List of Samurai Shodown characters

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This is a list of characters appearing in the Samurai Shodown series. Characters included into the list are characters exclusive to the fighting games and not the spin-offs or mobile games.

3D series characters[edit]

Characters included in this list originated from the Samurai Shodown 64 series, Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage, and Samurai Shodown: Sen.

Characters[edit]

Introduced in Samurai Shodown[edit]

Haohmaru[edit]

Main article: Haohmaru

Nakoruru[edit]

Nakoruru (ナコルル?) is one of the most recognized characters from the series and "mascot" (alongside Haohmaru). Since her introduction in Samurai Shodown, she appears in every title of the series, but is not playable in Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage. Her alter ego, Rera (レラ?), premiered in the PC and Dreamcast video game and single OVA Nakoruru: Ano Hito kara no Okurimono and was later incorporated into the fighting games in Samurai Shodown V.

Nakoruru's role in the game is of a defender of Mother Nature as a priestess of the Ainu religion. This idea came from a Japanese perception of the indigenous Ainu people, who live around Hokkaido, Japan. In this case, Ainu are depicted in a way analogous to the Native Americans in the United States are in other media, in that they revere nature and peacefully coexist with it. Keeping in key with her persona, Nakoruru was also used as a mascot for SNK's environmental awareness campaigns in 1994.[1] She became the Kamui warrior of Kamui Kotan after the death of her father[2] and continues to fulfill this role throughout the series (even assuming a human form after her death).[3][4] In Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage, she becomes "the holy spirit who wanders through time" in a form that resembles a Koro-pok-guru. Unable to assume her original form, she asks the player to awaken the Maiden of Light, Rimururu, who has been sealed by Oboro.[5] She fights with a kodachi, and, depending on the form, a hawk named Mamahaha (in Slash) or a wolf named Shikuru (in Bust form). To compensate for her short weapon range, players must rely on her speed to punish her opponents' mistakes. She can also recover from her moves a little quicker than other characters, making it easier for her to hit-and-run during fights. To balance her out with the rest of the cast, her attack strength is slightly weaker than most fighters. Her move set usually incorporates slightly longer ranged attacks that project her or her animal companions to her foes so her attack range isn't limited to her sword. She can also reflect projectiles with the move, Kamui Ryusei. The girl that appears during her entrances in Capcom vs SNK is one of her childhood friends introduced in Nakoruru: Ano Hito kara no Okurimono, Manari.

Nakoruru also stars in her own game, Nakoruru: Ano Hito kara no Okurimono. She makes outside series appearances in the Game Boy port of The King of Fighters '95, King of Fighters 2000 (as a special Striker), Capcom vs SNK, Capcom vs. SNK 2, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium, Neo Geo Battle Coliseum,[6] SNK Gals' Fighters, the mobile game Neo Geo Tennis Coliseum,[7][8] and the dating sim Days of Memories: Oedo Love Scroll.[9][10] An alternate version of her, known as Purple Nakoruru, a tribute to the concept that later evolved into Rera (though this version fights with Mamahaha, like in the first and second games, rather than Shikuru) is playable in Samurai Shodown VI. SNK-Playmore also created a social action program for children using Nakoruru and Fatal Fury star, Terry Bogard, as their mascots.[11] She is a featured character in several of the series' drama cds and stars in her own character image cd.[12] She also is a member in SNK's character image band, Band of Fighters.[13] As a popular moe character, Nakoruru also has several figurines made in her image from various game appearances.[14][15]

Ukyo Tachibana[edit]

Ukyo Tachibana (橘 右京 Tachibana Ukyō?) is a character introduced in Samurai Shodown who continues to appear in most titles of the series. He is originally based on the famed swordsman, Sasaki Kojirō, one of Musashi's most famous rivals. Parallel to their historical counterparts, Ukyo was Haohmaru's rival in the first game but this idea is dropped upon Genjuro's introduction in Samurai Shodown II.[16] In both SS and SSII Haohmaru and Ukyo fight in the same stages but Ukyo fights there at night, mirroring the actual famous Ganryūjima duel that took place between Musashi and Kojirō; however the actual island is located in the Seto Inland Sea near Shimonoseki, not in the Izu Islands, and thus Mount Fuji cannot be seen from it.

