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Mugen's a crazy murderous break dancing pirate. Despite him picking fights with everybody, and generally being a dick, he sticks with Fuu on her quest.
- Amazon Chaser: Mugen usually prefers strong women to the more quiet ones that he meets. The women don't even necessarily need to be fighters—they just have to have a strong will to catch his eye.
- Animal Motifs: Is associated with Roosters in the opening, possibly because of his arrogant, cocky nature.
- Anti-Hero: Seems to be a Type V at first, but acquires some traces of a Type IV. He's a foul-mouthed Blood Knight who will frequently abandon his companions for the sake of a good fight, and cares little for his promise to Fuu, instead trying to fulfil his promise to kill Jin. But he also teams up with the latter numerous times, rescues Fuu even if it inconveniences him, scorns at the idea of villainy, and in the end, honors his companions as true friends.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: He learned how to use energy to attack his opponent after having it used once against him, being told what his opponent had done and one month of (mostly irrelevant) training.
- Balloon Belly: Tends to happen when he seriously overeats.
- Berserk Button: Not that it takes much to piss him off, but Mugen really can't stand when Japanese people mistreat foreigners like the Dutchman (and the Russian from the manga). Obviously, it hits a little close to home for him.
- Blood Knight: In one episode, he tries to start a fight with Fuu's pet squirrel.
- In fact, the only time he ever turns away from a fight is when he goes to rescue Fuu from where she's being held on that island. And that said, he did so reluctantly (he was desperately out-classed and if he'd stayed Kariya would've killed him) and he knew he was running towards another fight anyway.
- Book Dumb: Semi-literate at best and terrible with numbers. Interestingly, he takes learning how to write rather enthusiastically.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Cut off one guy's arm and didn't care enough to remember. When his victim tracked him down with a Giant Mook and an elaborate murder plot and promised to make him pay for his crimes, all he got in return was a blank look.
- Character Development: He slowly comes to care about someone other than himself, most notably Fuu. By the end of the anime, he's also learned to use his head a little bit more in fights. He also finally makes peace with his desire to start fights with anyone and everyone just because. At the end of the series, he admits that he considers Jin to be a friend and has no desire to fight him anymore.
- Chick Magnet: Suprisingly, chicks seem drawn to him. Moreso than Jin, in fact, who's supposed to be better looking.
- Combat Pragmatist: Mugen doesn't know the meaning of fair play.
- Cruel Mercy: Kohza betrays him so that she will not be alone, something she's terrified of. He kills everyone in the old crew who betrayed him and then just ignores her, even when she begs him to kill her. Needless to say, it says a lot when Mugen—a guy who has few qualms about killing—deems someone Not Worth Killing.
- Dance Battler: Break dancing to be specific, he even has steel plates on the soles of his sandals. His style is also often compared to capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music, and could plausibly have been learned from a passing Brazilian sailor. (Or invented on the spot.)
- Determinator: The man dies more than once during the course of the series, and comes back to life through sheer determination!
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?/Rage Against the Heavens: When he dies the first two times, he tells the Futuchi reapers that it's not his time yet and uses the former trope by telling them to take their job and shove it by returning him to the living world. When he dies the third and final time (in the last episode, no less), this turns into the latter trope by demanding that he be sent back to the living world at once. Once again, it's Mugen 3, Death 0, as our hero reigns victorious.
- Hidden Weapons: He has a dagger hidden in the end of his sword's scabbard. He only considers using it as a last resort, and only does so twice over the course of the whole series.
- Implacable Man: He's extraordinarily resilient and has recovered from injuries that were all but explicitly lethal.
- Improbable Age: Although no one's quite sure of his age, Mugen is generally thought to be no older than twenty, which is pretty young for a man of his abilities and experiences.
- Informed Flaw: His ugliness. In some episodes his face is legitimately loathsome, but in others he's just ruggedly handsome. He pretty consistently looks as though he's made completely out of elbows, though.
- Informed Loner: For a guy who will insist, with sharp objects if pressed, that he works for and with no one but himself, he encounters old foes and friends nearly as frequently as Jin. And he is still getting dragged around behind Jin and Fuu.
- I Work Alone:Mugen: I don't believe in anyone, but me, and what I can do.Mugen: I don't work for no one, but me.Mugen: Now I lived my whole life without takin' help from nobody, and I'd be damned if I let you guys help me into my grave.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Moreso later on - and Mugen may threaten murder against anyone who implies it.
- Made of Iron: He's been been in close proximity to massive explosions, had his belly slashed open, was shot in the back with a musket ball, tortured, mauled by a psycho with a scythe, and even died on more than one occasion. And each time he recovered completely within a short space of time with no apparent lasting effects.
- Never Learned to Read: Although an early episode shows him reading, or at least recognizing, the words for certain foods from a menu.
- Noble Male, Roguish Male: The Roguish Male to Jin's Noble Male.
- Only Mostly Dead: Another possible (albeit more mundane) explanation for how he seems to keep coming back.
- Perpetual Frowner: Seems to have attained a state of unending rage and spite at all things and people in general.
- Rebellious Spirit: If someone pushes Mugen, he will always push back. He doesn't need a reason.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red One to Jin's Blue Oni. They even have the clothing choices to match.
- Resurrective Immortality: Possibly. It's certainly invoked with the Spirit World imagery whenever he dies, but it's not impossible that the resurrections are just Mugen's Heroic Second Wind and the visions of the spirits reviving him are just symbolic and/or hallucinations.
- The Rival: To Jin.
- Sword Drag: Does this in Hellhounds for Hire when charging at Jin. Totally for the Rule of Cool, by the way.
- Tattooed Crook: The blue rings tattooed around his wrists are a historical Japanese method for identifying convicts.
- Technician vs. Performer: The performer to Jin's technician.
- Token Evil Teammate: Though he's far from evil, he is an asshole with little regard for human life, a hair-trigger temper and enough Berserk Buttons to give The Hulk a run for his money.
- The Unfettered: He gives his all to every single thing he does.
