Topic: About Marisa's ethnicity  (Read 3301 times)

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About Marisa's ethnicity
« on: May 06, 2017, 02:52:39 am »
Question is in the title.

Supplementary material has already revealed that Marisa is a Gensokyo native...
But just because she is a native Gensokyian doesn't necessarily mean she's pure Japanese. Especially given the fact that we have seen Gensokyian natives that aren't Japanese at all. i.e.: Team 9, Three Fairies, etc...

I think that Marisa might be a westerner, if not an American, on one side of her family (most likely her mother, who has never been mentioned so far). And then there's the fact that "Marisa" is also a legitimate western name...

So what do you guys think of this question?
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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2017, 03:20:11 am »
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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2017, 03:27:03 am »
Oriental Western Magician (EoSD select)

This, she is canonically Japanese.

As for why she has blonde hair, it's probably just because ZUN thought it looked good on her.

My personal head canon is that she's mostly Japanese but has some European/Western ancestry, like, two generations away on her mother's side or something. But that's just a headcanon so don't take it at face value.
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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2017, 06:36:38 am »
She's a eastern practitioner of western magic.

Patchouli is a western practitioner of eastern magic.

I think the two were intended to be foils in that regard, so beyond head canon I don't think there's much point in thinking too hard about it and even then it wouldn't really matter much since even if marisa did have western ancestry, it's unlikely to ever come up in any work - fanwork or official, since the only point of contact for western standards and magic would be Patchouli and Patchouli doesn't strike me as the type who particularly cares.

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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2017, 09:12:41 am »
Wriggle is totally Irish, though.

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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2017, 11:17:17 am »
Quick question OP why does it matter?

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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2017, 12:16:02 pm »
Quick question OP why does it matter?

Just curious to see if anyone else here notices how blatantly a westerner Marisa is, even if ZUN didn't intend for her to be so. That's all.  ;)
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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2017, 03:53:50 am »
I think that Marisa might be a westerner, if not an American, on one side of her family (most likely her mother, who has never been mentioned so far). And then there's the fact that "Marisa" is also a legitimate western name...

Funny that you have brought this up. By the time I ran into the Tōhō phenomenon, I had already gotten used to completely Japanese characters in Japanese works who sport blonde, bright red, or, whaddyaknow, electric blue hair. Marisa’s given name stopped me for a while, but my then-available sources were very vague about its origin and suggested it could be a traditional Japanese name as well (still not sure; I’ve never run into another Marisa in Japanese fiction). I figured she was most probably just Japanese after all.

Later I was surprised to find out that a close friend of mine, while far more familiar with blonde-haired anime characters than I am, considered Marisa’s hair color to reflect her mixed-race origin. In my friend’s headcanon, either Marisa’s mother or at least one of her grandparents was non-Japanese, most likely Russian. I cannot recall the exact reasoning behind it, but it sounded somewhat plausible at the time.

By the way, following a TV Tropes link you had given elsewhere, then surfing further, I ended up reading about mukokuseki today. I had wondered about it for long years, but neither had a word for it nor found any attempts to define or analyze it.

why does it matter?

Not sure if it matters much, but since my childhood years I have been sort of fascinated by communities where different (especially ethnic) traditions mix and the minorities keep up at least some of their special features without isolating themselves. Gensōkyō seems to have a fair amount of immigrants from the English-speaking world as well as from China, but I would love to trace down what other cultures have given to Japan’s hidden little wonderland.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2017, 03:56:56 am by Hieda no Mukyu »

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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2017, 08:26:37 pm »
Just curious to see if anyone else here notices how blatantly a westerner Marisa is, even if ZUN didn't intend for her to be so. That's all.  ;)

The intention is that Marisa styles herself after a Western Witch. She doesn't need the broomstick to fly; but uses one anyway.

Marisa's initial design had her with red hair; which is rare in general; and not unheard of in Asia [~1% as opposed to 2~3% in the west]. And this initial design was while she was still Mima's student, and had not yet [fully] styled herself after a western witch.

