Characters: Usagi Yojimbo
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Main Good Guys
Miyamoto Usagiwalks the earth, occasionally hiring himself out as a bodyguard (hence the title), honing his skill as a warrior and meeting lots of interesting people.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Flip-flops a bit. He's pretty skeptical about the supernatural, though he's encountered more supernatural elements than any of the other characters (except Sasuke). He also strongly doubts Jei's claims of divine inspiration, and felt that the earthquake that occurred when Jei stuck the Sword of the Gods into the ground was 'coincidence'.
- Though given that it is Japan, which has hundreds of fault lines and sits at the boundaries of several plates, earthquakes are common enough that it could have been a coincidence.
- Beware the Nice Ones: A heroic version, since it's almost always the bad guys who try to take advantage.
- Chick Magnet: He's a kindhearted, sword wielding badass.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome:Usagi: I can't just stand by and do nothing.Chizu: Of course you can...but you never do.
- Cultured Warrior: On top of being really tough and skilled in a fight, he's also good at calligraphy.
- A Dog Named Dog: Usagi means rabbit. He's a rabbit.
- Ears as Hair: His ears are tied back to resemble a Samurai Ponytail.
- Expy: Of Miyamoto Musashi.
- Friend to All Children/Friend to All Living Things: Usagi always gets along famously with most of the children he interacts with, usually the kids of those he's a guest of for the night, and is unusually nice to the dino lizards that litter the setting.
- Good Is Not Soft: Usagi is probably the nicest samurai ever. Many have mistaken this pleasant nature for weakness. Those people are dead now.
- Hyper Awareness: A skill that Katsuichi-sensei physically beat into him and one that has saved Usagi's life many times. It can be over-sensitive and Usagi has a tendency to ignore correct hunches. Katsuichi-sensei also drew a distinction between this trope and Properly Paranoid.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Toward Mariko.
- Kid Samurai: in flashback chapters.
- Knight Errant
- Leave Your Quest Test
- Martial Pacifist: He sought war and glory when he was young. Now he attacks only in self defense or on behalf of those who cannot fight for themselves.
- Noble Male, Roguish Male: With Gen.
- Righteous Rabbit and Rascally Rabbit: Usagi is kind and honorable almost to a fault, but has a trickster streak as well.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue Oni to Gen's Red Oni.
- Scars Are Forever: Usagi has a scar above his eye, which he got from Lord Hikiji at the Battle of Adachigahara while trying to avenge his lord. It looks like a Fascinating Eyebrow.
- Shout-Out: His name "Miyamoto Usagi" is one to the famed samurai/ronin/author of The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi. He also often uses both swords at once during some fights, a style Musashi is famous for inventing/popularizing and something no other character in the comic does.
- Victory Through Intimidation: Has ended more than one conflict with a Death Glare at his would-be opponent. Usually after slaying one or two of their comrades to add some weight to the silent threat.
- White Bunny
Tomoe AmeChief retainer to the young Lord Noriyuki; a controversial position for a woman, but one she's earned several times over. She and Usagi become friends early in the series after he helps her foil an assassination attempt on her master, and they gradually develop feelings for one another.
- Action Girl
- Cain and Abel: She and Noriko.
- Celebrity Paradox: Although the idea for Tomoe's character was drawn from the historical female samurai Tomoe Gozen, Grasscutter actually includes a scene with the original Tomoe Gozen (in her elder years as a Buddhist nun.)
- Lady of War
- Naginatas Are Feminine: Tomoe began her career wielding a naginata. She had learned the sword from her swordmaster father but could not use them because she was a lady. By saving her lord from a ninja attack she was appointed "guardian of the heir" and was allowed to again wear her swords.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue Oni to Noriko's Red Oni.
- Ship Tease: With Usagi. By the time of "The Mother of Mountains", they became actual lovers, though Usagi's travels and Tomoe's upcoming arranged marriage have made the future of such a relationship iffy. .
- You Go Girl: Due to the chauvinistic nature of the period, she's constantly having to prove her worth over and over.
