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"For better or worse, this sword is my fate..."
— Ivy

Isabella "Ivy" Valentine (Japanese: イザベラ・バレンタイン - アイヴィー, Izabera Barentain - Aivī) is a character in the Soul series of fighting games. She appears in every game since Soulcalibur. Since her first appearance, she has become one of the most recognizable and iconic characters in the franchise, mainly due to her snake sword, big breasts, revealing clothing, and silver hair.

Personality

Ivy is considered evil by many due to her Machiavellian philosophy and her appearance. She only wanted to acquire Soul Calibur by any means to sever her bond with Soul Edge. When facing her opponents, she spites them with dramatic words and she takes advantage of her unique weapon, which she invented. Beneath her cold demeanor is a heart that wants freedom from a cursed life that will do whatever it takes to be free. Overall, she is a neutrally-aligned character. This is further explored when Ivy doesn't kill for pleasure only those deserving such punishment and judgment.

Cultural impact

Promotion and merchandising

Ivy was featured amongst other characters for Soulcalibur II's arcade flyer,[30] and has been featured in other printed advertisements for games in the series. She has also appeared on the cover on every Sony-based console game in the series,[31][32][33] as well as Soulcalibur Legends for the Nintendo Wii.[34] She is also visible on the white Xbox 360 Soul Calibur IV arcade joystick alongside Hilde and Siegfried,[35] and the box art for Korean distributions of the lilac-colored PSP.[36] In addition, the character has been used to demonstrate the graphical features of both Soulcalibur IV and its followup title, Broken Destiny in a tech demo and promotional flyer respectively.[37][38] Ivy was also featured alongside Siegfried in a manga adaptation of Soulcalibur Legends printed in the Japanese shōnen Kerokero Ace; the manga, written in a humorous tone, used a running gag of Siegfried's annoyance that Ivy was significantly taller than he was.[39]

Several action figures and figurines have been made bearing Ivy's likeness. Following the release of Soulcalibur, a resin kit by Kurushima was released,[40] alongside a figurine by Kyosho.[41] Epoch C-Works released a 1/12 scale Ivy action figure of in a set of three for the title as well, featuring equipable weapons.[42] In August 2003, Todd McFarlane Productions released an Ivy sculpture amongst a set of five based on Soulcalibur II. The immobile figure was modeled after her primary outfit and stood six inches tall with a base and retracted sword.[43] Yujin released a four inch tall figurine based upon her Soulcalibur II artwork as part of their "Namco Girls Series #5" line of gashapon figurines.[44] A twelve inch tall immobile PVC figurine modeled after her Soulcalibur III appearance was released by Enterbrain in September 2008, using a white version of her outfit and extended sword;[45] a dark blue outfit for an "international color" version of the sculpture was also produced.[46] In October 2011, Hobby Japan Co., which publishes the monthly Hobby Japan magazine in Japan, released a limited exclusive by mail order Queen's Gate Entwining Ivy 1/8 scale PVC figure. This figure was based on Ivy in her very revealing Soul Calibur IV outfit. The figure was released following a gamebook series and videogame entitled Queen's Gate Spiral Chaos which featured Ivy as a guest character alongside other well known female video game characters from other franchises.

Ivy's cleavage shot in her secondary costume is used as a promotional picture on the Japanese Soulcalibur V posters.

Critical reception

Although commonly cited as one of the most difficult characters to play as in the Soul series, Ivy has received a great deal of positive reception and has been described as one of the series' most "staple" and "stalwart" characters.[47] From her Soulcalibur II appearance, Ivy was nominated in G4's 2004 G-Phoria awards show under "Hottest Character", alongside Vanessa Z. Schneider and Rikku;[48][49] she was also a character in their 2005 "Video Game Vixens" awards show, winning in the category of "Kinkiest Accessory".[50] Several other "Top Ten" lists have also featured Ivy in similar context, including those by Team Xbox,[51] Machinima.com,[52] and Spike TV.[53] In 2009, she was featured on the cover of French magazine Ig alongside other female video game characters as one of the top heroines of gaming.[54]

