Tomb Raider's take on Japanese History(Spoiler Warning)

#1 Edited by chrollo (78 posts) -

OK, so I just finished Tomb Raider last night, has someone who has spent a considerable amount of time studying Japanese history, culture and art, I found Eidos's take on Japanese history pretty glaring. For instance why is Himiko/Pimiko being guarded by samurai? Samurai tradition came into play over a thousand years later than the time himiko would have lived. Secondly why are there so many buddhist statues in Tomb Raider. Himiko would have belonged to the shinto religion most likely since buddhism didn't make its way into until after Himiko would have lived as well. It certainly wouldn't have been a popular religion among the royalty. Also most of the buddhist relics and statues look like they are from the 12th century Japan. Most glaring is the Onna-e painting of himiko. A style of painting that is from the 16th century.

Secondly why the fuck did the demon soldiers get pissed when he said jouu. She is a princess. Her name is Japanese for princess. Why the hell would they call her queen.

Did I miss something here, is there a valid reason for all these errors?

For those that don't know Himiko was a ruler of the Yamato ( the major ethnicity of present day Japan.) in the second century A.D.

#2 Edited by The_Laughing_Man (13629 posts) -

@chrollo said:

OK, so I just finished Tomb Raider last night, has someone who has spent a considerable amount of time studying Japanese history, culture and art, I found Eidos's take on Japanese history pretty glaring. For instance why is Himiko/Pimiko being guarded by samurai? Samurai tradition came into play over a thousand years later than the time himiko would have lived. Secondly why are there so many buddhist statues in Tomb Raider. Himiko would have belonged to the shinto religion most likely since buddhism didn't make its way into until after Himiko would have lived as well. It certainly wouldn't have been a popular religion among the royalty. Also most of the buddhist relics and statues look like they are from the 12th century Japan. Most glaring is the Onna-e painting of himiko. A style of painting that is from the 16th century.

Secondly why the fuck did the demon soldiers get pissed when he said jouu. She is a princess. Her name is Japanese for princess. Why the hell would they call here queen.

Did I miss something here, is there a valid reason for all these errors?

For those that don't know Himiko was a ruler of the Yamato ( the major ethnicity of present day Japan.) in the second century A.D.

I think the time spreads are because she kept taking other peoples bodies until someone stopped her. I do not recall them giving an exact date of when she "Died" died.

#3 Edited by 23r23d23er23r234f2f2 (25 posts) -

It's fictional, just like the majority of religious stories

#4 Edited by CaLe (4039 posts) -

I'm pretty sure Lara constantly calling her princess was another fault with the game, she's usually called Queen Himiko. Anyway, 女王 can just refer to a female ruler, not necessarily a queen. Himiko was the only female ruler so it's not wrong to use this to refer to her. The rest I dunno about, and don't really care too much. I did watch a Japanese guy play through a lot of this game and he was very impressed with the setting. He didn't seem to care about any inaccuracies. Also, her name (卑弥呼) is not Japanese for princess. Maybe you are confusing himi with hime, I dunno.

#5 Posted by believer258 (12081 posts) -

Tomb Raider is essentially an action movie in video game form. Its creators were looking to thrill, not inform, and didn't really care about making things historically accurate. Most likely they were looking for ideas, found something about a Japanese ruler named Himiko, and went from there. This is also known as the "based on Revelations" methodology that Darksiders employed (hint: Darksiders has very little to do with Revelations).

Blame Rhianna Pratchett if it bugs you. I enjoyed the shooting and the pretty graphics and the exploring areas too much to care.

#6 Posted by AiurFlux (902 posts) -

I don't care if they all eat sushi and talk about Mr. Sparkle and his awesemo cleaning powa. A good game is a good game, and Tomb Raider is a good game. If you go through life nitpicking every single inaccuracy you'll have a pretty shitty time enjoying entertainment.

Like Sci-Fi movies. Why is there sound in a vacuum? It makes no sense, until you remember that 10 minutes of dead air would be fucking dumb.

