The World of Sekiro: Prosthetic Arts and Spirit Emblems
Hi! In this post we will explore Prosthetic Arts and also Spirit Emblems. What they are, why they are lying around and why Wolf needs them to operate the Prosthetic. This part will also conclude our Prosthetic Tools research so it's quite a milestone! There is a lot of stuff to talk about, a whole bunch or interesting words in the original text, many things that didn't make it to the English version so buckle up! We'll start with Prosthetic Arts and then move to Spirit Emblems.
While writing this post I learned that the English text for SOME of the combat arts and skills is different depending on the menu you're in: Sculptor's Idol skill menu, skill equip menu or skill tab on the inventory screen.
From left to right: Equip Menu, Sculptor's Idol, Skill tab
The Japanese is the exact same everywhere, however the localization can vary quite considerably between the three menus up to a point where either of the descriptions might be missing a whole paragraph. In this post I will discuss the localization from the Skill tab of the Inventory screen, that's where all the screenshots are from. I found that those are more accurate in general and tend to have more of the original text localized. As to why this inconsistency even happened - I don't know. It seems to me that different people localized different menus and thus the same skill that happens to be in two or three places ended up being localized two or three times, that is why even the parts of the text that are present in all of them are worded differently.
Disclaimer #0 — common sense is still everything. Please do not assume that I have access to some secret true knowledge; I'm just entertained by reading Sekiro in Japanese. My lore theories are just theories so treat them accordingly.
Disclaimer #1 —
trust me, I'm a professional if this fact is somehow important - I am a certified linguist. My major is English and Japanese as foreign languages, my minor is intercultural communication. Fun stuff!
Disclaimer #2 — I am not a professional translator, I have never worked in localization. Yes, I will say that something is translated poorly and something is not, and it will be my personal point of view. People have been complaining that I am picking on minor things or have weird opinions when it comes to "better translations". I want to emphasize that it's okay to have those :) Ultimately, my goal is to give you the information so you can see if the localization was good or not, whether something important was lost or not. My opinion is just that and I choose to share it, however odd it might seem.
Disclaimer #3 — I am not an expert on Buddhism or Shintoism, so if I get something wrong in the religious side of things, I'm sorry :D I will leave links to the religious terms that we will undoubtedly encounter so you can read more on your own, if you are interested.
Why do kanji (Japanese characters) have different readings?
This is a popular question in the comment section. In a nutshell, Japanese kanji usually have two types of readings: on-reading and kun-reading, there might be a number of them in each category. On-readings have carried over from Chinese since kanji were borrowed from there, and kun-readings are native to Japanese. When a kanji stands on its own and is used as a single word, it is read with its kun-reading. When a kanji is used as a part of a multi-kanji word, it is read with its on-reading. It is slightly more complicated, but in broad strokes I think it explains it.
As far as I know, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice was localized into English by Mugen Creations.
Tiny Transcription Legend
[:] — colon after a vowel means that it's a long sound;
['] — apostrophe after a vowel or before a vowel (or between two [n]) means that these are two different syllables, not a single long one.
The transcriptions I give do not follow all academic rules, and I don't think it's necessary. They are just here to represent the pronunciation.
For this research I mostly used Sekiro Shadows Die Twice Official Artworks, English wiki and a number of dictionaries.
Prosthetic Esoteric Text
The original name of this item is 忍び義手技の伝書 [shinobigishu waza no densho] - "a secret book of shinobi prosthetic skills". I think, "esoteric text" is quite a fitting localization for 伝書 [densho]. 伝書 [densho] translates to "book of secrets", or some sort of legendary book, or something that has been handled down through generations. "Esoteric" meaning "requiring special knowledge that is restricted to a small group" is a good choice for such an item. The "book of secrets" translation made its way into the first paragraph of the description so nothing was lost.
On the other hand, the next paragraph was completely lost; I'm not sure whether it was a space issue again or some other hindrance that prevented it from being localized.
「これは流派と呼べるものではない｜忍義手あればこそ意味を持つ、技や体術だ」 - "this [set of skills] cannot be called "a style" since the techniques and martial arts described [here] bear meaning only if one possesses a Shinobi Prosthetic".
As you can see, this part of the description juxtaposes Prosthetic Skills to other fighting styles like, say, Ashina Style, that in theory can be taught to anyone. This text is completely useless to an ordinary human being.
