Saturday, July 20, 2024

Lost Summer Deep Dive – Christie Monteiro Part 1

An In-Depth Look At A Capoeirista Forgotten By Lore

When one thinks of capoeira, it is impossible to mention the impact video games had in bringing the art into the public eye. Sure, there have been movies, books, and capoeira schools for as long as the art existed, but video games were arguably the form of media which made the art popular. The same could be said for its representation in video games.

While you had capoeiristas like Richard Meyer and Bob Wilson in the Fatal Fury series, it wouldn’t be until years later that a rich Brazilian capoeirista known as Eddy Gordo would set the bar. No, he wouldn’t just set the bar, he would be the bar himself.

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In arcades during the year of 1997 and home consoles the following year, many a player felt rage from a single man. A man whose flips, spins, handstands, and kicks, would bring awe to those who played him, and
frustration to those who fought against it. He was both famous for moves never seen before in a 3D fighter, and infamous for being the definition of “cheap.”

Regardless how you felt about him, there was no denying that Eddy was different from the rest of the cast. In a game where homages to Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Tiger Mask were evident, there was nothing who was comparable to Eddy at the time. His unique, yet slightly exaggerated, homage to capoeira brought new fans into the art. Capoeira became a popular buzz word for fighting enthusiasts almost overnight.

But was Eddy always considered to be the face of capoeira?

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After Tekken Tag Tournament, Eddy was noticeably absent from the main roster. In place of him was a young Brazilian woman by the name of Christie Monteiro. A fresh face for a game that represented a new era in Tekken, her moves were very similar to Eddy’s.

In fact, apart from her normal throws, her movelist were identical to Eddy’s in every way. Eddy being a palette swap for her in Tekken 4 and Tekken 5 brought the “Christie is Eddy” angle to its head. At the time, although Eddy was included in these two games, Bandai Namco was trying to push Christie as the new face.

At the very least, they were trying to push a woman as the capoeira representative from the very beginning.

In a 1998 CVG interview, following the release of Tekken 3, the development team discussed how the concept of Eddy came about. When asked how the team went about designing its roster of characters, the team replied with the following.

“A good example is Eddy, since he wasn’t planned to be the character you see at first. The development team wanted to include a character who used Capoeira, so the idea was passed on to the artist team. Mr Kimoto requested the artist to make a female character for Capoeira. However the artist said it was too difficult to design a female character who used Capoeria, so there came Eddy.”

It wouldn’t be until Dark Resurrection that Eddy had his own slot on the roster for the first time since Tekken Tag Tournament.

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With the separation of the two characters at last, Christie’s push would be put on the backburner in lieu of Eddy’s importance to the story. Christie’s relevance came to a screeching halt in Tekken 7 as Eddy was one of the final main roster characters revealed without a Brazilian woman in sight.

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NO!!!

Anyways,

Christie wouldn’t make another official appearance until the mobile Tekken game, but considering the mobile Tekken game is literally a dump of old characters that didn’t make the cut in Tekken 7, that’s hardly a victory.

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I started writing this back in early 2018, and since then, we’ve gotten Marduk back from the graveyard!

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However, I’ve long since stopped holding out for hope. If she shows up, she shows up. If she doesn’t, well. It still won’t dilute the amount of love I have for this girl. Hopefully by the end of this I can shed some light on what makes Christie amazing to me.

So, what happened? How did the one who was pushed to be the babyface of capoeira after Eddy’s origin ended up becoming the queen of the indies known as mobile Tekken? What is it about Christie that makes me admire her as a character? Well, let’s start with her design.

Appearance

So, imagine the year 2001. You’re in the arcades and you see Tekken 4 for the first time. The attract video plays and you’re in wow at the graphics. Especially considering this is the first Tekken on a new engine in the arcade at least. Then suddenly you see this mami twirling and making sensual poses, flashing the biggest grin.

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It was at this point you dumped quarters in the machine. Don’t lie. This totally didn’t happen to me at an arcade while I was in the Poconos. Nope.

I remember the rumors at the time. Everyone thought the designers took inspiration from Tyra Banks and Harada himself de-confirmed this.

Wearing a low-cut green floral blouse that cuts above her midriff, black leather hotpants with frills at the end, black fingerless gloves, and Spartan-style sandals, Christie’s primary outfit was made to turn heads and accentuate her features. As with most outfits and hair designs in this game, Christie’s design was also made to show off the new graphics engine for Tekken. Christie’s long brunette hair, coupled with her loose-fitting clothing, flows with the wind with every kick and acrobatic motion. Her design was made for comfort in mind as well as ease of movement.

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Christie’s competitor’s outfit is a brassiere-style top with silk training pants and green fingerless gloves. Wrapped around her waist is a capoeira belt, much like Eddy’s competitor’s outfit. Whether this is an actual representation of her rank, or just a design choice, is up in the air. I’d like to say it’s the latter, though I believe a purple belt is a high ranking in capoeira.

