Robot Character Design: Researching Japanese mythology

Over the last 2 weeks I have researched and developed ideas to create my 10 robot thumbnails. I decided to make my theme Japanese  Mythology, and my robots are based on traditional Japanese legends and yokai.

  1. Yuki Onna-The legend of the Yuki Onna is a convoluted story, because there are many variations in story and appearance. The Yuki Onna is traditionally a pale ghost of a woman, who wears long, thin white robes, and she has long flowing hair. Traditionally, the Yuki Onna has white hair, however most common interpretations say that Yuki Onna has black hair. Legend tells that she died in the cold mountainous Northern regions, and from this point some stories tell that she is a cold hearted vampire that steals souls, and some stories tell that Yuki Onna is kind and protects lost adventurers. My Yuki Onna will be a cyborg type robot. Tall, thin and sleek, with white face and arm panels, and black line detail. Long flowing white robes and black hair. She will float because Yuki Onna doesn’t leave footprints, and snow launches out of the hands to paralyse enemies.
  2. Kitsune- Kitsune were magical fox spirits that were believed to possess a great deal of magical power that grew stronger as they aged. The number of tails a Kitsune had showed just how aged and powerful it was. The more tails it had, the more powerful and aged it was. Their greatest ability was to be able to assume a human form, and were revered as messengers of greater kami, as well as friends and even spouses. Human transformation was not the only thing Kitsune could do, as Kitsune had any number of illusionary powers, such as taking on the form of inanimate objects, and were also known as tricksters that pulled pranks on peasants. Kitsune also had the ability to charge lightning and fire from their mouths, and tail, also known as ‘kitsune bi’, or similarly ‘Fox Fire’. As a Kitsune aged, it could also get abilities such as flight, invisibility, or could muster illusions so strong that manifest, bending the fabric of space and time to their will, or even transforming into something unbelievably massive like a second moon. My Kitsune will be fox robot with lots of tails, to emphasise that it is  very powerful. Can warp through a small distance, breathe fire and mainly uses scratch attacks. Maybe has a chargeable invisibility power, so that it can’t be abused. It’s power can be brought down by cutting off it’s tails, and each tail removed, makes it less powerful.
  3. Onamazu/Namazu-In the 18th Century, there was a legend that there were massive catfish living underneath the islands of Japan. As one of the Yokai, they were mischief makers and bringers of moral trouble. When they wriggled, their movements caused a whole manor of earthquakes, big and small. The Namazu caused so many problems that it became that duty of Kashima (or Takemikazuchi), a God of Thunder and Swords, to restrain the titanic beasts. Sometimes the paintings show Kashima pinning the Namazu down with a sword, however more popular belief was that Kashima used a gigantic stone to pin down the Namazu. Should Kashima lower his guard, and Namazu will break free and cause even more earthquakes than ever before. In the 15th Century, Namazu were seen as benevolent river deities, who brought warnings of floods and other natural disasters, and on occasion would prevent disasters by stopping or swallowing whole the river dragons, who at the time were considered to cause the disasters. My Onamazu will have some element of stone on it’s head to represent restrains. Maybe release a powerful attack if the stone is removed from it’s head. Earth shaking abilites. Floats around and maybe can bounce around and flail around at enemies to hurt them.
  4. Kashima-Kashima shares a backstory with Onamazu, he is the God of thunder (and swords). He brought down the Onamazu with stones and stopped them from causing further trouble. My Kashima will be a stocky, warrior type robot with an electrified sword, could also be able to lift and launch sword. Traditional robe garb, most likely with armour underneath.
