TTYNKAP AN: A Brief History of Wutai

I haven't been in the mood to write fic much lately, because I think I killed myself doing kinkfest, and my fic-brain needed a rest. Plus, I've been stuck with some small details of TTYNKAP for a while (like, names and stuff) and I needed to plot out some history and other such things before I could proceed. So I started working on the Author's Notes to TTYNKAP, because I figure, everything going into this fic ought to get explained. LOL, I want my hard word acknowledged, dammit. XD

A lot of what I've written is spoiler, which is why I'm posting the AN in pieces/subsections: only when something is no longer spoiler will I be explaining it. So I'm sitting on a bunch of them, and will be until after chapter 10 (that chapter is going to be the biggie. Oh my.) Some will have to wait until after the fic is done. *g* But as long as they were getting, I figured in pieces was better than dumping it on you all at once.

So, without further ado, the first of the author's notes, and this is due to change at any moment just because I might figure something out later (translation, I welcome your thoughts.) :D

The Geography and Brief History of Wutai, aka "Why the hell does Midgar have signs in characters?"

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.

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. Since the name "Wutai" is taken from "Wutai-shan," a really famous mountain in China, I'm putting mountains close to the city. The city of Wutai is pretty much analogous to Beijing, I'm figuring, being the seat of power, such as Wutai still has left.

Since the "wu" character in the name for "Wutai" also means "five" [Wutai - 五檯 (Wu3 Tai2)], I'm going with there being five main provinces in Wutai, which were all formerly five different countries (and I made all this shit up, so you know--well, not the name of Wutai in characters; that I got from the Chinese FF7 wiki page, ditto with Yuffie's Chinese name). The different regions of Wutai are the Northern region, Beizhou [Northern Province]; Guangnan just south and west of there (analogous to Hong Kong) with Taishang to the east of Guangnan; Chaozhong in the middle south of Beizhou but between Taishang and Guangnan (this 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 Chaozhonese and Yamatan aren't), and Yamato to the south (Japan, coming from one of the old names for Japan), which helps explain the language drift, because um, yeah. Japanese and Mandarin Chinese don't sound a thing a like, but Japanese and Korean sound a whole lot alike, and Korean has a lot of similarities in vocabulary to Mandarin (i.e., the word for king is "wang" in Mandarin and "hwang" in Korean, but "ou" in Japanese. OK THEN.) So the language drift is Mandarin->Cantonese/Taiwanese (in Guangnan and Taishang respectively)->Korean->Japanese.

Since a guy named "Godo Kisaragi" is the emperor, I'm assuming the current emperors are Yamatan, indicating there was a take-over, since everything in the city of Wutai was so not even kind of Japan, not with the kind of names being tossed around. I have two hypotheses about this, which fits better I haven't decided on, and it doesn't really matter since it's really just being nitpicky and anal, but HEY LOOK WHAT BEING SO HAS WROUGHT THUS FAR. >XD

One commonality between the two theories is an expansive imperial past, but I'm jumping ahead of myself a bit.

So the Yamatan Wutai took over, but left things as they were, more or less, since that was what happened through most of the history of Ancient China--invaders came in, and then took over the same way as the people they had just kicked out of power. (There was a lot of mixing, which is how I'm writing off the name "Yuffie," BTW, because 'Yuffie' is not even kind of a Japanese name...but her name in Chinese, You Fei, is usually butchered by katakana into "Yuufii", which...yeah, that would be "Yuffie," or close enough for government work, since her katakana game name is "Yufii.")

Before the Yamatan expansion, Wutai was five small countries, but then was unified under a Kisaragi, in a way similar to how Qing unified China, and he set himself up as a Son of Heaven rather than a traditional Yamatan/Japanese emperor, taking the "civilized" Beizhou ways for the sake of legitimacy. The northern areas were always seen as "civilized" and the seat of learning and such, and the south just was determined to catch up and prove themselves, namely by taking over...and then they got greedy and expanded out of Wutai.

That, or the Yamatans did things in waves, and it wasn't a Kisaragi emperor who first expanded his power, reaching eventually over most of the world, but it was a Kisaragi who, after the collapse of the Yamatan empire, eventually reupped and re-unified Wutai, and then 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 instead then go all isolationist, because d00d, that's what Japan does. So that's what Wutai did, and all was fine and dandy until ShinRa was like, "Yeah, so, about that."

Now, the point where the theories all kind of converge, because, regardless of what emperor did it, I'm assuming a rather large and sweeping imperialist past for Yamato, one that stretched at least as far as Midgar at one point--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 my point (so I meandered a bit.)

