Culture Chop Suey is a Fantasy Counterpart Culture
cobbled together from multiple real-world cultures.
The reasons for this can vary from case to case. Like with Anachronism Stew
, it can stem from the writer's ignorance on the subject, and they may simply not realize that these cultural elements are alien to one another. Likewise, it can be a case of Creator Provincialism
, when the writer uses aspects of their own culture in the fictional one, either because they aren't aware that they would seem out of place, or because they want to make it more familiar for their audience. Of course, when they're completely aware of the differences, they may be taking Artistic License
, blurring the lines for unique World Building
, or just playing to the Rule of Cool
or Rule of Funny
. Or else They Just Didn't Care
These are cases where elements are of a contrasting culture, elements of technology from a contrasting time period are Schizo Tech
. When ninjas show up as part of a Culture Chop Suey, that is also a McNinja
. A Ruritania
is usually constructed using this trope. A character from one of these cultures may sport a Multiethnic Name
just to drive things home.
Some cultural mash-ups are common enough to warrant their own pages: Ancient Grome
, Far East
, Tipis And Totem Poles
and some versions of Norse by Norsewest
Compare Interfaith Smoothie
for when this is done to religions.
Since the distinction between the cultures is the point, and no example is Self Explanatory, when citing an example, please mention what real world cultures that the fictional one is based on.
Anime and Manga
- Fullmetal Alchemist has at least one scene where Ed is shown to be eating rice out of bowls with chopsticks in what is otherwise based on early twentieth century Europe.
- May simply be something he picked up from his Japanese (well, with a name like Izumi, she's certainly not a full Amestrian) alchemy teacher. In the 2003 anime version a Japan analogue is shown to exist; Breda is once shown playing shogi and is able to answer when someone asks where it came from (an Eastern island). The manga has an Asian counterpart in Xing, which is a China counterpart with some Japan mixed in.
- In Wolf's Rain, all of the writing is in Russian, yet there are Native Americans. With tepees, of course...which they reach after crossing a frozen strait and passing through what looks a lot like the Pacific Northwest. Funny how that actually works with real life geography (the teepees should be in the Plains, not the Southwest, though).
- An early episode of One Piece had Rice Balls (edited out by 4Kids to be cookies), even through the pirates are somewhat based on Western fictional depictions of pirates. The characters also drink sake, wield katanas, make Japanese-language puns, etc.
- So Ra No Wo To is a very deliberate version of this. Most everyone has Japanese names, the writing is French, the country is named for Switzerland but is modeled on a Spanish city, the uniforms are German, and so on. What makes this especially interesting is that it appears to be in the future of our world.
- The Five Star Stories practically runs on this trope. Most of the countries have some level of Japanese styling, even if it's just their samurai-inspired sword designs, but beyond that, it's completely all over the place. Colus, for instance, has castles designed to look like techno versions of Mayan pyramids, military uniforms based on post-WWII West Germany, hovertanks based on the Swedish S-Tank, & insignias based on Viking runes.
- ∀ Gundam takes place in what appears to be Sweet Home Alabama, but aspects of the culture and technology are closer to World War One-era Europe and their religion seems to be some weird kind of Native American shamanism or animism, possibly similar to Shinto. And let's not even get started on the parralels to the Arab-Israeli Conflict with the Moonrace...
- Samurai Champloo, with its rapping samurai (and graffiti ninja, and marijuana monks, and...), is more an example of Anachronism Stew, but also worth mentioning in as the title's "champloo" refers to a dish not unlike chop suey, and is used in the same sense as the trope title.
- Naruto has the Land of Iron, which is Switzerland with samurai.
- Pokémon In Best Wishes it shows the residents of Unova eating rice balls and other Japanese dishes as if it is the norm, Unova is said to be based on the US.
- Though to be a little fair they do have some western foods as well, but fail to realize that Rice balls are fairly non-existent in western cuisine.
- Unova is more of an Americanized Japan than truly bieng the US. It has a mixture of both cultures.
- No. 6 is a bit tricky. It's unknown what culture the titular city, No. 6, is but the ghetto shows remnants of Chinese signs while a character has a collection of what was left of Shakespeare while a few characters have Japanese names (Shion, Rikiga) and at the same time odd names (Safu). Did we mention this takes place in a dystopian future where a bad enough world war destroyed superpower nations?
- Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt's Daten City appears to be mostly American, but for whatever reason there are quite a few Japanese elements (driver's wheel on the right, the flag is the Stars and Stripes with Japan's rising sun replacing the stars).
