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Reiko Nagase is the race queen featured in the Ridge Racer series, as one of the girls holding cards before the start of each race, and appearing in the FMV cutscenes. An unnamed girl resembling Reiko first appeared in the real-time arcade intro for 1995's Rave Racer, but she was officially reintroduced (and named) a year later in Rage Racer. Whether the Rave Racer girl is supposed to be Reiko is unknown, but Reiko's Ridge Racer 6 outfit bears a resemblance to the Rave Racer one.

During her introduction in Rage Racer, not much was known about her, except that she was a race queen during the events of the game.

In 1998's Ridge Racer Type 4, she was given more prominence, as the opening animation, which used a Kimara Lovelace song, was a short story starring her, and introduced a redesign to her 3D model by Kei Yoshimizu. This is when Namco started giving more exposure to the character, heavily using her image to promote the game.

Her story as depicted in Ridge Racer Type 4's intro begins when she was going out for a walk, from somewhere across the city, all the way to a tunnel, where at the same time, a Real Racing Roots '99 street race was in progress, and upon reaching the tunnel, one of her high-heel shoes broke, forcing her to walk barefoot. Moments later, she heard the sound of tires squealing, and the Racing Team Solvalou driver in the Assoluto Bisonte, who was leading the race, came out of the exact tunnel she was in and saw her asking for a ride, where the driver decided to give her a lift whilst finishing the race ahead of all the others. It can only be assumed that this is when she reignited her passion with cars and racing, and thus, became the official race queen/angel for Real Racing Roots '99.

Also in the same game, she is known to have a cameo appearance as having sent a fax mail to Pac Racing Club, but due to her profession, this was kept as a secret (only gained through coming 1st place overall up to Phantomile).

While still appearing in other games, Namco decided to replace Reiko in 2000's Ridge Racer V with newcomer Ai Fukami. In 2001, Namco created an image girl for their Namco Sports line named Hitomi Yoshino, and while the Ridge Racer series doesn't belong to that line she was featured in a Ridge Racer trailer shown in the 2002 edition of the E3.

The PSP titles saw the return of Reiko Nagase after her absence in Ridge Racer V, now with reworked CGI and new outfit. In the first PSP title, she's not only featured in the game's intro, but also the ending credits.

In Ridge Racer 6, she makes a return with an easter egg in the form of hidden messages, obtainable in certain points of the game.

Afterwards, in Ridge Racer 7, she was given even more backstory. At this point, she now works in the Universal Federation of Ridge Racing Association (abbreviated as UFRA), Ridge State GP's governing body, as its spokesperson.

In subsequent releases, she reprises her role as a race queen, except for Ridge Racer Draw & Drift, where she acts as a race manager.

The Reiko Nagase character's official profile, unveiled by Bandai Namco Entertainment in 1998 alongside R4, tells a lot more about Reiko and what she is like. It is the second photo in the gallery below.

Appearances[]

Gallery[]

Other appearances[]

Reiko's Car

In RRT4, Reiko drives an Age Prophetie

She has been featured in many products licensed by Namco, including the first and sixth wave of Namco Gals gashapon.

Multiple characters named Kei Nagase, who all bear a notable resemblance to Reiko, have appeared in the Ace Combat series, most notably Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War. The Kei Nagase that appeared in Ace Combat 2 was explicitly stated to be Reiko's younger sister.[1]

  • Reiko is a playable character in Anna Kournikova's Smash Court Tennis
  • Reiko is a playable character in Pac-Man Fever. In the intro movie of said game, she is seen driving what appears to be a white Ferrari F50.
  • Reiko drives an Age Prophetie in R4, and a Lucky & Wild Evolver in the opening scene for Ridge Racer 3D, as well as being the final boss in the latter, driving the Lucky & Wild MadBull special machine, where she will be faced off alongside two other racers driving a Kamata Angelus and a Soldat Crinale.
  • It may be possible that she drives the yellow street-legal Assoluto Fatalita that she was sitting on in the intro movie of Ridge Racer (PSP). Another is that she might have been the driver of the Soldat Raggio as well (but the Raggio driving towards her during the ending of the intro movie may suggest otherwise).
  • In Pachislot Ridge Racer, she is seen driving the Soldat Yamasa Raggio in its intro sequences.
  • Various figurines of Reiko were sold during Ridge Racer Type 4's lifetime, both in her iconic Real Racing Roots '99 attire, as well as a rare example inspired by her signature sitting pose with her wearing a black dress whilst barefoot, and holding two red shoes.

