(Trying) to compare Enlightenment and Sekiro, Corrupted Monk becomes a Helicopter and a look at the Riven Cave

Enlightenment and Sekiro and Deflecting: Sekiro is a game with some overt Buddhist themes and imagery, so let’s try applying a Buddhist quote to the game play. I’m going to use footage of the Corrupted Monk – in part because it’s one of my favourite boss fights, and she’s a Monk. She fits right in with this topic. A quick tangent – why isn’t she the Corrupted Nun? There are Buddhist Nun’s. The original Japanese uses the character for Monk, so there’s no mistranslation. So, yeah,

“Before one studies Zen, mountains are mountains and waters are waters; after a first glimpse into the truth of Zen, mountains are no longer mountains and waters are no longer waters; after enlightenment, mountains are once again mountains and waters once again waters.”

Dogen Zenji.

So, how is any of that applicable to Sekiro? I guess on the surface there might not be much there. But I’ve been thinking about it more and more after I saw someone mention it in a comment section for a fighting game video. I think it can be applied in a similar manner to Sekiro.

I do love Sajam’s videos.

“Before one studies Zen, mountains are mountains and waters are waters;

When I first played Sekiro, a weapon swung towards to me was a weapon swung towards me. It was nothing more, and nothing less. I saw it coming, I hit L1 and a block came out. If I timed it right I got a deflect. In any case I reacted all the same. I stopped a weapon headed towards me. Sometimes. Sometimes I just missed it. In which case it was just a weapon hitting me. Nothing more and nothing less.

“after a first glimpse into the truth of Zen, mountains are no longer mountains and waters are no longer waters;”

The more I played Sekiro, the more I learned about it. I learned that weapons swung towards me were different. They came at different speeds and different angles. I had to pay attention to these things. Identify which attack was being used, account for me position relating to these attacks and alter my timing for each individual attack. I had to think about these things. The game became more complex, and rather than simply reacting I was thinking and processing. Sometimes this was good, sometimes it could lead to bad results – overthinking can happen.

“after enlightenment, mountains are once again mountains and waters once again waters.”

And finally, here we are. It turns out, all along, it was always a weapon being swung at me. Nothing more and nothing less. I am still engaging with the thought processes from the second part of the quote, but it has all been internalised. I don’t think about it, I just do it. An attack comes in, and without thinking I press L1 as it needs to be. The Corrupted Monk has her attacks and combos, they all have the individual properties – but it’s of no concern. They get deflected without much thought. Because all along, she’s swinging a weapon at me, and I need to deflect it. Nothing more, nothing less. 

It’s been a wonderful journey getting to this point with the game.

She did the thing: A while back I wrote a series of posts about the Corrupted Monk. One of those posts talked about all her attacks and combos. It turns out I missed one because I confused two jump attacks. She has one that is straight jump in the air and a slam down:

And she has this one:

I knew that this move existed, but I had not seen it in so long that I mistook it for the other attacks. This attack is a much more expansive move – the Monk swings her Naginata/Nagamaki (still haven’t figured it out) in a flat arc, intent on clipping everything around her. She’ll hit Sekiro somehow. It’s one of the games most spectacular attacks – she turns into a Sengoku era helicopter for a precious few seconds. There aren’t many other attacks that have same scale or expansiveness.

I’m pretty sure it’s a move that is meant to clear players out of trees. And I think sometimes, when the player is in the air near the trees the AI thinks that a person is in the trees, and then uses tree clearing moves to get them down. Very rarely, at least for me, it picks this one. I think I’ve only seen this move 2 or 3 times (including this instance) – it’s super cool when she brings it out.

A weird obsession with Riven Cave: Riven Cave is one of the rest points in Sekiro. In all honestly there’s not much too it. It’s pretty much just a cave. A stopping off point before heading off to Bodhisattva Valley. For the vast majority of folks (I’m guessing), the Riven Cave is simply a rest point before the rest of the game unfolds, and nothing more.

I sometimes get weirdly obsessed with stuff. The Riven Cave is one of those obsessions. There a few things that got me interested. The elements of human habitation – I am fond of things human beings have left behind. There are lanterns leading up to the entrance. There’s a half ruin rope ladder hanging from a ledge – I always take a little gander at it. There are ropes hanging across the ceiling and there are some Jizo sculptures. I dig all of it.

And while it is a rest stop, it is the rest stop that comes right after being hounded by a giant snake, so it’s a good chance to get one’s bearings and regain composure, after escaping the attentions of a colossus. Right outside, there is a skeleton of a monkey. A sign of things to come. It’s a neat bit of visual story telling.

In the games story, Bodhisattva Valley is where the Sculptor and King Fisher lived and practiced. It would make sense for Riven Cave to be one of their refuges. Prior to King Fishers disappearance it is pleasant to imagine the pair of them living in this cave with one another, honing their skills and sharing each other’s company. It’s nice to think about.