- Unskilled, but Strong: Being a self trained swordsman, Mugen uses eratic movements in fights with opponents instead of actual technique. Majority of the time it works to his favor. When facing Sara, Mugen found himself outclassed and forced to actually use his head. When facing Kairya, he's hopelessly outclassed and Jin convinces him to leave the fight.
RodriguezMugen's prize beetle. Rodriguez is her name.
- Sliding Scale of Anthropomorphism: She's a beetle.
- Strong Ants: They took this trope, tied it onto a rock, and made Rodriguez drag it almost beyond its logical extreme, although this is Truth in Television if somewhat exaggerated.
- Training from Hell: She spends much of the episode dragging a rock around.
Voiced by: Kiyoyuki Yanada (JP), Kim Strauss (EN)
Wanted criminal, pirate captain, former cohort of Mugen. Arguably the worst human being to ever appear on the show.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Betrays Mugen twice, and betrays his entire crew along with him the second time. It's not as extreme as some examples, but one still wonders how Mukuro ever manages to get a crew together.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: On the receiving end of one from Jin after the latter finds out about his betrayal of Mugen.
- Et Tu, Brute?: When he realizes Kozha has betrayed him.
- Evil Counterpart: To Mugen. He demonstrates how Mugen would have turned out if he'd embraced his hatred of the world, instead of letting it distill into mere apathy.
- Evil Former Friend: At some point in the past his and Mugen's relationship was, if not friendly, at least less contentious than it is now. That died when Mukuro left Mugen to die the first time, and after his actions in "Misguided Miscreants" Mugen wants to kill him.
- Greed: Motivated only by money.
- The Gunslinger: Carries a very anachronistic six-shooter.
- Improperly Placed Firearms: Could Mukuro have gotten a handgun in Edo era Japan? Absolutely. Could he have gotten the Wild West style six shooter he's carrying? No.
- Incest Subtext: Although never outright stated, it's shown that Mukuro has been abusive and controlling of Kohza in the past, and the way he strokes her face does leave quite the implication.
- Lack of Empathy: Displays no empathy or sympathy towards his crew, his sister, or his former friend Mugen.
- Pirate: Makes his living as one, operating around the coast.
- Smug Snake: Very convinced of his own brilliance.
- Revolvers Are Just Better: Even when having one violates the timeline.
- The Unfought: To Mugen anyway. Jin is the one who kills him.
- The Eeyore: Perpetually gloomy and depressive.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Having grown tired of Kohza's manipulation, Mugen leaves her to survive alone despite her desperate pleas for him to kill her. Note that she has a pathological fear of being left alone.
- Hates Being Alone: She simply can't bear to be alone. At the end, Mugen doesn't kill her because he knows that for her having to live alone is worse than death.
- Manipulative Bitch: Knowing Mugen would be betrayed again, she acted sympathetic to get Jin to kill Mukuro, leaving her and her boyfriend free to take the money and run.
- Revenge: On Mukuro. Not for Mugen, but her mother.
- You Killed My Mother: Mukuro killed her mother and she takes her revenge for her.
- Action Girl: Not quite Mugen's equal in straight-up fight, and nowhere near Sara's level. But she and Mugen single-handedly took out an entire counterfeit coin operation.
- All Amazons Want Hercules: She states she intends to marry Mugen when they meet again. Considering Mugen's taste in women, that may very well happen.
- Does Not Like Shoes: Goes completely barefoot when she goes into action mode
- Motivational Lie: Convinces Mugen to help her by using one.
Pantu/Grim Reapers/Ancestor spirits
- Ax-Crazy: Literally twitches while trying to contain his bloodlust. That should say it all.
- Combat Pragmatist: Ambushes Mugen on a small boat loaded with large barrels, knowing very well that Mugen will be unable to use his usual style in such a small area.
- Double Weapon: His other main weapon... well, it looks like two triangular-shaped blades on a ring-shaped handle.
- Gonk: The guy looks kinda like Genma Shiranui with a better skin, but that's the kindest thing you can say about him.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Equally insane as his other two brothers, he's the most child-like of the gang.
- Shared Unusual Trait: The brothers all have pink sclera on their left eyes; it's arguably the only physical trait they share. It may be due to some degree of damage. Unlike Umanosuke, both Denkibou and Toube don't have to use any protection.
- Wolverine Claws: Wears a single set on his left hand, though they're rather short.
- Ax-Crazy: Like Denkibou, he's a seething, barely-contained cauldron of homicidal fury. Unlike Denkibou, he can sort of keep it under control... that is, until the eyepatch comes off. Once that happens, he becomes every bit as unhinged as the latter.
- The Berserker: Not really blatant at first (well, compared to Denkibou) but much more clear later on in his battle against Mugen.
- Eyepatch of Power: Wears an eyepatch, but to protect his large, sensitive eye rather than cover a gaping hole.
- Faux Affably Evil: The first true example is probably when he murders a random wanderer who just happened to be passing by when he didn't gave him the information he wanted to know. Information that he probably didn't have any way to know, to boot.
- The Heavy: As far as Mugen goes, he's the most important antagonist and drives the biggest and final conflict of the story for him and Fuu.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Mugen uses his own scythe to behead him
- Ki Attacks: While it's unknown who taught him how to use them, it becomes obvious fairly quickly that his scythe is far stronger, and faster, than his frame would allow. Not to mention the impossible accuracy with which he uses it. See Person of Mass Destruction.
- Off with His Head!: He seemingly has a penchant for killing people this way using his scythe. This is also how he dies.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Relatively so. He can demolish a house in a couple swings, and has destructive capabilities comparable to the more powerful bombs available.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: He fondles Fuu, and while he never goes as far as raping her, the threat is on the table. He's mainly holding off so that he can finish the job in front of Mugen (or after Mugen dies with the knowledge of what's going to happen).
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Well eye in this case, he sports an eyepatch on his left eye due to losing an eyelid rendering him unable to blink. When it gets knocked off, his eye is red colored from the lack of water. Umanosuke also gets much crazier by this point in their fight.
- Revenge Before Reason
- Shared Unusual Trait: The brothers all have pink sclera on their left eyes; it's arguably the only physical trait they share. It may be due to some degree of damage. Umanosuke is the only one of the brothers that has to use protection, but it's mostly due to his loss of the eyelid.
