The World of Sekiro: Prosthetic Tools IV. Mist Raven, Finger Whistle and Divine Abduction
Hi! This is the last post on Prosthetic Tools! We'll explore Mist Raven, Finger Whistle and Divine Abduction. If you've missed the previous posts, you can find them by the "Sekiro tag" or linked at the end of this post. The first one of the bunch is here!
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, so if I get something wrong in the religious side of things, I'm sorry :D FromSoftware had a theological consultant who helped them build the religious narrative in Sekiro. I will leave links to the Buddhist 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.
Three-Story Pagoda Memo
You can learn about Mist Raven's Feathers from the Three-Story Pagoda Memo that you can purchase from Fujioka the Info Broker. The localization is pretty accurate, only the last line is a little bit different in the original, it says that they are "keeping the mist" in the pagoda, not that the treasure's name is "blessed mist".
噓か真か、「霧が納められている」とか。。。- whether true or not, they are "keeping the mist" in the pagoda.
I remember when I found the pagoda for the first time and there was that Masanaga in his purple cape, I decided that I wanted nothing to do with him and just stole the Feathers using the i-frames you get when opening doors :D then I baited him into the pagoda, ran out from the other side and jumped into the river. Ah, my younger shinobi days!
Mist Raven's Feathers
We've already discussed Mist Raven's Feather when we were talking about Owl and his associated items. To quickly recap, its original name is 霧がらすの羽 [kirigarasu no hane] - Mist Raven's Feathers. This item describes 「正体掴めぬ猛禽」 - "birds of prey whose true form can't be captured/caught" that dwell in the mysterious Usui forest where Lady Butterfly spent her younger years and where most likely Owl comes from. His spirit Owl might be one of these birds of prey, along with the Mist Raven.
Its original name is just 霧がらす [kirigarasu] - mist raven. The localization says that this Prosthetic Tool is loaded with "the feather" when we know that the material itself is a bunch of feathers, not one specific feather, so that's kind of weird. The localization also missed the word "instantly" when describing the effect of the tool: 瞬時にかき消え - "instantly disappear/vanish".
The last line reiterates the same idea that is present in the description of Mist Raven's Feathers: "When you think you've caught it, the only thing left is the feathers. This is Mist Raven."
Aged Feather Mist Raven
I was sure that in Japanese this upgrade has some other name but the localization is actually on point: 老い羽の霧がらす [oibane no kirigarasu] - mist raven with the aged feathers.
Took me a while to understand how exactly the feathers are upgraded in this Prosthetic Tool, the original says 「羽先に切れ込みをいれた」ー "incisions are made at the tips of the feathers". The line about instant vanishing is identical to that of the previous upgrade.
Mist Raven upgrades move us up the ladder of Mist Ravens: there is a common Mist Raven, and there is also "old" Mist Raven that we're mimicking with this upgrade. The localization is accurate: incisions at the tips of the feathers make it easier to dissolve into mist, just like the Old Mist Raven.
Great Feather Mist Raven
Well, this is interesting! ぬし羽の霧がらす [nushibane no kirigarasu] - Nushi Feather Mist Raven. Honestly, there is so much stuff about various kinds of nushi in the original descriptions that the localization probably should've introduced "nushi" as a term, much like "shinobi" :D Just kidding though. As you might remember, ぬし [nushi] means "god of the land", we discussed it when we were exploring the Great Serpent, who is also a nushi.
「緋羽混じりの霧がらす」 - "mist raven with scarlet feathers mixed in".
The next paragraph is identical to that of the Aged Feather Mist Raven, the localization says "disappear and displace" instead of the previously translated "disappear and move away" but we already talked about these slight discrepancies between the localizations of the Prosthetic Upgrades.
So, who are we mimicking this time, I wonder?
「ぬしの霧がらすに似せて、緋羽に染めてある」 - "imitating the Mist Raven Nushi, the feathers ary dyed red".
「ぬしとは土地神。神に触れれば、ただで済まぬ」- "nushi is a god of the land. If touched by a god, there will be consequences".
「ただで済まぬ」 in general means that something will have consequences and will not be over, the state of things changes. I think, it fits pretty well here along with the sinister implication that always accompanies messing with nushi.
I wondered whether there is one Mist Raven or many of them, and I think these descriptions give a pretty definitive answer. Usui Forest is home to many mysterious birds of prey, including Mist Ravens and Spirit Owls, however it is also a home to Nushi: gods of the land, and one of them is Nushi Mist Raven. I find it fascinating that the power of Nushi Mist Raven is that of fire because Owl's Spirit Owl that he summons in Foster Father bossfight also has a fire attack. Maybe, much like we can use the fire power of Nushi Mist Raven, Owl can harness the power of Nushi Spirit Owl.