Notes and Asides:

Gfycat is still not playing ball. So, no gifs. Hopefully it will work soon. Hopefully. I miss making gifs.

Trails of blood in Sekiro and wondering about Monster Hunter style weapon swapping in Soulsborne

Blood Splatter

There’s a lot of blood in Sekiro. For the most part it’s inside of people. But there are times it will shoot out of them as a high-pressure jet stream and leaves a nice red stain where it lands. It’s an homage to old pulpy Samurai films that Sekiro takes some of its inspiration from. This video from Polygon does an excellent job of explaining this. (I should start watching Chambara.)

One night, while fighting Genichiro for what felt like the 200th time – still an absolute banger of a boss fight – I noticed the blood on the floor. And on the doors. Sometimes there is blood on the ceiling – Sakura Dance is responsible for that. I’ve noticed the blood before, but this was the first time that I realised I could track the progress of the fight by the blood on the ground. Like a Sengoku-era police procedural. It’s a fun way of looking back at the fight just happened, and how and when parts of it transpired.

The fight in question. The fight started in the middle of the arena. That’s where Genichiro tried to rush down Sekiro. Genichiro was then pushed into a corner – hence the blood splatter on the door. The third phase started and Genichiro got pinned down just off the centre of the arena, and that is where he fell. You can see the push and pull of a fight, the give and take solely from the blood stains on the floor. That’s pretty cool.

Violent business

RPG Lite

Recently, the Bloodborne to PC rumour reared up – last year or last week, sometime – it comes up a lot. It amounted to nothing. Again. Maybe one day the PC dream will happen. Regarding a possible Bloodborne port, DangitJM made a video about how a simple port for Bloodborne would not be enough. It’s a long video but it’s worth a watch.

Of all the video, the bit that interested me the most was the discussion regarding Bloodborne’s RPG systems and would the game benefit from those not being in the game, ala Sekiro. It’s an interesting idea, and it made me remember an old idea had about From Software games and weapons and builds – what if it was more like Monster Hunter?

Some people did get cranky about this – if you rip out the RPG mechanics the variety would go with it is what was said. Which in Sekiro’s case is true – but you can do away with stats and still have different builds.

Using weapons in From Software games – Sekiro aside – is governed by stats. Weapons have statistical requirements that have to be met. As an example, the Cross Naginata in Elden Ring requires 16 Strength and 20 Dexterity to use. If those stats aren’t met, the weapon cannot be used effectively. If you were to stumble upon this weapon and not have those stats, to use it there would have be a re-spec.

Better have the stats for that

At least there is the option of that – Dark Souls and Bloodborne don’t have re-spec options – if you found a new weapon and the build was finished, make a new character or grind for new stats in a NG plus play through. Bloodborne was particularly rough for this – Dark Souls 3 and Elden Ring at least let you use the weapon to see how it feels. You can’t even hold weapons you don’t have the stats for in Bloodborne. It’s a little annoying. You could hold them in Dark Souls but you could not use them – they would bounce off enemies. Also a little annoying.

In Monster Hunter, while you need parts to make weapons you are free to switch between weapon types freely. There’s always a basic model which takes no effort to make. If your character is a Switch Axe user, and they suddenly want to run with Longsword they can. They can pick up a Longsword and use it – combos and everything. It probably won’t be the strongest model – all the parts would have been diverted to Switch Axes – but there’s no need to re-spec or start a new play through. Might need to shift around a few charms though.

Having fun.

As to how it would work in a Souls context – (at least in my head) – there would still be stats, only three of them – health, stamina and a magic meter. All of the weapons would simply upgrade as per usual with titanite (or game equivalent) – except weapons would be interchangeable. All the damage and damage type would come from the weapons themselves – certain weapons would do strength damage, magic damage – you get the idea. I guess staffs, staves and incantation tools could be equipped with spells – like different ammo for a bow gun.

These gifs don’t really need to be here – I’m just having fun remembering Monster Hunter combat

Aside from the how it would work, the why is a little more complicated. I did this was a half-baked idea. As far as I know (bearing in mind I’ve only played World), people don’t make multiple characters in Monster Hunter. You make one character and switch weapons as and when. In part because monsters are hunted as and when. You can hunt the same monster over and over again. Whereas in Souls titles, a boss stays dead – so switching weapons doesn’t have the same effect.

I should play Monster hunter again

That being said… I would like to see a Souls like where weapon switching wasn’t so tied to stats. As a one off at least. Just want to see how it would play out.

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.

Ode to the Corrupted Monk (Part 3)

The Corrupted Monk has the duty of protecting the Wedding Cave Door – in the form of spirit and Fountainhead Palace – as herself from outsiders. The Fountainhead Palace battle takes place under a moonlit sky, on a bridge against a pole arm wielding monk.

