Guilty Gear: Ranking All the Characters


Guilty Gear is one of the most underrated fighting game series you’ll ever find. Despite its overall quality, both in gameplay and graphics, it will never reach the popularity of the big names. I guess it’s the over-the-top nature of the series. I mean, just look at the name. At least most other fighting games have titles that mean “guys fighting to the death” or “dudes fighting on the street” or “the best fighter there is” or “some Japanese word that sounds pretty cool.” “Guilty Gear” is just nonsense on the surface, and even when you do figure out what it means, “mutant cyborg wants to kill all the other mutant cyborgs because he had a hand in their creation” is a bit of a mouthful.

That’s not even counting the bizarre sequel names like Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R and Guilty Gear Xrd –REVELATOR–.

Regardless, I absolutely love the collection of characters and the game’s ridiculous storyline. The story is, as best as I can describe, the aftermath of X-Men‘s Age of Apocalypse mixed with the war from Terminator. Years have passed, but through sinister plots and conspiracies, the world keeps creeping towards a second round of endless bloodshed. The major players include everything from a scientist-turned-immortal-bounty-hunter, a righteous king, a guild of assassins, ninja politicians, sky pirates, a medical vigilante, an oversexed witch, a hapless time-traveler, and a soldier practically made of muscle.

As I’ve done so many times before, I’m going to rank the Guilty Gear cast from worst to best. This is only going to include characters that appear in the one-on-one fighting games, meaning that Guilty Gear 2: Overture is out of the running. Also, despite there being different incarnations, I’m counting all of the Robo-Kys as a single entry.

As always, I’m ranking these based on style, storyline, and personal preference.

Heaven or Hell? Entry #35. Let’s rock.

35. LEOPALDON

First appearance: Guilty Gear Isuka

It just had to be this guy. Isuka was when Arc System Works hit the Capcom level of, “Man, I don’t know, just throw us some money,” and Leopaldon was the boss character we got out of it. With what feels like a dozen total frames of animation, this eyesore is too weird to stand without any context, and he happens to show up in a game with no storyline. The most we know is that it’s a guy befriending a Gear dog and that somehow means everyone has to fight what appears to be Sasquatch through the eyes of someone who ingested a ton of acid.

34. ANJI MITO

First appearance: Guilty Gear X

Guilty Gear X and its upgrades introduced so many rich and exciting new character designs into the series… And it also introduced Anji Mito. Anji is just lame all around. His weapon sucks, he looks boring, and his defining character trait is “is Japanese.” And while, yes, being Japanese actually means something important within Guilty Gear’s plot, there are two characters who fall under that category and are more interesting and entertaining.

I really can’t think of anything more to say about this doof.

33. FANNY

First appearance: Guilty Gear Petit

There’s not much to Fanny due to appearing in an obscure, portable port of the series, but her basic design isn’t the worst idea. She’s a female spinoff of Faust’s subplot. She was saved by Dr. Baldhead when she was younger and now searches the world for him, having no idea that he’s completely changed his identity. Considering Baldhead had a giant scalpel as a weapon, Nurse Fanny builds on that by having her wield a giant syringe.

Personally, I’d like to see her show up in one of the proper games with more normalized proportions.

32. BRIDGET

First appearance: Guilty Gear X2

On one hand, I was always going to be soured by Bridget because the last thing I ever want is another annoying little boy fighter. But hey, in a series as weird as Guilty Gear, Bridget succeeds in having an outlandish design. He’s a boy forced to cross-dress in order to sidestep bad luck and tries to make a name for himself as a yoyo-wielding bounty hunter.

Unfortunately, Bridget’s never been able to find his place in the series. While everyone’s talking about That Man and Gears, there’s a kid dressed as a nun doing yoyo tricks and nobody pays him any mind. As it is, Bridget is just there.