The next part elaborates more on this topic in the last sentence:
「受け継ぐものなど、よもやあろうとは」- "it's highly unlikely there would be someone to inherit it..."
The Sculptor accumulated all this knowledge not to pass it to someone else because he never thought there would be someone else - a shinobi missing their left arm. What are the odds. As for the "painstaking research", the original uses quite a curious word 研鑽 [kensan] which translates to "diligent study" and is made special by its second kanji that literally means "make fire by rubbing sticks". Kinda a perfect metaphor.
Keep in mind that the Sculptor accumulated this knowledge after Isshin prevented him from becoming Shura and severed his arm, and Dougen made him a Prosthetic, so the flames of hatred were already there. But he studied, and studied, and studied, and recorded all his knowledge knowing that there would be no one else to pass it to, which is heartbraking to think about. I keep thinking about this scene when the Sculptor gives Wolf his research and then he becomes kind of excited when Wolf asks what it is. He tells him that this text details the Shinobi Prosthetic techniques and then says:
「まったく、義手の忍び技など、もはや無用とおもっておったが。。。」- "I really thought these shinobi prosthetic skills were of no use any longer".
It meant a lot to him to be able to pass this text on to Wolf. It was of no use to him anymore, and he never hoped it would be again to anyone else. And then Wolf showed up!
The book itself has an interesting wooden case, it appears to be kind of burnt (?)
Grappling Hook Attack
When we started our Prosthetic Tools research we discovered that the Grappling Hook is called 鍵縄 [kaginawa], literally "rope with a hook". The original name of this attack is pretty straightforward: 鍵縄攻撃 [kaginawa ko:geki] - kaginawa attack or grappling hook attack. The localization of the description is quite accurate, the original uses the word 粋 [sui], which means "essence" or "the best" to emphasize that the Prosthetic is the only tool that serves for both movement and attack.
So, one thing that didn't make it into the English localization is the skill type: some skills have it, others don't, and it's true for all skill trees, not only for the Prosthetic. I am sure it wasn't localized because of the symbol constraints, the type of skill and its name just wouldn't fit the line.
For example, in Chasing Slice you can see that it's full original name is 派生攻撃・追い斬り [hasei ko:geki・oigiri], where 派生攻撃 [hasei ko:geki] denotes the type of the attack: derivative or secondary attack. There is a number of skills that are of the Hasei type meaning that you use your Prosthetic Tool, and then the Skill, so that's why it's a "secondary" attack.
Chasing Slice is a very accurate localization, well done. The description was also localized accurately. I wonder why they didn't utilize this little white rectangle that sections off the part where the applicable Prosthetic Tools are listed, that would help parse the text better.
Fang and Blade
Fang and Blade is also a Hasei skill - 派生攻撃・連ね斬り [hasei ko:geki・tsuranegiri]. 連ね斬り [tsuranegiri] is a tricky word to translate, the first part of it, 連ね [tsurane] is derived from 連ねる [tsuraneru] meaning "to add to a group" or "to link", "to put together", and this skill allows Wolf to attack with a Prosthetic Tool and Kusabimaru simultaneously or use Kusabimaru immediately after a Prosthetic Tool. 斬り [kiri] is a "slice" or "slash", this part is straightforward. I don't have any issues with "Fang and Blade" because this phrase was actually pulled from the description:
「牙と刃を連ね、斬る｜これはそうした技だ」- "Link together fang and blade, and slice. This is the technique".
Mid-Air Prosthetic Tool
Mid-Air Prosthetic Tool is called exactly that: 空中義手忍具 [ku:chu: gishu ningu] - mid-air prosthetic tool. "Mid-air" is actually somewhat of a skill type, like Hasei, we'll see it a couple more times when we get to Shinobi Arts.
The original says that the Prosthetic is heavy because it's a 「鉄と絡繰りの塊」- "bundle of metal and mechanisms". However, its use in the air was made possible by the training of its owner and the techniques of its creator Dougen. The rest is accurate, the last line basically tells you that now you can use shinobi tools while off-ground, which pretty much sums up the whole description.
