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Miyamoto Usagi

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Usagi_Yojimbo_119_5727.jpg
It's not a fair fight. Those zombies are doomed.

Our hero, a young samurai whose liege lord died in battle not long after Usagi entered his service. Now masterless, he walks the earth, occasionally hiring himself out as a bodyguard (hence the title), honing his skill as a warrior and meeting lots of interesting people.

  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Flip-flops a bit. He's pretty skeptical about the supernatural, though he's encountered more supernatural elements than any of the other characters (except Sasuke). He also strongly doubts Jei's claims of divine inspiration, and felt that the earthquake that occurred when Jei stuck the Sword of the Gods into the ground was 'coincidence'.
    • Though given that it is Japan, which has hundreds of fault lines and sits at the boundaries of several plates, earthquakes are common enough that it could have been a coincidence.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: He can almost invariably tell, just by watching another person's technique, whether he can defeat them or not.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Asked to him by Tomoe when she asks if he's willing to abandon his life as a ronin and settle down to raise Jotaro, which he would feel obligated to if he told Jotaro he was his father. He doesn't have an answer. Unbeknownst to him, Jotaro already knows, but doesn't want to hold Usagi back.
  • Bash Brothers: Most often with Gen, but he has developed similar relationships over time with Katsuichi, Jotaro, Tomoe, and (in crossovers with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) Leonardo.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Usagi's nice, friendly and very good with kids. He's also highly (and unconventionally) skilled, devious, and The Determinator when there are lives or honor at stake. And he also has a body count to rival Conan the Barbarian.
  • Chick Magnet: He's a kindhearted, sword wielding badass. Plenty of the ladies have noticed.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome:
    Usagi: I can't just stand by and do nothing.
    Chizu: Of course you can... but you never do.
  • Cultured Warrior: On top of being really tough and skilled in a fight, he paints calligraphy.
  • Death Glare: As nice as Usagi is, he is capable of a rather chilling glare. It's enough to scare off lesser bandits in many situations.
  • A Dog Named "Dog": Usagi means rabbit. He's a rabbit.
  • Ears as Hair: His ears are tied back to resemble a chonmage, a Samurai Ponytail.
  • Expy: Of Miyamoto Musashi.
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Appears to have a permanent one, but it's actually a scar.
  • Friend to All Children: Usagi always gets along famously with most of the children he interacts with, usually the kids of those he's a guest of for the night, and is unusually nice to the dino lizards that litter the setting.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Usagi is probably the nicest samurai ever. Many bad people have mistaken this pleasant nature for weakness. Those people are dead now.
  • Heroic Albino: In colored stories, Usagi's eyes are generally pinkish red when colored, which along with his white skin/fur are typical traits of albinoism in rabbits.
  • Heroic Build: You can't really tell most of the time because of his baggy clothes but Usagi is ripped, as seen on occasion when he's barechested.
  • Hyper-Awareness: A skill that Katsuichi-sensei physically beat into him and one that has saved Usagi's life many times. It can be over-sensitive and Usagi has a tendency to ignore correct hunches. Katsuichi-sensei also drew a distinction between this trope and Properly Paranoid.
  • Hypocrite: During Senso, Usagi is clearly bitter that Tomoe married the man she was politically engaged to, though she says she did it out of duty to her lord and had no real choice in the matter. He does apologize as he understands perfectly well that duty to one's lord comes before any personal desires.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Toward Mariko.
  • Kid Samurai: in flashback chapters.
  • Knight Errant: With the loss of his master, Usagi is now a ronin, roaming aimlessly across Japan.
  • "Leave Your Quest" Test: 'Circles' (in Book 6 of his first series) established that he will never return to his home village, where his first sweetheart Mariko lives with his boyhood arch-rival, Kenichi.
  • Martial Pacifist: He sought war and glory when he was young. Now he attacks only in self defense or on behalf of those who cannot fight for themselves.
  • Master Swordsman: He thinks nothing of taking on six or seven warriors of ordinary skill.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: With Gen.
  • One Riot, One Ranger: Usagi isn't quite in the One-Man Army category, but he regularly takes out whole bands of bandits or criminals unassisted.
  • Righteous Rabbit and Rascally Rabbit: Usagi is kind and honorable almost to a fault, but has a trickster streak as well.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue Oni to Gen's Red Oni.
  • Ronin: One of the earliest stories establishes that Usagi's journeys began when his lord, Mifune, died in a great battle (the same one that gave him his scar.)
  • Scars Are Forever: Usagi has a scar above his eye, which he got from Lord Hikiji at the Battle of Adachigahara while trying to avenge his lord. It looks like a Fascinating Eyebrow. Since he gained it on the same day he became ronin, it's a visual reminder whenever there is a flashback to his samurai days.
  • Shout-Out: His name "Miyamoto Usagi" is one to the famed samurai/ronin/author of The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Musashi. He also often uses both swords at once during some fights, a style Musashi is famous for inventing/popularizing and something no other character in the comic does.
  • Victory Through Intimidation: Has ended more than one conflict with a Death Glare at his would-be opponent. Usually after slaying one or two of their comrades to add some weight to the silent threat.
  • White Bunny: It's hard to tell since the comic is in black and white. However, color stories (and covers) reveal that he really is white.

Tomoe Ame

Chief retainer to the young Lord Noriyuki; a controversial position for a woman, but one she's earned several times over. She and Usagi become friends early in the series after he helps her foil an assassination attempt on her master, and they gradually develop feelings for one another.

