I’ve been playing monster hunter quite a bit recently – and despite new, amazing, breathtaking designs coming out with every new instalment – my favorite monster always remained the same. I love, and I mean, love the Zinogre.
From its amazing battle music to beautiful armor to intense battle, Zinogre embodies everything an intimidating monster should be. Not to mention it’s control over lightning and super-Saiyan mode. It’s my favorite flagship monster over all others, but that’s just my opinion.
But one of the best things about this monster is its history and design. Monster hunter is already well known for its monsters that take inspiration from real life myths and animals, but the Zinogre in particular draws from ancient Japanese myths. Heck, the game where it’s first introduced, Monster Hunter 3 Portable 3rd, has heavy traditional Japanese imagery, from the abundance of hot springs to the Kote and armor.
So let’s look at Japanese history and see what makes this thunder doggo so interesting.
The Raiju – Zinogre’s real life mythical counterpart
A canine with the ability to manipulate thunder is certainly an incredible idea – but the Zinogre wasn’t the first to do it. It’s also been done in Pokemon – in the form of Raikou. Indeed their size and demeanor are different, but one is the Pokemon universe and the other is the Monster Hunter universe. Regardless it can’t be denied the parallels between the lightning wielding wolves are prevalent.
In Japanese traditional mythology, the idea of such a monster can be traced all the way back to the beast known as the 雷獣 – The Raiju.
Raiju is the companion of Raijin, a Japanese Shinto god of lightning – an undeniably more famous, referenced and modernized Japanese deity. We’ve seen this done in games like Dota 2, Smite and Moral Kombat, but Raijin originally was an almighty thunder god in Mythology. Regardless of variations in depictions, ranging from a red demon with drums to a traditional blue skinned zip-zapper, they all share the common trait of expertise over the elements of thunder and lightning.
In the original tales of this god, he’s often seen in constant conflict with the wind god, Fujin. They often come into conflict due to their natural rivalry and tug-of-war over the land. Such interactions between lightning and wind carry have deep indentations in Japanese culture, even being subtly referenced in modern day literature through Naruto and the rivalry between Sasuke (specializing in lightning in the form of his Chidori and Kirin) and Naruto (specializing in wind in the form of his Rasengan and Rasenshuriken)
In the more…eccentric side of these legends, Raijin has been rumored to do some pretty strange things, like eat the bellies of children in times of storms. Also, the Raiju has been known to sleep in human navels, prompting Raijin to wake up his companion with bolts of lightning, much to the dismay of the human victim. With all of this in mind, it makes sense why some people would want the Zinogre hunted if it’s affiliated with these sorts of behaviors.
So there’s always been a sort of low-key link between lightning and canines in Japanese culture – with Raiju the canine being the companion of Raijin the thunder dog. It’s even directly referenced in both Smite and Naruto.
It’s not a clone, though, and thank god for that.
So the Zinogre is pretty clearly inspired by this lightning canine myth, but is it a carbon copy? Not really – and for that, we should be more thankful than anything. If it was a clone of the typical depictions of Raiju, hunters would have a MUCH harder time taking it down.
Besides the obvious “He’ll sleep in your navel and only wake when struck by lightning” , a Zinogre would have to undergo some serious buff if it’s to be considered a rival to the mythical Raiju.
Here are some things that Raiju CAN do that Zingore can’t:
- It has a cry of thunder
The striking of lightning and the oncoming roar of thunder is typically the sign of Raiju. Though the Zinogre’s cry is pretty badass and terrifying, it’s not quite at the level of thunder yet, and for that, we should be glad.
As I discussed in my previous article about the effectiveness of the Nekodamashi, the threshold for human pain is around 115 decibels. Very very few monster roars can actually inflict damage to a hunter – like a Tigrex, but the Zinogre isn’t one of these monsters.
However, when thunder strikes, it strikes with an INCREDIBLE sound force. Thunder striking ‘nearby’ has decibels of 120, which is already enough to cause physical pain – but what about the hunters? They’re up close and personal, and depending on weapon choice, sometimes even within touching distance. Having the sound of thunder blast off right where you’re standing would be sure to rupture some eardrums.
- It can turn into a ball of lightning
The Zinogre is fast among monsters, and for those unprepared, it makes for a TOUGH fight. But what if the Zingore were even faster…like…lightning fast?
Lightning can travel up to 220,000. That’s INSANELY fast – 61 miles per second. That’s over a hundred times faster than the speed of sound, and would make hunting this guy a pain in the butt. There’s no doubt that should a Raiju enter ‘rage mode’, it’d basically be untouchable.
If the game asked us to hunt Raiju and not Zinogre, I’d just turn tail and run – not that there’s any point of doing that considering how fast the Raiju is.
- It can call on Raijin
Remember – Raiju is the companion of Raijin. So should Raiju be targeted and hunted, once it’s backed to a corner, what do you think will happen? The Raiju will call for Raijin’s help, of course.
Hunters are hunters, and regardless of their armor, weapons and skills, taking down a god is close to impossible – but who’s to say. Elder Dragons with godlike powers are hunted regularly, so maybe this isn’t so bad – but we should be glad that Zinogre doesn’t do this anyway.
Zingore isn’t the only monster to draw from myths and legends. Capcom are incredible at making their monsters deep with lore, intrigue and history.
Yes, a Zingore is no Raiju, but that doesn’t mean it should be taken lightly. Not if you want to live, of course.
This has been An Idiot’s Guide to the Origins of the Zinogre, but hey – don’t take my word for it. I’m just an idiot.