3 timeless lessons from Pokémon on designing enduring worlds

650 million downloads & $1 billion in revenue later the monster success of Niantic’s Pokémon Go is undeniable. The Pokémon franchises 1996 Gameboy origins is well known gaming lore, but did you know the pocket monsters we’ve been chasing worldwide have 2,000 years of history behind them?


1) Tap into your culture’s creative lineage which has persisted to the modern day

The idea of exploring mountains and seas to catch and battling elemental monsters didn’t spring from Pokémon alone. It has centuries of history in the mythology of Pokémon’s homeland of Japan.

Master onmyouji Abe no Seimei with his shikigami monsters
The five elements

The Yin Yang and elemental weakness/resistance theory that formed the basis of Onmyudo was transmitted to Japan via trade with the Chinese Tang dynasty in the 6th century.

The Tang dynasty in turn were influenced by the mythology of the older 1st century BCE Han dynasty, who wrote imagination provoking bestiaries like the Classics of Mountains and Seas detailing exotic lands and fantastic monsters found within them.

Nine-tailed foxes are among the monsters detailed in the Classic of Mountains and Seas…

In turn Han dynasty sources claim this knowledge came from legendary 30th century BCE emperor Yu the Great who commanded mystic dragons to master the elements. This ancient Chinese mythology blended with native Japanese animism, through the centuries producing many colorful tales of humans commanding monsters in strategic duels taking into account the strategic weakness and resistances of their monsters.

18th century woodblock print showing magicians of Japanese mythology competing with their monsters


2) Draw from that which has been tried & proven by peers

As technology advanced the Ancient East Asian storytelling tradition of monster catching and battling endured into the 20th century and adapted with the technology of the times. In the 60’s the hit scifi TV show Ultraman captured the imagination of Japan with larger than life heroes battling giant monsters, some monsters were even stored in capsules and fought alongside the hero. Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri has talked about the influence of Ultraman on his hit game franchise.

Early concept art by Ken Sugimori, “Capsule Monsters”

By the 1980’s the ultra-modern nation of Japan saw a renewed interest in ancient fantasy, popular new fiction like Teito Monogatari prominently featured the monster commanding onmyouji of old transplanted to the world of 20th century Japan.

Some readers may know Teito Monogatari through its movie adaption Doomed Megalopolis

The occult boom of the 80’s also coincided with the widespread adaption of home computers and video game consoles, leading to new video games like Megami Tensei based on popular novels where ancient mythological monsters appear in the present day but could be controlled by computer programs much like how ancient onmyouji controlled them with seals brushed onto paper.

Awesome Shin Megami Tensei cover art by Kazuma Kaneko
Like Pokémon the journey begins with a professor, and then you upload monsters into computers

Megami Tensei game mechanics greatly influenced the turn based elemental monster catching, battling, and evolving gameplay of Pokémon . While the single player Megami Tensei series had a hardcore cult following on home consoles, Pokémon added a social element of face to face interaction on the widely popular Gameboy portable.



3) Distill the best from your own personal experiences

Pokémon creator Satoshi Tajiri spent his childhood in the suburbs of Tokyo exploring tall grass, streams and trees for beetles to battle with, tadpoles and other pocket sized critters to collect, earning him the title of ‘Dr. Bug’ from his schoolmates. His interest in the emergent media of video games also lead him to start the fanzine Game Freak, which in time became the game company that would develop Pokémon.

Beetle Sumo is still popular across Japan and Southeast Asia

As Tajiri grew older those bits of wildlife in the city steadily disappeared under the concrete of urbanization. Where once was grass was now pavement, the pond now a mall, a generation of children were growing up without the same neighborhood access to nature as Tajiri did. But this new generation also had something he didn’t at their age, games on portable electronics that let players play on the go.

With the help of modern technology Satoshi Tajiri digitized his childhood experience of exploration and creature catching to a new generation growing up in the big city.


Cultural lineage, proven methods of peers, and personal experience all came together in the 1996 release of the first Pokémon games, resulting in 30+ million sales worldwide. Sequels came out on Nintendo portables and regularly sold 10+ million copies but never quite reached the numbers of the original.

