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The Killer 7 (left to right): KAEDE, Con, Dan, Garcian, Coyote, MASK and Kevin.
Harman: You're awake from your dream?
Kun Lan: Harman, the size of the world has changed. It's changed to the size where you can control it with your hands just like a PDA. The world will... keep getting smaller...
In an alternate timeline Twenty Minutes into the Future, worldwide peace has finally been achieved after a total ban on nuclear weapons and researchnote and the Internet. The remaining warheads are fired into space, where they collide and destroy each other.However, this peace was not to last, for a group of mysterious creatures known as "Heaven Smiles" soon appear. Led by the enigmatic Kun-Lan, they began to carry out a number of terrorist attacks across the world with no discernible purpose other than to create terror for the sake of terror.To combat this supernatural threat, the American government call on the services of the Smith Syndicate, aka the Killer7. Led by the elderly and wheelchair-bound Harman Smith, a man who carries a history with Kun-Lan, the Killer7 are a group of specialised assassins trained to deal with high-level threats to the stability of the United States of America. And with each mission completed, they slowly draw closer to the truth behind the Heaven Smiles and Kun-Lan.While this plot summary appears clear and concise, it only scratches the surface of the story of Killer7. As the Smiths keep getting called in to deal with each new threat from Kun Lan, a deep conspiracy with ties to the origins of both Killer7 and the Heaven Smiles comes to light, and dozens of twists and turns follow.With that, we depart from the realm of sensibility. Killer7 can become an exceedingly confusing game, thanks to its multiple layers of metaphor and symbolism, its vignettes and non-sequiturs, and its tacked-on plot threads that don't come together until the ending. Themes of war, religion, personal conflict, and politics all weave into one gigantic Mind Screw, wrapping around each other like the bondage straps around Iwazaru.In contrast to the Mind Screw storyline, the developers uniquely streamlined the gameplay of Killer7: a character moves along a set of predetermined paths, so all a player can do is choose forks and turn around. When attacked, players hold down a button to switch into first-person view and aim crosshairs manually (similar to Resident Evil 4). The Heaven Smiles remain invisible until players use another button to scan for them; as they approach, players can see an obvious glowing spot upon them, and while shooting this spot results in their instant death, players will find it difficult to do so. Any enemy who gets in too close to the player will laugh at the player before exploding and causing damage. Death Is a Slap on the Wrist most of the time — as Garcian can retrieve the severed heads of the other Smiths and revive them — but if Garcian himself dies, the game ends.While players can practically count the polygons in the characters's faces, the game makes excellent use of shading and shadows to create a unique graphical style. Two levels also feature anime cutscenes, both done by different studios.Suda 51 (who went on to do No More Heroes) created this game, and Capcom published it on the Gamecube and Playstation 2. In 2012, Suda began work on Killer is Dead, a Spiritual Successor to Killer7.
In the name of Harman...
Abstract Apotheosis: Each of the members of the original Killer7 represents an inversion of one of the traditional Japanese values. Each one also has a moment where the irony disappears and they display their corresponding value.
KAEDE has a bloodstain, which signifies betrayal (like the Camellia Smiles), so she represents Loyalty. She is also able to sacrifice herself for her teammates.
Dan, who kills for fun, represents Honor (which is why the Handsome Men, who are Japanese symbols, call him a bloody psychopath). Rather than killing Curtis Blackburn straight away, he agrees to a duel with him.
Con, who is a teenage punk, represents Respect. He is shown to have an admiration for the Handsome Men.
MASK, who has the power of a hero but still works as an assassin, represents Benevolence. Jean DePaul refers to MASK as a hero to children.
Coyote, who is a thief, represents Honesty. Coyote suddenly reveals some of his past to Garcian in Cloudman.
Kevin, who can run away from battles, represents Courage. Kevin is brave enough to perfect aim and always pull out another knife.
Harman, who is brutal, represents Justice. He kills Kun Lan and Harman (the god) for the way they treated the rest of the cast.