31. ABA

First appearance: Guilty Gear Isuka

ABA never got much play, but boy was she delightfully unnerving. During a time when Kingdom Hearts taught us that cutting people up with giant keys could make for a fun time, we got this sickly, bandaged woman carrying around a neurotic and downright freaky, giant key. Almost too weird for the Guilty Gear roster, ABA was a decent addition, although not good enough to carry Guilty Gear Isuka.

She was forgotten about fairly quickly, though her time in the sun did give us some good ol’ disturbing imagery.

30. KLIFF UNDERSN

First appearance: Guilty Gear

Poor Kliff. He was pretty much one and done in his first appearance. Just as well, really. There’s nothing especially wrong with the man. The stout, over-the-hill badass with a giant blade that can kill dragons is certainly likeable, but he’s the wise, old guard mentor character who needs to make way for the new heroes, even if it means getting wasted by the biggest threat. Before Sol and Ky become an odd couple, it’s Kliff’s belief in them both that brings them together.

When they brought him back in later versions of the Guilty Gear X engine, it felt more out of necessity. They ran out of old characters to reinvent, so might as well toss Kliff in with the rest.

29. JAM KURADOBERI

First appearance: Guilty Gear X

While Potemkin, Justice, and Kum are built like bulldozers, you also have Jam choosing to face her enemies with no weapons despite being less bulldozer and more unicycle. She never quite hits the highs that many of the other cast members do, but at least she works as an outsider with a gimmicky personality. The story in Revelator makes it an explicit all vs. evil threat conflict, but Jam is sort of off to the side. She ends up giving guidance to the likes of Kum and Jack-O’, but this is all done via her usual schtick.

Jam’s just about bounty hunting in order to earn enough money to own a restaurant. Otherwise, she just Forrest Gumps her way through world events. That and constantly hitting on Ky, not realizing that his heart belongs to an actual important character.

No, I don’t mean Sol! …Pretty sure I don’t.

28. RAVEN

First appearance: Guilty Gear X: Lightning the Argent (novel)
First appearance (playable): Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator

I’ll say that they did a great job building up Raven by making him a non-playable and looming threat for so long. Not as long as That Man, but fifteen years between showing up in a novel and becoming part of the in-game roster is pretty damn impressive. He’s a fun addition to the games by mixing stretch-based attacks with claw swipes, like the unholy hybrid of Vega and Dhalsim.

Unfortunately, despite all this build, Raven feels flat. His whole deal is that he’s been immortal and unkillable for so long that he’s apathetic about everything. There are some snippets of cool stuff in there, like his backstory where he spent years as a benevolent protector until realizing that godhood is a thankless position, but for a guy who can’t die, he certainly doesn’t have much of a pulse.

27. ZAPPA

First appearance: Guilty Gear XX

Much like ABA, Zappa’s deal is that he’s ALMOST too weird for Guilty Gear, but still just barely works out. He’s certainly original in the way he flails around unnaturally and fights differently based on which ghost is possessing him. 

Zappa’s whole story is about dealing with being possessed, which keeps him interesting. His appearance in Revelator’s story mode as that universe’s Ray Stantz is a wonderful use of the character, even if he’s traded his crazy ghost behavior for being a living exposition dump.

26. KUM HAEHYUN

First appearance: Guilty Gear Xrd: -REVELATOR-

Kum shows up as a novel idea, only to reveal an even more interesting concept underneath. Looking like Gouken from Street Fighter, Kum’s gimmick is that he’s a mystical being able to tune people’s bodies and souls like instruments to help fight off disease and stuff. That’s cool. Then things get crazier when it’s revealed that, despite appearing like Gouken, Kum is actually a young woman in a very realistic-looking mech suit.

The game builds up Kum really well and even gives her a really sweet moment with Johnny, but when it comes time for Kum to step up in the story mode…well, she’s there. She just stands around yelling, “I can’t hold it much longer!” for the few times the game remembers to give her a subplot.