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 trust me when I say, it's quite plausible. Personally, I gave gone into convenience stores, been poking around for food, and saw 「白飯」 and without missing a beat thought "white rice", completely bypassing whatever the heck the Japanese pronunciation of it might be, since characters are meaning-based) ...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 HOJO!"), probably because "Hojo" is a Japanese name. Now, you look at Hojo, and he doesn't exactly look like he's Wutai, does he. 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 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.

So all of this, to me, especially given how easily everyone went to war with Wutai when Wutai really wasn't a threat, which kind of indicates lots of bad feelings that went pretty far back, 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 heck, minus the blond and blue-eyed thing, so does AC Cloud." So, yeah.

The legacies of invasion, kiddies. Sometimes, they're genetic.

Comments

Awesome! I love how you explain everything. Its like a textbook in history except more interesting.You make everything make more sense, ya'know?(( Go away Rai! XD ))
I also kind of figure, and it didn't hit me until just now, so when I get home I'll probably go and edit this back in, that part of why ShinRa was all all-fired to go invade and take over Wutai--when Wutai was by that point in time pretty much stuck a good hundred years in the past and rather undeveloped compared to Midgar--was the whole "conquering the conquerers" thing--it would seriously give ShinRa credibility as a world power if they took over the same people who had taken over half the world in the past, kind of a "Look who's in charge NOW, bitches!" to the whole world, because there still had to be a feeling left over that Wutai was dangerous and could kick their asses if they wanted to, because they had once before, which leads to lingering resentment.

*g* I'm glad you liked reading it, because, for all I kvetch and moan, I kind of liked writing it. History, even made-up history, can be fun. XD
My own fanon on the Shinra family is (according to the Old Money in Midgar) they're a jumped-up bunch of nouveau-riche Johnny-come-Latelys, who moved in from the Nibel Mountain area about five generations back. The Shinra family wound up having their start in smuggling, although they've been attempting to whitewash their past over the years, diversifying into "legitimate" business about four generations back (Rufus' great-grandfather). Since then, there's been the standard generational see-sawing back and forth between "craving legitimacy" and "why aren't we *using* this power we have?" - Old Man Shinra was one of the ones who really, really, *really* wanted to be accepted by the Old Money of Midgar as being just as good as they were. This explains the numerous architectural bits of willy-waving (the Shinra Tower, the Plate), the various bits of political willy-waving (anyone for world conquest?) and the willingness to give as much money as required to a group of scientists who appear to have been recruited as graduates from the Transylvania Polygnostic University of Mad Science (Professors Hojo, Hollander, and Crescent) in order to produce something to impress the snobs over dinner.

A side theory of this: part of the reason the Strife family were so poorly regarded in Nibelheim has to do with what I'm sure Cloud and Tifa would regard as "ancient history" - namely, who Cloud's mother's father's great-great-grandfather was, which of the Shinra girls he was married to, and which side of the blankets his only son was fathered on. Being a small town in a cold area, however, old feuds and scandals come in useful on those long, cold winter evenings. Nothing like a good argument to get the blood flowing, after all. Hence the rumours of "bad blood" in the Strife family, and Cloud's mother just proved the prophecy correct when she had a child by a Shinra foot soldier (or rather "foot soldier" - in the Mafioso sense, that being what the folks of Nibelheim were used to with regard to the Shinra family, after all) without getting properly wed, after all. Not surprising the child turned out to look like a proper little Shinra by-blow, blond hair and all.

Mind you, your theories are workable as well - and there's no real reason why the two can't coexist. Mind if I borrow bits and pieces and incorporate them?
Ooh, interesting theory! The only thing I thought of was, it was really heavily hinted at in Ultima (I can look up the relevant parts when I get home tonight) that the Shinra kid in there was the ancestor of the Shinra on Gaia, and he had an idea about using the energy of a planet to make energy. So it could very well be that Rufus' great-great-grandfather found his ancestor's notes on his theories, and decided that was the route to go to legitimize themselves.

