Dr. Yakuma, who is traveling Japan in pursuit of remedies, and who hopes to heal an unnamed person. The Team Mom and sole pillar of morality in the team.
Neya, a former convict who left her place of exile in order to build a safe haven for her friends. Scheming and determined, she has become the "big sister" of the "family" (at least according to Pochi).
Hikae Nibyo, an immortal who is over 500 years old and was the former guardian of the “Eye Stone” of the nine treasures and has a particular interest in Pochi.
Iwahi Yashima, the vain ruler of Yome Mura who became smitten with Utsuho and is the owner of the “Cherry Blossom Rouge” of the nine treasures.
Uzume, Choza, and Minamo, two itsuwaribito and the young owner of the "Ancient Kimono" of the nine treasures who join Utsuho's group after Kuroha and Saiha were killed by Iriya.
Of note, the manga may be one of the few translated officially into English that lacks a scanlation project. So no illegal reading for you!... Okay I Lied again but that one was true when originally I said it!
This manga contains examples of:
Action Girl: Subverted with Neya. Upon her introduction, she first tricks Utsuho and then puts up a decent fight against the scythe-wielding Itsuwaribito. But once she gets captured, she has to rely on Utsuho to bail her and her group out of danger.
Always Second Best: Neya to Iwahi according to their character status in strength, intelligence, and height which is emphasized by the fact Iwahi is a real princess while Neya was just Oni-Hime's Kagemusha.
Animal Motifs: In addition to various character designs being based around these, like Banda (A bandit who looks like a panda) or Yagi (Which means goat) the servant of the emperor who looks like a goat, and Hihi-baba the monkey-like old woman who runs the bathhouse (Monkeys are known to use hot springs like the one she runs in winter when it gets too cold for them).
This can also apply to Kuroha and Saiha, who renamed themselves after birds to represent their shared Broken Bird history. Kuroha was also the one who named Uzume after a type of bird as well, fitting his own bird motif and making an intentional case of bird based Theme Naming.
Aristocrats Are Evil: More like jerkasses, but the nobles who decide to try and destroy the boat that Dr. Yakuma is making just because they think it would be funny after he worked on it so hard.
Arranged Marriage: According to Pochi/Chitchoriina's grandfather they already have a fiancée, a tanuki named Mujina Tsukumo, who is in charge of keeping outsiders away from their village.
Art Shift: It often uses simplified and stylized imagery to depict flashbacks or when a story is being told by another character.
The Atoner: The old monk running the orphan village who takes in Utsuho. He tried and failed to save his daughter from falling off a cliff. As penance, he hopes to save as many children as he can.
Bad Powers, Good People: Utsuho uses all the skills of an Itsuwaribito, including bombs, poison, lies, and physical violence- all in the name of helping people.
Badass Bookworm: Dr. Yakuma. Also Utsuho, when he reveals skills that must have taken quite a bit of reading (knowing Latin names of poisonous plants, for example). Choza is also noted to be a bit of a bookworm and is often seen reading in flashbacks of Kuroha's crew.
Utsuho is an especially good example, showing a comprehensive and detailed knowledge of physics, chemistry, and biology (particularly as they pertain to explosives and poisons). He also has a fair-sized body of knowledge relating to geography, folklore. He's especially knowledgeable in psychology, which he uses to make his lies even more effective. Yet he's more than capable of holding his own in a direct fight.
Berserk Button: Do not harm Pochi (or anybody else Utsuho cares about). Same goes with hurting or killing any of Uzume's companions.
Bifauxnen: Yu is revealed to be a girl who just likes to dress in male clothing.
Bilingual Bonus: In the English title there is an untranslated kanji after "Itsuwaribito" which means "Utsuho" while "Itsuwaribito Utsuho" is the original title in Japanese. There are also many pun-based and meaningful names in this manga that may get Lost in Translation.
Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Typically performed by Uzume and Choza respectively. Invoked and subverted in one bonus strip where Choza tries to act as a "Boke" but everyone around him either takes what he said seriously and are touched by his statement or understand that he is joking but don't say anything.