- Fairy Tail is supposed to be set in a Anachronism Stew fantasy equivalent of Spain, complete with ramen, a ryokan, a currency that's a much closer equivalent to yen than to the euro, and bento boxes.
- It also has an impressive number of jokes based solely on the use of various suffixes. So many that when it was localized they ended up having to leave suffixes intact and tack an explanation on whenever someone reacts oddly to them.
- Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. A discussion amongst the gods about the empires on the Counterweight Continent:
"They are five great families feuding. The Hongs, the Fongs, the Sungs, the Tangs, and the McSweeneys."
"Very old, established family."
- The Agatean Empire, as featured in Interesting Times, is itself a mixture of various Fantasy Counterpart Culture elements, borrowed mainly from Japanese and Chinese history: We have both samurai and a thinly-veiled Terracotta Army taking part in the climactic battle. Needless to say, as this is Discworld we're talking about, Funny reigns supreme.
- Uberwald is, well, Überwald, but Bonk's chocolate museum and mad fretwork that make the buildings look like cuckoo clocks sounds more like the Black Forest. Fat soup was inspired by a signing tour in Poland, and the Unholy Empire's crest parodies that of the Russian Empire and its name that of the Holy Roman Empire. Basically, anywhere east of France where v and w are the same letter.
- Word of God describes Ankh-Morpork as a cross between Renaissance Florence, 18th century London, 19th century Seattle and 20th century New York. (This is a simplification - it also has elements of 19th and 20th century London, post-Imperial Rome, medieval Prague, and pretty much any other city with some interesting stories attached to it.)
- Stephen Briggs' map made Ankh-Morpork look exactly like central London rotated by ninety degrees, including the U-shaped bend in the river. (Terry Pratchett later named the relevant part of the city "The Isle of Gods" (as opposed to London's corresponding Isle of Dogs.)
- Klatch is mostly the Middle East (most obviously in the Arabian Nights-flavoured Sourcery and the slightly-Desert Storm-inspired Jingo), but there's a definite Indian element as well; Klatchian takeaways in Ankh-Morpork sell curry (although they also sell falafels) and the jungle is home to tigers.
- Omnia, and especially the Holy Citadel of Kom, are roughly where Israel and Jerusalem should be and have various Middle Eastern aspects, but the details of the Omnian religion and the fact Omnia's a theocracy mean it's culturally a lot closer to the medieval Vatican.
- All over the place in Honor Harrington, but justified by the peculiarities of a humanity's Diaspora to the stars.
- Haven is a pretty equal mix of all things Anglo-Saxon and French, both ethnically and politically: their original and later state was pretty much a United Space of America, while most of the series they've spent as a variation of Revolutionary France with a healthy dose of Stalinist Soviet Union thrown into the mix.
- The Andermani Empire is an ethnically Chinese but culturally German state, built by the loony but very successful ex-mercenary Gustav Anderman, who believed that he's a reincarnation of Frederick the Great.
- Grayson is a funny mix of Idaho with Space Mormons, and just enough of Meiji Japan for it to be noticeable.
- Even Manticore itself, while giving undeniably British vibes, was actually an all-European effort, so at least ethnically it runs the whole gamut from the UK to Russia. Plus the royal family is Black.
- The new Honorverse Companion specifies that 60% of the original colonists of the Manticore System came from western Europe, with most of the remainder being from North America or the Caribbean and a small minority of Ukrainians. Considering how multicultural the European Union, the United States, Canada and the Caribbean already are today, this alone is enough to presume that most of Old Earth's major cultures have some representation in Manticore's heritage, even without allowing for the large second wave of immigration after the Plague years.
- Cult Colony went bad? Ok now you've got a planet of Atheists. Racial Colony go bad? Now you've got a planet of Albino Zulus. There are examples in some of the short stories of what happens when different colonies hit the same planet and it gets ugly.
- Then there is Beowulf, whose biggest examples have been members of Honor's family, so a planet with a large chunk of Asian ancestry and very pseudo-Spanish names.
- Most cultures in The Wheel of Time. The Aiel have a nomadic desert culture mixing Native American, Bedouin and Zulu influences, but they look Irish and speak with Slavic accents. The Seanchan are a Imperial Chinese/Japanese/Persian/Hellenistic melange that were founded by an Expy of King Arthur, while Word of God says they have Texan accents.
- Lois McMaster Bujold's Barrayar has a mixture of Russian, French, Greek and English influences.
