Both of the Corrupted Monk’s boss arenas are some of my favourites. The Monk is first fought as a spirit just before the Wedding Cave Door deep within Mibu Village. She is then fought in her true form on the Vermillion Bridge, before entering the Fountainhead Palace.
There is more going on in the Vermillion Bridge arena, so I’ll be talking about that more. It’s the vibe from the former arena that excites me. After working his way through Mibu Village (an area I am fond of) Sekiro finds a series of Torii gates that lead to a stone door blocked shut. Many lanterns provide something resembling light in hanging fog. Out of this fog strides the ghostly figure of the Monk. It’s pure Japanese ghost story vibes and I will always be there for that. Hell, the whole of Mibu is pure Japanese ghost story vibes. I dig it.
The Vermillion Bridge is simply gorgeous. There are also a few bits of environmental story telling. The tumbling maple leaves, the moon hanging in the azure sky, the old yet still proud bridge – and without a cranky monk trying to decapitate Sekiro, it’s a beautiful to walk around and admire. A place I am fond of returning to, to take it all in. After a few boss fights, the perfect place to let my guard down. The falling leaves are nice touch – in terms of aesthetics and volume. Falling leaves are always pretty – even more so with maple leaves. And there is just enough of them for it to not be overdone. Just enough to elicit the right atmosphere. And something I recently realised, during the fight there is a mist caused by the Monk. When the Monk dies, the mist clears showing the moon, the stars and the azure sky.
The bridge itself – a once brilliant red, now a little faded tells a story of previous battles and time passed. Parts of the bridge are broken – seemingly snapped by someone wielding a heavy weapon. Folk have tried to cross the bridge before Sekiro makes his attempt. The bridge is also suffering from neglect – some of the beams are rotted, some are rotting – this bridge has endured for some time and over that time, maintenance has fallen away. It’s still a beautiful piece of architecture but its best days are behind it. One nice little detail are the decorative plates on the rails of the bridge. They have intricate floral patterns adorning them. Prior to this I had never taken a close look at them. It’s nice discovering new things.
There is a nice little detail with the trees. Both the Monk and Sekiro can break the smaller branches of the maple trees. It’s not unusual for the Monk to bring down branches with a great swing of her weapon. It’s a little detail but it works wonders for making a dynamic environment.
Speaking of the Monk’s weapon, let’s try and figure out what it is. Is it a Nagamaki, or is it a Naginata? First of all, before getting into that let’s just admire it. I’ve been digging polearms lately. And the Monk has a mighty fine polearm (or it’s a colossal sword). It’s almost (or is) half handle half blade. It is a weapon that aligns perfectly with the Monk’s fluid fighting style. It’s a colossal weapon. The Monk has to, like, 9 to 10ft tall and the weapon is pretty much the length of her. That thing must be incredibly heavy, and she swings it around like it weighs nothing at all. Sometimes with only one hand.
However, back to the problem I’m putting off. What is the weapon? I have a blog post where I called it a Nagamaki, on the back of the excellent sources of Wikipedia and TV Tropes. I did couch that opinion with a note about how I thought it was a Naginata before some more reading. Google searches for both Corrupted Monk Naginata and Corrupted Monk Nagamaki both bring up results in favour of both. From the official artwork it looks like a heavily stylised Naginata. But in game, when the Monk is using the weapon it looks way more like a Nagamaki. Also, in the most recent Samurai Shodown game (a completely legitimate historical resource) Yashamaru Kurama is a character that uses a Nagamaki. His combat stance and the Monks combat stances aren’t too dissimilar. If it turns out a Naginata can be used in a similar manner, well…
So, I don’t really know and with my limited knowledge (but lots of fondness) of Japanese weapons – I’m punting this one. If someone happens to pass by this blog who is either a From Software developer, a Japanese weapon’s expert or by sheer luck, both – please don’t hesitate to tell me what the Monk’s weapon is called. I’d love to hear it. Right now, I’m just going to admire that weapon, because it’s beautiful. And massive. Like, I don’t think I can overstate how big it is.
Wish I could wield it.
Notes and Asides
On the subject of falling leaves and volume of said leaves – on the final fight on Ghost of Tsushima with Jin’s Grandad or Uncle (I’ve forgotten who it was) there was a tree behind them. On what should have been a moment of immense tension and emotion (I was a little checked out at this point) all I could think about was “Kin’ell, that tree has a lot of leaves”. Falling by the bucket load. Much more measured in Sekiro.
1 thought on “Ode to the Corrupted Monk (Part 2)”
I have only watched gameplay of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice on YouTube, and haven’t ever played the game before, myself. But I agree that it is a beautiful game, and its weaponary are no different.