Isuke's scenario draft is a long backstory text written by Kouichi Yotsui, believed to be one of the drafts created during the beginning of the Strider project. The draft details the backstory of the Striders organization, putting special emphasis on their history, customs and traditions as well as the members of Hiryu's lineage.
This text was first posted anonymously on a 2ch forum starting on March 29, 2006. In 2013 the magazine "Adventure GameSide Vol. 0" published an interview with Yotsui together with a script for a scrapped prequel to his 1990 video game Nostalgia 1907, and Yotsui revealed he had posted this script before anonymously on a 2ch forum. It was posted on April 21, 2006; roughly one month after the Strider script. Around a month following the magazine's publication, Yotsui referenced the entire Strider text in his Facebook account under the title "False Testimony".
This draft is possibly related to one of two early hand-written scripts by Isuke, both still in his possession:
- An early script Isuke wrote for the project. Following initial meetings, Yotsui and Masahiko Kurokawa worked together to flesh out the agreed-upon project setting and world, the two taking advantage of their background in film to write a script each. The two scripts were sent to Moto Kikaku and a finalized version was fine-tuned by Tetsuo Shiba, becoming the basis for the manga.
- The first draft for the Arcade game's design document (or "proposal"). This was an early version of the finalized proposal which is kept within Capcom, and is likely the "40 pages-long lengthy novel" about the backstory of Strider mentioned by the Mega Drive port's planner in his developer diary.
Given this appears to be an early version of the backstory either way, it is uncertain how much of this text remains part of Capcom's official canon.
The Backstory of Striders
This is a basic summary of the backstory of the Striders organization as given in this text. A translation of the full text can be found at the Strider Citadel.
The Striders originated from the Tungus, a tribe of hunter-gatherers from Eastern Siberia who in ancient times crossed over into the Japanese archipielago. Best known for their ability to effortlessly move across the most difficult terrains and environments and the arts learned from secret mountain Buddhist teachings, they were feared by onlookers due to their savage lifestyle and inhuman skills. They had been employed as mercenaries for as long as they have existed, been used in times of turmoil by authorities such as Japanese magistrates.
They created the Striders around the end of the 19th Century over a desire to take on special operations. The name “Strider” was apparently apropiated from a British archaelogy team who hired them to assist in crossing the Silk Road path through the Tian Shan mountains, hiring them for their ability to “stride” through the harsh mountain terrains. The Striders’ ancestry is nowhere to be found in public records, although it is believed the ancient Chinese “beasts of fire” or Teki clan, one of the barbarian clans given animal names due to their savagery, could have branched off them.
The Striders performed several special operations all across Eurasia, Africa and the Middle East primarily for Western governments, with which they had strong connections. During the 20th Century, one of the most prestigious families in the group, the one started by Strider Aya, secretly manipulated world events in order to ensure the Striders’ future prosperity. This included engineering tragedies such as the sinking of the Titanic, manipulating events like the Wall Street stock crash of 1929 and the Great Depression, and secretly supporting certain individuals and groups like the then-rising Nazi party. Their worldwide manipulation eventually led to World War II, a massive conflict which provided the Striders with plenty of work and a large influx of money, but at the cost of losing most of their greatest talent amidst the violence produced by both the war and the subsequent Cold War.
As the century was reaching its end, the Striders went through their greatest crisis. With the advance of technology and the increase of living standards in society, normal people started to be capable of amassing large fortunes through the development of modern skills. Striders, until then content with risking their lives in exchange of higher living standards and wealth compared to the rest of the world, saw that gap disappear and younger members started to doubt the merits of the organization and break apart from it, using their skills to pursue personal growth. Striders who followed current trends and manipulated society for their own gains and were proud of having never held a gun or a sword in their life started to appear, and the organization lost most of its authoritative power.
Following the obliteration of Japan by one such rogue Strider known as Midori, Kuramoto saw the time to restructure and modernize the Striders in an attempt to bring it back to its former glory. While before one Strider was expected to hold the skills needed to complete any mission, this was no longer feasible so he devised a system which encouraged agents to pursue mastery of specific skills, and then assigned them to teams based on their abilities and mission requirements. After a mission the team disbanded and its members were reassigned to other teams based on required skills. Kuramoto also established a weapon development department in order to develop new weapons for the organization, which would create the Cypher.
