A stupidly thorough thesis on the conceptual origins of Amy Rose.

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by ChaddyFantome, Feb 15, 2021.

  1. ChaddyFantome

    ChaddyFantome

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    So we are all familiar with our favorite little pink hedgie I'm sure. Loves Sonic, acts as an empathetic soul by which the hearts of people are reached, has a hammer, etc.
    However, some things have always drawn out my curiosity about the character.
    I wont waste much time listing them because we will be doing more than enough of that down the road, (because this is going to be a deep dive) so I'm more or less gonna jump into it.

    My research started when I was reminded of a seemingly odd but nonetheless standout ability the character was given in an a certain game.

    Amy Invisibility.gif

    In Sonic 06, Amy seems to generate pink energy and then a series of pink rings goes up and down her body before she is made invisible.
    I say this comes off as odd because to a lot of people, this is incredibly random and out of the blue. Amy is known for using a hammer and hasn't been known for doing things like this at all.....right?

    Well, maybe not?
    I'm by no means the first to posit this first idea, but lets just say the rabbit hole went pretty deep.

    As we are all to familiar with at this point, Amy has been introduced in Sonic CD as a romantic foil for our blue hero. There we learn that she is fascinated Fortune-telling, card-readings, downswing, as well as having interest in mysterious things in general.

    It is actually through her tarot cards that she learns of her meets with Sonic on Little Planet to begin with. The "divine message of the cards" telling her of her destined encounter with Sonic.


    Amy profile 2.jpg

    This association with Amy and this kind of "divine fate" is often seen as something that is just a case of early character writing that doesn't have any merit when evaluating her modern interpretation. But this couldn't be further from the truth.
    These elements are still in late profiles of the character, and even as recent as the latest Olympics game, Amy's hobby is referred to as being Fortune-Telling. Examples of using theses characteristics include her searching for Sonic in games such as Sonic Heroes, Sonic Rush and Sonic 06, itself.
    What's more is her use of her card divination were even explicitly referenced in Sonic Battle and Sonic Chronicles explicitly.

    This element is even referenced as late as her appearance in Sonic Forces, with her talking about how she has dreams of Sonic still being alive, only to exclaim how she was right when Sonic is confirmed to be on the Death Egg

    But what about her Hammer?
    Well, you may or may not know this, but her PikoPikoHammer is actually referred to explicitly as a "Magical Hammer" in its introductory game Sonic The Fighters.

    [​IMG]

    Additionally, The hammer appears to itself be MADE of Magic, and Amy has been shown to generate Hammers of all kinds of shapes and sizes.
    in the Advance games in particular, we can even see them leave a trail of hearts before visibly vanishing after being swung, implying the hammer isn't so much a physical object Amy carries around as it is a magical tool she creates or conjures.
    Given how often it is said to "come out of nowhere" explicitly, this makes a lot of sense.

    Amy Hammer dematerialize.gif

    Now the idea of Amy having some kind of magic power isn't exactly new topic of discussion. However, I've seldom seen discussion in regards to the deeper implications on Amy's design concept it implies.
    After all, if we agree she has em, we have to ask why she has these abilities, where do they come from, etc.

    Well, after a bunch of research I think I have a pretty solid hypothesis.
    I posit that Amy, from the beginning, was and always was based around Magical Girls.

    Magical Girls 魔法少女, mahō shōjo, I'm sure you are familiar with is a genre of popular Japanese media featuring young girls with magical powers.
    Popular examples include of course, Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura.

    Common themes in magical girl media is the heroine(s) fighting for love and justice and helping people with their every day personal problems and insecurities. It is very common for the heroine to save the day by speaking to the villains inner humanity.
    This is very much inline with Amy's character as it has been portrayed and applied in the series, whether it be her speaking to Gamma and getting him to rebel against Eggman, her being the voice or reason that gets Shadow to remember Maria's wish, or her helping Cream and Big find their pets. Even her feeling sorry for and subsequently being kind enough to bring Metal Sonic back to Eggman in Sonic Mania Adventures episode 6 follows this. Even in 06, Amy is speaking to Silver and getting him to rethink his decision to end Sonic to save the future, as well as helping Elise with her feelings for a guy she likes.