Gen (Murakami GennosukÚ)Usagi's less morally upright friend, a bounty hunter who cheats Usagi out of money the first few times they meet: which later becomes a running joke between them. He's more interested in preserving his gruff image than his samurai honor, but is not as callous as he pretends.
- Ancestral Weapon: After the battle against Magistrate Oda's men, he discovers the swords he stole from Oda's armory were once his father's swords.
- Boisterous Bruiser
- Bounty Hunter
- Jerkass Fašade
- Usagi: "You really are a softie, you know."Gen: "If you're going to be insulting, I'm leaving."
- Miser Advisor
- Perma Stubble
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red Oni to Usagi's Blue.
- Rhino Rampage
- Ship Tease: He and Kitsune show some attraction. Neither really has the temperament to settle down (or to split the take fairly), so it's unlikely to progress far.
- Shout-Out: The Perma Stubble and general attitude make him the in-universe version of "Sanjuro", Toshiro Mifune's character from Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo and Sanjuro. Mifune also played Miyamoto Musashi, for a different director.
- Short Cuts Make Long Delays: A Running Gag; Gen's short cuts do not work out.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: He and Usagi start out this way.
KitsuneA street performer/thief/con woman who remains friends with Usagi despite the fact that his purse tends to go missing when they meet.
- Classy Cat-Burglar
- Cool Big Sis: To her apprentice, Kiyoko.
- Cunning Like a Fox
- The Gadfly: She loves to rattle the cages of the self-important. She's pulled pranks on most of the people she's encountered, except Inspector Ishida.
- However, she has learned there is a limit to how much she should do that when she tried rattling Chizu's cage, and finds herself having the scare of her life getting nose to nose with Chizu who demands she cooperate or die, and realizing the female ninja is serious.
- Like Brother and Sister: She enjoys Usagi's company but shows no romantic interest (unless she's up to something.)
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Sachiko in Kitsune's backstory.
- Ship Tease: With Gen.Usagi: Gen?! Ewww!Kiyoko: Ha ha! That's what I said!
JotaroUsagi's son by his childhood sweetheart Mariko, raised in the belief that her husband Kenichi is his father but later learns the truth.
- Kid-Appeal Character: And sometimes an Audience Surrogate.Chizu: I see what you mean. He's adorable.Jotaro: Hey!!Usagi: I also told her you're very brave.Jotaro: That's better.
- Kid Samurai: He's determined to be the coolest samurai ever. Considering he has defeated foes literally twice his size armed only with a wooden bokken, he is well on his way.
- Wooden Katanas Are Even Better
- Luke, You Are My Father: Doesn't say it to Usagi's face, but shouts it after he leaves. Usagi hears something, but thinks he just imagined it.
- He Is All Grown Up: At the beginning of Senso, 20 years after the main series.
IkÚ the farmer/General IkedaA general who joined an uprising against Lord Noriyuki's father, Lord Mataichi. When it failed, he and some of his soldiers went into hiding disguised as commoners, intending to take up arms again at a politically opportune moment; but when Mataichi died a few years later, Ikeda had become too attached to his farm and his peasant wife and children and decided to stay with them.He became an ally of Noriyuki after the latter saved his son Motokazu's life.
- Badass Mustache
- Call to Agriculture
- Disney Death: In Grasscutter.
- Heel-Face Turn
- Heroic Sacrifice
- Retired Badass
- Sacrificial Lion: In Grasscutter II.
InazumaA wandering swordswoman of unparalleled skill, constantly pursued by bounty hunters since there's a hefty price on her head - she killed the yakuza boss who murdered her husband, and now his people want revenge. She saved Usagi's life once: if only because he'd paid for her drink earlier., but since she kills people so coldly he doesn't much like her.
- Action Girl: An anti-hero version.
- Arrow Catch: How she saved Usagi's life.
- The Drifter
- Dying as Yourself
- Fighting from the Inside
- Instant Expert: How she took up swordplay.
- No Name Given: Inazuma (lightning) is a pseudonym; her real name is Tomiko.
- The Virus: After Jei's death she becomes possessed by his spirit and starts wandering the roads with Keiko, searching for Usagi.
