Manga / Azumi

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/azumi_manga_cover.jpg

Azumi is a manga series created by Yū Koyama that ran from 1994 to 2009, starring a young kunoichi living during the early Edo Period. The early part of the manga shows her as sole girl in a group of ten war orphans - all boys - being trained as assassins by an elderly man they only know as Grandfather. When he deems them ready to graduate, Grandfather has them pair off with their closest friends... and fight to the death. Following that, Grandfather sends the five survivors, Azumi included, on missions to assassinate the vassals and supporters of the Toyotomi Clan, who oppose the newly-established Tokugawa shogunate and threaten to drag Japan back into civil war. And it only gets darker from there on out, as she starts to question the validity of her mission.

The manga won an Excellence Prize at the 1997 Japan Media Arts Festival and the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1998, and received two film adaptations: Azumi in 2003 and Azumi 2: Death or Love in 2006. It also received a Hack and Slash PlayStation 2 game adaptation in 2005, also called Azumi.


This manga includes examples of:

  • Action Girl: Azumi kicks ass and takes names like you wouldn't believe. Opponents constantly underestimate her and find themselves sliced to pieces.
  • Actual Pacifist: Shinjiro, despite being the youngest son of a noble family, is abhorrent towards violence. The one time he draws his sword is to keep Sakon from finding the hut where he's hidden Azumi - who unbeknownst to him had left - and it gets him cut down.
  • Anyone Can Die: The manga makes it abundantly clear that anyone not named Azumi can and probably will die at some point, especially if they fall in love with her.
  • Attempted Rape: Many times, Azumi is confronted by bandits who threaten to rape her. Sakon comes the closest to doing so by taking advantage of her being paralyzed by a poison dart, but relents at the last moment.
  • Badass Cape: Gensai buys a stylish European cape for Azumi that she wears for the rest of the manga.
  • Becoming the Mask:
    • Azumi was sent to assassinate Hideyori Toyotomi, but wound up befriending him. The scheme was uncovered by his mother, Yodo-dono, who forced Azumi to kill Ukiha.
    • Kiku's friendship with Azumi was a charade in order to make her let her guard down... until it stopped being a charade.
  • Beta Couple: Shortly following Ukiha's death, Nagata met Yae, a girl whose father and brother were killed when they were mistaken for Gensai, Azumi, and himself. Nagata and Azumi persuaded Gensai to take Yae in and she and Nagata fell in love. When Yae departed to return to her hometown, Azumi persuaded Nagata to go tell her how he felt. Tragically, Bijomaru killed Nagata before he could do so, while Yae was within eyesight, and she never saw it happen.
  • Blind Obedience: Azumi and the others were raised to never question their Grandfather's orders, though she later begins harbouring doubts.
  • Camp Gay: Kiku is physically male, but dresses as, acts like, and considers herself to be a woman. She's also an assassin who aims to befriend Azumi and kill her once she lets her guard down... or at least she did, before she fell in love with her.
  • Cartwright Curse: Beginning with Nachi, all of Azumi's love interests have kicked the bucket and are pushing up daisies. Two she was forced to kill by her enemies, one committed seppuku, one was cut down without her knowledge, and one was raped and beaten to death by bandits.
  • Chaste Hero: Azumi was so naive as a young teen she didn't even know what the differences between boys and girls were, having been raised in complete isolation from the outside world. She eventually grows out of this naivety, but every man she falls in love with is killed, usually right in front of her.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Azumi had a huge crush on Nachi, one of her fellow trainees... who she was forced to kill as part of her initiation. She later falls for her fellow companion Ukiha, but is forced to kill him by Yodo no Kata.
  • Child Soldiers: Azumi and her companions were trained as ninja before they hit puberty.
  • Comic-Book Time: The manga takes place across several years and shows Azumi's transformation from a preteen girl to a young woman.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: All of the ten children raised by Gensai Obata were war-orphans.
  • Cute Bruiser: Azumi is noted as being beautiful by many characters... right up until they witness her effortless vivisect upwards of a dozen mooks.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Whether its against bandits, ninja, or trained samurai, Azumi effortlessly dices them apart. It gets to the point where her opponents have to fight dirty, and even then they still don't stand a chance.
  • Dangerously Short Skirt: Azumi wears a thigh-length kimono and frequently ends up exposing her underwear when she fights.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: The backdrop of the series is the early Edo period, where the newly established Tokugawa shogunate moves against the vassals of its enemies, and various noble houses jockey for the shogun's favor or influence over him.
  • Deadly Graduation: After his ten pupils successfully infiltrate a ninja village to learn ninjutsu and then wipe it out, Grandfather decides they're ready to graduate... by pairing off with their closest friends and then fighting to the death, an exercise intended to erase their ability to feel empathy. Azumi is forced to kill the boy she has a crush on.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Bijoumaru, the arrogant, sadistic, and very flamboyant iaido master hired to kill Azumi and Gensai. He kills Nagara and wounds Gensai, but is killed by Azumi.
  • Determinator: Despite crossing the Despair Event Horizon a couple of times, Azumi decides to live for the sake of her fallen comrades.
  • Doom Magnet: All of Azumi's friends except for Yae, and all of her love interests without exception, have been killed due to their involvement with her.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: Azumi's first meeting with Sakon consists of him asking if she wants to have sex, after she unwittingly follows him to a field where a bunch of people are having A Party Also Known as an Orgy. Azumi is mortified and immediately turns him down.
  • Double Weapon: Azumi wields a peculiar sword with a katana blade on one end and a dagger on the other.
  • The Dreaded: Azumi, as she garners a reputation for herself of effortlessly cutting down ninja and bandits sent to kill her.
