Ukiyo-e Heroes

Art

For hundreds of years, Japanese woodblock printmakers worked in a thriving popular art scene. Their prints depicted heroes, villains and monsters, spanning every genre from satire, to romance, to horror. It was all part of Ukiyo, or Floating World culture. Inventive and fast-paced, Ukiyo culture was the big movement of its day. That tradition has continued through the centuries, down to our modern day, where Japan is still known for its vibrant creativity. This heritage is especially evident in Japan’s video game industry. Boss fights. Invulnerable heroes. Holy swords. Even the classic double-jump can be traced back to medieval Japanese legends.

Long story short: the Japanese games we love are just the new chapter in an ancient, enduring culture.

To celebrate Japan’s contribution to video games, illustrator Jed Henry has taken his favorite game characters, and returned them to the ukiyo-e style. Modern costuming has been traded for the medieval, but the essence of each character remains, proving that you can’t take the Ukiyo out of these modern pop icons.

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