Into the 21st century Pokémon has been adapted by Niantic to reach the widest global audience, mobile. Like how the original Gameboy Pokémon drew from contemporary titles, Pokémon Go’s mechanics are based on Niantic’s previous geocaching mobile game Ingress. But the element of Pokémon monsters rooted the AR mobile game in a concept of exploring a world full of monsters that has entertained humans for millennia. As ancient civilizations told stories of fantastic monsters on far away mountains and seas, we can now find them by walking down the street.


Why The Relationships In Dragon Ball Make A lot of Sense!

Happy Valentines day! Today we’re going to talk about one of my favourite mature love stories … Dragon Ball! No I’m not kidding! As an adult, I now see that all the relationships in Dragon Ball make a ton of sense!

Goku and ChiChi


Goku is a really good guy. Very strong, talented, but also not super bright or educated. He knocks up his first girlfriend and they have a kid when they’re both teenagers. Fortunately she also has a good heart and they stick together. I used to wonder why Goku would put up with all of Chi Chi’s nagging, but now I see it’s necessary. Goku is the strongest man in the world, but he’s also incredibly irresponsible and doesn’t know how to make a living (we all know really super talented people like this). To be quite frank, he’s something of a terrible father. Chi Chi realises that their son Gohan needs an education in order to have a life that doesn’t involve killing dinosaurs for sustenance. However, Chi Chi and Goku do have a special understanding of one another as they are childhood sweethearts who grew up stomping around in the wilderness. They understand one another.

Bulma and Vegeta


Bulma is the smartest woman on earth. Her first boyfriend is Yamcha, a handsome rogue. They end up together after an amazing, life changing journey across the globe. But the adventure ended the magic wore off (how many of you have been through this, raise your hand). So moving on with her life, who is worthy to be the husband of the most intelligent, capable, wealthiest woman in the world? Prince Vegeta of the Planet Vegeta (the Saiyan home world is named after his family!). He no longer has his wealth, but why does Bulma need that? Vegeta’s got a temper, but he’s reliable and smart and ultimately very reasonable. Also he comes from high class and he’s the second strongest man in the universe. It doesn’t matter that he’s not the first, because Goku’s basically her kid brother. For Vegeta, he’s basically marrying the princess of Earth and also the only person in the universe who can build him a gravity chamber. What holds these two together isn’t passionate romance, but the way their lives compliment one another in the long term.

Ever notice that Yamcha never talks to Vegeta after he marries Bulma?

Android 18 and Krillin


Android 18 and Krillin. That was a surprise, but was it really? Android 18 is a calm, self assured, borderline sociopath. She’s the strongest woman in the universe (she kicked the sh*t out of EVERYONE for a while). She doesn’t need a strong man, she wants someone likeable and reliable who will never challenge her, only support her. Krillin catches her attention because he’s actually SCARED when he’s out there fighting the Androids. While everyone else is excited to fight strong opponents, he’s terrified, but he still shows up. In some ways he’s the bravest character in the series. He gets his one chance to deactivate her, but he doesn’t. That’s probably the first time in her life that someone gave her the benefit of the doubt. She loves him because he’s a good guy (that she can totally own). And he is ok with that because she’s smokin’ hot and can beat up the guy who almost killed him (Vegeta).


She is his dream girl and he is a rock that she can utterly rely on (in fact he’s probably by all accounts the best father in the whole series).

Gohan and Videl


Their relationship starts off because Gohan is a dork (a strong and handsome dork), and Videl forced herself on him (since no one else on earth in her age range is more worthy). Gohan is used to obeying strong women in his life. Although Videl’s father, Mr Satan stole credit for saving the earth from Goku, Chi Chi is willing to overlook this because Videl’s family has wealth and status. For Videl, Gohan’s family provides authenticity that is lacking in her life. Videl and Gohan are both martial artists with a strong sense of pride in where they come from. Gohan’s humble nature compliments Videl’s overflowing confidence. They balance each other out.

As a kid I didn’t think these relationships made sense, because they didn’t fit the typical romantic mould you see in most stories. Now I see they’re actually very true to life. The best relationships are partnerships where both people come out stronger. The best things in life get even better as you look deeper into them. They age with you. Dragon Ball is one of my favorite things. I look forward to revisiting Dragon Ball in the future as I go through more milestones in life!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook and stick around for our other posts!




