Flashback: Summarized Lore of Kamigawa

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Flashback: Summarized Lore of Kamigawa

With Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty right around the corner, let's travel back in time and remember what happaned in Kamigawa thousands of years ago!

By Vinicius, 01/13/22, translated by Humberto - Comment regular icon1 comments

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Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

is coming, and we have a big time ahead. First, because never in Magic have we had contact with a science fiction theme in a regular set; and second, because we will finally return to a certain plane inspired by Japanese culture. It's been 17 years since we've known about Kamigawa, the setting for the

Champions, Betrayers, Saviors

and now

Neon Dynasty

sets. It's been so long, that many who play Magic today didn't even know the game at the time or weren't even born. Likewise, it's understandable that a good part of the Magic fanbase is completely unaware of the lore behind this plane other than the fact that it has samurai and ninjas, as the plane hasn't been revisited since 2005. On the other hand, it has been so long that certainly much of what we will see on Neon Dynasty is entirely different from what we knew from Kamigawa back in 2004 and 2005.

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In fact, the classic Kamigawa from the first block evoked the feudal Japanese culture, with that hint of medieval fantasy always present in Magic: the Gathering back then. The world presented to us this year in Neon Dynasty brings a very technological and futuristic look, with a lot of style and neon characteristic of a cyberpunk theme, as we can see in the first promotional images and cards revealed.
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It is clear that the years have not passed just here for us. The passage of time in Kamigawa has made this world evolve in such a way that, even for those who knew it in the first sets, everything will seem very new. However, despite the discrepancies, the current Kamigawa will brings back elements from the first block, such as Heartless Hidetsugu and its new version Hidetsugu, Devouring Chaos, the ninja Satoru Umezawa that certainly carries an ancestry with Toshiro Umezawa, and iconic places that remain there, such as Boseiju, Who Shelters All and Eiganjo Castle.
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Eiganjo Castle before and after. Time has brought a lot of light to Kamigawa
To help you remember or understand all these references between old and new in Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty, in this article I bring you a summary of the lore of the plane's first three sets.

The Old World of Kamigawa

Before we dive into the plot of the classic trilogy, I think it's important to understand some of the most important concepts and characters in this story. First, you must understand that Kamigawa's plane is divided into two realms. The

Utsushiyo

is the material realm where mortals live; and

Kakuriyo

is the spiritual realm where spirits (called kami) live. Think of them as two different worlds that coexist, overlapping or parallel to each other. The plane is governed by the subtle interplay between these two worlds. Under natural circumstances, mortals and kami, while aware of each other's existence, never physically interacted, as there was a barrier that divided their two worlds. This barrier was guarded by the most powerful of the kami,

O-Kagachi

.
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Best known for his first creature version released in

Commander 2017

, O-Kagachi, Vengeful Kami was known in Kamigawa as the Great Old Serpent, the Soul of the World, and the First Kami. You will understand in a little while why he will become the

Vengeful Kami

. Under o-Kagachi, several other kami existed as spirits of all things in the world of Kamigawa and fulfilling the role of gods to mortals. They can take a variety of forms, even among the same "species". The greatest of all were the five

myojins

โ€” representations of the five colors of mana โ€” rivaled only by O-Kagachi himself. There were also the

ryu

โ€” dragon spirit guardians of the lands of mortals โ€” the

oni

โ€” bloodthirsty demons worshiped by ogres โ€” the

kodamas

โ€” tree spirits โ€” and a host of other species of kami for all sorts of things, people, places, ideas and so on.

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The

Utsushiyo

- the world of mortals - was inhabited by a handful of different species of creatures distributed among the five main regions that formed the known world. Each of these regions parallels Magic's five basic land types and was guarded by a dragon spirit loyal to the locals.
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Panoramic map of Kamigawa

Towabara

A huge plain in the center of Kamigawa, whose name means "eternal field". Towabara surrounded the

Araba

, a land riddled with craters caused by blasts from kami attacks. Eiganjo Castle is in the center of the Araba, the stronghold of the daimyo โ€” a kind of warlord โ€” guarded by legions of samurai. Towabara is inhabited by Kamigawa's white-aligned creatures, especially humans, and guarded by the spirit dragon Yosei, the Morning Star.
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Lake Kamitaki

This immense lake north of Eiganjo into which the eponymous falls flow was home to the blue-aligned creatures of Kamigawa. Minamo โ€” a school that teaches powerful spirit magic โ€” was built here along a series of islands magically suspended in midair. Minamo and the entire Kamitaki region are guarded by the ryu Keiga, the Tide Star.
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Above the School was the soratami capital of

Otawara

, where Oboro, Palace in the Clouds was located. The mysterious moonfolk were made up of magic practitioners who lived in the clouds above the School, from where they guided the director Hisoka, Minamo Sensei to pursue their own secret agenda.

