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Western Samurai

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A Samurai with a non-Japanese origin.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
LavonPapillon1 on Jul 7th 2017 at 10:37:55 AM
Last Edited By:
Basara-kun on Oct 18th 2017 at 9:57:05 AM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/arthur_sc3_big.jpg

The Samurai are like the Japanese counterpart of Knights, proud, heavily trained warriors that dedicated themselves to a master (unless they're Ronin), wield fancy steel swords, and generally keep the peace. The Western Samurai are samurai of non-Japanese heritage, black or white, Irish or Welsh, even those of other Asian countries like Chinese and Korean, if they wield a katana or wear the armor (and are not Japanese), then they are worthy of the prestige and title of the Samurai.

Good examples of the Western Samurai follow the Bushido Code of Honour, focusing more on the philosophy that the Samurai follow while on occasion picking up the martial art skills and weapons. Bad examples usually focus more on the aesthetics of Japanese culture because they think it is cool, ignoring the code of ethics out of a form of vanity, greed or just plane ignorance, since for them Everything's Better with Samurai.

Compare and contrast McNinja, another Japanese warrior class (and rivals of samurais) that also are made by non-Japanese people. Super Trope to Samurai Cowboy (a cowboy that is mixed with samurai traits, being in weapons as well ideology) and Street Samurai (a samurai in a Cyberpunk/futuristic setting). Sub-Trope of Black Vikings. See also Everything's Better with Samurai, where the samurai thing it's only for the Rule of Cool than just being a real samurai.

For further info, The Other Wiki offers a section in the Samurai article and even a list of historical Western Samurai.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime and Manga 
  • Mifune from Soul Eater is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed samurai of non-Japanese descent.
  • The eponymous protagonist from Afro Samurai is a black samurai with considerable skills in a Schizo Tech version of feudal Japan.
  • Played for Laughs in the Golden Sun 4Koma: Isaac (a blond teenager from the game world's equivalent of the Alps) changes to the Samurai character class and gains a black Samurai Topknot and Antiquated Linguistics.note 
    Isaac: This one shall summon Venus!

    Comic Books 
  • While technically being a ninja, Leonardo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a warrior born and raised in the sewers of New York City with katanas as his Weapon of Choice and who follows the way of bushido and values honor.
  • The Image Comics miniseries Sam Noir: Samurai Detective is about a ronin detective called Sam Noir who was paid to follow a lady called Jasmine, who was falled in love but she was killed by ninja. After that, Sam goes for a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the group who killed her.

     Fanfic 
  • Hiccup in Hiccup's Journey to Japan and The Viking Samurai leaves the Barbaric Archipelago after slaying the Red Death and ends up in Japan. He helps a shogun and his province deal with with their dragon infestation even taking down an Orochi in the process and is promoted to the title of Samurai.

     Film - Live-Action 
  • Jef Costello from Le Samouraļ is a French native hitman that follows the Bushido Code of Honour.
  • The titular Ghost Dog from Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is an African American slumming it in the streets of Harlem who follows the Bushido code, granting his servitude to mobster Louie for saving his life as the code dictates.
  • As the title implies, American Samurai is a martial-arts action film about a samurai who finds a baby in a plane crash. This baby - named Andrew "Drew" Collins - grows up and surpasses his step-brother in Bushido, becoming a samurai while his brother quits and joins the Yakuza.
  • Captain Nathan Algren in The Last Samurai, an American army veteran who is hired by the Japanese Emperor to train conscripts during a rebellion by the Samurai, but is captured by the Samurai and goes native. He studies the Japanese language and sword-fighting techniques, is given his own katana and suit of armor, and joins the Samurai in their Last Stand against the soldiers he was supposed to train.
  • O-Ren Ishii from Kill Bill is a half-Japanese, half-Chinese-American woman that is also one of Bill's assassins and eventually became the leader of the Yakuza in Japan despises her origin (recall it as unworthy to be a leader or even a Japanese is her Berserk Button... and you should be killed for that). She usually dress as a geisha and uses Iaijutsu as her main technique.
  • 47 Ronin, a 2013 film very loosely based on the story of The 47 Ronin has Kai, a half-Japanese, half-British man raised to be a samurai that eventually becomes the leader of the 47 Ronin searching to revenge their master.

