Final Fantasy XIV and Real World Mythology: Who is Susano?

Let the revels begin!

In Final Fantasy XIV Online, primals are flashy, single-boss raid encounters that usually represent iconic summons or monsters from the series. Previous primal bosses include Ifrit, Shiva, and Final Fantasy VI’s Warring Triad. In Final Fantasy XIV’s newest expansion, Stormblood, the first primal that players must face is Susano, the “Lord of the Revel.” Keeping in line with the expansion’s East Asian theme, the inspiration for Susano the primal is taken from a Shinto deity of the same name.

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Susano slays Yamata no Orochi. Kuniteru, 19th century.

According to the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki, the oldest written works of classical Japanese history dating from 711 AD and 720 AD, respectively, Susano is the god of storms and the sea, and brother to the sun goddess Amaterasu and the moon god Tsukuyomi. The god Izanagi gave birth to Susano and his siblings as he cleansed his face of impurities following a visit to Yomi, the Shinto world of the dead. Susano washed out of Izanagi’s nose, while Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi were born from Izanagi’s left and right eyes, respectively. According to some legends, Susano is also seen as a chaotic god who disrupts the order of heaven.

In Final Fantasy XIV, Susano is presented as a large, vaguely humanoid armored figure with a jolly personality, who carries the moniker “Lord of the Revel.” He is the guardian deity of the Kojin beast tribe in the Ruby Sea, whom the Warrior of Light inadvertently helps to summon when he or she brings a magatama to the Red Kojin’s treasure cove, where it reacts with a sword and mirror to summon Susano.

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From left to right: the mirror, the sword, and the magatama.

The fact that Susano is summoned with a sword, mirror, and magatama is an important detail to note, because those objects are also the Imperial Regalia of Japan, which are symbols of the legitimacy of the Imperial family. The magatama, known as “Yasakani no Magatama,” holds no direct tie to Susano in Japanese mythology beyond its affiliation with the other Imperial regalia. The mirror, or “Yata no Kagami,” however, is said to have been used to lure Amaterasu out of a cave where she hid in grief after Susano destroyed her property and killed her attendant, which resulted in Susano’s banishment from heaven. Upon reaching the province of Izumo, located in modern day Shimane Prefecture, Susano defeated an eight headed serpent named Yamata no Orochi by tricking it into drinking eight vats of sake and killing it in its sleep. From Yamata no Orochi’s tail, Susano took the sword “Kusanagi no Tsurugi,” the third piece of the Imperial Regalia, which he bequeathed to Amaterasu in reconciliation.

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Susano, the Lord of the Revel

As a nod to Susano’s place in Shinto mythology as the god of storms and the sea, the arena in which Susano is fought in Final Fantasy XIV is a flooded area continuously drenched in rain. Several of Susano’s attacks are related to water or electricity. For example, Susano will create an area-of-effect attack visually represented by parting waves while declaring that “the seas part for me alone!” Susano will also spawn thunderclouds around the outside of the arena, which will strike the party with lightning if players do not position correctly. Susano’s ultimate attack is called “Ama-no-Murakumo,” an earlier name given to the Kusanagi no Tsurugi, which roughly translates as “Sword of the Gathering Clouds of Heaven.” Susano’s portrayal in Final Fantasy XIV seems to have taken inspiration from the myths that portray him as a chaotic force disrupting the heavenly order, as he seems to relish his battle with the Warrior of Light, even exclaiming that their hearts “sing in the chaos” of battle.

Final Fantasy is not the only video game to feature Susano. Clover Studio’s 2006 Playstation 2 game Okami, for example, features a segment where the player character Amaterasu fights Yamata no Orochi alongside a charmingly incompetent Susano. Nor is Susano the only reference to Japanese or Asian mythology in Stormblood. Up next: Final Fantasy XIV and Real World Mythology: Who is Lakshmi?

–pokicchi