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Yoshio Sakamoto never said the Metroid Prime series was not canon…

Gamingtodaynews1b - Yoshio Sakamoto never said the Metroid Prime series was not canon...
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First, I would like to point out that it should be obvious to all of us by now, as it is obvious to any longtime anime fans (and as it has been stated outright by Miyamoto during the whole Zelda timeline incident ), that Japan's ideas about "canon," "timelines," and "continuity" different somewhat from what I call the American "comic-fan mentality." They just don't plan ahead for, or cling to, that sort of thing the way that some fans might like.

They will sometimes take something from one version of a story and add it to another version of that story. What bearing, if any, this has on canon connections between those two versions is probably very strongly a matter of opinion. Sakamoto incorporated items and names from the Prime series in Metroid: Other M right along side multiple references to the Metroid manga written by Kouji Tazawa (the one that leads into Zero Mission with it's own seeming inconsistencies). Does that, in itself, prove that both the Metroid Prime series and the manga are both canon? Probably not.

I have been reading a debate on Wikitroid
Talk:Metroid (Magazine Z manga - Yoshio Sakamoto never said the Metroid Prime series was not canon...

https://metroid.fandom.com/wiki/Talk:Metroid_(Magazine_Z_manga))

about whether the manga can be considered canon or not, and, naturally, that led to debate about the rest of the canon, the Prime series in particular. Then I found this:

Basically, it says that people make up a lot of nonsense and claim that Yoshio Sakamoto has something against the Prime series, when he doesn't (I agree on that part). It then suggests that Sakamoto has never said the Prime games are not canon, rather the opposite. It offers many examples from interviews where Sakamoto speaks highly of the series and, seemingly, considers it canon, (whatever that means to a Japanese game developer struggling to deal with continuity-rabid American fans). While it is certainly true that people make up a lot and make their own assumptions, and Sakamoto clearly holds the Prime series in high regard, I feel that this article makes some assumptions of its own, and missed a few key interviews.

Please bare in mind that my perspective is one of "what is canon, and how do we decide?" I am also focused on the story elements over the gameplay. I know, I know, nothing is more canon to a game franchise than the games themselves, but we all need to accept that, at the end of the day, video games do a lot of things because they are video games. Sure, we can make up all the "personal head canon" explanations we want for why Samus always seems to have lost all her upgrades at the beginning of each game (perhaps she sells them for profit, knowing the poor suckers can't use them without her suit?), but we all know the real reason is: because video game.

If you haven't already figured it out, yes, I am about to present my evidence that the Prime series is not canon. So, before we proceed, I just want to say that I played the whole series, and I enjoyed them. I have nothing against the Prime series, I just don't think they're canon to the rest of the series. I present excerpts from only four interviews here, with my key points in bold text.

#1: Translated by Pedro Hernandez – September 5, 2010 for Nintendo World Report

Originally from Revogamers.net

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/translation/23982/yoshio-sakamoto-interview

RG: For a few years, Samus Aran has been "living" in the United States . Now that the series has returned to Japan, how has it changed? What is the difference between Retro Studios' Samus and Other M's Samus?

YS: The series has been abroad for a while, and has now returned to its roots. In Japan, the game comes out tomorrow; I think that many followers of the Metroid saga are eagerly anticipating it and will be satisfied with the series's return to Japan. Regarding “the Samuses”, it is a complicated question. Nearly everybody has asked about the Prime series, which are part of the Metroid timeline, but are completely different. It has nothing to do with it, but it could be a way to represent other facets of Samus's personality. I don't want to create divisions between the Samus from the east and the Samus from the west; to me, the real Samus is the one you will meet in Metroid: Other M.

This seems a bit self-contradictory to me, until I remember that buzz words like "timeline" probably mean more to me than they do to Mr. Sakamoto (probably, I said). The fact that he says he doesn't want to create division suggests that there is some reason to, but he's unwilling to take that step for whatever his reasons may be. IMHO this is overall a mark against the Prime series being canon.

#2: By CVG Staff for CVG UK, September 1, 2003

https://archive.is/BD6Tb#selection-877.0-885.6

(Interviewer): Your association with Metroid is well documented. In terms of current projects, are you personally involved in the next GBA Metroid game and also Metroid Prime II?

Sakamoto: I think my involvement with Metroid Prime II is like my involvement with the first one – I am advising them as to what kind of flavour they have to adhere to, and the kind of storylines possible – Retro Studios comse up with the story and I say: "Yes, it's the kind of story that's consistent with previous Metroid games" or else: "No, it's got to be changed like this".

Of course, whenever Retro is working on the Metroid games I need to supervise; I'm the person who receives the reports, to find out what's going on and how the title is progressing.

I'm more involved in the GBA version of the next Metroid game, Metroid Zero Mission – in the past game we put emphasis on the storyline, but in Zero Mission I want the game to go back to the basics.