  • Action Girl
  • Cain and Abel: She and Noriko.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Although the idea for Tomoe's character was drawn from the historical female samurai Tomoe Gozen, Grasscutter actually includes a scene with the original Tomoe Gozen (in her elder years as a Buddhist nun.)
  • Death Glare: Hers are almost as bone-chilling as Usagi's
  • Lady of War: She seems more comfortable with warfare than with the skills traditionally practiced by women of her caste.
  • Naginatas Are Feminine: Tomoe began her career wielding a naginata. She had learned the sword from her swordmaster father but could not use them because she was a lady. By saving her lord from a ninja attack she was appointed "guardian of the heir" and was allowed to again wear her swords.
  • Put on a Bus: After the Chanyou tea ceremony chapter, she hasn't shown up in any of the following Usagi stories. The Bus Came Back in Senso, but in the main series, it has yet to. Somewhat justified as Stan Sakai himself stated he needs to do research on arranged marriages in Japan before writing the story revolving around hers.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blue Oni to Noriko's Red Oni.
  • Samurai: Rather unusually for a samurai, she helped train and raise her current master, Lord Noriyuki. Her being a female samurai allowed to bear her swords is itself unusual for her era.
  • Will They or Won't They?: With Usagi. By the time of "The Mother of Mountains", they have discreetly become lovers, though Usagi's travels and Tomoe's upcoming arranged marriage have made the future of such a relationship iffy.
  • You Go, Girl!: Due to the chauvinistic nature of the period, she's constantly having to prove her worth over and over.

Gen (Murakami Gennosuké)

Usagi's less morally upright friend, a bounty hunter who cheats Usagi out of money the first few times they meet: which later becomes a running joke between them. He's more interested in preserving his gruff image than his samurai honor, but is not as callous as he pretends.

  • Ancestral Weapon: After the battle against Magistrate Oda's men, he discovers the swords he stole from Oda's armory were once his father's swords.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: A drinker, a brawler, and generally a fun-loving guy.
  • Bounty Hunter: This is his day-to-day profession. He's not completely mercenary, though. He once let a mark go because the man wanted to meet his newborn son. Shortly afterwards, said man gets cut down by Gen's sometimes bounty hunting partner who was also looking for him. Gen gives his cut of the bounty on the man to the man's wife.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Gen is the son of a samurai who followed his mistress quest for vengeance after her husband was murdered, and remained with her long after she slid into poverty and most of her other retainers had left. Gen's mother was forced to prostitute herself to feed her family, and eventually died prematurely. Gen never forgave his father, blaming him for his mothers death and their miserable life, and abandoned him once he reached adulthood. This is also the reason for his disdain for bushido, which he considers a fool's errand.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Gen is one of the most greedy characters in the series, looking for any opportunity to get economic benefits, but does not hesitate to criticize the greed of others.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As much as he tries to pretend, he really is a good man under his bounty hunter persona. He has a particular soft spot for widows and orphans thanks to his own troubled background, and has given away his bounty payments to victimized families several times, while poorly trying to pretend he didnt, much to Usagi's amusement.
  • Miser Advisor: He doesn't like handing out cash unnecessarily.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: He prefers to do good deeds, but he expects payment.
  • Perma-Stubble: Yes, on a rhino.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red Oni to Usagi's Blue Oni.
  • Rhino Rampage: He's got good offensive techniques, but tends to be stopped cold by real masters such as Zato-ino or Inazuma.
  • Ronin: As the son of a ronin, he has the right to wear the swords. But he was raised in poverty, so he lacks the usual gentlemanly training associated with his caste.
  • Ship Tease: He and Kitsune show some attraction. Neither really has the temperament to settle down (or to split the take fairly), so it's unlikely to progress far.
  • Shout-Out: The Perma-Stubble and general attitude make him the in-universe version of "Sanjuro", Toshiro Mifune's character from Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo and Sanjuro. Mifune also played Miyamoto Musashi, for a different director.
  • Short Cuts Make Long Delays: A Running Gag; Gen's short cuts do not work out.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: He and Usagi have become good buddies, but barbed comments and minor pranks are part of the relationship.

    Allies 

Iké the farmer/General Ikeda

A general who joined an uprising against Lord Noriyuki's father, Lord Mataichi. When it failed, he and some of his soldiers went into hiding disguised as commoners, intending to take up arms again at a politically opportune moment; but when Mataichi died a few years later, Ikeda had become too attached to his farm and his peasant wife and children and decided to stay with them.He became an ally of Noriyuki after the latter saved his son Motokazu's life.

  • Badass Mustache: He's got an impressive black mustache that's easily one of his most identifiable features.
  • Call to Agriculture: He and two soldiers manage to flee when their rebellion failed. Ikeda and one man stay at an abandoned farmhouse, while the other leaves to regather their forces. Ikeda and the other man adopt life as farmers, managing to raise a thriving farm. Ikeda even notes the feeling of success when digging an irrigation ditch far outweighs any war victory he's had. After the other man dies, Ikeda meets a woman and raises a family. Years later, the second soldier returns, bringing news of Lord Matiachi's death and that they have enough soldiers to launch a new attack. Ikeda chooses to stay with his family and informs the soldier that he's never met him.
    • Even after he saves Noryuki and Tomoe, effectively ending his exile as Noryuki pardons him, he still prefers his life as a farmer and turns down Noryuki's offer of reinstatement. Instead, he asks that his son Motokazu be taken into Noryuki's service when he comes of age, as he's still the son of a samurai even if that samurai is now retired.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: An old leg wound he recieved in the rebellion never healed properly, which eventually cost him the life of his second son when it kept him from moving fast enough to save him during a flood. It flares up again near the end of Grasscutter II, leading to him staying behind to hold their pursuers off.
  • Heel–Face Turn: He and his son Motokazu were helping Noriyuki and Tomoe flee some villains. Noriyuki wound up endangering himself to save Motokazu from falling to his death, which prompted Ikeda to abandon his ancient grudge.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: At the climax of Grasscutter II.
  • Retired Badass: He gave up his birthright and abandoned war. He comes out of retirement due to the events of Grasscutter.
  • That Man Is Dead: He abandoned his original identity of General Ikeda after growing to like the simple life of a common farmer, and only comes out of retirement to assist Usagi and Lord Noryuki with the Grasscutter affair.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: When he's holding off the Neko ninja at Atsuta Shrine. He's Impaled with Extreme Prejudice, but he held them off just long enough. And he lived just long enough to slay his killers in the process.
  • What You Are in the Dark: He's left alone with Grasscutter while everyone else is asleep, and realizes that with the help of the legendary sword, he could not just easily regain his former status as a samurai and general, he could raise an entire army and become Shogun with the divine mandate of the Gods... only to lay the sword aside, thinking that such fantasies are not for a humble farmer like him. In fact, it's instrumental for safeguarding the real Grasscutter while a fake is stolen and belived lost in the ocean.
    • He also has the chance to slay Lord Noriyuki in revenge for his loss against his father which led to his exile but never acts on it.

