Characters: Usagi Yojimbo
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Main Good Guys
- Miyamoto Usagi
It's not a fair fight. Those zombies are doomed.
Our hero, a young samurai whose liege lord died in battle not long after Usagi entered his service. Now masterless, he walks the earth
, occasionally hiring himself out as a bodyguard (hence the title), honing his skill as a warrior and meeting lots of interesting people.
- Tomoe Ame
Chief 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.
A street performer/thief/con woman
who remains friends with Usagi despite the fact that his purse tends to go missing when they meet.
Usagi's son by his childhood sweetheart Mariko, raised in the belief that her husband Kenichi is his father but later learns the truth
- IkÚ the farmer/General Ikeda
A 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.
- Ikeda Motokazu
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.
- Inspector Ishida
A middle-aged detective, highly competent but sometimes hampered by corrupt superiors. He and Usagi have solved several murder mysteries together.
- Inukai/Stray Dog
A Bounty Hunter
who sometimes works with Gen. He's a ruthless, double-crossing Jerk Ass
he only looks out for himself...
The 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.
- Lord Noriyuki
The 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.
- Priest Sanshobo
- 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 Queller
A skilled fox ronin, Sasuke is a demon slayer
and has devoted his life to hunting them.
- Yagi and Gorogoro/Lone Goat and Kid
Yagi 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.
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.
- Lord Hikiji
Enemy 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.
- Lord Hebi
A 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:
- 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 Gods
One 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 pure undiluted Evil.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- Milky White Eyes
- Slasher Smile: And when he starts chuckling it's too late to run.
- The Virus: "Jei-san" is actually a spirit/demon who uses people as hosts.
Jei-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.
- General Fujii
- 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
The Komori Ninja
The Mogura Ninja
- Lord Mifune
Usagi'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
- The Woodcutters
Two 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".
- The Snitch
A hooded figure who first appeared in Space Usagi
, he sells information to anyone with enough money.