I don’t how I did not see the parallels with Benkei. I was searching for stuff on google and I saw a search result that mentioned Benkei and I was like…of course! Of course, the fight with the Corrupted Monk is a homage to Benkei. Benkei is one of Japan’s greatest folk heros. There’s lot to talk about with Benkei, so here’s a link to the Wikipedia. What applies to the Corrupted Monk is the battle at Gojo Bridge – where Minamoto no Shitsune defeated Benkei on a moonlight night – an event that would lead to Benkei becoming Minamoto’s retainer and their adventures together. This is a woodcut painting of the battle:

Image from Wikipedia

This is the battle with the Monk:

That’s a Benkei reference. Stories about Benkei have been turned into Noh plays. And speaking of Noh, the Monk wears a mask used in Noh theatre, the Hannya Mask. It’s one of the most striking features of the Monk’s – it helps to make her a memorable character. And it tells us a few things about her.

Image from Wikipedia

The Hannya Mask is used to represent a woman, due to jealousy and/or obsession becoming a demon. Hannya mask’s come in different colours – white (the colour of the Monk’s mask) is used to portray a character of a refined nature, someone from a higher social class. This would seem to imply the Monk is someone who is perhaps from the aristocracy or a similar social standing. The Hannya mask can also represent different emotions by simply tilting it. From one angle it can appear snarling, angry, menacing but tilted it can appear sad, mournful, melancholic. The Corrupted Monk has a few emotions as well. Based on her combat style is a little cranky (graceful but cranky) but she is also clearly getting something out of the contest. Lots of bosses in Sekiro speak, more so than in any other From title. While the Monk doesn’t talk, she does laugh, a lot. It’s a sinister laugh. Particularly when it comes after she clatters Sekiro with her weapon. And in the last phase she lets loose a primal scream whenever launching cursed centipedes out of her now open neck. All in all, without speaking she is an incredibly vocal boss – one of those things that make her such a fun boss fight.

The Corrupted Monk, in her non-weapon hand carries a set of Buddhist Prayer Beads. I was going to (try and) talk about prayer beads in Japanese Buddhism, until I was doing research and stumbled upon this article. I did not expect to discover that much information – everything from naming the parts of the prayer beads to prayer beads from different sects of Japanese Buddhism and their complete history. So, I’m going to step back and let the article speak for itself. I feel comfortable doing a summary of the Hannya mask – this is something else entirely. This is one of the best things about doing a post like this – I get to learn so much. And video games are pretty great at opening up avenues into cultures. Thanks for everything Corrupted Monk.

Something similar happened when I wanted to look at what the Monk wears. She is wearing a collection of monastic articles of clothing – in large part because she’s a monk. I wanted to look and see if I could identify any of it. I learned there’s a whole lot that goes into a Japanese Buddhist Monk’s attire – more than I am capable of identifying. Once again, thanks to research and discovering an article shows how little I know. I would love to return to this once I have acquired more knowledge and to try and do a full breakdown of the Monk’s monastic robes. That being said, I think there are two things I have some confidence in identifying – the Monk wears a Kesa and on her feet she wears a pair of Waraji and Tabi. The Kesa is a robe composed of numerous pieces of ochre cloth sewed together and is a symbol of being part of a monastic order. The Waraji are straw rope sandals often worn by monks (they used to be worn by most Japanese people) and the Tabi are split toe ankle socks, with the Waraji wrapped around them. The Kesa has an in-depth run down and pictures in the linked article – it’s worth a read to learn a whole bunch of stuff about Monastic attire and life – more than I can sum up in about 200 or so words. The Kesa, as well as being symbolic has a whole order in how it is worn and the wearing of it is in-of-itself a meditative process.

I think the cloth on her right arm is the Kesa. You can see her shoes during the death blow.

From memories and remnants, we learn the Corrupted Monk’s name was once Yao – Priestess Yao. This is a clear reference to the Japanese tale of Yao Bikuni. It has a few variations but the general gist of it is a girl is offered a piece of meat from a creature called a Ningyo (a half woman half fish creature – unbeknownst to the girl) which causes her to become immortal, leading to her wandering the land as a nun named Yao Bikuni. In the Corrupted Monk’s case, she is also immortal, named Yao, is a Monk (similar to a nun) and in the Fountain Head Palace there are giant fish with human teeth. Only the Monk has a cursed centipede living inside of her. There is a giant fish skeleton at the bottom of the the Fountainhead Palace awash with parasites. Can’t be sure if the Monk partook in it’s flesh though. Admittedly, this bit is common knowledge by now. Vaati did a video on it, and numerous people have mentioned it. I’m just putting it here for completions sake.

Between her outfit, the Benkei references and the Yao Bikuni story she is a character steeped in Japanese folklore and culture. I mean, everyone in Sekiro is but the Monk is practically swimming in it.

Notes and Asides

I do really want to revisit the Monastic Robes question. I don’t have enough time now to do it, but that full down is something I am interested in.

Ode to the Corrupted Monk (Part 2)

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.