  5. Susano(o)- The third sibling, alongside Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi. Izanagi created his 3 children, and gave them all a realm to rule, Susano was given the sea. He was banished to the earth by Amaterasu after tricking her. One day he came across two lesser earthbound kami, who were weeping at the head of the River Hii, in the Izumo province, where he learned that Orochi would come once a year and devour one of their 8 children, the next one being Kushinada-hime. Susano told the spirits that in return for her hand, he would save her. Susano then ordered the spirits to prepare special Sake that was brewed in 8 vats, housed by 8 gates and 8 fences. Orochi then came, and each head drank from each vat, and fell asleep. Susano slayed each head, and buried them in a pile, and within the serpent’s tail, he found the beautiful sword, Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi, which he presented to Amaterasu, who accepted the token of peace, and the sword itself became one of the three imperial regalia. My Susano will have a warrior build. He needs to have long hair and wield a sword, maybe inspire the sword from Ame-no-Murakumo-no-Tsurugi. He will wear traditional robes
  6. Yamata no Orochi- Snake God. Name could stand for ‘Great Snake’, ‘Peak God’, or ‘Tail God’. Orochi was a demon god with 8 heads and 8 tails. ‘It had an eight-forked head and an eight-forked tail; its eyes were red, like the winter-cherry; and on its back firs and cypresses were growing. My Orochi will be a big hydra like robot with 8 heads and 8 tails. Piercing, resonating red eyes. Traditionally Orochi has tree like mane, maybe make metallic trees as a mane.
  7. Issun Boshi- The one-inch boy. An elderly couple prayed to have a child, and the gods granted them a child, only their child was 1 inch/3cm tall. The couple named their child Issun Boshi, which translates as one-inch boy. One day, Issun set out on an adventure, and sailed down the river in a bowl, with chopsticks for ores and a needle for a sword. He happened upon a very wealthy landlord, who hired him to become a playmate of his young beautiful daughter. One day, an Oni attacked them, and Issun came to the rescue with his sword, however, since Issun was so small, the Oni ate him whole. Issun, having survived, stabbed and slashed valiantly at the Oni’s stomach, until the Oni spat him out and fled. The Oni also spat up Uchide’s Mallet, which the girl used to make Issun grow to full height.Tiny tiny robot that can climb on the enemies. Humanoid robot that fights with a needle for a sword.
  8. Shinigami- God of Death. Shinigami are basically the grim reapers of Japanese mythology. Shinigami are Gods of Death, and decide when an individual’s time is over. Shinigami aren’t traditionally Japanese, as they are influenced by western ‘grim reapers’, however there are distinct differences between the two. Shinigami aren’t feared, they are regarded as part of the natural life cycle. There is many Shinigami, and it is believed that they work in pairs to escort souls to the afterlife. Shinigami gauge how long an individual has left by a candle, and the individual can only die once their candle has burned out. Grim reaper style. Long black robe, and a scythe. The robot itself will be metallic silver, skeleton like with expressive eye sockets. Maybe the Shinigami could work as a team healer, and work intensely against the opposing team, targeting one member.
  9. Enenra- Enenra is a Yokai made out of smoke. It resides in bonfires and, when it emerges, it takes the form of a human. It is said that an Enenra can only be seen by the pure of heart. My Enenra will be robot with a human build, but with smoke vents to mask the way it looks, and can create a smoke skin around the robot. Stealth is the focus, impure hearted cannot see it. I think I’ll make it look like a ninja, because of the stealth focus, therefore my Enenra will wear dark navy
  10. Kunoichi- Kunoichi aren’t mythological or legendary creatures, they were female ninjas who hid in plane sight. They became members of the family to their enemies, and performed espionage under the their noses.They would go about their day to day tasks as normal women, while at the same time obtaining information about the enemies and sending it to their allies. No-one suspected the Kunoichi to be dangerous, which is why they were so deadly. My plan for a Kunoichi character is to make a female cyborg type robot that duel wields katanas to fight. She isn’t going to wear the kind of clothes that most media expresses, and she will be covered up. I think I will give her cybernetic enhancements to emphasise the fact that she is a robot. She won’t wear traditional navy ninja garb, because at the time Kunoichi wore normal clothes to blend in, so my Kunoichi will do the same.

My next step is to make the character designs of the robots I described. I think as a starting point I will take reference from traditional Japanese art and depictions of these legends, then add a robotic twist.


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