     Literature 
  • In the Honor Harrington series Grayson is a Cult Colony whose founders came from North America who attempted to abandon technology and learned sword fighting from Seven Samurai.
  • The James Clavell's novel Shogun (and also the 1980 miniseries) from Asian Saga is about John Blackthorne, an English pilot that survived the shipwreck of his ship on Japanese coasts and eventually captured, but eventually he became close to the Shogun Toranaga, gaining the title of samurai.
  • In Nantucket Trilogy, Marian Alston is an African-American woman who has received samurai training.
  • The '80s Western novel series Six-Gun Samurai by Patrick Lee (not to be confused with another novelist of the same name) is about Tom Fletcher, born in Georgia but raised as a son by a Samurai in Japan. He returns to America to obtain revenge upon the killers of his family.

    Video Games 
  • Based off of the real historical figure, William Adams in Nioh is an Irish-born Englishman who soon adopts samurai armor and samurai weapons in the game.
  • Simon Blackquill from Ace Attorney, a samurai-themed prosecutor, becomes this as a result of the series' Thinly Veiled Dub Country Change shifting the characters from Japan to America. As a result, in the localization he's an American/British man who dresses and acts like an old-fashioned samurai, complete with iajutsu, a loyal pet hawk, and Undying Loyalty to the woman he considered his master. note 
  • Arthur from Soul Series was originally an alter-ego of Mitsurugi for countries that don't stand samurais like Korea and China that various titles later received his own appearance as separate character instead a replacement for Mitsurugi. Arthur is an British blonde guy with an Eyepatch of Power that was raised in Japan and eventually became a samurai.
  • Claude from Samurai Shodown Sen is a European blond guy that is a samurai, in this case from France. An amnesiac guy that adopted Japan's culture and became a samurai trained by monks and eventually he became one, defending his temple form various menaces. And from the same game, there's "J", an obvious expy of Afro Samurai.
  • Samuel "Jetstream" Rodrigues from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a Brazilian cyborg (in reality a human with a nanotechnology armor) with Japanese origins which is a Iaijutsu Practitioner having a katana called "Murasama" inherited from his father and modified by him to be a High Frequency Blade just like Raiden has, who also is the Foil of "Jetstream" for being a ninja and also with foreign origins.

    Western Animation 
  • Invoked in Samurai Jack with the eponymous protagonist. A Japanese born boy that escaped from Aku's destruction of his homeland thanks to the help of his mother, that trained under the Bushido Code around the world and came back as an adult to fight Aku, but renamed himself with the foreign name of "Jack."

    Real Life 
  • William Adams, known in Japanese as Miura Anjin (name adopted as a Japanese citizen and as samurai) was an English navigator who, in 1600, was the first of his nation to reach Japan during a five-ship expedition for the Dutch East India Company. Of the few survivors of the only ship that reached Japan, Adams was the first ever (of a very few) Western Samurai. Soon after Adams's arrival in Japan, he became a key advisor to the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu and making big advances for Japan. Tokugawa presented him with two swords representing the authority of a samurai, and decreed that William Adams the sailor was dead and that Anjin Miura, a samurai, was born. He has been recognised as one of the most influential foreigners in Japan during this period.
  • Jules Brunet was a French officer who was sent by Emperor Napoleon III to help modernize the samurai during the Boshin War. When the samurai rebellion was quelled by the Meiji Restoration, he returned to France and fought during the Franco-Prussian War. Upon returning to Japan, he was pardoned and was given awards by the government. Brunet was the inspiration for Captain Nathan Aldren in The Last Samurai.

Feedback: 45 replies

Jul 7th 2017 at 10:39:45 AM

If anybody has anything to add to the main description, be my guest

Jul 7th 2017 at 11:25:33 AM

Jul 7th 2017 at 12:50:16 PM

  • While technically being a ninja, Leonardo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a warrior born and raised in the sewers of New York City with swords as his weapon of choice and who follows the way of bushido and values honor.

Jul 7th 2017 at 8:07:02 PM

Corrected spelling of "piece" to "peace".

Jul 7th 2017 at 8:30:11 PM

Michonne from The Walking Dead wields a katana and is a fierce warrior. She doesn't epitomize the other characteristics of a samurai, however.

Jul 8th 2017 at 2:24:38 AM

  • Examples section
    • Corrected spelling (that -> who).
    • De-capitalized (Shogun, Samurai).
    • Replaced garbage text characters (caused by a non-standard text character) with a standard text character.
    • De-Red Linked Wiki Words we don't have by using null tags ([= =]).
    • Blue Linked work names.
    • Deleted unnecessary garbage text characters.