I was really excited about Nightjar Slash because I would finally learn the Japanese name for "Nightjar" but then I read it and I was like wait, what. So, nightjar is a nocturnal or crepuscular bird with a densely patterned grey and brown plumage that makes them hard to notice. This is basically the description of the in-game Nightjars: they are either grey or brown, look like birds, and they are hard to notice. The Japanese word for nightjar the bird is 夜鷹 [yotaka], literally "night hawk". The Japanese word for the in-game Nightjars is... 寄鷹 [yotaka] - the reading is the same but the first kanji is different, it's 寄る [yoru] - to approach, to draw near. "Approaching hawk", if you will.
It's kind of a widespread practice to create a word that reads like the word you mean and uses some of its kanji and then swap one kanji to add other meanings on top of that. Here the first kanji 夜 [yo] meaning "night" was changed to 寄 [yo] - to draw near, but the reading is the same - [yotaka], nightjar. I'm pretty sure it was done to emphasize their fighting style: Nightjar shinobi can cover incredible distances very quickly and either close in or move away.
So, Nightjar Slash is called literally that: 寄鷹斬り [yotakagiri] - nightjar slash. This is a 流派技 [ryu:ha waza] - a combat art. The Sculptor took their technique and adapted it for the Prosthetic. But we'll get to that in a moment.
"Nightjar Clan" in the original is 寄鷹衆 [yotakashu:] - Nightjar people/group. They are indeed shinobi employed by Ashina. The localization says that they use their massive shuriken "to add force to the blow" while the original says that it is the very thing that makes the Nightjar Slash possible because it allows them to gain this spinning momentum when they attack, and it, in turn, makes the attack stronger. The localization also says that this combat art "can quickly close with or create distance from foes" while the original only says "quickly close in" - 「遠距離から瞬間に間合いを詰めることができる」, creating distance will come later with Nightjar Slash Reversal.
「鋼でできた忍義手も、また重い｜これを回転の軸とすれば、同じことができる」- "Steel Shinobi Prosthetic is heavy as well. By making it the axis of the spinning [motion], the same can be achieved".
So, the Sculptor took a special technique of the Nightjar shinobi and modified it so he could use it without having to carry around their heavy shuriken. On the picture of this skill you can see a tiny cute Nightjar in their signature feathered cape and a bird mask.
Nightjar Slash Reversal
Nightjar Slash Reversal is called 寄鵟斬り・逆さ回し [yotakagiri・sakusamawashi] - Nightjar Slash・Inverted Spin, "reversal" is a fine choice. With this combat art you finally can not only close in on your enemy but then also quickly create distance.
"Allows one to decide which direction to rotate" is kind of misleading but this description is hard to localize if you don't know what this combat art looks like. You can perform just the reversal part of it, attacking someone and then flipping backwards, or you can perform a Nightjar Slash, quickly closing in on an enemy, and then, while holding your movement button or your left stick in the opposite direction, rotate back, immediately creating distance and basically coming back to your initial position. You don't really gain the ability to rotate in a random direction, you gain the ability to jump away immediately after performing Nightjar Slash or your regular attack, that's why it is both an offensive and defensive skill and that's why it is called "Reversal". The line "both offensive and defensive skill" is not present in this localization, but in the other two menus it is.
「寄鷹斬りは順回りで飛び込むが、逆さにも回る」- "Leaping in a spinning motion with Nightjar Slash can also be done in opposite direction".
Projected Force is yet another secondary attack: 派生攻撃・放ち斬り [hasei ko:geki・hanachigiri]. 放つ [hanatsu] means "to shoot" or "to send out", so the original name means that you shoot out a slash, which is basically what happens. "Projected force" is a great name for it.
"Each color of the fang brings a different sort of colorful death" sounds really weird and actually skips a lot of stuff from the original description.
「放たれた攻撃は、使う義手忍具しだいでかわる｜刃に乗せた牙の色で、敵の穿ち方も変わる」- "The projected attack changes depending on the Prosthetic Tool used, as well as the way differently coloured Prosthetic abilities pierce foes when projected."
The last part is most definitely referring to the Loaded Umbrella because you can project both Lilac Umbrella and Suzaku's Lotus Umbrella, and those will be the different colors. Incidentally, whoever was in charge of the skill descriptions in the Sculptor's Idol menu got the first part right and just skipped the part about the colors.
