So, I made a post a while back saying how Jhin "should" have been a Demacian killer of sorts, because he fit that atmosphere so well (as an antagonistic force in their perfect world), and Demacia is really lacking for any signs that their nation is less perfect than they seem to think it is. And, I had my misgivings about Jhin and his design then, however, I'd hoped his long lore would put some of those fears to rest, or at least give proper reasoning and development behind everything.
But with that lore released, I have to say I am disappointed in the quality and integrity of the writing, and of the story/wouldbuilding in regards to Jhin and his character. And, rather than be one of those people who flies into an angry tirade of calling it bad with no proper criticism, I'll do my best to explain why my problems exist with Jhin, and where.
Firstly, I’d hoped his long lore would help him to make more sense and fit into the world, but, in my opinion, I feel it does little of that. After reading his design process, though, I feel I know why. It’s because he started off as the farthest thing from Ionian (a robotic bounty-hunting sniper cowboy), and then wound up being from Ionia because you found inspiration for his design in that area. As a writer, I can appreciate that inspiration can come from many places, but I honestly have to question Jhin fitting into Ionia at all, from any standpoint.
He doesn’t look Ionian, he doesn’t act Ionian (psychopathic personality aside, but a given), and even the long lore reveals nothing that makes him uniquely Ionian (as a personal aside a friend of mine, new to playing League, thought he was Demacian when his teaser image and art were released, only adding to the design disconnect I mentioned). I feel he’s there only because he "had" to be. Compared to "Shadow and Fortune", "Burning Tides", the Shadow Isles champion lore, Kindred's beautiful lore and design, his long lore reads so flatly and dry in comparison.
I feel no depth, and I can't help but feel like it was rushed to completion, as opposed to everything else mentioned above, which feels so coherent and flows so well. Honestly, Jhin's bio feels like a rough cut of mismatched plot threads, bound together more by necessity than world cohesion. And, given the tone and direction of Narrative's recent works, I feel that's a poor choice, and a dangerous one.
Honestly, I feel we learn more about everything and everyone else but Jhin in his bio, and it's supposed to be his story. We learn about Shen, Zed, and Shen's father Kusho. But, even the bits added in about those three, interesting as they are, I feel, make less sense in context based on what we know of these characters. It is stated that interacting with Jhin's murders is what made Shen turn somber, after being a witty kind of person.
But, didn't Shen turn stoic and somber because that’s what’s demanded of the "Eye of Twilight", as he’s supposed to judge balance and how the actions of the Triumvirate relate to the whole? Or, are you suggesting that this changed Shen before he became the Eye? And what about Zed? Are you saying that Zed's resentment of Kusho began with Jhin's murders and that investigation, and that led to him betraying the ninja, and that it had less to do with favoritism for Shen as suggested in previous writings? Either way, there is a kind of clarity that is lacking here, and I feel it shows in the writing.
The Wuju Masters were apparently deployed in the Noxian/Ionian War. That’s cool to know, and at least we have insight into that now, but were they still wiped out by Singed in that conflict as well? There is little clarity of timeframes and events taking place here in the long lore, and that's also a weakness. We don't know how long this was outside of "before the war" to some degree. And that lack of detail is troubling.
Next is the problem with Jhin's weapons. No other weapons like them exist in Ionia, as per their narrative identity. And yet Jhin has no connection with them mentioned in his lore, only a mention of "smithing" which is very different, unless you're suggesting the smithing he's familiar with is "gunsmithing" which, for Ionian culture, is still a direct disconnect from what should readily be available to him. I feel this was hand-waived by the mention of "the Kashuri armories' new weapons" which suggests, based on Jhin's weapons, that Ionia now has advanced Hextech like Piltover, since his weapon is basically that. This causes some severe problems for the narrative direction of Ionia, and honestly, blurs their identity as an entity in the world. From a worldbuilding standpoint, I feel that weakens their identity rather than strengthens it.
Granted, in our world, the Chinese were using gunpowder and gunpowder weapons long before any western powers were, so it’s possible that Ionia could have invented cannons or even firearms in general first. I'm willing to give them that. However, saying that Ionia has a secret weapons development program (Kaushuri) capable of developing advanced weaponry on par with anything in Piltover, with its top scientists and academic minds, is very much contrary to the culture you have set down and built for years.
Also, the namedropping in Jhin's long lore troubles me as well. Some of these things are substantial, like the aforementioned "Kashuri Armories". That is world-changing information, if intended. But what worries me about it is that it sounds a lot like this has a bad case of "Rule of Cool" going on, which I've been told by Rioters is something you're all trying to desperately avoid these days. The same can be said of the supposed "Twelve Seas" mentioned in Gangplank's lore, or the "Temple of the Falcon" in Xerath's old lore (which I have on good authority was just random flavor text tossed in with no true worldly connection), or Riven's "42nd Standard" or even "Fury Company" mentioned in her bio (which I also have on good authority was "Rule of Cool" with no real canon for the military organization of Noxus considered).
I'm sure I could go on and on were I to look through old lores and find examples of this, but this is "New Lore" in a time when the setting is trying to hold true to itself and build upon it for more connected and mature and meaningful stories. If you're simply tossing out names or facts or concepts with no worldly importance or connection beyond that single story, then how is this any different than the old and disjointed lore that you're now trying to improve upon? How does "Twelve Seas" even work on a map? We only manage to get seven on our world, and that's splitting some of them in half to make two! Things like the town in Poppy's comic or lore, or Buhru in Illaoi's lore, all had significance and development around them. But this long lore for Jhin, again in my opinion, feels rushed and incomplete, without regards for the integrity of the chosen setting of Ionia.
After all the good things to come out last year in regards to lore and worldbuilding, I feel Jhin is a step backward, and a drop in overall quality. He strikes a blow against established lore and development as easily as his bullets find purchase against his targets. And, really, only in his mind are they beautiful. I feel there is a parallel here in some respects. His teasers had no real in-world significance, his long lore feels rushed and mismatched, and it adds a great deal of confusion to a well established setting. In my opinion, I feel that Jhin as a concept should have stayed in the icebox and chilled a while longer until a more appropriate story could be crafted for him, and the world. Or, at least one a little more cohesive with the world and foundations.
Thank you for your time, and I hope to receive some feedback, or at least some explanations on some of my points from some folks "in the know." I understand I'll likely get downvoted for voicing my opinion and criticisms, but at least I tried to present them constructively, hopefully in a way where such things can be avoided in the future.
**TL:DR** - Read the last two paragraphs.