It would be fun to wield it.

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.

An ode to the Corrupted Monk (Part 1)

I can still write about Sekiro. Wonder when I’m going to run out of material.

I’m still keeping up my regular boss rush appointments. Still having fun. I love fighting a lot of the bosses in Sekiro – this is one of the best boss fight rosters in any video game ever. The best boss is Sword Saint Isshin, but I have a massive soft spot for the Corrupted Monk – both as the True Monk and the Shade. She was the first boss where I realised Sekiro was on its way to becoming my favourite game, and that its bosses were heading the same way.

Beyond the sentimentality, the Monk has a lot going for her. She is visually striking, and one of the most fun bosses to fight – her fighting style and deflecting patterns have a unique rhythm to them. And even after god knows how many times I have rematched her she still has the capacity to surprise – something not many bosses can say. (This post will focus on the boss fight itself – I’ll try to do another post focusing on lore and stuff down the line).

Like most video game boss fight, the boss fights in Sekiro eventually exhaust what they are capable of. Patterns, attacks and timings will be figured out – even more so in a game where bosses can be fought whenever one pleases. While the same applies to the Monk, she does have a few attacks she rarely does (extremely rarely even) that catch me by surprise. As good as Isshin is, his capacity to surprise has been diminished (not his fun factor though). The Monk still has this with three moves. Two that are meant to clear out folk who hide in the trees of her arena, and one move she only uses in phase three.

I don’t know what sets off the tree orientated attacks when she’s on the ground. I cannot get her to do them consistently. One of them see’s the Monk launch herself in the air like someone going up for a dunk. It’s clearly meant to attack an enemy in a high position. But when I’m not up in a tree, and the Monk jumps up that high it’s always amazing. She has hops – far beyond anyone else in Ashina. For the record, I don’t know what sets this off when I’m on the ground with her. She brings it out at such random intervals that I never remember what position me and her are in when it happens. Maybe one day I’ll figure it out.

I think that (maybe) being in the air near the trees might do it. Maybe.

Another attack the Monk does that targets the player in trees is a skyward thrust. Again, I think this is meant to happen when the player is in the tree but sometimes she will do it when Sekiro is on the ground. It looks super weird in that circumstance. First time I saw it (this year – 3 years after Sekiro came out) I didn’t know what she was doing.  I forgot for the moment that Sekiro is a single player game – is there someone else in the trees? Nope, just the Monk breaking out some weird new tech.

Again, I’m in the air near the trees.

The final phase attack is a four-hit combo. The Monk’s attacks are normally graceful – characterised by beautiful, clean swings. Brutal grace, but still graceful. The four hitter is devoid of grace, full of brutality. Prior to this the Monk has always been in control of her actions – here it’s all anger and flailing limbs. This combo reeks of desperation. It’s four flailing hits that’s just lashing out. This is her regular combo:

This is the lashing out combo:

I don’t see this attack a lot. Most times. I can go 10 to 15 fights without her doing it. Then she will do it in back-to-back fights. It can be hard to pick up on first glance because it’s so different to her regular attacks.

Speaking of her regular attacks – the Monk is one of the most beautiful boss fights of all time. In Sekiro she stands alone in terms of grace. She wields a unique weapon – either a Nagamaki or Naginata (it’s one of the two – I previously called it a Nagamaki – now I go back and forward). The way she swings the weapon is mesmeric – incredibly clean arcs chained together. The way she holds it is different – she has an open stance, switching the weapon between one and two hands. Aesthetically, her appearance plays into this. Her robes flowing whenever she swings her weapon and every swing of her weapon dragging up a wave of maple leaves – just beautiful.

I love that if you keep deflecting the Monk’s hits the combo will get longer. She still works with the Sekiro rule set (clear defined attacks to be deflected, mikiri’d or jumped over) but she plays with those rules differently. Genichiro, Isshin and others all have combos – attacks that go for three to seven hits (give or take) hits. But those combos are set – Genichiro and his floating cloud passage for example – that is set. Same with Isshin. Same with Guardian Ape. Same with Owl. They have attack chains that are set – before another attack comes out there is break – the sort of break that would represent a combo ending in a fighting game.

(I had footage of the Monk going for like 10 – 12 hits – that I accidently overwrote when clipping another bit of footage – so well done me. Idiot. Imagine this clip below but without the mikiri – that what she does. She skips the mikiri opportunity and goes into another combo.)

The Monk on the other hand can just keep going. She can chain regular swings together. She can go for eight, nine maybe more hits if deflects are kept up. I do wonder if she had an infinite posture bar how long she could go for. She can also stop these combos – normally she will turn it into a mikiri opportunity. But sometimes she will turn the final hit into a big sweep to push Sekiro away. She plays Sekiro, but she’s playing Sekiro in her own way.
I love her.
Notes and Asides:
I mentioned another post will be on the way about lore and stuff. It will also include my thoughts on her boss fight arena amongst other things because I want to talk about that as well.
One of my impossible dreams is to see the Corrupted Monk but animated by Arc System Works. Her colours, her movements, her attacks in that Arc Systems style. That would be something.    

