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    Kambei 

Kambei Shimada

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kanbei.jpg
Played by: Takashi Shimura

Kambei is an older, world-weary samurai who accepts the farmers' offer to defend them from bandits out of pity.


  • Badass Grandpa: He's in his early fifties or so.
  • Badass Mustache: Aw yeeah.'
  • Bad Habits: When we first see him, he's disguised as a priest to rescue a little boy.
  • Bald of Awesome: He has an Important Haircut in his very first scene, making his baldness symbolic of his willingness to help others.
  • Character Tics/Thinking Tic: He rubs his shaved head when in thought.
  • Combat Pragmatist: He shaves his head within his first scene (to samurai, this was a symbol of shame) so he can trick a bandit into thinking he is a monk and save a child. Further, when the farmers of the abandoned outlying houses try to desert the militia because they feel marginalized, Kambei threatens to personally execute them rather than let them go, citing that the individual who fights for the individual not only dies as an individual, but endangers the rest of the group (and kills morale before the fight even starts).
  • Establishing Character Moment: He shaves his head to impersonate a monk, showing how he doesn't place much stock in honor or fair play if an innocent life is on the line. He rubs his bald head throughout the film to remind the audience of it.
  • A Father to His Men: Despite his stoic expression, he clearly grieves whenever he suffers losses.
  • Glory Seeker: He was a glory seeker in his youth, but he advises Katsushiro against it.
    Kambei: I was a young man like you once. "Train yourself, distinguish yourself in war: become somebody, maybe a warlord!" But time flies. Before your dream materializes, you get gray hair. By that time, your parents and friends are dead and gone.
  • Important Haircut: Had his head shaved for the Bad Habits example above.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: The samurai have their own specialities, but Kambei is pretty good in all those fields as well. He's a damn fine swordsman, but Kyuzo is the best fighter; he looks at morale from the big picture while Shichiroji is good at personally motivating the men; he's good with a bow, but Gorobei is the designated archer; and while he's a great tactician and strategist, Kikuchiyo is the The Social Expert, and the true conscience to remind the samurai what they're truly fighting for.
  • The Leader: Deconstructed Trope. As effective as his leadership skills are, he wasn't able to save four of his comrades.
  • The Stoic: Generally remains impassive, and either serene or resigned.
  • The Strategist: He's in charge of general strategy, and while his plans aren't perfect, they do lead to victory.
  • Survivor Guilt: He's gotten this over his career, and this is the reason why he says that he and the other survivors have "lost" the battle.

    Katsushiro 

Katsushiro Okamoto

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/katsushiro.jpg
Played by: Isao Kimura

A wealthy young man from a noble family, Katsushiro is more than eager to be Kambei's apprentice. He does find that it's not all cracked up to be, especially when a love affair with a young village girl is complicating things.


  • Break the Cutie: He starts off in the movie being idealistic and hopeful. By the end, he's lost a lot of his enthusiasm and at least some of his illusions.
  • Death Wail: At the end of the final battle. He's mourning Kikuchiyo and Kyuzo. He can't even avenge them because Kikuchiyo wiped out the bandit chief who killed them.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: He and Shino can't stay together. A farmer's daughter, due to class differences, would never be anything more than a concubine in society's eyes, and he doesn't want to subject Shino to that kind of shame.
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    Gorobei 

Gorobei Katayama

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/gorobei.jpg
Played by: Yoshio Inaba

The second to officially join, Gorobei is quiet, observant and good-natured.


    Heihachi 

Heihachi Hayashida

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/heihachi_9.jpg
Played by: Minoru Chiaki

A ronin who was hired to cut wood for a living, Heihachi is nonetheless cheerful and upbeat, and agreed to join them, providing his role in lifting the team's spirits.


  • Alliterative Name: Heihachi Hayashida.
  • Brutal Honesty: Cheerfully admits that he is not a good warrior.
  • Combat Pragmatist: He mentions how he usually runs away from battle when he's about to die.
  • Establishing Character Moment: While chopping wood, he admits with cheerful honesty that he's not very good as a warrior. Yet he still agrees to join the mission.
  • The Gadfly: He loves to pick on Kikuchiyo. One example is the banner he makes for the village: Six circles for the samurai, a triangle and the farmers. When Kikuchiyo asks where he is, Heihachi responds that he is the triangle.
  • The Heart: He's the jokester of the team, and specifically brought in to raise morale despite being 'average' in skill (but still better than Kikuchiyo).
  • Innocently Insensitive: At the beginning of the second act, he jokingly made a remark about Rikichi not having a wife, not realising that his wife was captured by the bandits. However, he hadn't previously caught onto Rikichi's thinly veiled denial about having ever had a wife.
  • In the Back: This is how Heihachi dies, while trying to pull Rikichi away from a burning house.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's a very mild-mannered man with good intentions, but he has a knack for saying things that are met with a Dude, Not Funny! response.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Recruited to be this, someone who could cheer up the defenders in times of strife. Unfortunately, he dies.
  • Sacrificial Lion: The first of the samurai to die.
  • With Friends Like These...: With Kikuchiyo.

