A Look at Fatal Frame Part 2/Segment 1 – Stranglings and Sacrifices, oh my!

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OpZeroBannerHello everyone, J.T. is back once again with Segment 1 of A Look at Fatal Frame Part 2. I say Segment 1 of Part 2 because covering the rituals that are featured in the first two games of the series ended up taking up a couple pages on this word editor I am using.  I personally want to make sure I don’t overdo it and make everything too top heavy so the viewer can soak it all in.

In this segment, I am pulling back the curtain on what I personally feel is the most important part of the games themselves aside from Dr. Asou and his maniacally genius inventions that were covered in part 1. What am I talking about? The rituals themselves of course. For those whom are unfamiliar with the series, please allow me to explain.

You see, each game in the Fatal Frame series centers around these bizarre rituals that take place in certain segments of Japan depending on what game you’re playing. These rituals according to the timeline and mythos have been performed for hundreds of years, possibly even over a millenia. The exact dates and times for when these areas began practicing the rituals are unknown.

There are four known main rituals in the series, each ritual even has smaller rituals leading up to the main ritual in all the games. The rituals themselves are different in execution, but the end result is often the same. More likely than not, the rituals involve a sacrifice. The victim or victims in some cases happen to be female due to their increased ESP, but males are used as well in certain cases. The rituals are presided over by a priest or ceremony master, and the circumstances for whenever a ritual goes wrong are incredibly dire. A failed ritual leads to a castrophic disaster which years later, your protagonist ends up clearing to restore peace to that region but at great cost to themselves.

The first ritual I am going to cover is the Strangling Ritual. Featured in the first game of the series, it is a ritual in which a sole maiden is chosen at the age of 8 at a place known as Himuro Mansion, to become the next Rope Shrine Maiden in the games’ terminology; after a game known as Demon Tag in which the objective is to evade the blinded maiden for as long as you can. The first one caught becomes the next blinded maiden to be used the next time Demon Tag needs to be played. The last one caught becomes the Rope Shrine Maiden, and is basically placed in isolation for approximately 10 years in order to “sever her attachments to this world”.

Once the 10 years pass, the Rope Shrine Maiden goes through a purification ritual in which she soaks herself in the water of the Moon Well within Himuro Mansion itself. She is then led underground by priests for the final part of the ritual. The Rope Shrine Maiden is then lain on a device that has five ropes attached to pullies, those five ropes are tied around her legs, arms and neck. The priests then begin to chant as the Rope Shrine Maiden is strangled to death, signifying that she has left this world once and for all. They then pull further severing the limbs completely, and use the blood-stained rope to seal off a hellish gate and the malice that is contained within it.

The next ritual is easily one of the saddest rituals in the entire series. It is known to those of us whom played Fatal Frame 2 as the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual. The premise to this is that it involves twins, the twins can be either male or female. In Minakami Village, or All God’s Village where the second Fatal Frame takes place, the common belief is  twins are two halves of the same soul. Further complicating things, the twin born first is the younger twin, while the twin born second is the elder twin. Thus the premise for the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual which happens every 10 – 20 years in the village.

The twins are normally around 15 years of age when they perform the ritual, but in extreme emergencies sets of twins younger than 15 are used. The ritual can fail under certain circumstances, or can succeed when the right conditions are met. Around the age of 14, the Twin Shrine Maidens or Altar Twins/Twin Wardens if the chosen twins happen to be male, adopt the surname “Futago”(literally “Twin” in Japanese). They are transferred to the Twin Houses in the village for a year long purification and severance from everyone else in the village. During this time frame, the twins are not allowed to go outside the walls of the two houses, the only way they can connect to one another is through the two bridges that connect the houses. The twins also write notes to each other in what is known as the Butterfly Diary.

Before I get to how the Crimson Sacrifice Ritual itself works, I feel the need to cover another important ritual that leads up to the Crimson Sacrifice. This ritual is known as the Cutting Ritual. It starts with someone being chosen to be what is known as a “Kusabi” (“Wedge” in Japanese), the Kusabi is usually a visiting outsider. They are treated very warmly by the residents at first. But ultimately end up imprisoned and lead to a secret area beneath the village, where they are sadistically tortured via many painful methods, even including severing of limbs from the body. This is due to the belief that the more the victim suffered, the greater the chance of success.

Those whom died from their injuries were buried within the caves leading to the abyss as they were deemed unsuitable to be sacrificed. Should they still be alive for the final part of the ritual, the Kusabi is then entirely tied with rope top to bottom, brought down to another area in the village known as the Hellish Abyss, the same area where the Crimson Sacrifice takes place, and then thrown into the Abyss while still alive. .  This ritual is done to placate the Abyss between Crimson Sacrifice Rituals until the twins were ready to perform their task.

The Crimson Sacrifice Ritual itself always happens sometime after Cutting Rituals are done. With the twins being led via a small parade of sorts down to the Hellish Abyss beneath the village where the robed and staff-carrying mourners and Ceremony Master await them. The younger twin (read: the twin whom was born first) ultimately lies down on a stone slab set right in front of the Abyss and beckons the elder twin (read: the twin whom was born second) to kill them. The elder twin then proceeds to wrap their hands around the younger twin’s neck essentially strangling them to death, while the mourners clang their staves in rhythm, getting louder and louder every time. If the ritual is successful, this results in the formation of a Crimson Butterfly mark around the dead twin’s neck which then rises up from the body of the deceased twin.

The body of the deceased twin is then thrown into the Abyss, and the Crimson Butterfly follows thereafter, and resurfaces a short time later signaling that the Abyss has been appeased. The surviving twin thus becomes known as a Remaining and sometimes can easily be told due to having pure white hair and a short time later have a crimson butterfly marking around their neck signifying that the two souls have become one. They are both revered and feared throughout the village, and in some cases also die not too long after they do the Crimson Sacrifice ritual, possibly due to the grief they endured from having to do such a traumatic task. This isn’t always the case, however, as evidenced by some of the ghosts in the village throughout the game.

Either way, the next two games have slightly more complicated rituals, so you’ll have to bear with me. This part of the documentary actually ended up running long based off the rituals featured in the first two games alone. So stay tuned for Segment 2 of Part 2 in the near future.

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