What is a Street Samurai? The common newsperson doesn't know the difference between an honest to God street samurai and a mercenary. A real Street Samurai isn't a rogue augmen or cyborg for hire, Samurai are owned, they are sworn to one corp or boss, or whatever. They serve in exchange for a stipend and upkeep on their hardware and goodies. What everyone thinks is a street samurai is a ronin, a masterless warrior for hire. But Street Ronin just doesn't have the same ring to it. So Street Samurai stuck, and that is what we all basically are.
Ronin? Ignorant aren't we. Ronin were samurai who lost their master. They were exiles, they were the samurai who had no one to follow after their master was defeated, or slain. Back in the Tokugawa there were traditions of killing yourself rather than going ronin. Thankfully we've not adopted every Nipponese gimmick.
The Influence of Japan
In the Cosmic Era, Japan remains a powerful country. It is cohesive and unlike many of the Federal superstates that fell, it has a long history of unification under a central government and a largely homogeneous population. In the Second Renaissance, Japan was reborn, it readopted the leadership of the Emperor and the reestablishment of the Shogunate. It was reborn as Nippon. Nippon would later go on to become one of the signatory members of the Pacific Rim Coalition, and the most powerful member, followed by the Republic of California. This alliance saw an exportation of Nipponese goods, consumer entertainment, and culture.
The Zaibatsus, the Nipponese megacorporations, were pioneers in arcology construction through the Resource Wars and Second Dark Age. They emerged as world powers during the Second Renaissance, and the New Economic Blocs that were born in the second flowering of technology followed the success of the Nipponese Zaibatsus. Eventually the early dominance of the Nipponese megacorps wane as their rivals either adapt quickly, become ruthless, or fail utterly. North American megacorps like Union Aerospace, Omni Consumer, and Cyberdyne Systems emerge as new powers, but they have done so through emulating the Nipponese model, but having access to greater resources and something the Nipponese cannot match, manpower.
We call em Yamabushi, or Shujenga. They are the parapsychic martial artists. It's a long and pointless name. A Yamabushi will come at you with flaming kicks, cryokinetic punches, or will punch at you from across a room and crush a wall. A shujenga will nod their head and next thing you know you're bleeding, six days are gone you can't remember and there are three APBs out on your tin clad ass.
Then there were...
The Street Samurai
Cybertechnology and bionics were hot technologies in Nippon back when the nation was Japan. Their advances allowed for the creation of the first true cyborgs, with integrated power systems. Attempts at cyborgs before this were limited to 'Armatures' or bionic and cyber components that needed no power supply, or very small power supplies. These cyborgs were drawn from the military and mercenary organizations and became super soldiers. It was discovered that in most cases, a cyborg warrior was more than a match for most conventional militaries. It was only a matter of time before the private security forces were using these warriors, as well as high ranking zaibatsu officials, government leaders, and the heads of various private interests. The tech left Nippon and spread, but the Chrysanthemum Island remains the world leader in quality.
Nippon was not just exporting tech and super soldiers, it exported the samurai code, artistic ventures to balance military capabilities and responsibilities, and creating variant codes of bushido to cope with their enhanced powers. Various attempts are staged to rebadge the 'street samurai' but the image fits and stays, while ventures like Urban Knights, Arcoboys, and more laughable attempts fall by the wayside.
Street Samurais and their gritty urban bushido are glamourized by the media streams, and the ideal of the Neo-Samurai Warrior is cemented into history.
A subsection to the Street Samurai is the appearance of the McDojo's Franchise.
McDojos was founded shortly after the appearance of parapsychic abilities in the general populace. It was discovered, largely through accident and observation, that the physical and mental discipline of traditional martial arts were very beneficial to testing for parapsychic abilities. In poor to middle class areas, martial arts studios were opened, many times by unscrupulous operators, hoping to cash in on the longshot hope that they would discover a latent parapsychic and springboard themselves into national attention. It is now unfortunately common that street gangs, ranging from Beijing to Newark NJ are well versed in several forms of martial arts. Learning martial arts typically involved creating teacher student relations as well as lots and lots of Nipponese artwork, and cultural traditions.
Finally there was...
The CogNet was one of the things that truly pulled the world of the Cosmic Era together. Some areas were stunned by the appearance of this network as they had been left out of the loop during the century or so of the much more limited 3rdNet system. But some nations had an inside track on the technology. Just as British music made a huge impact in world tastes due to their leads in producing music videos for television viewing, Nippon had been playing with Cognitive Tech for years and remains a leading producer of CogNet data streams, HoloVids, and other media entertainment sources.
Some countries, stunned by the rapid adoption of Nippon customs and practices made futile attempts at banning Nippon sourced materials. One of the most visible of these efforts was in the United States of South America. The USSA found it's typically Brazilian-centric art and culture being undermined by the much more 'anime' style of Nippon. There was a brief and bloodless cyberwar between the two countries that ended with the USSA losing and going through a brief recession that largely curtailed the importation of expensive Nippon datafeeds.
Nipponism was a popular theme back in the 80s, before Japan's economy took a decade long nosedive. It faded, and today, the future view is invariably based around China's rise. I like the concept of the Street Samurai, and the warrior code being adopted. This plays well into the basic ideals of the Cosmic Era. There is greater emphasis placed on the individual warrior, and there are a dozen different ways to make a super soldier. The trick is finding a way to keep that soldier productive and sane. Japan's culture is colorful and quirky and plays well into the flash and bizarre dazzle of the Cosmic Era, plus there is a certain lack of puritan ideals, which are also very much out of the place in the Cosmic Era.