Baiken and Sekiro and their similarities

I have been continuing my efforts with Strive and continuing to play with Baiken. There are a few reasons to like Baiken, one of those being her similarities with the main character of my favourite game, Sekiro. There are a few surface level similarities – they both use a Katana, for example – but the more I thought about it, the more I realised there are some similarities between the characters that went a little deeper. It makes me appreciate the two of them even more.

They both lost an arm and have weapons associated with that: Sekiro loses his arm not long into the game. However the first encounter with Genichiro ends, his arm will be separated from his body. Not long after this the Sculptor finds and rescues Sekiro, providing him with a prosthetic arm. Baiken also has a missing arm, lost during an attack on her home village (more on that later).

Both Baiken and Sekiro adapt to this and use it for offence. Sekiro’s prosthetic, as well as having a grapple hook can be outfitted with many different offensive tools. 10 in total, with three being equipped at any given time. Baiken makes do with missing an arm by equipping a bunch of hidden weapons where the arm used to be. She has a gun, a cannon, two types of chains and a fan sword. That’s a lot of stuff.

While Sekiro never uses his grapple hook in the manner that Baiken uses Kabari, he can use a spear in a similar manner, at least on smaller enemies. He can grapple hook towards bigger enemies though. And while Sekiro doesn’t have a gun like Baiken, he does have a flame barrel, which is a little similar. Both Baiken and Sekiro have a fan styled weapon – Baiken with the Ryosanzen, and Sekiro with the Umbrellas. Both are extremely effective.

They both have a life event that gave them PTSD: Sekiro the game begins with Sekiro the character stuck in hole, both metaphorically and literally. He has been captured and in being held prisoner… in a hole. His confidence is shot to pieces, in addition to his combat prowess being the lowest it could be (his fumbling of his sword in the Genichiro cutscene). All of this goes back to Sekiro being betrayed and being stabbed in the back by his Foster Father and left for dead. A portion of the game is Sekiro dealing with and overcoming this, climaxing with the fight against Owl Father in the Hirata Estate memory. While we are here, Sekiro’s upbringing is also incredibly tragic. He’s an orphan, and the from the opening cutscene it seems Sekiro wanders battlefields in order to collect swords, probably to sell them. A battlefield is no place for a child – he must have been exposed to some utterly horrific sights, sounds and smells. His Foster Father, Owl’s parenting skills are also… terrible. Neglect and abuse where his calling cards. It’s beautiful when Sekiro finally fells him.

An impressive video essay that talks about Sekiro and his PTSD. Pretty long (about 35 minutes) but worth a watch if the time can be spared.

Baiken lost both her arm and her eye (Sekiro has two working eyes so has that going for him) in an attack on her home. She also lost her family and friends, making her an orphan (that’s another similarity.) Baiken then spends the majority of her life looking for revenge against the perpetrator of the attack. Having done some reading about the Guilty Gear story, and Baiken’s place within that story, it appears that it is only around Xrd (the game before Strive) that Baiken’s personality begins to mellow – in Baiken terms. Prior to Xrd, it’s debateable if she is even a functional human being. Her one friend… person she tolerates is Anji Mito. Otherwise, she struggles (or doesn’t want to) to form anything resembling a friendship or a relationship. Everything is focused on revenge. It’s only Anji who can get through to her, and it’s only with Anji she will have extended conversations. And again, sometimes that’s grudgingly. Everyone else is ignored in favour of getting her vengeance. Xrd sees her relax a little (only a little) before she gets a new perspective in Strive. And that takes a little while, and a little help from Anji. 

Both of them are Buddhists: Sekiro the game takes places in Sengoku Japan, where Buddhism would have been the dominant religion. The dominant religion in Ashina is Buddhism, headed up by Senpou Temple on mount Kongou. Sekiro being a Buddhist is more a formality than anything else. Also, when he rests at a Sculptors Idol he does a Buddhist prayer gesture. It would seem, based on Senpou Temple Shingon Buddhism is the Buddhism practiced in Ashina.

Baiken in Strive has a few connections to Buddhism. Her theme, Mirror of the World has the Buddhist Chant the Mantra of Light weaved into it. It is also known as the Mantra of the Unfailing Rope Snare – a perfect choice for Baiken. Incidentally, the mantra is used by Shingon Buddhism.