Takenuma

Takenuma is a large area of โ€‹โ€‹fetid swamps of rotting bamboo, with poisoned water and polluted air โ€“ the most important black-aligned region. Here human bandits, nezumi wererats, and obakemono ogres live. There are also a multitude of demonic spirits that dwell in the darkest regions, leaving the place corrupted and without the effect of sunlight. Kokusho, the Evening Star was the watcher of these vile swamps.
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Sokenzan

The Sokenzan mountain range is the largest in the plane and the most important red-aligned region of Kamigawa. Akki goblins live here, among human yamabushi shamans, bandits, and renegade samurai called ronin. Deep in the Sokenzan mountain range are the

Tendo Peaks

, the steepest mountains in Kamigawa. Sokenzan is guarded by Ryusei, the Falling Star.
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Jukai

Jukai is an ancient forest composed mainly of huge cedar trees that is home to many varied types of kami. Here live human priests called kannushi and an order of bodoka monks who train attuning with nature and the spirit world. The kitsune, a race of humanoid foxes, despite being white-aligned also live on Jukai; so with the orochi (snake men) tribes. The Jukai Forest is guarded by Jugan, the Rising Star.

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Kamigawa's Lore

The lore of the first block set in Kamigawa tells the story of the

Kami War

โ€” a clash between mortals and their gods. It was set at least 1200 years ago, in the current chronology of the Magic multiverse, and lasted about 20 years. This story begins elsewhere, on a plane called

Ulgrotha

(setting from the

Homelands

set). The event that became known as the

Great Destruction

occurred on Ulgrotha when the planeswalker Ravi played the Apocalypse Chime, a powerful artifact with destructive powers. The details of why he did so are matters for another time, what matters for now is that indirectly, this Great Destruction had repercussions on two other planes besides Ulgrotha. The chime's ringing generated a planar anomaly that spread to Kamigawa, weakening the barrier between Kakuriyo and Utsuriyo. The event also caused a "glitch" on the boundary between the planes of Dominaria and Kamigawa, causing some powerful kami โ€” such as the Myojins โ€” to be able to transit between them.
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At that time, the daimyo Konda, Lord of Eiganjo ruled the Towabara Plains. In the midst of a conspiracy among his Minamo allies, he was seduced by the possibility of ensuring the eternal security and rule of his kingdom, and planned a sacrilegious deed. After months of preparation, and with the help of his soratami and mages allies, Konda performed an arcane ritual that allowed him to pierce the veil between the mortal and spirit worlds and kidnap a powerful yet young spirit. The target of his attack was no ordinary kami, however, but rather the son and descendant of O-Kagachi, the most powerful of the kami. Simultaneously with that, elsewhere in the castle was born the damyio's daughter,

Michiko

. The birth of the child caused a sympathetic spiritual wave that made the ritual possible. Then, in a surge of energy, Konda trapped the spirit in a stone diskโ€”That Which Was Takenโ€”and stored it within his inner chambers as a talisman of power.
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That Which Was Taken
From that day forward, the damyio stopped aging. He spent most of his time locked away in his inner chambers, basking in the aura of his divine prize and envisioning a long era of glory and prosperity to come. However, O-Kagachi's resulting fury at such disrespect led him to declare a war against all utsuriyo. O-Kagachi summoned all the spirits to counterattack the mortal world, thus starting the

Kami War

. Spirits began attacking the physical world in an effort to reclaim That Which Was Taken, though most mortals knew nothing of Konda's crime nor understood why their gods turned against them. Fearful and confused, humanity reacted, but the kami's numbers were infinite. As the war raged on, it became clear that this was a losing battle for mortals.
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Meanwhile, Konda's attention totally belonged to the product of his crime, and he neglected his daughter, leaving her in the care of his servants. However, he strictly protected her, because of her importance to his trophy.