The Real Life Inspirations behind Indivisible

Welcome to Art-Eater! I’m Richmond Chaisiri. You may remember me from such articles as “Darkstalkers and the 12 Principles of Animation” or “A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath.” Today I’m here to tell you about the real world influences behind the colorful cast of Indivisible, an upcoming RPG from Lab Zero, creators of Skullgirls.

(This is a Simpson's bit. Do kids still know bout Troy Mcclure?)
(This is a Simpson’s bit. Do kids still know bout Troy Mcclure?)

You can download a very impressive demo of the game here: http://indivisiblegame.com/

And if you like what you see, you can fund the game here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/indivisible-rpg-from-the-creators-of-skullgirls#/

Now let’s get to analyzing!



The main character of indivisible is Ajna, a young martial artist who draws on South East Asian cultures for inspiration. In Hindu and Buddhist traditions, “Ajna” is the name of the 6th primary chakra. Chakra are 7 points running down the center of the body that regulate spiritual energy.


The Ajna chakra is located between the eyebrows and represents wisdom and intuition. It is believed that spiritual energy enters the body through the Ajna. It is often referred to as the “third eye” and often depicted as such in art.

The Ajna chakra appears frequently in Buddhist and Hindu imagery

Many Buddhists and Hindus wear a bindi, a bright red spot of color applied at the center of the forehead to represent the Ajna chakra. Continue reading “The Real Life Inspirations behind Indivisible”


Words That Kill: Metal Gear and the Genocide of Native Americans

The following is an analysis of the latest and final Metal Gear Solid V trailer, cut by Hideo Kojima himself. As with the previous E3 trailers, this one beautifully sets up the themes of the game set to awesome music. This analysis will focus primarily on the theme of language as a tool of subjugation and how that relates to the Native American experience.

The characters in the trailer make many bold statements about how language is core to human identity and also the most powerful tool there is for control over society. I’d first like to focus on the passage spoken by Code Talker.


“Since ancient times, every civilization’s ruler has had the same idea: When people unite under one will, they become stronger than the sum of their parts. And what do rulers use to bring people together? Language.”


Code Talker is described as “a wise man denied his homeland.” It’s very important to note that he is Native American. His name is a reference to real life “code talkers,” who used Native American languages to transmit secret coded messages during World War 2.

Real American heroes. Navajo code talkers during WW2.
Navajo code talkers during WW2.

Code talker is played by Jay Tavare, an actor who has previously won “Best Actor” at the American Indian Film Festival. He is also a notable blogger and supporter of Native American non-profit groups.

Also he totally played Vega in the classic 1994 film Street Fighter: The Movie
Also he totally played Vega in the classic 1994 film Street Fighter: The Movie

So why is it so important that Code Talker is the one delivering this message to Big Boss? Because every statement about language in this trailer has directly played out in the real life history of the various Native American peoples. Continue reading “Words That Kill: Metal Gear and the Genocide of Native Americans”


[spoilers] We Are Not Things: The Themes and Imagery of Mad Max: Fury Road [spoilers]

Warning: This post contains many plot spoilers for the film Mad Max: Fury Road. Please don’t read any further if you don’t wish to learn of major plot points and themes in this wonderful film.

We (Richmond & Andy) were lucky enough to catch Mad Max: Fury Road in Thailand a few days before most of the English speaking world. Here’s a quick brain dump on the themes and imagery in this fantastic film.

Also, here's some awesome art from Weigy
Also, here’s some awesome art from Weigy. Check out more of his work at:

Mad Max: Fury Road is a story about human beings fighting against objectification in the most literal interpretation of the word. The desolate earth of the post apocalypse is a cruel place where simply surviving is a constant struggle. In this harsh environment people have  been reduced to objects valued only for their utility.

The film opens with Max being caught by Joe’s henchmen as he is very literally driven to madness by hallucinations of past failure. Max is stripped down, shaved, and his back is tatooed with his nutritional information. We hear from the excited chatter of one of the captors that Max is a universal blood doner, which is important to the plot and also has great symbolic value (more on this later). He is very literally reduced to a commodity to be consumed.


We are introduced to Immortan Joe looking down on high from his mountain citadel upon hordes of disheveled worshippers. The peaks of the citadel are covered in lush greenery seen nowhere else in the wasteland, the only way to reach there is by a gigantic lift powered by children turning cogs. Within the citadel are stables full of women milked like cows to provide nutrition for a chosen few. Immortan Joe himself is part machine, kept alive by a breathing aparatus. In this world, the common person has been reduced to a literal cog in a machine while Joe sits on top and is very literally kept alive by this machine.

