By Cory Casoni April 15, 2012
As mentioned in my last blog post, Rocket Fox was inspired by Japanese legends about the kitsune, mystical foxes with spiritual powers and mischievous ways. Being a mythology buff, I thought it would be fun to share a bit of the legends and stories we researched while developing the comic strip – and which no doubt influenced the game designers behind Rocket Fox as well!
If you had to sum up kitsune in a single word, it would probably be “mischief”. Kitsune were known not only for their divine power, but also for their trickster ways and sneaky sense of humour. Depending on their target, their pranks might range from playful fun to nasty revenge.
Shape-shifting is one of the kitsune’s best-known powers. The strongest are even capable of taking on human form – a great skill for a determined prankster! Although many legends feature kitsune taking on human form to frighten, swindle or trick their human targets, others focus on romance, with the magical foxes taking on the appearance of a beautiful young woman. In some stories, the unsuspecting man might even marry his foxy lady, not discovering the truth for years.
Fortunately for mortals who wanted to avoid such mistakes, kitsune could often be caught out by looking for a fox-like feature they had forgotten to change with their human form. Most often this was their tail, which could be spotted poking out from beneath the kimono of a gorgeous young woman.
Kitsune develop an extra tail for each century they have lived. That means our “young” Guy Fox is actually 300 years old! Each tail represents the kitsune’s increased wisdom and magical power. Nine is the maximum number of tails a kitsune can develop – by that point, they have achieved almost-perfect insight and knowledge. They are also rather tricky for an artist to draw – you’ll notice that Zenko, the wise old teacher, rarely gets a chance to show off his nine tails!
These mystical foxes have a strong connection to Inari, the Japanese goddess of the harvest. They are often considered her divine messengers, and many of her shrines feature statues of kitsune. You’ll spot Inari shrines throughout the Rocket Fox comic – often when Guy or his friends are crashing into one!
But where do Flowerockets and their magical Foxfire fit into these ancient legends? Well, I’m afraid they don’t! In the Rocket Fox game, Flowerockets shoot out mystical energy that Guy and the other young foxes collect in order to feed the kitsune tribe. Those flowers are an invention of the game designers.
However, the kitsune of legend were sometimes said to carry a star ball, a small white-gold globe which contains the fox’s life force. There are also tales of kitsune able to generate fire or lightening from their tails – called, naturally enough, foxfire! The game designers likely combined those two different mythical elements when developing the game.