Ikeda Motokazu

Iké had one surviving son. Motokazu was raised as a peasant, but after his father's death he was accepted into the samurai class and promised an eventual place in Lord Noriyuki's court. In later volumes he appears as a page, since he's not yet old enough to take up his father's swords.

  • Give Him a Normal Life: Played with. At first, his father intended to raise him as a farmer's son. But after he decided Noriyuki would be a good liege, Ikeda asked for Motokazu to be trained and honored according to his birth station.
  • Kid Samurai: Unlike characters of a similar age, such as Jotaro, Motokazu was unaware of his heritage. However, he does technically belong to this category.
  • He Is All Grown Up: At the beginning of Senso, 20 years after the main series.
  • Sins of the Father: Despite Noriyuki's pardon, his father's reputation as a traitor continues to haunt him during his time as a squire despite his skill, thanks to the long memories of the Japanese. It only stops after Noriyuki takes him on as his personal page.

Inazuma

After killing the yakuza boss who had her husband tortured and killed, the swordswoman who went by the stage name 'Inazuma' lived a life on the run, outfighting all manner of assassins. Usagi once covered the price of her drinks at a wayside inn, and she saved him from a hidden archer as thanks; but he doesn't much like her. Later in the series this 'chance meeting' becomes more significant: Inazuma becomes the new host body for the demon, Jei.

  • Action Girl: An anti-hero version.
  • Arrow Catch: How she saved Usagi's life.
  • The Drifter: She's got an enormous bounty on her head. And then she gets something IN her head...
  • Dying as Yourself: Priest Sanshobo manages to exorcise Jei from her, but she dies shortly after from the injuries she sustained while possessed.
  • Fighting from the Inside
  • Instant Expert: How she took up swordplay.
  • No Name Given: Inazuma (lightning) is a pseudonym; her real name is Tomiko.
  • The Virus: After Jei's death she becomes possessed by his spirit and starts wandering the roads with Keiko, searching for Usagi.

Inspector Ishida

A middle-aged detective, highly competent but sometimes hampered by corrupt superiors. He and Usagi have solved several murder mysteries together.

  • A Day in the Limelight: 'After the Rat' doesn't even have Usagi in it.
  • Friend on the Force: He and Usagi share a certain Cowboy Cop attitude and become good friends.
  • Japanese Christian
  • The Last DJ: His superiors value station and 'face' over little things like evidence, so he's usually at odds with them.
  • Martial Pacifist: Though he always tries reasoning with people first, he is skilled with the jitte (sword-catcher) and in unarmed combat.
  • Worthy Opponent: He is considered this by the cat burglar Nezumi, but it's not mutual.
    Ishida: Justice is not a game.

Inukai/Stray Dog

A Bounty Hunter who sometimes works with Gen. He's a ruthless, double-crossing Jerkass who claims he only looks out for himself...

Jotaro

Usagi's son by his childhood sweetheart Mariko, raised in the belief that her husband Kenichi is his father. He later learns the truth.

  • A Day in the Limelight: He received an extended arc, Travels with Jotaro, in which his master Katsuichi sends him on the road with Usagi to give him some practical experience of the world.
  • Badass Adorable: He is a surprisingly good fighter, especially considering his age, but he's still an adorably rabbit boy.
  • Groin Attack: This tends to be one of his go-to moves. In his defence, due to his young age and short height, thats his default reach.
  • Heroic Bastard: Publicly he is the son of a village headman. He has become aware that he is illegitimate.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: And sometimes an Audience Surrogate.
    Tomoe: I see what you mean. He's adorable!
    Jotaro: Hey!
    Usagi: I also told her you're very brave.
    Jotaro: That's better!
  • Kid Samurai: He's determined to be the coolest samurai ever. Considering he has defeated foes literally twice his size armed only with a wooden bokken, he is well on his way.
  • Wooden Katanas Are Even Better: He's too young to carry real swords, so he fights with bokken staffs instead.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Doesn't say it to Usagi's face, but shouts it after he leaves. Usagi hears something, but thinks he just imagined it. In Senso, the two finally find out just after Usagi has been mortally injured. He passes his swords on to Jotaro before he dies.
  • He Is All Grown Up: At the beginning of Senso, 20 years after the main series.

Katsuichi-sensei

The old hermit who taught Usagi more or less everything he knows: humility, compassion, thinking before he acted, and not least importantly his unusual style of swordsmanship. He's currently teaching Jotaro the same things.

