Body and Appearance
1. Describe the character's height and build. Is he heavyset, thin, short, rangy? As a ‘Poncle’, he is one inch tall. For events and memes in which it becomes necessary that he is human-sized to interact, I make him the average 5’9”. Issun is skinny because he’s got the ‘starving artist’ look going on.
2. How old is he?
GOOD TL;DR QUESTION. There are three clues to his age.
To begin with, it must be acknowledged that there are a great deal of old things/people/creatures. Waka is very old. Orochi is even older. Amaterasu is a god. Asian philosophy says that the age of a god remains outside of time, as they create time itself during each new cycle of the universe. Remembering that Shinto notes that there is a spirit for everything, some of the years that we can quantify still remain staggering. A tree may be 3000 years old. A mountain may be 1, 000,000+ years old. Everything that is not human in Okami appears older than they actually are. There comes a point where age becomes relatively pointless, as it is their behavior that determines how they are perceived. The characters do not give a number, signifying that age is unimportant. Not once do old characters say something like ‘I’m so bored with my XXXXXXXX years of life’ or ‘I’ve seen this all before; it gets tiring after a while’ or ‘wow, humans are really stupid/confusing this century’. Centuries do not have to be boring unless the characters make it that way, and that humans don’t have to be confusing because it is possible to understand them better. Old characters have their extensive lives to make things interesting and learn more. With this, Okami presents a rather (IMHO unbelievably) optimistic view on how the characters cannot step in the same river twice—an event can only be similar to one in the past but not exactly the same, making each moment to moment as novel as the last.
The second clue comes from a brief, almost overlooked bit of dialog. In Issun’s own words, “200 years is nothing”. The context for this line was given by a character mentioning that Waka was much older than he seemed. Issun, because he doesn’t like Waka, used this line to counter that Waka’s age is not reason enough for being cryptic. One can by mysterious, sagely, and a total douche no matter what their age. That being said, Issun is very impatient for his age. He lives in the moment, making him seem young. In contrast, Waka prefers his centuries-old Batman Gambits, making him seem old. Amaterasu is both old and young in her behavior.
Finally, Amaterasu, in all her immeasurable age has had only six Celestial Envoys before Issun. If the current universe is only ~14 billion years old, each envoy must have lasted a mean 2.3 billion years. If she never had an Envoy until the solar system was formed, each envoy must have lasted 1.5 billion years. If she never had one until the earth was formed, each Envoy must have lasted 750 million years. Whatever the case, her chosen envoys have the ability to live a long time if they are good at their job. Again, the characters in Okami do not place great emphasis on age or give it a subjective form. To place a number on age is giving it a transitory state, when in reality, time is just another form of energy of the world, and all forms are manifested illusion of the pure energy that it actually is.
So all in all, he’s really fucking old. His apparent age is determined by behavior. What he doesn’t like is when he’s called a kid when its meant disrespectfully...well, he’s kinda screwed by that because he’s pretty immature.
Oh—oh! You mean, how old Issun appears to be? While his art is a chibified form of the Okami art style, it must be noted that all of his race, even his gray haired, wrinkled grandfather is chibi’d. I’ve seen art that has him look like a 13 yr old, and others that make him appear 25 years old. I personally believe he appears between 15 to 19 years old.
3. Describe his posture. Does he carry himself well or does he slouch? He carries himself proudly, or at least tries to—it’s hard to pull that off when he’s thin.
4. How is his health? Is he fit or out of shape? Any illnesses or conditions? Any physical disabilities? In shape. He knows how to use a sword and has to practice because of it. He was strong enough to cut the Spirit Gate", at least. Plus, traveling means he’s got some good leg muscles. Outwardly, he looks like you could easily push him over.
5. How does he move? Is he clumsy, graceful, tense, fluid? This depends on what he’s doing. With the sword or Celestial Brush, he favors fluid and graceful movements. When he’s doing nothing special, he is average.