Let's see how it works!
There are two ropes: one of them fastens the bundle of feathers to one of Wolf's fingers, the other one hooks onto the Prosthetic. The little note says that the blades of all feathers and their ends have their own specific direction. It then goes on to elaborate that each feather's tip stretches along the direction the feather is fixed.
We discussed Slender Finger previously as Demon of Hatred's associated item. Its original name is ほそ指 [hosoyubi], literally thin or slender finger. It belongs to a young woman and I use this item as my proof that whoever thrusted that sword into the Guardian Ape wasn't Kingfisher because since her finger fits into Wolf's hand, she was a normal-sized human being. I still think it was Owl, but anyway...
With this finger you gain access to a special shinobi technique "Whistle" - 指笛 [yubibue]. Since the finger is actually a prosthetic finger, possibly Kingfisher also lost her arm that was replaced by a Prosthetic. I guess, this finger being a prosthetic also explains why it was still partially intact and not digested completely by the Ape.
Its original name, as expected, is 指笛 [yubibue] - whistle, the shinobi technique described in Slender Finger. The original uses the word おびき寄せる [obikiyoseru] - "to lure someone" when describing the effect of the whistle. Otherwise the localization is pretty accurate, although this Prosthetic Tool doesn't really enrage beast-type enemies but drives them insane, and those driven insane attack both friend and foe without distinction.
Its original name is 山びこ [yamabiko], which means echo, especially one reverberating in the mountains. The original description doesn't really say in what way this version of the Finger Whistle is enhanced, it just says "a whistle that can sound like a mountain echo".
The next paragraph is identical to that of the Finger Whistle, and the last one is localized accurately.
Malcontent's Ring is a special upgrade material required for Malcontent, the last upgrade for the Finger Whistle. Its original name is 泣き虫の指輪 [nakimushi no yubiwa]. Nakimushi usually denotes a person who is very sensitive and cries easily and often without good reason, especially a child. I think, English "crybaby" conveys a similar concept. However, if you listen to Sculptor's dialogue when Wolf gives him the Monkey Booze, you'll notice that the word 泣き虫 [nakimushi] there is related to the whistle and not to the person who is whistling.
Sculptor -「あやつの泣き虫の指笛を聞いた」- [I] listened to [her] nakimushi whistling Wolf -「泣き虫。。。？」- Nakimushi? Sculptor -「変わった指輪があったな。。。」- There was a weird ring...
And then he tells Wolf about that weird ring that when whistled through, would create a sad tune filling the valley. So, I think, here "nakimushi" is a quality of the tune - solitude and beauty - and, by extension, the name of the ring required to produce it. As for the English name, "Malcontent", I am so mesmerized by the sound of this word that my judgement is clouded. I love the word "malcontent" :D It's not really close to what "nakimushi" stands for, but I can't think of a localization that would be accurate. So, Malcontent it is.
Interesting that this ring is specified as old, and yet the Slender Finger was specified as belonging to a young woman. Maybe the ring was passed down to her, or maybe she just found it somewhere. The engraving on the underside says 川蝉 [kawasemi] - kingfisher. Incredible, but the next line of this description quotes the Sculptor's Monkey Booze dialogue exactly, and this is how you're meant to understand that this is that very ring he told you about.
The last line, honestly, breaks my heart.
「泣き声は、寂しく美しい。燃える怨嗟を、ほんの一時、忘れるほどに」- "the cry is so lonesome and beautiful. Enough to forget the burning hatred, just for a while".
When you read Sekiro slowly, as I do, and take note of words that are somehow specific to a character or a phenomenon, you'll start noticing that many things in the narrative have their own vocabulary and every word choice is very much intentional. 燃える怨嗟 [moeru ensa] - burning hatred, the words that we've seen many times in basically everything that pertains to Sculptor battling the building flames, and to the Demon of Hatred. It's unfortunate that much of this nuance was lost in the localized version of this description. This is a significant ring that Sculptor tells you about, and this description is about him specifically, not just about some rather generic "voice of rage".
泣き虫 [nakimushi]. If you look closely at the picture, you'll see Malcontent's Ring on the finger, just below the blowing holes.
The original description states that Malcontent can cause anguish in apparition-type enemies, thus creating a weak spot or a window of opportunity. This last line was not localized into the English version, probably due to the lack of space.
The last paragraph, I feel, can refer both to the Kingfisher and kingfisher birds that are typically found along the waterfront and lay eggs on river banks. "Kingfisher's cry could be heard along the waterfront of the Sunken Valley. Not anymore."