And sure, feel free to genk whatsoever you would like from my theories to use--I'd love if all that theorizing didn't just go to waste when I'm done with TTYKNAP. Squeenix did nothing in regards to the history of Gaia, other than "The Ancients, then Jenova SMASH, dead Ancients, then 2000 years, then shady stuff with dead things and some random war in Wutai." Somehow, that doesn't quite cut it. >XD

I'm also going to have a section on the Wutai mafia clans, so hearing more about the Shinra backstory you've got going might help me out with all of that, too, since I'm also going a bit into the interconnection that later develops between the Wutai mafia and the Midgar mob (ie, how the heck someone named "Don Corneo" can end up on Wutai.)
I have problems with the whole business of the Al-Behd Shinra becoming the original ancestor of the Shinra family, purely because firstly, Spira and Gaia appear to be completely different planets, and secondly, if they *are* the same planet, they really need to have a word with an archaeologist or three about how much can vanish and can't when it comes to ruins and the like; then they need to have a word or three with a linguistic historian about how likely it is a family name will remain unaltered for the requisite number of generations (I mean, I'd be expecting at least a vowel shift, since the ih-eeh vowel is one of the easier ones when it comes to drifting). I just think it's more like "oh hells, let's retcon" on the part of a writer, and it got adopted by a few too many people to be plausibly deniable.

I just figure the mansion in the Nibel hills had to have more history than Squeenix were handing us. I mean, if you're going to let a bunch of Mad Scientists loose in a place and give them purpose-built facilities for the job, then why not go the whole hog, and do the standard castle-onna-crag manouvre? In the Nibel mountains, it'd be a perfect cover! Instead, I figure the Shinra family were the ancestral "lords of the manor" in the Nibel area, and the Nibelheim mako reactor was the first one built - thus accounting for the rather "steampunk" ambience of the place in the original game (gear wheels and chains, rather than hydraulics etc). The caverns below the manor were originally used as storage space - wine cellars and the like. When the Shinra family decided to move to Midgar (ie to the Big City, rather than the little colonial outpost of Nibelheim) they decided to convert the manor into accommodation for staff, and then later performed the several tons of customisation required to create the underground laboratories for their fleet of Mad Scientists, because it's still easier and cheaper than trying to build a castle (complete with accommodation for the Igors) from scratch in the Nibel mountains.

Oh, and implicit in this is a pseudo-Northern-European (ie Germanic/Teutonic/Nordic) culture on the continent of Midgar, while the large continent between Midgar and Wutai was home to a few different cultures. The Midgarians would have been the colonial types (Nibelheim is *clearly* a colonial outpost, with a name like that) and as a result everyone speaks pretty much the same language. There's a lot of racial and cultural drift which has happened in the meantime.
Oh, I'm a firm believer in "Um, Squeenix, you know that makes no sense at all, right? But shine on, you crazy diamond" about the whole whassisface Shinra from planet wherever the heck being the ancestor of the Gaia Shinra. It really, really, really makes zero sense, especially given the bits we do know about Gaia and it's history...namely, the only starfarers that landed there were the Cetra, and even then, that's debatable amongst some circles (I think they were from space, and there's a long, drawn-out lingustic reasoning behind that, namely due to the kanji used in referring to the planet, but I'll spare you unless you really want to hear it.)

I honestly think lately that Squeenix is Trying Too Hard to make everything fit in together. Dude, Squeenix, we can deal with multiple Shinras; in case you hadn't noticed, no one is confused over all the Cids.

And everything else you said is extremely cool and I want to talk about it...after I get home from work, because I am paranoid and keep looking over my shoulder to see if anyone sees me slacking off instead of working. ^^;;
Well, depending on where you're up to in your workday, I may not be awake much longer (long story, basically involves me attempting to reset my circadian to diurnal rather than nocturnal *again*, and resulting 24 hrs + without sleep) but I'm certainly willing to discuss it. *grin* And yes, that does mean the previous rambles are written without the benefit of sleep, so any incoherence is somewhat unintentional.
My workday JUST OFFICIALLY ENDED MWAHAHAHA, but I still won't get home for a good hour and a half. Whee! If you're still up, yay! If not, GOOD YOU NEED SLEEP.
Okay, reading back through your stuff, I can see how our two theories could be tied together. Effectively I can see the continent which is the home of towns like Gongaga and Nibelheim being something of an arguing ground for two strong cultures - on the Eastern side, there's the Midgarian (pseudo-European) culture, while on the West there's Wutai. The two cultures, under various labels, have been alternatively warring and trading for centuries. My guess is that ocean conditions to the east of Kalm and the west of Wutai are such as to make navigation across that strait rather tricky - so if there's going to be any contact between the two cultures, it's going to happen in the direction of optimal travel (rather like the main contacts between East and West prior to approximately the fifteen hundreds were made via overland contacts, rather than oceanic). There was a certain amount of cultural pick and mix happening during the expansionist periods (so during the Wutain expansion(s), there were a lot of those nice genes for high cheekbones and delicate facial structures being passed around by various factors from arranged marriage right the way down to battlefield rape).

