Tsai of the Divine Spear

Hypotheses for, and analyses of, the various Suikoden characters.
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sticky-runes
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Tsai of the Divine Spear

Postby sticky-runes » Sun Jan 11, 2015 2:31 pm

Does anyone like this character? We spend a lot of time discussing characters we like and dislike/can't stand, but Tsai is one of those characters who never really gets mentioned. I don't think I've seen anyone including him among their favorite party members, so he can't be particularly impressive in combat. He seems an unremarkable character, I'm surprised he was even given a nickname. His major function in the storyline is to fix the fire spears, and they end up failing anyway and we lose the fort, so that doesn't do him a lot of favors. His face is dull, he doesn't have any interesting dialogue. His daughter seems dull as dishwater as well, he has a totally mundane family situation. I'm just wondering if anyone has any opinion on this bloke. :|

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BrucePrintscreen
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Re: Tsai of the Divine Spear

Postby BrucePrintscreen » Sun Jan 11, 2015 5:32 pm

They are actually pretty interesting. There is an intrigue behind, we don't know why and how he broke up with his wife. Considering he is a skilled fighter, a craftsman, and devoted to your cause, it's pretty complex to imagine this guy being a shitty husband.

In a way he's like Gen and Kamandol, two characters that have been very much underrated, they are funny and they prove extremely useful.

I'd like to see more of Tsai indeed. In a prequel he could be developed more, telling the story of how he met his wife would give hints as to why they ended up separating.

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Re: Tsai of the Divine Spear

Postby sticky-runes » Sun Jan 11, 2015 6:06 pm

Gen and Kamandol were funny, I wouldn't be likely to use them in combat, but they had some of the most amusing dialogue in the whole game.

Tsai doesn't really bond with anyone, and when he does talk to his daughter they just end up bickering about when's he gonna get back with mom. There are better father daughter relationships in the series (Lino and Flare/Logg and Lun)

And Tomo's star has always irked me. Her star is determined by whether you choose Valeria or Kasumi, she doesn't really have a proper star so I can't really connect with Tomo, I know I'm being picky, but it feels like she's not supposed to be there. Would have been better if they created another character, like maybe if Tomo had a sibling who is the Tensyo star while Tomo is the Chikyu star, for example.

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Re: Tsai of the Divine Spear

Postby Wolkendrache » Sun Jan 11, 2015 7:37 pm

I consider his background story as a modernized form or a contrast of a typical Shuihu Zhuan theme.

Some characters spend all of their time either performing one’s duties / working, or trained their martial arts skills. This seems to be considered as honorable in the novel. As a result, their neglected wives would then turn adulterous, a capital offense. The husbands then brutally killed their wives and thus became murderers, so they were forced to join the outlaws on Mount Liang where they always claimed to act on heaven’s behalf. From a modern point of view, these husbands and wives were all wrong and evil.
Tsai’s portrayal isn’t too bad; he’s a guy in a dilemma who in the end knows he’s wrong. I believe he knows it all the time, but due to the war he’s able to suppress his thoughts about family duties and his feelings of guilt, but only until Tomo arrives and confronts him again.

He isn’t too bad even as a Heavenly Star. There are basically two criteria: story relevance and gameplay (quality in normal battles and war battles). As for story relevance, Tsai has more to offer than many other Heavenly Stars, i.e. Hauser, Clive, Stallion, Pesmerga, the beasts, Hanna, Georg, Anita, Killey, Yoshino, and arguably some more. As for gameplay, he’s horrendous in normal fights, but his fire spears are very nice in war battles (I know the war battles and this whole system are not very good, but I won’t blame Tsai for it). On the whole he’s ok.

As for Tomo, the game developers wanted to give the player the choice between 2 different SoD. Tomo shouldn’t be blamed for solving the problem caused by this.
"Within the four seas, all men are brothers" Shuihu Zhuan

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Re: Tsai of the Divine Spear

Postby sticky-runes » Mon Jan 12, 2015 6:41 am

Wolkendrache, where you've failed to change my mind about Chaco, you've succeeded at changing my mind about Tsai.

I didn't know anything about the Shuihu Zhuan themes you mentioned - if I did have previous knowledge about those sorts of characters, then I might have felt differently about Tsai. As it is, I just thought of him as some bloke who got sick of his wife and moved away to the mountains for some quiet.

The fact that we don't know the full details of why he split up with his wife is a good thing. Usually, I do hate mystery with characters and want to know as much about their past as possible. But with Tsai - what ever happened between him and his wife is his own business, it's not Riou's place to know every intimate detail about every person he recruits. So I can appreciate that now.

Another thing I'd like to add is, we often do meet characters in Suikoden who are totally dedicated to their craft and their personal obsession, whether it's fishing or creating windows or collecting books, these characters are usually quite sprightly and quirky, and often single, so they don't have family to think about. Tsai comes across as aloof and serious, but then he's come from a family background, he gave up a lot to focus on his craft, and his wife and daughter have been going through his mind a lot, so he's not going to be like one of those carefree eccentric types.
I may give him more consideration next time I play Suikoden 2.

