God Wars: Future Past is a game that might make people feel nostalgic, even if they’re playing it for the first time. That’s because it pulls very heavily from Japanese folklore and mythology. Every major character starred in multiple tales. Even though their adaptations here might not be true to their literary selves, every one has plenty of call-backs and roles that reference their roots.
Right away, God Wars: Future Past pulls from Japanese mythology. Our heroine is Kaguya, the Fuji Nation’s princess. Here, she’s a young woman setting out on an extraordinary journey to appease the gods and calm Mount Fuji. But the game references the original Kaguya’s story. To start, in The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, Kaguya is found in a stalk of bamboo. The game version of Kaguya’s mother, Tsukuyomi, imprisoned her daughter in a bamboo seal. In each case, she’s trapped within bamboo. I also like to think her hairdo is a reference to this too. You know how in Japan there is the notion that there is the rabbit on the moon? Well, this Kaguya has long pigtails that remind me of lop-earred rabbit ears. In the original story, she was from the moon.
Speaking of rabbits, let’s jump ahead to Inaba. She’s part of the Izumo Nation and happens to be a young woman that is also a rabbit. She has rabbit ears and a rabbit toy. She’s a direct reference to the Hare of Inaba legend, which explains why she is so devoted to Ookuninushi, heir to the Izumo Nation. In that myth, the actual-version of Ookuninushi was the one who helped a skinned hair after it was skinned by crocodiles and his brother tricked it. So of course it makes sense that God Wars: Future Past’s Inaba would be a devoted handmaiden to Ookuninushi.
It also explains a lot about the game’s version of Ookuninushi. In God Wars: Future Past, he is the heir to Izumo, son of Susanoo, and pretty much immediately falls for Kaguya. Here, it’s the details that aren’t exactly accurate, but they’re actually somewhat close to the folklore’s version of the character. The actual Ookuninushi was Susanoo’s son-in-law. When he went to the land of the dead in myths to seek Susanoo’s advice, he met his daughter and immediately fell in love. They eloped, and he went on to rule Izumo
Of course, in all this I’ve failed to mention anything about Kintaro. He’s the deuteragonist who frees Kaguya from her captivity and aids her on her quest. He lives at the foot of the mountain, is a friend to animals and happens to be incredibly strong. All of these things were true of the actual Kintaro, as he was raised at Mount Kintoki and was known for being friends with bears. Supposedly, he even sumo-wrestled with them. It only makes sense that his God Wars: Future Past counter-part is extremely close with Kuma, a Myriad God in the form of a bear.
I couldn’t talk about all of this without touching on Amaterasu, Susanoo, and Tsukiyomi. These three are the heads of each of nations in God Wars: Future Past. In folklore, these three are related gods and the children of Izanagi. Though, in mythology, Tsukiyomi was a male, not a female. Amaterasu is tied to the sun, Tsukiyomi to the moon, and Susanoo to storms. The myths also help explain why Amaterasu and Susanoo are feuding in the game, as in the stories the two fought after they attempted to show who was most sincere by creating gods from each others’ possessions to prove who was best.
People who love fairy tales and mythology will relish the way God Wars: Future Past taps into such stories. It pays tribute to so many historical tales. It is interesting to see how these legends interact and everything works together to form connections.
God Wars: Future Past will come to the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in North America on June 20, 2017. It is now available in Europe.