Why Japanese Genshin Impact Fans Love "Shouri Sensei" Zhongli So Much
Genshin Impact fans in Japan are meticulously analyzing Zhongli lore, sharing fanart, and sharing the hype, waiting for the Gentry of Hermitage banner.
One of the biggest aspects of a Japan stylized game like Genshin Impact (PC, PS4, PS5, Mobile, Switch soon), is its appealing characters like Zhongli. Some people romantically fall in love with these 2D characters. They are otaku, always pursuing how imaginative and different anime-stylized characters are compared from real people, and would do anything for them. Including spending some huge cash. Free to play games with gacha elements like Genshin Impact thrive through this. And it’s definitely shaping up to get at the same level as the current gacha queen, FGO. Assuming Genshin manages to keep its popularity in the long run. It’s only been two months since it launched after all.
Anyways, developing studio miHoYo shared the details regarding the upcoming Zhongli and Xinyan banner, coming December 1. Moreover, a new character demo trailer, “Zhongli: The Listener” was published.
Following that, 鍾離先生 / Zhongli has been trending in Twitter all weekend, and is still going strong this Monday.
— ゆか. become 🥕 (@yoti112) November 29, 2020
In Japanese, Zhongli is called Shouri, with the “sensei” honorific reflecting his status as a respected consultant. Japan Genshin Impact players are all over Zhongli, with tens of thousands of tweets citing him. It’s far from only being a single group raising the Zhongli banner as well. Moreover, an otaku’s preferences and fetishes for 2D characters aren’t parallelisms with their IRL orientations. In other terms, it’s not only people who love hot guys IRL who are gushing out about Zhongli.
Of course, many of the Zhongli hype tweets include fanart.
Some fans are even making up gameplay ideas. For example, this fanart explaining Zhongli’s idle animation could have him longingly evaluating any item nearby:
— 狼屋 (@rowyabot) November 29, 2020
Some are going for cute SD styles, with others are going for spoilers:
鍾離先生の祈願絵 その５ pic.twitter.com/f3YKZgY7mb
— お花のお刺身 (@ohana_sashimi) November 30, 2020
Next, of course you have tons of different pairings, with Zhongli x Childe, Zhongli x female traveler, Zhongli x male traveler, etc. With the more explicit pieces being uploaded through specific tags or on Pixiv.
— 風秋 (@kazeakisora) November 30, 2020
Japanese fans are also going through the lore of Genshin Impact through Zhongli and noting the small details. Like how he spent 138,000 Mora on chopsticks to train Childe on how to use them:
— エマ【第五人格／IdentityV】 (@daigozinkakuIV) November 23, 2020
Some also noted Zhongli’s resemblance with the nameable protagonist of Honkai Impact 3rd Post-Houkai Odyssey.
— ネームレス01 (@7mqISHjTyv4Xam3) November 29, 2020
Perhaps there’s a connection, perhaps there isn’t. I personally think there isn’t and it’s a simple coincidence. However, there are definitely links between Genshin and Honkai. It doesn’t seem miHoYo will explain these links anytime soon though.
Genshin Impact Japanese fans also explained the name used for Zhongli’s banner, Gentry of Hermitage.
— うねこ/우네코@原神원신 (@rd_hdc) November 29, 2020
In Japanese and Chinese, the banner’s name 大隠朝市 is an idiom which basically goes “a true enlightened hermit does not retreat in the mountains, but secretly mingles with the citizens in the morning market”. Something which describes Zhongli perfectly. In Japanese, it’s pronounced “Taiinchoushi”, and it’s a Yojijukugo. Basically short idioms formed with 4 kanji (Japanese/Chinese symbols). Popular Yojijukugo you often hear in anime and games are “Mondoumuyou”, “Ikkitousen”, “Ittouryoudan”, “Tenkamusou”, etc. They’re often used by samurai themed characters. Shion Toudou in the PriPara franchise, part of the larger Pretty Series franchise, is a character who always speaks using Yojijukugo. You should check it out.
Lastly, you have Japan-based fans drawing comics and situational fanarts of Zhongli. My personal favorite would be the female traveler, Childe and Zhongli eating together, drawn by mangaka Haruka Hano. The traveler knows Childe / Tartaglia is the one paying, so she’s ordering like crazy. Following Paimon and Zhongli’s recommendations.
— 葉乃はるか (@hanoharu) November 28, 2020
Moreover, I’m picking Haruka Hano specifically as she is one of the numerous otaku in Japan who started Genshin Impact solely for Zhongli.
Hanoharu streams her mangaka work on a daily basis on Twitch, with gaming segments. She’s been playing Genshin Impact non stop since Zhongli was revealed as playable with the October 30 stream. Saving up her Primogems. This shows you how much power over otaku a good designed, interesting looking, well written character with a cool seiyuu has.
Because the last thing that makes Zhongli this popular in Japan is his seiyuu (Japanese voice actor/actress)
In Japanese, Zhongli is voiced by Tomoaki Maeno, an incredibly popular and talented seiyuu. He’s a great singer as well. He’s been in the news more than once this year too. Most notably after announcing his marriage to Mikako Komatsu in May, another high profile seiyuu. The announcement was particularly funny for those accustomed with the above mentioned Pretty Series and Pretty Rhythm. In it, Tomoaki Maeno voices Hiro Hayami, while Mikako Komatsu voices Ito Suzuno, and they’re both in love with the same character named Kouji Mihama, voiced by Tetsuya Kakihara. Who is voicing Scaramouche in Genshin Impact.
Many otaku, myself included, often get interested in a game or anime simply for the seiyuu in it. However, this also creates a typecasting problem, and kinda participates in the stagnation of the anime, manga, and light novel industry in terms of creativity, but that’s another story.
Genshin Impact: Zhongli Character Demo Gameplay (Japanese, English)
Twitter is definitely the main gathering ground for Japanese Genshin players. Mainly thanks to the daily Twitter campaigns. Needless to say, Genshin Impact players around the world -not only in Japan- are hyped too. Well, those who aren’t incredibly disillusioned with the game from one reason or another. But you don’t need my linguistic skills to observe the English part of the community. And of course, what I’m bringing up here is still at the end of the day only one face of the Japanese community. Twitter doesn’t reflect reality. And game communities members don’t all share the same opinions, especially in Japan.
The Zhongli banner starts on December 1. The actual launch time will change depending on which server you’re playing on. miHoYo is also on guard following leaks. The next big update for Genshin Impact is scheduled on December 23.