Useful Notes: Honda Tadakatsu

Honda Heihachiro Tadakatsu was one of the most trusted generals of Tokugawa Ieyasu, and also one of the greatest warriors of all the Jidai Geki.

Born in Mikawa Province, Tadakatsu loyally served the Tokugawa clan and Ieyasu, who rewarded him with the fief of Kuwana for his service. He was the pride and joy of the Tokugawa clan, and many famous daimyo like Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Takeda Shingen openly praised his skills. This is especially notable because Shingen was his master Ieyasu's bitter enemy, and Nobunaga himself was notoriously very thrifty with praise. However, after the victory of Sekigahara, he slowly became estranged from the shogunate as it moved from a military to a civilian and political institution.

In his prime, Tadakatsu was known as "The Warrior who Surpassed Death Itself", as he fought more than 100 battles without suffering any major injuries. He wore a set of Buddhist prayer beads over his armor and a helm decorated with stag antlers, (according to a legend, one day he managed to evade his enemies by following a deer across a hidden ford in a river, and as a form of gratitude he put antlers on his helmet). During the Komaki campaign (where Hideyoshi and Ieyasu struggled for dominance) he managed to cover his lord's escape by rallying a small group of soldiers and firmly planting himself opposite the river the much larger Toyotomi army would have to cross. He then issued a challenge for the enemy to cross and face him. The act was so impressive that Hideyoshi himself ordered that no harm come on Tadakatsu or his men.

He was considered a great boon for Ieyasu, with Shingen claiming so and stating that, if it wasn't for Tadakatsu, Ieyasu would've bitten the dust very quickly (Tadakatsu had also served as rearguard during Ieyasu's escape following a crushing defeat Mikatagahara). His daughter Komatsu, who was apparently just as intimidating as her father, as adopted by Ieyasu as his goddaughter and eventually married into the Sanada clan (becoming a sister-in-law of Sanada Yukimura). Aside of that, he's counted as one (and possibly leader) of the four great generals of the Tokugawa, the Tokugawa Shittenou, with other members Ii Naomasa, Tadatsugu Sakai and Sakakibara Yasumasa.

His weapon of choice was a deadly spear called Tonbogiri. The name means "Dragonfly Cutter", since it was said that a dragonfly which landed on the blade would be sliced in half. The spear itself is considered one of the Great Spears of Japan, a national treasure.

All these facts should make you understand why he's almost always depicted as a top quality Badass and a legendary warrior.

  • In Samurai Warriors Tadakatsu is one of the playable characters, and is a giant of a man wielding a huge spear who loyally serves Ieyasu. Despite being slow, he's one of the strongest (if not the strongest) character in the game, and acts as the Samurai Warriors counterpart for Lu Bu. He functions as Ieyasu's right hand man, the one Ieyasu turns to for advice and resolve. He also acts a surprisingly doting father for his daughter Komatsu (who uses the name Ina in the game) and is generally looked up to by various other warriors like Ginchyo or Nobuyuki (Yukimura's brother and his eventual son-in-law).
    • Tadakatsu was actually an Ascended Extra here. He first made himself known in the vanilla version of the first game as a random souped up NPC making a brave stand in Mikatagahara and Shingen comments how he's the treasure of Ieyasu. He was then included in the Xtreme Legends expansion as a unique character, and has since supplanted Maeda Keiji as the series' Lu Bu.
  • Sengoku Basara upped Tadakatsu's badassery by turning him in a giant, Gundam-like cyborg complete with a jetpack, Attack Drones and a colossal drill-spear. He's portrayed as being a silent, almost emotionless servant of Ieyasu fully capable of turning the tide of battle single-handed. In the anime version of Sengoku Basara, he is killed fairly early in the series but makes an unexpected return in the final episode, giving the heroes the opening they need to take down Big Bad Nobunaga.
  • In the movie Kagemusha Tadakatsu makes a cameo.
  • In the third Onimusha game, Tadakatsu appears under the name of Heihachi (though he does say his full name at least once). Despite not wearing any armor, he has the beads, and the Genma Tonbo spear, which he uses with great skill. He appears as a boss twice, but eventually joins the heroes. Unfortunately near the end of the 3rd game, he died, creating a Temporal Paradox as he usually lived longer to serve Ieyasu.
  • In Sengoku Rance, Tadakatsu is one of the four tanuki generals serving Ieyasu Tokugawa.
  • Tadakatsu makes an appearance as an NPC in Kessen III, once again being Ieyasu's vassal and is unrecruitable (even if you can recruit Hattori Hanzō to fight for Nobunaga). He'll appear in stages where Ieyasu is helping (like Kanegasaki or Okehazama). On the defeat of Yoshimoto, while reporting to Ieyasu, Tadakatsu cried Manly Tears in the upcoming freedom from the servitude of the Imagawa.
  • Tadakatsu has an entry in the Badass Of The Week.