Okay, I only counted the first 150 votes, then skipped ahead to see if anyone else did, because counting is slow and annoying. So I’m using Ren W.’s count at comment 250:
Number 1 – 26
Number 2 – 18
Number 3 – 47
Number 4 – 123
These are more or less accurate, I’m sure, and I think we all know who won.
So here it is in all its unredacted glory . . . “Kappa Surfacing”!
Click here for a GIGANTIC version, that will BLOW YOUR MIND when you zoom on it.
As you Pokémon fans have already pointed out, kappa are Japanese beasties. But they go back to before the Pokémon fad, of course, as part of Shinto folklore.
When I was your age, people often called Shinto “the national religion of Japan,” but these days it’s more common to call it “the indigenous spirituality of Japan.” The thing is, Shinto is a set of practices that come out of folklore and myths rather than a structured religion. There’s no single sacred text or founder figure, no Quran or Buddha or Bible, but it does have priests (male and female). It’s part of everyday Japanese life, both as a link to the traditional past and to nature and the divine.
So I figured that Japanese boffins would take their inspiration from creatures like kappa (who are water spirits), even if they were using the life threads of real creatures to make them.
What’s also interesting is that most people who practice Shinto are also Buddhists, Christians, or whatever. This Japanese readiness to mix outside cultural practices into their own (and to put an unexpected spin on them, as anyone who’s ever read manga can attest) is why I decided Japan had to be both a Darwinist AND a Clanker power.
(Yes, everyone in the modern world mixes up all sorts of stuff from outside cultures, but it seems like the Japanese are particularly awesome at it, and have been since at least the 1860s.)
Anyway, that was my thinking behind the kappa, and about how Japanese boffins would approach fabrication overall. Also, the Japanese Navy was bad-ass back then, so they had to look pretty scary too. And Keith is good at scary.