Stalwart

East Meets West

A knight came here recently... He was amazing! But his heart was full of chaos... When he can cope with the pain, he'll be the mightiest warrior alive. - Villager in Miranda

In the 1994 English-language SNES manual, Cyan is called a samurai, but in the onscreen text (translated by Ted Woolsey), he's referred to as a knight. While the terms denote a similar figure, there are significant differences. Beyond localization efforts, Cyan seems to have traits of both. In the end, does he most resemble the warriors of Old Europe or feudal Japan?

His appearance provides the first clue. Unlike the knight, he does not wear a full suit of armor, but rather select pieces. His hair is long and tied tightly, as per Japanese tradition. Most obvious is his weapon, the katana. This curved, single-edged long sword was worn as a symbol of status and personal honor by the warrior class - they more often attacked with bows. Though Cyan relies on his sword much like the medieval Western knight, the complexity of his moves indicates martial arts training.

In both cultures - East and West - simply looking and fighting like a professional soldier was not enough. Each had a code of ethics, Bushido (literally the Way of the Warrior) and Knightly Virtues respectively. Both were rooted in religious belief, and stressed loyalty to one's lord, honour, courage, and self-improvement. However, the dispositions emphasized by each code differed, as the samurai strove for strict control of thought and emotion (inspired by Confucius and Zen Buddhists), while Christian knights tried to maintain good cheer and a charitable outlook. Again, the it isn't difficult to see which code the dour and disciplined Cyan might have adopted.

Hobbies like writing poetry and crafting flowers would have been respected among high-ranking samurai, who were aristocratic men of letters. Knights often composed romantic verse, guided by notions of chivalry and courtly love. Cyan has married (as samurai would allow) and seems to have few hang-ups about relationships. (Locke Cole better fits the knight role in this respect!) His adjustment to machinery might nod to Japan's gradual but highly proficient adaptation to Western technology, from rifles to automobiles.

Cyan's distinct manner of speech is not true Middle English, despite pronouns like "thou," but an "old fashioned" pastiche. Likewise, the Japanese version of the game contains archaic Japanese expressions in Cyan's speech (his nickname is gozaru, indicating toughness). His actions through the story are equally ambivalent. He is more concerned about the death of his family than his king, and does not commit suicide at his passing as per tradition. The fall of his kingdom would also render him a ronin, a wanderer not highly respected.

Cyan does fear a loss of respect in the eyes of the party, either because he's not macho enough or not modern enough. He likely wants to be perceived as a though fighter by his new friends, who would not understand the nature of his position in the castle's hierarchy. But as similarly unique individuals, they are an understanding bunch.

The party inhabits a fantasy world, so it's ultimately impossible to designate Cyan as knight or samurai, due to the lack of historical context. But he most resembles an Eastern warrior. This is notable, considering most of the other characters riff on Western archetypes. (The exceptions being martial artist Sabin and ninja Shadow.) Players in both cultures have no doubt been familiar with this character's background yet surprised by his evolution.