Comparing Christie and Eddy’s competitor’s outfit, they aren’t too different from each other. In fact, side by side they appear like partners rather than a radical difference.

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Following her debut, her primary outfit changes from a green to a light purple top and black to white colored hotpants. The top of her competitive gear is more confined and stylish while retaining the same effect as it did before. As the series progressed, her butterfly motif became more prevalent in her clothing.

With such a dynamic taste in style, one would think that her personality is just as bubbly, and you’d be correct to think so.

Personality

Pointing at her opponent with finger guns and firing off in their direction, Christie enters her ginga stance with a declaration…

“Here we go!”

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Oozing with confidence no matter who she is fighting against, Christie never backs down from an opportunity to show off her studies in Capoeira arts.

Christie makes it clear to her competitors that if they take her lightly, they will pay for it in a loss.

Perhaps one of my favorite exchanges with another character is when she fights Bruce in Tekken 5. Bruce exclaims that the “competition has gotten easier on the eyes,” in which Christie taunts him in return. When Bruce questions if her capoeira can stand up to [his Muay Thai], she replies with a sultry tone of confidence.

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Ultimately, Christie would win the bout and she toys with him, saying that his lack of rhythm will be the reason why he will never defeat her.

It’s exchanges like this, as well as her other intro pose here she blows her opponent a kiss and declares them to “go easy on her,” that she uses her looks to her advantage. It’s almost as a form of intimidation, being caught off guard by swift kicks coming at you at every direction while she emerges the victor, leaving the battle almost unscathed.

There is a depth to this. When things get serious, Christie has a sense of justice within the confines of her own capability. This is commonly brought up whenever Eddy runs off headfirst into danger.

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In the same game, when she runs into Eddy, she doesn’t back down from fighting Eddy to save her grandfather’s life. Win or lose, she will fight her hardest for those who she loves, even if it means fighting the one person, she loves the most.

She’s also highly emotional as an individual as evident when she shows her disappointment at the end of her winning the 4th Iron Fist Tournament. This changes to a complete 180 as she sees the one person who she has been looking for all tournament, immediately returning to her bubbly cheerful self. A dark version of this trait shows when she is overburdened with emotion to the point of tears upon discovering that her grandfather passed away.

This combination of a flirtatious happy-go-lucky capoeirista who revels in her fights and a woman who is bound to protect those who she holds dear comes into full force in Tekken 6. Although in the overall canon she takes a backseat, controlling her in Scenario mode reveals hidden layers about her character.

One of the hypothetical scenarios that is brought up is when Christie and Eddy do cross paths in Scenario mode. If the former approaches Eddy, he will exclaim that she shouldn’t be here in high concern. If the latter approaches Christie, she will appear angry that he has, once again, decided to be inconsiderate in being brash for considering working with “Public Enemy #1.”

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Both Eddy and Christie wish to protect each other, yet they do so by ironically placing themselves into harms way. While on a larger scale, they are two small fish in the giant ocean that is the Mishima bloodline story. If one zooms in on the microscope, you see two troubled young adults who wish to live in peace. One is bound by vengeance while the other is bound by duty.

Story

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While Tekken 4 is the first time we see and hear of Christie, that game is not the first time we hear of her story. In Tekken 3’s prologue, Eddy was incarcerated after being framed for the murder of his father. During his sentence, he learns the art of capoeira from an elderly master. Up until his release, Eddy perfected the art of capoeira and entered the third King of Iron Fist tournament to exact

That elderly man was none other than…

Well…

The old man never had an official name. The Tekken wiki has his name as DENSETSU NO KAPOEIRA MASUTAA

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or the “Legendary Capoeira Master.”

For a while, the urban legend regarding his name was“Ho Chi Myong,” but unlike the Tara Banks inspiration, this wasn’t ever confirmed by Bandai Namco. I don’t think it ever will.

The one thing that was confirmed, however, was that the

DENSETSU NO KAPOEI—I’m sorry.

The elderly capoeira master was Christie’s grandfather. How did Christie herself know capoeira? Through Eddy, as a form of mutual respect for her grandfather teaching him the art. Suddenly Christie and Eddy having identical moves isn’t farfetched.

However, I always wondered why Christie’s grandfather never taught her capoeira himself? The obvious answer would be because he, too, was imprisoned. Still, you’d consider that maybe he would have taught her when she was a child or began to teach her. Who knows?

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At the end of the King of Iron Fist Tournament 3, Eddy finds out that it was Kazuya Mishima who orchestrated the events which led to his father’s murder and his own imprisonment. Since then, he has sought out to find Kazuya and settle the score on his own terms.

Enter Tekken 4, where a concerned Christie realizes Eddy has gone missing. In her response, she spends the 4th Iron Fist Tournament looking for Eddy, sensing trouble brewing on the horizon.

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Honestly this was Eddy’s fault to begin with. Had Eddy not told Christie that he was going to avenge his father’s death, she wouldn’t have bothered to put herself in harm’s way. However, Christie’s story had to start somewhere yeah?