Sekiro then and Sekiro now – Improvement feels nice

I’m writing about Sekiro again. This post is a happy coming together of other games I am playing not progressing to the point I feel comfortable writing about them and me still having things I want to write about regarding Sekiro, still my favourite game. This time around, I thought it would be fun to talk about and reflect on the progress I have made with Sekiro – comparing boss fights from my first play through to some of my more recent attempts and seeing what changed. This post is going to focus on the boss fights – but this progress applies to the whole game – the boss fights are the easiest way to demonstrate progress.

The most obvious takeaway is that I got better at the game. I have spent a lot of time with Sekiro – anytime you spend time doing something you are going to see improvement. That improvement could be a little, could be a lot but it will be there. In my case, I’d argue I’ve gotten pretty good at the game. Part of that comes from my mind set which I talked about last week (being relaxed is nice), part of that comes from gaining knowledge about the game and part of that comes from loving the game and wanting to play it.

Early days
Later Days – healing no more, lots more agression
Early days
Later Days – Only concerned with building posture
Early Days
Later days – Little bit quicker
Early Days
Later Days – A whole lot more fun

Toto I don’t think we are in Lothric anymore: Early in my Sekiro journey I relied on the experience I gained in Dark Souls and Bloodborne – this was a terrible idea. The stamina bar looms over From Software games – not in Sekiro though. Sekiro is not burdened by stamina. There is no need to hang back and wait for a bar to come back. That means way, way, way more aggression. As the Sculptor says to Sekiro “don’t be afraid to go all out.”

Look at all of those early fights. So much dead time. So much caution. It’s understandable on a first run. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I did not have the bosses move set downloaded. It’s fun watching all of these attempts back and seeing the difference in approach as I got more and more comfortable with Sekiro – the time’s drops alone speak volumes. Taking a boss fight from seven minutes to less than 3 is pretty great. It’s also a lot of fun. It’s also very rewarding.

However, to go all out I had to learn about the game.

Trusting myself more and more (along with the posture bar): I get hit in Sekiro. It happens from time to time. On my first play through getting hit was a source of panic – bolt it and get off a heal. Got me killed in more than a few instances. Whenever my posture bar was almost full I back off to let it come back. Invited unnecessary pressure in more than a few instances.

Learning to work around the posture bar went a long way. As long as perfect deflects are maintained it is an infinite resource – Sekiro cannot be posture broken. Combine that with a few passive skills which provide posture relief and healing on death blow, and I realised over time the best thing to do is to maintain rhythm. If I am hit, try as much as possible to get back on the offensive. That health can be healed back on a deathblow rather than ruining my flow. I mean, there are situations that will call for an emergency heal but I try to minimize those as much as possible. The same still applies to a full posture bar – sometimes an emergency bail out will happen but more often than not I’ll roll with it. Trust the bar, trust the flow and good things will happen. That led to no heal attempts and then it led to no hit attempts. It makes for a much more rewarding and exciting playing of the game. I could never go back to playing like those early attempts.

Just keep deflecting. Keep deflecting and all will be well.

Recognising and reacting: In order to trust the bar though, it does help to know what a boss is going to do at any given moment. On a first time play through this was tricky – boss fights have to be learned. This one takes time.

Or it used to. Well, it still takes a little bit of time but thanks to the gift of boss rush fights can be done over and over again without fuss. It was a big reason I got better. Fighting Isshin again and again without playing through the whole game to do it is bliss in terms of improvement. And it makes learning his move set a much smoother process than any other From game. Gone are the days of trekking through 20 hours of game just to get to boss you want to fight again. I mean, playing these games is fun but sometimes I just want to practice a boss. And only getting one shot at that boss has its downsides.

Basically, in video form it helped me to go from blocking Isshin’s five hit combo culminating in a thrust to…

That’s a lot of blocking

Deflecting the entire thing and building up a load of posture in the process. Improvement is nice.

Still some run for cleaning up – there’s some sword waggles there but on the whole, way cleaner – all deflects too.

What boss rush also does is allow for stress free experimentation. It was in boss rush I stumbled upon using the umbrella to shut down Genichiro’s arrows and hit back. Using the prosthetics use up spirit emblems. In boss rush all used sources come back once returning to the main game. There is no cost to experimenting. This is not the case in the main game. Or any other From Software game – nothing like the umming and ahhing over burning up embers or rune arcs.

Sekiro offering a space to not worry about resources and mess ups and just fight – that’s pretty nice. I wish every game with bosses had a boss rush.