Now; since Marisa is a Gensokyian native; and Gensokyo is 'Eastern Wonderland'; it's pretty safe to say Marisa is ethnically Asian in some regard. Especially as anything Western in Gensokyo [Mostly the SDM] forced it's way in.

Also; remember that Gensokyo is a very unusual place; magical; and common sense need not apply. Also remember that all living things can adapt to the environment over time; provided the changes are not too drastic. Considering Marisa lives in a place regular humans cannot survive in [Forest of Magic] it's reasonable to assume that may have had some effect on her [Perhaps something like the magical maisma has bleached her hair; or her magic somehow changed her hair color]
« Last Edit: June 06, 2017, 08:31:43 pm by Raikaria »


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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2017, 09:07:37 pm »
I always figured she bleached her hair to symbolize leaving Mima's shadow, myself.

(And that Mima made her dye it red to being with).

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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2017, 09:26:37 pm »
The possible Russian ancestry your friend hinted at might be because of Мару́ся. Nice name, quite popular east of the Oder river.
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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #11 on: June 06, 2017, 10:48:52 pm »
Especially given the fact that we have seen Gensokyian natives that aren't Japanese at all. i.e.: Team 9, Three Fairies, etc...

What do you mean by that ? I don't think that design or way of speech is enough to say they are foreigners, unless it's mentionned, like for Remilia.

Team 9 and the three fairies are fairies and youkai, and therefore can only exist ( and are most likely ) born within Gensokyo

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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2017, 10:52:11 pm »
I always figured she bleached her hair to symbolize leaving Mima's shadow, myself.

(And that Mima made her dye it red to being with).

Perhaps. But going into the reasons for the redesigns is just straying into headcanon.

The main point is you can't use things such as Marisa's hair color to justify ethnicity because... well... magic and Gensokyo. Common Sense need not apply.

Also; I missed this before but mart's post drew my attention to it:

If you're going to talk about non-Japanese Touhous; don't throw around things like fairies and Team 9 that there's no evidence of at all; and instead use things like Seiga [Who is certainly not Japanese as she crossed the sea to meet Miko; and lived in mountains before that. And Taoism is from China... so while it's not explicity stated she's Chinese it's heavily implied she's Chinese (Tibetian is possible too due to her 'mountains' origin)] and Yoshika; who is Chinese by virtue of being a Jiang-Shi.

The only characters we know for sure are not Japanese that live in Gensokyo are:
The SDM crew [And even then, Patchouli is a question mark]
Seiga
Yoshika
Reisen/Eirin/Kaguya
Alice [Makai]

I mean, talking about ethnicity for Touhou characters that have unclear ones is an interesting topic... but don't go stateing things like 'Mystia isn't Japanese' as if it's fact.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2017, 09:13:02 am by Raikaria »


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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2017, 10:59:15 pm »
She doesn't need the broomstick to fly; but uses one anyway.
Can you please tell me where you got this information? Last I checked I was pretty sure there's no indication of whether Marisa can fly or not in canon.
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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2017, 11:00:55 pm »
Can you please tell me where you got this information? Last I checked I was pretty sure there's no indication of whether Marisa can fly or not in canon.

GFW. She's clearly flying in her Extra Stage while merely holding the broom; not riding it.

Unless it's a case of she must be in contact with the broom to fly; and not strictly riding the broom... but then there's also Story of Eastern Wonderland where she is riding some sort of vine; and PoDD where Marisa's appearance as an enemy spell has no broom [?; it's hard to tell in PoDD to be fair it MIGHT be there] and has astral-patterned wings.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2017, 11:05:12 pm by Raikaria »


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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #15 on: June 06, 2017, 11:24:44 pm »
Especially given the fact that we have seen Gensokyian natives that aren't Japanese at all. i.e.: Team 9, Three Fairies, etc...

What do you mean by that ? I don't think that design or way of speech is enough to say they are foreigners, unless it's mentionned, like for Remilia.

Team 9 and the three fairies are fairies and youkai, and therefore can only exist ( and are most likely ) born within Gensokyo, so that makes them Japanese, or Gensokyans or whatever.