  • Badass Grandpa
  • Characterization Marches On: When originally appearing in flashback Katsuichi-Sensei is a Sadist Teacher bordering on Sensei for Scoundrels, who is well on the way to becoming a misanthrope, if he wasn't already one. In later appearances he is a Stern Teacher: harsh, demanding but also caring and effective. It could be argued that teaching Usagi, and later the brothers Shunji and Shunichi, also served to soften his personality and regain his faith in humanity.
  • Close-Call Haircut: Koji chops off the end of his "pony tail" during their duel, but it's not commented on.
  • Eye Patch Of Power: After getting his eye slashed in an ambush, he uses a sword guard as an eyepatch a la Kaede's or Yagyu Retsudo's.
  • Friendly Rivalry: In his later years, the only friend he still seems to have from his childhood is Isao, a fellow Old Master. They both trained at the same Dojo, both trying to surpass the other, and both saying they thought their opposite was better. After Katsuichi left Isao took over the dojo, and they still keep in touch.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: He doesn't bring it up, but the one issue that flashed to his youth reveals it.
  • King of Beasts
  • Old Master: He's lost some of his youthful agility and strength, but he's still among the most skilled warriors in the series.
  • Retired Badass: He's a sensei (tutor) now, not a warrior.
  • The Rival: He had one in his youth named Toshi, he endured Toshi's jeers and mockery up until Toshi killed Katsuichi's lover and dueled him. Katsuichi killed him and left his school to become a hermit afterward.
  • Secret Test of Character: likes to subject his students to these.
  • Warrior Poet

Kitsune

A street performer/thief/con woman who remains friends with Usagi despite the fact that his purse tends to go missing when they meet.

  • Catchphrase: "A girl has to do what she can to get by, neh?"
  • Classy Cat-Burglar: While she prefers con games, she's also adept at burglary (and pickpocketing).
  • Cool Big Sis: To her apprentice, Kiyoko. Before that, to her poor doomed sidekick, the mute Gentle Giant she only knew as 'Noodles'.
  • Cunning Like a Fox: That's why she has a fox-like appearance.
  • The Gadfly: She loves to rattle the cages of the self-important. She's pulled pranks on most of the people she's encountered, except Inspector Ishida (this backfired really badly when she tried her pranks on Chizu).
  • Hidden Depths: Once she confides to Usagi she would like to give up the thief life and retire somewhere quiet, but feels people like her aren't meant to find happiness.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: When Noodles was framed and executed for theft, Kitsune was not content until the corrupt official responsible was utterly ruined and commanded to perform seppuku.
    Kitsune: It's better than he deserves.
  • Like Brother and Sister: She enjoys Usagi's company but shows no romantic interest (unless she's up to something), though she often teases him about it.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Sachiko in Kitsune's backstory.
  • Odd Friendship: Usagi is a samurai who's fallen on hard times. Kitsune is a street entertainer and a criminal, originally of the merchant class - the lowest social class in the Edo period's class system, and only one step above the outcast eta and hinin classes. He doesn't judge her for that, and she likes that in him.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: A flashback reveals that Kitsune is not her real name, but a name given to her by her mentor. We have yet to learn what her real name is.
  • Secret Identity: Publicly, she is a traveling entertainer who does balancing acts with tops, fans and so forth.
  • Ship Tease: With Gen.
    Usagi: Gen?! Ewww!
    Kiyoko: Ha ha! That's what I said!

Lord Noriyuki

The new head of the Geishu clan following the death of his father, Lord Mataichi. At the beginning of the series Noriyuki is about ten; he's one of the few characters to have visibly aged, though only by a couple of years.

  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Lord Mataichi was assassinated when Noriyuki was about ten, leaving Noriyuki in charge of the Geishu Clan.
  • Innocently Insensitive: When one of his vassals recommends that he, the vassal, should be married to Tomoe, Noriyuki happily agrees. While it is a politically beneficial move, Noriyuki thinks that he is doing a favor for Tomoe thinking that she would want to be married to a noble, not realizing that she and Usagi were already in love.
  • He Is All Grown Up: At the beginning of Senso, 20 years after the main series.
  • Non-Action Guy: Noriyuki is staunchly protected and kept out of action. He's brave, stoic in adversity, and strives to be a Father to His Men, but he's not usually in the field.
  • Panda-ing to the Audience: The only main character who's a panda. Both his parents were pandas as well.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Unlike most of the daimyo shown (who tend to be either treacherous, tyrannical or terminally ill), Noriyuki is a level-headed and honorable young man who is concerned with justice, honor, and the welfare of his people.
  • What You Are in the Dark: He and Tomoe were fleeing an enemy force, and wound up being guided through the mountains to a high rope bridge. When one of the guides (Motokazu) fell through the bridge, Noriyuki risked death to catch the falling boy.

Priest Sanshobo

  • The Atoner: Gave up his former life when Lord Ikeda's son accidentally fell to his death, which resulted in Sanshobo's son jumping after him in order to atone for their failure to protect him. Though Ikeda held him blameless, Sanshobo felt shame enough to renounce his status and retire to a monastery.
  • All Monks Know Kung-Fu: Sanshobo is Japanese, and doesn't know any Shaolin tricks. But he's skilled in armed warfare and Hyper-Awareness, since he was a samurai warrior before his life as a priest.
  • Good Shepherd
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: He displays the ability to exorcise an evil kami, but it's not clear if this is because he has power or because the demon thinks he does.
  • Simple Staff: He renounced his right to use swords after the death of his only son.
  • Warrior Monk

Sasuké the Demon Queller

A skilled fox ronin, Sasuke is a demon slayer and has devoted his life to hunting them.

Yagi and Gorogoro/Lone Goat and Kid

Yagi is a grim but honorable samurai who turned assassin after being framed for treason. He travels the land while pushing a wooden cart in which his young son Gorogoro rides.

  • The Quiet One: Yagi is stoic, but his son hardly ever speaks at all. He's said "goodbye" once to Usagi, and again (much later in the series) to Jotaro.
  • Shadow Archetype: Yagi is a darker character than Usagi - like him, a perpetual wanderer, but one more obsessed with punishing evil men than in defending innocents. The endearing, close relationship Yagi has with Gorogoro also contrasts with Usagi's fond but uncomfortable (and intermittent) relationship with Jotaro.
  • Shout-Out: To Lone Wolf and Cub, obviously.
  • The Stoic: Father and son.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Gorogoro has killed men, if only in self-defense.
  • Walking the Earth: As assassins for hire.

