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Vivian
Paper Mario
VivianPaperMario
Vivian, as she appears in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.
First appearance Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door
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Vivian (Japanese: ビビアン Hepburn: Bibian?) is a fictional character appearing in the 2004 role-playing video game Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. She initially serves as an antagonist, but joins the protagonist Mario after he helps her. In the original Japanese release and in European translations, she is portrayed as a transgender woman, while the script in English releases was altered to portray her as a cisgender woman. Vivian has been called one of the best LGBTQ characters in video games, but the way the Japanese version of the game depicts her and her gender identity has received some criticism.

Concept and creationEdit

Vivian is a purple, ghost-like person with pink hair, white gloves, and a pink-and-white striped hat, while her two older sisters wear blue and yellow hats.[1][2][3] She is able to hide herself and others in shadows and can manipulate flames. Vivian is a transgender woman, and is mocked by her sisters, who misgender her and call her a cross-dresser.[1][2]

When Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door was localized to English, Vivian's status as a trans woman was changed to that of a cisgender woman, and the transphobia from her sisters were changed to insults about her appearance.[1] In every non-English localization of the game, Vivian is still transgender.[4] The Italian version, in particular, emphasizes her status as a trans woman by having Vivian express pride in having transitioned;[4] she pushes back against her sisters' bullying by saying "I'm proud to have turned into a woman!"[5]

AppearancesEdit

Vivian first appears in the 2004 role-playing video game Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door.[1] She initially works against the protagonist Mario and his allies as part of the Shadow Sirens, a group consisting of her and her two sisters who routinely abuse her. She assists Mario when he helps her find a missing object, unaware of his actual identity. When she discovers who he is, she is initially reluctant to help him further, but decides to join him due to the abuse she suffered from her sisters and the kindness Mario showed her. By the end of the story, her sisters vow to treat her better.

She appears in a cameo role in the sequel, Super Paper Mario, both as a collectible card and as a plush doll owned by a character. She also appears as a collectible in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.[6]

ReceptionEdit

Vivian has received mostly positive reception since her appearance in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door. Nintendojo writer Mel Turnquist included Vivian's decision to stay by Mario's side as one of their most inspiring moments in video games due in part to also being a younger sibling herself.[3] Liberty Voice called Vivian's defection from her sisters to Mario's side relatable to children.[7] Inverse included Vivian in a series where they discuss potential Super Smash Bros. inclusions, expressing hope that she is included instead of a more traditional choice like Paper Mario.[8]

She has received particular attention for her status as a transgender character. IGN included Vivian in their list of favorite LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and others) characters. They praised Vivian for not being defined by her status as a trans person, though expressed disappointment in the change from trans woman to cis woman in the English releases due to Vivian being one of few quality trans characters in video games.[4] Drag queen Daphne J. Sumtimez listed Vivian as one of her idols.[9] In their essay on transgender characters, authors Emil Christenson and Danielle Unéus discuss Vivian and how her femininity is designed. They mention Vivian's bent wrists and frequent smiling as feminine qualities that she typically displays. They also bring up the pink color of her hat, noting that the contrast between her sisters may be intentional to heighten her femininity. They acknowledge the transphobia Vivian receives, but comment that it is depicted negatively due to her sisters being villains.[10] Author Nicholas Taylor includes her in a section on transgender characters in the book Queerness in Play, discussing how Vivian's role in the narrative can help players understand their experiences with gender, identity, and expression.[11]

Some critics were displeased with how Vivian's gender was presented in the Japanese version, however. VG247 felt that Vivian's gender identity was expressed in a transphobic fashion.[12] Writer Laura Kate Dale was critical of dialogue in the game that stated she was at one time male, feeling it suggested she was not truly female.[13] In their breakdown of LGBTQ+ representation in video games, writers Quincy Nolan and Ian Laih-Nolan included Vivian, similarly criticizing the language used in the Japanese version to describe her but noting that it does not take away from her "gender-bending presence."[14] Vivian has been compared to fellow trans Nintendo character Birdo, who is similarly misgendered in some games and had her trans identity removed in English localizations.[13][1][2]