Ivy was cited in the book "Disconnected America" as an example of Soulcalibur II's contrast to titles like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter in terms of a comparable real-world experience.[55] Play magazine called her one of the "finest females in all of 3D fighting", adding of the characters in the series she was the one they enjoyed playing as the most.[56] She placed second in IGN's "Soulcalibur: The Top Ten Fighters" article, which stated "Few, if any, Soul fighters so aptly sum up what the series is about as Ivy Valentine."[57] IGN also included her in their list of guest characters they would have liked to have seen for Super Smash Bros. Brawl,[58] and in their "Top 50 Chicks Behaving Badly" list, describing her as "a pain in the ass, but she's got a tight one, so she's okay by us".[59] Gamespy named her one of the "25 Extremely Rough Brawlers" in video gaming, praising the brutality of her fighting style and weapon.[60] Tom's Games named her one of the fifty greatest female characters in video game history, stating that as "an anti-hero who frequently clashes with other Souls, Ivy is a fascinating character for a fighting game".[61] UGO.com placed her sixteenth on their list of the "Top 50 Evil Women", noting her role as an antagonist in the first Soulcalibur while adding that it could be "difficult to truly appreciate [her] villainy" due to her attractiveness, and adding that her appearance and attitude made her "a feared competitor".[62]

Ivy appeared several times in GameDaily's "Babe of the Week" series of articles,[63][64][65] including as a stand alone article and at eleventh place in their "Top 50 Hottest Game Babes" article.[66][67] They later named her amongst other female characters in the Soul series as an example of a strong and iconic female character in video gaming.[68] The New York Times felt her appearance came from the same "Goth cyberaesthetic [...] that gave us 'The Matrix'", one they felt was already becoming outdated.[69] UGO.com ranked her eighteenth in their "Top 50 Videogame Hotties" article, stating "However much she instills fear in our hearts, we revel in the opportunity to stare at her from the safety of our television sets."[70] In later articles, they named her one of the top eleven girls of gaming at number ten and one of the top eleven video game heroines at number eight, stating "What can you say about a chick that carries a whip? If you're talking about Ivy from the Soul Calibur series, you could say she's pretty intimidating."[71][72]

Sex symbol

In a promotional flyer for Soulcalibur: Broken Destiny, the developers admitted they felt they had overdone the size of her breasts.[73]Ivy's appearance and demeanor have been a focus of discussions, with her commonly compared to or described as a dominatrix,[74][75] and has been noted both as the series' sexiest female and one of the "most beautiful women in gaming".[51][76] She is used as a sex symbol in various third-party media, her likeness appearing in material including magazine swimsuit issue pin-ups,[77] periodicals such as Play's annual "Girls of Gaming" series,[56][78][79][80] and pornographic dojinshi.[81] Advertisements have also focused on her visual appeal, such as Sega's television commercial for Soulcalibur's Dreamcast port.[82] Other media facets have made comparisons between her and Lara Croft in terms of attractiveness,[83] or depicted them as rivals alongside other female characters in a similar context.[84][85] Other sources have used her as a standard for a character archetype, comparing later created female characters to her design and appearance.[86] Studies on video games have noted Ivy in the subject of games "growing up", discussing the increasing popularity of "video game babes" and the reactions of men and women towards them.[87]

The book Game On: The History and Culture of Videogames cited Ivy as an example of realistic character design affected by "the Japanese deformed aesthetic and the global influence of cartoon animation", noting she made characters such as Lara Croft look "positively monastic" by comparison.[88] Race, Gender, Media: Considering Diversity Across Audiences, Content, and Producers used her as an example of most female characters in video games, describing her body and clothing as being created solely for the viewing pleasure of players, often males.[89] Rachael Hutchinson, Assistant Professor of Japanese Studies at the University of Delaware, described her sexualized appearance and behavior as devices used by the developers to emphasize her above-average height compared to other female characters in the title as "deviant", justifying "social and cultural expectation regarding the female form" in the process.[90] In an article on Kotaku, Gamasutra's Leigh Alexander used Ivy as a primary example of video game representations of the ideal male and female versus the real world and the concept that "sex sells", noting the unconscious appeal of such a character to represent oneself as in a game.[91]

Reception of the character's sex appeal has been mostly positive, though with a share of criticism as well as her design evolved through the series.[92][93] Joystiq bemoaned her appearance in Soulcalibur IV, describing it as an extreme in lieu of games such as Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball and noting that while a full redesign was unnecessary, "At least [Dead or Alive] keeps its breasts in context."[94] MSNBC described her attire as "the pinnacle of preposterous", noting that while it revolved around her femme fatale design, it appeared physically painful and made little sense to wear into combat.[95] Former GameSpot editor Jeff Gerstmann described the alterations to her appearance for Soulcalibur IV as unnecessary, stating "boobs are awesome, but there's a line. Ivy is over this line."[96] GamesRadar content editor David Houghton described her alongside similar characters as "festering adolescent wank-fantasies", adding directly regarding Ivy "[t]his is not female empowerment".[97] The subject was later brought up again at the 2011 PAX East convention, in which an all-female journal panel led by The Escapist's Susan Arendt agreed that while the character was strong and difficult but rewarding to master in the original Soulcalibur, she was reduced to "a nice ass bouncing around the room" in later games.[98]