Zato-Ino

Nakamura Koji

  • Badass Grandpa: He's an elderly man, but also one of the most powerful samurai in the comic, whose skill is equal to that of Usagi's sensei Katsuichi.
  • Break the Haughty: In his backstory he was an arrogant and haughty instructor, poised to gain the favor of Lord Hikiji himself, until he came to challenge a hermit named Katsuichi. He was defeated three times in front of Hikiji, and humiliated. Upon his defeat he renounced his dojo and became a wanderer, growing in both skill and humility.
  • Character Tics: Usagi realizes that Koji would, seemingly unconsciously, dip his sword right before an attack. Usagi considered this knowledge key to his technique and defeat but Katsuichi makes a point to remain ignorant about it so their duel may be fair.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: He wants to duel Katsuichi to the death, and that is the extent of his villainy. Outside of that, Koji is pleasant, honorable, and has no quarrel with Usagi or anyone else. He even teams up with Katsuichi and his students to help free a village from a local gang.
  • Unknown Rival: To Katsuichi. After he defeated Koji in their youth, he faded into Katsuichi's memory along with the other rivals he's had over the years. Though due to being a hermit, Katsuichi doesn't get much news, so Usagi specifically is sent to inform him of Koji's wishes to duel.
  • Worf Had the Flu: When talking with Katsuichi, Isao specifically cites this as the reason why Koji lost to him. He'd been so worn down fighting Isao's students, that he'd lost to Isao himself. An impressive feat seeing as all the other schools he'd challenge ended with Koji whipping the floor with their best disciples before taking down the Sensei.
  • Worthy Opponent: He feels this way of Katsuichi, one of the few to ever defeat him. During their final battle Katsuichi clearly reciprocates giving him a respectable funeral, and even stating that it was only luck that allowed him to triumph.

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    Villains 

Lord Hikiji

Enemy of Usagi's Lord Mifune, personally killed Usagi's defiant father and made Keniichi village leader, and employer of the rival Neko and Komori ninja clans.

  • Big Bad
  • Evil Overlord: Even compared to the other scheming lords of the series, such as the Conspiracy Of Eight, Hikiji is easily the worst. He's often refered to The Shadow Lord by the other characters.
  • The Faceless: Played Straight, oddly enough. Hikiji's face is either in shadow, covered by something in the scenery, or by a helmet. Even after we know what he looks like, the comic just keeps his face hidden for all future appearances.
    • It's strictly from the audience's point of view, though. In-universe, his face is well-known enough to require a kagemusha (body double).
  • Famous Last Words: During the Senso miniseries.
    Lord Hikiji: Hebi! You are a lackey like all the others! You will obey me, or you will be--!
  • Greater-Scope Villain: He often remains unseen, while others act as his emissaries.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: As a Japanese lord he doesn't need to be seen to be influential. So far, he's the only human character in a world of animal people. When he's shown in Usagi's village, he's wearing a battle mask.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Though this is not given as the explanation for his personal morality.
  • Starter Villain: Hikiji is still around, but has faded into the background as Usagi's focus has changed from the past (and vengeance) to the present.
  • Tin Tyrant: He wears face-concealing "great armor" in all but one of his appearances.
  • Token Human: He is pretty much the only human seen in the comics.

Lord Hebi

A giant snake who's Lord Hikiji's second-in-command.

  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Lord Hebi is so huge he fights ninja by picking them up with his mouth and hurling them to their death.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: He isn't just a cunning politician, but a fierce combatant. One notable example is when his entourage gets attacked by ninja, and he lunges into the fray despite the warning of his guards, proceeding to hold his own and then some:
    Lord Hebi: And leave my safety to you incompetents?!
  • The Dragon: To Hikiji—he consistently shows up as the "voice" of the Shadow Lord.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Hebi gets considerably more screen time than Hikiji and is the active schemer amongst Hikiji's inner circle. He might as well be the Big Bad in his own right.
  • Enemy Mine: Hebi sent the Neko ninja with Usagi and Tomoe to stop Lord Tamakuro, an ambitious daimyo who had stockpiled guns and was planning to betray Hikiji and overthrow the shogunate. Noriyuki tells him that he only did it to serve Hikiji's interests. Hebi merely states that they should be grateful that they stood together against this threat.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Though ruthless himself, Lord Hebi is shocked, disgusted and horrified when he learns that his master Lord Hikiji has made a deal with the Martian invaders and betrayed Earth. In retaliation he kills Hikiji, before being killed in turn by the Martians.
    Lord Hebi: You make a pact with monsters! And you.. you are the greatest monster of all! You would kill your own people!
    Lord Hebi, after killing Hikiji: You're the worst kind of monster there is. You should have died long ago. I followed you blindly, but now I can see you for the abomination you were. I can see.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: When facing the Martian tripod that is about to incinerate him, just as it's started to rain:
    Lord Hebi: It's starting to rain. Good. We need the rain.
  • Pet the Dog: After Lord Ito succeeds in a bet with a fellow lord, to have ice delivered from the mountains to his home (a very difficult task as the ice melts easily in the summer weather), Hebi is impressed and gives him the position of honor during Hikiji's visit.
  • Undying Loyalty: Of all Hikiji's servants, he is the most faithful. It doesn't stop him from turning on Hikiji after the latter announces his alliance with the Martians despite the ruin they're inflicting on his own people.
  • Unwitting Pawn: As smart as Hebi is, he's clueless to the Neko Ninja's power struggle, and is manipulated into ousting Chizu by Kagemaru.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Hebi is one of the cruelest and most inhuman characters, and coincidentally also one of the scariest-looking and least human.

Jei

One of Usagi's deadliest enemies. In his first appearance he is showed as a crazed killer who think himself as an emissary of the gods in a mission to cleanse the world from evil by any means necessary; but with each appearance, although it's never confirmed that he is the blade of the gods, it's made more clearly that he isn't just a normal person, neither.

