Splatoon 3 was recently announced for 2022, and one question I have about the new sequel is: who will be the new musical mascots, and what will their style of music be? I have a hope/prediction: I believe that Splatoon 3 should have a sound that incorporates Cantonese pop.
One of the big changes compared to the previous games is the shift away from sleek urban environments and towards what seems to be a more post-apocalyptic one. This can even be seen in the central hubs of all three games. Splatoon’s Inkopolis Plaza is based on the trendy Shibuya area in Tokyo, Splatoon 2’s Inkopolis Square is Times Square in New York City, and now Splatoon 3’s Inksville greatly resembles Hong Kong, particularly the Mong Kok area of Kowloon—the busiest urban center in the world. Given the current controversies going on in the area, I’m actually kind of surprised they went this angle, but the densely packed and awkwardly placed buildings have evoked dystopia in the imaginations of many. It acted as the basis for Ghost in the Shell’s setting, plays a central role in G Gundam, and in terms of the cultural legacy, the lawless nature of the Kowloon Walled City is rather infamous.
A model of Kowloon Walled City located at its former site
The musical mascots of the first two games reflect their urban spaces. The Squid Sisters are patterned after Japanese idols. Off the Hook is a rapper-DJ combo, and NYC is the birthplace of hip hop. Therefore, if Splatoon 3 were to have characters to represent that Kowloon-like setting, few things would fit better than a squid-and-octopus-garbled take on Cantopop. While its star has waned in recent years, Cantopop was once the premier form of Chinese popular music throughout Asia, and Hong Kong was the center of it. And if they wanted to capture both the retro and futuristic aspects of Hong Kong through Splatsville, perhaps they could even take from different eras of the genre.
One potential problem with this approach is that a lot of classic and modern Cantopop songs don’t exactly “feel” like Splatoon, as the genre is primarily known for its love ballads that wouldn’t quite fit the high-pace gameplay. Still, I think there are examples of high-tempo songs that could be inspiration for a soundtrack that captures the spirit of Cantopop and the Kowloon setting without necessarily feeling dated.
“Ji Guang Zhong” by Roman Tam
“Journey to the West” by Dicky Cheung
“Miss Similar” by G.E.M.
Is it a bit of a long-shot to expect Cantonese pop in Splatoon 3? Maybe. I also wouldn’t expect the composers to wholly abandon the sound it’s known for, as the music is one of the best parts of the series. Even so, I think it’d be more than possible to draw influence from one of Asia’s most popular genres of the last 50 years and make something that comes across as unmistakably Splatoon-esque. Most importantly, it would perfectly complement the Mong Kok, Kowloon visual aesthetic that Splatoon 3 is going for.