Living Force has a type we haven't seen yet: 奥義・纏い斬り [o:gi・matoigiri]. 奥義 [o:gi] means "secret technique", or "heart", "essence". Basically, the crown of this Skill tree. 纏い斬り [matoigiri] can be translated as "wreathed slash", we have already seen this kanji in the form of 纏わる [matsuwaru] - to coil around, to follow around. This is the kanji that represents Bestowal Ninjutsu, and these two techniques are really similar. With Living Force you imbue Kusabimaru with the Tool's effect, and with Bestowal Ninjutsu you imbue Kusabimaru with the effect of your victim's blood.
Funny but the original description calls this skill a Hasei skill after all because you use it after a Prosthetic Tool.
「牙と刃が一体となる、忍義手技の奥義である」- "fang and blade become one, such is the secret technique of shinobi prosthetic arts".
This was the skill that made the Sculptor retire the Prosthetic he had been working so hard on. For "He's gone too far" the original uses 極め [kiwame] - to carry to extremes, to go to the end. We have already seen this word used for describing Isshin and his attitude to swordsmanship.
「極め、殺しすぎた。怨嗟の炎が漏れ出すほどに」- "[he] carried it to extremes, killed too many. To the point that flames of hatred started leaking out".
So, this was the skill that broke the Sculptor and made him abandon his research. If you remember, the Applicable Prosthetic Tools for this skill are Flame Vent and Divine Abduction: one of them is fire, and the other one looks like fire, so that's something.
And now that we're done with skills and combat arts, let's look at the passive abilities from this skill tree.
Emma's Medicine is a set of two passive skills. The Artbook gives the description of this set separately and then doesn't repeat it in the descriptions of Potency or Aroma so we'll discuss it here just once. It's the first two paragraphs of the in-game descriptions that remain the same in both skills.
The original name for "Emma's medicine" is エマの薬識 [ema no yakushiki], and it took me a while to understand what 薬識 [yakushiki] even means because the dictionaries are kind of obscure about it and I had to read some articles. So, the word consists of 薬 [kusuri] - medicine and 識 [shiki] - knowledge. As far as I learned, this word describes a type of medical knowledge where the patient (most often) not only knows what medicine to take to alleviate their condition but how exactly it functions, what it does to the body and why it helps the way it does. Basically, you not only know that you need to take this particular pill to help with your headache, but you know exactly why it helps, what processes it triggers and what it does to your body. So, this is not really "Emma's Medicine" but rather "Emma's Medical Knowledge".
「昔、エマが仏師に教えた薬の知識」- "Long ago Ema shared with the Sculptor [her] knowledge about medicine".
Emma's Medicine: Potency
The first one is "Potency", its original name is エマの薬識・利き薬 [ema no yakushiki・kikigusuri] - Emma's Medical Knowledge・Effective Medicine. 利き [kiki] means "effectiveness" so I think "Potency" is a great name for it.
The way the third paragraph is written and the way it is indented really gives off the direct speech impression, as if this is something Emma could've told the Sculptor while teaching him.
「良く味わい、薬の味を知りましょう｜体に覚え込ませることで、薬効が増します」 ー "Let's explore the flavor of the medicine by tasting it thoroughly. The medicinal effect will increase if the body memorizes [it]".
The last part is really funny:
「だが得てして、薬と言うものはひどく不味い」- "however, it often happens that the so-called medicine tastes awful".
It's like a little Sculptor's note that some medicine is disgusting and if that's not bad as it is, Emma makes him savor it and memorize this horrible taste to enhance its potency. Poor Sculptor! I bet the shinobi training was much more pleasant.
Emma's Medicine: Aroma
The same thing with Aroma: エマの薬識・嗅ぎ薬 [ema no yakushiki・kagigusuri] - Emma's Medical Knowledge・Aromatic Medicine. 嗅ぐ [kagu] means "to sniff" or "to smell".
The description mirrors the one from Potency, only now the poor Sculptor has to carefully smell the medicine and memorize the aroma.
「だが得てして、薬と言うものはひどく臭い」- "however, it often happens that the so-called medicine stinks horribly".
It is so heartwarming that Emma also supported Sculptor's research along with her father and taught him about healing and medicine even though he wasn't always happy in the process. I feel like from these descriptions I'm actually learning more about their relationship than I do from dialogues :D
Aaaand now we are going to seamlessly transition into the second part of this post: Spirit Emblems. We briefly touched on them in the very first post way back when but now it's time to discuss them in a little bit more detail.