- Dune is a completely justified example - while it is less chop suey and more cultural broth, it is reasonable to assume that after so long in the stars, all the cultures that have been subsumed into the Sublime Padishah Empire will mingle - although there is a heavily pronounced Islamic strain, suggesting some sort of Islamic or neo-Islamic period.
- The official religious text of the Imperium is the Orange Catholic Bible, a mish-mash of various tenets from major human religions. According to the prequel novels, when the Commission of Ecumenical Translators first came to Emperor Jules Corrino with their work, he endorsed and published it, earning himself and the CET such ire that the Emperor had to put members of the CET into protective custody to avoid lynch mobs. When a member of the CET was found supposedly raping the Empress (later revealed to have been consentual), Emperor Jules had all members of the CET publicly beheaded to the joy of the masses.
- It's also worth noting that the only culture that mentioned to have survived relatively unchanged through 20,000 or so years are the Jews. Even Islam has been merged with East Asian religions. The Fremen, for example, are descended from Zensunni (i.e. a mix of Zen Buddhism and Sunni Islam), while there are mentions of violent Zenshiite minorities. Collectively, they are known as Buddhislamics.
- The civilization of the Masters from The Stone Dance of the Chameleon comes across as a mixture between ancient Rome and indigenous South American people.
- The Icecarls of Garth Nix's The Seventh Tower series are mostly Norse but with hints of Lapps as well due to their nomadic lifestyle and their domestication of reindeerlike creatures..
- The Klingons as portrayed from Star Trek: The Next Generation onward combine about 50% each of Viking and Japanese Samurai culture. Essentially, they are Viking Samurai IN SPACE!. With forehead ridges. (In the original series they appeared to be about 50/50 Russian and Thief of Bagdad Persian stereotypes, although there was little to no cultural exploration at all.)
- The Firefly 'verse is a case of Culture Chop Suey, but it's not really an equal blend of Western and Chinese culture; rather, it's a Space Western where the characters supplement their English dialogue with (bad) Mandarin, eat Chinese dishes as well as Western ones, and in some cases (like the Tams) have Asian-ish surnames but look white.
- In Chuck, Lester belongs to a "cult" based on a mishmash of Jewish, Indian, and Canadian culture.
- The Castithi in Defiance, particularly as seen through the focus on the Tarrs, mix Italian Mafia, the Hindu caste system, Japanese bathing rituals and Arabian Muslim attitudes towards women. Futhermore it was originally planned to give older Castithans like Datak and Stahma an accent that would have sounded like a cross between Japanese and Indian.
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World had quite a number of fantasy cultures living on the plateau. During a season, the group ran into King Arthur, an Egyptian Pharaoh, a society of Amazons, Tribune's people (based on Roman society), and several other peoples with Scottish, Norse, and even one with Hollywood Voodoo mythologies.
- Dungeons & Dragons loves this for the non-European based areas of its settings. The "Middle East" tends to be a blend of Turkish, Persian and Arabic influences, and the "Far East" Japanese and Chinese.
- Hey, the 'European' areas are usually no exception.
- It goes to the point that the Kara-Tur and Maztica subsettings for the Forgotten Realms are notable because they don't follow this trope, in favour of dialing up Fantasy Counterpart Culture — Kara-Tur goes to the point of having two Chinas and Japans to avoid the temporal counterpart to this trope, while Maztica closely replicated Cortez' expedition against the Aztecs (up until the thing gets heavily derailed by the fact that this is a setting with high-power magic and active gods, at least).
- Big Eyes, Small Mouth actually spells this out for the world of Ikaris: the Seven Stars are described as a fusion of ancient Greece and samurai-era Japan.
- Exalted has many of these — always done very deliberately. The one described in the most detail is the Realm: it's mostly a blend of Imperial Rome and various Chinese dynasties, but there's also hints of Tokugawa Japan, Achaemenid Persia, and pretty much any other premodern Old World empire you could name.
- Although each of the Successor States in BattleTech is ruled by a royal family from a specific culture, the general populaces of said states tend to be vastly multicultural.
- The Legend of Zelda, especially in the earlier games, has largely had the feel of being based around Medieval European Fantasy. It varies in later games, but not in a way that makes Link using a boomerang ever seem to fit.
- While the series superficially appears to be Medieval European Fantasy, there's a lot of Eastern influence in the architecture, symbolism, and especially the religion, featuring Eastern elements like reincarnation and polytheism.
- The EverQuest series has the monk guilds in the human cities, which seem Asian-influenced, in what is otherwise largely Medieval European Fantasy.
