TTYNKAP AN Ultimania: A Brief History of Wutai

And behold, the revamp, edited, and expanded version of the first part of the TTYNKAP AN Ultimania. Though this one is more an Ultimania for the world building I'm doing for all of Wutai and the history of Gaia, really. ^^;;

A Brief History of Gaia: Wutai

Yeah, so, in college? I was a history major. Yeah, sure, it was WWII Germany focusing on the Holocaust, still. Once a history-minded person, always a history-minded person. You have been warned.

The other warning is that I'm a professional translator (Japanese to English, but I have to be able to read basic Chinese so I can correct test machine translations from Chinese to English as well). If you ever wonder about my language and culture geekery (especially my Wutai love), yeah, these two little factoids about me should explain it all.

This is the revised version of this, written after I wrote more fic involving Wutai and did more world-building. I sort of wish I had done all the research I have done now (ie: a lot) before I had started, because I would have named things differently, but ahh, well, too late now, because I am NOT up for all the fic-editing retconning would take.

So, the game says jackall about Wutai, and I can't ever leave well enough alone. >XD

Basically, the city of Wutai is to the north, and is the traditional capital of Wutai. As a fun trivia fact, the name "Wutai" is taken from "Wutai-shan," a really famous mountain in China (one of the Five Sacred Buddhist mountains), which gave me free rein to basically rip China and Chinese Buddhist mythos off for names.

All the Chinese characters for Wutai are the ones used in the original game (thanks, Chinese wiki!), not the new and alternate ones used in later games/expansions/Squeenix milking the cash cow:

Wutai - 五 臺 [wǔtái]

Since the "wu" character in the name for "Wutai" means "five," it was for me a natural assumption that the island is made up of five main provinces, all of which were formerly independent countries. The different provinces (縣) of Wutai are:

Beizhou (běi zhōu 北州) - This is the tiny island on the top of the continent and the tip of the Wutai main island closest to it. In regards to the Wutai mafia clans in TTYNKAP, the Yang are on that island, and the Li clan are located in the part of Beizhou located on the main Wutai island.

Taishang (tái shàng 臺上) - Taishang uses the 'tai' character in "Wutai," and "shang" means "top." It's the top of the main island of Wutai, which is how I've retconned the name I chose onto it.

Gwongnaam (gwong2 naam4 廣南) - The kanji for the name mean "wide south," and the is "south" because it's the bottom of the "Chinese" areas which have historically had close ties, and north of the Great Forest which sets the northern areas apart from the southern, non-tonal-language-speaking parts of Wutai.

Chochung (朝中) - This, for any of you who have read "A Hope in Hell," is the Wutai Korea--the name comes from the first character in the name for "Korea," plus the character for "middle," since it's in the middle of the continent; also, this lets me put a mountain range in the middle of the continent, where it serves to break up the Chinese-influenced languages and the Altaic ones as a physical barrier--thus, Northern, Guangnanese, and Taishangese are tonal languages, where as Chochungese and Yamatan aren't). Also, Chochung is...weird. Yeah, we're gonna go with "weird." (see: A Hope in Hell, the crossover fic that has since had elements incorporated into other fic and into my understanding of Wutai.) There is a reason for this weirdness, and if y'all want to know, I can write up another Author's Notes Ultimania for A Hope in Hell and explain why it's weird and some of the distinctive Chochung history and culture that have caused it to be a lot more isolationist than the rest of Wutai as well as having a degree of autonomy that other areas of Wutai don't have.

Yamato (大和) - the southernmost part of Wutai. Putting Yamato at the bottom of the island helps explain the language drift, because um, yeah. Japanese and Mandarin Chinese don't sound a thing alike (aside from the loanwords from kanji, but that's like saying English and Latin are alike 'cause a lot of English words have Latin roots), but Japanese and Korean sound a whole lot alike and have extremely similar grammar (which is part of why some linguists think that Japanese and Korean aren't actually Altaic, but a language family consisting of Korean-Japanese-Ainu, and I'm stopping this line of thought now before I go off on tangent), and Korean has a lot of similarities in vocabulary to Chinese thanks to borrowing, same as Japanese, but Korean is waaay closer to the Chinese pronunciations (i.e., the word for king, 王, is "wang" in Mandarin and "hwang" in Korean, but "ou" in Japanese). So the language drift is Mandarin (Beizhou and Taishang) -> Cantonese (Gwongnaam) -> Korean (Chochung) -> Japanese (Yamato).