Jul 8th 2017 at 9:14:03 AM

  • Simon Blackquill of Ace Attorney, a samurai-themed prosecutor, becomes this as a result of the series' Thinly Veiled Dub Country Change shifting the characters from Japan to America. As a result, in the localization he's an American/British man who dresses and acts like an old-fashioned samurai, complete with iajutsu, a loyal pet hawk, and Undying Loyalty to the woman he considered his master.note 

Jul 8th 2017 at 10:34:48 AM

  • Captain Nathan Algren in The Last Samurai, an American army veteran who is hired by the Japanese Emperor to train conscripts during a rebellion by the Samurai, but is captured by the Samurai and goes native. He studies the Japanese language and sword-fighting techniques, is given his own katana and suit of armor, and joins the Samurai in their Last Stand against the soldiers he was supposed to train.

Jul 9th 2017 at 5:06:19 PM

I think an actual example of the trope would be a better illustration than the visual pun above.

Jul 10th 2017 at 8:59:54 AM

Video Games:

  • Arthur from Soul Series was originally an alter-ego of Mitsurugi for countries that don't stand samurais like Korea and China that various titles later received his own appearance as separate character instead a replacement for Mitsurugi. Arthur is an British blonde guy with an Eyepatch Of Power that was raised by Japaneses that eventually became a samurai.
  • Similar than above, there's Claude from Samurai Shodown Sen, another European blond guy that is a samurai, in this case from France. An amnesiac guy that adopted Japan's culture and became a samurai trained by monks and eventually he became one, defending his temple form various menaces.

Jul 10th 2017 at 1:13:29 PM

Video Games:

  • True Crime New York City: Lionel "Benjamin" Jones of the President's Club has adopted some Japanese culture from his gang working with the Yakuza before things started to so sour. He fights Marcus with a sharp katana and samurai armor in his Zen garden on the roof of his headquarters.

Jul 10th 2017 at 1:19:25 PM

(Synchronocity) If you can find a better one, please show me and I'll consider it.

Jul 10th 2017 at 7:35:36 PM

Similar to the picture on the Mc Ninja page, a clearly non-East Asian character in Samurai garb could work. For example, J from Samurai Shodown or Arthur from Soulcalibur. Of course, it may be best to run it by IP after launch.

Jul 10th 2017 at 11:23:56 PM

I feel like the current laconic should be the actual title.

Jul 11th 2017 at 10:36:57 AM

^^^Thanks for remind me about J, I edited my SS Sen addition in the main draft

Jul 11th 2017 at 1:35:22 PM

Wouldn't the cheese samurai guy from Codename: Kids Next Door count as this?

Jul 31st 2017 at 11:45:14 AM

Trope brought back to TLP because of Snowclone name, and lots of example crossover with Street Samurai and Samurai Cowboy. These issues need fixing and for the description to make clear how it's distinct from being Everythings Better With Samurai.

Jul 31st 2017 at 12:11:13 PM

Music

Jul 31st 2017 at 5:52:17 PM

^^I checked the tropes related and I don't get why this was reversed as a draft, since it means something different than the referred tropes and even the examples aren't from any of them;

Maybe just exporting the examples referred to Street Samurai and Samurai Cowboy as well changing the image (maybe a pic of Captain Nathan Algren) could work, but I think reversing this to a draft it's exaggerating IMO

Jul 31st 2017 at 7:08:53 PM

^ There was some ambivalence and some were calling for a hard cut. This is the compromise. Do whatever you have to do to improve it.

Jul 31st 2017 at 7:44:59 PM

I agree, seems like a distinct trope. If anything, Street Samurai needs an example cleanup as well.

The description can add on why these characters may choose to adopt the samurai code/aesthetic (were they raised by samurai, is it their way of connecting with their distant Japanese heritage, is the setting a Culture Chop Suey, or do they just think it's cool? And unlike the Mc Ninja, which is more inherently comedic/lighthearted, Mc Samurai tend to be more serious and dignified about it, likely due to the Bushido Code Of Honor.

Jul 31st 2017 at 7:56:50 PM

Going through the wicks of the now-cut page, I can say that most of the wicks were to "duplicates," e.g., on an entry bullet for Samurai Cowboy, Street Samurai, or Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot. Basically, the trope was being used as "this Samurai Cowboy (or whatever) is not Japanese." That's Not A Trope.

Jul 31st 2017 at 8:14:39 PM

Literature

  • In Nantucket Trilogy, Marian Alston is an African-American woman who has received samurai training.

Jul 31st 2017 at 8:25:46 PM

^^I agree this should be in a more serious tone than Mc Ninja, even I should rename this instead of Mc Samurai as is it now. I don't know if OP is still around, but maybe this could be stated as Rolling Updates, so everyone can improve this by adding a better description or fixing it, checking the examples and even giving this a better name, what do you say people??