25. BAIKEN

First appearance: Guilty Gear

Baiken’s always felt like Arc’s attempt at their own Akuma, but I never really bought it. Making her the hidden boss in the first game and a centerpiece in one of the Xrd upgrades always struck me as strange. Baiken’s cool, but not cool enough to pull that off. Considering the series likes to continually introduce increasingly-powerful characters, Baiken’s never stood out as a top tier badass outside of how a couple of Accent Core’s endings centered around Baiken being totally capable of outright murdering I-No.

But I dig her regardless. Despite originally being a Kenshin palette swap with boobs, she does have one of the most intricate designs in the series, mixing a “no time for your shit” attitude, a heart of vengeance that would make Frank Castle double take, a missing eye, an amputated arm, a bunch of scars, and a grappling hook…for some reason. She may not be able to stand up to the heaviest hitters, like That Man, but she does damn well for someone fighting one-handed.

24. MAY

First appearance: Guilty Gear

The first Guilty Gear had a little too much grit to it. It was a fantastic debut and bloomed into a top-notch franchise, but a lot of that game felt very edgelord in comparison to everything that followed. Just grim swordsmen cutting each other up into bloody explosions before frowning and saying some variation of, “Get out of my face, bitch.”

Except for May. May was there to bring the colorful and cartoony soul that would live on in its sequels. While Dr. Baldhead was obsessed with drowning himself in pools of blood, May was swaying around with a giant anchor in hand and summoning dolphins. At the same time, she had a strong reason to enter the initial tournament, which both showed off her sense of loyalty while building towards Johnny’s debut on the roster.

May’s ability to wield an anchor over her shoulder would later be explained in a later game. May is Japanese. In Guilty Gear, Japanese people are both rare at this point in history and strangely mystical. It’s this big romantic metaphor about World War II that turns them into a nation of superhero survivors and the whole thing just intrigues me.

Anyway, May is an adorable sidekick who is just so important to Guilty Gear’s overall aesthetic.

23. SIN KISKE

First appearance: Guilty Gear 2: Overture
First appearance (playable): Guilty Gear Xrd –SIGN–

At first glance, Sin isn’t really all that necessary because Guilty Gear already has two other protagonists. Sin isn’t likable enough to steal the story away, even if he’s carrying on in the shadow of the series’ more popular characters. Luckily, he isn’t meant to be the main character. At least, not yet.

If anything, Sin’s existence allows Ky and Sol to develop and get over their human flaws. Ky, being all religious and a stickler for public opinion, has to get over the fact that his love for Dizzy is not something he should feel shame for. Sol, on the other hand, gets to finally leave his loner life behing and become a father figure. Or grandfather figure.

Sin is no hybrid protagonist, but he’s a hell of a supporting character.

22. ELPHELT VALENTINE

First appearance: Guilty Gear Xrd –SIGN–

Not only is Elphelt a blast to play as, but she’s just so freaking adorable… Unfortunately, she’s programmed to help bring about extinction of the human race. Like, even if she wasn’t such a major part of Xrd’s overall storyline, she’s already such a fun design that she’d feel right at home in the series.

Elphelt is a romantic who is really, REALLY into finding a husband to the extent of fighting in a wedding dress and putting the shotgun in shotgun weddings. She also plays into the series’ love for musical references. Not only is her gimmick “guns and roses,” but her Instant Kill is a “shot through the heart.” And if you use it on Faust, he refers to her love as “bad medicine, indeed!”

She’s such a pure-hearted dreamer despite the reasons she was created that having her be the damsel in distress in Revelator adds some extra complexity. You want her to be safe in the end.

21. DIZZY

First appearance: Guilty Gear X

A lot of the time, fighting games tend to make the sequel’s boss come off as more fearsome and imposing than what came before. Sagat and Shang Tsung were followed by their employers. Geese Howard was followed by his half-brother, identified as the only person Geese ever feared. Heihachi gave way to his demonic son. From the beginning, Guilty Gear made it seem pretty straightforward. Justice was a major threat, but after her defeat, she and Sol Badguy talked up That Man, who was obviously the next big boss.

Right?