As for her name, Marisa is written in kanji unlike Remilia, too.  As for her hair color, ZUN just wanted her to be blonde, that's it, there is no need for explanations (Sanae is from the outside word and has green hair ?)

Can you please tell me where you got this information? Last I checked I was pretty sure there's no indication of whether Marisa can fly or not in canon.

Well in Shuushou Gyoku she has wings, and there is a reference to that in the grimoire of Marisa. Dunno if that helps

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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2017, 05:44:19 am »
What do you mean by that ? I don't think that design or way of speech is enough to say they are foreigners, unless it's mentionned, like for Remilia.

Team 9 and the three fairies are fairies and youkai, and therefore can only exist ( and are most likely ) born within Gensokyo
What do you mean by that ? I don't think that design or way of speech is enough to say they are foreigners, unless it's mentionned, like for Remilia.

Team 9 and the three fairies are fairies and youkai, and therefore can only exist ( and are most likely ) born within Gensokyo
, so that makes them Japanese, or Gensokyans or whatever.

As for her name, Marisa is written in kanji unlike Remilia, too.  As for her hair color, ZUN just wanted her to be blonde, that's it, there is no need for explanations (Sanae is from the outside word and has green hair ?)

Well in Shuushou Gyoku she has wings, and there is a reference to that in the grimoire of Marisa. Dunno if that helps

Uh... I would like to ask why you replied to the same post (mine) twice, using the exact same sentence (even having the exact same misspelling of the word "mentioned" as "mentionned") in two separate posts...

Back on topic:
The possible Russian ancestry your friend hinted at might be because of Мару́ся. Nice name, quite popular east of the Oder river.

For a while already, I keep failing to see what led to some people's headcanon of Marisa being part-Russian. Then I see your post and was like "Oh, that's why!"
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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2017, 09:01:19 am »
Uh... I would like to ask why you replied to the same post (mine) twice, using the exact same sentence (even having the exact same misspelling of the word "mentioned" as "mentionned") in two separate posts

It's clearly an accident, but raises a good point about assuming who and who isn't a foreigner.

Also still not seeing why it matters.

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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2017, 09:47:34 am »
What do you mean by that ? I don't think that design or way of speech is enough to say they are foreigners, unless it's mentionned, like for Remilia.

Team 9 and the three fairies are fairies and youkai, and therefore can only exist ( and are most likely ) born within Gensokyo
Most youkai are in Gensokyo now, regardless of where they are originary from (see SDM and Mamizou), but this doesn't make them japanese or Gensokyo natives.
Without proofs, saying they are obviously japanese is just as wrong as saying they aren't.
I also remember reading an article on the wiki where ZUN said just about the only japanese/eastern thing in EoSD was Sakuya's name (EoSD theme as a whole was purposedly "western"). And even that isn't her actual name.
Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2017, 09:50:30 am »
Ummm.  While I've yet to dwell too deep in some character's profiles to see who has their nationalities confirmed, are you sure that Yoshika is chinese? 

Honestly I think many people just presume she's chinese because 1) Jiang-Shi and maybe 2) Star on hat associates her with Meiling/China in general.


Now suffice it to say, it's more or less assumed that she's Miyako No Yoshika's touhou-fied corpse (not only for the obvious namesake, but also sightings of her reciting poetry when not under Seiga's command), so by all means I think she's more of an ancient japanese corpse, revived with Chinese sorcery (A Jiang-shi may be chinese folklore, but not every corpse reanimated into one is necessarily chinese, yes?).

Edit:

In regards of flight, it's widely assumed that it's basic magic and most people in Gensokyo with a slight affinity for it can do it already.   While you probably can't expect, I dunno, a human villager to be flying around, I believe it's safe to say that if someone knows how to danmaku they know how to fly. 