For the love of the game: I think Sekiro is the first game I have gotten this good at. And I’m not great – watch Ongbal for the truly good stuff. But I think I’m pretty good at Sekiro. I’m happy with where I am at. I don’t think I loved a game like Sekiro. I wanted to get better at the boss fights for the sake of it. From Software games don’t have extra achievements for doing boss fights without damage – the only achievement comes from defeating boss. I’m doing this because I want to. I never had this happen much before. I wonder when it’s going to happen again.

Still might be my favourite gif of mine regarding Sekiro

Casually better at Sekiro and sticking with practicing in Xrd (I managed a combo)

Suddenly better at Sekiro: I still insist on playing Sekiro. It still beings me joy so why not. Boss Rush works wonders. I start the game up, head to Boss Rush and do sets of 3 or 4 fights. It’s pretty damn casual. I mean, I still try to be as good as I can (no hit fights are pretty good) but if I mess up it’s fine. I’m past getting worked up about stuff. I’ll simply go again and try to do better. Me and the game are in a wonderful space.

Maybe that goes someway to explaining one of my recent fights against Owl Father. I’m decent against Owl Father – I have not died to him in a while but all of my fights against him last around 5 to 4 minutes. I think my previous best was 4 minutes 30 seconds. One day, while editing some footage for gifs I had a spare 10 minutes so I figured I’d have a little go on Sekiro. Fought Owl Father. It went well. It went surprisingly well. I wondered how well. I clipped the footage of the fight and went to cut the clip down to size and get the time.

2 minutes 30 seconds. What? Wait, what? I’ve never done Sword Saint Isshin in less than 3 minutes and I have way more experience in that fight. I have not been practicing Owl Father. I have not been grinding the fight in search of all of his tells and tricks. But for this fight I was on it. I was playing well. I was way more aggressive than I normally am – particularly in the second phase. I gave him far less chances to turn into his Owl form with constant chase downs. Not much of this was conscious – I got into a flow and ran with it. Thinking less and being relaxed has its benefits. This is by far my best Owl Father fight. None of the previous attempts come close. 

I also have managed to defeat Owl Shinobi without taking damage. That’s never happened before – been close but never happened. And again, without any major practice I rolled into the fight, kept up the aggression – don’t care about those anti-healing balls, Owl, don’t care – and then the death blow presented itself. I remember getting slightly stressed on the last portion of the second posture bar until the voice in my head reminded myself what I was doing was working, and just keep doing what I’m doing – it’s succeeding. Being able to silence those jitters is nice.

In addition, I now have my fastest Genichiro kill. 1 minute 54 seconds. I should try and get Isshin below 3 minutes. That should be doable. Just going to take a little work is all. Speaking of taking a little work…

Still sticking with Xrd: I have not bought Guilty Gear Strive yet. It is in the PSN basket though, so progress. I am still playing Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator. I have been sticking with practice mode and basic AI. It’s not much – but I haven’t bailed yet. So, progress. I’ve done the basic inputs for a whole bunch of characters – over ten of them. That’s good for solving over 200 problems – which is good for a trophy that has an achievement rate of around 10%. Again, I’m learning just how niche fighting games are.

While I’ve been doing this I have learn a few things. One, I can sit down and lab things. I am capable and willing to go to training mode and practice. That process doesn’t put me off. It’s pleasant – running though button presses and seeing what happened and what doesn’t in a relaxed environment is fun. In addition, there is tangible progress – I can do the thing I couldn’t do before – hooray! Two, even some of the simplest things are more complex to execute than what other games would consider a ceiling.

Doing this combo took around half an hour. Initially I could not get anywhere near it. Then I got a little closer. I decided at some point I had to stop looking at the controller and get the button presses down as a matter of course. Had to work for it but it got done. Felt pretty damn good. Getting the timing down and switching between the buttons – it’s a lot more than most games I have played.

Most inputs haven’t been too hard to pull off (in training – more on that later). I can do down back and down forward, I can chain different attacks together and I can (sometimes) time inputs in sequence (catching an enemy in the air for example). Neat. Some inputs though I’m not great at. Holding back and going forwards catches me out – I don’t know how long to hold back for. Making a square with a cross across the middle on the corner of the D-pad – I mean, I can do it but it’s not consistent. It’s pretty terrible honestly. I’ve not got the dexterity right now to manage it. The good news is that this can be remedied by practicing over and over again. I can dig that. But I am bad at it. It’s something I’ve never really done before. Directional inputs like that I have very little familiarity with.

I also suck at blocking. To block I have to hold back. What gets me is that in my head, I think there is going to be a point where the character assumes a block pose. That never happens. The block just happens. I guess I’ve played so many games where there is a block button and a block animation that follows. Something else that is new and I need to get used to.

Fighting the basic AI isn’t everything, but it is something. And I’ve made a little progress. What I used to struggle with (still do, but I used to) is doing stuff in practice mode, feeling good about doing stuff in practice mode and then going into a fight and oh god I’ve never practiced just press buttons – any buttons – just press them. This can be fixed. And by fixed I mean a long arduous (but rewarding) process of learning. I will have to fight real people, adjust based off what they are doing and slowly but surely, put all of those moves and combos together over time.