  • Back from the Dead: Despite being visibly killed, he's come back from the grave more than once.
  • Bloodbath Villain Origin: "The Darkness and the Soul". His first incarnation was a Buddhist monk named Jizonobu who made a pact with dark gods to cure a sick noblewoman whose father threatened to raze his monastery if she wasn't cured. Then he was possessed and butchered the other monks himself.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Jei is everything he claims to be, a servant of the Gods sent to cleanse the world of evil. The only problem is that Jei and the Gods he serves have a view of Good that everyone else would describe as sociopathy: understanding the very concept of evil makes you a target.
  • Breakout Villain: Jei was initially meant to be a one-shot villain, but he was popular enough to become a recurring character, and was the main antagonist of the crossover three-parter in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012).
  • The Corruption: If he wounds you with his weapon, his evil presence is inside you forever. It may dwell there for years, but it never goes away. The sole survivor of Jei's first rampage, who was wounded but not killed, lived his life for years afterwards only to be possessed when Jei had need of him. Jei wounded Usagi and Gen as well. Gen's wound hurts at times, and Usagi had a dream of being possessed by Jei.
  • Dark Is Evil: In a reference to the oft-repeated maxim 'the sword is the soul of the samurai', any blade that Jei 'consecrates' immediately turns black. He also favors plain black kimonos, a style ordinarily worn only by monks. It's likely a holdover from his first incarnation, who was a Buddhist monk.
  • Exact Words: Jei is indeed the "Sword Of the Gods", but he never said which Gods.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Being stabbed by his spear—or later, sword—is shown to be agonizing, and it's implied that if he kills you with it your soul is taken by him or destroyed.
  • Implacable Man: His first incarnation survives several injuries that should be fatal and only dies when stabbed with Kusanagi. While possessing Inazuma he keeps her alive with a mortal injury for days before he is exorcised.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun / Shout-Out: If you attach the honorific "-san" to his name, it sounds like "Jason," aka the main villain of the Friday the 13th movies, with whom he shares some traits: i.e., being an Implacable Man who constantly comes Back from the Dead. His origin story finally revealed how his name came to be: He was originally a Buddhist priest named Jizonobu, with "Priest Ji" being his nickname. When he was possessed and strangled his best friend Kin, a fellow priest, to death, said priest tried to snap him out of it by calling him "Ji," which his gurgles twisted into "Jei." When Lord Goyo asked him who he was right before he was killed, Jei responded by replaying his friend's last words, gurgles and all, like a recorder, before telling him "Call me... Jei!"
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: While his warped view of morality means he constantly kills good people, Jei's also killed a number of demonstrably evil people as well.
  • Knight Templar: He's on a mission to eradicate evil. His definition of 'evil' is worrying.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In the first stories where he appears it's left ambiguous whether he's an actual supernatural entity or just a homicidal madman who happens to be good with a spear. This doesn't last too long though - later we learn that he really is a demon - possessing innocent host bodies.
  • Milky White Eyes: Or Glowing Eyes of Doom - it's hard to tell in a comic.
  • No-Sell: Much to his surprise, his corrupting touch is unable to affect the divine Grasscutter sword.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: In one story it's shown that he's perfectly willing to let Japan be destroyed in a massive earthquake, as such a disaster would kill countless "sinners."
  • Prophet Eyes: He does have the power to 'see' souls... although he usually doesn't like what he sees.
  • Pet the Dog: He declares Keiko to be innocent and saves her from some bandits. Of all the characters she's the only one he seems to have any affection for, though she's pointedly not a Morality Pet. Originally he was supposed to steal her body for a new host but the author changed plans playing this trope straight. He likewise spared Lord Goyo's daughter Keifumi, whom he declared to be innocent, in his origin story, whilst he slaughtered everyone else except her and priest Hama (whom he badly wounded).
  • Slasher Smile: And when he starts chuckling it's too late to run.
  • The Virus: "Jei-san" is actually a spirit who uses people as hosts.

Keiko

Jei-San's "niece", who he spared after killing the thieves who killed her grandpa because she was "innocent." Having nowhere else to go, she started following him. She was originally supposed to become Jei's new host, but the author felt uncomfortable so he created Inazuma.

  • Badass and Child Duo: The horror movie version.
  • Body Surf: Was originally planned to become Jei's new host, but Stan felt having a child be possessed would be too dark and scrapped the plan. However, in Senzo, which occurs over a decade later, after Jei is atomized by the invaders, in the crowd of refugees, you can see that Keiko has finally been possessed by Jei, though she doesn't appear again in the story after that.
  • Cheerful Child: Keiko is instinctively nice to those around her. Including those her "uncle" butchers.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: It is ambiguous just how much of her own strange behavior is her own doing, or if she is under evil Influence by Jei. She doesn't always seem to comprehend the murders he commits are wrong (if she even registers that he's killing people at all - she once covered victims in a blanket so they wouldn't get cold), has been shown to eat roots and grubs without batting an eye and is incapable of recognizing Jei's host bodies when Jei isn't currently possessing them, as shown with Inazuma. She also unfailingly follows him even in stories where he momentarily abandons her out of the blue.
  • Creepy Child: Her obliviousness to the horror around her makes her unsettling.
  • The Face: Jei (who isn't much of a people person) sometimes sends her as an emissary.
  • Infant Immortality: This trope is why the initial plans to have Jei possess her were scrapped. Indeed, once she is no longer a child in the Senzo story, she is fair game for possession.
  • Pure Is Not Good
  • Satellite Character: She hangs around with Jei and whatever vessel he has at the moment. As the stories go on she interacts with everyone else less and less.
  • Where I Was Born and Razed: She dwelt with her old grandfather in an isolated hut. The place burnt to the ground shortly after his death, and she - left with nothing in the world but the clothes on her back - followed Jei, who had avenged her grandfather's death.