6. How attractive is this character physically? How does he perceive himself in the mirror? His pictures/icons to me make him appear feminine—in a tomboyish way. I’m not sure if this qualifies as attractive. Issun believes he is good looking, not that he bothers much maintaining his skin or hair.
7. Describe his complexion. Dark, light, clear, scarred? White skin.
8. Describe his hair: color, texture, style. Hair is long and black. Hime cut. Almost everyone has a hime cut in Okami.
9. What color are his eyes? Green.
10. Does the character have any other noteworthy features? All Poncles sparkle! Issun sparkles green.
11. What are his chief tension centers? His left hand—the one in which he uses his Celestial Brush.
12. What is the character's wardrobe like? Casual, dressy, utilitarian? Bright colors, pastels, neutrals? Is it varied, or does he have six of the same suit? Casual, purple men’s traveling yukata. Either a green cloak or scarf. A sugegasa. All of his clothes are worn from travel and look like they need to be switched out for new ones.
13. Do his clothes fit well? Does he seem comfortable in them? Yukata/kimono are naturally loose-fitting for men. He is comfortable enough.
14. Does he dress the same on the job as he does in his free time? If not, what are the differences? He removes the scarf/cloak and sugegasa when not traveling.
15. You knew it was coming: Boxers, briefs or commando?
1. What does this character's voice sound like? High-pitched, deep, hoarse? Also depends: as one-inch-tall he sounds high pitched. Human-sized he sounds normal. In game he’s a bit like Navi—a guide, annoying, likes to talk and give information.
2. How does he normally speak? Loud, soft, fast, evenly? Does he talk easily, or does he hesitate? He speaks fast and rarely hesitates. Practical.
3. Does the character have a distinct accent or dialect? Any individual quirks of pronunciation? Any, like, you know, verbal tics? His dialect is informal and youthful.
4. What language/s does he speak, and with how much fluency? Ancient Japanese is his language. Fluent in whatever scriptures he had to study, so he may know some Chinese or Indian in order to read the original Hindu, Tao, and Buddhist texts.
5. Does he switch languages or dialects in certain situations? Oooh yeah. To mostly everyone he speaks informally and with little age. When he is in ‘Celestial Envoy’ mode or when he wants to convey an important lesson or point, he speaks like a sensei-to-student. When he speaks like this he tends to think much more deeply about what he says.
6. Is he a good impromptu speaker, or does he have to think about his words? He can think quickly about what he wants to say, but he may not realize that whatever he says might harm another.
7. Is he eloquent or inarticulate? Under what circumstances might this change? The informality slips in occasionally, but I found his game dialog to be inconsistent. For the most part, he speaks like any other person. What makes him seem like he has more of a informal personality is his physical appearance—like an annoying fairy that never sits still. The only time his dialog can be considered eloquent when he gives his discourses or when discussing philosophy.
Mental and Emotional
1. How intelligent is this character? Is he book-smart or street-smart? A little bit of both? From his training, he knows Hindu/Buddhist/Tao/Zen/Shinto philosophy and mythology. Probably not street-smart by modern day standards, but he knows how to travel by himself and be safe. From the community , he’s learned a little bit of genetics, a good amount of physics, and some other things here and there.
2. Does he think on his feet, or does he need time to deliberate? He thinks on his feet, and is often the one to tell Amaterasu to leap first think later into that dark and maybe-bottomless-pit.
3. Describe the character's thought process. Is he more logical, or more intuitive? Idealistic or practical? Depends on the situation. Different aspects of his mind are activated when they need to be. The default is intuitive, but it begins to include some logic later on. Remember that in Zen and Tao, even logic requires some emotions and moral to reach a conclusion, because logic and emotion are two sides of reasoning. To reach a conclusion effectively, both must be activated. One only has a 50/50 chance of reaching the right decision when ignoring one side.
