"Don't cry. If you cry, you'll lose."
The Killer of the title. Ichi is a 22-year-old man-child who lives by himself in a big house. A childlike loner, he gets bullied around by almost everyone he meets and reacts by apologizing. He spends his days working at a metal factory and going to the red-light district. At night, he is a deadly assassin. Whenever pushed to the brink emotionally and past the Despair Event Horizon
, he becomes a monster capable of tearing men to shreds. At first, he only kills when his mysterious guardian Jijii orders him to.
- Absurdly Sharp Blade: His boot razors, which he makes in the welding factory where he works.
- Almighty Janitor: Has unbelievable lower body strength and has spent quite some time practicing karate, yet he remains a white belt; this of course by his own choice due low self-esteem, Ichi thinks he doesn't deserve anything better than a beginner belt.
- Anti-Hero: Well, sort of.
- Axe Crazy: Whenever he starts to cry, run as far as you can.
- Berserker Tears: Ichi cries when he's in his killing trance, since he both hates his own repressed ultra-violent tendencies and is simultaneously fueled by rage at the bullies who made his childhood a living hell.
- Character Development: At the very end of the manga, although we don't get to see much of it, Ichi seems to have become more sociable and able to speak with girls normally, as seen in the hostess club; but maintains his freaky smile and killer impulse.
- Crosses the Line Twice: A few times, especially when he cuts that guy in half.
- Dark and Troubled Past
- Despair Event Horizon: He is pushed past it whenever someone attacks him in a way reminiscent of the bullies in his childhood.
- I Know Mortal Kombat
- Loners Are Freaks
- Morality Pet: His friendship with Kaneko's son Takeshi, who views him as "my wimpy big brother". Also Ichi's earlier friendship with the bullied kid, where he teaches the kid how to fight off the bullies.
- My God, What Have I Done?: His reaction after killing his girlfriend-prostitute by accident.
- Pet the Dog: Consoling the poor abused prostitute, and even giving her money so she can have her nose fixed. They even have a romantic moment and he promises to kill her abusive pimp for her...that ends badly.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: With puppy eyes and a sweet smile: "No. I didn't want to have sex. I wanted to rape her."
- Orgasmic Combat: Literally. The only way he can achieve an orgasm is through beating and killing others.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Ichi, you ARE this trope.
- The Un-Smile: His creepy nervous "smile".
- Tyke Bomb
- Unstoppable Rage: Whenever he goes into his killing trance.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: It's hard not to feel bad for this guy, especially since he knows he's insane and wants to be normal.
"Moral code, what's that?"
Arguably the Villain Protagonist
of this story. A Yakuza mobster who is equal parts sadist and masochist, he loves both receiving pain and dishing it out. He cuts, burns and pierces his body, and has twin friends who engage in S&M with him. His story begins when he finds out his boss and lover, Anjo, has gone missing. Kakihara is intrigued and goes in pursuit of Anjo's killer, but along the way takes over the gang. He eventually decides that Anjo's killer - Ichi - is the ultimate sadist he's been searching for.
The self-appointed superhero of Shinjuku. He's an old police officer and Ichi's guardian, who has turned the man-child into an unstoppable killer through Mind Rape
and brainwashing. Jijii is a mysterious old man (Jijii means "old guy") who has dedicated his entire life to balance out the good and evil in the city. Well, rather, the greater evil and the lesser evil.
(Note, these tropes only apply for the movie.)
Jiro and Saburo