    Earlier works in the genre (usually distinguished as "makkojo" or "Little witch") typically focused on more fairytale like depictions of magical abilities used by otherwise ordinary girls, and a consistent element is the use of things popular with girls at the time. They also tend to focus a lot more on the mischief the girls get into with their newfound abilities. (Rosie the Rascal indeed).

    [​IMG]

    One in particular, often considered the progenitor of the genre, is a show called Himitsu no Akko-chan. (Akko's Got a Secret)
    The premise is that of a young girl named Akko, who obtains a magical compact which allows her to change form by chanting a magic incantation while staring into it. The only rule was she had to do so in secret or she would lose the power forever. With it, Akko-chan would do things ranging from playing pranks on people, to using it to solve problems in her neighborhood and helping her friends and family.

    Now beyond the fact that it is obviously very influential, the series actually got several adaptations since its original launch in the 60s. Including one that aired in the 80s. In it, Akko's compact is specifically granted to her by a fairy godmother like figure with the power of her hopes and dreams reviving and transforming a mirror she loved since she was very little. Mor eimportantly, Akko-chan's transformation got a spiffy animation that I think is, to put it lightly, worth noting...

    Akko-chan transformation (small).gif Amy Invisibility.gif

    Yea, look familiar? Pink energy and rings? Sparkly particles? Its a dead ringer.
    Amy's invisibility much like Akko-chan's compact, at least in concept have the same ability of "masks her appearance" as well. The concept of invisibility even aligns in spirit with the concept of Akko-chan having to hide to use her compact in secret.

    While this was pretty big, I continued to dig and only found more and more things I think are really fascinating. Obviously, a lot of concepts found in Magical Girl works involve things associated with women's hobbies, hence things like Akko-chan's compact. Other examples though include things such as Tarot chards and divination. In fact, popular Magical Girl Anime, Cardcaptor Sakura is very much based around the concept of magical tarot cards.
    So the connection between this sort of fairy tail destiny concept and magic is very much a thing.
    But that wasn't enough for me. Cardcaptor Sakura would not see the light of day until a few years after Amy was conceptualized.
    While I knew I was on to something at this point, I wasn't satisfied once this came to my attention, so I continued to research and boy was I glad I did.

    [​IMG]

    After some digging I eventually landed on a show called "Mahō no Sutā Majikaru Emi" or Magical Emi, the Magic Star, and I can already feel some of the more perceptive of you raising your eyebrows in surprise in realization of the connection on the merits of the name alone.

    For those of you not in the know, Amy Rose's name in Japanese "エミー・ローズ" is actually romanized as "Emī Rōzu"
    That's nice and all, but I assure you names aren't the only connection I found between this series and everyone's favorite pink hedgehog girl.
    Airing in the mid to late 80s around the same time as the Akko-chan remake I mentioned earlier no less, Magical Emi is the story of Mai Kazuki, a sweet, energetic, optimistic but feisty tomboy klutz who has a tendency of getting herself into trouble. Additionally, she is a huge fan of magic and has aspirations of becoming a magician. Its even a part of the family business. However, being young, she is still not very good at it and thus can't participate to the extent she would like in her family's show.

    Mai card trick optimized.gif

    One day, a fairy appears before her and through the power of her hopes and dreams, she is granted a magic bracelet that allows her to transform into an older idealized alter-ego version of herself who is able to perform real magic in order to do magic tricks. This alternate persona she refers to as Emi. (The name being base doff of her Hero Emily, a famous magician she aspires to be like.)
    Now right off the bad, Mai's personality is a almost impossibly similar to that of Amy's as she is described in her profiles in CD and in general.
    Energetic Tomboy, Optimistic. With Amy's fascination with mysterious things calling back to Mai's fascination with magic. Even then, later in the show it is revealed to us that Mai actually does have a strong belief in wishes and loves writing charms.
    That's all nice and dandy, but the real kicker here is their designs.
    Amy's classic design is practically an exact recreation of Mai's.
    Emi and Emi (arrows).png

    The skirt is the first immediate give away, but even her top has the same design principles, with the notch at the bottom of Amy's calling to the partition in Mai's , and the white ends being shot for shot like the yellow ends on Mai's.
    But the biggest nail in the coffin for me is the shoes.

