“Mondstat is the City of Freedom, and Liyue is the City of Contracts… As for Inazuma, it’s known as the Nation of Eternity.”
The themes in Genshin Impact is obviously inspired by different cultures around the world – from Germanic or European to the Oriental. These inspirations provide a huge influence for the game’s storytelling and character concepts as shown through the trailer for the upcoming version with main stories now set in the archipelagic nation of Inazuma. Constant mention of “eternity” and use of Japanese-inspired terms like “Raiden Shogun”, “Tenryou Commission” and so on make the basis culture easy to identify.
But small tidbits of the region and the stories that come with it shown in the Inazuma trailer can be paralleled to Japan’s own history and maybe even give us means to speculate how events in this Nation of Eternity are going to unfold – a project of digging that I am eager to do.
Sakoku and Vision Hunt Decrees
Before this trailer dropped, we already knew that Inazuma was going to be heavily influenced with Japanese themes especially when they mentioned that this region had closed of its borders due to the Sakoku (in English, “locking up of a country”) Decree. This was the order made in effect by Baal, the Electro Archon and Almighty Shogun of the Inazuma Bakufu, presumably in pursuit of her ideal in achieving “eternity.”
The inspiration behind the nature of Inazuma’s Sakoku Decree is from Japan’s Sakoku Edict of 1635. Prior to this, the influx of European influences in trade and religion (specifically Christianity) was warmly welcomed under Oda Nobunaga‘s shogunate until he was replaced Toyotomi Hideyoshi who had anti-European sentiments motivated by fear of their overwhelming military power and colonial interests in Asia.
Inazuma’s Sakoku Decree and Japan’s Sakoku Edict bear a whole lot of similarities.
|Inazuma’s Sakoku Decree||Japan’s Sakoku Edict|
|People from Inazuma are restricted from leaving the archipelago||Japanese are not allowed to leave their territories|
|Outsiders cannot enter freely into the nation, except in the port of Ritou; even then, outsiders were subject to strict checks||Foreigners cannot enter freely into the country; traders had to get special licenses to enter Japanese ports|
|Ordered by Electro Archon for unknown reasons; presumably in pursuit of “eternity”||Ruling shogun had anti-European sentiments|
There are a bunch of parallels between these two decrees, some speculative and some revealed, in the specific events of the lead up and halting of Japan’s Sakoku Edict of 1635 – all of which I will discuss extensively later on here. But the table above provides a simple compare-and-contrast of motivations and methods for enforcement between the two decrees.
Along with the Sakoku Decree is Inazuma’s Vision Hunt Decree which is the Electro Archon’s order to forcibly seize all Visions from Vision-wielders within Inazuma and inlay them upon the hands of a statue of the “Thousand-Armed, Hundred-Eyed God.” This decree has also happened in some form in Japan with the katanagiri or sword hunt orders made by new Japanese shoguns to establish control over the country. One such order was made prior to the 1635 Sakoku Edict.
Upon the start of his rule as shogun, Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered a sword hunt to confiscate weapons in order to solidify Japan’s class structure (i.e., a peasant class, a warrior class, and the nobility), prevent peasant uprisings, and deny weapons for his political enemies. The reason made for such order was to melt down confiscated weapons in order to make a huge Buddha statue – similar to how the Electro Archon wishes to inlay Visions into the statue of a god.
Here’s another table to provide a simple compare-and-contrast between Inazuma’s Vision Hunt Decree and Japan’s katanagiri orders.
|Inazuma’s Vision Hunt Decree||Japan’s Sword Hunt Orders|
|Forced confiscation of Visions from Vision-wielders in Inazuma||Forced confiscation of weapons from general populace|
|Enforced by Baal, an Electro Archon and one of the youngest members of the Seven Archons (ascended ~500-2000 years ago)||Done by newly installed shoguns to establish power in the country|
|Confiscated Visions inlayed in the hands of the statue of a god||Confiscated weapons melted to construct a Buddha statue|
These comparisons between Inazuma’s premise and Japan’s actual history are absolutely interesting and I feel that the relationship between them drop a hint of how events are going to go in the upcoming Genshin Impact 2.0 update. Stick with me here, we’re going to nerd out a little bit!
Initial mentions of Baal, the Electro Archon, were all about her fixation on pursuing eternity even before the 2.0 update trailer dropped. And as expected, the whole Inazuma arc will have that theme – pursuit of eternity by the Electro Archon. That and along with focal points such as explaining how Visions are bestowed by gods, and possibly a nation ready to challenge its deity. These are certain points I wanna talk about when it comes to guessing how the Inazuma arc will go.
The Electro Archon’s fixation on pursuing eternity and her motivations for such pursuit is unknown at this time. But if I were to guess, from the comparisons with Japan’s history and the sparse conversations you have as the Traveler while talking with the game’s characters, it seems that this is to consolidate her position as Inazuma’s sole eternal deity. From the Genshin Impact wiki, it says that Baal “ascended around 500 to 2000 years ago” and this is confirmed when Zhongli points out that the current Electro Archon is one of the youngest among The Seven (Archons).