So I imagine Marisa does it with her broom just for showing.  I believe the same was mentioned in Flandre's profile, something about her being able to fly just fine without her wings, but she does it so anyway.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2017, 09:54:46 am by Linnah »

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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2017, 10:47:28 am »
I believe the same was mentioned in Flandre's profile, something about her being able to fly just fine without her wings, but she does it so anyway.
This applies to most characters with wings actually, mainly because essentially none of them have wings that would be effective to fly with in the first place, especially Flandre, Nue or Cirno (none of their wings could catch any significant amounts of air resistance).
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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2017, 10:56:25 am »
The only characters we know for sure are not Japanese that live in Gensokyo are:
The SDM crew [And even then, Patchouli is a question mark]
Seiga
Yoshika
Reisen/Eirin/Kaguya
Alice [Makai]
You forgot Prismrivers, Clownpiece, Seiran, and Ringo.

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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2017, 11:28:34 am »
common sense need not apply

As I have already stated elsewhere, while common sense need not apply, connecting Gensōkyō and common sense at random points may be a source of lots of fun and inspiration. So why not do that? At the other extreme, you can go absurdly nuts with just as good results (Nezumi, Ao Usagi).



I don't think that design or way of speech is enough to say they are foreigners, unless it's mentionned, like for Remilia.
don't go stateing things like 'Mystia isn't Japanese' as if it's fact.

I wonder why anyone in Gensōkyō without at least foreign ancestry would have an English name (or, in Mystia’s case, other European).

Of course I am not stating ’Mystia isn’t Japanese’ as a hard fact unless I see a Zun confirmation. I will, however, personally firmly believe in ’Mystia isn’t Japanese’ as long as there is no evidence to the contrary. (And will probably keep it in my headcanon even if Zun nukes the theory, unless his point is either well-grounded or funny enough.)

Team 9 and the three fairies are fairies and youkai, and therefore can only exist ( and are most likely ) born within Gensokyo

I dare disagree. The SDM residents are yōkai as well. As I see it, yōkai can exist outside Gensōkyō, but the Outside World has been getting worse from their point of view for a long time. Gensōkyō has a more or less steady, if slow, influx of supernatural beings. I would assume that most of the relatively few per year that enter nowadays are foreigners, since the majority of those living in Japan came already in the late XIX century or soon thereafter.

Without proofs, saying they are obviously japanese is just as wrong as saying they aren't.

Agreed.



Also still not seeing why it matters.

Not seeing why you would stress this. Are you implying it should not be discussed if it does not matter?

To give another reason: I am a fan of origin stories. While Marisa’s Russian ancestry is currently not part of my headcanon, I must say I find the idea of her grandmother telling bedtime stories of Baba Yaga and Koshchey the Immortal most fascinating. Great fan fiction material.



Oh, almost forgot to give a big thank you for many interesting points that have been brought up in this thread by Raikaria, Purji, Linnah, and more.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2017, 11:45:20 am by Hieda no Mukyu »

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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #23 on: June 07, 2017, 11:48:59 am »
Not seeing why you would stress this. Are you implying it should not be discussed if it does not matter?

On the contrary: topics of discussion are worth talking about because they matter to some degree. What I'm curious to know is why the supposed non-Japanese-ness of any particular Gensokyan matters in the sense of what difference it makes, and by what standard we're calling any Gensokyan "non-Japanese". Do we mean that they were not born in Japan? If so, is someone who, while born abroad, has been living in Gensokyo/Japan longer than native-born beings count as Japanese? How about someone who, while originating on, say, The Moon, is nonetheless an integral part of Japanese mythology?

That's the core of what I'm trying to get at here: first, how are we judging someone as being Japanese or not, and second, what difference does it ultimately make?

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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2017, 11:58:59 am »
That's the core of what I'm trying to get at here: first, how are we judging someone as being Japanese or not, and second, what difference does it ultimately make?
Really many of the characters are Japanese, because they live in Japan, even if they aren't native. Also it seems interesting enough to discuss the possibilities of some characters' backgrounds.