    Kyuzo 

Kyuzo

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kyuzo.jpg
Played by: Seiji Miyaguchi

A taciturn ronin who is a very skilled swordsman.


  • The Big Guy: Of the quiet, skilled variety. Though he's actually the shortest of the samurai, he's one of the team members who serves as the muscle.
  • Blood Knight: Mainly to test his skill.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Originally turned down an offer to join.
  • Consummate Professional: Swordsmanship is his craft and he takes satisfaction in it.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: He doesn't like killing people; he's also considered one of the finest swordsmen around. This is seen early in the movie when he is shown dueling; he begs his opponent not to challenge him with real swords, because the opponent would quite certainly die. He does.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The duel where an unknown ronin demands a rematch and Kyuzo turns him down, stating "No use. You'd die." When the ronin persists for a duel, Kyuzo silently accepts the challenge and kills him.
  • First-Name Basis: Alongside Shichiroji and Kikuchiyo, who additionally has Only One Name, we never get to learn Kyuzo's last name.
  • Force and Finesse: The Finesse to Kikuchiyo's Force.
  • In the Back: Shot by the Bandit Chief in the back during the final battle.
  • Master Swordsman: The best swordsman of the Samurai. It doesn't save him from a bullet though.
  • Not So Stoic: A very brief moment where he admits that he'd like to kill every farmer in the village after finding that the farmers have been stealing armor from samurai corpses. Another, lighter moment is where he joins in laughing at Kikuchiyo failing to ride Yohei's horse.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Conducting a one-man raid on the bandit's camp, killing two bandits and returning with a musket.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: The shortest of the samurai and the most skilled.
  • The Quiet One: Kyuzo has only a few lines.
  • Secret Keeper: Keeps Katsushiro's secret about his romance with Shino.
  • The Stoic: Shows very little emotion.
  • Technician vs. Performer: The Technician to Kikuchiyo's Performer.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: An indirect example. Kyuzo throws his sword toward the hidden Bandit Chief, but only to show the direction of the bullet that killed him.
  • Vocal Dissonance: His voice is surprisingly high.
  • Warrior Poet: He sits studying a wildflower while he waits to ambush some of the bandits.

    Shichiroji 

Shichiroji

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/shichiroji.jpeg
Played by: Daisuke Kato

Kambei's old war buddy, who joins his force simply to fight alongside him again.


  • Backstory: Some dialogue indicates that he and Kambei once served the same lord: both thought the other dead when their lord was overthrown.
  • Badass Adorable: He's short, chubby, jovial and can spear his enemies with earnest ferocity.
  • Bald of Awesome: He doesn't have hair on the top of his head and he isn't seen shaving it, like Kambei.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He's a friendly, pleasant, well-meaning guy, and a warm and encouraging leader of his unit, but he flies into a rage when Kikuchiyo discovers the farmers' secret in front of them.
  • Blade on a Stick: His primary weapon is a spear.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: He's a nice guy but very strict when training the farmers to run and fight.
  • Establishing Character Moment: He's asked to join this nearly suicidal fight simply to fight alongside his friend once more, and he can't say yes fast enough.
  • First-Name Basis: He's one of the three samurai whose last name we never learn.
  • The Gadfly: He has a little too much fun mocking Manzo after he learns that he disguised his daughter Shino as a boy.
  • Jumped at the Call: Immediately agrees to fight alongside Kambei when asked.
  • Number Two: Shichiroji is the feudal equivalent of a sergeant, accustomed to taking orders from higher-ranking samurai and passing them to the foot soldiers.
  • The Reliable One: Valued more (by his superior and by his men) for his stolidity and quiet confidence than for any special skills.
  • Satellite Character: Shichiroji gets very little screentime and development, about as little as Gorobei.
  • True Companions: He's in this with Kambei, win or lose, no questions asked.