Baiken, in her pre-match quotes says a whole bunch of Buddhist stuff. Also, Baiken’s default stage is the Seventh Heaven District – with all the Buddhist Rocket Ships. I think that counts for something.

They both get a change of perspective thanks to children: In Sekiro’s case it’s two children. One is Kuro, the lord he is sworn to protect, and the other is the Divine Child of Rejuvenation, the remaining child of the experiments at Senpou Temple. Kuro, in addition to giving Sekiro something to strive for – curing his immortality – also teaches Sekiro a few life lessons. He teaches him to cook rice properly as an example – something Owl never bothered with. The Divine Child, as well as guiding Sekiro through the process of making sure that he and Kuro make it out of this alive, also gets out of Sekiro one of his first, honest human interactions. The Divine Child gets sick at one point, and Sekiro asks if she is all right and if she needs anything. Sekiro when talking to people isn’t particularly conversational – talking is difficult. I guess having the one strong relationship in your life end in betrayal doesn’t bode well for making connections with other people. In this instance though, he makes a breakthrough, and it’s great to see.

Baiken, in Strive’s second story mode is given a child to take care of by Anji – in his forever quest to keep Baiken from utterly ruining her life – and she reacts as Baiken does. Anji calls the child a mirror. The child in question is Delilah, the sister of character from Xrd, called Bedman. Bedman was killed by the same person who raided Baiken’s village and Delilah is aiming for the same thing as Baiken. Delilah gets stuck in a situation where in a quest for vengeance innocent lives are at stake, and when helping to resolve this, Baiken realises why Anji calls the child a mirror. Baiken sees that if Delilah keeps this up, not only are other people effected, but Delilah herself won’t have a life. There will be no friends, no family, no experiences. Just a lot of anger and a lot of sorrow. And in that moment Baiken decides to rather than push on with this, she’s going to be there for Delilah, and help to give her the life that Baiken didn’t have. Everything coming full circle. 

They both have an alternative ending that sees them lose themselves: There are four endings in Sekiro. Two would be classed as good endings (give or take), one is the cycle continues ending and the last one is the bad ending. Sekiro sides with his foster father, becoming a Shura – a being who kills for the sake of killing, insatiably so – resulting in a genocide. The DLC brought a new skin that shows Sekiro in this state, as well as a poem that recites his reign of terror. It’s a far cry from the Shinobi that does anything and everything to save his lord.

Older Guilty Gear games had arcade modes with different paths. In Accent Core Plus R, Baiken has two paths. One ending sees her wandering around with Anji and the other ending sees her turn into a serial killer. The second ending plays out what would happen if Baiken ever slipped. She’s been on the cusp for a while, and her hunt for revenge sees her torture a character to death for information. This awakens something in Baiken, and at a later date Ky Kiske tries to apprehend her, only for a crazed Baiken to force a fight to the death.

A nice ending.
A not so nice ending.

Both characters haven’t been that far from falling from grace, and these two endings take a look at that frightful possibility.

Notes and Asides

There are a few times in this post that I simplified things. For example, talking about the attack on Baiken’s village and her friendship with Anji. I have provided wiki links, because I feel like I got the general outline and that felt enough for this post. If I went the whole hog I would have to explain That Man, what a Gear is and Anji’s entire character and the post would balloon (it’s already pretty hefty). I also did the same thing with Sekiro – hit the general points. Also, that game is four years old – a lot of it has been laid bare.

Regarding the section about Buddhism. I said that the Buddhist school in Ashina would be Shingon. I feel relatively confident stating that for the following reasons. Here are the Monks from Sekiro and here are some Shingon Buddhist Monks – the robe colours match up. In addition, these wood carvings from Senpou Temple are of the Four Celestial Kings.

There is normally a fifth king in the middle but in Shingon he is replaced by a deity called Kongo Yaksha – as is the case in Sekiro. Also, Fudo is venerated in Shingon Buddhism and here again, this applies to Senpou Temple. I hope all that stacks up.

Regarding the Seventh Heaven District Stage – it is also the default stage of Anji Mito, Nagoriyuki and Chip Zanuff.


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