    Mai's tennis shoes.jpg

    Classic Amy's tennis shoes are litterally the same design as Mai's but Blue instead of Yellow. Even the lace bows are the same. Its uncanny.
    Now if that shocks you, you haven't seen anything yet because the correlations I found only continue from here.
    For starters, there is the main male lea in the show, the significantly older Shou Yuuki.

    [​IMG]

    I start with the fact that he is significantly older because among other things that immediately jump to me, it very much mirrors the difference in age Amy and Sonic had when CD was originally conceptualized and released. As you might have guessed, Shou serves as both a role model of sorts, as well as main love interest for Mai here. While his consistent wearing of the color blue is perhaps low hanging fruit, what isn't is his striking similarities personality-wise to Sonic. You see Shou is actually very talented at magic, but in defiance of this and in wanting to carve out his own way, he instead focuses on boxing even though others around him don't agree with it, which is very in line with Sonic's "my own way" attitude. Also, like Sonic, he enjoys going fast on his motorcycle and is willing to relent on his desires when someone is in need. Not huge but I thought it was worth adding.

    While I'm not necessarily saying Sonic himself is based on this character, I nonetheless find the similarities interesting given the dynamic between the characters. While Mai isn't a lovesick puppy in the vein of Amy, they do very much share the dynamic of Mai consistently chasing after him to get involved in his personal business, as well as her comically hitting him when he does something to upset her. And like with Sonic and Amy, the romantic dynamic is mostly one sided. (Shou ends up having a thing for her older alter-ego without knowing the truth).

    Oh, did I also mention that Emi's first act of magically induced prestidigitation is her summoning flipping golden Warp Rings? No seriously, she conjures a bunch of golden hoops with which she uses to make the rest of the Magic Carat disappear. No joke!

    Also, and I bring this up because its an observation I made that I think corroborates my correlation mind you, but much like Amy, Mai has a tendency of exposing her panties as a result of all the running, jumping and climbing she ends up doing.
    Now this could just be something that stems from her conceptual origins being related to Minnie Mouse, who also has a similar tendency, but it nonetheless was something that stood out to me.


    Heading back to Amy's design for a bit, another thing I noticed in my research was the consistency by which I would notice Magical Girls having red/pink hairbands identical to how Amy has one. I don't know if this is a trend of the genre or just a case of others doing it because predecessors did it, but nonetheless I don't think Amy's incorporating it into her design and it still even now being present is arbitrary. From what I can tell, This eventually evolved into more ornate hairbands which eventually gave way to Sailor Moon's iconic tiara.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]


    In sum, I posit that not only was Amy conceptualized around Magical Girls and that her Magical Abilities are a thing and always have been, but that her original design was based off of Magical Emi in particular. And this makes sense. Just as Sonic himself takes queues from popular Shonen media, namely DragonBall, it would seem the team thought it logical for their main lead to take queues from popular girls media in Shoujo and Magical girl shows.





    Also this is a bonus as my research ended up cross intersecting with another research inquiry I had, and the results are something that some might find pretty profound, though they do border on wild theory going forward as opposed to most everything up to now which I believe to be pretty conclusive.

    So before I started THIS particular bit of research, I actually was doing something else as a result of me noticing correlating elements between Modern Amy's design and a certain scrapped human love interest we are all too familiar with at this point. Take a look.
    Madonna LIVES on as AMY 6.jpg


    Now this seems rather surface level on its face perhaps. And that's all it started as, a neat idea. But then I came across a French article that made me think there is more to it than meets the eye.

    https://www.sega-mag.com/forum/suje...s+de+Sonic+vu+par+ses+createurs-1915-67-1.htm
    (unfortunately it would seem the article is no longer up, however I am fortunate enough that I so happened to have a screenshot of it before it was torn down. While I don't have the screenshots in French, I do speak French myself and can confirm the accuracy of the translation.
    SILENCE NON BELIEVERS.png



    As you can see, it would appear that according to Ohshima himself, characteristics of Madonna were integrated INTO Amy when they designed her, as Yuji Naka and Ohshima were still married to the idea of Madonna being Sonic's love interest even if the idea had long since been abandoned. The question then would be "what were those characteristics?"
    Well the main one I would posit is her massive fangirl crush on Sonic and tendency to chase him.
    Why? Because of this other statement by Ohshima.

