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Western Samurai

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It's not-Mitsurugi. Not "not Mitsurugi", but not-Mitsurugi... oh, forget it.

The Samurai are like the Japanese counterpart of Knights; proud, heavily trained warriors that dedicated themselves to a master (unless they're Rōnin), wield fancy steel swords, and generally keep the peace. The Western Samurai are samurai of non-Japanese heritage, black or white and 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 plain ignorance, since for them Everything's Better with Samurai.

Compare and contrast McNinja, another Japanese warrior class (and rivals of the samurai) 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 is 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.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The eponymous protagonist from Afro Samurai is a black samurai with considerable skills in a Schizo Tech version of feudal Japan.
  • Berserk: A curious inversion with Azan, a European-style knight in plate armor who acts like a samurai without any direct reference to bushido: he delivers challenges to his enemies, is famous for having once defended a bridge single-handedly, has a Rage Helm that looks like a snarling warrior, etc.
  • 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!
  • Mifune from Soul Eater is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed samurai of non-Japanese descent. Lampshaded when a group of Samurai mooks of Arachnophobia call him a fake samurai, to which he sneers back that Japanese nationality isn't the only requisite for being a samurai.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Hiccup in Hiccups 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 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The titular Ghost Dog from Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai is an African American hitman 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jef Costello from Le Samoura├» is a French hitman that follows the Bushido Code of Honour.

  • 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.
  • The Cyber Dragons Trilogy by C.T. Phipps has Snake as the protagonist's Evil Mentor. He's a Mexican cartel assassin turned New Yakuza boss. Snake has fully embraced being a samurai and trains his students as modern ninja. Notably, at least one of his students thinks he's completely insane.
  • 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.
  • In Island in the Sea of Time (Series), Marian Alston is an African-American woman who has received samurai training.
  • Overlord (2012): Brain Unglaus is an Arrogant Swordplay Guy whose Speed Blitz fighting style lead him to adopt an expensive imported katana as his weapon. He takes up a Ronin-esque lifestyle after losing to Gazef Stronoff in a tournament to determine the kingdom's Warrior-Captain.
  • 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.
  • The Seanchan from The Wheel of Time are the descendants of an expeditionary force from the very European Westlands that was sent out to discover what lay beyond the Aryth Ocean. What they discovered was a dangerous (if resource-rich and not uninhabited) continent which they eventually tamed into an empire. The resulting intermixing of cultures and peoples created an entire civilization of this trope. Some are distinctly Asian in appearance, but even those that bear more ethnic similarities to their colonizing forebears only rudimentarily resemble their Westland cousins (who haven't changed all that much over the centuries) due to their manner of dress, accents, and ways of thinking.
  • Young Samurai: The protagonist, Jack Fletcher, is the son of an English sailor who's stranded in Japan after his father is murdered by the ninja Dokugan Ryu. He's adopted by the samurai Masamoto Takeshi and becomes a student at his dojō, where he studies Niten Ichi-ryū.

    Live-Action TV 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warriors of the Draconis Combine in BattleTech follow samurai tradition and attempt to live by the codes of bushido. However, only a small fraction of the Combine's population is actually Japanese, so it has many samurai who are African, Arabian, Indian (in this case referring to India), or European in ethnicity.
  • Samurai and Rōnin are available classes in Dungeons & Dragons. Since it doesn't come with any race or ethnic requirement, it's possible for any player to fully evoke this trope.
  • Shadowrun: Due to Japan Takes Over the World being in full effect (especially in earlier editions), samurai aesthetics are a big hit with non-Japanese Street Samurai (who are actually called that in-universe, just to make it more blatant), katana are a favoured melee weapon by physical adepts, and following bushido is a popular way for both adepts to gain their powers and highly cybered people to keep their grip on humanity. Defied by the Renraku Red Samurai Elite Mooks, however, as the corps' intense Japanese jingoism means they never permit foreigners (or women, or non-human metatypes) in their ranks.

  • G.I. Joe: Budo is the G.I. Joe Team's samurai warrior (although why a modern special forces team needs a samurai warrior is a question not addressed). His real name is Kyle A. Jesso, his rank is that of sergeant E-5, and he was born in Sacramento, California. According to his file card, his father was an orthodontist in Oakland, his grandfather a farmer in Fresno, his great-grandfather a track-worker on the Rocky Mountain Line, and his great-great grandfather was a fencing master in one of Japan's last great samurai warrior families. Budo was given the family swords on his eighteenth birthday, as well as a haiku written by his ancestor.