Sep 25th 2017 at 7:19:50 AM

Also, got to point out that the page image, humorous as it is, is very much not an example. Other than the katana, there's nothing samurai-esque about Ronald there; that's Sephironald cosplay.

Sep 25th 2017 at 8:39:36 AM

From the Mc Ninja trope:

Named after Doctor McNinja, the Irish-American Ninja Doctor of webcomic fame.
Since isn't from Mc Donalds as the title and image said, I think the name should be changed to Western Samurai (and the image should be changed too) and also should be Sub Trope of Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot.

Oh, and OP is still around, so someone tell him his trope-to-draft is still active to get managed... or someone got this Up For Grabs

Sep 25th 2017 at 8:55:14 AM

If there's not a trope for knights of African descent, there shouldn't be a trope for non-Japanese samurai. If a character has a foreign dad or uncle somewhere back in his lineage, is he a 'fake' samurai? Is gatekeeping based on race really something we want to bring into this wiki, or anything related to its original goal?

Sep 25th 2017 at 9:30:12 AM

Okay, pulling back a bit, I'm starting to wonder whether or not we really need this trope.

  • Non-East Asian characters in period settings where samurai are otherwise commonplace (eg. Samurai Shodown) are covered by Black Vikings.
  • Non-East Asian characters in a modern-day setting who are doing it to be "cool" (eg. Ace Attorney) are covered by Occidental Otaku.
  • Non-East Asian characters in a futuristic setting whose samurai aesthetic is in line with the setting are covered by Street Samurai.

Some of the other examples (eg. Samurai Jack) are invoking Everythings Better With Samurai, ie. they adopt the samurai aesthetic because it's cool.

Sep 26th 2017 at 8:51:15 AM

^^I think that also deserves to be a trope as this... and more than that, a super trope (or index) about foreign troopers in armies in general

^^^That's comical as the main image, I prefer some of the serious suggerences said before, like Arthur from Soul Series or Afro Samurai

Sep 26th 2017 at 9:16:25 AM

@Synchronicity: That should be correct, but there's no (or just a bit of) references about Western samurais in none of the 3 tropes mentioned.

Definitively this should be taken to be fixed. I take this Up For Grabs until OP appears again, I'll fix this as well change the name and the image

Sep 27th 2017 at 7:59:56 AM

OK, remaking this draft to something more serious. To difference this from Everythings Better With Samurai, I deleted all examples that are just for the Rule Of Cool (examples are copied to my notepad, those examples will be exported to EBWS), so now only serious examples of fictional (as well real) people that became a samurai for real will be added here, the non-serious or Rule Of Cool examples will be on EBWS.

Also, picking a new image, probably Soul Series' Arthur will be the most fitted choice. Wait for it soon

Sep 27th 2017 at 10:22:20 AM

  • Jules Brunet was a French officer who was sent by Emperor Napoleon III to help modernize the samurai during the Boshin War. When the samurai rebellion was quelled by the Meiji Restoration, he returned to France and fought during the Franco Prussian War. Upon returning to Japan, he was pardoned and was given awards by the government. Brunet was the inspiration for Captain Nathan Aldren in The Last Samurai.

Sep 27th 2017 at 10:49:06 AM

There's no Afro Samurai example...

Also, I read (or skimmed) a comic book once at a discount bookstore a few years ago, and there was a character who was a Viking but became a samurai/ronin after his comrades were killed by other samurai.

Also, are there also Western ronin examples?

Sep 27th 2017 at 10:52:22 AM

^I was to keep Afro Samurai example, but it fits more to Street Samurai, so I moved the example there instead. And yes, since it's a type of samurai, I think Western ronin also count here as examples. And I'm intriguied by the comic book example you said, can you find some more info??

Also, since I stated this is a sub trope of Black Vikings, I'll see if there're some examples there to be aded here too

Sep 29th 2017 at 4:46:22 PM

Notably, both times you visit Izumo (the Japan equivalent) three decades apart, there aren't any samurai to be seen.

Sep 30th 2017 at 10:05:38 AM

^^ I'm trying to recall that comic, though it's kinda sketchy, but what popped in my mind was the comic series "Sigil".

Sep 30th 2017 at 10:09:31 AM

I don't think it was "Sigil". It might have come from another Cross Gen comic.

Sep 30th 2017 at 10:01:34 PM

Oct 1st 2017 at 5:10:44 AM

^Already mentioned that example here before, that's a Rule Of Cool example and was added to Everythings Better With Samurai instead

Oct 18th 2017 at 9:57:05 AM

OK, this is more than ready to be relaunched, thanks to all for your help ;) If there's no more examples or additional info to be added, then I'll launch this during today or tomorrow

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