    It would seem then that Amy's personality was created as a sort of marriage of these concepts.


    Okay so, what does this have to do with everything else I've been going on about?
    Well, MAYBE I'M just seeing things at this point, but while Madonna's design is clearly inspired by Jessica Rabbit of Who Framed Roger Rabbit Fame, I now also suspect aspects of Magical Emi's design also went into her.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    To me at least, the general Hair style , facial composition, etc is strikingly similar.
    In addition, is this would lend credence to the idea that Madonna's design elements were incorporated into Modern Amy's design. Why? Well, as I said before, idealized older alter-ego is Magical Emi's whole concept, and as we all know, Amy was aged up from 8 to 12 alongside her redesign, of which very clearly had the intent of trying to make her more mature and feminine.
    In that way, it would be the design concepts all coming full circle. From a certain angle, one could posit that at least in concept, Amy's age-up Modern design is her magical girl aged up alter ego transformation/idealized version of herself, true to the genre. Its certainly a funny thought at the very least.

    Now I don't think this one in particular is conclusive or anything, but I did find it so fascinating. So much so I felt the need to share it.



    So after ALL of this, where does that leave us? Well with a pretty big question for starters. if this is very much all part of her design, why is this not more readily available and apparent?
    Why would such seemingly integral element sot her character be completely lost on most people?

    Well I have 3 hypothesis, the second being the most likely but the third being my personal fave.
    1. Its stuff that was, whether intentionally or unintentional, lost in translation
    2. It is so overt and on the nose in Japan, that further elaboration is completely unnecessary.
    3. Its on purpose, as the mystique of it all is part of its intended appeal, playing to the themes of the genre.
    [​IMG]
    And, at least for now, that's all I got. I am SUPER curious to see what everyone's thoughts are.
    Am I on to something? Lay it on me!
     

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    Last edited: Feb 16, 2021
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  2. Gestalt

    Gestalt

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    While I can't really disagree here, I primarily see this as proof of how generic gender roles in general were/are portrayed. However, the real cause for Amys pinkness will always remain unfathomable, I think. Thanks for sharing your thesis.
     
  3. Linkabel

    Linkabel

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    While I don't disagree that Amy might've been inspired by some elements from the magical girl genre, especially as time I went on and the character grew, I think most of what you wrote is reaching a lot.

    Just to poke a hole in your thesis, yes, Magical Emi and Amy have similar outfits.

    Saying that, it's not really a really uncommon outfit and there are many characters around that time with similar ones.

    That's not even going that Amy shoes were a favorite style of Ohshima so Hoshino added them to her design. Some characters that were created around this time (92-93) also wear them (with some small differences here and there) like Nicky and Tania/Anita.

    I think if it was something that might've been mentioned by them in the past in being interested in the genre or citing certain works then it would have more weight.

    For example, Naka and Ohshima have mentioned how much they loved the work from Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. So I think you could build a stronger thesis on Laputa influencing certain set pieces in Sonic3&Knuckles like Sky Sanctuary or Porco Rosso's plane influencing the Tornado.

    This is definitely interesting though, I had never really put much thought on what influences might've gone into Amy's creation other than SoJ's request of wanting a "Minnie Mouse like character."

    I guess this would be a great question for future interviews or con appearances in the future.
     
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  4. ChaddyFantome

    ChaddyFantome

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    Oh? Out of curiosity, might you perhaps give some examples? Would be apreciated.


    I'm certainly aware that both Ohshima and Hoshino have stated their personal taste went into the design. However I don't know if this pokes holes in this so much as acts as further corroboration necessarily. The two aren't exactly mutually exclusive.

    Yes, as well as Big being based on Totoro.
    As an aside, you just reminded me of how Miyazaki himself was a huge force in the majokko genre, especially early on, and a lot of his work would be inspired by Tale of the White Serpent, which by some is considered a "proto-magical girl" so to speak.
    Nothing by that, just wanted an excuse to mention it since I didn't have one in the post!