In contrast, British magazine CVG cited her appearance in Soulcalibur IV as appealing, stating "Ivy...we like because she barely wears anything. Yes, we like videogame girls."[99] IGN in their "Babes of Soulcalibur" article noted that while her outfit pushed the line even by game standards, they had no actual complaint towards that aspect of the character.[100] Team Xbox emphasized that while her appearance played a factor in her allure, her fighting skills and unique weapon were significant as well, adding that "Ivy never disappoints in a swordfight".[101] Leigh Alexander in an article for GameSetWatch noted that while characters like Samus Aran served as "bastions of dignity", characters such as Ivy filled an important role in video games too, stating "[i]t looks like Ivy’s back is set to snap – but she’s a game character; she’ll be fine. Why not just enjoy it?"[102] The Escapist noted that the character's behavior and sex appeal defined the character rather than serving as an extraneous aspect, stating "Ivy's oversexed dominatrix demeanor perfectly compliments her confident, punishing move set."[103] UGO.com repeated the sentiment, noting in their "Girls of Gaming" article "Soul Calibur's mega-bombastic whip-wielding hottie isn't the only babe in the game, or even the best-endowed...but her combination of sultry moves and revealing outfits shoots her up the charts."[71]

Weapons

Stages

Theme Music

Soulcalibur
Soul Calibur Original Soundtrack - Unblessed Soul (Ivy Theme)

Soul Calibur Original Soundtrack - Unblessed Soul (Ivy Theme)

Ivy's theme from Soulcalibur

  • "Unblessed Soul"

Soulcalibur II

  • "Maze of the Blade"

Soulcalibur III

Soul Calibur III - Face your Fate (Ivy)

Soul Calibur III - Face your Fate (Ivy)

Ivy's theme from Soulcalibur III

  • "Face Your Fate"

Soulcalibur V

  • "Without the Blessing of Fate"
Without the Blessing of Fate - Ivy's Theme

Without the Blessing of Fate - Ivy's Theme

Ivy's Theme from Soulcalibur V

Trivia

General

  • Ivy, at 179 cm (5' 10½"), is the tallest female character in the series.
  • Ivy is the bustiest woman in the franchise.
  • Ivy is nicknamed "Twisting Blade of Solitude".
  • Ivy and Cervantes share the characteristic of using a two-in-one weapon; Ivy's sword turns into a whip and back again into a sword; one of Cervantes' sword is also a gun.
  • Up until Soulcalibur V, Ivy's adoptive father was said to have the title of 'Count' in English versions. This was an error, as he should have been called an 'Earl'.
  • So far, all of her Destined Battle's have been with Cervantes. (In Soulcalibur, she will fight Taki until Cervantes becomes playable). She and Maxi are the only returning characters so far to have had one character remain their Destined Battle throughout the series.
  • Given Ivy's knowledge of alchemy, it is possible she is one of the more intelligent characters in the series.
  • Her costumes are dominatrix themed and thus quite revealing. Despite criticism of these attires, she still has one of the largest fanbases.
  • Ivy is the second fighting game character to use a whip sword (the first being Janne de Arc from SNK Playmore's World Heroes series).
  • Her fighting style with the uncurled whip version of her weapon, are very likely inspired the real-life Urumi sword, or Kalaripayattu sword techniques, originating from South India. Being English during Colonial India, might have given Ivy a chance to pick up the style during travels across the British Empire.
  • Ivy appears in the crossover visual combat video game Queen's Gate: Spiral Chaos alongside other fighting game characters such as Tekken's Lili Rochefort, Guilty Gear's Dizzy, and BlazBlue's Noel Vermillion.
  • Ivy's aesthetic seems to include many snake-inspired motifs, including her armor, Weapons (Snake Sword), some of her moves (EX: Ivy Lick, Serpent's Embrace, Coil, etc.). Some of her clothing is even textured like snake scales.
  • Although Ivy is British, she pronounces "imbecile" and "futile" the American way.
  • Ivy's current English voice actress, Lani Minella is known for voicing Sindel and Sheeva from Mortal Kombat (2011) and Rouge the Bat from Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes. Coincidentally, all three share similar traits in terms of their color schemes; purple, white and black can be seen on all three.
  • Fellow Namco character Rita Mordio of Tales of Vesperia can wield a snake sword called "Ivy Blade", a likely reference to Ivy.
  • She is quite similar to Elwyn and Enimia from Blades of Fury, as they all have revealing clothing, somewhat similar weapons, and extremely similar fighting styles.
  • Ivy's input for her command throw, Calamity Symphony, makes the shape of a cross. Given her quote "Now sing for these sinners", which occurs while performing the move, it may be intentional.
  • The weapon Kaleidoscope resembles that of a Seven Branch Sword (a weapon believed to originate from the Jin Dynasty of China).

