despite my best efforts trying to keep this analysis of bloodborne limited to the contents of the game and its development, fromsoft incorporates a great deal of japanese folklore, superstition, mythology, and common knowledge that flies right over my, and evidently most people’s, heads. after the shetani’s lair video series about sekiro wrapped up, i realized i didn’t know shit about anything. there was absolutely no way that i wasn’t missing enormous chunks of cultural context. the game might take place in pseudo-victorian england, but it would be literally insane to suggest that the devs solely took inspiration from western culture.

armed with the benefit of hindsight and sekiro, a game which was much more explicit about its real world influences, we are able to better identify ideas that were toyed with in bloodborne that came to full fruition in later games. however, research into literally any of this was a task easier said than done. it turns out there’s not a lot of english language research about japanese shamanism and esoteric buddhist practices. and also i can’t read japanese. the best i can offer you is what little research i have available that i can confirm with my own two eyes. there is a lot of misinformation.

this is the purpose of these annoying author’s notes. i’m going to assume you have approximately the same amount of knowledge that i do during these explanations and not bother to translate words excessively.

anyway: shinshi are animals who act as divine messengers for the kami and are revered as such at shrines. relevant to bloodborne and this upcoming chapter: insects and invertebrates can be shinshi; one of the seven lucky gods, bishamonten, is served by centipedes1. the godly great ones of bloodborne are more like kami than the old testament god; they prefer to use terrestrial beings to communicate their will. but what does it mean to be a divine attendant…a celestial emissary…a messenger? and why would someone want to become one? who benefits the most in a relationship between a god and those that care for them?

how does it differ from parasitism?

1. an incredible resource about mukade symbolism in war. i would also like to say: i have not found anything in english that identifies centipedes as symbols of “impurity” or kegare. this appears to be bad fan lore. like, they are gross and no one really likes them, but they have qualities that lead people to associate them with a “lucky god”.

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