In the end, Eddy doesn’t find Kazuya, but, if we take Christie’s ending in Tekken 4 as canon, we can deduce some details.

Christie wins the iron fist tournament, incredibly bemused, as she failed at her original goal in locating Eddy. However, seeing a familiar face in the crowd, she runs over to Eddy in a full embrace. Eddy appears in this ending with a cast on his arm, so it is assumed that his progress in finding his father’s murderer ended prematurely. Even so, despite his lack of success, he still shows up to his girl’s victory match in support. What a romantic.

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Several months later, tragedy strikes. Christie’s grandfather is inflicted with an illness and the race to find enough money to pay for the operation begins. In the end, no matter who wins the tournament, they use their prize money to pay for the operation which turns out to be a success. Christie, Eddy, and her grandfather are all seen at a park practicing capoeira and everyone lives happily ever after, right!?

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Unfortunately, not.

Several years later and the climate is different. Jin Kazama wages war against the world and it turns out that neither Christie nor Eddy was able to win the tournament after all.

Running out of time and resources, Jin makes a deal with Eddy. If Eddy works for him and helps exact Jin’s vengeance against Kazuya, then Jin will help pay for the operation. Considering this as an opportunity to become in direct contact with Kazuya, the murderer of his father, it’s a win win for Eddy.

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He didn’t want to be a part of this war, but for the safety of the one person who was a father figure for him and the chance to kill the one who has caused him years of torment, he will take up a gun for Jin.

So, where does this leave Christie? Back to where we once were in Tekken 4, on the lookout for Eddy and her grandfather.

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Do you see where I’m getting at now? “As the series progressed, Christie’s role became diluted?”

The sad part is that Christie is not the only character to suffer through this character dilution.” The4thSnake’s video on Asuka Kazama goes over the same points that I could ever make, so please give that video a watch when you can. In Tekken 6, if it wasn’t Mishima related, it was on the backburner.

Once again, both parties are unsuccessful. Christie never finds a cure for her grandfather’s illness and he succumbs. Eddy is deceived by Jin, refusing to hold his end of the bargain, and is unable to save his master’s life. While visiting his grandfather’s grave, Christie discovers Eddy.

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Instead of a warming reunion, Christie, in a fit of rage and sadness, slaps him while demanding where he was. In response, Eddy stands there, motionless,
as he throws his Mishima Zaibatsu pin to the ground.

This is where Christie’s story ends. Officially.

What began as a bright young capoeira student ended a grieving shell of a person, thanks to the dishonesty of Mishimas and Eddy for pulling a Knuckles and believing Eggman—Jin Kazama.

If we look at the Tag 2 endings and assume, they take place after 6, Eddy takes a page out of King’s book and opens up a capoeira school for orphaned children. After some time passes, he embarks on a trip to become the world greatest stuntman the Mishima Zaibatsu has ever seen!

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No of course not he’s going to confront his father and master’s murderers of course! What else would Eddy POSSIBLY do at this point!?

In Christie’s ending, as a continuation, she catches wind of this and chases Eddy,
but, as history tends to repeat itself, she’s too late. Eddy is already on the train.

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Some. Things. Never. Change.

At least she was spared a grim fate, unlike our friend here.

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Conclusion

So. Where do we go from here? From the beginning, we know that Eddy is an integral part of Christie’s story. However, there are signs in her design that shows she can hold her own, both in a fight and in her sense of justice.

I recommend anyone to play through Scenario mode with all of the available roster and not just Lars, but in Scenario mode, Christie has a sense of justice that almost felt refreshing. It wasn’t just simply “where’s Eddy,” but it was also “I have to stop the messed up things from going on in the world”

Earlier I posted a photo where she confronts Eddy for working with the Mishimas and she has no qualms in defeating him to knock sense into him. I also mentioned the confrontation between Bruce and Christie, which is just about non-canon as far as Tekken 6 is confirmed. They treat their encounter as if it was the first time they’ve ever met. Bummer.

But there are signs of life for this character and when it shows, it’s refreshing to see. Christie is not the only character who suffers from this, but she is the one who is marred by the reputation of “always being in Eddy’s shadow.”

When discussion is brought up on why she shouldn’t be in the game? “Eddy is already in there.”

When the game throws her into a repeat storyline for the third straight game in the series? “Eddy is already there.”

Why is Christie out and about? “Her grandfather, but Eddy is there as well.”

Part of the reason why I considered myself a Christie main is because Christie is an underdog in the Tekken universe as well as within the competitive scene.

The irony here is that Christie was meant to replace Eddy, but the inverse happened.

One day, Christie can exist without having to worry about being in Eddy’s shadow. A fan can dream. Until then, I’ll always consider her my favorite fighting game character so there’s no replacing that at least.

There will be a Part 2 to this as there’s one key game that she’s a part of where she does regain some of that luster I wish she had in the main series. A game that is largely underrated but a game where Christie has had her moment in the sun.

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Stay tuned for Part 2 soon! If you weren’t sick of me talking about Christie and made it this far, congrats! Stick around for the follow-up!

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