The series went in a different direction. Instead of a roster of well-meaning people (and a couple of villains) taking on a new threat, Guilty Gear became a story about warriors going off to fight a confused Disney princess in fetish gear who is powerful enough to destroy humanity, but just wants to chill out in the forest. Suddenly, the black and white nature of the war against Gears becomes gray and Sol Badguy’s mission of guilt-fueled genocide comes into question.

Dizzy would then hang out on the sidelines for a while, but her role as a minor character who is capable of leveling cities with her grim reaper wing is rather fascinating.

20. TESTAMENT

First appearance: Guilty Gear

If Justice is Apocalypse, then Testament is Magneto. I guess that makes Dizzy Phoenix? I don’t know.

As Kliff’s adopted son who doesn’t want to commit to war, but does out of loyalty and because it’s the right thing to do, Testament gradually loses his mind from the constant bloodshed. Then upon being transformed into a Gear as part of an experiment, he fully turns against humanity. And all things considered, it’s not like he needed much nudging.

He makes a great gameshow host villain for the first game and then moves on to find his place in a post-Justice world. Through Dizzy and his reluctant alliances with Johnny and Sol, Testament becomes a better person who is very capable of falling back to his anti-human ways at the slightest provocation.

It’s kind of nice that he isn’t in the Xrd games. I like the idea of him chilling out on his own, ignoring all the craziness going on until he decides to make it his business.

19. VENOM

First appearance: Guilty Gear X

Venom started out as an insane design with a character that didn’t stand on its own. His identity as an assassin who killed his enemies via magical billiards felt slightly reminiscent to Lord Raptor and his basketball-based attack from Darkstalkers. Then there’s his ridiculous, albeit iconic hair.

Problem is, he was the third wheel to the Millia/Zato storyline. Not that he wasn’t a sympathetic one. He was loyal to Zato and held an unrequited love for the man. Sure, he could never be with Zato, but seeing the one Zato did love betray them and lead to Zato becoming a flesh-and-blood marionette made it understandable that he’d lash out against Millia and forever hold it against her.

Venom really came into his own during Revelator, where he decided to rebrand the Assassin’s Guild as a force for good by taking responsibility for the evil it had done and publicly dying in battle. Like Jesus Christ, but with more 8-ball projectiles. Venon survived, though. He couldn’t kill himself due to an oath to Robo-Ky, but he couldn’t allow anyone to know he was alive or else it would ruin everything.

The whole epilogue segment, which itself is like a half hour long, is tense as hell and makes Venom look awesome, all while giving him a semblance of closure. Funny enough, despite Millia’s escape from the Guild causing so many problems, it’s Venom who finds peace living the normal life.

18. AXL LOW

First appearance: Guilty Gear

Axl Low’s whole deal is that he doesn’t belong and he does a good job of sticking out. Probably because the only characters he seems to connect with are the most anti-social.

The concept of a man from the present being stuck porting around time is played for laughs a lot, but as it continues, Axl’s story gets increasingly sadder. Dude is just confused and frustrated. When even I-No feels bad for you, you’ve really been hit hard.

That’s why I dig how, as the story progresses, Axl gradually grasps who and what he is. He isn’t just some poor sap who can’t control rifts in history. He’s actually a powerful wielder of time itself whose decisions are weighed down by his responsibility.

17. JOHNNY SFONDI

First appearance: Guilty Gear
First appearance (playable): Guilty Gear X

Johnny is somehow the skeeviest character, while also being one of the most noble. He’s a swashbuckling Johnny Bravo with all the negative ego and womanizing that status entails, in addition to being an outright criminal, but he’s also an adventurer obsessed with helping strangers and bringing hope to orphans. Though only female orphans. It’s weird. He doesn’t hit on them or anything, but he does constantly play up how handsome he is around them while hitting on every other woman he sees, which isn’t a good look and leads to the awkwardness of May being in love with him.

Despite the gender issues going on, Johnny does genuinely love his sky pirate crew, and underneath all the style points, he’ll do just about anything for their safety. A good, old fashioned scoundrel with a heart of gold.

