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Hyrule Warriors isn't the only Dynasty Warriors spin-off game.

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I'm getting to Westworld, I swear. There's also Samurai Warriors , which takes place during Japan's Edo period in the 17th century, which saw the warlord Ieyasu Tokugawa consolidate the nation under his control.

Tokugawa is an important figure in Japanese history: his shogunate effectively ruled Japan until the emperor's authority was re-asserted in the mid s. In "Akane No Mai," the fifth episode of Westworld 's second season, "woke" Maeve and her entourage make their way into "Shogun World," where the eponymous shogun murders an innocent young geisha and then forces her mother figure to dance for him, with predictably vengeful results.

Some reviewers evidently thought it was problematic to depict a stereotypically eastern world sprung from the imaginations of white people—even though the show has clearly positioned the white people who designed the park as the bad guys. Just as Westworld the park isn't completely faithful to the American old west, instead relying on various cowboy tropes, so too is Shogun World a combination of realism and fantasy.

But back to the shogun: he's clearly supposed to be some version of Ieyasu Tokugawa. The shogun mentions that he "killed 2, men in the Siege of Osaka," which was the ultimate showdown between the historical Tokugawa and his last rival for dominance, Hideyori Toyotomi. I only know this because the Siege of Osaka is the final battle for the relevant characters in Samurai Warriors. It's a lot easier to win on Tokugawa's side.

I've written previously that Westworld is in many respects an ode to video games.

Japanese History - Tokugawa Shogunate, 1600-1868: Books

We literally watch Maeve performing the seminal video game task of "grinding": fighting weaker enemies over and over again until she has sufficiently boosted her stats and is ready for stronger foes. This is frequently a necessary task in the Dynasty Warriors series, and countless other games. At first, Maeve needs to give vocal commands to overpower the shogun's foot soldiers; by the end of the episode, she has learned to soundlessly control them.

She's leveling up before our very eyes. Of course, with real video games, there's a person controlling the character, pressing the buttons that make their guy or girl swing a sword, or fire a gun, or step on a Goomba.

Edo period in popular culture

What's fun about Westworld is that the video game characters seem like they are finally controlling themselves. There's a bit of uncertainty there, though. Is Maeve really rebelling against her programming, or is she merely following a path that the deceased but probably not gone, if last week's revelations about the potential for immortality are any indication Robert Ford laid out for her? Maeve ends the episode by declaring, "I've found a new voice. Dolores claimed to have discovered her own voice inside her head, and this revelation had something to do with her awakening as a supposedly automonous, fully conscious being.

She's now ostensibly following her own path, and one that increasingly seems like it will lead her to erase the less-well-developed consciousnesses of every other host in the park. Now young women are turning him, and the warlords who fought against him, into objects of hero worship. Who says video games poison the minds of the young? What is different, says its creator, Hiroyuki Kobayashi of Capcom, an Osaka-based gaming company, is that there is no severing of limbs or gushing of blood. Moreover, the characters are brave, noble and, above all, attractive—even if their namesakes bore few of these qualities in real life see picture below.

To his surprise, Mr Kobayashi found himself besieged by women smitten with the characters—sometimes over their boyfriends' hunched shoulders. Besides the good looks, they said they yearned for the sense of adventure and honour of the medieval era. From a gaming point of view, he may have stumbled upon a badly needed new source of revenue. Women rarely play action video games, but, when they do, tend to be more loyal to a game men apparently bore sooner of slashing their enemies to bits. From a social point of view, his experience is also interesting.

He believes women are partly escaping into fantasy because they cannot find suitably heroic partners in real life.

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The phenomenon may also reflect a bigger issue: young women failing to find marriage partners. Since the s the number of men and women marrying in their 20s and early 30s has fallen sharply, which is one of the main reasons the birth rate has fallen so low. It is largely the result of poor job prospects for men—and for women who marry. It will also have a severe impact on Japanese GDP in coming years.

Japanese History - Tokugawa Shogunate, , Japanese History, Books | Barnes & Noble®

As it is, the popularity of Capcom's warlords is already being put to good political effect. One of them was used on a voting poster in a governor's election on October 25th to encourage young people to vote. It is hard to replicate, however. When they feel they're being chased, they run away. Join them. Subscribe to The Economist today. Media Audio edition Economist Films Podcasts.