I'm going to go into more details on the names in another installment of the AN Ultimania, namely the one where I explain all the names of people and places I've used so far. By the way, there are other, ancient names for these areas and older kingdoms that were used pre-Kisaragi Dynasty, but let's not go into that right now, since I don't need to show all of my unseemly nerdiness as once. ^^;;

Since a guy named "Godo Kisaragi" is the emperor (and fun fact, on the Chinese wiki, the page for Yuffie gives her name now in Asian name order, 'Kisaragi You Fei'), I'm assuming the current emperors were once Yamatan but have long since assimilated to the north--"Kisaragi" is a Japanese name, but "Godo" and "Yuffie" are NOT (Yuffie's name in the Chinese version, however, looks (to my admittedly poor and untrained eye) like it could be an actual Chinese name.) Those names are not even kind of Japanese, same way as in the city of Wutai was so not even kind of Japan. So these point to a takeover from the south that happened in the past.

My theory is this: Wutai, Yamato in particular, had a very imperialistic, expansionist past, and it happened in waves--first was the unification of Wutai, then came the expansion in the rest of the world.

The first round of Yamatan expansions was the Kanagawa clan unifying Yamato, and then expanding out to take over all of Wutai. The story of this is told in one of the Three Wutai Classics of Literature, "The Romance of the Five Kingdoms" (I have no shame), and the entire island was eventually unified under the Kanagawa emperors. This was, at first, a good thing. But much like Ancient Rome, the Kanagawa empire was built on taking over other areas and continually expanding. Plus, the last Kanagawa emperor was rather bloodthirsty and determined to take over the world, and once Wutai was firmly a single empire and they had an army horde to make the Mongols cry, off they went to, well, take over the world. Which they did a very, very good job of, until it began to collapse under its own weight, internal dissent, and uprisings from military leaders, and the Kisaragi Dynasty began. Events that ultimately lead up to the fall of the Kanagawa empire are told in another of the Wutai Classics of Literature, "The Annals of the Silver Dragon" (like I said, no shame.)

Before the Kanagawa Yamatan expansion, Wutai was five small countries, but was unified under the Kanagawa Dynasty. The last Kanagawa did some pretty crappy things all in all, and is part of why there were so few Cetra left (cf: the Cetra Diaspora and The History of the World pt 1, but warning, both of those are old and need revising) and why the rest of the world hated Wutai.

The Kanagawa unified Wutai, but disdained the other areas of Wutai (they were exploiting the other areas more than anything else) and remained in Nankyo, the capital of Yamato and the seat of their power. It was the first Kisaragi emperor, Kisaragi-no-Takenobu, who moved the capital north. There were many reasons for this, and one of which was a repudiation of the ways of the Kanagawa. Eventually, the Kisaragi "northernized," losing many of their Yamatan ways and the Yamatan language.

The Kisaragi emperors tried, at first, to keep control of the empire outside of Wutai, but this was a time before telephones and such, and the 'barbarians' didn't much like the Wutai, and eventually the Wutai withdrew because they didn't much want to be there any more, and saw it as part of the whole mess the Kanagawa had left behind. And proving that the emperors were sill Yamatan through and through, decided the past Yamatan emperors got burned when they went too far, and pulled an Augustus Caesar on the empire and decided no going past a certain point--in this case, off the island. They went isolationist, because d00d, that's what Japan does. So that's what Wutai did--they pulled inward, and the Kisaragi emperors worked on keeping Wutai unified--at stomping out dangerous "regional" pride and identity and replacing them with a national one (which is why Yuffie is very much "I'm Wutai!" and not "I'm Yamatan!")--and self-sufficient, and all was fine and dandy until ShinRa was like, "Yeah, so, about that."

At one point, the Wutai emperor stretched at least as far as Midgar--and my reasoning for that is the extensive use of characters in Midgar on all things official, such as the numbers of the sections (they use the OLD SKOOL number characters, the ones used on money and stuff for official things--ones that couldn't easily be altered), and one exit signs and such around the city, while everything else is written in English (Last Order, everything in the files was English, AC, all the signs are in English)--I posit these as remnants of a Yamatan past, one that the ShinRa company incorporated as a way of proving their validity to rule.