Plus I thought the series did such a good job building up his introduction. While the first game laid the seeds for That Man, who is still hanging back, May’s whole story was built around Johnny and made it very apparent that he’d be playable in the sequel. And he was! He lived up to the hype with his quick slashes and flipped coins.

16. JACK-O’ VALENTINE

First appearance: Guilty Gear X: Lightning the Argent (novel)
First appearance (playable): Guilty Gear Xrd: -REVELATOR-

Initially, Jack-O’ feels like a zanier version of Kula Diamond — maybe with a touch of Tira from SoulCalibur. Her mood swings, childlike demeanor, and fighting style that revolves around building tiny houses for her ghost henchmen would make her an easy side character anywhere else, but instead, she’s actually super important and that pushes her into an interesting direction. She’s not quite a boss character, but she is central to the Revelator plot.

Not only is she created as the opposite of Justice, but she’s delightfully the opposite of That Man. Once she gets to actually do stuff, she is blunt and honest with the rest of the cast. She doesn’t go out of her way to say vague things and then sit it out in the shadows. She outright tells I-No about what she is. She doesn’t hide who she is from Sol Badguy. She doesn’t even make any bones about the fact that she exists to sacrifice herself and save the world.

15. POTEMKIN

First appearance: Guilty Gear

In the hierarchy of big dudes in fighting games, Potemkin ranks just below Juggernaut and Chang Koehan, as far as I’m concerned. Even if I suck with him, nothing beats crushing people with Potemkin’s space-shuttle-sized arms. Then there’s that wonderful Japanese voice, which sounds like Andre the Giant gargling.

I want to put Potemkin in the top ten, but the guy really doesn’t get to do anything. Once Zepp is turned into less of an airborne shithole, Potemkin barely does anything of note. At most, he’s what we have to settle on, knowing that his yet-to-be-playable leader, President Gabriel, is a nominee for President Badass. Not only did he clown Bedman, but he’s considered Slayer’s rival.

Give us President Gabriel on the select screen, already.

14. ANSWER

First appearance: Guilty Gear Xrd –SIGN–
First appearance (playable): Guilty Gear Xrd REV 2

There’s not much to Answer at this point, but the newcomer is so high-concept that it’s hard not to fall in love with him from the very moment you hear him described as “ninja businessman.” The developers grabbed that ball and ran it for a touchdown. Rather than letting Chipp’s subplot be a one-off joke, Answer’s existence expands on it and vindicates it.

He seems to be what Capcom was going for with Crimson Viper. Having boring political and business conversations on a cell while taking breaks to kick ass is something that doesn’t always naturally come off as rad, but Answer makes it work.

13. RAMLETHAL VALENTINE

First appearance: Guilty Gear Xrd –SIGN–

Don’t know about you, but the way Ramlethal’s dress is depicted as some kind of flesh and teeth thing that vaguely resembles the inside of someone’s mouth is really unsettling to me and helps sell her role as would-be world-destroyer. That and the two ball creatures wielding giant swords for her while shooting lasers.

After her defeat, Ramlethal becomes your cliché AI character who slowly begins to realize that she has emotions and that her genocidal programming is bullshit. That works out well on its own, but her brief role in Revelator brings it up a notch. Her death fakeout carries a good amount of weight when it happens, while her return at the end feels like more than a copout. Mainly because of Raven – the one who saved her – who has come to realize that Ramlethal is more than an object and that this world still has some surprise to it after all.

12. KY KISKE

First appearance: Guilty Gear

I already did that thing earlier where I compared Guilty Gear characters to X-Men. Well, Ky is obviously Cyclops while Sol is Wolverine. Yup.

Ky will never be as cool as Sol. While Sol rides motorcycles and tracks down bounties, Ky does paperwork and stares at his sword. But despite being the generic hero type, Ky carves out his own identity by being the pure-hearted warrior who reluctantly finds himself becoming anti-authority.