- Sinister Scythe: An one hell of a scythe. It looks like a western-style long-handled scythe but the top half can detatch, turning in some sort of mutant kusarigama.
ToubeThe eldest of the brothers. Like his brothers, he lives for revenge. Mugen severed his leg in the raid on the ship he was protecting, and since then he has never uttered a word and uses a wheelchair.
- An Arm and a Leg: Mugen severed his leg before the series.
- Dumb Struck: Never spoke again after being injured by Mugen.
- Evil Cripple: He's down a leg and, along with his brother's are the final villains Mugen has to fight in the series.
- Go Out with a Smile: Gives a wicked grin as he commits suicide via a bomb in his wheelchair, thinking it will kill Mugen too.
- Shared Unusual Trait: The brothers all have pink sclera on their left eyes; it's arguably the only physical trait they share. It might due to some degree of damage. Unlike Umanosuke, both Denkibou and Toube don't have to use any protection.
- Taking You with Me: Well tries to and nearly succeeded by loading his wheelchair with dynamite. Too bad for him the afterlife wasn't ready for Mugen.
Voiced by: Ginpei Sato (JP), Kirk Thornton (EN), Christian Strempler (LA)
Jin is everything Mugen isn't: polite, honorable, self-controlled and introspective. A ronin who barely speaks, Jin helps Fuu on her quest out of a sense of obligation, while running away from his own past troubles.
- Animal Motifs: Is associated with Fish, and other sea creatures in the opening. This creeps into the show itself through his interactions with Johnny.
- Attractive Bent-Gender: He's pretty enough to get into a brothel while disguised as a prospective prostitute, his height being the only unusual thing about "her".
- Bishōnen: Is able to successfully dress up as a woman.
- Blood Knight:
- Although he doesn't go out of his way to start trouble, Jin never backs down from a fight.
- Subverted in his fight with Yukimaru, which is a major characterization point. Jin urges Yukimaru to withdraw, so that he will not have to put an end to the fight.
- Born in the Wrong Century: According to Jin, there isn't any worthy lord to serve nowadays. The clan symbol on his kimono indicates he's descended from the Takedas or their close retainers. The Takeda clan was one of the Tokugawa clan's two main rivals prior to their securing the shogunate, but was exterminated in the power struggle. So Jin is literally a relic of a bygone family and era.
- Character Development: Just like Mugen, Jin gains human connections during the series, so he finally has something he wants to protect.
- Combat Compliment: Both Inuyama and Kariya praise his skill as a swordsman.
- Combat Pragmatist: Over time, Jin takes the Firefly Samurai's advice to heart and starts to use his surroundings to his advantage.
- The Comically Serious: After being...entertained by at least two prostitutes, he gets up and takes out an attacking group of five men in two slices. Then doubles over. "My back!"
- "I have heartburn..."
- Covert Pervert: Jin is perhaps almost as interested in women as Mugen is, he's just a little more quiet about it.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: He uses this to defeat Kariya. The move is supposed to be suicidal but he manages to survive.
- Deadpan Snarker: It's practically his default expression. He never hesitates to call Mugen out on his foolishness.
- Determinator: Gets a sword through his stomach and keeps going. Able to fight at peak level after being tortured for a whole day. Also falls off bridges a lot. A LOT. You start to wonder if he has gills.
- Disguised in Drag: In Episode 3, to get into a brothel.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Especially since he's so quiet.
- Good Is Not Nice: Not as bad as usual cases since most of it's more just his serious personality. As a card-carrying samurai he saves a Damsel in Distress from a life of prostitution (and it's heavily implied he'll marry her after her period of isolation ends), will not serve the currently corrupt Government in return for wealth and respect, and refuses to use force if he doesn't have to. However, he is not exactly friendly, starts off with a small superiority complex, doesn't mind sex with prostitutes even after he rescues a severely traumatized one, and in the first episode he saves a peasant from the the corrupt lord that was going to have the peasant beaten or killed for not giving the lord a sufficient bribe, but he takes the peasant's cash too. Of course, the peasant is probably happy to not be on the wrong end of the katana. Then again, saving said peasant proved useful as he later gives Fuu the pipe needed to start the fireworks that would save Mugen and Jin from their executions.
- Honor Before Reason: See The Last DJ below.
- Knight Errant: Prior to the series. He wandered around Japan searching for a purpose until Fuu roped him as her bodyguard.
- Knight in Sour Armor: He knows damn well that it doesn't pay to be good or honorable in the world he was born into. But he just can't help himself from doing the right thing.
- The Lancer: Jin is much less likely to instigate an episode's events than Mugen and Fuu are, and rarely involves them in his conflicts.
- The Last DJ: He could be a famous and wealthy warrior, but first he'd have to find a daimyo he didn't loathe.
- Furthermore, Jin's old master told Jin about the shogunate's plan to turn their school into a corps of assassins for the government, and Jin vehemently protested on principle. For this his master was ordered to kill him, but Jin was the winner of that fight. He could probably clear his name in a second and do serious damage to the government by telling the truth. He'd also dishonor the name of his master and his school, so he goes Walking the Earth instead.
- Lethal Chef: In "Gamblers and Gallantry", Jin mans a grilled eel stand alongside a woman he ran into earlier in the episode. After the dinner rush, he agrees to cook her an eel. Her reaction? "...Wow. Your cooking is really quite amazing. I'm pretty sure this the worst thing I've ever eaten! But I suppose that's a talent in and of itself..."
- Mistaken for Gay: Both Mugen and the "Firefly Assassin" from episode two assume on first impressions that he walks down the left side of the street. There are some suggestions that Jin's old school friend Yukimaru was more like an old flame. On the other hand, he seems perfectly willing to sleep with women when the opportunity arises (to Mugen's vocal relief) and he genuinely falls for Shino.
- Worth noting: In the Edo Period, especially for men of Jin's socioeconomic class, bisexuality was a default assumption. Samurai men were expected — even required — to show interest in women but it was perfectly normal to bed another warrior or a hot kabuki actor as well.