What are Katashiro?
The Japanese word for a Spirit Emblem is 形代 [katashiro], literally "substitutional form", I will just call it "katashiro" from now on. Katashiro is a part of Shinto religion and they have been used for thousands of years since ancient times. Basically, a katashiro is a vessel that serves multiple purposes, hence "substitutional form" meaning. Firstly, it is a type of Yorishiro (依り代), and object capable of attracting spirits (kami) and housing them inside. It is said that kami prefer to possess items that have form because it's easier for them. Once a yorishiro item is inhabited by a kami, it is called a shintai (神体), or a goshitai (御神体). Haven't we come across this word somewhere? Yes, we have! This word described Dried Serpent Viscera housed in a shrine where the White Serpent dwells, this item was a goshintai - a yorishiro vessel possessed by a kami. Such an item does not become a part of a kami, but rather a repository for people to worship.
Katashiro items - usually paper or straw human-like dolls - can also be vessels for the spirits of the deseased. However, the most widespread katashiro practice is to use it like a vessel for evil and kegare and then purify it. Kegare is yet another important Shinto term that refers to the state of impurity or defilement that might be caused by coming in contact with death or disease and it needs to be lifted through purification rites.
There are a number of ways people conducted purification rites with katashiro throughout history: in the ancient times exorcists called Onmyouji (陰陽師) would perform the purification rites; at specific dates shrine visitors would make a katashiro at home, write their name and age on it and then give it to a Shinto priest of their shrine who would then perform the rite by casting the katashiro adrift thus saving the visitors from misfortunes and disasters. During Heian period (794-1185) nobles of the Imperial Court had their own Onmyouji who would perform the purification rite for them. Katashiro are usually depicted as paper dolls but in fact it was a widespread practice, especially among villagers, to make katashiro out of straw.
In modern Japan purification ceremonies involving sending katashiro down the river is a big part of Hinamatsuri (雛祭り) - Doll Festival or Girl's Day, held on March 3. Special dolls called 雛人形 [hinaningyo:], which are essentially a type of katashiro, a substitutional form, are sent down the river, taking troubles, and bad luck, and bad spirits with them, and then parents usually pray for the safety of their children. This ritual is called 雛流し [hinanagashi] - "floating dolls" or "sending dolls afloat", and I'd like you to remember this word because we'll come across it a little later in a slightly different form.
This was a brief overview of what a katashiro is in Japanese religion and culture. Katashiro doll made to resemble a human would take onto itself everything bad and unfortunate and then be sent down the river or the sea, or burnt to save the owner from woes, basically.
Katashiro in Sekiro are pretty much in line with what we have just learned - they are vessels for regret.
「ただよう白い形代」 - "floating white katashiro". Yes, the original doesn't say "paper doll", it says "katashiro" because you know, the Japanese audience surely knows what a katashiro is, so writing "paper doll" would be weird :D
「何か心残りがあれば、その想いが幻として形を取って見えることがある」- "if there is some kind of regret, this feeling can take an illusory form that can be seen".
So, in Sekiro katashiro are not really made of paper, they just have this ghost form and float around, manifestations of regret, and not only human regret. Katashiro are required to use the Prosthetic, Spiritfalls and Ninjutsu skills.
Before we dive into Karma and learn why we even need them to operate the Prosthetic, let's look at a couple more items that are relevant to Spirit Emblems.
Mibu Balloon of Spirit
I planned to look at all the Balloons in a separate post but while we are here, why not learn more about Mibu Balloon of Spirit! It's original name is 形代寄せのミブ風船 [katashiroyose no mibu fu:sen] - Mibu Balloon of Collecting Katashiro. All Mibu Balloons follow the same naming pattern "Mibu Balloon of Collecting X" except for the special Balloon that Black Badger gives you, so this is the one that allows you to gather more regret and sorrow! Cool.
The localization is kind of meh. Everything is there (sort of) but a lot of nuance was lost.
「源の水を内に秘めた、哀悼のミブ風船」- "a Mibu balloon of sorrow, hiding the water of the Fountainhead inside".
There isn't really any blessing to it, Mibu Balloon of Wealth and of Possession do have "a prayer of good luck" mentioned in their descriptions but Baloons of Spirit and of Soul don't. Interestingly enough, the original uses the word 秘める [himeru] when talking about Fountainhead water inside the balloon - "to hide".