    I'd most certainly love to myself.
    As you said, at the very least it is something I believe was more thoroughly applied over time at least. Sadly, we live in interesting times to say the least!
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2021
  5. The KKM

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    I think it's an interesting starting point, at least. It's a lot of conjecture- I can buy the original Amy was inspired by some Magical Girl elements, but that seems to have been lost over time; the hammers being magic seems to me more a reference to something like City Hunter's "the girl has a big hammer" gags, Sonic X even using it that exact same way and depicting her as being able to just constantly make hammers appear when annoyed.

    I think it's perhaps less that Amy's directly based in Magical Girls in specific, and more that both Amy and Magical Girls were hitting the same cultural notes in Japan regarding "girl character" and "Americana"- the outfits are a clear "80's style American John Hughes Movie Girl Outfit", befitting the manga's setting of Hedgehog Town, the element of the character being a girl on the cusp of becoming a teen attracted to an older impressive male teenager figure she admires from afar in a sort of "tragic puppy love" way is found in a LOT of shoujo stuff aimed at younger audiences, etc.

    As for the Madonna connection, the article you posted can be found on the internet archive- https://web.archive.org/web/2016082...s+de+Sonic+vu+par+ses+createurs-1915-67-1.htm
    From there we can find that it's a translation of a Famitsu roundtable discussion - https://www.famitsu.com/news/201606/24107383.html - where we find it on Page 2.

    Google translate of this couple paragraphs matches the French translation on the forum, which matches the screenshot you posted, so it would seem yes, we got a primary source saying they used Madonna elements in Amy Rose. I think they mean only in personality and role- since they're talking specifically about CD and the creation of Amy, so, classic Amy- but it does make it more likely that they then also revisisted Madonna for ideas when redesigning Amy in Adventure.
     
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  6. Dek Rollins

    Dek Rollins

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    The idea that Amy was inspired by the magical girl trope is actually an interesting theory. Though the comparison of Amy's shirt to Mai's doesn't make much sense. They're completely different styles.
     
  7. Xiao Hayes

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    I think it matches, but I don't find it so surprising or amazing, given their record of copying other anime series. I remember that Magical Emi from when I was young; ETB1 the basque-speaking TV channel from here was young back then and used to air a lot of anime that weren't previously translated to spanish (and probably not to any other language), and that was in their schedule at some point. I don't see that many similarities, given how generic most of the show seems to be, but these otaku boys at Sonic Team probably borrowed a couple of things to not think too much. Amy herself being some sort of magical girl wasn't that hidden since the beginning, but they could have made that trait more evident in the games to add variety to them instead of just being Akane hammering Ranma's head.
     
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  8. Laura

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    I thought this would be one of those threads but this was actually great. I'm thoroughly convinced on the Amy and magic connection.
     
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  9. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

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    A very fascinating theory! I do agree with the others that you might be reaching a bit in some instances, but it certainly merits more research.

    Something we should look into is Amy's known origins in that early Sonic manga, which might provide some potential connections that could lead to new avenues of research. Do we know for sure who conceptualized and designed Amy as she appeared in the manga? I know Oshima probably took some liberties when adapting her into CD, but it's something to consider when discussing this.
     
  10. This was something that I always kind of took as a given, but it's nice to see an actual explanation.

    In fact, Archie made a whole story arc about Amy magically aging herself up and it instantly drew comparisons with that idol show.
     
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  11. The KKM

    The KKM

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    As far as we know, Ohshima.

    Sega themselves made the extra characters for the manga, and they're meant to look a lot more similar to the game's art style. It's only one artist in specific who later when drawing these characters drew them radically different, and those radically different designs ended up becoming known West-wise as "the manga designs". But manga Amy looked near identical to the CD design, same way how Charmy looked like Chaotix except for the nose- unless that other one specific artist was drawing them.
     
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  12. HEDGESMFG

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  13. Pengi

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    Naoto Ohshima came up with an initial design, then Kazuyuki Hoshino came up with the final design. The final design was used in both the manga and Sonic CD. One of the manga artists, Sango Morimoto, drew Amy with a ponytail and different clothes, but none of the other artists drew her that way.

    Ohshima on Amy: https://sonicjpnews.blogspot.com/2016/06/translation-of-sonic-25th-anniversary.html

    Hoshino had this to say in the Mega Drive/Genesis Collected Works book:

    The part about the trainers is slightly interesting, because Charmy Bee was also designed by Naoto Ohshima, also appeared in the 1992 manga and also wears the exact same trainers as Amy. The Veruca quadruplets wear Amy/Charmy style trainers too. Nicky and Tania's trainers have a slightly different pattern.

