You know, when I wrote my entry on Pokemon I didn’t expect anything I’d asked for to come true. That all changed only a day before my trip to Anime North (about as referential as you’ll get to my real life). As I was walking through my local Wal-Mart I was grabbing last minute supplies for the weekend when I saw a Nintendo Power issue on a game called Pokemon Conquest with the cover image depicting a Mewtwo standing beside a man in samurai garb.
Apparently this is a Pokemon game on the DS set in a section of the Pokemon world that is a parallel to Japan during the Warring States period. It’s a tactics game by nature and while you can’t recruit the entire lineup of pokemon there’s about three hundred plus some odd pokemon that you can. Lugia was left out so that makes me a bit sad.
The thing is, much like Radiant Historia and Aliens Infestation, Pokemon Conquest has received so little press online that me actually talking about it is helping. I don’t know what’s going on with standard DS titles for Nintendo but when three perfectly good titles can get passed over by the majority of DS players, hurting for a deep game or at least one without a purely E for everyone rating, then there’s a problem with Nintendo of America’s advertising.
Then again, considering what it took to get Xenoblade and The Last Story over to this country, it’s quite clear where Nintendo’s priorities are.
Now I’m not a big fan of tactics gameplay. Lord knows I’ve tried to get into tactics games, specifically Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced. I actually got up to two summons in that game. But right after that, gameplay hit a spike and I never mastered placing locations so learning I might have made a lot of bad placements left me dissatisfied.
But if there’s one thing that attracts me like a fly to honey (aside from Transformers, Doctor Who, Kamen Rider and breasts) it’s stories that deal with the Warring States Period.
Hell even stories that are inspired by the Warring States Period of Japan get me interested. Rokugan was my first exposure to the concept and I’ve been hooked since.
So what’s the Warring States Period of Japan?
Known also as the Sengoku Period, this period of Japan’s history lasted from the middle of the 15th century to 17th century. I won’t go into the extensive details about it but basically central political control of Japan had collapsed leaving the local lords or damiyos of their respective areas in sole control without any authority to dictate their actions.
So, what happens when you have a bunch of damiyos with armies and nobody to tell them what to do?
Damn straight they started fighting.
The Warring States Period is special among historical wars because unlike most wars with only two sides, or at least two clear central alliances of power there were upwards of fifteen dominant armies and everyone wanted to take over. Every side had its heroes, its core philosophies and ideals and while Oda Nobunaga is oft looked upon as the villain in dramatic retellings it’s a lot more debatable historically how evil he really was.
Why do I love this idea? Look at it! Imagine, entire armies, each unique to themselves, built to fight a different way with different styles, fashion everything! Nobody’s right and nobody’s wrong either. It’s the Trojan War times seven! All on a strip of land with such varying climates that you could be fighting in the tropics one day and in the cold winter mountains a week later! On top of that you have alliances of marriage, assassinations, stories of simple peasants rising as high as damiyo, love, honor, glory, all that great crap!
That and I like the idea of a war between unique equals. At most I see stories featuring five different armies and those you usually have armies that get wiped out early so the readers can focus on two or three. Here, screw that! Twenty small armies get wiped out early on and get eaten by one of the seven or eight bigger clans. Every province has a lord and every lord has an army and there are a lot of provinces in the land of Japan!
The problem with stories about this historical period, especially when adapted into anime and manga, they don’t seem to know which parts of the history to enhance or alter slightly. Take a show called Sengoku Basara it’s based off of a game of the same name in the style of Dynasty Warriors (hack and slash gameplay) except it is incredibly inaccurate, historically, about key moments and it doesn’t compensate the audience by giving over-the-top action to fulfill moments of emotional payoff. And for some reason there’s always a major literary point to make in these series as to if one should make Nobunaga a hero or a villain in the narrative. I mean that, no matter what story you see based on the Sengoku period he’s a major focus of it (justifiably so) and he’s either an extreme villain or a misunderstood hero. No one simply treats him like the rest of the historical figures; a warlord with his own ideals that happens to be superior at what he does.
Personally though, I want to see the Sengoku period adapted only conceptually, in that you have multiple factions in a country wide war, but they remain neither good nor evil factions and a lot of them are still functioning until near the end of the story as each faction survives loss by absorbing smaller factions.
I think A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) comes closest to this but it is more based off of the English War of the Roses then anything else comparatively. I think the story could easily be adapted to a post-apocalyptic America where the states are divided up by armies controlled by superheroes. Each hero or heroine would have an army that supplements their unique power such as a pure physical strength hero would have mostly ranged soldiers and snipers while an inventor genius hero would use mostly pilots in their army.
What about you guys? Do you have a favored story element or overall theme you rarely get to see adapted to different mediums? Put it up, let’s get a discussion going on the barren comment sections.
So too does this work exist.