Inspector IshidaA middle-aged detective, highly competent but sometimes hampered by corrupt superiors. He and Usagi have solved several murder mysteries together.
- A Day in the Limelight: 'After the Rat' doesn't even have Usagi in it.
- Friend on the Force
- The Last DJ
- Martial Pacifist: Though he always tries reasoning with people first, he is skilled with the jitte (sword-catcher) and in unarmed combat.
- Worthy Opponent: He is considered this by the cat burglar Nezumi, but it's not mutual.Ishida: Justice is not a game.
Inukai/Stray DogA Bounty Hunter who sometimes works with Gen. He's a ruthless, double-crossing Jerk Ass who claims he only looks out for himself...
- Combat Pragmatist
- Hidden Depths: He uses part of his earnings to help support an orphanage, the children call him "Uncle".
- Jerkass Fašade - or possibly Jerk Ass with a single soft spot.
- Meaningful Name
- Pet the Dog: See Hidden Depths.
- Replacement Flat Character for Gen.
- Shout-Out: His name comes from a Kurosawa Film Nora Inu. His secret heroic bit is directly from Manga wrestler Tiger Mask.
Katsuichi-senseiThe old hermit who taught Usagi more or less everything he knows: humility, compassion, thinking before he acted, and not least importantly his unusual style of swordsmanship. He's currently teaching Jotaro the same things.
- Badass Grandpa
- Characterization Marches On: When originally appearing in flash-back Katsuichi-Sensei is a Sadist Teacher bordering on Sensei for Scoundrels. In later appearances he is a Stern Teacher: harsh, demanding but also caring and effective.
- Close-Call Haircut: Koji chops off the end of his "pony tail" during their duel, but it's not commented on.
- Eye Patch Of Power: After getting his eye slashed in an ambush, he uses a sword guard as an eyepatch: a la Kaede's or Yagyu Retsudo's.
- Friendly Rivalry: In his later years, the only friend he still seems to have from his childhood is Isao, a fellow Old Master. They both trained at the same Dojo, both trying to surpass the other, and both saying they thought their opposite was better. After Katsuichi left Isao took over the dojo, and they still keep in touch.
- King of Beasts
- Old Master
- Retired Badass
- The Rival: He had one in his youth named Toshi, he endured Toshi's jeers and mockery up until Toshi killed Katsuichi's lover and dueled him. Katsuichi killed him and left his school to become a hermit afterward.
- Secret Test of Character: likes to subject his students to these.
- Warrior Poet
Lord NoriyukiThe new head of the Geishu clan following the death of his father, Lord Mataichi. At the beginning of the series Noriyuki is about ten; he's one of the few characters to have visibly aged, though only by a couple of years.
- A Child Shall Lead Them
- He Is All Grown Up: At the beginning of Senso, 20 years after the main series.
- Panda-ing to the Audience
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Mostly. He is still a child.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red Oni to Tomoe's Blue Oni.
- The Atoner: Gave up his former life when Lord Ikeda's son accidentally fell to his death, which resulted in Sanshobo's son jumping after him in order to atone for their failure to protect him. Though Ikeda held him blameless, Sanshobo felt shame enough to renounce his status and retire to a monastery.
- All Monks Know Kung-Fu: Sanshobo is Japanese, and doesn't know any Shaolin tricks. But he's skilled in armed warfare and Hyper Awareness, since he was a samurai warrior before his life as a priest.
- Good Shepherd
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: He displays the ability to exorcise an evil kami, but it's not clear if this is because he has power or because the demon thinks he does.
- Simple Staff: He renounced his right to use swords after the death of his only son.
- Warrior Monk
SasukÚ the Demon QuellerA skilled fox ronin, Sasuke is a demon slayer and has devoted his life to hunting them.
- Determinator: When he's set upon a target, he travels miles to get to it. Whenever he expends too much energy, he's left an old man, but the spirit who grants him his powers continues to order him to the next destination, and Sasuke goes without complaint.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: To almost every other character in the series, supernatural monsters and wizards are rare and terrible things. But it's starting to look like Sasuke is the reason they're rare.
