The presence of a “shadow warrior” in Genshin Impact may bring ominous tidings to the anime-inspired action-adventure game, but an interesting leaked term sheds new light on a major major character’s backstory.
The version 2.1 update is almost here, and thanks to some leaks that arose from data-mining, there are several spoilers out in the wild, both minor and significant. One of them has to do with the fact that Inazuma’s leader Raiden Shogun was once a “kagemusha,” but what does this word mean? More importantly, what does it mean within the context of Genshin Impact?
What is the meaning of kagemusha?
“Kagemusha” is a Japanese word that translates literally to something like “Shadow Warrior” but it more commonly refers to a political decoy. The terms was popularized in the Sengoku period of Japanese history which ran from around 1467 to 1615. That time period was rife with political upheaval and civil wars amongst the country’s various clans, and it was also more or less the peak of samurai culture. (If gamers want further historical context, this is about two hundred years after the era presented in Ghost of Tsushima.)
Raiden Shogun is Genshin Impact’s resident kagermusha
To put it in plainer terms, a daimyo (or Japanese feudal lord) would recruit lookalikes to impersonate them as a means of self-protection. That way, should there be some kind of assassination attempt, the daimyo would be safe — but the decoy would not. Recall that in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Padmé Amidala essentially posed as her own kagemusha, a creative choice made all the more interesting because her queenly attire is obviously inspired by the Japanese geisha style. Like Star Wars before it, Genshin Impact is borrowing heavily from Japanese culture.
Famously, Kagemusha was also the title of a 1980 film by Akira Kurosawa in which a lower-class criminal is recruited to impersonate a dying daimyo to dissuade rival lords from attacking. So it would seem that Genshin Impact is riffing on similar dynamics with some of its characters.
What does kagemusha mean in Genshin Impact?
The newest region of Genshin Impact is Inazuma, which is clearly inspired by Japanese culture and was added to the game with the version 2.0 update. The version 2.1 update similarly focuss heavily on the region and its inhabitants. A data-mine of audio files posted to Twitter and Reddit in late August make note of the fact that Raiden Shogun, an Electro character who’ll be added to the game in 2.1, was once a kagemusha.
“Ei was once a kagemusha (yes like the movie, essentially a political decoy) and met a god (literally don’t know who) at a dinner for the gods?” one summary of the clips explains. Raiden Shogun’s real name is “Ei,” and she is the vessel of Baal, Inazuma’s Electro Archon.
One piece of audio’s transcription available on a Genshin Impact wiki mentions the term as she talks about Morax, the God of Contracts: “I had an opportunity to feast with him once, back when I was just a kagemusha attending a gathering of the gods,” she says. “So he’s made his choice. Be that as it may, I don’t believe his story is anywhere near finished yet.”
Similarly, a piece of Venti dialogue also refers to Raiden Shogun’s history: “I recall the days when she was a kagemusha, seeking to perfect her marshal prowess.”
Some theories posit that Raiden Shogun is a fake Archon, so she may have been a kagemusha for Inazuma’s previous leader, and now she’s a kagemusha for the actual Archon, who is somebody else. If true, that would mean some pretty exciting twists are in store for Genshin Impact’s 2.1 update.
Genshin Impact version 2.1 goes live around 6 p.m. Eastern on August 31, 2021.