4. What kind of education has the character had? Classical, basic literature and math as well as any ‘science’ back in ancient japan. Whatever was needed to become a Celestial Envoy of the kami. Lots and lots and lots of scriptures. His grandfather saw him as a genius, so push him extra, extra hard.
5. What are his areas of expertise? What, if anything, is he interested in learning more about? His area of expertise is obviously painting. Most people in ancient anywhere are illiterate. Painting the myths and kami of legends to show the people is most critical in conveying their messages. He’s interested in learn more bout how the world works: physics, molecular biology, you name it! He feels like it’s his duty to learn everything he can about the world, especially since the kami won’t tell.
6. Is he an introvert or an extrovert? Extrovert.
7. Describe the character's temperament. Is he even-tempered or does he have mood swings? Cheerful or melancholy? Laid-back or driven? Has some mood swings—mostly when he sees some injustice or whenever his past is brought up. He’s cheerful and easily excited about adventure and opportunity. Even in the darkest of situations he just sees everything as means to gain experience, and therefore knowledge. When Issun has no goals, he is very laid-back. When he has a goal in mind, he is totally driven to accomplishing the goals.
8. How does he respond to new people or situations? Is he suspicious, relaxed, timid, enthusiastic? He harbors some suspicion, but it’s mostly enthusiasm. He gives the benefit of the doubt, and no instance would be terrible enough to ever change this aspect.
9. Is he more likely to act, or to react? Act and react? Depends on the situation.
He hates being told that he can’t do something, and will think it’s a challenge. Like when told “only those that are worthy of the trip may board” “you never had a ticket, and you never will” “those unwilling to fulfill their own destiny cannot board the ferry to the Celestial Plain”
10. Which is his default: fight or flight? Fight. Flight when he’s being smart.
11. Describe the character's sense of humor. Does he appreciate jokes? Puns? Gallows humor? Bathroom humor? Pranks? He has a good sense of humor, for the most part. He enjoys pranks and jokes.
12. Does the character have any diagnosable mental disorders? If yes, how does he deal with them?
Let’s look at the personality disorders…
Antisocial? No. Borderline? No. Histrionic? No. Narcissistic? No. Schizoid? No. Schizotypal? No. Paranoid? No. Avoidant? No. Dependent? No. Obsessive Compulsive? No.
No personality disorders here. As for the rest of the mental disorders, he has no apparent ones.
13. What moments in this character's life have defined him as a person?
Parents’ death. My headcanon says they died doing something as Celestial Envoys for one of the gods. It’s not an easy job, after all. For whatever their lifespan and how much blessings they do gain from the gods, they are mortal and much more effected by things than the gods realize.
Done with training. At one point in his life while studying/training to become Celestial Envoy he realized that he was miserable the way his life was. At the same time, he knew that he didn’t have to be that way and that there was always a choice. So, he eventually went ‘SCREW THIS I’M OUTTA HERE’, forsook his training, stole his grandfather’s painting of Sakuya, and left. He traveled and painted until his canon started.
Joining Amaterasu on her quest. It’s the first notion he gets that he couldn’t escape his destiny of dealing with kami.
Parting with Amaterasu. At this time in the game, she was like his BFF. He respected her not as some kami that was detached from the world and he had a duty to guide, but as a genuine friend. He could not go with her because he refused to accept his title as Celestial Envoy. He realized that his relationship with her was more important than being stubborn and not refusing his duty.
Those who are not familiar with Okami may be wondering ‘what’s a celestial envoy’? They basically speak for the god that chooses them and guide them when they appear on the mortal plane. Think of them as a non-divine Hermes or Aspara: they pass on messages and do tasks that assist the gods. Kami, you see, are perfect because they represent everything: both feminine and masculine, vicious and kind, flawless and flawed. Being imperfect is part of being perfect. Their flaw is that they are out of touch with the false reality that is the material world. To compensate for this perfect flaw, they use a Celestial Envoy.
