The logo of Onimusha: Warlords, the first game in the series. Subsequent titles use a similar logo.
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Onimusha (Japanese: 鬼武者, literally "Oni (folklore) Warrior") is a series of video games by developer Capcom. The series makes use of the historic figures that shaped Japan's history, retelling their stories with supernatural elements. Most of the games are of the action-adventure game genre, a combination of third person combat and puzzle solving, where the protagonist wields the power of the Oni enabling them to fight the Genma, the main enemy of the series.
Onimusha is Capcom's 5th biggest franchise as of May 2008, behind the Resident Evil, Mega Man, Street Fighter, and Devil May Cry series. The series has sold at least 7.8 million copies to date. A full-length full-CG film for Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams has been made as well, with the alternate title of Shin Onimusha.
Games[edit | edit source]
Onimusha series fictional chronology
Summary[edit | edit source]
Initially, Capcom began to develop a PlayStation action game software that utilized the Resident Evil engine, but eventually changed its hardware, including the game in the release of PlayStation 2. Afterward, Onimusha was developed as one of the PlayStation 2 debut contents. It sold over two million copies as PS2 software. The central character is based on Takeshi Kaneshiro, who was also a voice actor. Models of the characters include the late Yusaku Matsuda in Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny and Takeshi Kaneshiro and Jean Reno in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege. The series was initially planned to be a trilogy but a fourth installment, Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams was released in March 2006.
Gameplay[edit | edit source]
The gameplay in most of the Onimusha series is roughly based on the mechanics from Capcom's horror survival franchise, Resident Evil. Although the protagonist changes in every Onimusha title, he is always a skilled swordsman who embarks on a set mission and journey, which involves slaying demons and fearsome enemies during the waning years of the Warring States Period in feudal Japan. In each game, the protagonist has the ability to absorb Genma souls from defeated enemies, which helps to restore health, infuse power within weapons and armor, and provide power for the elemental attacks of special weapons.
The control scheme of Onimusha resembles that found in the Resident Evil series. The player controls their character using the D-Pad (although later games such as Onimusha 3: Demon Siege and Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams introduced analog stick control) and travels in a fairly linear method, able to rotate slowly with the input of an opposing direction. Characters tend to move slowly and can only slightly increase their speed with the dash maneuver by tapping twice in any direction. Unusually, actions common to many action-oriented titles, such as jumping, grabbing, and climbing over obstacles cannot be performed in Onimusha titles.
Unlike the Resident Evil series (with the exception of Resident Evil 4, Resident Evil 5 and possibly Resident Evil 3: Nemesis), Onimusha is very action-oriented with a heavy emphasis on combat, only employing a few horror-inspired elements. The player takes on the role of the hunter, deploying a varied arsenal of destructive weaponry, ranging from a regular katana to elemental-based broadswords. The player does, however, possess a limited supply of spiritual energy which can be used for magical attacks. These magical attacks, which vary depending on what weapon is equipped and other offensive attributes, can be raised throughout the game by accumulation of souls from defeated enemies.
Oni Gauntlet[edit | edit source]
Central to the first and third major chapters of the Onimusha franchise (and to a lesser extent, the fourth chapter) is what is known as the Oni Gauntlet. This is the Gauntlet that was given to Samanosuke Akechi in Onimusha: Warlords and was created by the power of the council of the twelve Oni Gods. It absorbs souls (see Nature of Souls), gives power to Samanosuke's weapons and changes the color of the orb in its center to match with that of the corresponding weapon, allows him to achieve an Oni Awakening, and is capable of functioning with other Oni items such as the Oni Army Orb.
Yagyu Jubei's mystical parentage through Takajo enabled him to use Oni power without the need for the Gauntlet. This was also repeated with Soki, who was revealed to be the reincarnated Oni God of Darkness. On the other hand, while Samanosuke and Jacques both had Oni Gauntlets, only Samanosuke could become the Ultimate Onimusha. It is likely that Samanosuke was chosen by the twelve Oni gods enabling this, while Jacques was granted power by only one of them, because of this he was only able to transform into one form. Additionally, Jacques' gauntlet began with a red sheen, turning to gold as it gained more power.