Noriko

Tomoe's cousin or more acturately, her sister, Noriko was hired by Lord Sanada to mine for gold in mountains in Geishu territory, making false rumors of a plague to scare people away from finding the site. She treats her slaves brutally and heartlessly, with no regard for their lives.

  • Bad Boss: She is willing to murder her slaves if they mess up or slack off.
  • Cain and Abel: She and Tomoe.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Her nickname is "The Blood Princess"
  • Cats Are Mean: While other characters in this series avert this trope, such as Tomoe herself, to say that Noriko lives up to it would be and understatement.
  • Dark Action Girl
  • Death Glare: Gives one to Tomoe when ordering her to pick up a basket for slave labor. Of course, Tomoe is unfazed by it, responding just by giving Noriko a Death Glare of her own.
  • Disney Villain Death: Flees into the gold mine just before it blows up, burying her under the mountain. We're then shown her surviving and escaping being Buried Alive by squeezing through a crevice and swimming through an underground river which leads outside, but this turns out to be a nightmare Tomoe is having. Still, we never saw the body...
  • Evil Counterpart: To Tomoe
  • Faux Affably Evil: She invites Tomoe to sit and drink sake with her, acting all friendly, welcoming, and elegant... just to set her up for the horrid revalation that she murdered her father.
  • Freudian Excuse: She is a total psychopath who casually kills peasants and enjoys inflicting suffering on others. However, she had a pretty unfair childhood. Her mother had her through an affair with her husband's brother, aka Tomoe's father, making her Tomoe's half sister. Her legal father couldn't stand the sight of her knowing where she really came from and sent her off to live with her blood father, who refused to acknowledge her as his daughter due to the scandal it would make. She was always jealous of Tomoe who was well loved and well treated. Then again, she had homicidal tendencies since childhood, so that may have contributed to why she was hated by Tomoe's family. It wasn't explained.
    • How much of Noriko's past qualifies as a Freudian Excuse could depend on what your theories on it are. It's true that Tomoe's father, Tastutaro did refuse to acknowledge her as his daughter due to the scandal it would make, Word of God says that it was Noriko's cruelty and sadism that made him not want to acknowledge her as his niece either.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: She's introduced sparring with her cousin Tomoe using wooden swords, winning, and then savagely beating a now unarmed Tomoe to the ground. She does this again (minus the wooden swords) when she reveals that not only are she and Tomoe half-sisters but she also killed Tomoe's father after he refused to acknowledge her as his daughter, literally kicking Tomoe while she's down and in shock. She also killed a slave when he got tired.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: We were right off the bat on Noriko being a member of Tomoe's family. We were just wrong about which family member.
  • Patricide: She actually committed this crime twice!! She poisoned her adoptive dad and stabbed her biological one in the back!
  • Psycho for Hire: She arguably decided to serve a ruthless warlord specifically so that she'd be able to satisfy her sadistic kicks.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: She gets violently angry when things don't go her way.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red Oni to Tomoe's Blue Oni.
  • Sadist
  • Self-Made Orphan: Killed both of her fathers.
  • Shoot the Dog: She is willing to kill a slave if they get to tired or mess up a task she gives him or her.
  • Slasher Smile: Her most frequent facial expression.
  • The Sociopath: Ever since she was a child.
  • The Unfavorite / Bastard Bastard: She's shunted to her aunt's after her mom dies because her uncle is actually her biological father (mom and aunt are sisters). Aunty doesn't like her very much and then bio-dad straight-up tells her he'll never accept her as his daughter, so she kills him and poisons her "step" father for being weak. She reveals all of this to her The Favorite cousin Tomoe while beating her to the ground (on top of having worked a day in Noriko's mine). For Noriko, it's a very satisfying beating.
  • Villainous Breakdown: She had one when a slave revolt was starting and as everything went downhill for her, it got worse and worse and worse.

The Neko Ninja

The most frequently encountered ninja clan in the series, principally because they are the agents Lord Hikiji uses when he has dirty business to do and can't have his name attached to it. They are frequently antagonists of the heroes.

  • Enemy Mine: They ally with Usagi to face Lord Tamakuro. They then declare that they have no further alliance with Usagi.
  • We Have Reserves: Usagi and his companions have killed a lot, to say nothing of those lost to Lord Tamakuro in The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy. By the end of Grasscutter II it's clear that they cannot continue to sustain such terrible losses, leading Chizu to question their continued association with Bad Boss Hikiji.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: In many early stories the Neko ninja were simply a vast swarm of interchangeable cats in black garments. However, over time the series has focused on individual ninja, examined their philosophy and gone into detail about the reasons for their service to the Bigger Bad. In addition to the consequences of sustaining such horrific losses throughout the series.

Shingen

Chizu

  • Dark Action Girl: Her clan serves Hikiji. Eventually, just Action Girl.
  • Friendly Enemy: Gets substantial Ship Tease with Usagi. She's shared more on-page kisses with him than any other character. In fact, just about every storyline between them ends with a kiss (sometimes initiated by our hero himself!)
  • Femme Fatale
  • Ninja: Becomes the kashira after her brother's death.
  • Noble Demon: During her tenure, she makes a number of decisions that she claims are Pragmatic Villainy but which probably stem from her personal code of ethics.
  • Team Mom: When she becomes head of the clan. Not all of the Neko are pleased...
  • Trauma Conga Line: When Kagemaru pulls his coup, she has all her friends and allies turned against her, she's cut, poisoned, and dropped into a moat. Kimi finds her sick, freezing and bleeding on the side of a building later on and a barely coherent Chizu must accept that she's now a nukenin (fugitive ninja).

Kagemaru

  • The Star Scream: He successfully manipulated Lord Hebi and Chizu, allowing him to usurp command of the Neko clan.
  • Smug Snake: He smirks a lot.

General Fujii

One of the more memorable bandit chiefs Usagi faced; a renegade former samurai of considerable skill and cunning.