14. What does he fear? Baths.
Also: touch! He doesn’t liked to be touched without his permission. His parents died while he was young, his grandfather was strict, also Japanese culture—you do the logic. He is uncomfortable with it, and not understanding makes him scared. He’s a little bit more lenient when it comes to girls, but it’s still very hard for him to accept touch from others. The only ones he is comfortable with are Ammy, Sakuya, and Miya.
15. What are his hopes or aspirations? To become the best painter ever. To solve all the phenomena in the world. To adventure. To have fun.
16. What is something he doesn't want anyone to find out about him? Anything about his grandfather or past. It doesn’t even matter by the end of the game, even when he does become an Envoy—he’ll never forgive his grandfather.
1. Describe this character's relationship with his parents. He mentions his mother once, but it’s fleeting. Parents= long dead. He was raised by his grandfather.
2. Does the character have any siblings? What is/was their relationship like? No siblings.
3. Are there other blood relatives to whom he is close? Are there ones he can't stand? He hates his grandfather. He won’t speak with him. He pushed the training of a Celestial Envoy onto Issun before Issun knew what he wanted to do. While Issun is grateful in some way that he was handed a paintbrush, he still hates his grandfather for the criticism and grueling training he had to endure to become one.
4. Are there other, unrelated people whom he considers part of his family? What are his relationships with them? He has a very close relationship with Amaterasu— like a mother to a child sort of way. In which the mother-child relationship is like a understanding friendship. After all, she is the ‘mother of us all’.
5. Who is/was the character's best friend? How did they meet? When he was young, the Poncle Miya. Except he had to cut many relationships short because he was pulled away to study and train.
6. Does he have other close friends? Issun’s close friends are all non-human. He made friends with the people of the Oina tribe that he met while not studying and training. Which, after spending more and more time neglecting his studies, led his grandfather to outright cut him off from the world.
When arriving in Kamiki Village, he became quick friends with Sakuya, the local guardian tree spirit. While he is familiar with the humans in Kamiki, he only seems to associate with Kushinada the most.
7. Does he make friends easily, or does he have trouble getting along with people? He has trouble getting along with people that…bring up his past or lie about who they are or flaunt that they know something more than he does or demand respect when they don’t deserve it. That’s about it.
8. Which does he consider more important: family or friends? Friends, duh.
9. Is the character single, married, divorced, widowed? Has he been married more than once? Single. In the future according to his source legend, he gets to do some hero things, turn human-sized, and marry a princess. She eventually dies, of course.
10. Is he currently in a romantic relationship with someone other than a spouse? Nope.
11. Who was his first crush? Who is his latest? Issun is respectful to all women he meets, or at least what he thinks is being respectful. As for legitimately crushing on them, I would include Miya or Kai when he was younger, as a sort of puppy love. Then maybe Sakuya after he started to stay in Kamiki village.
12. What does he look for in a romantic partner? Boobs.
Other than that, he seems to like smart, resolute, mature women. He respects all the women in Okami when they are honest and responsible. He didn’t respect Himiko when he thought she was being an awful empress; he did not respect Ninetails when she started causing harm. He seems to enjoy Sakuya’s and Miya’s company the most.
13. Does the character have children? Grandchildren? If yes, how does he relate to them? If no, does he want any? No children, etc. He doesn’t really want a family because it’s a responsibility. His source legend does not mention any children (at least the one I read).
14. Does he have any rivals or enemies? Wakkaaaa—but only because Waka’s
15. What is the character's sexual orientation? Where does he fall on the Kinsey scale? A one …Yeah.
16. How does he feel about sex? How important is it to him? He claims to be interested, but given his minset about wanting to explore, adventure, know more about the world, paint, etc.....he has a one track mind for anything but. Anyways, according to the virtue of balance in Tao, complete abstinence is as dangerous as reckless indulgence.