We still have no idea how a Vision user or anyone can ascend to an Archon of a certain element. The closest explanation we could get was Venti’s narration of Old Mondstat in the game’s story titled “The Boy and The Whirlwind”. In that story, Venti was merely a wandering wind spirit who accompanied a young bard in a Mondstat ruled by a tyrant and isolated by a wall of storm. That young bard was one of the few who led the revolt against the despotic Old Mondstat and, in his resulting death, Venti then took the boy’s form.
As for Baal, she probably ascended through either a rule of succession (I assume that’s how some Archons do it considering Zhongli implicitly left control of Liyue to its business leaders under the Liyue Qixing), a rebellion or challenge against the incumbent deity, or random selection. The latter being highly unlikely as I assume the position of being a nation’s deity or an Archon is a highly contentious position that requires either force or the incumbent’s blessing to ascend to such role. But as was the circumstances of Hideyoshi’s shogunate, Baal probably had to deal with challengers to the early years of her rule as the Raiden Shogun which started her fixation on eternal rule.
Venti’s scuffles with Schzenayan agents and Zhongli’s fabricated “death” probably had a huge effect on her tightened grip over Inazuma in hopes of self-preservation and eternal rule over the nation as its deity. It is important to note that the Sakoku and Vision Hunt Decrees were recent orders implemented sometime at the start of the Traveler’s journey in Teyvat. Increasing perceptions of instability throughout the world and the “death” of a long-reigning Archon must have caused a great deal of concern for Baal in keeping her position as deity.
Now that we’ve established the initial and possible motivations for Baal’s pursuit of eternity, what is the Traveler’s role in the Inazuma arc?
Leading a rebellion is the most likely answer.
In the game’s storyline preview, the narrator asks:
But what do mortals see of the eternity chased after by their god?Narrator, Teyvat Chapter Storyline Preview: Travail
Judging from the tidbits of information and speech lines within the 2.0 update teaser, the Traveler will be meeting with all sorts of characters to build a network of allies in order to get the chance to speak with the Elector Archon in the overarching goal of chasing after our sibling (who is now revealed to lead the Abyss Order). Along the way, we meet characters who might be sympathetic or members to a splinter faction within Inazuma that actively challenges the Raiden Shogun’s rule.
Much like how we had an initial misunderstanding with the Liyue Qixing as a potential suspect for Rex Lapis’ “death”, we might not be cooperating with the Bakufu in Inazuma actively but, rather, we’ll be working against them. Either way, the Traveler’s role in such matters will not change the fact that Baal’s restrictive decrees and the sorry state of her people is priming the nation of Inazuma as a powder keg ready to explode right in her face.
Misunderstanding repression for salvation?
Common with all initial premises surrounding the actions of Archons in Teyvat, we can assume that the Electro Archon pursues eternity in order to gain salvation for her people. The escalating instability in the world with Mondstat’s crisis with Stormterror and Venti’s confrontation with Schzenayan agents, Zhongli’s fake “death”, Fatui movement, and plots by the Abyss Order are all genuine points of concern for any ruler seeking to protect her domain. There must be a far greater reward for Baal risking the trade off of alienating her own people and pushing them to possible rebellion against her.
Going back to Hideyoshi’s premise for confiscating weapons among Japanese citizens, these weapons were to be melted to construct a Buddha statue and ensure the implementation of peace to change an unstable political landscape. If Baal’s decision to inlay all confiscated Visions into the “Thousand-Armed, Hundred-Eyed God” is to safeguard the people of Inazuma, then it wouldn’t be too far off from the reoccurring themes among the Archons we’ve dealt with so far.
The Anemo Archon believed that his non-participative role in the daily affairs of Mondstat is key to freedom. The Geo Archon believed that order and peace could be maintained through respecting mutual contracts among the people of Liyue. And if the Electro Archon sees Visions as a huge hurdle in her pursuit of eternity, then it would not be surprising to discover that to being the case. After all, as Sir Acton said: “power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely“.
As true to real life circumstances, the more wealth and assets an individual amasses, the more emboldened he may become and end up being complicit in the oppression of his fellow man. But then again, there are a notable few that break that stereotype of power and use it for an absolute good. It still doesn’t deny the possibility that by taking away Visions, a valued item among mortals, it can sow resentment against anyone – even a god.
This is something that I personally enjoy when it comes to this game’s characters – they’re not written in black and white but with an intersectionality of motivations and circumstances that push them into acting in a certain way.
It all falls on the Traveler, the character which players experience the world of Teyvat, to ultimately alter the fate of Inazuma.
What do we think of the eternity pursued by the Electro Archon?
Will we challenge a god?
Thank you so much for reading!
After a long period of hiatus, I am back and ready to push out stuff on anime, gaming, and a whole lot of other places for content! What do you think about this piece?
Let me know in the comments below!