Sounds fun.

But this fight with Ramlethal (vs basic AI Sol), I actually did some of the stuff I did in practice. I got the swords working. I think I even combined a few kicks and punches. It felt good. It felt like I accomplished something. A small accomplishment, but an accomplishment still. Something to build upon. Got to start somewhere.

Returning to Ashina, and Mutazione switched to Japanese Language Settings

Elden Ring has lain dormant for a week now. It’s been pretty nice. I’ve been playing some new games and I’ve been returning to some old favourites. This week’s post is concerned with the return to old favourites. One game returns more or less as I left it, and another returns in a different manner, retooled as an attempt at education and fun.

Every once in a while I catch myself wondering why isn’t Elden Ring my favourite game of all time? I dig the environments; I dig the lore (even if I’m not watching too many lore videos right now) and I dig the combat. I dig the boss fights (well, most of them – twin Gargoyles and Godskin Duo aside). It’s all good. Then I visit Ashina, fight Isshin the Sword Saint on boss rush mode and go “oh, that’s why Elden Ring isn’t my favourite game of all time”. There is more to combat than Sekiro – far more – as an example Senpou Temple is still my favourite place in video games, despite all the brilliance of the Land’s Between.

I love him.

But that combat though. It’s so good. It’s been four years since this game came out (damn) and no other games combat has come near it for me. Sometimes I think it does but then I go back to Sekiro and all it takes is one clash of blades and I’m home. There is an intimacy and flow to Sekiro that is hard to replicate. That being said I still dig Elden Ring’s combat a whole lot – the game gave me Giant Hunt. That alone is worth a lot. I’m not a big fan of people praising something else only by shitting on something else. I’d like that to go away sometime soon.

It’s nice doing a medley of 3 or so boss fights on any given night. I get to keep up my Sekiro skills and getting reminded that Isshin is the best boss fight. That’s nice.

Mutazione is now a Japanese game. Well, not really but I am playing the game in Japanese. This point will be returned to in more detail later. I would like to dedicate a whole post to it in the future, as there a few things I want to talk about in more detail.

I’ve tried playing games in Japanese before with varying degrees of success (read: very little success). Even with Mutazione, I’m still in the first chapter but I am making an effort to stick with it. It’s all I can do – keep at it until it becomes routine. It is dawning on me how big of an effort this is going to be though. But I’ve got to keep at it. The more I do it the better I will get at it – well, I should get better at it.

What is helping is that Mutazione is a narrative game first. In action-based games I get frustrated when I can’t understand stuff and end up just skipping to the game play. Here, that’s not an option. And there is a lot of text. More than I remembered. I’m not going to encounter all of the text – the conversations have dialogue options, so there are branching paths. I shouldn’t dwell to much on this – I should push ahead before the enormity of the whole thing can crush me.

I have been pleasantly surprised at how much I can read though. I mean, I’m not understanding everything but a lot more is getting through than I was expecting. And I am making notes and taking screen shots of things that I don’t understand.

There will be a lot of messing up.

There is going to be a fair few screen shots by the time this is done. It’s fine though. It’s all in the name of progress. And I get to learn more new words – I can dig that.

The Eavesdropping Conversation at Hirata Estate – Reading too much into stuff

There are many eavesdropping conversations in Sekiro. There is one that a little more out of the way than the rest. Located in the second Hirata Estate Memory, most likely found be dumb luck or using a walk through it can go unheard. This is a shame because this conversation has a lot to unpack. Well, it’s that or there’s a lot I can read too much in to.

Things are different in the second Hirata memory. Different enemies, different enemy placements and items. Amongst all of the new thing, there remains old dependable Juzou the Drunkard is still there. This time however he is not accompanied by his posse of bandits but by an Interior Ministry Ninja, Masanari. It is with Masanari that Juzou shares a conversation that touches on Owl and the Interior Ministry. There a few things said out loud, and there a few things said more tacitly.

For context – Juzou is a disgraced former Sumo champion who has turned to brigandry as means to make a living. He drinks a lot and commands an army of bandits. Masanari is in the employ of the Interior Ministry who have given the go ahead for the attack on Hirata. They have done this on the basis of information supplied by Owl. Juzou and Masanari are talking in the aftermath of the attack.

Initially, I planned to write this and use a video already posted on YouTube. I could not find one. Then I planned to take a transcript from a Wiki. I could not find one. So, I eventually got around to recording the conversation and putting it on YouTube. Here it is – and if it does not work I will post a transcription below.


Masanari: Taking Hirata Estate was surprisingly easy. Owl’s info was right on the money, you know?

Juzou the Drunkard: … I don’t like him. There’s something shifty about him… the smell of a crook. (Drinking sounds). Ahhh… He’s a villain… a down and out villain, Masanari…

Masanari: Well… he’s useful right now, so endure him. For all his scheming, he’s a nameless, rogue shinobi. His efforts won’t amount to much.