- In the second game, while the city of Freeport maintains a largely medieval feel, the Freeport Militia have gained a distinctly Roman aesthetic.
- Jade Empire, which is based on Ancient China, includes creatures specifically identified as golems, which are from Jewish folklore.
- Most World of Warcraft races are a hodgepodge of many different bits and pieces from real world cultures. For instance, Night Elf architecture is based in equal parts on Japanese and Northern European styles. The Draenei speak with an Eastern-European accent and are inspired in equal parts by the Roma and some South Asian cultures, but use a lot of Greek sounds in their names. Goblins are infamous for both their gold smarts (a Jewish stereotype) and the pervasiveness of the Mafia in their culture (an Italian stereotype, with a matching accent to boot).
- There was a small controversy regarding the Pandaren being too Japanese. This offended China's government and they were redesigned to be more Chinese.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion is set in a predominantly European Fantasy Counterpart Culture. However, Cloud Ruler Temple, the headquarters of the Blades, is a Buddhist temple, complete with upturned roof corners. Once inside, we're back in fantasy Europe. This is because Cloud Ruler Temple is based off of Akaviri culture, and the Akaviri were Bethesda's go-to Japanese surrogates.
- A similar mix is seen with Sky Haven Temple in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, which has a Buddhist temple exterior and an interior fitting with the Medieval Scandinavian aesthetics seen throughout most of the rest of the game. Esbern calls attention to this when first entering the place, noting that the Akaviri Blades had been in Skyrim long enough by the time they built the structure to start adopting Nord designs.
- Most TES cultures are like this, when they aren't completely removed from reality. The Dunmer alone have been compared to Japan, Mongolia, China, Mesopotamia and the Hebrews, with a heavy smattering of Dune and Star Wars, and a religion that draws from the Medieval Catholic Church, Hinduism and Thelema. Even the seemingly obvious ones—like the Nords and Cyrodiils—have heavy influences from Egypt and India.
- The whole Iron Grip series lives and breathes this trope, in addition to being chock-full of Punk Punk Schizo Tech. Example : The Fahrongi are a nation that has many similarities to the Holy Roman Empire, the Byzantine empire and Napoleonic France. As if this wasn't enough, they have an Up to Eleven Crystal Dragon Jesus Church Militant with Knight Templar attitudes and medieval-esque flagellants... who serve as volunteer suicide bombers... The ruler of the country is something like a cross between a Byzantine emperor and an Islamic calif.
- The ruins of La-Mulana have design motifs that echo those of numerous ancient real-world cultures.
- The Pokémon world is basically a mashup of Japan and the US(or at least Japan's view of the US). Not surprising, given the fact that many of the the original employees on the first Pokémon game had worked on EarthBound, which was a similar mash-up, albeit a bit more US-centric then Pokemon's world (which is more like Japan with some American flairs and cues added in).
- This has become even more the case now that the fifth generation of games take place in Unova, which is based on the New York City metropolitan area. For example, you now encounter trainers based around (American) Football and Basketball, sports that aren't nearly as popular in Japan as they are in the US.
- The sixth generation brings us France's equivalent called Kalos, complete with Gay Paree and assorted French stereotypes (but not Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys), and introduces Japanese tourists.
- Dragon Age: Origins gives us Antiva, a land of olive-skinned macho men with Spanish accents, the culture of which is otherwise based on medieval Venice.
- It also gives us the Qunari, who are meant to be a counterpart of the Islamic Middle East, except for the fact that their philosophy resembles Buddhism with swords more than Islam and they live in a jungle, not a desert. This would possibly make them Indian (having a Fantastic Caste System supports this) rather than Afghan - or, due to the fact that they live across a sea from the rest of Thedas, part of Darkest Africa instead (bonus points for the fact that the majority of their members are kossith, a race of very large Scary Black Horned Humanoids).
- Speaking of the Islam, while the Chantry is basically a Gender Inverted Catholicism, their Crystal Dragon Jesus is more like the daughter of Mohamed and Joan of Arc.
- In Heroes of Might and Magic, Academy/Wizard faction at different points has Greek Titans, Indian Rakshasa and Nagas, Middle-Eastern Djinns/Jinni, European gargoyles, English gremlins, and Jewish Golems. Heroes of Might and Magic V also gives them an Arabian Nights Days style.