- The Hunter
- Magic Knight
- Mind Reading
- Playing with Fire
- The Stoic
- Summon Bigger Fish
- Really 700 Years Old: His wife's ghost is six hundred years old. The math is easy to do, though he does not confirm his age.
Yagi and Gorogoro/Lone Goat and KidYagi is a grim but honorable samurai who turned assassin after being framed for treason. He travels the land while pushing a wooden cart in which his young son Gorogoro rides.
- Shout-Out: To Lone Wolf and Cub, obviously.
- The Speechless: Gorogoro seems this way for a long time. Subverted at the very end of his third appearance.
- The Stoic: Father and son.
- Walking the Earth
- Blind Seer
- Disability Superpower: Sees through scent.
- Handicapped Badass: By Word of God, the most skilled fighter in the series.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: He doesn't want to fight strangers or spend his life on the run. He wants a peaceful, anonymous life in a quiet village.
- Shout-Out to Zato Ichi
- Sword Cane
The Neko Ninja
- Enemy Mine: They ally with Usagi to face Lord Tamakuro. They then declare that they have no further alliance with Usagi.
- We Have Reserves: Usagi and his companions have killed a lot, to say nothing of those lost to Lord Tamakuro in The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy. By the end of Grasscutter II it's clear that they cannot continue to sustain such terrible losses, leading Chizu to question their continued association with Bad Boss Hikiji.
- Authority Equals Asskicking
- Armor-Piercing Question: Usagi gives him an awesome one when accused of destroying a Neko Ninja hideout
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Killing Tamakuro and himself via black powder. Boom.Shingen: A ninja's duty in life... is death!
- Noble Demon
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Shingen's attempt at a woodcutter disguise shows the importance of researching your cover and keeping your lies consistent.
- Weapon of Choice: Twin kama
- Dark Action Girl: Her clan serves Hikiji. Eventually, just Action Girl.
- Friendly Enemy/Foe Yay: Gets some Ship Tease with Usagi.
- Femme Fatale
- Noble Demon
- Team Mom: When she becomes head of the clan. Not all of the Neko are pleased...
- Trauma Conga Line: When Kagemaru pulls his coup, she has all her friends and allies turned against her, she's cut, poisoned, and dropped into a moat. Kimi finds her sick, freezing and bleeding on the side of a building later on and a barely coherent Chizu must accept that she's now a fugitive.
- The Drifter: Eventually goes on run from her clan.
- Badass: He's legendary for defeating the best students and teachers of some of the best schools and laid out Usagi in their match. On record only two people have managed to defeat him, Isao and Katsuichi.
- Badass Grandpa: He's an elderly man, but also one of the most powerful Samurai in the comic.
- Break the Haughty: In his backstory he was an arrogant and haughty instructor, poised to gain favor of Lord Hikiji himself, until he came to challenge a hermit named Katsuichi. He was defeated three times in front of Hikiji, and humiliated. Upon his lost he renounced his dojo and became a wanderer, growing in both skill and humility.
- Character Tics: Usagi realizes that Koji would, seemingly unconsciously, dip his sword before an attack. Usagi considered this knowledge key to his technique and defeat but Katsuichi makes a point to remain ignorant about it so their duel may be fair.
- Punch Clock Villain: He wants to duel Katsuichi to the death, and that is the extent of his villainy. Outside of that, Koji is pleasant, honorable, and has no quarrel with Usagi or anyone else. He even teams up with Katsuichi and his students to help free a village from a local gang.
- Unknown Rival: To Katsuichi. After he defeated Koji in their youth, he faded into Katsuichi's memory along with the other rivals he's had over the years. Though due to being a hermit, Katsuichi doesn't get much news, so Usagi specifically is sent to inform him of Koji's wishes to duel.
- Worf Had the Flu: When talking with Katsuichi, Isao specifically cites this as the reason why Koji lost to him. He'd been so worn down fighting Isao's students, that he'd lost to Isao himself. An impressive feat seeing as all the other schools he'd challenge ended with Koji whipping the floor with their best disciples before taking down the Sensei.