Broken Aesop: Deliberately broken and Played for Laughs. Dr. Yakuma tries to prove to Utsuho that hard, honest work is good by building a boat by hand. When Utsuho beats up the nobles who try to wreck the boat and even comes up with a handmade sail, Dr. Yakuma thinks that he's learned his lesson. When it starts coming apart, Utsuho complains that the nobles did a terrible job sewing it, and reveals some stolen food.
Butt Monkey: Dr.Yakuma, though it took a stranger pointing out to him how badly Utsuho treats him on an almost constant basis for him to realize it himself.
Combat Medic: Dr.Yakuma, who is a skilled surgeon and also strong enough to send a man flying. Occasionally his medical skills help him out: When facing a Mook who is absurdly proud of his muscles, Yakuma casually knocks him out with a single blow to the head (his muscles don't help).
The Con: Most Itsuwaribito. It comes with the job description. A notable example is a “medicine man” who claims to be healing a lord’s sickness- while really stopping his pain with opium while helping himself to the lord’s estate.
Disguised in Drag: The man who sneaks into Neya's hideout on Nadeshiko Island by pretending to be an injured woman. Bonus points for also wearing a flesh mask to disguise the pincer tattoos marking him as a murderer.
Later the entire group has to pretend to be women to infiltrate a Lady Land that is home to one of the nine treasures.
Exactly What I Aimed At: Utsuho says that he can defeat a cannon with a poisoned rock. He throws the rock, but the cannon user dodges - only to allow the rock to set off a trap which takes out the cannon user.
Expy: Utsuho has been described as a darker and meaner Naruto Uzumaki, which makes sense since Itsuwaribito are similar to ninja in various aspects and their character designs are both based on foxes, which are known for being the tricksters of the animal kingdom.
Choza also has many similarities to Sui Fong since they are both Tsundere characters who fight with claw-like blades that cover their finger(s) and tell their enemy that it will only take two direct hits from said blade(s) to kill them, not to mention their insect based names and overall fighting styles are a play on the phrase "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee".
Eye Scream: Happens to the old man by way of Iriya, who cuts him across the eyes with a sword.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Utsuho pretends that his eyes fell out, freaking out Iriya and the old man. It becomes less funny when the above happens.
Foreshadowing: Uzume and Choza are seen sharing rumors about Kuroha and Saiha's Mysterious Past and Choza points out that the two of them can't even be sure what gender Kuroha is since they have never seen them without their mask on. Both are later lampshaded by Choza when it turns out Kuroha is a woman and both of the rumors he and Uzume heard are technically true after Kuroha tells them the whole story.
In a funny moment Yorushichi, the junior inspector sent to watch Utsuho's group, assures Utsuho that if things get too dangerous he can run really fast turns out this is because he has very powerful legs, which make him good at kicking too and because he is Hiruko, the government agent who took the Dual Flowers sandals when Utsuho's group found them thanks to his amazing speed earlier. Genre Savvy readers might also notice that his hair also matches the hairstyle of the government agent which was one of the few physical features that were visible from under his hood.
In the Hallucination based "utopia" Dr. Yakuma saw an elegant looking woman while the local ruler was talking about how her land could let you live the rest of your days "living" with someone you miss or could never be with in the real world. This woman is later revealed to be Lady Kohi, the wife of the currently ill emperor that Dr. Yakuma is trying to cure.
Gambit Pileup: Some Itsuwaribito on Nadeshiko Island try and pull The Plan on Utsuho by making him defend against several measures that only lead him getting surrounded. But it turns out that Utsuho had been trying to get them all in one place so he could pretend to poison them and scatter them.
Godzilla Threshold: When surrounded by goons in a nobleman's mansion (a nobleman who Dr. Yakuma is trying to save), Utsuho decides that the best way to escape is by burning the place down.
Good Costume Switch: Choza and Uzume are both seen getting their new outfits shortly after joining Utsuho's group.
Gotta Catch 'Em All: The current goal of Utsuho's group is to collect all of the nine sacred treasures.
Guile Hero: Utsuho uses his smarts just as much (if not more) than his fighting skills. Part of the reason he seems untouchable is that most people are screwed by the time he gets close enough for hand to hand combat.
Minamo is also pretty happy about being taken in by Uzume and his group despite them all being wanted criminals. Turns out in Uzume's backstory Kuroha's gang basically adopted him too, after they found him and named him, which is why he cares about them so much. So, despite Uzume not knowing her gender at the time, Kuroha became his "mom", making Saiha his "dad" because of his relationship with her, while Choza eventually made himself Uzume's adoptive "big brother".
