Japan has influenced the creation of many forms of literature, with one of the most distinctive being cyberpunk. Tropes of this sci-fi subgenre include advanced, dystopian cities, corrupt mega corporations, oppressed outsiders fighting to bring down the machine and Japanese aesthetics front and centre.
This kind of techno-japonisme is a major influence in Cyberpunk 2077, painting Japanese culture with a sense of otherness that makes it both frightening and exotic. Let’s dive deeper to understand how Japanese culture has shaped the world of Cyberpunk 2077.
In popular culture, samurai are often portrayed with a mixture of romanticism and chivalric honour. They are presented with a strict code of honour that’s thought of as heroic, but in reality, the life of a samurai was far more complex. The absolute devotion they had to their code could make them ruthless and cruel to the people they considered to be beneath them.
In many ways, a samurai was a walking contradiction. A warrior who was expected to draw their sword at a moment’s notice, but was also meant to compose haikus, arrange flowers and be the living embodiment of Japanese virtues. This complexity is on full display in Ghost of Tsushima, a game I’ve been waiting to play for a long time and that allowed my inner history geek to run free.
Throughout Japan’s history, there has been many women who have gone against tradition. Some of the most famous names include the likes of Nakano Takeko, Empress Jingu and Tomoe Gozen. These warriors have laid the groundwork for modern Japanese women to leave their mark on the world.
Ninjas are synonymous with Japan and they are traditionally depicted as stealthy warriors who can defeat their foes in a matter of seconds. This same level of mystique is attached to ninja weaponry such as shurikens and mariki-gusari. Another ninja weapon, the kunai, has developed a reputation in pop culture, due to it being wielded by the likes of Scorpion in Mortal Kombat.
For centuries, Japan has been associated with a warrior culture, due to the influence of the samurai and their code of bushido. Japanese weaponry is known all over the world, and weapons like the katana and shuriken have been immortalised in popular culture.
The Otaku Armoury is a segment that puts the spotlight on pop culture weapons inspired by Japanese culture. For the first edition of the Otaku Armoury, I’m investigating Vergil’s Yamato from the Devil May Cry franchise. Sleek, deadly and elegant, Vergil’s signature blade is one of the most powerful weapons in the gaming universe. Continue reading “The Otaku Armoury: Yamato”→