Trivia[]

  • She was born in Tokyo on February 14th, 1975, which means that she's 24 by the time Ridge Racer Type 4 took place, or roughly 21 years old in Rage Racer, assuming the time setting is its present time of launch. As of the current day in 2023, she is 48 years old.
  • Her birthday is, ironically, on Valentine's Day.
  • Towards the more recent games, she looks much younger starting from Ridge Racer (PSP). The main reason behind this is unknown (likely out of more advanced computer graphics). Also, she has red nail polish on both fingers and toes starting from that time onward.
  • In Ridge Racer 7, she works as the spokesperson for the UFRA, according to Ridge State News running texts. But because of this, it is currently not known, but highly unlikely that she was involved in the UFRA's illegal activities and business practices. This is evident where in Ridge Racer 3D, she returns as the race queen once again, cleared of any suspicion.
  • Throughout the games, Reiko almost never speaks (unless the voice in Rage Racer's intro movie, as well as the announcer in said game, is implied to be her). This changed by Ridge Racer Draw & Drift where she was given a voice.
  • According to a magazine article for Incite Video Gaming Magazine about Ridge Racer 64 for the Nintendo 64 from February 2000[2], a Japanese male developer couldn't find a woman's face for Reiko so he had a quick shave, conducted a spot of eyebrow plucking and scanned his own head in as Reiko is "part man".
  • One of the characters in Tekken 7, Josie Rizal, somewhat resembles Reiko.
  • According to a news ticker in Ridge Racer 7, Reiko's interests are "reading comments from Ridge Racers all over the world via the World Connector", as well as drinking green tea, which is also implied to be her favorite drink.
  • It is implied that either Assoluto, Soldat or Lucky & Wild could be her favorite car brands.
  • The fact that she is the final boss in Ridge Racer 3D may imply that she herself is also a competing racer, or was once the champion of the Ridge Universe/Ridge State Grand Prix racing series.
  • In the ending movie of Ridge Racer (PSP), she is shown to be a ballerina dancer.
  • According to her official character profile, she is shown to have the following traits:
    • A height of 5'6" and a weight of 106lbs.
    • Blood type of A.
    • Her special abilities include swimming and playing the guitar, while her hobbies are driving cars on her spare time, making souffles and water sports.
    • Her favorite foods include minestrone soup, pears and potato chips.
    • Her favorite games include the arcade version of Pac-Man and Smash Court Tennis. She would make a guest appearance in both series.
    • She also enjoys shopping and taking her dog, Ricky, whose breed is unknown (and never shown in the games), out on a walk on certain occasions.
    • Her dream one day is to be a cosmonaut.
  • Grand Prix mode in Ridge Racer Type 4 is the only time where she is seen in action as the race queen in actual gameplay. She is not to be confused with team-specific grid girls.
  • It is possible that Reiko is inspired by Arial Tetsuo from the Wipeout series.
    • Both characters were considered to be their respective series' mascot, and both originated from racing game franchises.
    • Both characters are of Japanese nationality.
    • Both characters' image were considered as cultural icons, and are prominently seen in their series' related media, especially on the covers of PlayStation-related magazines.
  • Reiko Nagase and Rumble Roses series' protagonist, Reiko Hinomoto share many similarities.
    • Both have similar names (sharing the first name, Reiko)
    • Both have race queen backgrounds.
    • Both have similar visual designs.
    • Both have a sister, albeit Reiko Hinomoto being the younger sister, while Reiko Nagase is the elder sister of her own.

References[]

  1. Computer and Video Games - Issue 189. August 1997. Retrieved from Archive.org on 3 October 2017.
  2. That's Not a Woman... That's a Man, Baby!
Ridge Racer series
Arcade games Ridge Racer · 2 · Rave Racer · Pocket Racer · V: Arcade Battle
Console and handheld games Ridge Racer · Revolution · Rage Racer · Type 4 · 64 (DS) · V · Ridge Racer (PSP) (2) · 6 · 7 · 3D · Unbounded (Driftopia) · Ridge Racer (PlayStation Vita)
Mobile games Ridge Racer · Drift · Accelerated · Slipstream · Draw & Drift
Related games SimDrive · Ace Driver (Victory Lap · 3: Final Turn) · Dirt Dash · R: Racing Evolution · Critical Velocity · Pachi-Slot
Universe and people Ridge City · Ridge State · Shatter Bay · Real Racing Roots · UFRA · Reiko Nagase · Enki Gilbert · Shinji Yazaki · Sophie Cavalier · Robert Chrisman · Ai Fukami · Rena Hayami · Gina Cavalli · Stephan Garnier · Kara Shindo
Game mechanics Drifting · Grand Prix · Slipstream · Nitrous · Car Classes · Customization · Special Machine · Rocket Start
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