Hellish Pupils/Animal Eyes: Hikae has cat-like pupils, matching the Eyestone he was protecting and going with his cat/beast motif.
Heroic BSOD: Utsuho when he realizes he has been tricked. He then plots a Roaring Rampage of Revenge which includes killing everyone who participated in it. Thankfully, he cools off pretty quickly.
Identical Stranger: The demon princess of Sasaka and her "Kagemusha", who was just a local girl who had recently become an orphan.
Ignored Confession: When Neya Murito confesses her feelings to Utsuho Azako loudly, clearly, with no distractions or anything to cover it up or interrupt it, he outright ignores it. He stays silent, pretends he never heard her and right after makes up an excuse to walk off quickly, completely devastating her.
I Know Your True Name: Some characters have the ability to control people for a period of time as long as they say that person's real name. How effective the technique is depends on how much of the name is used. While its orders are absolute to characters with Only One Name, if the target has both a given name and surname and only the given name is used then the victim can still break free of the user's control.
This is, however, Hikae's philosophy. He puts the treasure he's been guarding for 500 hundred years up as the prize for a dopey memory game simply because he thinks it's fun. He's also only following Utsuho and Pochi because he finds him interesting and hilarious. His reaction to things that don't amuse him, however, tends to be somewhere between apathy and murderous.
It's All About Me: The reaction that most Itsuwaribito or criminals in general have to being tricked by Utsuho. Utsuho points out the hypocrisy involved.
Utsuho himself gets this way the first time he gets tricked.
Ironically, the only one who actually concedes defeat gracefully is Iriyaat first.
As the series progresses, he becomes more and more like this.
Choza and Hikae have both shown shades of this as well.
Killer Rabbit: Utsuho. He looks like a shifty little punk. Who carries bombs and poison. On a similar note Uzume may also count since he is normally so childish, friendly, and stupid that it can be easy to forget he is the strongest character introduced so far.
Lightning Bruiser: Utsuho, who is quick enough to dodge most attacks and strong enough to knock a man out with a single punch, despite his slim frame.
Uzume can also count as an example since his reaction times are much faster than a normal persons letting him utterlydestroyIriya by following Utsuho's directions since even though Iriya could here every command Utsuho gave him Uzume moved to quickly for it to make any difference.
Living Lie Detector: The serial killer who hunts down liars. He just doesn’t trust anyone and automatically assumes that they are lying. When he faces Utsuho, who lies about lying, his Lie Detector fails miserably.
Locked into Strangeness: According to an anniversary bonus chapter both Utsuho, who is 17, and Uzume, who is assumed to be around 19, had black hair when they were kids despite having pure white hair now. Since both have a Dark and Troubled Past, it can be safely assumed that this is the cause.
Loophole Abuse: When hired to protect a swindler, Utsuho and friends write up a contract promising to protect him. When his victims attack, they grab him and run - leaving what he stole behind for the victims to reclaim.
Love Triangle: A traditional Betty and Veronica triangle is formed by Neya and Iwahi respectively towards Utsuho, who doesn't seem to care either way, while a platonic/familial version is formed by Hikae and Utsuho for Pochi, who prefers Utsuho to Hikae and doesn't fall for any of the immortals bribes to try and steal them away.
Malaproper: Uzume tends to do this regardless of the situation, so Choza ends up correcting him a lot.
Master Poisoner: Choza, which is why his poisoned claws are his weapon of choice, he knows exactly which of his poisons will kill his opponent or simply knock them out and how much of it is needed to achieve the desired effect on that person.
Minored in Asskicking: Dr. Yakuma, which makes sense since being a doctor he knows how to hurt as well as heal.
The Mole: Iriya infiltrates the village of orphan children, but is actually the leader of a group of bandits.
Morality Pet: Pochi acts as one for Utsuho and Hikae, while Choza is mentioned to be much less hostile then when Kuroha and Saiha first met him because of how he has needed to act as a "big brother" towards Uzume and Kuroha starts trying get rid of Uzume because she knows that staying with her and Saiha will hurt him emotionally since he doesn't want to kill anymore, which she knows she can't avoid.