So it was worth bringing the character to attention after all!

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Re: Tsai of the Divine Spear

Postby BrucePrintscreen » Mon Jan 12, 2015 7:42 am

Perhaps Tsai's ex-wife is someone else we know, someone from Suikoden 1 which does not reappear in 2. Someone with a history of breaking up or hiding her past. Who knows? That's open to speculation.

I am almost done reading the Shuihu Zhuan and indeed this pattern happens several times. Actually, they are the least interesting parts because they tend to drag endlessly and you see the murder coming. One of them is pretty funny though. The guy is informed of his wife's cheating by his best friend who has been spying on her, and they plan her murder together. What's funny is, the star of these two guys are Tengaar's and Hix's.

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Re: Tsai of the Divine Spear

Postby Wolkendrache » Mon Jan 12, 2015 9:04 am

The guy is Yang Xiong and his best friend is Shi Xiu. Except for the scenes implicitly or explicitly involving cannibalism, this was perhaps the most brutal one. After the affair of Yang’s wife was revealed, Yang bound her to a tree, pulled out her tongue and cut it off, so she wouldn’t be able to shriek. He said “What kind of heart has a bitch like you? I want to see for myself!” Then he sliced her open from breast to belly, hauled out her organs, hung them on a tree, and cut her into seven parts. Then he wrapped her hair pins and ornaments into a bundle. Well, compared to these guys, most of even the bad guys from Suikoden are angels.

Tsai’s novel equivalent is Xu Ning the Gold Lancer. When the outlaw heroes were unable to defeat a certain enemy because of his cavalry formation, they recruited Xu Ning (by guile), who was a master in the use of the hooked lance. He instructed the outlaw army in its use, so they could finally beat that enemy cavalry. Thus, Tsai has more in common with Xu Ning than Camille, so this is one of few exceptions, because normally S1 characters are more similar to their novel equivalents. Furthermore, Xu Ning is one of the Heavenly Stars who is mentioned very few, Camille is one of the most unimportant story characters, so Tsai wins in that aspect, even though he’s not one of the most important story characters.

sticky-runes wrote:Wolkendrache, where you've failed to change my mind about Chaco, you've succeeded at changing my mind about Tsai.

I’m not trying to change one’s mind, I’m just adding some angles to look at characters. Hence I sometimes say sacrilegious stuff like “Regarding a S2 sequel, Pesmerga has more left to develop than Humphrey” and “Since the Tenkou star is to be extraordinary or to have exceptional skills, Chaco deserves more to be that star than Eileen.” sticky, read the novel, Bruce is reading it too, it's worth it, you'll perhaps look at the Suikoden characters from an additional angle.
"Within the four seas, all men are brothers" Shuihu Zhuan

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Re: Tsai of the Divine Spear

Postby sticky-runes » Mon Jan 12, 2015 9:17 am

I know you weren't trying to change my mind, but I was looking for reasons to like Tsai (or even dislike him) and you did get me to have second thoughts about the character. I'm used to liking characters for certain reasons, with guys like Logg and Alex, for example, they make us feel like part of their family and that's why I find them easy to connect to, whereas Tsai is kind of standoffish and keeps his family business to himself, but I find that's something I can appreciate about him now, instead of just dismissing him as boring.

I will try and get hold of the novel at some point this year - that can be my new year's resolution.

PS - can't someone still scream without their tongue? Or did he just not want her to form any words?

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Re: Tsai of the Divine Spear

Postby Wolkendrache » Wed Jan 14, 2015 9:51 am

I don't know, but either one is difficult when throat and mouth is filled with blood.
"Within the four seas, all men are brothers" Shuihu Zhuan

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Re: Tsai of the Divine Spear

Postby sticky-runes » Wed Jan 14, 2015 10:44 am

According to Richmond's investigations:

"He once pierced a steel helmet with his spear. Ever since then, they've called him 'Tsai of the Divine Spear'."

So here's a possible backstory: Tsai was happily married with a kid, but became very involved with his work, to the point he hardly showed his wife any attention. She'd go to bed alone while he stayed in his workshop until the early hours. His wife ends up having an affair with some dashing warrior. Tsai finds out about this and confronts the man, and kills him by plunging his well-honed spear through the man's helmet and into his brain, earning Tsai the name "Divine Spear" because he delivered "divine retribution" in punishing a man who shagged someone else's wife.
Tsai's wife is horrified by the brutal act and he leaves her to go and live in the mountains where nobody will bother him.