#7 Edited by believer258 (12081 posts) -

@aiurflux said:

I don't care if they all eat sushi and talk about Mr. Sparkle and his awesemo cleaning powa. A good game is a good game, and Tomb Raider is a good game. If you go through life nitpicking every single inaccuracy you'll have a pretty shitty time enjoying entertainment.

Like Sci-Fi movies. Why is there sound in a vacuum? It makes no sense, until you remember that 10 minutes of dead air would be fucking dumb.

Didn't 2001: A Space Odyssey have somewhere around ten minutes of no sound while that dude was floating in space?

#8 Posted by HatKing (6057 posts) -

Because the game makes no claims to being historically accurate? I mean, she absorbs fucking souls, dude. The moment they start talking about that, the whole thing crosses the line into fantasy. It's a non-issue. You can look at it like it's another take on mythology or something, if you want. Now, if this were a game about studying Japanese culture or trying to deliver a deep understanding of said history, then it would be flawed. But seeing as how this has very little to do with that, who fucking cares?

#9 Edited by Kierkegaard (605 posts) -

@chrollo said:

OK, so I just finished Tomb Raider last night, has someone who has spent a considerable amount of time studying Japanese history, culture and art, I found Eidos's take on Japanese history pretty glaring. For instance why is Himiko/Pimiko being guarded by samurai? Samurai tradition came into play over a thousand years later than the time himiko would have lived. Secondly why are there so many buddhist statues in Tomb Raider. Himiko would have belonged to the shinto religion most likely since buddhism didn't make its way into until after Himiko would have lived as well. It certainly wouldn't have been a popular religion among the royalty. Also most of the buddhist relics and statues look like they are from the 12th century Japan. Most glaring is the Onna-e painting of himiko. A style of painting that is from the 16th century.

Secondly why the fuck did the demon soldiers get pissed when he said jouu. She is a princess. Her name is Japanese for princess. Why the hell would they call her queen.

Did I miss something here, is there a valid reason for all these errors?

For those that don't know Himiko was a ruler of the Yamato ( the major ethnicity of present day Japan.) in the second century A.D.

Good noticing. It's strange when storytellers and artists do the research to find the style of something but are inconsistent with the history accuracy of it. I guess that, as others have said, since the dead queen was replenishing through consumed souls, the statues and paintings could have come from later prisoners of the island who worshipped and painted in those time periods.

Still, that's likely giving too much credit.

I think it's a really useful exercise, pointing out historical inaccuracy here. I learned about the timeline of Japanese history, which is something I truly appreciate. Thank you for the impromptu lesson!

#10 Posted by stubbleman (306 posts) -

@believer258: Yeah right. I bet that movie was stupid then.

In all seriousness though. I don't think it's being overly nit-picky to point this kind of stuff out. I mean, it seems to be inviting a pretty interesting discussion. I don't think he was slamming the game or anything, so maybe we could have more 'well maybe it was this' and less 'it's an action story get over it.'

#11 Edited by chrollo (78 posts) -

Just for clarification I really liked the game. Thought it was better than uncharted in pretty much everyway. Hope they do a sequel except I really hope its not about Roanoke cause that would be boring. Yes. North Carolina is a boring setting.

#12 Posted by believer258 (12081 posts) -

@believer258: Yeah right. I bet that movie was stupid then.

In all seriousness though. I don't think it's being overly nit-picky to point this kind of stuff out. I mean, it seems to be inviting a pretty interesting discussion. I don't think he was slamming the game or anything, so maybe we could have more 'well maybe it was this' and less 'it's an action story get over it.'

I never claimed that Tomb Raider was an intelligent game. It is a legitimate criticism, yes, but at the same time the game doesn't invite much discussion about its storyline except just how "meh, generic action/adventure movie-ish" it is. I don't really know if more accurate representations of Japanese culture and history would have changed that. Rather, any positive discussion about the game would probably stem from its more interesting moments, like the caves, the part where you climb atop a radio tower, the plane crash that follows, the town that's burning down a little more than half way through, the bridge sequence, or any other exciting event that the story's contrivances allow for.

