Nioh 2 Guardian Spirit 'Amabie' was included in homage to anti-COVID mascot in Japan

According to Nioh 2's producer, the inclusion of Amabie was directly influenced by the popular adaptation of the yokai as a health mascot.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had an intense impact on the entire world, and especially on the gaming industry, forcing the cancellation of most physical events throughout 2020 and into 2021. However, people are resilient and sometimes good things come out of the bad. Nioh is a game in which various gods, demons, and well-known (and perhaps a bit obscure) figures of Japanese folklore appear prominently throughout the game, but apparently a social movement in Japan regarding one such figure was so prevalent that Team Ninja took the opportunity to include it in the Nioh 2 DLC. Mind some light spoilers below.

The mythological figure in question is Amabie, who appears as a new Guardian Spirit in Nioh 2’s The First Samurai DLC. Recently, we had a chance to speak at length with Nioh series Producer Fumihiko Yasuda about Nioh 2 - The Complete Edition. Among the various topics of discussion were how player feedback affected the game and DLC.

“We felt it was necessary for the DLC expansions to be developed with a special emphasis placed on feedback we received on the base game as well as what the game still needed,” Yasuda told us.

In Japanese folklore, playing likenesses of the amabie will supposedly help ward off illnesses, which has made it a prominent figure during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Japanese folklore, creating likenesses of the amabie will supposedly help ward off illnesses, which has made it a prominent figure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Apparently, out of response to this feedback, Amabie came to be designed as a Guardian Spirit, despite being a yokai (demon) of sorts. Legend says the strange mermaid or merman known as the amabie would rise from the waters and prophesize an epidemic. By making figures of its likeness, people could supposedly ward themselves and their home against illness. With the COVID-19 epidemic, The amabie has become an important figure in Japanese culture - an anti-COVID mascot as reported by The New Yorker. For this reason, Yasuda and his team felt Amabie was an important inclusion for Nioh 2, in which mythological figures are so prevalent.

“Amabie was considered as a Guardian Spirit as we were developing the DLC due to the societal response this yokai received in Japan as a result of the spread of COVID-19,” Yasuda explained.

It’s interesting to think that such a curious thing could play a role in the game as a direct result of its societal prominence. Even so, given how upsetting the COVID-19 pandemic has been as a whole, it’s also good to know that there are at least a few fun things to come out of it, inside and outside game design. So remember, when you use Amabie in Nioh 2, you’re doing your part to ward your home against illness. It couldn’t hurt to keep in mind as we strive to move past COVID-19 once and for all.

News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. When he's not handing out beatdowns in the latest fighting games, exploring video game history, or playing through RPGs with his partner, he's searching for new food and drinks in the constant pursuit of good times with good people inside and outside the South Texas area. You can also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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