, whose real name is Jack, is a character in the Metal Gear series. Raiden means "lightning god" as it comes from the word raijin in Japanese. Rai means thunder and Shin means God. He is the protagonist of the Plant Chapter, the main act of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (MGS2), and a supporting character in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (MGS4). His role as the protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2 was a controversial twist, both for the unexpected substitution of the established hero, Solid Snake, and for his androgynous appearance, the latter so much that the ridiculing of his effeminate appearance became a running gag in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (MGS3) and several early Metal Gear Solid 4 promotional videos featured on Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence. Compared to his reception in the West, he became a popular character on Eastern shores. He is to appear as the main playable character in the next Metal Gear game Metal Gear Solid: Rising.
According to the series creator, Hideo Kojima, the decision to make a new character the main protagonist of Metal Gear Solid 2 instead of Snake stemmed from the developer's desire to develop Snake from a third-person perspective, as well as to avoid treating Snake like a rookie again. Kojima has also stated that Raiden's character and its perception by the audience were important for the overall feel of the story (i.e. they contribute to a sense of lack of control, being subjected to major manipulation by unknown, deceptive and/or mysterious persons, and a general lack of knowledge about the conditions and motives of several characters as well as the twists and turns of the plot). Raiden in Metal Gear Solid 2 is considered to be a representation of the player, through the shared experiences between the player and the character during the course of the game.
Designer Yoji Shinkawa noted in the Making of Metal Gear Solid 2 featurette that he and the other character designers took a great deal of inspiration for Raiden's appearance from the bishonen (or "pretty boy") archetype. Kojima had received many pieces of fan mail and one letter stuck out at him from a female which stated she did not want to play a story with an old man. He later took this into consideration, along with his team to design a character that would be more appealing to women. The end result was Raiden (ironically, the concept of an old man being used as the lead character is revisited in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots).
Raiden's real name, Jack, was taken from the American codename for the Mitsubishi J2M "Raiden" fighter plane of WWII. His role and status were also likened by the designers to those of the jack in a deck of playing cards, with Fortune representing the Queen, Solidus Snake the King, SEAL Team 10 the expendable "spot" cards and Solid Snake as the Ace.
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Official Site: Konami
Links: Wikipedia: Raiden Metal Gear Solid: Raiden Metal Gear Solid 2: Main Page