- Worthy Opponent: He feels this way to Katsuichi, one of the few to ever defeat him. During their final battle Katsuichi clearly reciprocates giving him a respectable funeral, and even stating that it was only luck that allowed him to triumph
Lord HikijiEnemy of Usagi's Lord Mifune, personally killed Usagi's defiant father and made Keniichi village leader, and employer of the rival Neko and Komori ninja clans.
- Big Bad
- Evil Overlord
- Famous Last Words: During the Senso miniseries.Lord Hikiji: Hebi! You are a lackey like all the others! You will obey me, or you will be--!
- Greater Scope Villain: He often remains unseen, while others act as his emmissaries.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: As a Japanese lord he doesn't need to be seen to be influential. He's the only human character in a world of animal people. When he's shown in Usagi's village, he's wearing a battle mask.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Though this is not given as the explanation for his personal morality.
- Starter Villain: Hikiji is still around, but has faded into the background as Usagi's focus has changed from the past (and vengeance) to the present.
- Tin Tyrant: He wears face-concealing "great armor" in all but one of his appearances.
Lord HebiA giant snake who's Lord Hikiji's second-in-command.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Lord Hebi is so huge he fights ninjas by picking them up with his mouth and hurling them to their death.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He isn't just a cunning politician, but a fierce combatant. One notable example is when his entourage gets attacked by ninjas, and he lunges into the fray despite the warning of his guards, proceeding to hold his own and then some:Lord Hebi: And leave my safety to you incompetents?!
- The Dragon: To Hikiji—he consistently shows up as the "voice" of the Shadow Lord, and might as well be the Big Bad in his own right.
- Enemy Mine: Hebi sent the Neko ninja with Usagi and Tomoe to stop a lord who was planning to betray Hikiji, and had stockpiled guns. Noriyuki tells him that he only did it to serve his interests. Hebi merely states that they should be grateful that they stood together against this threat.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Though ruthless himself, Lord Hebi is shocked, disgusted and horrified when he learns that his master Lord Hikiji has made a deal with the Martian invaders and betrayed Earth. In retaliation he kills Hikiji, before being killed in turn by the Martians.Lord Hebi: You make a pact with monsters! And you.. you are the greatest monster of all! You would kill your own people!Lord Hebi, after killing Hikiji: You're the worst kind of monster there is. You should have died long ago. I followed you blindly, but now I can see you for the abomination you were. I can see.
- "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: When facing the Martian tripod that is about to incinerate him, just as it's started to rain:Lord Hebi: It's starting to rain. Good. We need the rain.
- Undying Loyalty: Of all Hikiji's servants, he is the most faithful. It doesn't stop him from turning on Hikiji after the latter announces his alliance with the Martians despite the ruin they're inflicting on his own people.
- Unwitting Pawn: As smart as Hebi is, he's clueless to the Neko Ninja's power struggle, and is manipulated into ousting Chizu by Kagemaru.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Hebi is one of the cruelest and most inhuman characters, and coincidentally also one of the scariest-looking and least human.
Jei-san the Blade of the GodsOne of Usagi's deadliest enemies. In his first appearance he is showed as a crazy killer who think himself as an emissary of the gods in a mission to clean the world from the evil by any means needed; but with each appearance, although it's never confirmed that he is the blade of the gods, it's made more clearly that he isn't just a normal person, neither.
- Back from the Dead: Despite being visibly killed, he's come back from the grave more than once.
- Bloodbath Villain Origin
- Blue and Orange Morality: Jei is everything he claims to be, a servant of the Gods sent to cleanse the world of evil. The only problem is that Jei and the Gods he serves have a view of Good that everyone else would describe as sociopathy: the understanding the very concept of evil makes you a target.
- Dark Is Evil: He doesn't just wear black clothes; whenever he gets his hands on a blade it immediately turns black.
- Fate Worse Than Death: being stabbed by his spear—or later, sword—is shown to be agonizing, and it's implied that if it happens to you your soul is destroyed.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom
- Prophet Eyes: They often seem blank white.
