December 5, 2023
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From Northern Europe to the World: How Norse Culture Lives On

The Nordics might be tucked away in Northern Europe and have a population of just 27 million, but it punches well above its weight regarding cultural influence. From North America to Asia, Nordic culture has a mystique that captivates people from all walks of life. Norse mythology and its deities are the obvious examples of Nordic culture’s impact on the world at large.

Norse Mythology Has Traveled from West to East

People in Europe and North America will be familiar with the likes of Odin and Thor thanks, in part, to cinematic offerings from the Marvel franchise. However, the roots of Norse mythology run much deeper. Take, for example, the Japanese anime, Kamigami no Asobi. Originally a video game but adapted for TV (see video below), it tells the story of Yui Kusanagi, a girl sent to another realm. There, she meets with a collection of Greek, Norse, and Japanese gods who teach her the values of humanity.

Kamigami no Asobi is telling an age-old story, so that’s not necessarily interesting. What is interesting, however, is the way it combines two popular cultures: mythology and anime. A lot of the adaptations of Norse culture and mythology have come from the Western world. Marvel movies, TV shows such as the Last Kingdom, and, of course, games. Go to any reputable games download page, and you’ll find Norse influences aplenty. There are endless examples of Norse culture in games, from Vikings to the warrior kings of Valheim and gods in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla.

Sights and Sounds from the Past Live on in the Present

We can also turn our attention to the music industry and find more than a verse or two from the Nordics. Rock, as a genre, has embraced Norse mythology more than any other. In fact, according to Louder Sound, Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song paved the way for Viking metal. Then, of course, you’ve got Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast and Black Sabbath’s Valhalla. Moving away from the rock, Nordic folk has become popular with mainstream audiences. Bands such as Wardruna have captivated audiences with epic chants such as Helvegen ( see video below).

All of these examples demonstrate how Nordic culture has found its way into many avenues of modern life. However, none are quite as striking as Kamigami no Asobi. Japanese warrior culture is just as prominent and internationally influential as its Norse counterpart. So, to have stories, games, and TV shows in Japan using Norse mythology is a testament to its significance. Indeed, there aren’t many other cultures that could break through in Japan or Asia at large. That’s why we see Norse icons on screens of all sizes and hear its call around the world. Even if you’ve never picked up a history book and read the stories of ancient Northern Europe, you probably know something about it thanks to pop culture.

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