- Mr. Fanservice: Very much so, especially when you factor in his Shirtless Scenes.
- Noble Male, Roguish Male: The Noble Male to Mugen's Roguish Male.
- Not So Different: With Mugen, both highly trained fighters who don't really enjoy themselves (except in combat) and put a lot of emphasis on martial prowess. Neither experienced love in their lives until they met up with each other (and Fuu). Yes, that was intentionally hoyaytastic.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: To Mugen.
- Perpetual Frowner: The number of times he gives a sincere smile throughout the series can be counted on one hand.
- Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Anachronistic ones, at that.
- The Quiet One: In contrast to Mugen and Fuu, who talk nonstop about their adventures and surroundings, Jin remains silent most of the time, emphasizing his character as the calm, serious one in the group.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Raised and trained indoors, in contrast to deeply suntanned pirate-wanderer Mugen.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue to Mugen's red.
- Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: Trained from childhood in a high-level and super purist dojo, by age 20 he's a fearsome, near-unbeatable kenjutsu prodigy who can't cook, catch fish, hold a conversation (especially with women), or drink more than two shots of sake without falling asleep. He makes a little progress towards (metaphorically) tying his own shoelaces over the course of the series.
- Samurai Ponytail: Though a ronin, he keeps up the proper appearances.
- Shirtless Scene: With torture scenes, hot springs and good old fashioned sword fights, he gets a couple.
- Shrouded in Myth: If you heard the stories being spread about "The Thousand Man Killer" and his exploits, you'd be pretty shocked to find that the guy behind the rumors is the slightly fey broke dude facepalming at his travelling companions.
- Skilled, but Naïve: One of his early opponents, Inuyaka, notes that while he's a very skilled swordsman, he hasn't had enough outside experience to fight him in an unfamiliar environment, as he's spent his entire life training in a dojo.
- The Spock: He rarely shows emotion and is dispassionate about everything.
- Stoic Spectacles: He's quite fond of them too.
- The Stoic: Virtually nothing causes him to lose his cool... except being mocked for his lack of fishing skill.
- Surpassed the Teacher: Jin proves he's done so by foiling his master's attack — leaving him technically master of the discipline after Mariya's death.
Voiced by: Makio Inoue (JP), Peter Spellos (EN)The renowned "Slayer of a Thousand Men", third master of the Muju and Jin's master.
- Broken Pedestal: To Jin. He intended to turn the dojo into an academy for training assassins, under pressure from Kensei Kariya Kagetoki, but received passionate opposition from Jin. Then, Mariya tried to kill him in his sleep. However, Jin killed him in defense and Mariya passed away proud of him.
- Offing the Offspring Offing: He was a father figure to Jin but tried to kill him under Kagetoki's orders. Jin manages to survive the attack and slays his master instead.
- Parental Substitute: He was this to Jin until the above incident occurred.
- Posthumous Character: He died before the start of the series. He only appears in flashbacks.
- Red Baron: Slayer of a Thousand Men.
Voiced by: Yuuto Kazama (JP)Nagamitsu's mirror-holder and flunky, former student of Mariya Enshiro.
- Driven to Suicide: Off-screen, due to his shame at failing to avenge his former master.
- Avenging the Villain: Averted. He's seeking revenge for Jin leaving him behind, not for killing Mariya.
- Childhood Friend Romance: One possible interpretation of their relationship—Yuki is AWFULLY angry at Jin but still specifically mentions that Jin's a looker in the rumors he spreads about him.
- I Just Want to Be You: He confesses this to be his ultimate reason for hunting down Jin.
- Yandere: "YOU LEFT!!!...why didn't you take me with you?"
- Love Redeems: Well...in a way, for Jin. Kinda.
Voiced by: Kosei Daigo (JP), Doug Stone (EN)A former sensei of Jin's who had a dojo in Mihara. He was so envied by the other masters that he was ordered by the daimyo to take down his sign or cut off his arm. He committed suicide rather than allow this to happen. He requested that Jin look after his sons should something happen to him.
Niwa Tatsunoshin and Niwa Kazunosuke
Voiced by: Hiro Yuki (Tatsunoshin, JP), Akio Suyama (Kazunosuke, JP), Igor Cruz (Tatsunoshin, LA), Benjamín Rivera (Kazunosuke, LA)Sons of Juunosuke and identical twins. After their father's death, they abandoned the way of the sword and tagging is their new way of life. They risk their lives to put text where no brush has scribbled before. They are first seen brawling in the street over who's the real head of the gang. Fuu suggests that they solve their succession argument with a tagging contest (most incredible location wins) and Jin agrees to be the referee.
- Cain and Abel: Played for comedy.
- Gonk: They are both reather homely.
- Japanese Delinquents: The Edo-period anachronistic version.
Kariya KagetokiVoiced by: Takayuki Sugou (JP), Steve Kramer (EN), César Soto (LA)An elite samurai working for the Shogunate known as the "Divine Hand" for his skill. Kariya has not drawn his sword in quite some time being that there hasn't been an opponent worthy of him in years, according to Goroujuu, a member of the Shogun's council who visits him. He determines that Mugen and Jin must be worthy adversaries, and brings himself out of retirement in order to face them. Although employed by the Shogunate, his true motives are to use the government to further his own needs since the age of the samurai is ending.
- Big Bad: Closest thing to a main antagonist in the series. He plays a major part in two of the protagonists' storylines. He's been ordered to kill the Sunflower Samurai, and was the one who ordered Mariya to kill Jin.
- Blood Knight: Lives for battle and laments about the lack of fighting in his time period. It was because of this that he is so eager to carry out an assassination mission for the Shogunate.
- Born in the Wrong Century: He's very sad about the lack of war in his time and tells this to Jin.
- Cultured Badass: When he's not fighting, he's tending a garden filled with flowers of all sorts.
- Dragon with an Agenda: Despite working for the Shogunate and loyally carrying out their will, he tells Jin that he's only interested in the chance to fight strong opponents that it brings him.
- Evil Counterpart: To Jin, reflecting that both of them are swordsman who hold values that are no longer relevant. But whereas Jin gradually becomes protective of those he cares about, Kariya seeks to manipulate others to get by.
