Is ‘Asura’s Wrath’ Basically A Buddhist Beat-‘Em-Up?

Senior Contributor

“Asura’s Wrath” is an upcoming video game from one of the few remaining reliable purveyors of Japanese gaming weirdness, Capcom. It also happens to be, according to Kotaku, a heavily religious game that gets a lot right.

The story on the other end of that is quite interesting, as a Buddhist writer takes the reader on a brief tour of how the game designers incorporated everything from statues from the Buddha age to the name of the character himself to form a game that’s basically the equivalent of Jesus jumping off the cross and cold beating Roman ass in a video game. Which we actually want to see, but anyway.

In Buddhism, “Asura” (阿修羅) does not denote a specific god, it’s the name of a race of warlike beings that embody wrath, pride and a thirst for power. Asuras first appeared in the ancient Indian epic The Rigveda which lead to their incorporation into Hinduism and later Buddhism. Asuras are often called the Asian god of war (which is what this game is often referred to as haha), but that’s something of a misnomer. Asuras epitomize the warlike state of mind, but they are not patron gods of war. It’s important to note that Asuras are not necessarily evil, they just tend to care about material gain over spiritual gain. Just like people, they have a capacity for good or evil and everything in between. Although they’re more powerful than humans, it’s considered unfortunate to be reborn as an Asura as they live in constant strife.

If nothing else, it’s culturally enlightening, and will make you feel better about playing an insane over-the-top game because, hey, you’re learning something!

(Image via Capcom)

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