Shinto explained in one dialogue box

February 15, 2011

If Ys: The Oath in Felghana gets one award as a game it should be this: Best Summary of Shinto in a JRPG.

Shinto isn’t an overly complicated body of beliefs, but not something that I thought could be summarized in one sentence. It sure is a foreign idea to Western audiences, especially in the U.S. where monotheistic religions dominates, so it’s impressive to see it so succinctly stuffed into one box of JRPG dialogue.

In the first scene of the game, the protagonist Adol and his friend Dogi come across a small, ruined roadside Shinto-esque shrine and Dogi gives a simple, direct explanation that flows naturally with the scene’s dialogue:

“It’s a relic of the old religion, from when people believed that sprits existed in stuff that wasn’t even alive.”

So mega A+ to whoever localized that line. Covers the basics of shinto: 1) it’s old, old, old, 2) people believed spirits dwelled in  inanimate objects and 3) it’s spirits, so not monotheistic. I love how it’s barebones but effective and doesn’t even use the word “gods” in it. It also doesn’t directly say it’s shinto, but if you know your way around Japanese culture, you can infer that’s what it’s referring to. (And, uh, yes, it’s pretty typical of me to sweat these insignificant details of game dialogue ^_^;; hahah)

Can anyone else think of J-games that explain shinto particularly well? Or doesn’t do it well at all?

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