- Flash Step: He moves so fast he can seemingly do this. Part of it is also misdirection of the enemy's senses.
- Ki Attacks: It's highly implied he can use Ki in battle.
- Making a Splash: When he slashes at the water he creates a water wall in his wake. Just like Sara.
- Manipulative Bastard: He's actually manipulating the Bakufu itself in the shadow.
- Man Behind the Man: He's the one who ordered Mariya Enshirou to kill Jin.
- Nonchalant Dodge: Mugen and Jin can barely get close to him, let alone touch him.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: As shown in his introduction he looks like a meek, harmless middle-age samurai with a penchant for flowers. He's actually the greatest swordsman in the Shogunate, and has a personal agenda to boot.
- Power of the God Hand: Kariya Kagetoki is known as the Hand of God due to his skills.
- Red Baron: The fabled "Hand of God". He surpasses his reputation. One can only wonder what he must have been like in his prime.
- World's Best Warrior: Considered the best swordsman in the series, though he notes there is a "paper-thin margin" between him and Jin. Jin has to exploit a Taking You with Me to wound and kill him.
The driving force behind the story. Fuu is a Nice Girl looking for a samurai who smells of sunflowers.
- A-Cup Angst: At least once verbally express jealousy over another more endowed woman. She's also delighted in ep. 5 when the Ukioe artist draw her with large breasts.
- All-Loving Hero: Not a mean bone in her body, and due to her actions she saved both main's lives and an innumerable number of side characters.
- Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: In one episode, Fuu believes she is to be the "prize" in a duel between two brothers battling to succeed their father's dojo (they had both commented on how absolutely cute something was while looking in her direction). When the duel is over, the two brothers approach Fuu as though they're going to glomp her, only to become preoccupied with her flying squirrel. Fuu is pissed.
- Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: As shown during Episode 1's coin toss, she sports decidedly 20th-century sunflower-patterened nail art.
- Berserk Button: While not driving her into a murderous rage, she gets pissed whenever Mugen calls her ugly.
- Big Eater: Interestingly, she fits both the "surprisingly skinny" and "fat" versions of the trope, as she's normally pretty lanky, but will temporarily swell up and get a Balloon Belly after some particularly serious eating.Mugen: You're some kind of low-grade monster.
Excuse me, miss, have you seen a really fat girl around your age?
- She is a teenager, a time when metabolisms are at their highest.
- Used to hilarious extremes in one episode, when after eating a huge meal, after which she looks like she's put on 200 kg, she is seen by a set of guards with Jin and Mugen when they've just gotten themselves into trouble (again). The guards run into her again after she's slimmed down and ask her:
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Oh so much with Mugen on her part.
- Bodyguard Crush: Possibly on Jin, Mugen, or both. While most interpret her as being closest to Mugen, she's more openly affectionate with Jin (as they're both of samurai families, they have much more in common).
- Curtains Match the Window
- Damsel in Distress: A fairly justified version, since Edo period Japan was very dangerous place to travel around in, especially for a normal teenage girl. It's why she wanted Mugen and Jin, who have pasts which justify their combat prowess, to travel with her in the first place.
- Flower Motifs: Various vegetables and plants in the opening, but she has a special connection with sunflowers.
- Gag Boobs: In the first episode, she hides some bombs in her dress and runs through town with them bouncing to and fro.
- Green-Eyed Monster: She's angry whenever Jin or Mugen visit other woman.
- Interesting to note though that whenever Jin gets interested in another woman she gets seriously concerned and worried about him, while when Mugen gets interested in another woman she just gets furiously jealous.
- The Heart: She keeps Mugen and Jin from killing each other, and takes it hard whenever they try to leave.
- Heavy Voice: Has one on the occasions that she gorges herself to obesity.
- Japanese Christian: The daughter of Saizo Kazumi, leader of Christianity in Japan.
- Memento MacGuffin: The skull charm on her knife's sheath. It's a hint to her father's past, but she doesn't learn this until near the end of the series.
- Neutral Female: Not quite. She's physically weak and small, and probably should stay out of fights, but she intercedes on more then one occasion. Personality-wise, she is a very strong, determined person and is by no means completely helpless when she's stuck in a tight spot. Hellhounds for Hire comes to mind.
- Nice Girl: While she may get frustrated by her companions antics, she's ultimately a very considerate person who can even sympathize with those who kidnap her.
- Plucky Girl: She runs off with two guys she's never met, one of dubious morality, saves their asses from the government, to find some guy whose face she doesn't remember. Does she give up? No. Does she give in? Hell no! Face it, Fuu is stronger willed then either Mugen or Jin. Or just plain insane.
- For a specific example, in one episode a thug tries to threaten her with a knife and tells her if she screams, he'll kill her. She goes ahead and screams before he has time to actually put the knife in a threatening position.
- The Protagonist: While Mugen and Jin are more active due to their fighting skills, the plot is still primarily about Fuu's quest to find the Sunflower Samurai.
- Ship Tease: Most of it in the anime and manga with Mugen wich Word of God backs up, however she gets some with Jin as well.
- Spell My Name with an "S": A single example—the Impression soundtrack CD has a song called "Who's Theme".
- Small Name, Big Ego: She thinks the men are lining up to ravish her. She's usually wrong.
MomoFuu's pet flying squirrel.
- Big Damn Heroes: On some occasions, but also subverted as well.
- Non-Human Sidekick: The token animal sidekick. Though doesn't really show up much.
The Samurai Who Smells of Sunflowers
Voiced by: Kouji Nakata (JP), Doug Stone (EN)The man Fuu is looking for. He is actually Fuu's father. He left Fuu and her mother to save them from anti-Christian persecution. Should be noted it's "the Samurai who smells of sunflowers".
- Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: He didn't want his family to be killed for his faith.
- Ill Man: By the time Fuu finds him, he's on his deathbed.
- Japanese Christian: He is one and worked to save them from persecution. Keeping Fuu and her mother safe was the reason he left.
- The Reveal: He's Fuu's father, Seizo Kasumi.