Ky is a soldier, a police officer, and strongly religious. Over the series, he finds himself having to question his faith in his superiors. Everything from disagreeing with their decisions to outright finding out that the Pope is out to destroy all human life. Then when Ky himself becomes a king, he is put in a corner where he has to question his own authority. He has to hide his family from the public because God forbid people find out the king is shacked up with a Gear. So, yeah, Ky can be compelling when he isn’t dealing with paperwork.

Revelator’s story mode epilogue does fantastic work pushing him back up to being a fearsome protagonist. 

11. ROBO-KY

First appearance: Guilty Gear XX

If you’re going to muck around with a preexisting set of sprites, at least make it something special and creative. Robo-Ky is something special and creative. Being just a robotic knockoff of the lesser protagonist would have been a waste of a roster spot normally, but Arc really knew how to make this design fun.

Robo-Ky goes from being just a cannon fodder drone to being some kind of insane weirdo robot with his own bonkers personality. You know how RoboCop has a gun built into his leg? Well, Robo-Ky has an entire throne built into his back!

In Revelator, Robo-Ky returned when the Postwar Administration Bureau storyline had long run its course and was practically forgotten. Robo-Ky brought some hilarious comedy and surprising pathos to being a robot duplicate with no real purpose. Plus it was rather inspired that Robo-Ky, arguably the weakest fighter in the series, would make for the ultimate counter to Bedman, one of the strongest fighters. Robo-Ky’s partnership with Venom and altruistic behavior makes me psyched for when he’ll show up again.

I also need to mention that having his theme song “Holy Orders?” be just a distorted version of regular Ky’s theme song is one of the finest touches in Guilty Gear history.

10. CHIPP ZANUFF

First appearance: Guilty Gear

Chipp Zanuff proves how awesome the story of Guilty Gear can be because of its power to commit. In the first game, he was probably the most forgettable character. He was a ninja and recovering drug addict with an attitude problem. Nothing much in comparison to the rest of the cast.

Then in Guilty Gear XX, Chipp’s search for his master’s killer leads him to discover that the Assassins’ Guild would answer to him in some form if he were to become an actual world leader. And so…Chipp decides to run for President!

The games that immediately follow kind of try to sweep this joke subplot under the rug and maybe make him a close ally to Potemkin, but once the Xrd games kick in, they completely embrace the President Chipp storyline and the series is all the better for it.

Chipp has founded his own kingdom and wants to run a democratic election to be its president. As goofy as that is, Chipp’s brief appearances in the story increasingly make “President Chipp” not seem like the worst idea. He becomes something of a guiding voice of reason to Ky while regularly saving the hides of his friends and figuring out villainous plots from the shadows. He’s like a kid who wants to sit at the grown-ups table, but happens to be smarter than half the people sitting there.

9. JUSTICE

First appearance: Guilty Gear

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and that’s what makes Justice work. Guys like M. Bison, Shao Kahn, and Rugal Bernstein are practically cartoon supervillains. They’re threatening to an extent, but they’re repeatedly defeated and are considerably less scary the longer they’re around. Justice is more on the level of Orochi from King of Fighters. There’s such a fierce reputation to the character that everyone lives in the fear of it.

Justice represents the horrors of an endless war that mankind just barely survived. If Justice were ever to return, then the world would be fucked. In the Xrd games, the plot to resurrect Justice is treated like a doomsday scenario.

8. I-NO

First appearance: Guilty Gear XX

I-No has the personality that Raven lacks. She appears to be an immortal who started meaning well, but has since become corrupted. Instead of becoming a hollow husk of a being, I-No instead appears to enjoy the fact that she can do whatever the hell she wants with no repercussions. Her aesthetic of a guitar-playing nymphomaniac makes all the sense because her goal is to live the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle without any of the consequences.

She doesn’t have complete freedom since she works for That Man, yet it’s still her nature to mess with him by stepping out of bounds, damn the consequences. She’s overly self-serving and anyone who falls in line with her whims is in deep shit.

Eventually, it was explained that I-No is the magical manifestation of mankind’s hope and desire. That’s an interesting twist, since it plays into her kinky demeanor, but makes it all that much more tragic that she’s so jaded.

