To all major Asian culture/mythology/astrology fans, if you have watched certain anime shows then you probably have notice the inspiration behind most of them. For example, we can not have Dragonball and Shinzo without Journey to the West. Well I have discovered another famous piece of Asian culture that has inspired anime...the Four Symbols.
According to Chinese Astrology, four mythloical creatures - the Azure Dragon of the East (Qinglong/Seiryu), the Vermillion Bird of the South (Zhuque/Suzuka), the White Tiger of the West (Baihu/Byakko), and the Black Tortoise of the North (Xuanwu/Genbu) - represent a direction (like on a compass) and a season (dragon = spring, bird = summer, tiger = fall, and tortoise = winder) as well as their own individual characteristics and origins. In China, some say that they correspond with the 5 Elements (dragon = wood, bird= fire, tiger = metal, tortoise = water, and the center = earth). There is also a 5th beast - The Yellow Dragon of the Center (Huáng-lóng/Kirin). In Japan, they are known as Four Guardian Spirits of Kyoto (and the 5th beast doesn't exist). So how many anime shows were inspired by this concept? Here's the known list:
- Shinzo: Although the story was inspired by Journey to the West, the characters were inspired by the Four Symbols: Mursha = Bird, Sago = Dragon, Kutal = Tiger, and Bika = Tortoise (kinda).
- Digimon Tamers: Withing the 2nd half of the show, a group of evil Digimon calling themselves the Devas, who, serving the Digimon Sovereigns (also based on the four symbols), believe that true Digimon shouldn't pair up with humans (it is later revealed they were actually misguided). The Digimon Sovereign are named after their Chinese names. There is also a 5th Digimon that supervises the others...which is sort of explained in Digimon Frontiers.
- Yu Yu Hakusho: Within the first season, there was a third storyline called "The Saint Beasts", where Yusuke and Kuwabara travel to demon world with Kurama and Hiei to stop the Four (Saint) Beasts from invading the human world. They are villains in the show, AND are given there Japanese names than their Chinese names.
(If I missed any, please inform me. Thank you.)