- Samurai: Formerly a well known one, though he's now dying and can't even get up to fight off Kagetoki when he comes to kill him.
Ladies of the Champloo Universe
- Karma Houdini: Though Mugen does consider killing before rushing off
Voiced by: Sayuri (JP), Karen Strassman (EN)Daigorou's demure daughter. Before she is forcibly procured by Ishimatsu, as an excuse to make up for Sousuke's insolence, she was the latter's tutor. She is put to work with in one of Rikiei's brothels, where she meets Fuu (who is also being forced into prostitution because of bad fortune) and they become friends. Both are emancipated after Rikiei's demise.
Voiced by: Reiko Kiuchi (JP), Melodee M. Spevack (EN)A creepy old lady fortune-teller. For a small coin, she gives Fuu a hint: "Watch out for pots/vases."note
Voiced by: Yayoi Nakazawa (JP)The Fearsome Bookseller, an imposing middle-aged female owner of the bookshop/gallery where Moronobu's art is displayed, married to Roukishi, apparently sells some really captivating porn.
"Yamato Nadeshiko"An attractive young kabuki actor.
Takegawa and SuyamaA pair of courtesans offered to Mugen and Jin in Episode 15. Jin is forced to spend the night with them after losing a rock-paper-scissor game with Mugen.
- Anti-Villain: Because of her tragic background and sympathetic reasons, especially compared with other assassins we've seen so far.
- Blade on a Stick: Her weapon of choice is a kama-yari hidden in her walking stick.
- Blind Weaponmaster: If she used a sword, she'd deserve the title Master Swordsman. Instead she's a Master Yari-user?
- Bullying a Dragon: Subverted in the beginning (where those guys that hassle her have no idea that they're a mood change away from being bloody puddles on the floor), and played straight in the end where Mugen provokes her because she is stronger than he is. Doubles for a Tear Jerker ending when she dies.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Like Kariya, her master, her insane skills are derived from training in the martial arts themselves, not an incidental superpower. Her Hyper Awareness is derived from her blindness.
- Death Seeker: When she realizes that her son is already deceased.
- Disability Superpower: If you're blind and can kick asses like she does, then you must have this.
- Does Not Like Shoes: She's always barefoot, likely due to her blindness as it helps her make out the terrain.
- Handicapped Badass: It's interesting to note that her skills and competence do not originate from her disability. Her enhanced senses - derived from her blindness - simply compensate for her loss of sight (and enhance her awareness).
- Hyper Awareness: How she senses everything around her.
- I Did What I Had to Do: After traveling with the trio, she comes to like them. But ultimately, she's forced to carry out her mission for the sake of her son. But after realizing he's dead, she decides the mission isn't worth it anymore and decides to die by Mugan's hand.
- Ki Attacks: Taught to her by her master. Her weapon can cut through solid stone like butter, and every slice is accompanied by the telltale bursts of wind that occur when ki is used.
- Lady of War: She is a fighter on the level of 'Hand of God' Kariyanote , and is more deadly—and probably more experienced—than both Mugen and Jin, whom she fights with an eerie elegance that makes it look as if she's toying with them.
- Mama Bear: She's doing all of this for her son.
- Not So Stoic: Briefly, after her second fight with Mugen.
- Professional Killer: Her real job.
- The Stoic: Taken to the extreme and lampshaded several times.
- Too Powerful to Live:
- She's the second most skilled opponent in the entire show (second only to Kariya Kagetoki). The only reason why Mugen and Jin are alive by the end of her arc is that she allowed Mugen to kill her. Suffice to say Mugen is significantly pissed off.
- Case in point: the only way Jin can get out of their fight alive is to destroy the freaking bridge they're fighting on.
- Unwitting Pawn: She doesn't realise until the end that her child has been dead for a long time, and even then she can't do anything about the fact that she was manipulated. Doubles as a Tear Jerker.
Voiced by: Seiji Sasaki (JP), Jamieson Price (EN)A large man with a misshapen face that frightens most people. Oniwakamaru is haunted by memories of being chased out of a village by a torch wielding mob, and is what motivates is defensive violence. He wields a large double bladed weapon and is strong enough to knock a defending fighter off their feet.
- Berserk Button: People calling him a monster. Otherwise he's pretty nice.
- Blade on a Stick: Wields a double-bladed naginata with great skill.
- The Brute: He works for the guy who hired him as pure muscle.
- Gonk: Actually the whole focus of his backstory and current obsession.
- Meaningful Name: Oniwakamaru can mean "Ogre Youth" and according to legend was the child name of Musashibo Benkei, another legendary colossus of Japanese folklore.
- The Power of Friendship: He gets a Heel–Face Turn before death thanks to Fuu, who showed him kindness and wasn't afraid of him.
- Rule of Drama
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: In the end, it's easy to feel sorry for this big guy, even if he's, technically speaking, a bad guy.
Voiced by: Shinichiro Miki (JP), Ezra Weisz (EN)An effeminate ukiyo-e artist with a captivating smile. He convinces Fuu to pose for him semi-nude knowing that she will be taken by slave traders and the portrait used as advertisement. Because she was sweet to him and liked his picture, he has misgivings and tries to free her, but gets caught by the three Punk Stooges. Mugen shows up and demands that he talk, and Moronobu spills the whole slave trade story. He ends up trying to leave for Europe where his art will be appreciated, with a stunning picture of Fuu in his luggage. Manzou tells us in the end narration that he was caught and deported to Japan, but his picture of Fuu stayed on in Holland to inspire Vincent van Gogh.
- Catchphrase: "For Pete's sake!"
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Though he takes his job seriously, he often overlooks important details in his plans. For instance, he attempts to sneak onto an American ship, disguised as an American sailor... even though he doesn't look Caucasian even in the slightest, doesn't speak English, and of course, the uniform doesn't even fit him.Sailor:: "Who are you!?"Manzo: "Uhhh, I am... AN AMERICAN. YAN-KEE DOODUL."
- Clueless Detective: Well, let's just say he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to investigation.
- Fan Disservice: A heavyset middle-aged man in just a loincloth... bursting out of a barrel.