I think there is more sadness in this line not because the Kingfisher is dead - that much we knew already - but because it tells us about earlier, happier times when kingfisher birds cried along the waterfront, and Orangutang and his partner were training in the valley, and she was whistling through Malcontent's Ring, filling the Valley with a lonesome but beautiful tune. Those times are long gone now, Kingfisher is dead and there is nothing to make Orangutang forget the burning hatred even for a short while.
Classic Sekiro descriptions that make you feel sad on multiple levels!
Let's see how the Finger Whistle works.
As you can see, the Finger Whistle acts as a double for Prosthetic's middle finger and is attached to the same joint. From what I can tell, Wolf is able to rotate the joint and thus choose the finger that he needs. You know what? Finger Whistle doesn't look like a massive or elaborate contraption, you could attach anything else on top of it! A Shuriken Wheel, the Firecrackers, Sabimaru or Iron Fortress, literally anything, and they won't interfere with one another :D
Its original name is pretty straightforward: 大うちわ [daiuchiwa] - large fan. Funny, but the localization says "dyed red" when the original uses 赤く色づく - "turned red", like foliage in autumn. Japanese aralia doesn't turn red in autumn though, it is an evergreen shrub, so the localization chose to write "dyed red". Otherwise it is correct: this is a leaf of Japanese aralia, its japanese name is 八つ手 [yatsude], it consists of 八 - eight and 手 - hand and that's why it is often translated as "hand of eight" or "eight fingers". Interestingly enough, it is apparently not the intended meaning at all since aralia leaves never have 8 fingers, they always have either 7 or 9 and thus are considered bringers of good luck since odd numbers in many Asian cultures are believed to be lucky numbers because they can't be split. As I learned from a blogpost of a person living in Japan, apparently the 八 kanji here doesn't convey the number itself but rather lends the word the meaning "expansive" or "infinite" that is derived from the very form of the kanji, two lines widening at each side.
Let's unpack the whole "spiriting away" thing. I think, "to spirit away" became a somewhat standard translation of 神隠し [kamikakushi] when a legendary animated film by Hayao Miyazaki was released in 2001 titled 「千と千尋の神隠し」[sen to chihiro no kamikakushi], localized into English as "Spirited Away". I distinctly remember being impressed by it many years ago, I still am.
神隠し [kamikakushi] consists of 神 [kami] - god, and 隠し [kakushi], a derivative of 隠す [kakusu] which means "to conceal" or "to hide". 神隠し [kamikakushi] can literally be translated as "abduction by gods" or "hidden by gods", in Japanese it's a noun. Surprisingly, some dictionaries assign a negative connotation to it, like "taken by an angered god" but in fact, it is quite neutral. 神隠し [kamikakushi] was used in the ancient times when someone suddenly has gone missing without any warning or apparent reason, especially when a person went to a mountain and never came back or disappeared in the woods, as those places usually house gods. To my surprise, a Japanese source I read on the matter says that apparently 神隠し [kamikakushi] is used even now, albeit rarely, when someone disappears without a trace. There is also a synonym for this word: 天狗隠し [tengukakushi] - "abduction by tengu".
The localization quite creatively uses both "to spirit away" and "divine abduction" as translations for 神隠し [kamikakushi] depending on sentence structure. The next part is kind of confusing, the original doesn't use any pronouns, as usual, however it uses a specific verb form to indicate call to action, similar to the English "let's".
"If abducted by gods, let's head to Mt. Kongo. On Mt. Kongo in Senpou Temple we will make merit/perform virtuous deeds".
At this stage it's not really clear who came up with this instruction and for what reason but I hope the next Prosthetic Upgrades will shed some light on this.
Divine Abduction's original name is, as one would expect, 神隠し [kamikakushi]. The Japanese description says that it's a 「すぐに帰れる小さな神隠し」- "small divine abduction from which one can return immediately", which is kind of cute. Otherwise, it reiterates the same idea from the Large Fan: if someone who already has been abducted by gods, gets abducted again, there is no coming back.
Double Divine Abduction
Weird, but this Prosthetic Tool is called exactly this 二神隠し [nikamikakushi] - Double Divine Abduction. Sounded kind of out of place for me but that's the original name :D The localization says that it is "a large fan that creates a vortex of wind" but that's not exactly new, the Prosthetic Tool is called "large fan" and all modifications create a vortex of wind. The original says that the main difference is in the size of the vortex: 「大きな渦風を起こすだいうちわ」 - "a large fan that creates a massive vortex of wind". Otherwise, the description is exactly the same as that of Divine Abduction except for the part explaining that you can wave it twice in succession.
