Monster Hunter Rise: Japanese Folklore and You

Greetings, geeks of all ages! With the release of Monster Hunter Rise drawing ever closer, let’s talk about the monsters new to this game. Specifically what these monsters are based off of.

Japan has a rich culture filled with many different myths and fables. As part of this, they have a myriad of legends about spirits and monsters known as yokai. Many of the new monsters introduced in Monster Hunter Rise take inspiration from these yokai. So let’s get right into it and go through what each one represents.

The Sickle Weasel

Monster Hunter Rise Great Izuchi
Trinity of Terror

The first monster we’ll be covering is the Great Izuchi. This monster is based on the kamaitachi, a yokai that rides in on dust devils and cuts people up as they fly past. It is traditionally depicted as a weasel with sickle-like hands or limbs. The name itself seems to be a corruption of kamae tachi, or stance sword.

The Parasol Ghost

Monster Hunter Rise Aknosom
Feathered Frenzy

Next, we’ll talk about the inspiration for the Aknosom. This Bird Wyvern is Monster Hunter Rise’s version of the kasa-obake, or the parasol ghost. Kasa-obake normally jump along on one leg, two arms, and a large single eye, though some depictions show it with two legs. The parasol-like appearance of the Aknosom is more apparent in its icon art. While the parasol ghost is a very well known yokai in Japanese folklore, it is speculated that the kasa-obake was made up by storytellers who were asked to talk about lesser known yokai.

The River Child

Monster Hunter Rise Tetranadon
Amphibious Wrestler

Our next contender is the sumo wrestling platypus, the Tetranadon. This chonky boy is based on a kappa. Kappa are amphibious creatures with turtle-like shells and a water dish on top of its head. They are a mischievous bunch that inhabit many rivers and ponds around Japan. Tetranadon, much like the kappa depicted in stories, fights using sumo wrestling techniques.

The Mermaid

Monster Hunter Rise Somnacanth
Soporific Siren

Next up, we have the Leviathan Monster, Somnacanth. The ningyo is the basis for this monster. This yokai is known for having a monkey-like mouth with small teeth and shiny golden fish scales. Catching a ningyo is said to bring storms and misfortune. If one washes up on shore, it is an omen of war and calamity.

The Heavenly Sentinel

Frenetic Ascetic

Up next is the wild and frantic Fanged Beast, Bishaten. This hyperactive monster is based on a tengu. Some people believe tengu to be yokai, while others believe they are Shinto deities. In either case, these creatures are humanoids with bird-like features that command the skies. In Buddhist belief, tengu were disruptive demons and harbingers of war, though this belief has waned over the years. While still seen as violent and troublesome, tengu are now seen as protectors of forests and mountains.

The Boogeyman

Goss Harag
The Limb Reaper

Here we have the monstrous Goss Harag. This chilling fiend is based on the namahage, demons wearing oni masks and straw capes. Wielding kitchen knives and hand pails, the namahage go from house to house punishing lazy people. The name comes from the phrase “なもみコ剝げたかよ” (namomi kohagetaka yo) or “Have your blisters peeled yet?”. This comes from the fact that people who did nothing but sit by the fire got heat rashes or blisters from the overexposure to the fire. Nowadays, the namahage is similar to the boogeyman, punishing children that are lazy or don’t behave properly.

The Muddy Rice Field Spirit

Hermit of the Swamp

Next up is the muddy Leviathan, Almudron. This fierce beast draws inspiration from the dorotabo, a mud spirit that emerges from rice paddies. Traditionally represented as muddy old men with three fingers and one eye, these vengeful spirits rise up to punish the men neglecting their rice paddies. The appearance of the Almudron itself borrows many traits from traditional Chinese dragons. However, it’s possible that its physical appearance is based on the onamazu, or giant catfish. Another yokai pertaining to the earth, this yokai is responsible for causing the earthquakes around Japan.

The Entangling Bride

Wandering Widow

Here we have the torrid Temnoceran, Rakna-Kadaki. This arachnid draws inspiration from the jorogumo, a yokai that shape shifts into a beautiful bride to lure in would-be prey. Some depictions show the jorogumo as a spider woman that controls smaller fire-breathing spiders. Monster Hunter Rise incorporates this by having the Rakna-Kadaki accompanied by smaller spider companions. In Japan, its name is Yatsukadaki, a corruption of the name yatsukahagi, an alternate name for the tsuchigumo. Another spider yokai, these giant earth spiders live in mountainous regions and claim them as their territory.

The Possessed Suit of Armor

Wyvern of Malice

Last, but certainly not least, is the flagship monster for Monster Hunter Rise, Magnamalo. Unlike the other new monsters introduced in Rise, Magnamalo himself is not based on a yokai. Instead, he is based on the idea of a suit of samurai armor possessed by a lingering spirit. The idea of possessed armor appears in many different media. Bishamon from the Darkstalkers series is based on the same idea. His explosive flames resemble onibi or hitodama, otherwise known as will-o’-wisps. Interestingly enough, its antler-like horns and spear-like tail evoke the image of the legendary Samurai, Honda Heihachiro Tadakatsu. A warrior renowned for his fighting prowess, he was most well known as “the Warrior who Surpassed Death Itself”. His preferred weapon, the Tonbogiri (Dragonfly Cutter), is one of Japan’s national treasures.

The demo for Rise has been updated with a hunt for Magnamalo. Gather your friends and face down this fearsome fiend that fires fierce flames against frightened foes. Will you fell this ferocious fighter, or will this furious fanged beast flatten you instead? Look forward to the fight and rise up, fellow hunters! The game comes out on March 26th, hope to see you around when it releases. Ciao~!

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