@chrollo said:

Just for clarification I really liked the game. Thought it was better than uncharted in pretty much everyway. Hope they do a sequel except I really hope its not about Roanoke cause that would be boring. Yes. North Carolina is a boring setting.

I also really liked the game, but what brought up the North Carolina thing? I'm from NC, and I agree that it would make a boring Tomb Raider game, especially following this one, but why bring it up?

#13 Edited by AlKusanagi (960 posts) -

Boring in NC? What do you mean? It's the perfect setting for an action game, what with all the shootouts in Durham...

#14 Posted by chrollo (78 posts) -

@believer258: because the ending had her looking at a journal with the words Roanoka on it or Croatoan. Im pretty sure at least

#15 Edited by believer258 (12081 posts) -

@chrollo said:

@believer258: because the ending had her looking at a journal with the words Roanoka on it or Croatoan. Im pretty sure at least

Ah. Well, we'll see.

#16 Posted by chrollo (78 posts) -

@believer258: only if the shoemaker family is involved will i enjoy that game

#17 Posted by LiquidPrince (16106 posts) -

Himiko lived through mulitiple generations in multiple bodies before being trapped in the body you see her in, in Tomb Raider. Also many of the artifacts found on the island were there from when other explorers had come to the island. Hence why you also tend to find Chinese relics.

#18 Posted by MonkeyKing1969 (2954 posts) -

Well, the game is not well thought out in other areas too, so its not too shocking they made simple errors. Probably as the rewrote the story they simplified and then when they needed to "show" things they simplified to what people would recognize. People know what samurai are, they don't know what 'not yet' samaris are or are supposed to mean. People know Buddhism, but few people in the west would know that Shinto is even a religious, let alone how it is different. Queen sounds more important and powerful because in western mythologies they are where as a Princess is often powerless. The painting is probably in a style people would recognize as Japanese whereas a real 12th century style would be unrecognizable.

Its is the difference between truth, and feeling truthy in a way people accept or understand. You could say Konami and the Metal Gear series does a lousy job of interpreting American culture, history and practices too. And, to be sure Japanese RPGs make a hash of European tropes and culture whenever they try to evoke that culture. And, lets not forget that what we call history and even the careful study of the past is merely an interpretation of fragments. There is not much 'truth' or 'fact' in history merely our interpretation through the current lens of understanding.

#19 Posted by Hailinel (25201 posts) -

@stubbleman said:

@believer258: Yeah right. I bet that movie was stupid then.

In all seriousness though. I don't think it's being overly nit-picky to point this kind of stuff out. I mean, it seems to be inviting a pretty interesting discussion. I don't think he was slamming the game or anything, so maybe we could have more 'well maybe it was this' and less 'it's an action story get over it.'

I never claimed that Tomb Raider was an intelligent game. It is a legitimate criticism, yes, but at the same time the game doesn't invite much discussion about its storyline except just how "meh, generic action/adventure movie-ish" it is. I don't really know if more accurate representations of Japanese culture and history would have changed that. Rather, any positive discussion about the game would probably stem from its more interesting moments, like the caves, the part where you climb atop a radio tower, the plane crash that follows, the town that's burning down a little more than half way through, the bridge sequence, or any other exciting event that the story's contrivances allow for.

@chrollo said:

Just for clarification I really liked the game. Thought it was better than uncharted in pretty much everyway. Hope they do a sequel except I really hope its not about Roanoke cause that would be boring. Yes. North Carolina is a boring setting.

I also really liked the game, but what brought up the North Carolina thing? I'm from NC, and I agree that it would make a boring Tomb Raider game, especially following this one, but why bring it up?

I'm going to admit that, as someone that's been doing a lot of research on the Yayoi Period when Himiko was said to live that finding out that Himiko and Yamatai are major story elements in the game made me that much more interested in it. And as a time period in which a lot of solid facts are still up for debate, it would have been nice if Pratchett and Crystal Dynamics could have done a better job of representing that historical era. Not to say that I'd want them to be 100% accurate to history, because the game is a fantasy, but all the same, a stronger Yayoi influence in the setting design would have been appreciated.

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