Media influences Past and Present: Age of Empires and Kingdom (anime/manga)

(By member Alextheriot, author of Sword Quest)

As this is my first real post, I wanted to look back at the two works that not only shaped my story, Sword Quest,  but helped cultivate my passion and vision as a writer.

A while back, news broke that the next installment of the real-time strategy game superpower, Age of Empires, is finally in the works after ten years(release date TBA). Since then, I decided to play AOE III for the first time in preparation. The universally acclaimed AOE II: The Age of Kings was a go-to game during my childhood, so revisiting the franchise provided a huge burst of nostalgia. It reminded me just how heavily it influence me, from the general usage of things like trebuchets and relics, to the overall concepts of strategic medieval warfare it exposed me to. The setting of Sword Quest itself plays out much like a custom AOE campaign, with a group of island-states vying for supremacy and nowhere to go outside the confines of their own small world.

Safe to say, then, that AOE had a big part in how my story came about, even from a young age. I likely never would have picked up a pencil and began writing without the game, and as I look back now it's clear how much it stays with me still today.

After rediscovering that slice of my passion in AOE while hoping the upcoming installment might offer to reinvigorate me further, I thought of the work that bridged the gap between my naive childhood hobby-writing and  current (at least sometimes) more focused and dedicated writing.

In 2012 I stumbled upon Kingdom, a CGI anime that drew my attention instantly due to its medieval setting and plot revolving around China's Warring States Era. The anime and manga series, created by Yasuhisa Hara, follows Shin (or Xin), a no-name orphan on his long and ardent path to becoming 'The greatest general under the heavens'. Its in-depth exploration of strategy and the clash of different personalities is arguably its main draw, making it a bestselling manga in Japan. At over 500 chapters, it's sold more than 30 million copies, and holds the Guinness World Record for the manga drawn by the most people (Social Kingdom Campaign).

For my part, I fell in love with the anime around its 15th episode, after nearly dropping it on account of its sometimes nightmarish CGI (the second season improves leaps and bounds in quality). The story had enough firepower to keep me in it, but after several of the most well executed gritty and chilling emotional moments I've ever witnessed anywhere, it became my favorite work of all time.

Something about all these moments that managed to connect me with its boorish characters and their righteous dreams framed in a setting of ruthless everyday war, awoke something within me. I discovered just how similar Kingdom's story was to my own, and at the same time discovered how I wanted my story and its characters to look from a thematic standpoint. That is, to explore and display the simple beauty in the plight of a warrior whose heart and will are put to the test. 

Before Kingdom, I had almost completely stopped writing, even as a hobby. Thanks to the marked similarities between it and my first big influence, AOE, it propelled me to begin 'writing seriously', and continues to shape my story as well as my writing vision.

For any fellow writers, I'd be glad to hear what kind of story you have to tell about your major influences and how they gave rise to your story or your passion to write stories.

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Comments

  1. Justice

    My current active projects I got going on were heavily influence by two anime shows. Both of which have been finished via visual and manga for years now. The shows are ‘Dusk Maiden of Amnesia’ and ‘Ah! My Goddess’. The first anime I even watched. Though not the same genre as yours, my project of ‘Those Who Guard Us’ would not have come about without these two influences.

    There aren’t many stories like these that fit the bill so since I’ve been trying to write a novel since my middle school days I decided to have a go at creating a light novel styled story of my own. It was a lot of fun writing the story which morphed many times during the process. I’m very pleased at how it turned out.

    I actually plan on restarting an old story I had on the back-burner for some time now. Was aimed at being a regular styled novel but I think light novel would be a better fit. Called ‘The Vinita Kingdom’ inspired by Dynasty Warriors series of games and my liking to kingdom building game play. I really like stories about building a nation from scratch and rising to be a power to be reckoned with. So many moving parts and the character has to juggle between what’s good for his/her nation while dealing with a multitude of personal issues. I suppose recently watching the anime Log Horizon motivated me to take this story up again.

    So that is my influence story.