And why Yamatan? Because the reading of the characters used for the ShinRa logo are all from the Japanese readings of those characters; "shin" (god) and "ra," (net; also the characters used for Ancient Rome; in Chinese it can also mean "invite"...interpret these as you will, yo); the Mandarin readings are "xin" and "luo." Since those sound not that much like "Shinra" (company: ShinRa; family name: Shinra. I told y'all I was anal), yeah, it would imply that the characters used for the name were based on a Yamatan reading, which would indicate the Yamatans had once overrun the other continents before eventually, as all empires do, collapsing in under its own weight. But an impact would have been left over from any kind of invasion and occupation.

Also in regard to the name "ShinRa" in characters, in FFX, you meet a character named "Shinra," and it's hinted at that his family is the one that eventually becomes the FF7 Shinra family. Yeah, so, in FFX? The name "Shinra" isn't written in kanji, it's written in katakana, like any foreign name is. Katakana that have been replaced with characters by FF7, something that probably any important family would have done, or tried to do.

Which leads to back to another point: Why the hell Midgar has signs in Wutai Characters.

Basically, everyone in Midgar knows what 出口 means...it's "exit," and they would say it as "Exit," not "deguchi" or "chukou" or any of the other Wutai readings--the Midgaran reading would be "exit." ...and after ShinRa falls, when there's no more Midgar to speak of, just Edge, there are no more "official" things with characters. With the fall of ShinRa and its need to comp an empire for legitimacy, there was no more need for characters.

Also, related to nothing, Professor Hojo's name in the Japanese game is written in kanji as well (which fucked me UP when I first started playing Crisis Core, because I didn't realize the guy I was trusting was THAT Hojo, until I ended up deadeded and my "Dead Zack" count went up nigh exponentially, before I stopped, glared, went, "Wait a minute, who is this guy...Houjou hakushiIIIIIT, THAT'S NOT HOUJOU THAT'S HOJO!"), probably because "Hojo" is a Japanese name. Which makes me think the name is one of the remnants of the Yamatan imperialist past. Another clue is the fact that o-mamori, which even the FF7 Ultima guide says are from Wutai but are "for some reason" (cop out, much?) sold in Midgar. You don't just have stuff like that unless there's a past involved, yo. In the same way, seeing how there are no kanji in certain areas, specifically the ones further to the south, shows that the Wutai expansion didn't make it out that far: they stopped--or were stopped--before they took over the entire world (and yes, this is the kind of thing I notice when I play video games). Even going with the "there is a large Wutai population" (which could certainly be true in a city like Midgar, and in fact I would say the sector with Wall Market is actually "Little Yamato" because of all the Wutai graffiti), but that doesn't explain the sectors being numbered in old-fashioned characters and random official signs that were in characters under ShinRa, but not after ShinRa fell (there are NO characters in Edge--everything is English.)

So all of this, to me, especially given how easily everyone went to war with Wutai when Wutai really wasn't a threat, kind of indicates lots of bad feelings that went pretty far back, and it all adds up to Wutai having had a much more warlike past and having actually been the invaders once upon a time, because the legacy of invasion lasts a long, long time, and leaves scars.

...Plus, have y'all seen some of the character designs now that they have the technical know-how to not have giant blocks for hands and cube-heads?! I saw some caps from Dirge of Cerberus, and was like, "...Turk!Vincent looks more Asian than Yuffie. By, like, a lot." And when I first watched Advent Children, I went, "Cloud looks like a blond-haired, blue-eyed Japanese man, and Tifa looks like Utada Hikaru. Yeah."

The legacies of invasion, kiddies. Sometimes, they're genetic. The Wutai left a lot of things behind, namely, bad blood and uh, children.

Having a unified, imperialist past and thus still being unified in a way totally unlike anywhere else on the planet--everywhere else on Gaia seems to be set up as "independent" city-states, which is why ShinRa could just take over everything one city at a time--Gaia is completely un-unified, aside from ShinRa, and therefore not a threat to them, and by making the city-states dependent on them (which they had to do by convincing each place, and as can be extrapolated from the stories in Corel and Gongaga, and how they had to be talking into allowing ShinRa in), they were able to slowly exert more power and become the de facto government--and meant there was no one to regulate them, because eventually they were more powerful than the small and independent city-states. There was no one central government to regulate them or impose any kind of rules.

But Wutai was different. Wutai was a vast island that was completely isolated and that had no need for ShinRa. ShinRa's way of getting in one city-state at a time wouldn't work for an actual country with an established past and bureaucracy that was running just fine on it's own (and you can NOT beat Asia for bureaucracy; ShinRa was probably beating their heads against a wall dealing with a slow-moving bureaucracy that had been in place for centuries, and a people that saw no reason whatsoever to get on the ShinRa boat--they wanted to be left alone, thanks.