17. What are his turn-ons? Turn-offs? Weird bedroom habits? I suppose there’s a stereotype that artists make the best lovers. But who knows.
1. Do you know your character's astrological (zodiac of choice) sign? How well does he fit type? Nope. Besides, he’s probably old enough that the constellations were oriented differently at the time.
2. Is this character religious, spiritual, both, or neither? How important are these elements in his life? He is both religious and spiritual, but more spiritual than religious. Both of these are important in his life. He believes in the gods and respects them; at the same time, he knows that many humans, spirits don’t/can’t believe/see the kami. Whether someone can or can’t see a kami doesn’t think any less of that person. He knows that people will believe what makes them feel most comfortable, and doesn’t try to impose that ‘THAT WOLF IS YOUR GOD WORSHIP IT NAOW’.
3. Does this character have a personal code of morals or ethics? If so, how did that begin? What would it take to compromise it? Everything has a yin and yang to it. In concordance with Shinto, truth, purity, and the means to obtain it are held in highest esteem. Issun is no saint, though. He indulges himself with wasting time.
4. How does he regard beliefs that differ from his? Is he tolerant, intolerant, curious, in different? For the most part he’s tolerant (again, going along with ‘people will believe what makes them feel comfortable). Deep down, he’s very set in his belief s, bordering intolerant when his beliefs are tested.
5. What prejudices does he hold? Are they irrational or does he have a good reason for them? Like other non-humans, he hold some prejudice against humans. They’re not exaggerated like ‘humans are horrible, horrible creatures’. It’s more that he realizes that humans can be the best and the worst of anything: their talent and intelligence can make them go either way on the morality spectrum.
1. What is the character's financial situation? Is he rich, poor, comfortable, in debt? Poor, but comfortable as a traveling artist. He doesn’t need much, and what money he can find he spends on inks, canvas, and paints. I’m not sure what salary he’ll make as a Celestial Envoy, but probably something that’s impossible to measure by material gains.
2. What is his social status? Has this changed over time, and if so, how has the change affected him?
1st: genius grandson of Poncle chief training to become next Celestial Envoy of some god
2nd: wandering artist, learning much of the world and useful knowledge on his own
3rd: guide throughout the game
4th: chosen Celestial Envoy of the Amaterasu.
3. Where does he live? House, apartment, trailer? Is his home his castle or just a place to crash? What condition is it in? Does he share it with others? He lives with Sakuya in her tree or chest. Other than that, on top of Ammy’s head.
4. Besides the basic necessities, what does he spend his money on? Paint, canvas, ink.
5. What does he do for a living? Is he good at it? Does he enjoy it, or would he rather be doing something else? Paint. Yeah, he’s an expert. He enjoys it immensely. And while he was running away from his duty to become Celestial Envoy, he really doesn’t mind it at all when he actually becomes one.
6. What are his interests or hobbies? How does he spend his free time? Painting. I mean, what the hell do you think he’s been doing all those years not studying/training? There are infinite places to travel and to render on canvas. Not only that, but each place changes after each visit, meaning a new scene must be captured with a brush.
7. What are his eating habits? Does he skip meals, eat out, drink alcohol, avoid certain foods?
Does he eat? Oh, yes. When there’s free food.
Which of the following do you associate with the character, or which is his favorite:
1. Color? Green (for sparkles), red (for Ammy).
2. Smell? Like forest.
3. Time of day? Morning. When the sun rises.
4. Season? He seems like a late spring guy to me.
5. Book? Probably one of those ancient epic poems.
6. Music? Ancient Japanese music? Whatever it is, it doesn’t include flute players. *ahem*
7. Place? You know, that part of Japan that looks like it hasn’t been touched by people or time? Yeah, that place.
8. Substance? Sake, just because Okami revolves around so much it. I’m not kidding—they use sake to kill a dragon.
9. Plant? Goyomatsu (Japanese white pine).
10. Animal? Wolf.
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