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Re: Tsai of the Divine Spear

Postby Wolkendrache » Wed Jan 14, 2015 1:53 pm

Great! :D

Here’s my version:

Tsai’s passion has always been fabricating spears, but in the first place it was his profession and the family’s source of income. Everything was fine until one day, when mercenary leader arrived and purchased 50 spears for his men. After a week he returned, telling Tsai he lost the battle and most of his men, and trying to blame Tsai’s spears for it. Tsai apologized and offered meat and drink for all the remaining mercenaries, but their leader demanded a ridiculous amount of compensation money that Tsai couldn’t afford to pay. Finally the mercenary told his men to ignite Tsai’s house, and when they did so, Tsai took up one of his spears and pierced it through helmet and head of the chief mercenary. Frightened, the remaining mercenaries ran away and spread the story, so that’s how Tsai got his nickname Divine Spear.

Tsai’s pregnant wife wasn’t harmed, but their house was aflame and burnt down. His wife bade him to stop with his business, and Tsai promised to do so. They rebuilt their house, but after some time, Tsai began to produce spears again. His wife complained, asking him to put up with another occupation, but Tsai replied that this is the only profession by which he could make enough money to repay their immense debts caused by the destruction and rebuilding of their house. His wife, fearing her baby would one day be harmed or the house would burn again, finally demanded from him to not do his business in the family house. As a result, Tsai moved to his hut in the mountains, always busy with his business, and regularly sending money to his wife.

While his wife was busy earning additional money, Tomo often visited her father in the mountains, and thus learned the use of the spear. Her parents however estranged from each other over time, his wife being unhappy watching Tomo grow up with only one parent at a time, and he himself feeling guilty for having caused these abnormal family circumstances. The more time passed, the more ashamed he felt to see his wife or meet people from Ryube. Tomo was actually never dissatisfied about her childhood, but she gradually realized how unhappy her parents are. At last, she is convinced that only a reunion would make them happy again, even if they don’t realize it or feel ashamed. It was time to act. Unfortunately war befell the land…
"Within the four seas, all men are brothers" Shuihu Zhuan

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Re: Tsai of the Divine Spear

Postby sticky-runes » Wed Jan 14, 2015 2:43 pm

That's a good one, but I prefer my version, because his nickname basically means "don't f#ck with my wife."

Meh, we can each have our own different versions!

By the way, if you try to run off to Ryube during Luca's attack, Tsai will take out his spear and use it to knock Riou and Jowy unconscious. Considering his spear can penetrate a steel helmet, I'd be quite disturbed. :shock:

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Re: Tsai of the Divine Spear

Postby Wolkendrache » Thu Jan 15, 2015 11:53 am

Version 2:

More than 10 years ago, there was high ranked official from the city of Muse visiting the Ryube village festival. This official was known to be corrupt, but since he was rich and influential, nobody dared to dissent. After drinking several bowls of wine, he asked for a brave volunteer. Nobody dared stepping forward, so he just picked a young villager. The villager was told to stand still in front of a tree, and an apple was placed on his head. The official took up a knife and moved ten steps away from him. He was ready to throw the knife, but suddenly the villager collapsed to his knees and begged for mercy, telling him he’s just married and awaits a child. The official pondered for a while, then he told two of his bodyguards to take the villager out of Ryube to execute him if there is no volunteer to substitute him.
Immediately a slit eyed man with a spear emerged from the villagers. His name was Tsai, and he was a master in the forging of spears. Without saying a word he went to the tree and put an apple on his head.
Official: “What an exemplary brave man! Here we go!”
In the twinkling of an eye the knife stuck in the tree above Tsai’s head, and two halves of the apple fell to the ground.
Official: “Voilà! The man is undamaged!”
After a short while of recovering from the shock moment, the crowd started to applaud. Finally Tsai broke his silence.
Tsai: “My lord, I hope you are convinced of my bravery, and we are deeply impressed by your skill. How about letting us try to convince you of our skill, while you give us a taste of your incomparable bravery?”
Official: “Your question alone convinces me of your bravery. Alright, what do you have in mind?”
Tsai led the official to the tree. Then he took a steel helmet from one of the bodyguards and put it on the official’s head, back to front, so the official was protected from top to throat.
Official: “Wait! What is that helmet good for? Do you wanna make me look like a wussy?!”
Tsai: “No my lord, it’s just a symbol meaning whatever I can do, you can do blindfolded.”
The official agreed, not too reluctantly. To hide his fear even more, he raised his fists in the air like victors would, pretending to enjoy the show. Tsai took up his spear, aimed and threw. It pierced helmet and face, and kept stuck in the tree. Tsai went to the tree and took up the apple.
Tsai: “Voilà! The apple is undamaged!”
As a result, Tsai had to escape Ryube, leave his wife and child behind, and move to a hut in the mountains. Furthermore, because he made Ryube get rid of a bully in a mind-blowing way, people called him Tsai of the Divine Spear.
"Within the four seas, all men are brothers" Shuihu Zhuan


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