As Kuramoto was occupied leading the new Striders in the battlefields of Africa and the Middle East, the Soviet Russia allied with China and together invaded the weakened Japan. Kuramoto ordered his adjutant Matic Leopard to watch over as events unfolded. Around this time a mysterious individual appeared and started gaining support within the soviet circles. This "Man" soon enough usurped power in Russia and took over the Eastern superpower with abilities beyond comprehension. Seduced by this power, Matic himself became a puppet of this man.
The Man would eventually take over the whole Earth after 5 years, and this would prompt someone to seek the Striders’ services. After Hiryu left for the mission, Matic led a revolt within the Striders in his master's name. Although promptly killed by Kuramoto, Matic’s revolt effectively put an end to the organization. Hiryu would later return to the ruins of the base after successfully killing his target, and would engage Kuramoto in discussing how to proceed, proposing that the Striders can’t be run as a bussiness as this has proven to be its downfall. Kuramoto strongly disagreed, but it is unknown how this discussion concluded.
Shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union, Western powers took back control of the world and began an even more ruthless operation, which led to a fake goddess or "Slave Driver" to infiltrate a city and to the secret feud of the Teki. A thousand years later humanity would find itself unable to travel through space and at a critical point of overpopulation. In these circumstances the Striders would resurface and be promptly crushed. As two figures clash in combat, their battle would lead to the ressurection of the Man back to reclaim the throne of Earth.
Records after that are stated to be lost.
Striders structure and traditions
This is a summary of details given about the Striders’ traditions and social structure.
Striders inherited many of their customs from the Tungus. Within the organization there are few rules, but they are strictly enforced: members of the Striders must hone their skills to perfection, always maintain confidentiality and carry out their missions even if they must throw away their lives. As long as members withhold these few rules, they are allowed free reign to do as they please when not called for duty.
The Striders’ society is internally organized into clans or "families" following blood lineage, where only females are eligible to become heads of family (家督), because they are the ones who carry out lineage and thus able to maintain and unite the family. Although well-respected and admired within the families, females are not as well regarded in the business side of the Striders, where they are considered too licentious and emotional and thus unreliable to take over administrative positions. The head of the Striders' organization side is known as the Headmaster (宗家).
As a purely consanguineous group, Striders don’t allow people from the outside world to join them. Female Striders, however, are granted an exclusive right allowing them to kidnap any adult male from the outside world they desire in order to produce a child. They are allowed to ignore the laws of any nation in order to procure their target, and they are free to choose their fate afterwards, either to kill or release them. Thanks to this custom the Striders is an ethnically-diverse group in spite of their closet consanguineous nature.
Children born this way are accepted into the group and treated the same way as the children from actual members, raised and trained throroughly into the Striders precepts. The large majority, regardless, are treated more or less as disposable weapons.
The training of the organization’s children is distributed among active members based on achievements, for the express purpose of passing down skills to them and therefore referred to as “pawns”. It is extremelly rare for children and teachers of the same lineage to be paired together; this is due to the belief blood ties could interfere with the teacher in a possible situation in which they are forced to eliminate their student.
Elements and details found in official material
- Besides Hiryu, the only other Arcade character to appear is Grandmaster Meio, albeit known as “Meio”/”Dark Lord” or simply the "Man" (<男>). The draft expands a bit on Meio's seize of power in Soviet Russia and events after, but only hints at his powers and ulterior plans. The text also brings up the fact Meio waged war for 5 years and changed the calendar to the “Year of Meio”, details found in backstory text for the Arcade game.
- The most notable reference is the presence of two characters who appear exclusively in the manga: Kuramoto and Matic. Kuramoto is established as the head of the Striders’ central family rather than the founder/Director as in the manga, whereas Matic retains his position as Kuramoto’s traitorous right hand, albeit stated to be allied with Meio. Matic is also given the full name "Matic Leopard" (マティック・レオパルド) in this draft.
- The Striders’ precepts include keeping confidentiality and giving up their life to complete a mission, both precepts are mentioned by Kain in the manga to be Striders' "unwritten rules".