Ukyo is an expert iaijutsu swordsman with a body stricken with tuberculosis. Despite having several women chasing for his affections, he treasures only his lone confidante, Kei Odagiri.[17] He resists developing further feelings for her (due to his limited lifespan and her noble status) but continues to fight for her as a show of devotion. In Samurai Shodown, he hears news that the ultimate flower resides in Makai and decides to present it to Kei in gratitude.[18] He continues to fight for Kei throughout the series until she marries another man.[3][19][20] Beginning in Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage, Ukyo moves on to another woman named Saki who also suffers from the same disease. In his ending, he finds a cure for both of their illnesses but chooses to give it to Saki rather than take it for himself. He dies shortly after.[21]

Ukyo is relatively defensive, relying on his quick sword strikes to punish his opponents' mistakes. Though his sprite is of average size, Ukyo jumps slowly –almost as slow as bigger characters like Earthquake or Tam Tam – and may be an open target if used too unwisely. One of his moves, Tsubame Gaeshi, is a direct reference to his historical inspiration. Players may use this move whilst in the air to counter most aerial or ground assaults. He was first perceived by players to be overpowered in Samurai Shodown II, but he has been toned down since then.[22] He is the embodiment of a Japanese gentleman back in the 18th century. As an archaic show of romanticism, he often composes haiku to best describe his thoughts during and after fights to avoid sounding brash. His poetry, however, is often omitted in most of the English translations, save for his ending in Samurai Shodown IV and Samurai Shodown 64 iterations.

Ukyo is playable in all the tiles of the series excluding Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage (PlayStation). He also makes an appearance in the dating sim Days of Memories: Oedo Love Scroll.[9][10] In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Ukyo was tied with Haohmaru for 29th (out of 50) the staff's favorite character rank.[23] He was also a highly fan requested character for Neo Geo Battle Coliseum. Developers, however, decided to not place him in as Haohmaru already had his rival, Genjuro, present thus there was no need for Ukyo.[24]

Hanzo Hattori[edit]

Hanzo Hattori (服部 半蔵 Hattori Hanzō?) is one of the few characters introduced in Samurai Shodown that appears in every title of the series. He is based on the historical figure of the same name, who was a Tokugawa ninja and head of a clan in Iga. Like several other mythical incarnations, he is an old friend to Jubei due to their ties to the Tokugawa clan. He also married a Koga ninja, Kaede, quelling a long feud between the two ninja clans that is often romanticized in the historical novel The Kouga Ninja Scrolls.

He is the mightiest of the Iga ninja, employed under the Tokugawa shogunate. Leading his band of ninja, he specializes in assassination attacks against their enemies. For instance, in Samurai Shodown V, Hanzo is given the task to execute the traitor to Yoshitora's father.[25] In Samurai Shodown, he discovers his son, Shinzo, exhibiting mysterious mannerisms due to Amakusa's possession. He fights to save his son but only succeeds in recovering Shinzo's body.[26] Eventually, Hanzo learns that Shinzo's soul is still in the demon world so he sets out with his wife and his second son, Kanzo, to retrieve it. In his ending to Samurai Shodown II, they succeed but Kaede sacrifices herself to unite her son's soul to his body. Despite the hardship, he continues to serve his lord with his sons by his side.[27] Shinzo eventually accepts the title "Hanzo" in Warriors Rage.

Comparable to other ninja in fiction, Hanzo's ninjutsu focuses on the mystical properties of the style rather than its physical fighting techniques. He possesses the ability to teleport and trick his attackers with a dummy when hit. He can also create multiple illusions of himself in hopes of misleading his opponents for an open strike. He later integrates a heavy emphasis on bone-breaking grappling, a trait that follows him in his newer appearances. When first introduced, he and Galford nearly mirrored each other in most aspects. As the series progresses, however, Hanzo becomes the slightly slower but more powerful of the two ninja. His projectile element is fire, whereas his counterpart, Galford, is lightning. He can also throw shurikens and use a variety of bombs to stun or damage his enemies.

