Japanese culture has been popular in the west for years, with anime being woven into the fabric of pop culture. Westerners also visit Japan to learn about the country’s history and the samurai are an important part of it.
The traditional view of samurai are noble, honourable warriors who dedicated their lives to a singular cause. It’s no surprise that samurai have been featured in comics.
But how are they portrayed? Do mainstream comics like Marvel and DC remain faithful to what samurai stood for? Let’s take a closer look.
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.