In the third game, Samanosuke had been sent to modern Paris and thus his Gauntlet had reverted back to its original bluish color and all of his previous weapons (Raizan, Enryuu and Shippu) were lost since he was in a different timeline. However, he was able to restore his Gauntlet to its true potential by reabsorbing more souls, regaining new weapons (namely Tenso, Kuga and Chigo). Later, he was able to fuse the power of his Gauntlet with the Gauntlet of his alternate deceased self when he returned to a slightly alternate timeline. This gave him two gauntlets, thus allowing him to achieve his Ultimate Onimusha form.
After defeating Nobunaga, he absorbed the Genma Lord's souls. Unlike the souls of other Genma, these were a dark-hollow, green color that gave the Gauntlet and its gem a dark red sheen. This symbolized that the gauntlet had sealed away the essence of the Genma Lord. This was also the reason he had to seal the Gauntlet away. Years later, as the God of Darkness was reincarnated as Soki, Samanosuke lost most of his power as the Onimusha and thus the Oni Gauntlet lost all its potential, turning his hair grey within a short period of time after losing part of the Oni Mystic Power. The only power that remained in the Oni Gauntlet was the sole power of the Genma Lord retained from Nobunaga.
In the fourth game, Tenkai/Samanosuke utilized this power against the Genma Army and even achieved an Oni Awakening with it, before it was transferred to Soki. At that point, Nobunaga's power was unsealed in the final duel against the resurrected Fortinbras. This Oni Awakening was a result of the Genma Lord's power since that was the only power left in the Gauntlet, explaining why he wasn't able to use the same moves or the same weapons that he did in the previous games.
Onimusha vs. the Genma Lord[edit | edit source]
Another central theme to the series involves the main protagonist as the Onimusha fighting against the forces of the Genma Lord. Both personages are polar opposites of each other and represent the unending struggle between the Genma and the Oni Clan. Many of the main Genma are named after characters in Shakespearian Plays.
In the fourth game, it was revealed that the God of Light Fortinbras created the Genma and while God of Darkness produced the Oni. Though he died in Onimusha: Warlords, Fortinbras acted through Oda Nobunaga when then Hideyoshi before fully resurrected. The God of Darkness was the first Onimusha and each subsequent Onimusha is a being who channels his power. In the second game, Yagyu Jubei was able to use five special orbs created by the Oni to transform himself into an Onimusha. When Jubei underwent an Oni Awakening, he was able to shoot beams of light. These abilities were transferred to his Onimusha form as Jubei used the arm cannon formed on his left hand.
Samanosuke was spirited away by the Oni following the death of his alternate self at the hands of Nobunaga. By combining the gauntlet of his alternate self from the other timeline, he was able to become another Onimusha with a gauntlet on each of his hands and absorbed souls through an orb on his chest. In the fourth game, it is revealed that Soki, unlike the other Onimusha, was a reincarnation of the God of Darkness. Hence his title "Black Oni". In order for him to achieve his Ultimate Onimusha Mode, he awakened the sealed power of Nobunaga, the deceased Genma Lord’s power which was held within Tenkai's Oni Gauntlet. In his Onimusha Mode, Soki wears shining armor with dark colors beneath it while flying in combat and wielding two broadswords to attack Fortinbras.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Nature of Souls - Souls, as they are represented in Onimusha, do not represent the typical definition. They may, for instance, be harvested from defeated foes, wounded opponents, and from relics. Certain items can control the type of soul that is released, whether it is a blue, red, yellow or purple soul. The colour indicates which form of energy the soul possesses; yellow souls replenish life force, blue souls replenish magical ability, and purple souls can fuel an Oni Awakening (for characters that possess that ability), and red souls are used to improve weapons and armor.
- Science (Genma) - Both the Genma and the Oni are shown to possess a level of technology and scientific knowledge beyond that of humans. The plot of the first game describes how many human leaders forged pacts with the Genma over the centuries, during which the Genma would lend the humans their technology in exchange for humans to feast upon. It is also suggested that the Genma are able to manipulate biology: Reynaldo, a Genma, would split into two if not killed properly; Marcellus was also a Genma that had been transformed from an Oni warrior.
- Science (Oni) - Throughout the series, details concerning Oni technology are scarce. Although the Oni Gauntlet is the most visible relic of the Oni in the series, it was created through magic. However, in Onimusha: Samurai's Destiny did reveal two examples of their technology: a mechanical horse and the "Oni Genbu" which was the flying ship. Aside from that, the most notable accomplishment of the Oni appears to be their ability to create temporal distortions (such as portals). It is not known how but through magic the Oni are able to create powerful weapons and even seal entire armies into an Oni orb to later be used by a gauntlet.