More Dakka: Upon getting kicked, the poacher pulls out a cannon.
Never My Fault: The three brothers who went around killing fireworks-makers. They are completely unable to acknowledge that the reason their shop failed was because they weren't especially good at making fireworks. This leads to them being easily manipulated into believing that the destruction of their workshop was the result of arson rather than their own incompetence, leading to their killing spree.
The Nicknamer: Iwahi who tends to base them on their animal motif. Examples being Hikae, who is Nyan-Nyan (the sound of a cat meowing) and Uzume who is Tori-san (Mr.bird)
Nightmare Face: After a bit of Eye Scream and Squick in his past, the villain in chapters 9-11 has a truly messed up face. We even get to see the events that caused it!
No Ontological Inertia: After Utsuho wins the Eyestone of the 9 treasures and its guardian Hikae decides to join his group Iwato mountain, where its shrine was located, collapses in on itself since according to Hikae God said that without the jewel the mountain would have no reason to exist.
Not Quite Dead: Iriya didn't die after he destroyed Utsuho's orphanage.
Offing the Offspring: The serial killer was pushed down a well by his adopted parents so that they would have more food during a famine, after they told him that they would be a family.
Though Utsuho points out that the serial killer’s parents could have pushed him into the well to save him from the wolf that eats them. Utsuho says that this story might as well be the true one since it would make the serial killer happier.
Oh, Crap: The usual look on villains’ faces when Utsuho’s deceit is revealed.
A literal one when Utsuho tricks Sagara into taking a super-strength laxative. (Or did he?)
Utsuho get’s a truly epic one when he realizes someone pulled one over on him.
Oracular Urchin: Minamo is a young seer who has visions of the future so she can use this information to help her and those she cares about, but has no control of them so she rarely has much context to work with.
Paper-Thin Disguise: While most itsuwaribito use make up or detailed masks to hide their identity's, Hiruko and Kuroha both end up using their real faces as their "masks" since no one would be able to recognize them in the Capital and Ouna respectively.
Pay Evil unto Evil: Utsuho’s mission. He intends to help those who honesty cannot protect.
Also, the serial killer who hunts down liars and kills them.
The Talking Tanuki who lies to and manipulates humans after humans killed all of his companions.
Penal Colony: Nadeshiko Island, place of exile for Itsuwaribito. It is virtually impossible to escape from (without a large boat) due to sea currents. There are two groups of criminals: Neya's group, consisting of children, the elderly, and anyone inclined towards peace, and a group of "hard-core criminals" led by a tanuki who wants to rid the island of humans.
Ping Pong Naïveté: Uzume since even though he has expressed an interest in women on multiple occasions he didn't seem to realize why walking in on Neya, Iwahi, and Minamo while he was shirtless might be seen as improper.
Princesses Rule: Iwahi Yashima of Yome Mura, though possibly justified by the fact the "princess" in question is both unmarried and very vain so she might have chosen to keep the title "Princess" because she liked it more. The 8 year old "Oni-Hime" (literally the "Demon Princess") of Sasaka also counts.
Samus Is a Girl: Turns out the reason why so many of the 9 legendary treasures are female accessories is because the "fool" who received these gifts from "God" was a woman. Kuroha also turns out to be a woman.
Scary Teeth: Choza, who has a set of sharp teeth that would make any shark proud.
Science Hero: Utsuho when using his handmade bombs, poisons and chemicals. Particularly impressive are his smoke bomb and a chemical that heats up metal, causing his opponent to drop their metal weapon.
Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: When Utsuho, Dr. Yakuma and Neya end up taking a job (without knowing what they were getting into) as bodyguards to a swindler who hires them to protect him from his victims. They manage to give the villagers back what the swindler stole through Loophole Abuse, despite being promised a generous sum of money.
The Smurfette Principle: For a while Neya was the only confirmed female traveling with Utsuho and the trope is lampshaded by Uzume who believes the major difference between His gang and Utsuho's was the fact that Kuroha's gang didn't have an obviously female member.