- Large Ham: He gesticulates wildly with his truncheon blade, and has no voice volume between "boistrous roar" and "inner monologue."
- The Narrator: In the couple of episodes he appears in he narrates bits of the story from his point of view.
- Red Baron: Manzo the Saw, if only to him...
- Secret Police: He's a member.
Voiced by: Takaya Hashi (JP), Michael Forest (EN)Introduced as a timid, easily startled old man who nonetheless is a samurai by title; he is actually a skilled assassin hired by Ryūjirō Sasaki . He and Jin do battle in episode 2; but after Oniwakamaru strangles Sasaki to death he retreats, seeing as he no longer has anything to gain from killing Jin.
- Faux Yay: Probably. Whatever his actual orientation is, he uses attraction to Jin as a way of passing off keeping a watch on and following him.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Pretends to be a cowardly samurai-in-name-only but is actually a dangerous, ultra-competent assassin.
- Professional Killer: Of the cool, Consumate Professional variety.
- Punch Clock Villain: As soon as he finds out that his employer is dead, he leaves.
- We Will Meet Again: Subverted, he tells Jin that they'll surely meet again; but he doesn't appear beyond his introductory episode. Word of God from Watanabe is that he forgot about the character until it was too late.
Voiced by: Ryuzaburo Otomo (JP), Peter Spellos (EN)A yojimbo to an influential yakuza boss, Rikiei. His considerable height, dark skin and a string of large Buddhist beads he wears around his neck are distinctive features. Rikiei offers Mugen a partnership after Mugen impresses him with his fighting skills. This does not sit well with Ishimatsu, and he and Mugen do not get along; barely past introductions they are attacking each other. Their duel is cut short by Rikiei, who wants to get down to business. Eventually, disillusioned by Kawara Heitarou's sacrifice, Ishimatsu cuts down Rikiei, and finishes his duel with Mugen. He suffers an honorable defeat. His manriki can be seen as a wild card, in the same light as Mugen's tantou.
Voiced by: Hidekatsu Shibata (JP), Simon Prescott (EN)Elderly clan head, known as "The Merciful" despite being a yakuza. First appears listening to Daigorou and Osuzu make their plea. Refuses to hire Jin, saying that it will only lead to more bloodshed. Tries several times to prevent escalation, having seen too much bloodshed in the past.After Sosuke is taken hostage, he agrees to settle by wager. He loses the wager and commits seppuku.
- Failure Is the Only Option: His arc ends with him betting his life on a game of chance. If he loses, he forfeits his life. If he wins, he forfeits his empire.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Before the rival yakuza gang came to town, everybody looked to him as the town's defacto leader. He was so deeply respected by the locals that he was known as "Heitaro the Buddha."
- Kid Samurai: Deconstructed. He tries to be one to save Osuzu, but gets beaten and berated for being overly impulsive.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: While it's hard to blame him for how he feels and what he does, his actions only end up making a bad situation even worse, and ultimately seals his father's fate.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: No, that is not a Dutch name. Not that most Japanese (or Americans, for that matter) would realize it. (His surname really should be spelled Titsingh, after the real Dutch Governor-General to Edo at the time; either "Kitching" is just a guess/transcription from the Japanese pronunciation, or they didn't want to suggest that Titsingh had been gay.)
- Big Eater: The only character in the series who can match Fuu's appetite.
- Bi the Way: Even though he is attracted by men, he first fell for the kabuki actor mistaking him for a women, so he is attracted to women, too (although that could've been in a non-sexual, aesthetic way).
- Funny Foreigner: Despite his claiming, as seen with his huge stature, his red hair and blue eyes.
- Gentle Giant: This massive guy may be overenthusiastic and loud, but is a good soul at heart.
- Gratuitous Japanese: He speaks a heavily-fractured Japanese, and struggles to supress his European mannerisms, such as making the sign of the cross when stating that he speaks the truth.
- Otaku: Given his extreme fascination with Japan and Japanese culture.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Even though he appears in one episode, he causes significant developments in the story. What he tells Fuu not only provides a great deal of foreshadowing regarding later plotlines, but it also sets Fuu and her companions on the road to Nagasaki where they would eventually find "The Samurai who smells of Sunflowers."
- Straight Gay: He went to Japan thinking that he would be accepted there, after reading a Japanese book about male homosexuality, and how unlike it Europe, it was not considered a sin, or a depraved lifestyle.
- Lima Syndrome: Towards Fuu. After holding her hostage, he lets her escape after they sort of bond over their sickly mothers. They even make a promise to not forget about each other. Becomes a Tearjerker when Shinsuke is killed only a moment after.
- Ship Tease: With Fuu.
- Ephebophile: Has a crush on Fuu
- Dirty Coward/Lovable Coward: The one time he's faced by a serious opponent he only wins through sheer, unadultered luck and it looked like he was about to surrender.
- Miles Gloriosus: Despite all his talking, this bufoon is not the great samurai he think he his.
- Plucky Comic Relief: His overall role in the episode.
- Rhymes on a Dime: In the Italian sub, he speaks this way.
- Sheath Strike: Parodied: when he starts fighting, he throws the sheath high in the sky, tries to block the incoming slash but gets disarmed. When he's about to give up, the sheath falls down on his opponent's head, knocking him out cold. He then claims it was his secret attack of the Flying Dragon.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Remember Osen from above? The busty, sexy, hard-drinking brunette? Well, she's his wife.
Tajima MunetadaSamurai of the Fuu Sekisai Ryu. On the way he meets Shoryuu, is challenged by him and is killed by him.
Voiced by: Show Hayami (JP), Jeffrey Stackhouse (EN), José Luis Orozco (LA)Born into the royal bloodline of the samurai, Ukon studied kenjutsu under the tutelage of Zuikou before he was sent on a voyage to the mainland. However, the journey was interrupted by violent seastorms and the boat he was traveling on was wrecked by the waves. Even so, Ukon survived the journey and he was found lying unconscious on the mainland by a group of shaolin monks, from whom he learnt of a mysterious fighting technique called 'Hakkei'.The tenth episode is a character study of this martial arts student-turned-renegade as he travels to challenge and defeat the fighters he encounters across the country in the hopes of achieving national recognition for what he deems to be superior fighting skills.
