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Sayaka Yumi (弓さやか Yumi Sayaka?) is one of the heroine of Go Nagai's manga and anime Mazinger Z. She was a bit hot-tempered and tomboyish, and had a habit of clashing with the story's hero, Kouji Kabuto even though she had a romantic interest in him.

She was voiced by three people in the original series: Tomoko Matsushima, Minori Matsushima (reprized the role for Super Robot Wars), and Kotoe Taichi ( credited as Noriko Egawa, also appeared in Great Mazinger). She was voiced by Ai Uchikawa in Mazinkaiser. (The voice actor for her American counterpart in Tranzor Z, Jessica Davis, is unknown.) In the Italian dub of the original series, Sayaka is voiced by Liliana Sorrentino, and her Spanish voice actress is Gloria Gonzalez.

Sayaka has since made cameos in other Go Nagai series such as New Cutie Honey, and has been featured or mentioned in such diverse places as the Super Robot Wars games and the lyrics of reggaeton songs.

History

Mazinger Z

File:Sayaka02.jpg

Collage of Sayaka in different outfits and riding her Scarlet Mobile. Aphrodite and Diana can be seen in the background.

Sayaka appears at the beginning of the series, actually saving Shiro with her robot Aphrodite from being unintentionally killed by Mazinger, piloted by Kouji, who didn't know how to control it at the time. She provides him with the first hints on how to use the robot, so he can handle it properly and defeat his first mechanical monster.

Sayaka would get the chance to help fight the story's monsters with her robot Aphrodite A, although more often than not she was unable to make much of a difference, as Aphrodite was not originally designed for combat. A recurring plot thread would see Sayaka constantly lobbying for upgrades to Aphrodite to make her more effective in battle, only to have her requests largely ignored (although Aphrodite did gain the ability to fire missiles from its breast components). Once, during Chapter 52, following injuries to Kouji that she blamed herself for, Sayaka actually piloted Mazinger in a battle situation, but being unfamiliar with Mazinger's controls she was not much more effective than she usually was with Aphrodite.

Approximately three-quarters through the story (Chapter 74), Aphrodite was destroyed, Sayaka sacrificing her robot to save Kouji and Mazinger from a deadly attack by one of Dr. Hell's mechanical monsters. Afterward, Sayaka received a somewhat stronger robot, Diana A, which unlike Aphrodite was designed with combat in mind.

Sayaka has skills with motorcycles, and hence she is given a special one called the Scarlet Mobile to control Diana; she rides her bike over a beam shot from the robot's head to place it there, turning it into the mecha's cockpit in a manner similar to the Pilder vehicle piloted by Kouji to control Mazinger Z. (Series creator Go Nagai had originally intended for Kouji to link up with Mazinger via a motorcycle component, but changed it to a flying vehicle reportedly to avoid comparison to Kamen Rider. With the Scarlet Mobile and Diana A, Nagai finally got to use this idea.)

As is a common theme in Go Nagai's giant-robot series, Sayaka is shown to have a special bond with the mecha at her control, as if they were extensions of her own body. Both Aphrodite and Diana tend to reflect Sayaka's mood and mannerisms in their "body language" while she is piloting them. A more extreme example of Sayaka's connection to her robots can be seen in Chapter 75, where she is shown to be despondent over the loss of Aphrodite and even tries to drown herself while following a vision of the destroyed mecha into a lake.

Following the defeat of Mazinger Z in Great Mazinger, Sayaka flies with Kouji to the United States. She would return with him later in the series, to help destroy the Mikene Empire.

Later Mazinger appearances

  • In Tranzor Z, the Americanized version of Mazinger Z, Sayaka's name was changed to Jessica Davis, and she was rewritten as a cousin of Kouji Kabuto (renamed Tommy Davis in this dub).
  • In the Mazinkaiser OVAs Sayaka is the pilot of first Aphrodite and afterwards a modified version of Venus A, the classic companion of Great Mazinger, whose traditional pilot was Jun Hono.
  • Sayaka appears as a main character in the Mazinger Angels manga series, in which she once again pilots Aphrodite A.

Sayaka's legacy

Sayaka Yumi can be considered a landmark character in the evolution of gender roles in anime. She was one of the first female characters in the genre to regularly take an active role in battles and conflicts, rather than be relegated to the sidelines once fighting began or offering non-combat support. She was strong-willed, beautiful, popular with men and good-hearted... but also brash, stubborn and tomboyish, usually hiding her attraction to Kouji by arguing with him - a far cry from the traditional Yamato Nadeshiko archetype used to write sympathetic females in anime prior to Mazinger Z. In some respects, she was virtually the prototype for the now-common "tsundere" character archetype, characterized by a more assertive attitude.

The relationship between Sayaka and Kouji was often tempestuous, and on at least one occasion (Chapter 52) the two even had a physical confrontation over a misunderstanding. The fight was sparked by Shiro's botched attempt to recover his Jet Scrander Mazinger Z toy, which he had carelessly flung into the bathroom that Sayaka was using. Unfortunately, he tried to retrieve it using Kouji's fishing rod, and succeeded only in pulling a towel off Sayaka's otherwise nude body. This led Sayaka to mistakenly believe Kouji was peeping on her, leading to an especially violent fight between the two pilots; Sayaka even scratched Kouji's face with her nails at one point. However, their feelings for each other were genuine and, no matter how much they squabbled, they would always make up in the end (often by annoying each other all over again). While the Sayaka from the original Mazinger Z manga was somewhat less confrontational, she still had a temper and quite the will to fight back whenever she needed it.

Cameos

Sayaka makes cameos in several other Go Nagai series. Sayaka (or at least, a girl very closely resembling her) makes a brief cameo in episodes 27 and 33 of Devilman,[citation needed] and in the second episode of 1994's New Cutie Honey, she is shown as a captive of that episode's villain.[1] She, along with Kouji, is also the only character who has appeared in every incarnation of the Super Robot Wars series of games (with the exception of the first, which had no human characters), in which Mazinger Z and Mobile Suit Gundam robots are often featured.

Sayaka was to become the 4th spazer pilot in the mecha anime UFO Robot Grendizer,[citation needed] but character developer and co-plotter of the series, Shingo Araki, opposed Go Nagai and designed a new character that did not appear in the Grendizer manga: Maria Grace Fleed, younger sister to Grendizer main character Duke Fleed. Maria soon became a fan-favourite[citation needed] in the latter part of the series.

Daddy Yankee mentions Sayaka and Mazinger in the reggaeton song Machucando released in 2005.[citation needed]

References

  1. New Cutey Honey Perfect Guide: Angel's Resurrection (新・キューティーハニー パーフェクトガイドブック 天使の復活 ...Tenshi no Fukkatsu?). Japan: Keibunsha. 1994-05-19. p. 57. 63554-58, T1063554581387. 

External links

it:Sayaka Yumi

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