Spot the Imposter: The Talking Tanuki induces this by turning first into Utsuho and nearly killing Neya, then turning into Dr. Yakuma, forcing Utsuho and Neya to figure out which is which. Utsuho asks him a question, and since the tanuki does not know how Yakuma would answer, Ustuho knows that the first one to answer is real. The tanuki points out that this will only work once, and turns into Neya, at which point Utsuho locates him by smell.
Stealth Pun/Visual Pun: Some of the animal based character designs are these, for example The emperor's servant Yagi is clearly a "stubborn old goat".
Strong Family Resemblance: Ageha looks just like a young gender flipped version of her father only with one of Uzume's painted cheek markings instead of Choza's tattoos.
Stuff Blowing Up: Utsuho's handmade bombs. He also plants them in the ground to serve as land mines.
Super-Deformed: While every recurring character ends up chibified at some point the stand-outs are Pochi who has it done to show how cute they are since their mother was shown to be a realistic looking Tanuki, Minamo who is also a child and is most often seen in group shots, and Iwahi who has the most detailed and fanservicy design so gets this treatment to keep from having too much fanservice which may bother some readers and save some time in the process.
Team Mom: Dr. Yakuma takes this position, often nagging the others or complete strangers about proper behavior.
Theme Naming: Kuroha and Saihachose to name themselves after birds when they started their group and named Uzume after a type of bird as well. In the Epilogue Time Skip Choza names his daughter "Ageha" or "Swallowtail Butterfly" assumedly to honor their memory in his own way while having it match the "Cho" from his own name which means "Butterfly".
True Companions: Utsuho and Pochi, who both have no remaining living family. Utsuho would risk his life for Pochi, and Pochi is willing to follow Utsuho even into a situation in which he knows he could die. The rest of their little "family" ends up developing this dynamic as well.
Uzume would like his group to be like this, since they are the closest thing he has to a family, but it is more like its split between he, Choza, and Minamo as one "set" and Saiha and Kuroha as another due to trust issues.
Tsundere: Ironically Choza seems to be one of these towards everyone around him even when thinking to himself, claiming it wouldn't matter to him if someone in his group dies even though he shows he really does care a lot about all of them.
Unsettling Gender-Reveal: Kuroha is a woman. Uzume and Choza were shocked by this, but Choza did mention this possibility beforehand to Uzume.
Earlier on was Yoh from the land of puppets who Neya though was the opposite gender, though since Yakuma was a doctor he knew right away.
Villain Takes an Interest: Iriya decides that since Utsuho didn't kill him and believes that only they can truly understand each other, since they share similar (but opposite) backstories, he really wants to be "friends" with him, no matter how much Utsuho hates him.
Waif Prophet: Minamo, the young seer who was rescued by Uzume and Choza while treasure hunting for Kuroha.
When She Smiles: Kuroha gets this treatment surprisingly enough after they finally feel they can trust their comrades.
Will Not Tell a Lie: Dr. Yakuma tries to prove to Utsuho over and over that he can get by without lying.
The old man keeps lecturing Utsuho about lying. Though he himself sees nothing wrong with lying, he wants Utsuho to feel that there is nothing wrong with being honest so that Utsuho can stop blaming himself for the bandit attack.
Wolverine Claws: Choza's Weapon of Choice are removable poisoned claws that fit on his fingertips, which he typically covers with his long sleeves when he isn't fighting. Hikae also uses a more traditional set of hand claws, going with his beast motif.
Wretched Hive: Nadeshiko Island, being a place of exile for Itsuwaribito. Subverted when Neya and her group turn out to be decent.
You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Many characters have unusual hair colors like pink, green, or blue which turns out to be a plot point since one of the nine treasures can only be worn by someone with a certain hair color.
You Have Failed Me: The cross-dressing Itsuwaribito gets hit by this. Though it could have something to do with the fact that he was trying to kill Pochi, and his boss happens to be a Talking Tanuki.
And later, all the Itsuwaribito working for the tanuki get killed with a bomb.
Your Days Are Numbered: Minamo predits that if Choza keeps traveling with Uzume he will die, though she does not know how or why, but he ignores her warning. She does this again later saying someone in Uzume's group was going to die if they go to the capital and once again nobody takes her warning too seriously and continues to go there anyway, though they are shown to worry about it a bit and Choza wonders if it is connected to her earlier warning. Turns out she was referring to the deaths of Kuroha and Saiha.