- Dark/Phantom Realm - In most of the titles, this is called the 'Dark Realm' and in others it is known as the Phantom Realm. The portal to this world is controlled by a race known as the Mino Clan. In most of the games only one member of the clan is revealed: Minogoro, a midget aged-man hanging upside-down by a rope. In the fourth game, Minogoro's son, Minokichi, is introduced. The most notable trait of the Mino clan is the ability to teleport themselves and others to places they've already visited. However, they also hold control over the portal of the Dark Realm. As for the Dark Realm itself, one theory states that it was created by the Oni, and that many Genma were sealed inside of it, and in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, a document states that it is a training ground for the Oni. Those who travel there are faced with the imprisoned Genma and must survive their attacks as they travel deeper into the Realm. By surviving these many trials, Oni warriors are able to find different items and weapons that the Oni of the past had wielded and later hidden to seal them away from others who would abuse their power.
- Physical Appearances - The Genma are a very diverse race, with many different types of monsters falling under this name. The Genma are best considered as not as one species, but a collection of different species, including humans that have become corrupted by their power such as Nobunaga. The Oni race, on the other hand, does not seem to be as diverse. If one accepts the character of Takajo (seen in Onimusha 2) as an Oni, she proves that they can appear angelic, as she is seen flying in the air bathed in a white glow, with the body of a beautiful woman with a serpentine tail. However, certain theories denounce her as an Oni, instead classifying her with a different mystical race related to or associated with the Oni. In fact, all twelve known Oni Gods appear to be male, which further substantiates this. As for the Oni gods themselves, one has been seen in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege, while giving the character Jacques a new Gauntlet, and had a humanoid body with a ghostly appearance. However, a document that is found in the Oni Undersea temple in Onimusha 3: Demon Siege shows sketches of Oni that resembles the appearance of Takajo's serpent like form and it shows another one that seems to be a male.
- Weapons - Throughout the different games, there are a number of weapons that can be collected by the player and found in the most unlikely of places, such as within a church or below a road in modern-day France. This is because the Oni are masters of dimensional technology, and have made it so that their warriors can access different mystical weapons from locations that surpass the limits of time and space. Each warrior has a certain set of weapons made available for them, as well as an "ultimate" weapon that can be found within the Dark Realm. Even though the Realm and its challenges remain the same, each weapon that is received depends on the warrior who undergoes the trials. Samanosuke's ultimate weapon was the Bishamon sword in both games that he appeared in; Jacques' ultimate weapon was the Ultimate Whip and Soki's ultimate weapon was the Gokumonji (which is similar only in appearance to Genma Samonji). Except for in the second and fourth games, all of the ultimate weapons radiate a purple glow similar to the Oni Gods. This is presumably because the characters were not blessed directly by the Oni gods, despite making their way through the Dark Realm. The same factor holds true to the original Jubei in the second game, as his ultimate weapon was the Rekka-Ken, a powerful red broadsword that used the power of fire.
- Onimusha Weapon - Each Onimusha has their own special weapon. While certain warriors blessed with the power of the Oni such as Jacques can access different weapons, it is only the Onimusha who can receive this weapon when they unlock their true Onimusha form. For example, Jubei Yagyu from the second game had an arm cannon in his left hand that released lasers and Samanosuke had the Onimusha Sword which glowed with a rainbow-like color when it was powered up. It transformed into the Genma Samonji later in the fight with Nobunaga by absorbing the dark essence radiating off of Nobunaga's sword. In Dawn of Dreams, Soki had a red sword, known as the Requiem Sword, on his back which was launched through the air and used to purify/damage his opponents. However, this particular blade was only physically wielded as a dual weapon when he was in his true (combined Oni, Genma lord) Onimusha form. Soki's True Onimusha transformation also included a move called "Ultimate Critical", where Soki would swing both swords in massive speed and attack his enemy with his energy channeled through the blades.