As I see it, yōkai can exist outside Gensōkyō
Example: Mamizou Futatsuiwa (from Sado)

but the Outside World has been getting worse from their point of view for a long time.
I believe a few species of youkai fare somewhat well in the outside world, but most do not.
~
I feel as if mythological creatures from other parts of the world are just classified as "youkai" in Gensokyo, but that seems to be inconsistent at times.
~
Also the fairies are nature spirits, and so would be born when the nature was created. Likely chances are that they were already there before Gensokyo got separated from the Outside World, and being nature spirits would (probably) be native to Japan, regardless of their Western names.
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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #25 on: June 07, 2017, 12:37:11 pm »
Do we mean that they were not born in Japan? If so, is someone who, while born abroad, has been living in Gensokyo/Japan longer than native-born beings count as Japanese? How about someone who, while originating on, say, The Moon, is nonetheless an integral part of Japanese mythology?

Ah. When it comes to this, I can only talk for myself, and my main interest here is cultural diversity.

Gensōkyō is geographically a rather small area, and its connections with the Outside World are weak. If it were populated exclusively by native Japanese humans and supernatural beings (most of whom would know nothing or very little about what has happened in the Outside World after the Meiji period), the residents’ outlook on life and the world would be very different from what it is now. The number of residents who have wide first- or second-hand knowledge of foreign cultures matters a lot when some of Rinnosuke’s strange gadgets end up in use, to give a simple example. Or if somebody is trying to learn some extremely non-Japanese spells from Remilia’s books, to give a supernatural one.

(Also, I am not a very big Japanophile, and I doubt Gensōkyō would have attracted me in the first place had it been built exclusively around Japanese myths. As it is, it both offers familiar-feeling characters and encourages me to learn more about East Asian traditions. This, however, is probably not relevant to the general discussion.)

When talking about ethnicities, I tend to be inclusive. Somebody who has been born to a Japanese mother and a foreign father in Gensōkyō clearly belongs to two nationalities at the same time, provided that the father has given her or him some insight to the culture he represents. If the father has died when said person has been very, very young, I’d call her or him just Gensokyian (Gensokyolese?). Somebody who has immigrated as a ten-year-old is not Gensokyian by default, but can become (also) that by learning Japanese, embracing the local culture to a notable degree, and identifying as one. This is my truth, tell me yours.

Your point about the Lunarians is good. Even if she is an integral part of Japanese folklore, Princess Kaguya was not Japanese in the beginning, but she, well, integrated quite thoroughly after being reborn on Earth, and has had a lot of time to integrate even more since she settled down in Mayoi no Chikurin. To me, (most of) the Lunarians and the Higanese count as foreigners even if they speak fluent Japanese and have a strong connection with Gensokyians. Some or all of them may actually have primary names that are very different from the Japanese ones we know... but venturing into that would make me face challenges I am not ready for.

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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #26 on: June 07, 2017, 12:47:56 pm »
To give another reason: I am a fan of origin stories. While Marisa’s Russian ancestry is currently not part of my headcanon, I must say I find the idea of her grandmother telling bedtime stories of Baba Yaga and Koshchey the Immortal most fascinating. Great fan fiction material.
When encroaching on the territory of speculative fan fiction, a possible Russian tie-in to consider regarding Marisa's ancestry is the 1904-1905 Russo-Japanese War. Japan's many splendid victories on the mainland yielded thousands of Russian prisoners of war, who were then transported to POW camps in Japan proper. Although conditions were good, one could still come up with a story where a prisoner manages to escape and blunders his way into Gensokyo. At least I think that's the most likely way for a Russian to end up there. Sorry if this is too far flung for this thread. It's meant solely as a fan material idea.
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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #27 on: June 07, 2017, 01:09:26 pm »
When talking about ethnicities, I tend to be inclusive. Somebody who has been born to a Japanese mother and a foreign father in Gensōkyō clearly belongs to two nationalities at the same time, provided that the father has given her or him some insight to the culture he represents. If the father has died when said person has been very, very young, I’d call her or him just Gensokyian (Gensokyolese?). Somebody who has immigrated as a ten-year-old is not Gensokyian by default, but can become (also) that by learning Japanese, embracing the local culture to a notable degree, and identifying as one. This is my truth, tell me yours.