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By the time of the Kami War's climax, Michiko Konda, Truth Seeker was a beautiful young woman with a desperate desire to do something for her own war-tortured people. Her friend Choryu, a talented mage, convinces her that the answer could lie in the Minamo School's libraries, and the two then plan an escape. Despite her father's protective measures, Michiko manages to escape Eiganjo thanks to Choryu's magic, and the two then leave for Minamo. However, her connection to the causes of the conflict was not unknown to the other factions and their kami patrons. It was soon revealed that her escape was part of a plan to lure her into the hands of the mages and their patron spirit. The plan fails, however, leading Michiko's path to the Jukai Forest, where she crosses paths with Toshiro Umezawa. After saving her from the wrath of Myojin of Life's Web, Toshiro allows himself to be hired by the princess to help her. Despite Toshiro's advice, Michiko decides to consult Hisoka, Minamo Sensei about the night of her birth. This effort nearly ended in disaster when Michiko and her group were present in Minamo during an attack by Heartless Hidetsugu. Once again, Toshiro Umezawa saved her and her family.
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Toshiro and Michiko became partners onwards
That same year, the kami discover the whereabouts of That Which Was Taken and attack Eiganjo Castle. However, the samurai troops and the castle itself appear indestructible due to the artifact's protection. In retaliation, O-Kagachi himself manifests in the physical world for the first time over Towabara and attacks Eiganjo.
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The Great Old Serpent charges for revenge
Countless Konda samurai were wiped out by the Great Serpent, and the castle itself was destroyed. However, O-Kagachi was unable to retrieve what he sought, as Toshiro Umezawa had cunningly stolen That Which Was Taken during the attack. After a long and dangerous journey, and with Toshiro's help, Michiko manages to free the spirit trapped in the stone disk. He manifests as a multicolored, scaly bodied human who obviously doesn't like being called "That Which Was Taken", and so Toshiro suggests "Kyodai", which means "brother". Then O-Kagachi appears, fully manifesting all 8 of his heads for the first time. Responding to this, Kyodai reveals to Michiko that she is, in fact, his spiritual counterpart. The two merge to become the Sisters of Flesh and Spirit, a new form of coexistence between the material and the spiritual worlds.
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They then turn dressed and armed with Kamigawa's most powerful spells to face O-Kagachi. There is then a great battle, which ends with the Sisters defeating the Great Serpent. Konda then appears, but is quickly turned to stone and shattered, remaining alive in this hellish state. Michiko makes Kyodai promise to come back in 20 years to see if the scales are even, but Kyodai thinks they never will be.

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The sisters then take O-Kagachi's place in Kamigawa's cosmology as the new guardians of the barrier between the spiritual and physical worlds. Thinking that the Kami War would continue for a while, they set out to convince all the spirits that there is no more reason to fight. They re-established order by rebuilding the barrier between utsuriyo and kakuriyo and reshaping the way magic itself would work on the plane, allowing for a "blending" between the two worlds and making spirit magic more accessible to mortals. At the same time, Toshiro Umezawa is kidnapped by the Myojin of Night's Reach and transported to a place far, far away: a coast in Madara, near the gates of Talon, on the plane of Dominaria.
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The Talon Gates
She reveals that the Kami War had not only weakened the barrier between Kakuriyo and Utsushiyo, but also between Kamigawa and other planes, allowing her to travel there, gaining new knowledge and meeting new worshippers. And she wasn't too happy with Toshiro's role at the end of the war so, as a "farewell gift" she leaves Toshiro there and leaves him blind. Alone in a new world, Toshiro smells a nearby swamp that promises new magic and takes the first step towards a new life. There he would become the progenitor of the Umezawa clan, from which Tetsuo Umezawa would emerge centuries later.

Neon Dynasty and Expectations

Now that we have the past fresh in mind, we are more prepared for the present. The full story of the Lore of

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

hasn't started yet, and we're getting a taste of where the world meets through the weekly tales of the set's legends. Here's what we know about the current status of the plan so far: - More than 1,200 years have passed after the events of the Kami War. Kamigawans discovered electricity, experienced an industrial revolution, and entered the computer age. The Kami have also adapted to electricity, some of them taking on industrial-style bodies. - The two kingdoms of Kamigawa are slowly merging until one day they exist as one. A series of artifacts called

fusion gates

allow kami to travel from Reikai (the spirit world) to Utsushiyo. Some wonder what lies beyond these gates, or how the inhabitants of both realms will be affected once the merger is complete. - Utsoshiyo has transformed into a futuristic world of cyberpunk ninjas and samurai, where tradition and modernity meet. - The Empire is the main power in Kamigawa. Its capital is the city of Towashi, characterized by skyscrapers, large neon signs and vibrant cherry trees. It was built around Eiganjo Castle on the site of the Araba Plains. Towashi is well-known for its Lantern Festival, celebrated by humans and kami. A temple dedicated to Kyodai was built here. - In the Forest, the Order of Jukai was established to preserve nature and revere the spirits. - The kami feel threatened by Towashi's growth. Many have fled to the remnants of the Jukai Forest and are hostile to humans. For this reason, Eiganjo trained many kami diplomats to try to maintain peace between the mortal and spiritual realms.

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- The emperor has been missing since a "man with a metal arm" was seen at Kyodai temple.
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The storyline of

Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty

starts on January 24th. The official preview season starts on January 27.
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Vinicius

Martial arts teacher and content producer about Magic. Player in love with the Commander format, presenter of the Offline Kitchen youtube channel.

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