Just like Lord Humongous, Immortan Joe is also associated with military imagery

Continue reading “[spoilers] We Are Not Things: The Themes and Imagery of Mad Max: Fury Road [spoilers]”


The Women That Make Japan’s Games Industry Great



In celebration of international women’s day, let’s look at some of the awesome women that defined the video games industry:

Kinu Nishimura: Artist behind many of Capcom’s flagship titles

If you recognize these characters you’ve played a game Kinu worked on











Kinu Nishimura has been with Capcom since 1991 with Street Fighter II and has worked on countless titles since, rising up to become the most senior artist in the whole company.















Designs for Street Fighter III: New Generation

I’ve also heard stories from Capcom staff on how Kinu was the most intimidating person in the studio, relentless in making sure the high standards of Capcom artwork were maintained by everyone, and an immense amount of respect was given to her in turn.

Many of the games that had a profound impact on who I am today and my career path in video games is directly related to Kinu Nishimura’s masterful designs.







Some of the girls of Capcom games, illustrated by Kinu Nishimura

Keiko Erikawa, co-founder of industry giant Koei and #34 wealthiest person in Japan










She must be from the same generation as my aunt ’cause they have the same fashion sense

Keiko Erikawa started off in the fashion industry but then co-founded the prolific Koei company with her husband Kou Shibusawa.

Keiko Erikawa is credited for getting some atypical games made, like the stylishly odd rhythm action game Gitaroo-Man, hotel cooking game Shaberu! DS Oryouri Navi Marugoto Teikoku Hotel, and deciding that Koei should pick up the Gundam license because in her words: “I want to use a Gundam in a Koei game!”

But one of her most notable accomplishments would be…













A very very very very very obscure to get title for English speakers, even the console it was on wasn’t released in the US!

Though video games is usually seen as a male dominated hobby, Koei’s female co-founder  believed there was no reason women couldn’t be part of the core audience so she assembled an all-woman team to created what would be the first ‘otome game’ (lit. ‘girl’s game’, a genre of Japanese games which seek out women as their prime audience).

Koei at the time was most famous for hardcore strategy/kingdom building games like Nobunaga’s Ambition and Romance of the Three Kingdoms that starred macho mustached men of military history. With those roots Koei created Angelique (1993), where the protagonist is a young woman given the responsibility to rule over her own kingdom, if her kingdom thrives then she will inherit control over the world. Will she do so as a benevolent queen or martial despot? Such choices are up to the player to decide.

Many of the women I’ve worked alongside in the games industry have told me that their interest in games started with the otome genre that Angelique created,  That is the difference that a single person in power like Keiko Erikawa can make on a whole industry.

Many industry marketing specialists today would say strategy/conquest games are a ‘man’s genre’ that would scare away women with ‘hardcore’ mechanics, but Keiko Erikawa proved that wrong over two decades ago! Continue reading “The Women That Make Japan’s Games Industry Great”


Naruto and The Red Thread of Fate



I recently saw The Last: Naruto the Movie in theaters. Thought I’d share some quick thoughts.

Warning: minor spoilers ahead!


Still with me? Good!

One of my favorite things about Japanese animation and comics is that on top of plot and characters, the stories tend to be very theme driven. And those themes are often reinforced with consistent symbolic imagery. One of the central images in The Last: Naruto The Movie is the “red thread of fate.” Longtime readers of Art-Eater (is there such a thing? :O) will already be familiar with this classical allusion when we first wrote about it as a central motif in Kill La Kill.

Read about it here!
Read about it here!

Continue reading “Naruto and The Red Thread of Fate”


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Song

The latest trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain uses the song “Nuclear” by Mike Oldfield to GREAT effect!


Just wanted to post some quick thoughts on the music choice behind the rad new trailer for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain that was just unveiled at E3 2014.

Here’s the trailer:

The song used for the trailer is “Nuclear” by longtime British prog rocker Mike Oldfield.

