How Nintendo Created A Sex Symbol

Dressed in smart business attire and glasses, she takes her seat behind a desk. She's here to explain a turn-based strategy game. Yet online forums are buzzing in Japan that she is "way too erotic". She is Cepko Culd, Japanese gaming's newest sex symbol.

With Culdcept for 3DS, Nintendo is bringing Omiya Soft's classic fantasy strategy title Culdcept to its handheld. Not everyone is familiar with the card-based game, so if Japanese magazines like Famitsu (via Siliconera) say that Culdcept for the 3DS will be similar to 2001's Culdcept Second, not everyone knows what that means.

That's why Nintendo rolled out a campaign to explain Culdcept to the great unwashed. In the series of ads, a woman named Cepko Culd (カルド・セプ子) explains the rules and rattles off character names. Innocent enough, no? Yet, she's inspired a series of erotic fan art and has many Japanese gamers wondering who she really is.

Forgotten history and in-game vibrators aside, Nintendo is a family-friendly company. Generally speaking, it doesn't deal much in innuendo. The character of Cepko flies on the radar. She is straight-laced, but there's a slight tinge of sexuality. For many in Japan, her appeal exists in that gap.

There's also an air of mystery. Who is Cepko? Cepko is similar to Sony's Kevin Butler character in that actors play both, and both do PR in an interesting or amusing way. Actor Jerry Lambert plays the Butler character, but for months now, the identity of Cepko's actress wasn't known. Nintendo typically uses famous celebrities to promote its games. But the identity of Cepko's actress was a big question mark, which added to the character's allure.

It wasn't until this week that it was discovered that a local actress is Osaka named Aya Shibata, who does primarily reporting, MC event work, and even modelling. Add to that starring in one of the most memorable game campaigns in recent memory. With her Cepko character, she's likely to get legions of new fans.

So what's so sexy about Cepko? A casual look at Japanese pop culture leads some to believe that the country is only infatuated with young women. This is incorrect as the anchorwoman, or businesswoman, type has its fair share of admirers. Nintendo's Cepko character taps directly into that infatuation with this brainy-looking, prim and proper anchor lady. But, Cepko goes one step further.

While the character doesn't wear revealing clothing per se, her breathy voice sounds erotic in Japanese. It doesn't necessarily translate for non-speakers, but her delivery makes what would probably be a rather innocuous Culdcept walkthrough anything but.

What's more, her catchphrase is "gappori" (がっぽり), which is often translated as "bundle" or "wad". So you'd use it to maybe say a "wad of money". But to Japanese ears, it's an onomatopoeic word that sounds sexual -- like people getting it on. So when Cepko says "futari de gappori", it could mean something innocent like "Let's do it together" or something that, like her delivery, is once again anything but. Ga~ppori, indeed.

Culture Smash is a regular dose of things topical, interesting and sometimes even awesome -- game related and beyond.

Photo: Nintendo/Pixiv


    Seems no more or less sexual than Nell in Advance Wars.

      Crazy. The first two sentences of this article made me think it might somehow be about a new Advance Wars.

      If only.

      And that was Nintendo too. They need to make a proper advance wars 4, I loved the stylised graphics in the first 3 (I know, it's part of a bigger series but still)

    she looks like 90% of female Japanese people (imo), i don't see the appeal

      The appeal is that she looks like 90% of Japanese women. Also the whole authoritive teacher type look with the glasses. Can definatly imagine people thinking of the whole femdom thing.

        Unfortunatly, not my type.

      So what do the other 10% of Japanese women look like? I'm not sure whether to be offended or to laugh it off as some naive ignorance. Sticking to the latter is probably better.

        Blonde and blue eyes, I think... (haha)

    She's is way too hot! Bordering on NSFW. I can't believe Nintendo would resort to such blatant pornography to taint their super clean image. Pornendo?

    /sarcasm *rolls eyes*

    Some Japanese fruitcakes get hard thinking about drink machines, the back of the knee or frosting cakes.

    Japan is weird, America is fat, sky is blue, always jump into boss room doors in Mega Man, same as it ever was.

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