- Implacable Man: His first incarnation, anyway.
- Incredibly Lame Pun / Shout-Out: If you attach the honorific "-san" to his name, it sounds like "Jason," aka the main villain of the Friday the 13th movies, with whom he shares some traits: i.e., being an Implacable Man who constantly comes Back from the Dead.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: While his warped view of morality means he constantly kills good people, Jei's also killed a number of demonstrably evil people as well.
- Knight Templar
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In the first stories where he appears it's left ambiguous whether he's an actual supernatural entity or just a homicidal madman who happens to be good with a spear.
- Later we learn that he's really a demon possessing host bodies.
- Milky White Eyes
- Slasher Smile: And when he starts chuckling it's too late to run.
- The Virus: "Jei-san" is actually a spirit who uses people as hosts.
KeikoJei-San's "niece", who he spared after killing the thieves who killed her grandpa because she was "innocent". Having nowhere else to go, she started following him. She was originally supposed to become Jei's new host, but the author felt uncomfortable so he created Inazuma.
- Badass and Child Duo: The horror movie version.
- Cheerful Child / Creepy Child
- Pure Is Not Good
- Stepford Smiler
- Where I Was Born and Razed
- Bad Boss: He has no concern for the lives of his own men and at one point destroy a bridge to make a getaway while leaving several of his men on the other side.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows
- Card-Carrying Villain: He doesn't eactly flaunt his evilness, but when Usagi calls him a "monster", Fujii just calmly responds: "Yes, I suppose I am."
- Dangerously Genre Savvy
- It's Personal: He makes things personal between himself and Usagi by stealing Usagi's swords.
- Manipulative Bastard: Made the villagers build a wall around their village, supposedly to protect them from bandits, and then locked them up inside and forced them to work for him.
- Surrounded by Idiots: He has a low opinion of his lackeys.
- Villainous Breakdown: He has one when Usagi finally catches up with him after he steals his swords.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Insists on being called "General".
Koroshi, the League of Assassins
- Beware the Nice Ones
- The Dog Was the Mastermind: Generally speaking, the more harmless a minor character seems, the better the odds that somebody's going to die mysteriously within a few pages.
- The Unseen: The directors of Koroshi rarely, if ever, meet Usagi face to face.
The Komori Ninja
The Mogura Ninja
Lord MifuneUsagi's beloved lord, defeated by Lord Hikiji's forces thanks to General Toda's treachery at the Battle of Adachigahara. The war was caused by Hikiji sending the Neko Ninja to murder his wife and child. Usagi personally decapitates his lord's body to ensure his head isn't used as a trophy.
- Posthumous Character: He appears only during flashbacks.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Everybody seems to agree that he wielded his authority with great responsibility. He honored his vassals' service to him.
- Shout-Out: To Toshiro Mifune.
The WoodcuttersTwo monkeys, husband and wife, who have an amazing - and totally coincidental - tendency to travel to whatever area Usagi is in: they're routinely seen in any scene set on a road. They play a minor role in one story in Book 3, and come within a hair of being the victim of a villain in Book 22, but ordinarily they have no lines and are simply seen passing by. They refer to each other as "husband" and "wife".
- No Name Given
- Running Gag: They're always around, yet Usagi never seems to recognize them.
- Yuppie Couple
The SnitchA hooded figure who first appeared in Space Usagi, he sells information to anyone with enough money.
- Actually Pretty Funny: When he's finally caught doing an elaborate double-cross, Gen isn't sure whether to be angry or amused.Stray Dog: "You've been playing us against each other -"Gen: "- and charging us for it! I'd wring your neck if I didn't admire you so much."
- Hidden Depths: He's still a coward and a weakling, but he does have considerable archery skills. After sending an entire gang of sell swords at Usagi to tire him out, he very near kills him with a well shot arrow to the head. Usagi wouldn't have even noticed it Inazuma hadn't caught it.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Eventually, one of the large violent men he sold out catches him alone in a secluded location, beats him up and takes all his money.
- Punch Clock Villain: He'll snitch to the heroes too. But villains usually pay more.