Mike Oldfield_ by Ian Witlen -1828-2b_pp.jpg

Oldfield is best known for his 1973 album Tubular Bells which was used as the theme of the classic horror film The Exorcist. This album also inspired a JoJo Stand.

tubular bells jojo's bizarre adventure mike oldfield metal gear solid v phantom pain
Tubular Bells is one of the WEIRDEST stands to ever grace JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (which is truly a feat if you’re familiar with the series)

“Nuclear” is a track from Oldfield’s 25th studio album Man on the Rocks which was released on March 3 2014, only a few months before the Metal Gear E3 2014 trailer. The song fits the trailer in an amazingly layered fashion. Aside from setting the perfect tone, the song’s lyrics very literally describe what’s happening on screen while also emphasizing the themes of MGS V: The Phantom Pain.

“Nuclear” is very clearly a song about war, which has always been one of the main themes of the Metal Gear series. The first stanza goes:

“Standing on the edge of the crater
Like the prophets once said
and the ashes are all cold now
No more bullets and the embers are dead
Whispers in the air tell the tales
Of the brothers gone
Desolation, devastation
What a mess we made, when it all went wrong”


This perfectly describes Big Boss following the destruction of Mother Base in Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. His life’s work has been destroyed. His comrades have been slain. Where he once fought for his ideals and the dream of a world where soldiers could determine their own fates, in The Phantom Pain he fights for revenge. The line “the ashes are cold now” has particular significance as it’s revealed that instead of giving his slain comrades a burial at sea (a time honored military tradition), Big Boss has their ashes compressed into diamond knives which are used in cold and violent fashion to avenge their deaths. Continue reading “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Song”


Happy 15th Birthday to Street Fighter III: Third Strike

May 12, 1999, 15 years ago to this day, the best game I’ve ever played was released into the world. That game is Street Fighter III: Third Strike, easily my favorite game of all time. I’ve spent countless hours on Third Strike over the last 2 decades and I’m still just scratching the surface of its depth. But beyond the entertainment value, this game has enriched my life in 2 immeasurable ways: it inspired me as an artist and it helped me make some of the best friends I’ve had in life.

The character art by Daigo Ikeno is masterful. The poses, the angles, the confident rendering, the way he simplifies forms, it’s all so ON POINT. So stylized and fun, and yet so subtle and subdued. And the sprite animation is just peerless.


I could go on forever about Third Strike, but my words don’t really do it justice. So please enjoy this high resolution character art from Daigo Ikeno. If you have a copy of Third Strike, you should give it a spin. And if you’ve never tried it, well there’s no better time than now to start.

Here’s to you Third Strike.


Kill la Kill: The Sin of Clothing


“What is clothing?”


“Indeed… clothing is sin. When man ate the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge he became ashamed of his nakedness and covered his nethers. From the time humanity first gained free will as human beings it has been his fate to cover his body in the clothing called sin. Because we alone know man’s sin and create clothing for clothing’s sake!”

As Kill la Kill advances the plot at break-neck speed, the lore of its world comes out at an equally break-neck pace! While the early episodes delve into historic imagery of clothes (such as fascism), later episodes delve into the religious side of things:


Original Sin


Kill la Kill gives us the world-shattering revelation that it was not humanity which created clothes, it was clothing that chose the ancestor of humanity and spurred their evolution into a being that relies on clothing! This point is driven home with well known biblical imagery (Trigger is ex-Gainax after all!) but is there more to it?


There’s a sect of Christianity called Christian naturalism that believes man’s natural state is to be naked and wearing clothes is the result of sin. To them, Adam & Eve were created pure in their nakedness until the serpent caused them to sin, so they covered themselves in leaves to hide their shame from God. God gave Adam & Eve animal skins, not for them to hide, but to show them that sin requires a blood sacrifice. Christian naturalists cite this event as the first time that bloodshed is known (an animal has to die for one to wear its skin) and all subsequent blood sacrifices, from common lambs to the Lamb of God (aka Jesus) is the price paid for this original sin. Continue reading “Kill la Kill: The Sin of Clothing”


Happy Birthday Bruce Lee





Lightning fast strikes, flying kicks, incomparable lattisimi dorsi muscles, and the piercing warcry of “WATAAAAAH!”, few men have made as huge an impact on the very fabric of modern badassery as Bruce Lee.

