SNK Heroines hyper-sexualizes characters that in many cases, were already sexualized. It finds the skimpiest costumes, most revealing dresses, and barely-there bikinis to ensure skin exposure.
It’s parody though. SNK Heroines is about a literal male gaze. A creepy, shadowy fetishist male figure, Kukri, brings these women together. He watches them from a high-tech camera room. His face is never shown – Kukri is nothing more than a coward – another faceless internet goon watching women from afar in an attempt to find pleasure in their torment.
Of course the girls fight; this is from SNK whose King of Fighters series remains their hallmark. These girls don’t brawl out of spite for one another. The spunky battles, simplified to eliminate nearly all complexity, lead to a confrontation with Kukri. They fight for a chance to drop kick their male stalker.
For an Eastern franchise, SNK Heroines carries tremendous prescience for social movement in the West, in terms of empowerment and social media anxieties. All of this holds tremendous energy and color. Special moves sparkle and in a Japanese twist, each fight must end with a super move, a touch of tokusatsu and anime as to ensure the source material isn’t passed over. Add in a sprinkling of J-pop and suddenly, this all-around wacky and hyper-saturated clash-of-the-gals manages to balance suggestiveness, fighting, and women in power. And it does so successfully too.