    There are some early designs in the Fantasy Factory video. The first is near final, except she's wearing a dress instead of a separate skirt and blouse, she has one flicked up spike of "hair" on her forehead and three lashes on each eye instead of two. The second image appears to be earlier, it also has the hair spike and three lashes, but she's only wearing trainers, gloves and a skirt - no headband and no blouse. This is very much like the early Minnie Mouse, who wore a similar style of skirt and no blouse.

    Some more of Hoshino talking about Amy here (38m 35s):



    He once again says that there were a lot of voices involved, including editors of the manga and the marketing department.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2021
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  14. Pengi

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    Ohshima designed Charmy and Amy was an Ohshima/Hoshino collaboration.

    As for the other manga characters, Hoshino said that the Sega design team were involved in the creation of the characters, but didn't go into detail. I imagine that anime character designer Norihiro Matsubara, who illustrated the first year of Kenji Terada's Sonic no Daibouken prose stories, was probably responsible for most of the designs, along with the art seen in the Fantasy Factory video. Ohshima recalled those Amy turnarounds being for an unproduced original animation project. Kenji Terada, who conceptualised the Sonic manga and wrote Sonic no Daibouken, had worked as a writer on several anime projects. Norihiro Matsubara works in the anime industry, with Sonic no Daibouken seemingly being his only print work (he'd worked on anime with Terada before). Interestingly, in each issue he's credited as "Norihiro Matsubara (Pastel)" - Pastel being an anime production company. The December 1992 edition of Shogaku Yonensei has a Hedgehog Town map illustrated by anime background artist Yukio Abe, with "Grouper Production" next to his name in parentheses. Basically, it looks as though the whole manga project was probably part of an anime pitch.

    It's a bad edit of Patrick Spaziante's art from Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog #25.

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. Ayu Tsukimiya

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    I agree with Amy probably being based off of Shoujo and Magical Girl heroines, but the Emi comparison feels a bit like reaching for reasons other people have listed.

    Pretty cool analysis though! My only other nitpick is this:
    All of these characters besides Kiki are from the 60's and early 70's, when headbands were pretty popular. I don't think they had anything to do with Sailor Moon's tiara.
     
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  16. Mercury

    Mercury

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    I think this may be less about direct inspiration and more about common tropes at the time. I've contemplated the magical girl connection myself, though, and you make a compelling case for it. At a minimum it's an interesting perspective to bring to the character, regardless of original intent.
     
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  17. HEDGESMFG

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    I think the Emi comparison is at least notable in the sense that popular Japanese media from the 80s clearly had some inspiration on elements of the franchise. Anime itself often evolved from the success of other titles being copied in varying genres in the same way. It's not that much of a stretch.

    It's not proof, but it's a compelling enough theory to at least say this might have been an inspiration. "Super Saiyan" Sonic proves they weren't even trying to be subtle about their inspirations at the time.
     
  18. Impish

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    Sonic is overtly inspired on the most popular shonen anime of its time, its not too much of a stretch to believe Amy was similarly inspired by the most-popular shojo genre at the time.
     
  19. ChaddyFantome

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    Sorry if there was any confusion.
    I was moreso simply making the observation that Amy had and maintains her hairband as a core essential part of her design even through multiple character redesigns.
    Amy was designed in the early 90s as opposed to the 60s and 70s, therefore it stands to reason its presence in her design is more based on some form of intent in design as opposed to just being a general trend of the time.

    Also, my point about SailorMoon's tiara was really just a tangent.
    Stuff like Lalabel would use the hairband but make it look more line a tiara, which I hypothesize created the precedent for Sailor Moon's tiara. I could be wrong on that, but it would make sense in my eyes.
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2021
  20. cyn

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    It seems I'm probably just agreeing with the other people in this thread, but some of the direct comparisons to a specific character are definitely a stretch. However the idea that Amy's design was influenced by the magical girl concept to some degree, even if coincidental is interesting to think about. Though, it stands that most of her design can probably just be attributed to trends of the time of her creation more than anything.