In Samurai Shodown RPG, he was an occasional guest member controlled by the computer and thus was unplayable. He also appears as a secret character in another SNK-Playmore game, KOF: Maximum Impact 2. He has one known action figure, based on his appearance in Samurai Shodown 64.[28]

In Gamest's 1997 "Heroes Collection", Hanzo ranked #46 of the staff's favorite characters, sharing the spot with seven other characters, including Art of Fighting character, Robert Garcia and Darkstalkers character, Demitri Maximoff.[23] He was also featured on several lists of top ten ninja characters in video games, including by 1UP.com in 2004 (#9),[29] by The Armchair Empire in 2006 (#10),[30] and by CrunchGear in 2008 (#3).[31]

Jubei Yagyu[edit]

Jubei Yagyu (柳生 十兵衛 Yagyū Jūbee?) is a recurring character who was introduced in the first Samurai Shodown. He was dropped from the series after Samurai Shodown II but, like Tam Tam and Charlotte, returns to the series in Samurai Shodown IV. He did; however, appeared as an exclusive unlockable final boss alongside Zankuro Minazuki in the Game Boy port of Nettou Samurai Spirits: Zankuro Musouken (a handheld port of Samurai Shodown III) which was released only in Japan. He is another interpretation of the often romanticized samurai, Yagyū Jūbei Mitsuyoshi. Like other mythical incarnations, he is the one-eyed master of Yagyū Shinkage-ryū and friends with Hanzo. Before Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage (PlayStation) debut, he was the only true samurai in the series.

In Samurai Shodown V, he teaches swordsmanship to the Tokugawa clan, with Yoshitora as his last disciple. He goes to retrieve the delinquent heir after Yoshitora's father (implied to be Tokugawa Ieharu) passes away.[32] He decides to become a ronin by the time Samurai Shodown takes place, abandoning the strict and regulated life of the dojo and Japanese nobility, to pursue personal enlightenment. Throughout the series, Jubei is hired by the shogunate to kill the demons that wander Japan.

His role in Samurai Shodown RPG doubles as a sensei to his own dojo and an agent to the bakufu. He asks the party to further his investigation for him since he has to teach the lord's sons swordsmanship. In the second chapter, he suffers a mortal blow from one of Mizuki's minions, Agon, and his spirit gets sucked into one of the Evil Bells.

He fights with twin katana with slow, powerful strikes. Early in the series, he became well known by players for his armed parrying move, a command that could counter certain strikes from his foes if timed correctly. He has three other special commands that follow him in later appearances: Nikkaku Ratō (二ッ角羅刀?) – a rushing uppercut, Kattotsu Suigetsutou (喝咄水月刀?) – a ground projectile, and Hassō Happa (八相発破?) – a multi-hitting slash technique. In Samurai Shodown IV, his Slash form retains most of his old moveset. His Bust form's moveset, however, centers around parrying his opponents' attacks and breaking their guard. Due to the down-to-earth principles in most of his attacks, Jubei is best used by players who can easily predict their challenger's attacks. The food he eats during his winposes and taunts in Samurai Shodown II is dango (a kind of Japanese dumpling).

Jubei is also playable in Samurai Shodown VI, and Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny. According to a Gamest Mook (a Japanese mook created separate from its main publication), he was planned to appear in Samurai Shodown 64 but was taken out due to time constraints.[33]

Galford D. Weller[edit]

Galford D. Weller (ガルフォード=D=ウェラー Garufōdo Dī Werā?) is a recurring character since his introduction in Samurai Shodown. He fights alongside his pet husky, Poppy, and is also accompanied by Poppy's puppies, Papa, Pipi, and Pipa.[34]

After the death of his father, Galford left his three older sisters and one younger sister to become a sailor, where he learned about the ninja of Japan. Fascinated by their stories of heroics and mysticism, he decided to learn from them. He completes his training in the Koga style under Ayame, the wife of Hanzo's master (Earthquake trained with him too but quit early). Throughout the series, Galford seeks to uphold justice throughout the land (eventually as a superhero of justice).[3] He has unrequited feelings for Nakoruru.[35][36] During the events of Samurai Shodown: Sen Galford confronts his father's Killer, Draco. He kills Draco and avenges his father and continues to fight in the name of justice.

When first introduced, he and Hanzo nearly mirrored each other in several aspects such as confusing foes with teleportation, illusions, and surprise piledriving. His main deviation from Hanzo is the addition of his dog, Poppy. With her, players can command her to maul, tackle, teleport above foes, or use illusions to copy Galford. In Samurai Shodown III, his Slash form integrates a heavier reliance on Poppy, creating a quick, hit-and-run style of fighting. His Bust form, however, relies on grappling and aggressive up-close combat. As the series progresses, Galford becomes faster but slightly less powerful than Hanzo. His lightening projectile, or "plasma" as it is dubbed by the creators, differentiates from Hanzo's fire as it only flies horizontally straight rather than traveling along the ground in a slinky-like motion.