7. LEO WHITEFANG

First appearance: Guilty Gear Xrd –SIGN–

Leo, Leo, Leo… Where have you been all my life? Why did it have to take so many games for this Victor Creed-looking mofo to grace us with his awesome presence and cross swords?

Leo is the perfect mix of competent warrior, a strong leader, and a lovable doofus. In a story where nearly all the villains are redeemable in some way and even the criminals are heroes, it’s nice to see one guy who sticks to his guns a little too hard. It leads to some hilarious moments, like when he really wants to let Johnny and May escape his grasp, but his underlings are watching and that would just make him look bad.

For Guilty Gear Xrd Sign, I highly recommend checking out Leo’s system voice add-on where he takes over all of the game’s announcing. When you pick Leo on the select screen, you get the lovely reaction, “LEO WHITEF—oh, shit, that’s me!”

6. MILLIA RAGE

First appearance: Guilty Gear

The relationship between Millia and Zato-1 is a fascinating one, and Millia’s path is rather ballsy in my eyes. From the very beginning, her story is entirely cut-and-dry. She’s been forced to be an assassin and wants her freedom. She wants to be free of the Assassin’s Guild, free of Zato-1, and she wants to live a normal life. There’s even an admirer that pops up who initially appears to be her tether into that kind of peaceful existence. The potential normal boyfriend to have a normal life with.

But things move into an awkward direction with Zato. He dies and becomes a puppet for a violent creature. We learn that Zato and Millia were closer than just being in the same clan. Millia still had the right to leave, but there was a romantic relationship that she left behind. When she fights Eddy, the puppetted corpse version of Zato, it’s both out of fear for her own life and a way for her to make amends by putting Zato down. She can finally move on and live that normal life by bringing closure to a complicated relationship.

Except…not really. The normal life is boring. That admirer of hers is actually a creepy stalker “nice guy.” Zato returns from the dead, emotionally altered, but shows that he both cares for her and has a newfound respect for her wishes. Millia finally realizes that, after all this time, that wasn’t what she truly wanted.

Millia was wrong from the beginning and the betrayal with Zato may have been a massive mistake with all the horrific fallout. Now it’s time for her to embrace what she is and walk towards the future.

5. BEDMAN

First appearance: Guilty Gear Xrd –SIGN–

Once you think Guilty Gear can’t get any weirder, they introduce a new villain who is Freddy Krueger as played by Mandark from Dexter’s Lab. It’s a completely batshit and creative design for such a delightfully unsavory character. Like, Bedman is a guy who casually kills a girl’s dog just to help her understand that living beings are all distinct and have differences, and that’s what makes it all beautiful. The kid is messed up.

There are lots of cool little quirks in Bedman that make him stand out in a series full of interesting characters. That robotic bed he wields. The fact that he has to be asleep because being awake for too long would make his brain fry due to being too smart. His endless banter and obsession with film and theater. His tendency to wear glasses despite never being awake to use them. That he works for the Pope in a secret plot to recreate the world. His inexplicable spot as one of the most powerful beings in the world, to the point that he humbled Slayer.

Bedman’s final defeat is a satisfying one, and even in his death, we’re given the cliffhanger of knowing that we’ll one day get a Bedwoman in the series.

4. SLAYER

First appearance: Guilty Gear XX

In a futuristic world of magic terminators, shadow beasts, and metal witches fighting to decide the future of humanity itself, I love, love, LOVE that there stands a man who simply shrugs in the background because a lot of this excitement is simply beneath him. That Slayer’s defeat does nothing more than show him casually laying on the floor, mildly amused, speaks volumes for how little a shit this vampire badass gives.

With Kliff taking a dive early on in the series, Slayer improves on the mentor role by simply being a benevolent third party whose feathers refuse to be ruffled. He’s a being who would have peaced out of the world out of boredom, but stuck around because of the worthy challengers, an interest in dabbling in mankind’s affairs, and the simple fact that reality keeps getting more and more interesting, even for someone as ageless as himself.