    Kikuchiyo 

Kikuchiyo

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kikuchiyo.jpg
Played by: Toshiro Mifune

Kikuchiyo is a mysterious man in rags claiming to be a samurai. Appearing a complete blundering buffoon at first, it is finally revealed that he was an orphaned farmer's son whose parents were killed by invading brigands.


  • A-Team Firing: When he returns to the village with a musket after his raid on the bandit's camp, Kikuchiyo fires the gun at them at point-blank range, only to fail spectacularly.
  • Author Avatar: Kurosawa speaks his opinion of ancient Japanese feudalism through him.
  • Badass Beard: A scruffy looking one. As for the badass part, Kikuchiyo racks up the highest kill count of any character in the film: 13.
  • Badass Boast: During the final battle, he gathers a cluster of swords because he won't be able to kill enough bandits with just one.
  • BFS: Wields a Nodachi and it's about as big as he is.
  • Berserk Button: He will flip out spectacularly if commoners are being endangered.
  • The Big Guy: He's not as tall as Katsushiro or Heihachi, but he shares Kyuzo's role as the muscle of the group.
  • Blood Knight: He's the most ferocious of the fighters.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Has a hatred and disgust of farmers despite having been the son of one himself.
  • Bruiser with a Soft Center: He's the most macho character in the entire film, but is passionate at best and brittle at worst, and has broken down in tears at least twice.
  • Butt-Monkey: For more than half the film the other samurai mock him repeatedly, and he's humiliated when he first tries to join the group. However, they eventually accept him as a teammate. He performs heroically during the final attack and even earns a samurai's death.
  • Character Tics: He has a habit of scratching his leg, or around his neck, something Tajomaru before him and Sanjuro after him (all played by Mifune) have in common.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: He comes across as an idiot and makes stupid mistakes, but is still very strong, quite the fierce warrior and surprisingly insightful about the social class differences between the various groups of people.
  • Determinator: He absolutely won't quit until he's proven worthy of being a samurai. This is reflected in his Dying Moment of Awesome when he's shot by the Bandit Chief, then nearly half a minute later gets up and runs him through with his sword.
  • Establishing Character Moment: He's quickly established as a ruffian and buffoon, who shows up completely wasted in his attempt to join the team of samurai and tries to pass himself off as one of them with a scroll he stole, but he gets his moment later on, when he uses a simple false alarm to bring the samurai and the farmer militia together.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: He's named after the fake papers he has to "prove" he's of noble birth. Unbeknown to him and to the amusement of the others, Kikuchiyo is the name of a little girl. He still kicks lots of ass.
  • Force and Finesse: Force to Kyuzo's Finesse.
  • Gender-Blender Name: "Kikuchiyo" is a girl's name.
  • Glory Seeker: To a fault. It comes back to bite him in the last third when it gets several people killed, including Yohei and Gorobei.
  • Guttural Growler: Kikuchiyo's voice is rough, harsh and grating.
  • The Heart: Provides a living bridge between the samurai and the farmers throughout the film.
  • Heroic BSoD: Goes through too many to list here, but the biggest one is after his actions lead to Yohei's and Gorobei's deaths.
  • Hot-Blooded: He's a loud and boisterous glory seeker.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He may be abrasive and loud, but he's deeply empathetic towards the farmers' plight and gets very emotional when he feels that they have been done injustice in some way.
  • Large Ham: An energetic prankster, braggart and glory hound who's usually shouting encouragement or threats.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Constantly blindly charges into battle with no particular plan in mind. This works to his detriment when, in the final battle, he's fatally shot by the bandit chief while he's trying to avenge Kyuzo's death
  • Leitmotif: "Kikuchiyo's Mambo".
  • Line-of-Sight Name: He drunkenly pointed to it at random when introducing himself to the other samurai.
  • Master Swordsman: Subverted: he wields the impractically long nodachi and takes five katana as "reserves" should his sword break while killing the bandits.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Spends portions of the movie wearing very little, and showing off his perfect musculature. When he's catching fish on his journey to the village, he's wearing nothing but a thong.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: He has this reaction when his decision to leave his post for a commando raid on the bandit camp ends up getting several people, including Gorobei and Yohei killed in the ensuing counterattack.
  • Never Learned to Read: Explains in part how he got his name from the scroll.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: He attempts to raid a bandit camp to get muskets in jealousy towards Kyuzo, and ends up getting Yohei and Gorobei killed in the ensuing counter attack. He feels awful about it afterwards.