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More emphasis on the gameplay, exploration, riddle-solving by action, etc. I am asking each individual artist and designer now to come up with many ideas, and I'm going to use that to set certain goals for Metroid Zero Mission.

This does not say that he enforces Retro stick strictly to the canon, only the style and flavor of the franchise. This is not proof that the Prime series is canon. It is very clear that it is their story.

#3: Published September 22, 2010

The Globe And Mail

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/gaming/controller-freak/nintendo-designer-yoshio-sakamoto-on-metroid-other-m/article4326830/

(Staff Interviewer): Can you tell us a bit about the story? How does Other M fit into Metroid canon?

(Sakamoto): The storyline of classical Metroid titles that I have been involved with are connected from the original Metroid for NES or Metroid Zero Mission (a remake on GameBoy Advance), Metroid II for GameBoy, Super Metroid, and Metroid: Other M. It is true that all the Prime titles are chronologically between the original Metroid and Metroid II, but they have so many things that are not in common with the rest of the Metroid story.

Myself, the Metroid Prime producer, and Retro Studios decided that the Prime titles would be

different from the original Metroid games from a story perspective. This allowed the Retro

team to express what we really wanted to express as freely as possible without being bound to

the existing storyline or settings.

Here, Mr. Sakamoto comes right out and says that the stories are different, have many things not in common, and that Retro was not bound to the existing story. He was being asked about Other M, and he brought up the Prime series on his own, specifically separating it from his list of "connected" games. If that doesn't mean it's not canon, then I have no idea what it does mean. If you are willingly and knowingly allowing a different author, director, and producer to write stories that violate your canon, then you obviously do not consider those stories to be a part of your canon.

While I hate to bring this up, because it pains me to do so, look at George Lucas. He said (I'm paraphrasing here), 'I'm glad so many people like Star Wars. Sure, go ahead, write all the stories you want in my Star Wars universe.' Some twenty or so years of beloved Expanded Universe writings later, he then said, "Well, yeah, I said they could write whatever they wanted, because it wouldn't matter. That never meant I was going to hold MYSELF to the ideas of dozens of other authors when it came time to continue writing the REAL Star Wars stories.' I love Star Wars. My feelings for George Lucas are strongly mixed. He does, however, have a point.

#4: KYLE HILLIARD on June 18, 2017 for Game Informer

https://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2017/06/18/samus-returns-39-developers-on-bringing-back-2d-metroid-and-why-mercurysteam-is-developing.aspx

(In reference to Samus Returns, the remake of Metroid 2: Return Of Samus)

(Hilliard): Whether by way of story or mechanics, is this leading into Metroid Prime 4 in any way?

Sakamoto: No, there is no connection. The Metroid Prime series and the 2D Metroid – they’re both obviously Metroid, but they’re not connected in that way. We hope that you will support Metroid Prime 4, as well, of course.

"There is no connection … they are not connected in that way." I'm sorry, but other than using the actual word canon, he basically just said the Prime series is not canon to the rest of the franchise, and this was during the development of the most recently released game. So, when you're trying to figure out why the origins of the title character, the metroids, seems inconsistent between the Prime games and, well, everything else, this is why. You can also stop worrying about how a metroid traveled back in time fifty years, because it didn't. Whatever else he may have said over the years about admiring or enjoying the Prime series, it seems to me he has not demanded that they stick to the existing canon, and he has no intention of holding himself to anything in their canon.

Meanwhile, if you look over here


https://www.metroid-database.com/old_site/features/faq.php

he answers several questions about seeming contradictions or confusion between the manga and the games not by declaring the manga not to be canon or even "not connected in that way," but rather by trying to explain how it all fits together. Granted, some of his answers sound like he is probably just "humoring an American comic book fan," but he still comes up with an answer rather than disavow the manga as canon.

With all that being said, I would advise any fan tearing their hair out to comprehend a cross-media franchise that has not made a clear declaration of canon vs non-canon to use the following methodology. Much like a CCG or RPG book, everything can be considered canon, except where it conflicts, with the following rules of judgement.

  1. IP holder vs licensed company: IP holder wins
  2. Primary medium (i.e. games) vs secondary medium (i.e. manga): primary wins
  3. Newer edition/sequel vs older editions: newest wins (I need a "retcon happens" t-shirt)

Unfortunately, that still leaves the awkward case of "licensed secondary medium vs licensed primary medium" kind of murky. You sort of have to wait and see what the IP holder does next. Which, in this case, was put Adam Malcovich, Samus's PTSD, and Samus's relationship with Motherbrain in central plot roles of (arguably) the most plot-heavy game the series has ever had. All of which were elements of the manga. Now, since I haven't made a full argument, and this post is really more about the Prime series, I'm not going to proclaim the manga as absolute canon, but it's looking a lot better then Prime from where I'm reading. That doesn't mean we can't enjoy it, and even hope that fabled part 4 comes out someday. It does, however, mean that if you are writing a "canon strict" piece of fan-fiction, you'll need to choose which canon you're holding yourself to.

Source: Original link


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