    Video Games 
  • 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 
  • BlazBlue: Hakumen at first would look and sound like a traditional Japanese samurai, with not just the armor and sword but also the appropriate fighting style (only with a strange-looking helmet). Beneath that helmet, however, he's the Western (likely English) Jin Kisaragi - who is still this by himself, with his Iaijutsu Practitioner style. His decidedly Japanese name is because he's adopted to the family.
  • Fire Emblem: The Myrmidon, a Fragile Speedster warrior class that specializes in critical hits, wields mostly saber-style weapons and often comes from some country in "the East". Exactly how eastern varies between games - some myrmidons appear vaguely Turkish, while others are outright samurai - but Rōnin aesthetics are common. Fates, which has a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Japan in a central role, simply renames the Myrmidon class to Samurai.
  • Final Fantasy XIV features both the heroic and villainous archetypes in the Player Character and Zenos yae Galvus. While the Warrior of Light is chosen by a traveling samurai from the game's Fantasy Counterpart Culture version of Japan and trained to become an honorable warrior, Zenos is the brutal ruler of the China-equivalent who wields a katana out of sheer admiration for their killing power and explicitly has no interest in following any code other than his bloodlust.
  • "Samurai" is a class in Golden Sun and its sequels, accessed by equipping a certain combination of Djinn to an Earth or Fire Adept. Most of the player characters are from the setting's Europe-equivalent continent, so using that class would make them this trope.
    • Lampshaded and played for laughs in the "Golden Sun Gag Battle" manga, where using the Samurai class gives normally-blonde Isaac a black topknot hairstyle and third-person formal Antiquated Linguistics, to the confusion of his friends.
    • The only playable Japanese-equivalent character is Himi in Dark Dawn, and she is inexplicably locked out of the Samurai class despite being an Earth Adept.
  • Nagoriyuki from Guilty Gear -Strive- is a Nightless born in Nigeria and studied the way of the samurai in Japan, which led him to change his name. He also might have trained under the resident McNinja Chipp Zanuff's master.
  • Samuel "Jetstream" Rodrigues from Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is a Japanese-Brazilian cyborg (in reality a human with a nanotechnology armor) with part-Japanese ancestry who has an iaijutsu-based fighting style. He inherited from his father a katana named "Murasama", modified by him to be a High-Frequency Blade just like Raiden's own sword. Raiden himself is the Foil of "Jetstream" for being a Ninja with non-Japanese origins.
  • Nioh:
    • Based off of the real historical figure, William Adams is an Irish-born Englishman who soon adopts samurai armor and samurai weapons in the game.
    • Late in the game, you meet the first actual non-Japanese samurai ever, an African man known as Yasuke who was a retainer to Oda Nobunaga.
  • 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 from various menaces. And from the same game, there's "J", an obvious expy of Afro Samurai.
  • In countries like South Korea, when the Soul series came knocking, Namco feared backlash for the character Mitsurugi, since samurai are rather taboo in Asian countries that aren't Japan. For the first Soulcalibur (after Hwang, who was created to replace Mitsurugi in Soul Edge, became his own separate character), they gave him a makeover and called the result Arthur (pictured), a blond British gentleman with an Eyepatch of Power. Eventually, Arthur received a larger role as a minor character appearing alongside rather than in place of Mitsurugi. Arthur is loosely based on the real life William Adams.

    Web Original 

    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, who 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."
    • There's also Da Samurai, a black dude who dresses the part just to look cool, but behaves obnoxiously. Jack, finding his act disgraceful, engages him in battle and takes him down a peg or two, while at the same time teaching him about true samurai values.

    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. He influenced the design of Soul Calibur character Arthur, who replaced Mitsurugi in certain builds of the game.
  • 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.
  • "Yasuke" (nickname given by the Japanese, his true name is not recorded) was an African man of indeterminate origin (most scholars guess that he was from what is today Mozambique) who was taken in by Oda Nobunaga as a samurai. Reportedly, Nobunaga was fascinated by Yasuke and struck up a friendship with him. Sadly, following Nobunaga's death at the hands of Akechi Mitsuhide, Yasuke disappears from history, and what happened to him is unclear. Some records claim he was sent back to Christian missionaries, though others suspect Akechi simply had him disposed of.


Video Example(s):


Ghost Dog

The titular Ghost Dog 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.

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