  • No Indoor Voice: Never is this more clear than when the 7 visit an old lady. Heihachi calmly asks him, "Why the hell are you always screaming?"
  • No Name Given: "Kikuchiyo" is only a name that the man picked out and random and the name stuck.
  • No Respect Guy: Is constantly the butt of the other samurai's jokes. He keeps trying to prove himself afterwards though.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: "Kikuchiyo" has forgotten his own name and, being illiterate, initially pretends to be the last name on the parchment he stole… which is the 13-year-old daughter of a noble family. Heihachi and the other samurai mockingly start calling him by that name, and it sticks after Heihachi's death.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: A comic character, although in the last battle he's in deadly earnest.
  • Redemption Equals Death: He makes up for the Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! example above by saving the village women from the bandit chief, only to die of his wounds.
  • The Runt at the End: He's the real odd one out in the group.
  • Sad Clown: For all of his upbeat nature, he's a conflicted, tragic character.
  • Screaming Warrior: Naturally, to go with his boisterous personality.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly Man to Yohei's Sensitive Guy.
  • The Sixth Ranger: Kambei didn't intent to recruit him initially as he's too much of an oddball, but the group eventually accepts him.
  • The Social Expert: He's the one who connects best with the farmers.
  • Taking You with Me: He skewers the man who mortally wounded him.
  • The Team Wannabe: He's an adult peasant that pretends to be a samurai.
  • Technician vs. Performer: The Performer to Kyuzo's Technician.
  • With Friends Like These...: He and Heihachi are constantly at odds.
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    The Peasants 
The inhabitants of the (unnamed) village: their quest to save their home is the center of the plot.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Do not mention Rikichi's wife in front of him.
    • Manzo is absolutely paranoid that his daughter, Shino, will be seduced by a samurai: he hacks off her hair, orders her to pretend to be a boy and beats her when he discovers that she'd slept with Katsushiro.
  • Blade on a Stick: The peasants mostly use spears.
  • Butt-Monkey: Yohei is the subject of mockery to everyone, particularly Kikuchiyo.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The peasants sent to find help, particularly Rikichi, seem at first to be the main characters.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Manzo moans and complains when he is only slightly injured from a bandit attack.
  • Mobile Shrubbery: Manzo disguises himself among the tall grass when he hears the bandits approaching at the beginning.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In the raid on the bandit camp, Rikichi charges into the burning shack to save his wife and Heihachi is killed pulling him away.
  • Overprotective Dad: Manzo. He's heard about samurai raping farmers' daughters and so desperately disguises his daughter Shino as a boy to protect her.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Rikichi furiously kills a bunch of bandits in a night attack to avenge the death of his wife.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Yohei.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Yohei is the Sensitive Guy to Kikuchiyo's Manly Man.
  • Slut-Shaming: On top of beating Shino after her night with Katsushiro, Manzo employs such colorful language as "tramp" and "damaged goods."
  • Took a Level in Badass: Most if not all of the farmers, but a few of them stand out.
    • Rikichi starts out as just a peasant with a little bit of a fighting spirit, but by the end he's the fiercest warrior among the farmers.
    • Yohei for most of the film is feeble and pathetic. Then he starts slowly gaining courage until he finally goes down trying to defend his post.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The peasants did some bad things in the past: they're not eager to let anybody find out.
  • Ungrateful Townsfolk: The samurai, after saving the village, are given nothing more than millet, while the beautiful women of the village gorge themselves on rice, and Katushiro, who loved Shino, ends up alone.
  • Untrusting Community: Some villagers think the samurai will just rob them, then leave and let the bandits have whatever's left.
  • Wasteland Elder: The village's Grumpy Old Man is the informal leader, whom they turn to for advice.
  • Zerg Rush: The samurai don't have the time to give the peasants serious training, so they are deployed in large groups with spears, stabbing like mad.

Shino

    The Bandit Chief 

The Bandit Chief

Played by: Shinpei Takagi

  • Bad Boss: He's shown killing two of his men for deserting him.
  • Big Bad: He's the leader of the bandits raiding the village.
  • Eyepatch of Power: He sports one.
  • Flat Character: He's not in the film very much and only has a few lines so we don't really get to know him.
  • Hero Killer: He kills Gorobei, Kyuzo and Kikuchiyo in the second half of the film.
  • Mutual Kill: After he fatally wounds Kikuchiyo, he is stabbed to death by a relentless Kikuchiyo in return.
  • No Name Given: His name is never mentioned in the film.

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