- Oni Awakening vs. Onimusha Mode - An Oni Awakening is a temporary state which gives access to Oni powers; this differs from the traditional Onimusha mode, in which the character's hair becomes entirely white, with a purple glow surrounding them. During Jubei Yagyu's Oni Awakening, he was able to shoot lasers from his left hand that consisted of 5 soul-like balls that could lock onto any nearby enemy using the same hand that he used to absorb Genma souls. In the third game, whenever Jacques or Samanosuke underwent an Oni Awakening, they could stab their weapons into the ground to release a shockwave of purple energy. This difference in technique is most likely a result of the fact that Jubei has Oni blood within him, since he was the son of Takajo (who, as previously noted, may be an Oni), whereas Samanosuke and Jacques are merely humans who have been granted powers by the Oni Clan. In the fourth game Soki is the reincarnation of the oni god, giving him powers of a onimusha.
Film adaptation[edit | edit source]
In May 2003, Paramount Pictures, Davis Films, and Gaga Productions announced its joint venture to adapt the action-adventure game series into a $50 million live-action feature film. According to Paramount Pictures and Davis Films' Samuel Hadida, "It's samurai fighting against demons – it's very close to this simple pitch. There's also a love story woven in. It's a big adventure movie with lots of special effects." Hadida also proposed the possibility of a film franchise. In December 2006, director Christophe Gans said that he had Onimusha lined up to film. The film, budgeted at over $70 million, was to begin production in China in February 2008 for a December 2009 release. In a June article by movie site Ain't It Cool News, it was revealed that Takeshi Kaneshiro will be in the movie, reprising his role as Samanosuke.
Hadida had to delay the filming of Onimusha, which has resulted in the film's Japanese cast working on other film projects during the delay, and being unavailable to start filming Onimusha. These factors were enough that French director Christophe Gans will now direct an adaptation of Leo Perutz's novel The Swedish Cavalier first, taking over the reigns from Gilles Mimouni. Satomi Ishihara and Tsuyoshi Ihara remain attached to the project.
Reception[edit | edit source]
|This section requires expansion.|
|Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny||84.36||84%|
|Onimusha Blade Warriors||65.15%||65%|
|Onimusha 3: Demon Siege (PS2)||85.47%||85%|
|Onimusha 3: Demon Siege (PC)||64.40%||69%|
|Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams||81.82%||81%|
The Onimusha series has received overall positive reviews with most of the main games on the PlayStation 2 receiving average scores of more than 80%. On the other hand most spin-offs from the series have not been as successful.
References[edit | edit source]
- Brian Linder (2003-05-21). "Games-to-Film: Onimusha". IGN. http://movies.ign.com/articles/409/409663p1.html. Retrieved 2007-02-13.
- Kevin Prin (2006-12-22). "INTERVIEW : CHRISTOPHE GANS (SILENT HILL) PARTIE 1" (in French). DVDrama. http://www.dvdrama.com/news.php?18185. Retrieved 2007-02-14.
- "Gans in the game for fantasy adventure". Screen Daily. 2007-05-18. http://www.screendaily.com/ScreenDailyArticle.aspx?intStoryID=32589. Retrieved 2007-05-23.
- "ONIMUSHA fans prepare to be happy". Ain't It Cool News. 2007-06-03. http://www.aintitcool.com/node/32861. Retrieved 2007-06-04.
- Onimusha: Warlords - GameRankings. GameRankings. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
- Onimusha: Warlords reviews at Metacritic.com. Metacritic. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
- Genma Onimusha - GameRankings. GameRankings. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
- Genma Onimusha reviews at Metacritic.com. Metacritic. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
- Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny - GameRankings. GameRankings. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
- Onimusha 2: Samurai's Destiny reviews at Metacritic.com. Metacritic. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
- DOnimusha Tactics - GameRankings. GameRankings. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
- Onimusha Tactics reviews at Metacritic.com. Metacritic. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
- Onimusha Blade Warriors - GameRankings. GameRankings. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
- Onimusha Blade Warriors reviews at Metacritic.com. Metacritic. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
- Onimusha 3: Demon Siege (PS2) - GameRankings. GameRankings. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
- Onimusha 3: Demon Siege (PS2) reviews at Metacritic.com. Metacritic. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
- Onimusha 3: Demon Siege (PC) - GameRankings. GameRankings. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
- Onimusha 3: Demon Siege (PC) reviews at Metacritic.com. Metacritic. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
- Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams - GameRankings. GameRankings. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
- Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams reviews at Metacritic.com. Metacritic. Retrieved on January 5, 2010
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