Aerith and Bob: On the same team, we have KAEDE, Garcian... and Kevin.
All There in the Manual: Hand In killer7, which actually makes the story even more complicated, though mostly because its based on an early version of the game's story, which had a few differences with the final version.
Ambiguously Gay: Travis Bell, Harman's first hit. Appears in a variety of suggestive poses with flamboyant, sometimes innuendo-laden tank tops, usually in hot pink print ('Bad Girl', 'Sexual'). In a library area in the first level, he describes himself as 'the Chief's first catch', then describes his death like it were an orgasm: 'To be honest, that shit felt good'.
Anti-Grinding: You can only process a certain amount of Thick Blood per level, though that amount is usually high enough that you can make use of SOME grinding.
Smile, Part 2 allows a lot more blood than other areas, though it's balanced out by only having a few Camellia Smiles, as well as Mithril Smiles and Broken Smiles, the latter being incredibly hard to get blood from, as regular, respawning enemies.
Apocalyptic Log: Hulberts cassettes in Smile Part 2 are full of exposition, and predictably, end with him being killed by the very man he was researching.
Art Shift: The animated cutscenes in Ulmeyda's and the Handsome Men's chapters are different from the game's art style, and from each other. Handsome Men looks like an anime, while Ulmeyda's looks more like a western animation studio.
Awesome but Impractical: Mask De Smith is the strongest character in the game, and his grenade launchers can pretty much one-hit kill almost any enemy (except for certain bosses), and later mask upgrades can make him reload faster to not reload at all. Unfortunately, killing enemies as him will grant you little to no blood.
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Dying as Dan, Kaede, Kevin, Coyote, Con or Mask simply transports you back to the last Harman's Room you visited. You can then switch to Garcian and make your way back to the place where the persona got killed, retrieve it, get transported back to Harman's Room and resurrect it by repeatedly pressing X. You even get to keep all the blood you've collected. However, this means playing through the same stretch of level at least three times: 1) the original run before dying, 2) as Garcian up to the spot where you died, 3) a third run with the restored persona. And if Garcian himself dies, it's a definitive Game Over.
Decoy Protagonist: The Smith's aren't Harman's split personalities. They're Garcian's.
Deliberate Values Dissonance: Essentially the entire point of the game: the whole game revolves around the conflict between American/Western and Japanese/Eastern values.
Happens again with Killer7 taking on the Handsome Men, one by one.
In "Sunset Part 1" you face off against another assassin who stole your kill and the boss fight simply consists of you two pointing your triggers at each other and firing as fast as possible.
Earn Your Title: Garcian is The Cleaner, he retrieves dead bodies and brings them back to life; Dan is the Hellion, because of how reckless and violent he is; KAEDE is named Barefoot, because she never wears shoes, and so on.
Easter Egg: Hopper7, where the regular Smiles become HopperMen. Only the first level is available and all the enemies die in one hit.
Everything's Deader with Zombies: One of the boss fights consists of two elderly Japanese gentlemen who had their heads blown open. You have to blow their brains out, literally, to kill them...again.
False Roulette: Benjamin Keane thinks he's won at Russian Roulette. Contender Garcian pulls the trigger on him a 6th time. It goes click. "This gun holds seven bullets".
Fan Disservice: Samantha has one (thankfully not graphic) sex scene. It's with Harman. In his wheelchair. While he's near-comatose.
Final Speech: Subverted; Dan kills Curtis partway through his.
Dan: Trying to die in style? Give me a break, you sick old man!
First-Person Ghost: For some reason, the animated cutscenes in "Cloudman" work this way, with characters addressing the camera as if it were the Killer 7 (but sometimes the camera shifts and the person is talking away from you, so…who knows?) The Killer 7's dialogue is also unheard here too.
For Massive Damage: Every Heaven's Smile has a glowing weak spot that instantly kills it. This is the easiest way to gather Thick Blood, which is needed for character advancement.
For the Evulz: The Heaven's Smiles aren't trying to change anything - they just want to cause havoc.
The Four Gods: At one point you have to match them to their directions.