Which is precisely why ShinRa was so determined to take over Wutai, and why they didn't do anything to rebuild Wutai after they took it over--ShinRa's whole problem with Wutai had been that it was too unified. They needed Wutai either in pieces or completely subjugated to them. Wutai's very unification is why it took ShinRa so long to defeat them--Wutai, unlike the small city-states, actually has an army. A very well-trained army, in fact, and that's why it took ten years to defeat them even though ShinRa was better armed, and why so many Wutai were able to infiltrate Midgar. ShinRa had bigger guns and more powerful individual soldiers (aka, SOLDIERs), but Wutai had had an army for centuries and were far, far better trained, both in military fighting and in stealth. ShinRa thought they could just throw big guns and super-soldiers at Wutai and take over quickly; they then learned about the power of a highly-trained military that had elite guerrilla squads (aka ninjas), plus the "you're-boned" that happens when you're fighting a better trained army on their home turf.

Just think Sparta-meets-the Viet Cong, and you see how it is it took ShinRa ten years to win and why it was a pyrrhic victory for them. City-states in other parts of Gaia probably saw ShinRa's army and was like, "Yes, of course you can come here, plzdon'tkillus" (and why people were willing to go halfway across the planet to join ShinRa's army; there was nothing like it where they were from; at most they had small militias), especially since the last time the world had seen a military like that, it had been the Wutai military that took over half the world. To the rest of the world, ShinRa's army was amazing; Wutai looked at them and went, "Oh, aren't you cute, trying to be like us! ...Go home."

Which would have absolutely galled President Shinra.

And we all know what the results ended up being.

Comments

I am too brain fried by my science final, but the sheer length of this deserves acknowledgment. That, and as someone who grew up with a History ABD for mom, this:

Once a history-minded person, always a history-minded person. You have been warned.

made me go "Yeeeeah." Because it's contagious.

Amusingly enough, I also had my history final today. On US history 1900-1960. Hiiiii, WWII.
Oooh... I love this to bits and pieces! My overthinker-brain has started jumping up and down for joy and clapping its little hands in glee (which is a bit worrying since it's currently quarter to two in the morning over here and I really should be getting some sleep) at how well this fits into my own theories about the other parts of Gaia and the way they came into existence (brief summary: ordinary humans running away and hiding from the Jenovan invasion, then forgetting why they were so spread out and isolated). So, this is in the nature of a preliminary comment, and you can probably expect more in the next few days.
:D Thanks, and looking forward to whatever your Overthinkers Club brain comes up with!

(Anonymous)

godo

Hi there, I just read your works and was wondering if you could give me anyinformation on how Godo came into power, I read somewhere that he fought off rivals for the honour to rule......is this right>
Regards chance
"Oh, aren't you cute, trying to be like us! ...Go home." ^_^ This sounds so much like what my professor would say (she teaches pre-modern Japan culture and lit) that a smile just appeared on my face. Much love! This is amazing! I love reading about the background of stories (and especially ones well-written and though out like this one!). Everything manages to make sense perfectly and make me go, "...I never thought of it that way, but it WORKS." You have totally converted me to this way of thinking. This piece *sparkles* so much that anyone can tell that you love doing this. I think that sparkle is what attracts me to your work so much. Great job!
Awesome.
Thank you, thank you! :D
You had me at "The Romance of the Five Kingdoms."

So... the third of the three classics?
Yay, someone got the reference!

*snicker* I'm not sure yet. I'm so torn as whether I should shamelessly rip off Water Margin or Journey to the West. I'm so, so, SO leaning towards "Journey to the North." >XD

And "Annals of the Silver Dragon" was so close to being "Dream of the Silver Dragon." SO CLOSE. >XD

I r big loser dork.
Hey!

So I came across this post and found it really fascinating because it's the kind of overthinking I really love, haha. It makes a lot of sense to me and is a great explanation for a lot of how the world works!

I realize it's a pretty old post, but I've been working on a fic that likewise requires figuring out the History of Wutai (and the rest of the world), and I was wondering if it's OK to use some of the things you've laid out here, with credit? (It's just the kind of background/worldbuilding I need to help flesh out some things.)

If not, I completely understand! Just figured I might as well ask.