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Assassin’s Creed Shadows: Why Yasuke as A Main Character Is A Great Choice

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The gaming community is excitedly buzzing over the latest Assassin’s Creed Shadows trailer, which transports players to Feudal Japan. This time, gamers can embody a lethal shinobi assassin and a legendary samurai, with Yasuke, the famous African samurai, taking centre stage. However, not everyone is thrilled. Some argue that using Yasuke as a protagonist is misguided and that the game should feature a Japanese male protagonist instead. Let’s break down why this criticism is unfounded.

Yasuke Was Every Bit a Samurai: Understanding Feudal Japan

First, let's clear up a common misconception: Yasuke was indeed a samurai. Some may argue that he was instead a retainer, but that’s just a matter of semantics. The term "retainer" often confuses people, leading to the erroneous belief that retainers were not samurai. In Feudal Japan, retainers, or Kashin, were members of a clan's Kashindan, essentially a standing army ready to fight at a moment's notice. While samurai clans were aristocratic families, one did not have to be born into these clans to be a samurai.

Historically, the concept of samurai predates samurai clans. During the Heian Period, the first samurai were full-time soldiers who later became nobles. Over time, the status of samurai evolved into a form of nobility that could be achieved through service and loyalty rather than birthright alone.

Yasuke's Role in History

Yasuke served as a kosho for Oda Nobunaga, a prominent daimyo (feudal lord). The role of a kosho was akin to that of a personal servant and bodyguard to a high-ranking samurai. Crucially, kosho were considered samurai. Yasuke’s service under Nobunaga and his status as a kosho cement his place as a samurai in Japanese history.

To dismiss Yasuke's role based on his origins ignores the historical context and the fluidity of samurai status. Yasuke’s story is not just about his African origins but also about his extraordinary journey and accomplishments within the rigid societal structure of Feudal Japan.

Cultural Significance and Representation

Some critics claim that featuring Yasuke as a protagonist is a forced attempt at diversity, comparing it to using a white male protagonist in a game set in Africa. However, this comparison is flawed. Yasuke’s presence in Japan is a historical fact, not an attempt to insert diversity artificially. His story is one of cultural exchange and adaptation, highlighting a fascinating chapter in Japanese history that is often overlooked.

Using Yasuke as a protagonist offers a rich, historically accurate narrative that can educate and inspire. It challenges the notion that samurai must be Japanese by birth and showcases the diversity within Feudal Japan itself.

In A Nutshell…

Including Yasuke in Assassin’s Creed Shadows is not a matter of "woke" diversity but a recognition of historical facts. Yasuke’s role as a samurai under Oda Nobunaga is well-documented, and his story adds depth and authenticity to the game’s narrative. By embracing such historical figures, games can offer more varied and enriching experiences.

Critics should welcome the opportunity to explore Yasuke’s unique story, understanding that the past is often more diverse and complex than commonly perceived. Assassin’s Creed Shadows promises to deliver thrilling gameplay and a deeper appreciation of the rich nature of Feudal Japanese history.

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