Gambit Roulette: The entire game, as revealed in the supplementary material, Jacob's Report. An FBI agent who lost his family to the Heaven Smiles uses a machine that predicts the future to predict the Last Smile. As the probability of the predictions happening increases with each one that comes true, he sets the events of each mission in motion.
It should be noted that much of the supplementary material outright contradicts the game.
Gangsta Style: Con does so while Dual Wielding, but Coyote has an especially bad case - he does not merely hold his gun sideways, but DIAGONALLY OVER HIS HEAD. He also has serious kickback and is one of the most difficult characters to aim with.
Go Out with a Smile: The Heaven's Smiles don't seem to care whether or not they ever reach their target.
Most of the deceased characters you meet don't hold grudges, even when talking to the one who made them deceased in the first place. So, really, it's after they go out. Susie seems to be the exception.
Well it is Susie...
Gratuitous English: The phrase "Change the Wold" is written on a chalkboard at Coburn Elementary.
Guns Akimbo: Con and Mask (technically Grenade Launchers Akimbo for Mask).
Handguns: what most of the characters are armed with.
Have a Nice Death: Your player character's head rolls over, opens its mouth and bellows a bloody Kanji.
In Medias Res: Target 00: Angel pretty much throws you straight into the game without a single bit of exposition. Additionally, the screen summing up the objective of it indicates it's the thirty-third job undertaken by the Smiths.
Dan can talk, but can't back it up. In death, he has the strength to back it up.
Coyote is outwitted by Emir. In death, he has the ingenuity that could have saved his life.
KAEDE tried to save herself by placing a barrier between her and Emir. In death, she can commit suicide in order to break barriers.
Con could not hear Emir coming nor could he escape. In death, he gains super hearing and super speed.
MASK presents the image of an invulnerable superhero with his mask, but is killed effortlessly whilst not wearing it. In death, his mask grants him incredible powers, making him the strongest of the group.
Kevin's lackluster disguise fails to prevent Emir from detecting him. In death, he gains the ultimate means to avoid detection.
Last but not least, Garcian (Emir) kills the others, and then commits suicide out of guilt. In death, he can revive the other personas.
Less ambiguously, several targets including Curtis being killed by his own organ harvesting machines, and Trevor Pearlharbor having a hole blown through him by Handsome Black's Handsome Wink.
Kick Chick: Kaede's counterattacks, despite her status as Barefoot.
Limited Wardrobe: Harman only ever wears traditional Hasidic Jewish gear, Garcian a white suit, and Kevin nothing but sunglasses and chinos. MASK changes his clothes exactly three times in the game, and in each case it's a plot point; on the other hand, before finding the blue mask, he wears a different mask in each level. In contrast, Dan, KAEDE, Coyote, and Con wear different clothes in each level, albeit always of the same style.
To get an idea of it, imagine walking in a straight line for hours with four people talking at you about completely different things. Cryptically. Oh, and every five minutes, you have stop and think really hard about the first thing you see. When you've finally finished that, you discover that 50% of what you just did was All Just a Dream, yet 75% was real.
The Mole: Toru Fukushima has two: his secretary Julia Kisugi and apprentice chef Jean Depaul. Also, one of the theories spawned from the Last Shot Smile is that Iwazaru is one for the killer7.
Mook Maker: Mother Smiles, Duplicator Smiles, and Greg Nightmare.
Motif: Masks appear all over the game, tying in with the theme of deception.
Mr. Exposition: Travis and Iwazaru, but only the former is trustworthy.
Rain of Blood: Ulmeyda gives one off when he transforms into a Heaven's Smile. His blood is so full of diseases that it kills everyone present except his followers (who regularly partake of his blood) and the Smiths (who are Dead to Begin With).
KAEDE's special ability as well.
The Reveal: Many in the final chapters: Garcian is actually Emir Parkreiner, who killed all the Smiths which resulted in his (not Harman's) split personalities, who really can't be manifested in real life as shown by their weapons being carried in his suitcase.