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Baird, Scott (May 3, 2017). "15 Classic Nintendo Games That Had To Censored". Screen Rant. Archived from the original on August 25, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20190825012310/https://screenrant.com/classic-nintendo-video-games-censored/. Retrieved May 24, 2019. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Shaw, Adrienne (September 11, 2015). "Vivian in Paper Mario". LGBTQ Video Game Archive. Archived from the original on August 25, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20190825012304/https://lgbtqgamearchive.com/2015/09/11/vivian/. Retrieved May 24, 2019. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Turnquist, Mel (August 17, 2012). "Top Ten: Inspiring Moments". Nintendojo. Archived from the original on August 25, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20190825012729/http://www.nintendojo.com/features/columns/top-ten/top-ten-inspiring-moments/6. Retrieved May 23, 2019. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Moser, Cassidee; Torres, Armando; Yehl, Joshua; King, Jackie; Sapp, Eric; Ryan, Jon; Sanchez, Miranda; Borba, John et al. (June 27, 2018). "Our Favorite LGBTQ+ Characters In Games". IGN. Archived from the original on August 25, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20190825012208/https://www.ign.com/articles/2018/06/27/our-favorite-lgbtq-characters-in-games. Retrieved May 24, 2019. 
  5. Template:Cite paper
  6. "Super Smash Bros. Brawl Sticker List". https://www.smashbros.com/wii/en_us/gamemode/various/various37_list.html. Retrieved August 25, 2019. 
  7. Jutte, Garrett (May 28, 2014). "6 Reasons Kids Should Play Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door". Liberty Voice. Archived from the original on August 25, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20190825012737/https://guardianlv.com/2014/05/6-reasons-kids-should-play-paper-mario-the-thousand-year-door/. Retrieved May 24, 2019. 
  8. Kleinman, Jake (August 30, 2018). "Roster Dreams: Vivian Brings 'Paper Mario' to the 'Smash Bros.' Universe". Inverse. Archived from the original on August 25, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20190825012757/https://www.inverse.com/article/48221-roster-dreams-vivian-brings-paper-mario-to-smash-bros-ultimate-universe. Retrieved May 23, 2019. 
  9. Smeyne, Rebecca (July 30, 2013). "Papermag's New Favorite Drag Queens Hit the Beach in a Super Swimsuit Extravaganza". Paper. Archived from the original on August 25, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20190825012200/https://www.papermag.com/papermags-new-favorite-drag-queens-hit-the-beach-in-a-super-swimsuit-e-1427006358.html. Retrieved May 24, 2019. 
  10. Christenson, Emil; Unéus, Danielle (September 2017). "Transgender in Games: A Comparative Study of Transgender Characters in Games". Uppsala University. Archived from the original on August 25, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20190825012154/http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1146698/FULLTEXT01.pdf. Retrieved June 1, 2019. 
  11. Taylor, Nicholas (2018). Queerness in Play - Palgrave Games in Context. Springer. p. 41, 45. ISBN 978-3319905426. https://books.google.com/books?id=awZ0DwAAQBAJ. 
  12. Hart, Aimee (February 12, 2019). "Why LGBT video game databases matter". VG247. Archived from the original on August 25, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20190825012654/https://www.vg247.com/2019/02/12/lgbt-video-game-database/. Retrieved May 24, 2019. 
  13. 13.0 13.1 Dale, Laura Kate (April 7, 2013). "Let's Talk About Birdo". The Average Gamer. Archived from the original on August 25, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20190825012703/http://www.theaveragegamer.com/2013/04/07/we-need-to-talk-about-birdo/. Retrieved May 24, 2019. 
  14. Nolan, Quincy; Laih-Nolan, Ian (May 4, 2018). "Press A to Gay". The OutCrowd Magazine. Archived from the original on August 25, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20190825012722/https://issuu.com/theoutcrowd/docs/the_outcrowd__20_-_spring_2018. Retrieved June 1, 2019. 
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