- A Pupil of Mine Until He Turned to Evil: Is this in relation to his former teacher Zuikou.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Oh yes. It's also interesting to note that he takes pride in a martial artform that was taught to him by shaolin monks.
- Blood Knight: A very bloodthirsty one as well.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: The aforementioned Hakkei. He probably didn't know it was one of these.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: ...but only initially. By the time he gets to fight Mugen, he may or may not have confessed that he doesn't really care about this any longer.
- It's All About Me: This comes in spades.
- Ki Attacks: Hakkei. It looks like a contact Razor Wind that chops the insides of the victim.
- Serial Killer: 'He made the mountains his home, and he became a demon.'
- That Man Is Dead: He completes his transformation into 'Shoryuu' by announcing this trope in a private conversation he has with his former instructor.
- Villainous Breakdown: Aside from the motivation that gives him his reputation as tsugiri, the reaction he has to Mugen duplicating his Ki blast with only a month of training (which betrays the possibility that it may have taken him much longer to practice with his own ki attacks) might be a flicker of this.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: It's loosely hinted that despite having trained rigorously at using Hakkei and knowing how to use it efficiently as a result, Ukon might not fully understand the power of his technique. When dojos kick him out because of his inability to understand or realise this fact, he became greatly insulted as he thought they simply did it to shun him. Although, in the conversation he holds with Mugen for the first time over the bridge, he shows that he appears to be aware of what he is turning into.
- The Atoner: His failure to save his student prompted him to become a monk and devote his life to charity.
- Bald of Awesome: It's big and shiny. Mugen compliments him greatly for it and gets rewarded accordingly.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: With subtle implications, and the justifications thereof.
- Coconut Superpowers: He is highly intuitive, and has great reflexes. He may also have done some research into the art of Hakkei, and the explanation he gives to Mugen of the offensive uses of this technique gives fruition to that possibility.
- Mister Exposition: The source of Ukon's backstory.
Voiced by: Tomohisa Asou (JP)Nicknamed 'the lightning dynamo', Momoi is a poser who lives by a false reputation as an accomplished dojo instructor and surrounds himself with a group of flunkies. Mugen goes after him in order to ask about the tsugiri, but is mistaken for the tsugiri himself. In the ensuing scuffle, the flunkies are quickly disposed of and in as much time, dynamo exposes himself for the coward that he is.
- Miles Gloriosus: His boasts and stories of his exploits are disproportionate to his actual claim to fame... which is nothing.
Voiced by: Ken Narita (JP), Erik Davies (EN)A Shogunate official, infatuated with Kohza. He becomes Mukuro's collaborator in his plan to steal gold from a ship.
Voiced by: Showtaro Morikubo (JP)A young shogunate ninja with a highly distracting facial mole and Yatsuha's underground counterpart. Before the story begins he apparently steals some of the forged koban to present as evidence. He ditches the gold in the river (where it is later found by Jin) but gets caught and withstands torture to protect Yatsuha's cover. Rescued (inadvertantly) by Mugen in a very painful state. Appears again at the end of the episode, leaning the unconcious Mugen against a tree outside of town, and expresses disbelief at Yatsuha's taste in men.
Voiced by: Joji Nakata (JP), Tom Wyner (EN), César Soto (LA)The leader of a group creating counterfeit coins.
- Automatic Crossbows: Wields a chinese zhu ko nu. Makes little sense, since he's an Ainu-
- Dull Eyes of Unhappiness/Thousand-Yard Stare: In his flashback we see his eyes change from normal to this. Mugen compares them to the eyes of someone who has just died.
- Fall Guy: For the death of his clan.
- Genocide from the Inside: The samurai hunting him believe he did this before attacking other samurai from their clan. He didn't.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: When his wife died.
- No One Could Survive That!: But Mugen thinks that he does anyway.
Francisco Xavier III
- Collector of the Strange: Has a collection of pictures (some of which should be elsewhere) and items belonging to famous warlords from the past.
- Evil Colonialist: Subverted, as he's actually Japanese.
- Gratuitous Spanish: In the Italian dub he speaks with a Spanish accent and uses Spanish words when speaking. Makes sense, since Xavier was of Spanish origins.
- Too Dumb to Live: He gets spared twice in the final confrontation with him. First by the girl he abused, then by avoiding a giant cross dropped on him. You think he would take a hint that the "fate" he's representing is trying to tell him something and he should quit while he's ahead. Instead, he he still tries to kill the heroes with his rocket launcher. By this point, his luck runs out when his gun backfires on him and kills him where he stands.
Voiced by: Bon Ishihara (JP), Ismael Castro (LA)An eccentric old hermit who fishes Jin out of the river after his fight with Sara. When Jin comes to, Johnny teaches him how to fish, and it is awesome.
- Cloudcuckoolander: He calls himself Johnny.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Despite the above trope, the first time Jin asks his name he replies " Miyamoto Musashi." Whether he's serious or not is up for debate given the show's screwy timeline.
- Eccentric Mentor: Shows traits of this.
- Chekhov's Skill: The fishing lesson.
- Empty Eyes: His eyes always have a lifeless, blank look in them, which is one of the first indicators that there's something not quite right about him.
- Our Zombies Are Different: Despite his body apparently having been dead for some time, him consuming large amounts of wasabi has allowed it to keep from decomposing.
- Gratuitous Ninja: A Ninja baseball player to boot.
Alexander Joy Cartwright
Voiced by: Jamie Schyy (JP), Steve Kramer (EN)The overweight American admiral. He comes to Japan in order to open trade by force. Kagemaru challenges him and his crew to a baseball game to settle the dispute.
- Fat Bastard: He's morbidly obese and at one point takes Manzo out of commision by sitting on him.
- Gratuitous English: He only speaks in English in the original dub.
- Mighty Whitey: His general attitude.
- Precision F-Strike: His reaction when he's told that foreigners are not welcomed in Japan.
Voiced by: Ryan Drees (JP), Doug Stone (EN)Cartwright's translator.