"The next shot is of her abandoned beech-towel and parasol. I start rooting for Sarah, hoping she can get away! She fails. We find her slinging a pair of flowers over her shoulder and snarling at the screen. Some people might mistake it for a light-hearted grin but, by now, we know better."
Sarah Bryant is so much more than Virtua Fighter’s polygonal eye-candy. Once a simple college student based in Cali, she is kidnapped, brainwashed and set upon her assumed-deceased brother, Jacky, in the original VF tourney. She’s the brainwashed assassin, the suicidal sibling and, so I recently learnt, the DANCING SHADOW
The last name comes thanks to the very first volume of the Virtua Fighter CG Portrait Series, a line of games released upon the Japanese audience that offers a title for each of the game’s combatants posing for differing J-pop themes and pushing the Saturn’s struggling processing power to its limit. Seconds after the techno-heavy beats begin and the DANCING SHADOW intro screen fades away, incomprehensible singing bursts onto the scene as well as a letterbox cutaway of ruby-red lips, grinning slightly, mysteriously. This will vanish softly, instead a differing second of Sarah’s profile highlighted. A bright blue eye foreshadowed with the gentle falling of wispy blond hair flashes on screen before the full portrait is finally revealed. There’s Sarah, in all her glory, looking a little constipated and clearly standing too near the wind machine.
The idea of only giving a small amount of the picture away at a time continues as a small window breaks through the next blacked-out shot, tracing slowly up a smooth, feminine leg. It pans out slowly to reveal Sarah in a skin-tight one-piece, warming up by stretching her leg on a windowsill flooded with gentle sunlight before promptly vanishing and leaving only a sweat-soaked towel draped across a simple wooden chair. Nothing says sexy like sticky furniture.
But, not to worry! She’s soon to return to pull off a few still-frame back-flips that the program tries to trick you into believing is more than just one picture mirrored backwards a few times to suggest multiple athletics. Then! An open window. Perhaps she used it to escape the pervy guy following her taking slow-pan shots of her naked legs.
But he still manages to find her trying to relax poolside in a slinky black bikini. As the viewpoint approaches her, each shot taking in less of the dazzling blue waters and the clean white walls, Sarah slowly removes her shades, a look of resignation on her pretty features. Sure enough, we’re soon close enough to the besieged girl to see the subtle muscles rippling on her lithe stomach, the cherry-red glean on her perfect nails and the “why won’t you die?” look in her eyes.
She tries to escape into the pool to frolic with a pink bikini-clad Pai Chan, but, in the end, she gives in to her inescapable fate and instead turns to alcohol. Splayed out by the edge of the pool, she sips upon a bright purple cocktail, perhaps hoping to fall into a drink-fuelled coma. Her stalker -- which, by the way, is you -- watches on. Maybe the constant letterboxing is a graphical effect of your narrow stalker eyes?
Even when she retires to a golden-sanded beach, you’re still there, admiring her flannel-print dress as it billows in the sea breeze, back-dropped to squealing guitar solos. A close up of her face shows the drink has taken effect, her eyelids are droopy, and even the monochrome wash quickly waxed over the top of this can not hide that this poor girl has been pushed to the edge of her sanity.
The next shot is of her abandoned beach-towel and parasol. I start rooting for Sarah, hoping she can get away! She fails. We find her slinging a pair of flowers over her shoulder and snarling at the screen. Some people might mistake it for a light-hearted grin but, by now, we know better.
The last shot sees her looking to the sky, clad in her body-tight blue bodysuit she favours to fight in, nipples erect, screaming to the heavens. It’s at this point, I know the poor girl is broken beyond repair, and that it is my fault.
Virtua Fighter CG Portrait Series Vol. 1: Sarah Bryant is a nice way for your eyes to spend four and a half minutes, and I hope you enjoy it while it lasts. Because, in watching it, you break a young girl’s spirit and, for that, you’re going straight to Hell.
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