Well, Golden Vortex is called very differently in Japanese but there was no way to localize it accurately. So, it's called 御寄進回し [gokishinmawashi], where 御寄進 [gokishin] means "contribution/dotation to a temple" accompanied by an honorific prefix, and 回し [mawashi] can be translated as "a turn". The main feature of this prosthetic upgrade is that enemies drop their possessions including money, when turned away, and this is exactly the donation referenced in the name of the upgrade. So, Golden Vortex is literally "a turn for a temple donation", which I think is hilarious.
The last line of the description in just as funny:
「回された者は、持っていた品や銭を落とす。それ御寄進である。ありがたし」 - "Those turned [around] drop the items and money in their possession. Those are the temple donations. Thank you."
Aralia plants are not only considered lucky but they are also believed to attract wealth and money because the leaves look like gigantic hands, that's why they are often planted along the pathways and house entrances. As you can see, the choice of plant for this Prosthetic Tool is not random at all :D
Curious, that when you "abduct" Senpou Monks themselves with Golden Vortex, they straight up vanish. Probably it's meant to be a retribution for breaking many taboos in accumulating wealth to fund their research.
Let's look at the artbook!
Here you can see all modifications listed in a row: a regular Divine Abduction, then Divine Abduction with a wind-gathering reinforcement, and finally the Golden Vortex with a "stealing" reinforcement. There you can also see how this tool is attached to the Prosthetic with a rope and a metal loop, as well as how two metal handles attach to one another to create Double Divine Abduction and Golden Vortex, which are essentially just two Divine Abduction fans placed on top of one another and spread wide to make a larger fan capable of creating a larger vortex of wind.
So, what was it used for?
In his dialogue Kotaro says: "The monks told me that shinobi can perform kamikakushi", thus we can conclude that Temple's shinobi were probably using such fans with Gachiin Sugars to spirit away children. The Children then followed some kind of legend mentioned in the description of the Large Fan: "If abducted, seek Senpou Temple on Mount Kongo to perform virtuous deeds". So, the abducted kids end up on Mt. Kongo after being spirited away, and are then experimented on.
However, when we spirit away Kotaro, who was the caretaker of the Children of Rejuvenation, he ends up in the Halls of Illusion: a place closest to Buddha, and also a place that monks cannot reach anymore because they strayed so far away from the ways of Buddha. Why would that be the case? My theory is that Kotaro was already abducted once: probably as a child just like everyone else. Then he ended up on Mt. Kongo but for some reason was not experimented on but instead appointed caretaker of all the other kids. And when we spirit him away, it's his second time. "One can only return from being spirited away once, and if taken again, there is no coming back". There is also his father's note in the Adandoned Dungeon, apparently he tried to reach Fountainhead Palace but I'm not sure where it fits right now. We'll get to it later.
But why would Divine Abduction be located in the Sunken Valley, which is, unsurprisingly, quite in the opposite direction of Mt. Kongo? We find it at the foot of the White Serpent Bodhisattva, the one identical to that in the Serpent Shine where we find Dried Serpent Viscera. Maybe it was enshrined there after the monks stopped kidnapping children. The Monk you meet in the Main Hall did seem quite sorrowful of what they'd done, so maybe he or someone else hid the Divine Abduction Fan deep in the Sunken Valley and protected in with a Long-Armed Centipede.
And we're done with Prosthetic Tools! I feel like now I know a whole lot more than I did before. But there are more discoveries ahead: in the next posts we'll talk about upgrade materials, and Prosthetic Combat Arts. Also, why do we need Spirit Emblems to use the Prosthetic?..
As usual, stay tuned here and on the Lair's YouTube channel not to miss out on anything.
Thank you for your time.
The World of Sekiro: Prosthetic Tools III. Spear, Sabimaru and Umbrella
The World of Sekiro: Prosthetic Tools II. Flame Vent and Shinobi Axe
The World of Sekiro: Prosthetic Tools I. Shuriken and Firecracker
The World of Sekiro: Dragonrot and the Memorial Mob.
The World of Sekiro: Dragon Heirs. Part III. The Girl and the Serpent
The World of Sekiro: Dragon Heirs. Part II. Kuro and Wolf
The World of Sekiro: Dragon Heirs. Part I. Lord Takeru and Lady Tomoe
The World of Sekiro: Remnants I
The World of Sekiro: Remnants II
The World of Sekiro: Remnants III
The World of Sekiro: Sugars, Spiritfalls and the Headless