- Pretty much all of the countries in the Ace Combat series exhibit this sort of characterization. While some are closer to the real world nations they're based on, they all exhibit various levels of subversion, thus averting straight-up examples of Fantasy Counterpart Culture. Osea shows political and cultural elements of both the United States and European Union member states as well as an obviously Japanese-derived self-defense force. Yuktobania has a Russian-influenced, but overall "generic Slavic" culture, and lies in climatic zones unlike any of the ones within Russia's or the USSR's territory (jungles, etc.) and its air force flies lots of real world Western planes in addition to Russian models. Belka has many obvious parallels to Germany and German history, but its name sounds Slavic, its national legends also encompass iconography from the Arthurian legends and its plight in the 1980s and 1990s is often very reminescent of the violent breakup of Yugoslavia, in addition to being a modernized allegory of World War Two. Ustio is a mix of Switzerland and the long-disputed Alsace-Lorraine region between France and Germany. Emmeria is an odd mix of American, Canadian, British, French and other Western European nations. Aurelia has a lot in common with South American countries, but also shares similarities with modern Australia. And so on...
- Sword of the Stars II has this for humanity by implication, where the admiral name randomizer allows you to have Anglo-Saxon first names with Native American family names, Chinese on Russian, Arabic on Japanese...
- The country where Harvest Moon games are set is a mix of the US, Japan, and Europe.
- The empires in EVE Online are all descendent of various Terran colonists who arrived to New Eden before the wormhole connecting the cluster and Earth collapsed. As a result they tend to have elements of multiple Earth cultures. The most obvious are Caldari who are a combination of Japanese and Finnish with a hevay doce of cyberpunk corporate dystopia. The Amarr religion derived from Christianity (although after several thousands of years of separation means it only has the barest similarity), while their names tend to be more Persian.
- The entire culture of the Eastern Kingdom of Mikado in Shin Megami Tensei IV. The inhabitants are mainly of Eastern descent, but they live in an European-style kingdom filled with modern-day technologies revered as mystical relics, and their main defenders are called samurai. The backstory explains what happened and how such a culture came to be.
- Valkyrie Profile is a predominantly Norse-affected world, with the Aesir, Vanir, and Jotuns. However, there is also Hai-Lan with a decidedly Japanese flavour. The ruins of Akhetnan, while abandoned in game, are heavily based on Egyptian myth.
- Lampshaded in The Order of the Stick in the backstory strips during the trial sequence. When the gods are creating the world again they have to take turns to prevent the Snarl from forming and one of the 12 gods of the Southern pantheon (The Monkey) puts in ninjas 'cuz its his turn.
- Some of the individual cultures play the trope straight: Azure City is a mix of Japanese, Chinese, and Korean elements, while the Western Continent has Arabic, Babylonian, and African pieces mixed together (along with lizard-people).
- In City Under The Hill, the very City itself is one. Though this is explained by Babylon's buildings and landmarks being magical copies from most of the world's major cities, the clashing cultures follow suit.
- Lampshaded in an episode of The Simpsons, where Lisa is playing Dash Dingo, a video game based on the Theme Park version of Australia. She is killed by a group of koalas dressed as ninjas, leading her to remark "Ninjas? But those aren't even Australian!"
- Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender carries a boomerang, despite his Water Tribe culture being largely based off of the Inuit people.
- The Sun Warriors, a cross between Aztecs/Maya and different Southeast Asian cultures.
- The Foggy Swamp Water Tribe, based on Vietnamese tribes in style and culture... and sounding exactly like Southern rednecks.
- Season two has the cast lost in the deserts of the Earth Kingdom, which were largely based on the Gobi Desert, however Sokka has a Mushroom Samba after eating a strange cactus, which are native to North America.
- Not even the main "nationalities"/"ethnicities" are immune to this; the capital of the Northern Water Tribe has Chinese-influenced architecture, and while the Fire Nation's political situation and industrial superiority may be reminiscent of Imperial Japan, its material culture is mainly Chinese (with a bit of Thai mixed in).
- Sequel Series The Legend of Korra jumps seventy years forward, where the established Far East blending now adds elements of The Roaring Twenties and The Great Depression to its cultural milieu, with Republic City itself as a blend of Shanghai, Hong Kong, Manhattan and Vancouver.
- The soundtrack, as per the Track Team, is "1920s New Orleans jazz but if it were invented in China".
- Though you'd see a handful of straight-up Fantasy Counterpart Cultures in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Contemporary Equestria blends Ancient Greece with a considerable helping of both Medieval and continental Europe, then adds some 19th century Britain, a bit of The Wild West, and just a pinch of the 1980's.