Here is but a few of the many video game and manga characters we have thanks to The Dragon. What characters are your favorite Bruce Lee tributes? Tell us in the comment’s section!


Continue reading “Happy Birthday Bruce Lee”


Kill la Kill: The Fashion of Fascism





That was reaction to the first minute of watching Kill la Kill, the first fight of Kill la Kill, and the marathoning of every episode up to the latest (which you can watch online for free and legally here: http://www.killlakill.com/streaming/). Now I’m here to share with you my happy joyful feelings on this amazing show created by Studio Trigger (formed from ex-Gainax staff).



Dressed to Kill


When a show begins with a history lesson on fascism you wonder if it’s suppose to mean something. Luckily for us, the director of Kill la Kill, Hiroyuki Imaishi (of FLCL and Gurren Lagann fame) explains it outright: “When Japanese pronounce the English words ‘fashion’ and ‘fascism’, it sounds nearly the same.” and from there many more puns sprung forth and formed the key words to Kill la Kill’s plot.

English Japanese Pronounced
Fashion ファッション Fashhon
Fascism ファッショ Fassho
Kill/Cut キル Kiru
To wear (clothes) 着る Kiru
Sailor Uniform 制服 Seifuku
Conquest 征服 Seifuku

This is a story of fashion, fascism, and conquest through the power of blood soaked school uniforms.

Continue reading “Kill la Kill: The Fashion of Fascism”


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Analysis

E3 has revealed to the world yet another stunning Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain trailer:

What speculation can we brew from this footage?

Eli- A youth who curses his fate

But the Lord spoke of Samuel’s sons: “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
(1 Samuel 16:7)

Continue reading “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Analysis”


From Mickey Mouse to Jesus, This Dragon’s Crown Trailer is Full of Epic Homages

Watching the latest Dragon’s Crown trailer I was delighted by the density of historical and pop cultural references they managed to sprinkle into every shot. Dragon’s Crown is the latest game from Vanillaware, best known for Odin Sphere and Oboro Muramasa. Vanillaware is staffed by many ex-Capcom employees who worked on some of the best arcade games from back in the day, including Capcom’s Dungeons and Dragons: Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara (my favorite beat-em-up next to Capcom’s Aliens vs Predator). Dragon’s Crown is very much a spiritual successor to these games, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the vast array of influences at work in this title. Here’s the trailer.

Now let’s go through shot by shot …

Walt Disney Presents … The trailer opens up with a glowing fairy flying by the Atlus logo. This is an homage to the iconic Disney introduction where Tinkerbell flies by and sprinkles pixie dust on the Disney logo. This is the first of many Disney tributes to follow.

Atlus Logo vs Walt Disney Presents I believe this animation was originally made for Disney’s first regular TV series, Disneyland which premiered in 1954 (predating the unveiling of the theme park of the same name which opened in 1955). Continue reading “From Mickey Mouse to Jesus, This Dragon’s Crown Trailer is Full of Epic Homages”


The World We Must Defend: War, Peace and Pokemon



by Andy Lee

So the trailer the next generation of Pokemon is out!

I still remember the joy of getting Pokemon Blue on my birthday… and then I realize that was nearly 16 years ago. Pokemon has persisted … Read the rest



by Andy Lee

So the trailer the next generation of Pokemon is out!

I still remember the joy of getting Pokemon Blue on my birthday… and then I realize that was nearly 16 years ago. Pokemon has persisted since then, each generation bringing another 100 critters to collect (and more multimedia tie-ins), adding new gameplay elements, and also building upon its incredible lore. So let’s talk about that lore.

Every Pokemon generation has carried a core theme that shapes the story, setting, and legendary Pokemon to catch. But it’s the antagonists of each generation that really define what the game is about, and their theme builds upon the generation before them.

art-eater, ken sugimori, pokemon, team rocket drawing concept art illustration


Pokemon Red/Blue and Gold/Silver is about coming into conflict to attain powerful WEAPONS. The pokedex is full of colorful quips about the violent power of Pokemon able to melt steel with their breath or reduce buildings to rubble with a swing of their tail. From the Koga ninjas to Lt. Surge, we’re shown that Pokemon have fought alongside humans in conflicts ancient and recent, though there is peace in the present day. The image of Pokemon is softened through a trainer program where young kids are given Pokemon to treat as their friends and companions.

