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Aethin

Japanese Title of the Game: Its Meaning Elaborated

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If you haven't heard, the Japanese title of the game is 風花雪月 fuukasetsugetsu "Wind-Flower-Snow-Moon." Here, I shall elaborate on what this is a reference to, and what it may mean for the game's theme.

History

The title of the game is a reference to a poem in the oldest collection of Japanese poetry, the Man'youshu ("Compilation of Ten Thousand Leaves"), believed to have been compiled around the 8th century largely by Ootomo no Yamamochi. The poem is written in Old/Middle Japanese (which has some funny ways of writing):

雪の上に yuki no upe ni
照れる月夜に tereru tukuyo ni
梅の花 ume no pana
折りて送らむ worite okuran
愛しき子もかも pa shiki kodomo ga mo

My translation:

The moon shines onto the snow at night
[My] beloved child hand-picks plum blossoms and wants to give them [to me?]

This poem, as well as the general theme of  雪, 月, and 花 ("snow," "moon," and "flower"), became a sub-genre of its own in Japanese artwork called Setsugetsuka (雪月花) during the "Japanese renaissance" of the late Edo period (18th-19th centuries). In these later reinterpretations, snow represents winter, the moon represents autumn (as it is the clearest for viewing the moon's phases), and flowers represent springtime. While they were plum blossoms in the Man'youshu poem, these were nearly universally reinterpreted into cherry blossoms in Japan. All sorts of later comparisons and sets of three were also made to these three topics.

However, the theme of the poem derives from an older Chinese poem by Bái Jūyì titled 寄殷協律 Jìyīnxiélǜ:

五歲優遊同過日,一朝消散似浮雲
琴詩酒伴皆拋我,雪月花時最憶君
幾度聽雞歌白日,亦曾騎馬詠紅裙
吳娘暮雨蕭蕭曲,自別江南更不聞

Note the characters 雪月花 on the second half of the second line. Unfortunately, I don't know Middle Chinese, so I'm not sure what the whole thing means, but it seems to involve being far away from home and missing someone. This is my attempt at a translation of the second line (using a Japanese intermediary translation of dubious quality):

All of my friends have left me for the zither, and poetry, and alcohol.
In times of snow, moon, and flowers, I think of you.

What this means for FE16

So, what does this mean for FE16's Japanese title? Well, firstly, there's a fourth character: 風, meaning "wind." This may be meant to associate to the missing season of summer. If that is the case, then the game's title also changes the order of the seasons: 風花雪月 fuukasetsugetsu "Wind-Flower-Snow-Moon" represents summer-spring-winter-autumn, a nonsensical ordering.

Themes of setsugetsuka from the late Edo Period include: traditional Japanese beauty, playfulness, and the seasons. The three themes also became associated with two other groups of three: the Three Views of Japan and the Three Great Gardens of Japan:

  • snow/winter:
    • Ama-no-Hashidate "The Bridge of the Heavens" -  a long, thin pine-dotted sandbar stretching across Miyazu Bay in Japan.
    • Kenroku-En "Six Attributes Garden" - a garden in Kanazawa in Japan with thousands of trees
  • moon/autumn:
    • Matsushima "Pine-Tree Islands" - an archipelago of some 200-ish pine-covered islands off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.
    • Kouraku-En "After-Comfort Garden" - a garden in Okayama in Japan built around an island in the Asahi River
  • flower/spring:
    • Itsukushima "Worship Island" (also called Miyajima "Shrine Island") - an island in Hiroshima Bay with several temples to major Shinto deities on it
    • Kairaku-En "Garden to be Enjoyed Together" - a garden in Mito in Japan famous for its forests full of plum blossoms in the spring

Because the game's title is "Three Houses," I believe the three houses are based around these three concepts. Two of the three "lords" Edelgard von Fresbelgr, Dmitri Alexander Bladad, and Claude von Regan have names also seem to refer to legendary or mythological figures:

  • Edelgard's last name (フレスベルグ Furesuberugu) to Hræsvelgr, a giant who takes the form of an eagle in Norse myth. He beats his wings from the northern edge of the world to create strong winds.
    • Hræsvelgr means "corpse-swallower"
  • Dmitri's last name (ブレーダッド Burēdaddo) to Blaiddyd, a legendary king of the Britons in Welsh legend, the father of King Lear (of Shakespeare fame). Blaiddyd is associated with pagan magic and hot springs.
    • Blaiddyd means "wolf-lord"
  • I'm not sure what Claude's last name (リーガン Rīgan) refers to, but my first instinct is Reginn, the foster father of Sigurd and the brother of Fafnir and Otr. He is wise, cunning, and a skillful smith who re-forges the shattered blade of Gramr for Sigurd.

The only bolded attribute here that actually directly associates with one of the game's four symbols is Hræsvelgr with wind (風). Perhaps I'm grasping at straws here, but hey, we're very early in development.

 

Let me know what you think of this little mini-analysis!

Edited by Aethin

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Definitely interesting stuff, I was wondering how the phrase was used in a Japanese context myself, seeing 风花雪月 in a Chinese context is used in that exact ordering. In Chinese it could be referring to seasons--and does so in its original, classic version, although in certain contexts it can also hold romantic connotations, or as a term to describe things that are fluff and without substance. I think seasons makes most sense here, though.

 

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Great analysis : ) You went much more in-depth than the concepts I covered, especially when it comes to the poem. One thing that may be of note is the color correspondence that comes about which matches the characters (and thus we can attach a character to a season).

Quote

But more relevant and more interestingly, there is an alternative meaning to these: The “three whites” in art.

  • Blue-White = Winter
  • Yellow-White = Autumn
  • Pink-White = Spring

Said color coding applies to the three in the order they're presented (also note that sans wind, they are in the order as given in the title too).

  • Edelgard von Hraesvelgr (Pink/Spring)
  • Dimitri Alexander Blaiddyd (Blue/Winter)
  • Claude von Regan (Yellow/Autumn)

I found that interesting!

As for wind, for now, I simply assume you, the player, will serve as the wild card to complete the four seasons (and the title convention) that didn't exist in the original poem. : )

Edited by Kirokan

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21 hours ago, Thor Odinson said:

Definitely interesting stuff, I was wondering how the phrase was used in a Japanese context myself, seeing 风花雪月 in a Chinese context is used in that exact ordering. In Chinese it could be referring to seasons--and does so in its original, classic version, although in certain contexts it can also hold romantic connotations, or as a term to describe things that are fluff and without substance. I think seasons makes most sense here, though.

 

We pretty much know there's meaning behind the ordering and choice of kanji... As native Japanese speakers I follow have the tendency to go for their version of it 花鳥風月

 

"FE Fuukasetsu Getsu. It's only a matter of time before I start calling it FE Kachou Fuugetsu"

 

My gut is going with the first nature interpretation... Despite the possibility of romantic connotations being there as well.

Edited by shadowofchaos

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While Setsugetsuka (雪月花) obviously deals with similar concepts, Fuukasetsugetsu (風花雪月) wasn't made up by the devs, it already exists as an idiom (albeit in Chinese), so I don't think the title is a reference to the former, nor do I think the order of the seasons is significant. The equivalent idiom in Japanese is Kachoufuugetsu (花鳥風月), or Flower-Bird-Wind-Moon. As for why they went with the Chinese idiom instead of the Japanese idiom, the wikipedia article might give a hint - unlike the Japanese idiom, the Chinese idiom may also have negative connotations about superficially beautiful words/rhetoric, which could be a reference the true nature of the church, or tensions boiling beneath seemingly friendly relationships among the houses/countries.

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