How Shiina Ringo (椎名林檎) Influenced Guilty Gear
It has occured to me that Shiina Ringo may have inspired not one, but at least TWO different Guilty Gear characters!
If you're not familiar, Shiina Ringo (椎名 林檎) is one hell of a musician and a superstar in her home country of Japan. She's a killer singer, can shred the guitar (and several other instruments!) and writes her own songs to boot!
She's also great live! (Many artists are in fact, NOT very good live!)
Shiina Ringo released her first single at just 19 years of age and quickly conquered the charts, prompting many fools to wonder if such a young and beautiful woman could really write and perform such excellent songs. Shiina Ringo silenced all naysayers by releasing 3 iconic platinum solo albums in a row then stepping away from her super successful solo career to form Tokyo Jihen, a band that would continue to carve out new and interesting paths in Japanese rock for years to come.
Shiina Ringo has also formed 40 other mini-bands (cheekily giving names to every unique assembly of artists she's collaborated with) and has become one of the most sought after composers in Japan. She's written songs for other rock acts, pop stars, films and was even part of the planning comittee for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Shiina Ringo came into the world as Shiina Yumiko (椎名 裕美子) in 1978. She was born with a life threatening condition that required extensive surgeries, leaving her with scars that look as if angel's wings had been removed from her shoulder blades.
In school she was given the nickname "ringo" (Japanese for "apple") due to her tendency to blush when called upon, turning her cheeks rosy. She decided to make that her stage name, not just because it was her childhood nickname, but also as an homage to her favorite manga-ka, Yoshida Sensha (吉田戦車) who named himself after an inanimate object for his pen name ("sensha" means "tank" in Japanese). Yoshida Sensha is a FANTASTIC artist who came up with the "same hat" comic and many other classics, so Shiina Ringo has sterling taste in comics!
It's not difficult to see how Shiina Ringo has inspired so many different characters as she's basically a living manga character herself!
The Guilty Gear series is famous for it's over the top heavy metal fantasy anime antics (something it borrows from the manga Bastard!! by Kazushi Hagiwara which is one of the biggest influences on the series). Many of the characters in Guilty Gear are homages to different rock stars. For instance, Sol Badguy was named after Freddie Mercury's sole solo album "Mr Badguy."Additionally, Sol's real name is Frederick Bulsara, a nod to Freddie Mercury's birthname Farrokh Bulsara.
While Sol and many other characters have aspects to them that are homages to famous rock stars, I-No pretty much IS Shiina Ringo! Traits shared between the two include:
- Same hairstyle
- Same mole on face in exact same place
- Same birthday (November 25)
- Same height (165 cm or 5'5")
- Same "surf green" Duesenberg Starplayer guitar
- Shiina Ringo's guitar is named "Dietrich" after the golden age Hollywood superstar Marlene Dietrich
- I-no's guitar is named "Marlene" for obvious reasons
- Same SWAGGER (she is a boss character after all!)
I-No is also likely inspired by Dororon Enma-kun (ドロロンえん魔くん) a popular manga and anime by Go Nagai which debuted in 1973. I-no's living hat is very similar to Chapeauji (シャポーじい), a hat yokai worn by the titular hero Enma-kun (えん魔くん) who is the nephew of Great King Enma (閻魔大王) a Buddhist deity who presides over souls on their way to the afterlife.
Enma is a hugely important religious/mythic figure throughout Asia and has frequently appeared in many other popular manga including Dragon Ball and Yu Yu Hakusho.
But wait! There's more!
Let's take a look at another character from Guilty Gear, Ephelt. While she is most definitely inspired by Guns N Roses' "November Rain" and possibly maybe Billy Idol's "White Wedding" ...
I couldn't help but wonder if this amazing photo shoot from Shiina Ringo might have also worked its way into her DNA.
After compiling these images, it's clear Elphelt's primary inspiration is Guns N' Roses, but she LOOKS and FEELS way more like Shiina Ringo than the women from either of the aforementioned music videos who are essentially passive set pieces. It's very likely that Daisuke Ishiwatari (creator of Guilty Gear) would have seen that Shiina Ringo photoshoot where she's absolutely chewing up the scenery. It's hard to believe that I've seen it and he hasn't! (I'm not the one that's made a popular videogame character after her--at least not YET!)
One more note about Elphelt...
But wait! We're not done talking about Shiina Ringo yet!
Shiina Ringo also directly inspired Haruko from FLCL (and kicked off the nurse outfit craze in early 2000s Japan)... which means she may have indirectly inspired A.B.A from Guilty Gear, bringing her grand total up to a possible 3 characters!
Here's the music video for Honno (本能) where Shiina Ringo dons her iconic nurse outfit.
Here is Shiina Ringo doing the cutest duet on earth with her older brother Junpei Shiina who is also a hell of a singer! If all you know of Japanese music is J-pop then you've probably never heard a Japanese dude with a rich deep bluesey voice like this!
Back to the FLCL connection, it's much more than that one nurse outfit. Haruko's whole vibe (even her voice!) is very much inspired by Shiina Ringo. By the time FLCL came out in Japan (April 26, 2000) Shiina Ringo had already released 2 hit albums and had firmly cemented her place as the super eccentric queen of Japanese rock. The liner notes in the initial DVD release of FLCL confirm that Haruko was directly inspired by Shiina Ringo.
What a legend!
If you weren't already a fan, I hope this essay has served as a decent introduction to Shiina Ringo. Her work is amazing! I hope you enjoy it!
This article originally started off as a thread on Twitter:
I've cleaned it up and expanded on it here.
This Twitter thread has been salvaged from the relentless tides of Twitter through the efforts of Art-Eater's supporters on Patreon. Thanks to the following folks for making this happen:
- Carl Dungca
- Shawn Borsky
- Hari Edwin
- Franky Chung
- Acari Grey
- David Dixon
- Craig Stables
- The Partitioner
- ATX FLiP
- lunatic dreamer
- Soleil Varin