To me, ethnicity is a tricky enough question when we're talking about human beings, let alone mythological creatures. People tend to confuse "ethnicity" and "nationality", for example. To my mind, it is very difficulty to pin down ethnicity without genetic testing. It is much easier to determine nationality, but even then, we need to define our terms.

So I don't think any of Gensokyo's youkai are "ethnically" Japanese, at all. Ethnicity is a human concept, which is why it's something we can talk about with humans like Marisa, but not so much when we talk about Lunarians, fairies, and miscellaneous youkai.

Your point about the Lunarians is good. Even if she is an integral part of Japanese folklore, Princess Kaguya was not Japanese in the beginning, but she, well, integrated quite thoroughly after being reborn on Earth, and has had a lot of time to integrate even more since she settled down in Mayoi no Chikurin. To me, (most of) the Lunarians and the Higanese count as foreigners even if they speak fluent Japanese and have a strong connection with Gensokyians. Some or all of them may actually have primary names that are very different from the Japanese ones we know... but venturing into that would make me face challenges I am not ready for.

Yeah, the Lunarians are a great example of the blurred lines here. This myth in general, and Princess Kaguya in particular, are inventions of the Japanese people. It's hard to get more Japanese than that. At the same time, they're not "from" Japan, but Kaguya has lived in Japan for longer than a lot of native born Gensokyans, like Sanae for example.

But again, we run into the problem of "ethnicity" when talking about Lunarians, because their humanness is a little vague. If Kaguya and other Lunarians are not human, then there's no way they can be ethnically Japanese. If they are human, then their being fully formed by Japanese thought and myth makes them 100% Japanese - even if they aren't from Japan!

It's a complicated question, not least of all because the very existence of many of Gensokyo's beings are dependent upon ordinary Japanese humans no longer believing in them. Whether ZUN intended it or not, he has posed an interesting philosophical dilemma on the nature of belief determining reality and vice versa.

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Hieda no Mukyu

  • Eastern philology in limbo
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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #28 on: June 09, 2017, 05:31:12 pm »
Many great points. I already thanked Nav’ by PM. Just adding two little things. Firstly: over here, Marina (Марина) is known largely as a Russian given name, and could have had some effect. Secondly: in addition to the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05, we should possibly take a look at the history of the Sakhalin island, especially between 1845 and 1950.

To my mind, it is very difficulty to pin down ethnicity without genetic testing.

Oh, my. This is getting complicated. We might want go on about that later, somewhere else.

It's a complicated question, not least of all because the very existence of many of Gensokyo's beings are dependent upon ordinary Japanese humans no longer believing in them. Whether ZUN intended it or not, he has posed an interesting philosophical dilemma on the nature of belief determining reality and vice versa.

This, this might be the most important point of the whole discussion so far.

I tend to look at the existence and backgrounds of Gensōkyō’s residents in a Tolkienesque way, because it is so tempting to me. But if we shift our emphasis to how I often think about Suwako and Kanako, and rather justifiably widen that point of view to most of non-human Gensokyians, the picture becomes very different. It could even solve the mystery I brought up earlier.

I wonder why anyone in Gensōkyō without at least foreign ancestry would have an English name (or, in Mystia’s case, other European).

That would be because they are products of the minds of Japanese people, but based on their (limited) knowledge and (sometimes peculiar) interpretations of European myths. If so, the beings with European names have been born only in recent centuries, most of them during the last 150 years or so. Yuki-onna Letty Whiterock, for instance, would be far, far younger than Suwako Moriya.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2017, 05:33:29 pm by Hieda no Mukyu »

nav'

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Re: About Marisa's ethnicity
« Reply #29 on: June 09, 2017, 06:58:39 pm »
Secondly: in addition to the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05, we should possibly take a look at the history of the Sakhalin island, especially between 1845 and 1950.
A very good idea. Overlapping, too, since the struggle over Sakhalin was part of both the 1904-05 war, and Japan's Siberian intervention that I mentioned in the PM. Then there's the (still unsettled) matter of the nearby Kurile, and all the earthquakes that plague the region... Certainly a direction worth exploring.
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