Let's look at the last paragraph:
「誰かを悼むとき、これを割り拝む｜そして、誰かを偲ぶときは、赤白の風車を供える」- "When mourning someone, [they] pop this balloon and pray. Then, when reminiscing about someone, [they] offer a red and white pinwheel".
This is not really an instruction and it doesn't have a subject, it's just a description of what customs people follow. Red and White Pinwheels is a reference to the Senpou Temple which, honestly, comes as no surprise because nearly all Mibu Balloons of Spirit are there: they either just lie around Mt. Kongo or drop from Senpou assassins, or from some Senpou Monks which is very lore because they had been killing a lot of children and the land accumulated a lot of sorrow and regret. I wonder if assassins and monks carrying around Spirit Balloons means to imply that they mourn the dead children even though they deemed their deaths necessary for their quest. After all, who else offered red and white pinwheels in memory of them?
I hope you remember the word 雛流し [hinanagashi] - "floating dolls" or "sending dolls afloat" from before because it's about to come in handy! Ceremonial Tanto's original name is 形代流し [katashironagashi] - "floating katashiro" or "sending katashiro afloat". It's so cool! Of course, there was no way to localize this properly because Katashiro is a religious and cultural concept, and 流し [nagashi] is basically a whole phrase in one word, so this item was named "Ceremonial Tanto", which it totally is, the description says so.
「本来、この短刀は形代流しにつかわれる｜白い短刀で削り出した己の形代を、源の水に流し、竜に奉る儀式」- "originally, this tanto was used in Katashironagashi. [People] would cut out their katashiro with the white blade and send them down the fountainhead waters, in a ritual of humbly offering them to the dragon".
The verb 奉る [tatematsuru] is very important here, it means "to offer" or "to present" and it's a kenjougo word, meaning that it is a humble term for addressing someone with utmost respect.
The real name of the tanto isn't etched on the blade but on the hook part of the handle. "Devoted Soul" is a good localization option because people need to be able to actually understand what is going on when they are playing the game, and the fewer words the better. However, we are not concerned with consiseness, we're concerned with the meaning! The first kanji is of the 奉る [tatematsuru] verb that we just saw on the line above - "to offer" or "to present" [humbly], and the second kanji is 魂 [tamashii], meaning "soul". It is possible that the name 奉魂 [ho:kon] is just a short form of 魂を「竜に」奉る - "to humbly offer one's soul [to the dragon]".
In this case, I think, katashiro made with the Ceremonial Tanto were not manifestations of sorrow and regret but vessels containing life force that were sent down the Fountainhead waters to be offered to the Dragon.
We have filally reached the final stop of our Katashiro journey - karma latent skills. Since they are all relevant to our discussion, we will read all of them, both Sculptor's Karma skills from the Prosthetic Arts skill tree, both Shinobi's Karma skills from the Shinobi Arts skill tree and A Beast's Karma that you get after defeating Sakura Bull of the Palace.
Similarly to Emma's Medicine, all karma skills have the first couple of paragraphs in common, they remain identical througout all of them, so we'll discuss them here just once.
The kanji used for "karma" latent skills is 業 [waza] - literally "deed" or "action", however when read as [go:], it's "karma", "fate" or "destiny". This kanji always confuses the heck out of me when it comes to reading but I think the names of the skills are read with [waza], meaning "deeds", and then in the descriptions it's [go:] - karma. We'll try our best to navigate this storming sea of confusing readings as best as we can. However, if you happen to be an expert in this particular field, don't hesitate to correct me if I choose the wrong reading somewhere :D
The localization isn't exactly accurate. The original uses the word 業深い [go:bukai], and it took me a while to learn what this word means. As far as I understand, it means that the person who is 業深い [go:bukai] commited a lot of sinful deeds and carries a lot of evil on their shoulders. It says nothing of regret, it's just a fact.
「形代は心残りの幻である｜ゆえに、業深いものには、形代が多く憑く」- "Katashiro are visions of regret. Therefore, many katashiro haunt those who committed vile deeds."
So yeah, Katashiro appear here and there because we just keep murdering people and taking upon ourselves the burden of evil.
