Before buying the game, I read the rules translation posted here, which says the players are children using magic to animate puppets with animal spirits.
I bought the Arcane Wonders version recently and found that the rulebook had something bland about masters and their disciples fighting each other with martial arts 'inspired' by animals. Boring!
Obviously, I can't change the pompous martial arts flavor text on the cards, and the tall pawns don't look like children. But I still prefer the storyline I read about on BGG. And when I mentioned all this to my opponent, she agreed that it felt right-- the game's dynamics really feel like one person coordinating the movement of five bodies, except that only one of the bodies is 'real' (i.e. can win by escaping the board on the opponent's start space).
So I have a few questions:
1) Is that translation correct? (It looks like it was posted by the designer, so... I'm assuming yes?)
2) Is there a single-word name for the tall pawn, in this version of the story? In that translation file, the tall pawn is called "an onmyo pawn". I googled "onmyo" and it seemed like it might be the name of the art rather than the word for a practitioner of that art.
Also, a tip for anybody else who prefers the game as I've described it-- if you turn your small pawns around (so they face in the opposite direction from your tall pawn) then they are much creepier, and seem even more like puppets.