Juzou the Drunkard: (Buuurp.) Heh. I’m not complaining so long as there’s coin and booze in it.

Takes one to know one: Juzou is not a good person. He has led a posse of bandits to Hirata Estate, when its warriors are away engaging in combat, and he has helped to wipe out almost everyone there. Amongst the bodies at Hirata there are people without weapons, and there are women among the bodies. Juzou did all of this for some coin and some booze. He’s not good people. When someone of Juzou’s quality is calling someone else a bad person, you know the other person is awful.

Owl is a terrible person. Through the game narrative, item descriptions and Owls actions the man has… taken a child off a battlefield and wounded the child in the process. Thrown said child into a dangerous wood as a means of raising them. Raised said child as part of a long-term plan to rule Japan. Stabbed said child in the back as an adult (after faking his death) while taking part in the wholesale slaughter of a defenceless estate all in an attempt to kidnap a small child. In one ending, attempts to grievously wound Emma with a surprise attack. Also, said child as an adult does not know how to eat food properly because he was never told how to. Stand-up guy.


A matter of perception: It’s interesting seeing how Masanari perceives Owl and how Jouzu perceives Owl. Masanari, as part of the Interior Ministry thinks little of Owl. He goes as far as calling Owl a “nameless, rogue shinobi.” And that “for all his scheming” … “his efforts won’t amount to much”. Owl is clearly perceived as someone that the Ministry can use to further their own efforts to dismantle Ashina. Probably someone they could off once the Ministry’s goals have been met.

Juzou on the other hand, while he cannot see Owl for all that he is, he knows there is something suspect about him and that perhaps, his goals stretch far beyond this estate and are maybe beyond the scope of what Masanari can see. “There’s something shifty about him… the smell of a crook.” Juzou, being who he is has probably encountered more shifty people than Masanari and probably has a better sense of who is a regular dirtbag, and those guys who genuinely have something about them. “He’s a villain… a down and out villain, Masanari…” Juzou knows that Owl is something more than a “nameless, rogue shinobi.” But, as he has his booze and coin, he’s fine with it.

Whose playing who: Building on the above section, Masanari seems to be under the impression that the Ministry is using Owl and his information. The Ministry has used his accurate information to get the jump on Hirata. They have also managed to do this without using great numbers of their own troops – one of Ashina’s strongholds eliminated without risking any major casualties. A good deal on the Ministry’s end.

Masanari and the Ministry at large seem to be oblivious to Owl and what he is really after.  Kuro is at Hirata Estate. By attacking Hirata Owl gets a chance to gain access to Kuro and the Dragons Blood. Getting the Dragons Blood would grant Owl immortality. The Shura ending reveals this is what Owl wanted all along. Owl got the Ministry to commit to furthering his plan with them being out of the loop.

Owl’s skill at manipulation might surpass his skills as a warrior, and that’s saying something.

The Battle Between Sekiro and Lady Butterfly: The first Hirata memory culminates in the fight between Sekiro and Lady Butterfly. Lady Butterfly has Kuro and Sekiro is intent on getting him back. The end of this fight see’s Sekiro triumph and then almost immediately get stabbed in the back by Owl, although Sekiro does not know this at the time. Kuro has scampered at this point, escaped Owl and later returns to bestow the Dragons Blood upon Sekiro, granting him immortality.

There has been some thoughts and ideas on Lady Butterfly’s being here. My idea is that in the grand scheme of things, it does not matter. Imagine there was a version of Sekiro where we do not play as Sekiro but as Lady Butterfly on a mission of vengeance against Owl. No matter who pulled through, Owl was killing whoever succeeded. Owl had two of the best warriors in Ashina working under his patronage – both of whom could have later foiled Owl’s plan if they turned. Owl wanted both of them of exhaust themselves (and got them in a position to exhaust themselves) and then he would pick off the winner. Why get your hands dirty when you don’t need to?

I think Owl got Lady Butterfly to get Kuro, and then get Sekiro to fight her for Kuro before picking off the winner.

To give another description, imagine wrestling and money in the back. Cashing in your title shot when your opponent is at their weakest. Owl is cashing in money in the bank.

More Catharsis

Notes and asides

Regarding the sentence about Owl raising Sekiro in such a manner he cannot eat properly. I don’t have the footage to hand, but there is a conversation between Kuro and Sekiro. They are talking about rice, and Kuro asks Sekiro about how he likes food. Sekiro responds that he does not really care – he just takes bites out of stuff. Kuro is talking about raw rice and is taken aback and promptly sets about preparing Sekiro some properly cooked rice. A small scene, but once it links to back to the sort of dad Owl was, it suddenly becomes very sad. Sekiro doesn’t know how to adequately cook or eat food. That’s a rough upbringing.