Sculptor's Karma: Blood
The person with, arguably, the most horrible karma is, undoubtedly, the Sculptor, that is why when Wolf takes the Prosthetic and his research, he, in a sense, inherits his bad karma too, that is why he is able to accumulate more Spirit Emblems. His karma just got worse! Isn't it mindblowing how everything works like clockwork in this game?
仏師の業・血錆び [busshi no waza・chisabi] - Sculptor's Deeds: Blood Rust. The original description says that Shinobi Prosthetic is filled with karma.
「浴びた血は、今は錆びとなり決して消えぬ」- "Splattered blood has now turned to rust and will never disappear".
Think back to the Prosthetic description!
"It is stained thick with blood an oil". This is the explanation for the blood from that description: even though the Sculptor took good care of the Prosthetic, he was unable to clean it from blood because it just turned to rust.
The last line is more ominous than the localization made it in their version:
「使いこなすほどに、その業を背負うことになる」- "the more you master [the prosthetic], the more of this karma you have to bear".
Sculptor's Karma: Scars
仏師の業・刻み傷 [busshi no waza・kizamikizu] - Sculptor's Deeds・Etched Wounds.
The first line about the Prosthetic accumulating karma is identical to that of the previous description. The many big and small cuts etched in it are not really proof of countless deaths, this sounds kinda one-sided, but of the 「重ねた死闘」- accumulated struggle, or accumulated life or death struggle. You know, the shinobi lifestyle that was mentioned many times. The last line of this description is also identical to that of the previous description but it was unfortunately lost along the way. "The more you master [the prosthetic], the more of this karma you have to bear".
If we, again, think back to the Prosthetic's description, it actually mentions these "etched wounds" in the exact same words: 「大小の傷が刻まれ」, "[it is] etched with big and small wounds".
It's all just fits together. I don't know, I just love this game. Ok, moving on!
Shinobi's Karma: Body
Both Shinobi's Karma skills are pretty straighforward and nearly identical to each other. 忍びの業・身業 [shinobi no waza・shingo:] - Shinobi's Deeds・Karma of the Body. The localization does a pretty good job localizing this description: shinobi that killed many must bear the physicall toll of that karmic burden.
Shinobi's Karma: Mind
忍びの業・心業 [shinobi no waza・shingo:] - Shinobi's Deeds・Karma of the Mind. This is the exact same thing, only now shinobi that killed many have to live with "their hearts burdened by karma" - 「その心に業を抱え」.
A Beast's Karma
A Beast's Karma is a latent skill that you get when you defeat Sakura Bull of the Palace. Its original name is pretty simple: 獣の業 [kemono no waza] - beast's deeds. The localization is pretty accurate, the most intresting part of the original text is a rare reading of the kanji 殺 "to kill", which is usually read as 殺す [korosu], here it is 殺める [ayameru]. The difference between the two is that 殺す [korosu] has a wider pool of meanings not only pertaining to murder, much like in English, in Japanese you can say "lower the speed" using 殺す [korosu], while 殺める [ayameru] specifically means "to wound" or "to murder" and is not used for anything else.
Wolf bears his own shinobi karma and karma that he inherited from the Sculptor through the Prosthetic. The Prosthetic basically operates on regret and suffering because it had caused so much of it when it belonged to the Sculptor. Honestly, it even explains why Spirit Emblems can be purchased not just anywhere but specifically from the Sculptor's Idol. There is a strong connection between the Sculptor, his Prosthetic and Katashiro, manifestations of sorrow and regret.
I am glad I finally got to the Prosthetic Arts. I think during my playthrough I often wasn't attentive enough and I didn't focus on the fact that it's not just a skill tree like in any other game but the results of someone's painstaking research and every skill in this tree has a little bit of story. I already said it when we were talking about Floating Passage but I still think that the best storytelling tools in Sekiro are skills and Combat Arts.
It took me like a thousand years to write this post but I think this is one of the best ones, I'm very happy with how it turned out. I thought about breaking it into two parts but it all fit together so smoothly so I decided not to. Next up - I am not sure what. Maybe, Shinobi Arts? Or maybe we'll do some items and then Shinobi Arts.
This post concludes the Prosthetic Tools research and I feel like I now know a whole lot more than I did before! I hope, you do too.
As usual, stay tuned here and on the Lair's YouTube channel not to miss out on anything.
Thank you for your time.