  • Dwindling Party: One by one, Azumi's comrades and eventually her mentor are killed, along with every love interest she makes. It gets to the point where she starts shunning people so they won't get caught up in her battles.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: Azumi is compared to a bodhisattva later on in the series, and possesses preternatural combat skills.
  • Freak Out: Early in the manga, Azumi and her family briefly stop at a town where a wedding is being held. Azumi befriends the younger sister of a newlywed bride, who's around her age, and stays behind. A group of bandits attack the village and begin to Rape, Pillage, and Burn everything. The bride gives herself up to hide Azumi and her little sister, who are forced to watch as she is raped and her husband and father are cut down. The little sister rushes out to stop the bandits and is nearly raped herself, but the older sister attacks the leader of the bandits and is killed. Azumi - who had been angsting over whether to break her Grandfather's order to never reveal her bujutsu fighting style to anyone - snaps, grabs one of the bandits' katanas, and cuts them to shreds to protect her friend. It's after this that she starts questioning the validity of her "Grandfather's" orders, since had she acted sooner she could have saved everyone.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Azumi has been forced to fight naked on several occasions.
  • Gonk: Many of the villainous samurai, ronin, and bandits are drop-dead ugly, a stark contrast to the heroic characters.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Characters who are enemies early in the manga occasionally reappear as allies - albeit usually temporary ones - later on. Most notably is Inoue Kanbee, a samurai initially seeking to avenge his master, who was one of Azumi's assassination targets.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Many of the nobles and important personages were real-life people who lived and died during the formative years of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Chapter 118 reveals Yae became a prostitute, but her Emotionless Girl nature turns off her clients.
  • Knight Templar: Gensai Obata, the man Azumi refers to as "Grandfather", staunchly believed the Tokugawa shogunate was doing what was right for Japan and that everyone else taking power was going to plunge the country back into civil war. He maintains this outlook despite having a hit put on him, and only as he's dying does he question his blind faith before realizing it's a setup to manipulate Azumi into seeking revenge against the shogun.
  • Jidai Geki: The series is set in the death throes of the Sengoku Era and the early years of the Edo Period.
  • In Love with the Mark:
    • Azumi develops feelings for Hideyori Totyomi, who she was supposed to assassinate.
    • Kiku, a cross-dressing Badass Gay assassin who joins up with Azumi intending to befriend her and then kill her when she lets her guard down. Kiku, much to her confusion, falls in love with Azumi and ultimately can't go through with it.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Azumi frequently finds herself forced to kill her love interests, starting with Nachi.
  • Man Child: Hideyori Totyomi, who is a childlike, innocent man to the chagrin of his cruel and domineering mother, Yodo-dono. He was so head-over-heels in love with Azumi that when he learns she was an assassin sent to kill him he has a mental breakdown. The one time his mother gets him to man up is when she persuades him to fulfill his duty and commit seppuku after Tokugawa's forces destroy their mansion and Azumi tries to persuade him to leave his past as a noble behind and run away with her.
  • Master Swordsman: Several skilled warriors are introduced, but by the time she's on her own Azumi's bujutsu vastly outstrips everyone else, letting her mow down dozens of opponents at once. After slaughtering a large group of bandits, she becomes so renowned that people come to believe she's a youkai.
  • Mixed Ancestry: It's speculated that Azumi has a European ancestor, due to her brown hair and dark blue eyes, which are frequently remarked upon.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Azumi is noted multiple times to be so slender she logically couldn't stand against the beefcake samurai she fights against and easily dismembers. She continuously proves everyone wrong.
  • Ore Onna: Azumi, having been raised amongst a group of boys, uses "ore" to refer to herself. When she has her first period, Gensai tries to teach her proper feminine etiquette, but to no avail.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Every time a group of bandits or ronin show up, chances are this is what they'll be doing.
  • Relationship Upgrade: After falling off a cliff together, Azumi and Ukiha confess their feelings for each other and kiss. Soon afterwards she's captured and forced to kill him.
  • Sole Survivor: Of the ten assassins trained by Gensai Obata, Azumi is the only survivor.
  • Tautological Templar: Gensai Obata raises Azumi and her comrades to believe that everything they're doing is good, and the people they kill deserve to die.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: When Kiku is taken hostage by bandits wanting to rob a gold transport, Azumi agrees to not intervene so long as she is unharmed. When the bandits discover Kiku is physically male and rape her anyway before beating her to death, Azumi goes berserk and mows them down while snapping that she'll never forgive them.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: It's noted early on that Azumi and her companions are thoroughly brainwashed by their "Grandfather" into believing that all the people they're killing are bad and deserve to die.
  • Vague Age: Azumi's age isn't specified, but when the manga begins she's decidedly a preteen, and several years pass over the course of the manga.
  • War Is Hell: As is its aftermath, as Azumi discovers through great pain and hardship. The first arc of the manga has Gensai Obata's team of ninja assassinating the vassals of the Toyotomi Clan in order to prevent them from dragging Japan back into another civil war, and the bandits Azumi continuously mows down are masterless samurai making a living the only way they can.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Initially, Azumi doesn't question whether killing the former daimyo and samurai-turned-bandits is wrong, but once she gains an understanding of the political maneuvering that displaced them she begins questioning her reasoning to kill them and only kills them if they threaten her or her loved ones.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: It's made to appear that the Tokugawa Shogunate is behind the repeated assassination attempts on Azumi that wound up killing her Grandfather, but it's a secret plot by the Munemori clan, a noble family wanting to manipulate her for their own purposes.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Manga/Azumi