- The text expands greatly on the Tungus tribe and their association with the Striders. Officially, a Tungus village is mentioned in obscure sources as Hiryu's place of birth.
- Hiryu’s scarf is given an origin: it was a piece of Japanese cloth found in the British Museum Hiryu stole on a whim, and he decided to wear it as a sash and sometimes as a mask in mockery of nationalism, a concept he doesn’t believe in. Hiryu wearing a long red sash that'd flow as he moved was an early concept for the Arcade version that was scrapped during development.
- Hiryu’s grandmother Midori is said to have devised and refined a climbing technique using a sickle, implying Hiryu’s climbing skills using the Climb Sickle were first developed by her.
- Following Meio's defeat, the text mentions Hiryu's Glider breaking down and him standing on the back of a whale, which would become the ending of the Arcade game.
- The last part speaks about events happening a thousand years in the future, the Striders being crushed and the ressurection of the "Man", details closely similar to events in the backstory of Strider 2. Overpopulation is also mentioned as one of the many ills affecting the future Earth in the background of Strider 2.
References to other Isuke works
- The Russo-Japanese War is featured prominently in the text, being pivotal in the rise of Hiryu's lineage within the Striders. The war is also an important part of the plot of Nostalgia 1907.
- Teki is referenced twice in the script: first briefly alluding to having possibly branched off the Striders in the past, and at the end as facing a "secret feud" in the years following Meio’s fall after the appearance of a fake god referred to as "Slave Driver" (奴隷使い). The latter served mostly unchanged as the background setting for Osman, including the introduction of Teki as the group Kirin belongs.
- The description given to the ancient Tungus when observed by others, of people who moved like wild beasts and carried knives under their clothes, is very similar to the description of Hitori’s ancestors as given in Isuke's notes for Moon Diver. This could possibly indicate Hitori is of Tungus descendance like Hiryu.
- The ocean where Hiryu lands on a whale is stated to be the Indian Ocean, a location which has served as the setting of one stage in Osman and as the birthplace of Ourion in Moon Diver, as well as being part of his weapon's title.
- The name of Hiryu’s mother, Shusui, was later reused as the name of Silence’s weapon in Moon Diver. As Shusui was apparently the first Strider to wield a Cypher, this becomes a double nod since Silence’s sword is in essence a more futuristic Cypher in all but name.
- The last part of the epilogue, detailing a world a thousand years after the end of Meio, appears to have influenced the setting for Moon Diver (albeit placing it in an established year, 2081). This is most notable in its description of a world suffering from overpopulation and unable to leave Earth for space, two elements heavily referenced by Faust in the game’s cutscenes. Faust himself was designed with Meio in mind, and thus serves as a stand-in for the ressurected “Man” mentioned in the text.
- Szczepaniak, John (January 10, 2016) "Interview with Roy Ozaki and Kouichi Yotsui". Hardcore Gaming 101 official YouTube page. Accessed May 13, 2019.
- Yotsui, Kouichi (May 18, 2013). False Testimony (Japanese). Translated at the Strider Citadel. Accessed May 10, 2019.
- Staff (March 2013). "Phantom Scenario Nineteen Seven Nostalgia: A Happy New Year" (Japanese). Adventure GameSide (0). Pg. 79.
- Szczepaniak, John (August 11, 2014) The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers: Volume 1. Pg. 228. ISBN 0-99-292600-9
- PAL-KO (November 11, 1993). "Strider Hiryu" (Japanese). SPEC: Sega Players Enjoy Club (7). Pg. 80.
|The Development of Strider|
|Development sub-pages||Strider (CPS-1) • Strider (NES) • Strider (Mega Drive) • Strider II|
Strider (PC Engine) • Strider 2 • Strider (2014)
|Prerelease content||Strider (CPS-1) • Strider (NES) • Strider (Mega Drive) • Strider 2 • Strider (2014)|
|Unused content||Strider (CPS-1) • Strider (PC Engine) • Strider (NES) • Strider 2 • Strider (2014)|
Unused enemies • Unused stages
|Cancelled games||Strider Hiryu (Famicom prototype) • Untitled game projects • Untitled GRiN Project|