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Things Only Adults Notice About Splatoon

The following article includes references to child soldiers, child labor, and mass murder.

For newcomers to the franchise, the in-universe timeline of "Splatoon" can come off as quite a surprise. The background lore contains a strange mix of grave and apocalyptic while simultaneously asking the audience to suspend their disbelief on the level of any other kids' media with absurd premises. In a post-human world wrecked by nuclear warfare, marine life emerges as the next generation of sentient stewards of the planet. Unknowingly emulating the fallen civilizations of millennia past, these walking talking sea creatures live in hypermodern urban cities with a special focus on being as trendy as possible.

Fascinating, right? The franchise has never been quite the same since "Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion" decided to drop the whole nine yards of "Adventure Time"-style worldbuilding before going even further with the tragic history revealed through the Alterna Logs unlocked in the "Splatoon 3" single-player campaign. But even with all the morbid and strange lore scattered into the story for everyone to see, there are still darker and stranger details that would fly over the heads of the main target audience. Here are a few things only adults would notice about the bizarre setting of "Splatoon."

Inkopolis doesn't have a government

100 years before the events of "Splatoon," the Inklings defeated the Octarians in a war that saw the latter forced underground. The player's role in the present-day "Splatoon" world consists of fighting back the sinister Octarian forces that keep stealing the Great Zapfish (Inkopolis's main energy source) to power their own underground complexes. This sounds like a pretty standard conflict for a kids' game, but you have to wonder: Where is the official response to such a disastrous incident?

If a retired military veteran — who is, very obviously, no longer funded by any organization — didn't lure a random 14-year old into the sewers to turn into a vigilante hero, would anything have been done? Why haven't the hordes of armed Octarian soldiers taken over the city already, if their first and only line of defense is a rancid old man, his two granddaughters (who are also famous popstars), and randomly conscripted teenagers?

Sure, this might all sound like pedantic cherry-picking, but the rabbit hole is hard to escape once you notice. The fact is, Inkopolis doesn't have a trace of even the most benign mentions of government that you can see in fellow Nintendo franchises like "Pokémon" or "Animal Crossing" — no Officer Jennys, no traffic workers, no hospital staff, no nothing. It truly makes you wonder if this metropolis has any sort of public office at all.

The Inklings are the bad guys

Another detail that doesn't quite hold up to scrutiny is the supposed "villainy" of the Octarians. Sure, they're the bad guys who committed theft — possibly grand larceny, if Inkopolis even had a government to define such things — but could anyone really blame them?

After 100 years, the machinery in their underground domes has started failing, and vast parts of their territory are quickly becoming uninhabitable due to a lack of energy. They stole the Great Zapfish not out of malice, but to survive. And who's to say that the Inklings deserve the Zapfish more than the Octarians do — especially considering that Inkopolis has two Great Zapfish powering the city? Isn't it unfair that the Inklings refuse to share when the livelihood of an entire other nation is at stake?

While fun and whimsical, the story of "Splatoon" and "Splatoon 2" will probably give most adults a serious "are we the baddies?" moment. As revealed in "Octo Expansion" and "Splatoon 3," Octolings are just the 8-tentacled versions of Inklings with their own thoughts, feelings, and sense of self. Though the sentience of the stumpy Octarian goons leaves much to be desired, it's hard to deny that the Octolings, at the very least, have as much of a right to life as any Inkopolite does. The fact that most of Inkopolis don't even know that they're fighting for survival is just adding insult to injury.

The Octarian Military uses child soldiers

The Octarians aren't exactly innocent, either. While the ages of the Octoling soldiers the player fights have never been verified, it's canonically established that at least two Octoling characters have entered active military service while under the age of 16. The first is Agent 8 — the protagonist of "Octo Expansion" — who the developers have confirmed as both 14 years old and a military trainee as of her introduction to the series (translation via Inkipedia). The second is Off the Hook's very own Marina, who is revealed to have graduated military academy at the age of 9, and helped develop advanced weaponry between the ages of 10 and 16 before becoming an elite member of DJ Octavio's personal support unit.

Marina's reveal as a prodigy might have explained her previously mysterious, all-around excellence in most things, but it also presents some troubling issues with Octavio's regime. She describes herself as having lived under the "oppression of Octarian society," which both she and Agent 8 only broke free from after hearing the Squid Sisters perform the Calamari Inkantation in the final boss battle of "Splatoon." For a simple song — no matter how boppin' — to have made Marina feel like she was "reborn" and inspired Agent 8 to desire more out of life, one can only imagine how bleak it was to live in the domes. Critically, however, it's unknown whether this oppressive, spartan culture started before or after the energy crisis began.

Grizzco uses child labor for mass murder

While it's pointless to point out child labor concerns in children's media — the heroes with the weight of the world need to be relatable to the target audience, after all — child labor is actually the tip of the concerning iceberg that is Grizzco's model of operations in "Splatoon." For one, the golden eggs very clearly contain embryos, meaning that you're stealing unborn salmonids for a paycheck on top of the mass murder you commit to obtain them in the first place. For another, Mr. Grizz's conduct as CEO is less than stellar — his encouraging remarks ring increasingly disingenuous when interspersed with barked orders like "DO YOUR JOB!" or "GET BACK TO WORK!"

He also hands out pay cuts like candy, requires you to have your nightmares "off the clock" (despite the job having caused the nightmares in the first place), and is abrasively stingy about helicopter fuel — you know, fuel for the helicopter that you need in order to reach the work sites in the first place. In "Splatoon 2," he even outright forbids you from even thinking about forming a union.

Of course, it's all played for laughs — but in the North American localization, at least, his lines hit a little too close to home for anyone who's had to work under bad management in today's workforce. Couple that with the player character being canonically only 14, and "Salmon Run" is bound to leave any working adult a little uncomfortable about the entire affair.

Nasty Majesty

There's probably not a single soul in the world who thought that squid-gurgling gibberish could ever be compelling, but "Splatoon" makes some good music nonetheless — probably owing to the fact that a great amount of care goes into the creation of each song. A breakdown by Thomas Game Docs explains that Shiho Fuji — the lyricist and composer of the "Splatoon" music — made sure to exclude any real words from any language.

Still, there are a few parts of songs that sound recognizable by coincidence or context, as with the small section that sounds like "shoot for the sky" in Off the Hook's "Into the Light," or the random "sombrero" heard in "Anarchy Rainbow," Deep Cut's debut song that has noticeable Latin American influences.

And then, there are some lyrics that you might wish you could unhear once you notice — as with the main refrain in "Nasty Majesty," Off the Hook's song that features as the main theme of "Octo Expansion." At least, that was how it was known before September 17, 2022, when one Twitter user changed the fandom forever with their particularly graphic interpretation.

Since then, the song has become a complete meme, with many of its uploads on YouTube flooded with comments in the vein of Pearl writing the "Splatoon" equivalent of "WAP" in tribute to Marina's... well, we're sure you can guess. Hopefully, this is one unintended innuendo that sailed straight over the kiddos' heads.