  • Bad Boss: He has no concern for the lives of his own men and at one point destroys a bridge to make a getaway, leaving several of his men on the other side.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows
  • Card-Carrying Villain: He doesn't gloat exactly, but when Usagi calls him a "monster", Fujii just calmly responds: "Yes, I suppose I am."
  • Genre Blindness: He stole Usagi's swords. He even had the option of putting down the swords and walking away, but he felt he had to prove himself superior.
  • It's Personal: He makes things personal between himself and Usagi by stealing Usagi's swords, and later using them to cut down an argumentative village elder.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Made the villagers build a wall around their village, supposedly to protect them from bandits, and then locked them up inside and forced them to work for him.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Invoked the trope by name.
    Fujii: Bah! I'm surrounded by idiots and cowards.
  • Villainous Breakdown: He has one when Usagi finally catches up with him after he steals his swords.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Insists on being called "General".

Yamaguchi Kyosai

A mercenary first encountered by Usagi as an enemy, next time as an ally. Quite cordial outside work.

  • Punch-Clock Villain: Ceases attacking Usagi the moment the stone he attempts to steal breaks, rendering the point moot - and has absolutely no hard feelings about it the next time they meet.

Koroshi, the League of Assassins

  • Beneath Notice: The League's members like to disguise themselves as peasants, monks, beggars, and other unremarkable individuals to move openly and get close to their targets.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: While some of the Koroshi are openly dangerous, murderous types, the really nasty and dangerous ones wouldn't hurt a fly!... for free, anyway.
  • Carnival of Killers: A travelling troupe of circus performers turned out to be members of the League, and ambushed Usagi because they recognized him and thought he was a shogun spy there to arrest them.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Generally speaking, the more harmless a minor character seems, the better the odds that somebody's going to die mysteriously within a few pages.
  • Evil Old Folks: The highest-ranking assassins are positively ancient, and just as deadly as in their youth, if not more so.
  • Ninja: Unlike the titled ninjas in the comic, the Koroshi are shinobi as they actually once existed.
  • The Unseen: The directors of Koroshi rarely, if ever, meet Usagi face to face.

The Komori Ninja

The Komori are a ninja clan that are constantly striving to gain Lord Hikiji's favor and become his principal servants. They are relentless and bloodthirsty, but (for the most part) not terribly bright. To make up for their lack of hands, they wear blades strapped to the leading edge of each wing, turning their dive attacks into a sort of guillotine.

  • Bat Out of Hell
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: Very jagged, very numerous.
  • We Have Reserves: They appear in swarms and fight to the last bat.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: In the early stories the Komori were a vast swarm of interchangeable bats in ninja garb. Moreover, they tended to be more overly villainnous, sadistic and one-dimensional than their Neko counterparts, who were depicted with more personality. However, in more recent stories more varied and honorable Komori characters have appeared, such as Kurokaze, the kashira of the Komori clan who is shown to respect Chizu for her skills, and Kazehime, a female Komori ninja whose life Usagi saves during a raging storm.

The Mogura Ninja

A third ninja clan that has only appeared once or twice. They don't seem to have a daimyo to sponsor them, acting as mercenary spies and saboteurs instead. These moles have poor day vision and burrowing abilities, so they tend to rely heavily on ambush by night.

  • Tunnel King: They use their ability to quickly dig through the earth for theft and ambushes.
  • Wolverine Claws: As moles, they have large claws on their hands that they use for digging and doubles as lethal weapons.

    Others 

Lord Mifune

Usagi's beloved lord, defeated by Lord Hikiji's forces thanks to General Toda's treachery at the Battle of Adachigahara. The war was caused by Hikiji sending the Neko Ninja to murder his wife and child. Usagi personally decapitates his lord's body to ensure his head isn't used as a trophy.

  • Benevolent Boss: Cared very much for his vassals' well-being. So much so that he expressly forbade his retainers from committing seppuku in the event of his death, which is why Usagi didn't kill himself after fulfilling his last duty to his lord and burying his decapitated head in a secret location during the Battle of Adachigahara.
  • Posthumous Character: He appears only during flashbacks.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Everybody seems to agree that he wielded his authority with great responsibility. He honored his vassals' service to him.
  • Shout-Out: To Toshiro Mifune.

The Woodcutters

Two monkeys, husband and wife, who have an amazing - and totally coincidental - tendency to travel to whatever area Usagi is in: they're routinely seen in any scene set on a road. They play a minor role in stories in Book 3 and Book 9, and come within a hair of being the victim of a villain in Book 22, but ordinarily they have no lines and are simply seen passing by. They refer to each other as "husband" and "wife".

The Snitch

A hooded figure who first appeared in Space Usagi, he sells information to anyone with enough money.

  • Actually Pretty Funny: When he's finally caught doing an elaborate double-cross, Gen isn't sure whether to be angry or amused.
    Stray Dog: "You've been playing us against each other -"
    Gen: "- and charging us for it! I'd wring your neck if I didn't admire you so much."
  • Hidden Depths: He's a coward and a weakling, but he does have considerable archery skills. After sending an entire gang of sellswords at Usagi to tire him out, he very near kills him with a well-aimed arrow to the head. Usagi wouldn't have even noticed it had Inazuma not caught it.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Eventually, one of the large violent men he sold out catches him alone in a secluded location, beats him to within an inch of his life, and takes all his money.
  • No Name Given: He's just "The Snitch," though his Space Usage counterpart was named Toady.
  • Perpetual Poverty: He gets generous payments in almost every appearance, and yet the next time he appears in-series, he still seems to be offering information for a few zeni. Apparently, though he is very good at making money, he is utterly terrible at keeping it.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: He'll snitch to the heroes too. But villains usually pay more.
  • Recurring Traveler: He pops up in many different towns over the course of the series. No justification is attempted, although it's entirely possible that he's been run out of every town.

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