Soulcalibur

  • Ivy is the reason that Soulcalibur ended up on the Dreamcast rather than the PlayStation as originally planned because the latter couldn't cope with the animation of Ivy's sword.
  • Within the Schwartzstrom group, Ivy is referred to as "Dexter Purpure".[1]

Soulcalibur III

  • The "Soul of Ivy" discipline is available to created characters of the Pirate class.
  • Ivy and Nightmare are the only characters in the Soul series that have their own portraits featured in a fighting stage.

Soulcalibur IV

  • At one point, Ivy's artwork was touched up to cover up the bottom of her hanging breasts.
  • Ivy's left shoulder pauldron and earrings incorporate the Tudor Rose, a traditional heraldic symbol of England.

Soulcalibur V

  • Ivy is considered to be a motherly figure to the younger fighters.
  • An Ivy bobble bud is confirmed to be an exclusive Gamestop pre-order bonus for the Collectors Edition.[2]
  • Ivy's revealing costume and large breast size has been cited by many sources as a heavy factor towards the game's rating. This is heavily ironic, as Ivy's costume is more conservative than it has been in any other game in the Soul series.
  • Ivy's 1P costume in was designed by Takuji Kawano, and her 2P costume was designed by Mari Shimazaki.
  • Soulcalibur New Legends of Project Soul explains why Ivy stopped aging. When Ivy used Valentine to defeat Cervantes 17 years ago, her snake sword absorbed all of the souls Cervantes had harvested, granting Ivy's weapon a terrifying amount of power. These souls were then used to fill Ivy's soul vessel, which granted Ivy the very thing her father had died trying to achieve: immortality.
  • Ivy is the only female from Soulcalibur I and II to be playable in Soulcalibur V.

Soulcalibur VI

  • In Libra of Soul, Ivy states that she personally designed her own outfit, deliberately crafting it in such a manner to maximize the communication with her sword.

Etymology

Ivy is a name of an evergreen climbing wood plant that looks like a whip, a reference from her weapon of choice. It is also possible that it is made up from her initials; I for Isabella and V for Valentine, plus the adittion of the letter Y. Her real name, Isabella is of Hebrew origin meaning "My God is a vow." The surname Valentine is (appropriately) of English and Scottish origin, and comes from a medieval given name, derived from the Latin "Valentinus", a derivative of "valere", to be strong, healthy. The personal name was never common in England until the end of the 12th Century.

Series' Appearances

Appearances in Other Media

Ivy appears as a card in Outcast Odyssey. She appears roughly the same as she does in Soulcalibur V, she also appears wearing her Soulcalibur IV costume too. She is a Limited time card, available until 7 September, 2015. She is a Level 4 rarity card.

Ivy Outcast Odyssey


Costumes

The overall recurring theme in Ivy's costumes is that of a dominatrix. Starting with Soulcalibur, she is the first character in the series to be wearing a very revealing costume, with a massive amount cleavage and her thighs and hips exposed, despite wearing high boots and long gloves. In the following games, dark purple and gold are a recurring color scheme in her outfits, however the designers include white in her Soulcalibur III costume. The overall silhouette of her costume remains the same throughout the series, aside from her Soulcalibur IV costume, where little is left to cover her torso. In contrast, Ivy's Soulcalibur V outfit is the most conservative up to date, using a color scheme similar to that from Soulcalibur III. Throughout the series, Ivy's hairstyle in her 1P costumes doesn't change, remaining the same short haircut with bangs covering her left eye. She always wears armor on her left shoulder, arm and hand in her 1P outfits.

In her 2P costumes, Ivy is often seen wearing masculine clothes (mainly uniforms or uniform inspired, possibly with a bifauxnen image in mind) or very elegant, yet sexy and provocative, dresses. (Excludes Ivy's Soulcalibur V 2P costume).

In Soulcalibur V, Ivy's secondary costume was designed by Mari Shimazaki. It is a golden, low cut snakeskin suit revealing her navel. In this outfit, Ivy wears a golden choker in the shape of a snake. It also has various cuffs and bands of white fur, with matching white gloves and short boots. This costume is somewhat reminiscent of Anna Williams' zebra suit, and Nina Williams' leopard suit from Tekken 5/DR.

In the reboot timeline of Soulcalibur VI her costume is very similar to the revealing one she wore in the 4th title with minor changes to her costume being the darker purple and more stripes around her navel. In her story-mode, Ivy, wears a cleavage baring purple dress with a bedazzling gold necklace in her cutscenes.