I have a feeling the last big Wutain expansion would be something very much along the lines of the conquests of Napoleon or Alexander the Great - a military genius heading off and conquering anything which wasn't nailed down, and pulling up the nails on anything that was. End result is a massive new addition of territory, which would be wonderful if they just had the infrastructure to run it successfully! As it is, the whole thing collapses as soon as the momentum is lost. However, behind all of this, the opposing culture comes along and takes things a bit more slowly, putting in the infrastructure and picking up the pieces and consolidating the territory. I can see this working the same way the English, Germans, Dutch and Portugese came along and picked up the pieces of the French and Spanish empires in Africa and the Caribbean after the expansionist flings of these two nations.

In addition, there would be existing "nobility" or kinship groupings which would have been picked up the job of running an area as deputies for the ruling country - the sort of rulers who'd follow a "whatsoever King may reign, I'll still be Vicar in Bray, sir" policy, and cut their coat according to the cloth available. I have a suspicion the Shinra family started out as one of those - this would explain the combination of a Wutain name and very Midgarian features. (It might also explain some of the Shinra reputation for not being trustworthy - a known history of changing sides in the middle of an argument). It also explains why the Shinra family would be so keen to be respected by the Old Money in Midgar (Midgar being where the power lies at the moment), as well as why the Midgarian Old Money doesn't fall for their blandishments.
With the Wutai expansion thing...I just posted about a fic that just clobbered me and HARD, and it's going to be about that--about the general that led the emperor's armies to take over the world...and how ShinRa tries to groom Sephiroth, before he's sent over, so that the Wutai will think he's the reincarnation of said general....but the ignore the rest of the story, which is the Emperor betrays his general, who eventually goes mad, and the Empire is, in the end, destroyed because of hubris (aka, the have no where else to conquer and the emperor and his family are in the end idiots who have no idea how to actually rule such a vast empire.)

I'm basically going to write this terrifyingly massive fic the same way as TTYNKAP--one chapter is the Wutain general, the other is Sephiroth. Hooboy.
I also kind of think that the Yamatan emperors, when deciding to stay in Wutai after losing their vast empire, said clearly, "Going beyond the boundaries of the sea will lead to your destruction, because no one can maintain so large an empire" would have almost been a challenge to the greedy, greedy Shinras. They were going to do it just because. It would have been seen as almost conventional wisdom on Gaia, that you just don't expand that much, because hey, look what happened to Wutai.

A challenge, yo. >XD
Oh, it's definitely the kind of challenge which would appeal to the sort of person Old Man Shinra appeared to be (given the amount of substitute willies the man was waving about - Tower, Plate, war in Wutai, world conquest etc - it makes you wonder whether he was compensating for something! Or maybe a lack of something). The man struck me as being deeply insecure about his own worth, and as a result he was never going to be satisfied - he had to have everything, and once he had it, he wanted another 10%.

Rufus, oddly enough, is a bit saner in that respect. I mean yes, Rufus Shinra is definitely trying to lie, cheat and manipulate his way through life, as well as bully his way through, but he doesn't appear to *need* the possessions and worldly fame the way his father did.

(Oh, and some other bits and pieces I have floating around the inside of my skull - first up, both Scarlet and Heidegger are connected to the Shinra family. I have a suspicion Heidegger was the President's brother-in-law or similar, while Scarlet fits in nicely as a cousin of some kind. Possibly Don Corneo is another cousin of the President's - there's a strong resemblance between him and President Shinra! I get the suspicion Rufus curses the memory of his grandfather on a daily basis.)
The thing of it is, Rufus already has everything, so he sees no need to acquire more the way his dad does. He just sees the need to mainain the status quo, and he'll do what he has to to do so.

His father, though, yeah. That man had some issues and a god complex, which would explain why he saw no problems letting his mad scientists run around.
Hmm... now I have Nesa in the back of my head digging around the Shinra archives and trying to find the family tree for the Shinra clan. She has this theory Old Man Shinra was the runt of the litter or something.

I feel the need to express my love for this post and all the comments herein, and lament the end of this fruitful conversation.
Argh, I have been massively busy, and forgot to comment to this. XD

I'm actually about to rewrite this, to take into account of lot of things from this convo as well as everything I've written about Wutai. I'm such a nerd.