of VF. This comely maiden is actually a relative newcomer to the series, making her debut during Virtua Fighter 3. The first time she appeared she kinda looked like an alien- well, it wasn’t until some time later we all realized she wasn’t from another planet… she was just Japanese! She’s VF’s Counter-Queen, the hakama-clad heartthrob, Aoi Umenokoji!

Distinguishing Features: An alluring Japanese beauty clad in colorful kimono or billowy hakama, usually sporting a folding paper fan or intricate parasol. Whenever she walks or moves there seems to be accompanying notes of a shimasen (Japanese lute) or wind pipes, the scent of cherry blossoms filling in the air. In short, Aoi’s a Japanese Culture Poster Girl and proud of it.

Strengths: As a competitor specializing in a defensive style of play, Aoi’s all about counters and using the enemy’s own attacks and momentum against them. She’s got reversals for every direction and level of attack, including one for when she’s lying flat on the ground. Lots of fast and pretty nasty throws. An absolute monster at Karaoke marathons.

Weaknesses: Her strikes and combos are a bit on the weak side. Her walking speed is very slow and deliberate. Becoming predictable with counters may leave her wide open to punishing. Can get easily angered and lose focus when faced with her pet peeve- arrogant men.

Background: Aoi (her named sounds like ‘Ahoy’ but without the ‘h’) is the eldest daughter of a dojo owner in Kyoto. Since their parents were friends, Aoi and Akira would often spar with each other when they were children. Some years ago, Aoi saw Akira during a broadcast of one of his matches during the second World Fighting Tournament (VF2), and it impressed her enough to make her want to fight as well to prove her own fighting abilities.
Though confident in her skills, Aoi’s debut was disastrous as she lost in her very first match. The defeat made her aware of how limited her and small her world was, and she strove tirelessly to improve and strengthen herself. She learned Aikido and Kobujutsu, expanding her repertoire of moves and greatly improving her ability to parry and reverse enemy attacks.
However, her battles in the fourth tournament left Aoi angry and frustrated. Despite her focus and training, she had been totally thrown off her game by and defeated by one competitor- a man whose pick-up lines and flirtatious ways took her off guard more effectively than even his fancy footwork (though his powerful kicks did truly impress her with their power). She trained even harder to rectify the flaws in her defense, and awaited her chance to face this rival once again. When her invitation to the latest tournament arrived, she accepted immediately.

Aoi is one of the more interesting characters in the roster for many reasons. When she first debuted back in VF3, her very Japanese look, character and design were pretty intriguing and something very new to players. Also of note was that Aoi’s appearance in earlier VF games was a bit odd, given the limitations of graphics at the time coupled with her unusual hairstyle. As a result, she was often the ‘odd woman out’ of the VF females, frumpy and even perhaps masculine compared to Pai and Sarah. Thankfully she has since been nicely fleshed out and made much more appealing in VF5, both in looks and in fighting ability.

Many may underestimate Aoi for her genteel, delicate beauty and graceful dance-like movements, but that can’t be any further from the truth. Aoi is more Samurai than Geisha- a veiled weapon, a decorated fan with hidden blades. Ornate kimonos and hakama allure with their patterns and colors, but also conceal and obscure her movements. While lacking great strength, Aoi’s knowledge of weak points allows her to lock limbs and take down an opponent with subtle movements, then striking with vicious force to deal a lethal blow. Make no mistake- her smile may be pretty, but Aoi’s all about breaking bones as well as breaking hearts. Any opponent who gives this deadly fighter even the slightest of openings may soon find themselves broken at her feet in no time.

Fast Tube by Casper

The finish to this match features an AMAZING Aoi comeback.

For those looking for a bit of a challenge, Aoi is easily one very intriguing character to learn- her speed and pace aren’t as straightforward as other ladies like Pai or Sarah, but her arsenal of counters and throws are second to none, and once mastered are incredibly satisfying to see in action. Once you get Aoi’s timing and rhythm down, your opponents will be dancing to your tune, right before you cut their strings and leave them in a heap on the floor.

Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown is out for download on PSN and Xboxlive this coming June 5 and 6.

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