Enter Team Rocket, an underground organization that holds on to the archaic view that Pokemon are weapons to be wielded, and use them against their fellow man. When scientists obtain the genes of the phantom Pokemon Mew, they use its immense genetic potential to craft the ultimate weapon, Mewtwo. But its immense power proves uncontrollable, and the scientists are destroyed by their own creation. Continue reading “The World We Must Defend: War, Peace and Pokemon”


Wolf Smoke Studio: The Dynamic Duo Behind Batman of Shanghai

art-eater, wolf, smoke, wolfsmoke, studio, studios, batman, bat, man, of, Shanghai, Cat Woman, bane, Chinese Animation

The following is an interview with Wolf Smoke Studio, one of the most exciting young animation studios in the world today.  Wolf Smoke Studio animated the highly acclaimed Batman of Shanghai shorts for Cartoon Network’s DC Nation block: Continue reading “Wolf Smoke Studio: The Dynamic Duo Behind Batman of Shanghai”


A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 3 – The Mighty Vajra



By Richmond Lee
With additional help from Andy Lee (thanks bro!)

Previous Entries:
A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 1 – Buddhist Cyborgs and the story of the Asura
A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 2 – The Bishop’s Staff and Hungry Ghosts

Vajra (金剛)
In the earliest concept art released for the game, Asura is depicted standing ragged with his body pierced by various weapons adorned with Vajras.

asura's wrath, ashura, art-eater, concept art, vajras, vajra, buddhist, buddhism, weapons

The Vajra is an iconic symbol of Buddism, but not as well known in the West.

asura's wrath, ashura, art-eater, concept art, vajras, vajra, buddhist, buddhism, weapons

In Sanskrit it means both thunderbolt and diamond and bears their symbolic properties as an unbreakable weapon that slices through any substance with irresistible force.

Continue reading “A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 3 – The Mighty Vajra”


A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 2 – Weapons – The Bishop’s Staff and Hungry Ghosts



By Richmond Lee
With additional help from Andy Lee

All Entries:
A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 1 – Buddhist Cyborgs and the story of the Asura
A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 2 – The Bishop’s Staff and Hungry Ghosts
A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 3 – The Mighty Vajra!
Welcome to the second installment of A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath.  First off, I want to thank everyone who read and shared Part 1.  Because of your positive feedback and support, the article got the attention of Capcom and Cyberconnect 2 who reposted it on their website and Facebook page respectively.  It feels pretty great to get such positive reception from the creators of the game!


The article then went on to be featured on Kotaku.

This has been very life affirming for me, so thanks for reading! Now on with the tour! Lets talk about Weapons!

Buddhist Weapons
The characters in Asura’s Wrath wage war using a mix of ancient and modern weapons. You could say the characters are quite … well armed (haha that was terrible!). Many of the weapons depicted in the game have special significance in Buddhism.

Shakujo (錫杖) – The Bishop’s Staff
The debut video for Asura’s Wrath opens with Asura being struck by a rain of spears:

The shape at the head of these projectiles indicates that they’re shakujos.

shakujo, khakkhara, monk's stick, staff, asura's wrath, pretas, weapons, buddhism, buddhist

Shakujos, also known as bishop’s staffs, monk sticks, xīzhàng (Mandarin) and khakkharas (Sanskrit) were originally walking sticks used by travelling monks originating in India.  The sticks were sometimes adorned with jangling rings that were used in prayer and telegraphed the approach of a holy man.  The sound of the rings could also be used to ward of dangerous animals and the stick could be used in self defense.  Over time the shakujo was incorporated into various religious rituals with the number of rings corresponding to the rank of the wielder.

In the hands of Shaolin monks, the Shakujo was developed into a ritual weapon.

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In China, the Shakujo has long been romanticized as the weapon of choice of warrior monks through hundreds of years of Wuxia novels and more recently movies, tv shows, comics and games. This practice lives on in Japan (Zen Buddhism is the Japanese form of Chan Buddhism, the sect of Buddhism practiced in Shaolin) where people still train in fighting with Shakujos to this day.

shakujo, khakkhara, monk's stick, staff, asura's wrath, zen buddhists, training, japan, japanese, weapons, buddhism, buddhist Continue reading “A Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath Part 2 – Weapons – The Bishop’s Staff and Hungry Ghosts”