Game Heroines: Nina and Anna Williams

Posted: December 17, 2014 in Game Heroines, Gaming
Tags: , , , , , ,

First appearance – Tekken, 1994, Namco

Ah, the Williams Sisters… Cain and Abel in stilettos! This grudge match has lasted for decades and whenever they weren’t at each other’s throats it’s only because they’d been cryogenically frozen.

Nina and Anna

Why do they fight? Nobody knows – it’s just what sisters do. There’s no scratching or hair pulling either, only gut punching and bone breaking. Now THAT’S sisterhood, or at least it is in my experience. But as all sibling rivals know, there’s a fine line between love and hate. Families often fight because they’re so close and the Williams family is no exception.

Nina’s a Tekken veteran, having been in every game to date plus her origin story in Death By Degrees. Her career as an assassin keeps bringing her to the Iron Fist tournament as there’s always a juicy contract on at least one contender. Anna is her younger sister, primary antagonist and sub-boss. Often she finds herself recruited as bodyguard to Nina’s latest target. When she wins, she adds insult to injury with a celebratory bum waggle. Both are skilled in Aikido and Koppo (or “Bone”) martial arts. With the right button combinations they can trap opponents in a series of locks, breaking their limbs with enjoyable crunchy sound effects. They’re Irish according to the manuals, but after Namco introduced dialogue into the game I wasn’t so sure…

COULD YOU SPEAK UP THERE GIRLS? I CAN’T UNDERSTAND YOU WITH THOSE THICK OIRISH ACCENTS!

That’s a MINOR deviation compared to the Tekken movies. In the live action film, the sisters played Kazuya Mishima’s hit squad/concubines. Typical of most video game movie adaptations, they pretty much got the costumes right and nothing else. Earlier on, in the 1997 Tekken anime, Anna was killed by a dinosaur. No, I didn’t make that up.

Just like the game... except for the part where it's NOT.

Just like the game… except for the part where it isn’t.

Can one sister live without the other? The backstory to Tekken 3 tells me that they can’t. After failing to assassinate Kazuya, Nina is forced to become a test subject for Mishima cryogenic labs; hence she is the only recurring character who hasn’t aged physically. So, what becomes of Anna? Funnily enough, she actually volunteers for the same procedure.

Her reasons for doing this are a mystery. Maybe the threat of a rival who could awaken anytime – fit, healthy and murderous as ever – made her paranoid. The shallowest explanation is that she couldn’t stand the thought of ageing while her older sister remained fresh and youthful. Yes, Anna loves being glamorous but that’s one hell of a step to avoid wrinkles! For whatever reason, it seems that Nina’s absence would prove unbearable to Anna, to the point that she’d rather freeze herself than live without big sis.

I like to think that they care for each other deep down but just have a funny way of showing it. Both mourn their father, as evidenced by the graveside scenes where the occasional truce occurs. They have no living family (besides Nina’s biological son Steve Fox – even then, her maternal instincts only go as far as ‘not killing him’) so this loss is something that only they share. Maybe seeing each other reminds them of this pain. Maybe lashing out at one another is the only way they know how to deal. Or maybe once again I’m reading way too much into the backstories of fictional characters from old Beat ’em Up games… who can say?

(Quick sidenote: Nina’s theme in Tekken 3 has a totally sweet bassline and you should give it a listen. I’ll just leave it here.)

In any case, their feud never amounts to much. If it were simply a matter of bumping each other off, surely someone would’ve succeeded by now. There’s been a number of twist endings where one sister sneaks up on the other, only to play a silly prank. Plus Nina was defenceless in that cryochamber – if Anna truly wanted her dead, she only had to pull the plug. But she doesn’t – instead she joins her sister in cryosleep and they live to battle another day.

Besides, these women are warriors. Offing each other in anything short of a fair fight would be bad form. Not only that, it would deprive the victor of their only worthy adversary. Sibling rivalry is their driving force – it’s what they live for. Well, that and tasteful PS1 sideboob…

I don’t normally do this, but massive shout-out to my sister Jen – ace Nina-player and brilliant person altogether. Thanks for all the support and I’m glad we managed to get past all the childhood punch-ups!

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