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How Japanese folklore inspired Okamiden

Ink to the past...

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After being orphaned by the Taira clan, he was separated from his brother Yoritomo, years later reuniting to take down those who had murdered his parents.

Having won three successive battles against the Taira, he retreated to the safety of the Fujiwara clan, only to be betrayed by his brother and eventually forced to commit ritual suicide along with his wife and daughter.

As with his character in Okami, Waka was a skilled flautist, and revered in battle as one of the finest swordsmen of the period. Thankfully, the game offers him a happier ending than the legend, even if his appearance in a flying saucer is straight out of the George Lucas Guide To Shark-Jumping.

This chap's story is another light-hearted take on a tragic tale. In the game, Benkei is a red-nosed monk who aims to collect 1,000 swords, but he's been stuck on 999 for ages - Nippon's equivalent of 241 stars on Mario Galaxy 2.

His mythical counterpart, meanwhile, was a warrior who disarmed the same number of swordsmen, and was only bested on his 1,000th duel by the superior swordsmanship of Minamoto no Yoshitsune.

Rather than being peeved at his defeat to a flute-playing wimp, Benkei joined his vanquisher, becoming a loyal partner in battle.

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Eventually he was forced to hold off the incoming army as Yoshitsune committed seppuku,8 doing such a good job of it that it took his attackers a long while to realise that he had died from his wounds, his corpse still standing guard.

This display of loyalty and honour makes him one of the best-loved characters of Japanese legend, while his cantankerous digital equivalent is one of out faves, too - wisely deciding that this sword-collecting malarkey isn't for him, he takes up fishing instead.

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