Kitsune or Kumiho? Ahri's Real Mythology.

Kitsune or Kumiho? An Analysis of Ahri's Lore with Real Mythology.
Ahri is personally one of my favorite champions, and I believe she will remain one of the greatest League champions throughout the game's history. Even after countless nerfs to all of her abilities, she is still a champ that is relevant and strong in any meta.
{{champion:103}} Ahri is personally one of my favorite champions, and I believe she will remain one of the greatest League champions throughout the game’s history. Even after countless nerfs to all of her abilities, she is still a champ that is relevant and strong in any meta. At the time of writing this, it is currently patch 6.3 and she has remained God Tier (according to nerfpls.com) for quite some time. Her kit involves engage and disengage, and the outplay potential is extremely high once you’ve begun to master her spells. Fun fact: she is the first champion I “mained” since my start in early season 5. But that’s enough about my personal experience with Ahri; let’s get to the history and mythology. _Unlike other foxes that roamed the woods of southern Ionia, Ahri had always felt a strange connection to the magical world around her; a connection that was somehow incomplete. Deep inside, she felt the skin she had been born into was an ill fit for her and dreamt of one day becoming human. Her goal seemed forever out of reach, until she happened upon the wake of a human battle. It was a grisly scene, the land obscured by the forms of wounded and dying soldiers. She felt drawn to one: a robed man encircled by a waning field of magic, his life quickly slipping away. She approached him and something deep inside of her triggered, reaching out to the man in a way she couldn't understand. His life essence poured into her, carried on invisible strands of magic. The sensation was intoxicating and overwhelming. As her reverie faded, she was delighted to discover that she had changed. Her sleek white fur had receded and her body was long and lithe - the shape of the humans who lay scattered about her. However, though she appeared human, she knew that in truth the transformation was incomplete. A cunning creature, she adapted herself to the customs of human society and used her profound gift of beauty to attract unsuspecting men. She could consume their life essences when they were under the spell of her seductive charms. Feeding on their desires brought her closer to her dream, but as she took more lives, a strange sense of regret began to well within her. She had reservations about actions which never troubled her as a fox. She realized that she could not overcome the pangs of her evolving morality. In search of a solution, Ahri found the Institute of War, home of the most gifted mages on Runeterra. They offered her a chance to attain her humanity without further harm through service in the League of Legends. ''Mercy is a human luxury... and responsibility.'' -- Ahri via League of Legends Website _ So there is her backstory! But how does this relate to history and mythology? Well let’s break it down just a little bit. She starts off as a fox on the island of Ionia; we can work with that. So, as I will do a comparison of the nations of Runterra and actual life later, I will just cover the basics here. Ionia draws many similarities with Japan, being an island nation, focusing on precise martial arts such as Wuju (Master Yi) and the wind blade techniques (Yasuo). They also have some religions that require a constant need for balance (Akali). (I do understand that Ionia is not supposed to be a facsimile of Japan or China; I am just simply pointing out similarities!) But, like I said, brief! But with Ahri being from Ionia, the best place to look for her place within actual history is to look at some Japanese mythology, and, surprisingly enough, I found an exact match. In Japanese myths, there is a creature called the Kitsune, or Fox-Spirit. (I will discuss the Korean Kumiho and the Chinese Huli Jing as well later on in this article. But for now, the Kitsune will be our main focus.) For those of you who aren’t exactly familiar with the fox spirits of Japan, the basic story is this: Kitsune are master shapeshifters that can actually turn themselves into anything, but most of the myths and tales indicate that they like to turn into beautiful young mistresses. While there are tales in which the fox-ladies are tricksters, in most cases they are embodied as evil creatures with extreme sexual desires looking for self-gain and profit. This explains her overtly sexual nature and beauty, which means Ahri is pretty much a gold digger (or at least used to be before her days in the League). Moving on to Ahri’s name: I believe it to originate from “Inari.” Inari is the god of rice and cultivation, but also the god of foxes, having these Kitsune become his messengers. And yes I said his, although he is known to be androgynous. After the Kitsune, she draws inspiration from the Kumiho as well. The Kumiho is what a lot of people believe Ahri’s character to be solely drawn from, but, in fact, she is a decent mix of all of the fox-lore from the Oriental countries. These kumiho also are freely transforming foxes that are known to seduce men, but, in this case, it is in order to eat their liver (or heart, depending on the folktale you read). This is important because it relates to the part of the lore in which Ahri steals the men’s souls, which she might be doing in order to become human herself, as in the legends. But, as further indication of her human transformation, she begins to feel regret, thus prompting her to join the League. And now, we have arrived at our last bit and the part about the Huli Jing. This part of the mythology had minimal impact on our nine-tailed friend, but it is worth mentioning so as to cover all of the bases. A couple notable things about Chinese mythology are that the fox spirits survive off of human breath and the sun and moon hold special powers, which relates to Ahri’s midnight skin. In Investiture of the Gods (a Chinese fiction novel about a Huli Jing), Zhou Xin marries a fox spirit, which I found especially interesting because of the similarities between Zhou Xin and Xin Zhou… Hmm, who knows, maybe Riot will give them a bride and groom skin? Skins * Academy—this, again, comes from the Korean/Japanese (there is argument as to whether this is Japanese or South Korean, but I believe it to be Korean) school-girl uniform with almost an anime vibe to it. * Challenger—this is the only non-lore-related skin… Oh well! I love it. * Dynasty—she is wearing a traditional Hanbok from Korea, in addition to having a Korean dance. * Foxfire—this comes from the Japanese belief that these red foxes are (devilish) fire spirits. (But also from Mozilla Firefox) * Midnight—this is from the Chinese lore that the Huli Jing are immortal, provided they get enough power from sources such as the moon. * Popstar—this one is from the Korean fascination with the Kumiho and the idolization of the myths. Thank you for taking the time to read this; I appreciate you putting up with my ridiculous conspiracy theories about Ahri. From my research, however, it all seems to check out. Like many people believe, Ahri is predominately from the Korean Kumiho; but she is also quite notably a mix of the other mythologies as well, so the argument of “she is this **OR** she is that” is irrelevant, because these fictional characters draw many inspiration from all societies and mythologies. If you liked this kind of post or want to know more about other champion mythologies, answer the poll as to whether or not you enjoyed this! I will try to do at least one every couple weeks on a different champion! I used a lot of information from the academia.issendai.com website, which seems to be the best place to find out more information on these Eastern mythological fox spirits. Here is a full list of everything I used though. For Ahri and other League information http://gameinfo.na.leagueoflegends.com/en/game-info/champions/ahri/ Leagueoflegends.wikia.com For the Myhtology http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CCX3230900030&v=2.1&u=vinc01522&it=r&p=GVRL&sw=w&asid=35017e796eacabd1911b31a78e12f041 http://web.archive.org/web/20080506162546/http://www.endicott-studio.com/rdrm/fordangr.html http://web.archive.org/web/20080406161331/http://www.kyotojournal.org/10,000things/039.html http://academia.issendai.com/fox-misconceptions.shtml#tails http://faculty.humanities.uci.edu/sbklein/Ghosts/articles/goff-foxes.pdf http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/8130/pg8130-images.html
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