Rule of Cool: Loaded with it. Any time one of the nonsensical and yet awesome facets of this game makes you ask "Why?", this is usually the answer.
Rule of Seven: Harman's seven personalities, hence the name os the syndicate. The game is also divided into seven chapters.
Rule of Symbolism: The game has several examples of this. From The Yakumo references in the early chapters, to the whole plot being subtly developed as a chess game, to allusions to World War II, to the flag capture allusion in the last chapter, etc.
Sadistic Choice: Presented to the player at the end of the game: kill Matsuoka, and the US will nuke Japan off the face of the planet; spare him, and Japan will attack the US, triggering World War III.
In Target 0, How Soon is Now is written in blood on a wall. This is the name of a popular single by the band The Smiths. One of the pigeon letters is titled Meat is Murder as well, the title of an album by The Smiths which contained the song How Soon is Now on international versions of the album. Two references to THE SMITHS? Hmmmm....
Speaking Simlish: Subverted with the Remnant Psyches. At first, it sounds like they're talking in distorted gibberish, but in the original Japanese it's instead various Synthetic Voice Actors speaking in Gratuitous English (as heard here,) and the overseas releases just slapped some extra filters over their voices to make them sound more garbled.
Split Personality: The Smiths; it's on the box cover. But when it comes to whose personality they split from, Covers Always Lie. Samantha also counts to an extent, switching between Meido and Alpha Bitch depending on whether or not the lights are on. At least until the last chapter, when she is raped by Harman and/or dies, fully becoming his servant. To make matters even crazier about the history of the Smiths, the supplementary material makes it clear they were dead when Emir killed them, and Harman had been using them as split personalities as the Killer7 syndicate. So, they've been killed at least twice, can apparently manifest themselves seperately from one another, can be endlessly resurrected by Garcian/Emir. Supplementary material calls this Multifoliate Personae Phenomenon, rather than Multiple Personality Syndrome.
Spy Speak: Used by Cristopher Mills, in fear of wire tapping.
An article in a gaming magazine prior to the game's release stated that the characters would each have different abilities than what made it into the game.
KAEDE was supposed to be able to kill the Smiles by raining blood down on them, like she does with the barriers. It was supposedly because she had some kind of toxin in her system.
Coyote was supposed to be able to preform a roundhouse kick, that would clear a room full of Smiles.
Unorthodox Reload: Con bounces empty magazines off his knees and slaps new ones in with his feet. Garcian and MASK appear to manifest new magazines/rounds from their hips. Dan and Coyote seem to use speedloaders, which is fine—except Coyote's spent casings pop right out of their own volitionnote Although his revolver is a top-break, and extensively customized - it's not unlikely that it has an automatic extractor. And instead of slapping them in like the boys, KAEDE slides her magazines into place like a good sniper—but she also fumbles with them.
Then you get Dan and MASK's upgrades, and new rounds seem to appear as soon as the spent casings are ejected.
Vicious Cycle: No matter who wins each time, Harman and Kun Lan begin the game again in a hundred years. Worse still, their condescending attitude towards Harman Smith and refusal to acknowledge Garcian or the Angel implies that it's not even vicious for them - they just get bored every few hundred years and decide to play with humanity.
Wake-Up Call Boss: Kurahashi and Akiba are quite a bit harder to deal with than Angel.
The Walrus Was Paul: Many believe the entirety of the game's plot to be an extreme example of this.
Wasted Song: "Geopolitics", the theme that plays when the player transitions between locations, is about a minute long, but the player is lucky to hear more than 10 seconds of it (and it's mostly covered up by sound effects.)
Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Smile, Part 1 pulls this at the end. The whole level has various characters building up this chapter as the big climactic finish, and when you finally get to the end of the stage, instead of finding the person you were looking for, you instead find two shadowy figures ( Young Harman and Dmitri Nightmare) who just dismissively tell you he's not here and you should go somewhere else.
"You're awake from your nightmare."
"Harman. The world won't change. All it does is turn. Now, let's dance."