Slayer is an expert at killing and at being fashionable to the nines. So of COURSE he started a guild based entirely on both of those things. Makes sense for a man who regularly punches his enemies into space while smoking a pipe and reciting a haiku. Nobody’s dandier than Slayer.

3. SOL BADGUY

First appearance: Guilty Gear

They named a character Sol Badguy, and we’re supposed to just accept that. That’s the stupidest name. And yet, here I am, accepting that because taking Blade and adding a bunch of Queen tribute absolutely does it for me. The guy holds his future sword the same way Freddie Mercury held his mic. That’s supreme.

I joked about this in the beginning of the article, but the silly name of the franchise really brings out a good twist early on when we discover what the hell “Guilty Gear” even means. Sol Badguy starts off as just a gruff anti-hero in a game where nearly everyone is violent and pissy. It isn’t until his ending in the first game that we find out that he’s more than just a bounty hunter. He’s an immortal scientist-turned-science-experiment who wants nothing more than to purge the world of the nightmares he created. That was the perfect way to start off the series, and Ark had done a great job building on that.

He stopped being so genocidal when he met Dizzy, who may or may not be his kid. He’s become less of a loner over time and embraces his friendships with Sin, Ky, Axl, and others in his way. He’s been able to find the hope stolen from him so many decades earlier by bringing back the love of his life. Even at this point, when he’s preparing to take on his longtime target That Man, I have to wonder if it’s something Sol really, truly wants.

Not only is Sol one of the best Guilty Gear characters, but he’s one of the best main heroes in a fighting game. He stands in the high tier with Terry Bogard, getting by via punching people so hard that explosions happen.

2. FAUST/DR. BALDHEAD

First appearance: Guilty Gear

During the Chipp entry, I mentioned commitment. There is no better example of that than the “whereabouts” of Dr. Baldhead. How a nine-foot-tall doctor with a giant scalpel and a body count in at least double digits went missing is beyond me. 

Baldhead was off-putting but definitely memorable. He didn’t truly hit his stride until he became Faust, adding inexplicable cartoon physics to his febrile behavior. He’s the Deadpool of the series in that he’s the perfect mix of nonsense action and emotional backstory. Despite all the blood on his hands, he pulls off so much whimsy that his reality-breaking actions can easily make you smile.

And isn’t that the best medicine?

1. ZATO-1/EDDIE

First appearance: Guilty Gear

Go figure that a fan of Marvel’s Venom would pick the guy with the black symbiote for the #1 spot. In actuality, I was always on the fence about this drill/shark/claw enthusiast, but from beginning to end, Zato’s whole story arc has been really excellent.

In the beginning, Zato came off as a mid-level threat with a cool gimmick. He supposedly sacrificed his eyes to give himself control over the shadows. Starting off as genuinely frightening, the truth made Zato pathetic. Losing his eyes did nothing. He was unknowingly the host for a Gear offshoot species that took the form of shadows. Zato was played like a fool while thinking he was badass. Then he died and the creature danced his body around like a puppet.

Zato did some horrible things, including murder an innocent little girl under orders of the Conclave, but his status as Eddie’s rotting host was just sad.

Zato was eventually resurrected as part of an experiment, with virtually no emotions to speak of, but he also returned with a new lease on life and a realization that he never truly desired power, but peace. After dying and going through Hell, he came back as a semi-clean slate driven by his need to make right with the woman he once loved and wronged. Even with his stoic demeanor, his actions post-resurrection have been at odds with every sin he’s committed, whether it means opposing the Conclave, using the Assassin’s Guild as a force for good, respecting Millia, or setting up a peaceful retirement for Venom.

And that’s the list. Agree? Disagree? Are you some Leopaldon fan who will never forgive me? Sound off in the comments.

Gavin Jasper wishes they’d make a new SoulCalibur already so he’d have reason to work on that character ranking. Follow Gavin on Twitter!

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