Galford stage is set in California, in the year 1778, in that year California was part of the New Spain colonial territories, officially in the game he is from Hero city (port [?]), San Francisco, California, USA. But the USA was a 13 state country in the eastern side of the American continent, thus making him a Spaniard, unless the Samurai Shodown universe has an alternate version of United States history. Galford is playable in all of the games in the series with the exception of Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage (PlayStation). His Bust form appears as a separate character from him in Samurai Shodown VI.[37] In the 1997 Gamest Hero collection, Galford was tied at fifteenth place as the staff's favorite character (along with Street Fighter's Ken and Fatal Fury character, Ryuji Yamazaki).[23]

Charlotte Christine de Colde[edit]

Charlotte Christine de Colde (シャルロット=クリスティーヌ=ド=コルデ Sharurotto Kurisutīnu do Korude?) is a recurring character who was introduced in Samurai Shodown. She was dropped from the series after Samurai Shodown II but, like Tam Tam and Jubei, she returns in Samurai Shodown IV. Her physical design is based on Oscar François de Jarjayes from the manga The Rose of Versailles. Unlike Lady Oscar, Charlotte accepts her femininity, wears a skirt below her waist and hates it when people refer to her as a man (reflected in her pre-fight quotes).

She is a minor French noble who prefers the company of commoners.[34] Whilst on her travels through the French countryside, she caught word of a "series of calamities" with no natural pretenses. She leaves her home to investigate and ends up traveling to Japan in order to do battle with Amakusa who is the source of the evil plaguing her home country.[38] Afterwards, she returns home to take part in the French Revolution.[39] In Samurai Shodown II, she finds Ambrosia to be the further source of the malice occurring around the world and journeys again to defeat the deity.[40] At this time, she falls in love with Haohmaru, but temporarily ends her affections when she sees his lover, Oshizu.[41] Later (in Samurai Shodown VI), it is shown that she has a close relationship with Haohmaru. He travels all the way to France from Japan to visit her.[42][43] She returns to Japan for similar reasons during her other appearances.

Common with most fencers, most of her slashing attacks revolve around stabbing from a distance, avoiding body contact as much as possible. Her most powerful strike is a three-point slash, forming a triangle when completely drawn. Her standing kicks hop her across a short distance and are capable of avoiding some low ground attacks. When first introduced, her move set only consisted of Splash Front, a button mashing move which traveled her forward, and Power Gradation, a perfectly vertical anti-air attack. Her next appearance in Samurai Shodown II granted her access to Tri-Slash, a chargeable projectile.

Charlotte also went on to be playable in Samurai Shodown RPG, Samurai Shodown 4, Samurai Shodown V, Samurai Shodown VI, and Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny.

Kyoshiro Senryo[edit]

Kyoshiro Senryo (千両 狂死郎 Senryō Kyōshirō?) is a character introduced in Samurai Shodown and continues to appear in later titles of the series. His name derives from Japanese words with theatrical undercurrents: Senryō (千両?) literally means "1000 ryō", but it can also refer to star actors (i.e., the full phrase senryō yakusha (千両役者?) refers to actors with a rather high salary); Kyōshi (狂死?) means "dying insane"; the (?) is a merely common suffix for male names. He most likely takes inspiration from film character, Nemuri Kyoshiro, a sleepy-eyed samurai who travels around Japan.

He is a master of the ancient art of kabuki, utilizing its artful interpretations and majestic actions to construct a "beautiful fighting art". In Samurai Shodown V, convinced people are sad because of the current state in Japan, Kyoshiro decides to cheer people up with his acts. He decides to go on the road, in the hopes of perhaps finding a new Kabuki style and using his adventure as the story for his Kabuki act. He achieves this in his ending and fights someone who resembles SNK character, Sho Hayate, to determine who has the more aesthetic and effective fighting style.[44] He continues his travels across the land, determined to spread the wonder of his art throughout the series. Unexpectedly, his companion becomes possessed by a demon.[18] Determined to prove his strength, he slays him/her and sets out on a vendetta against others. After Mizuki is sealed a second time in the Makai, he speaks to the now-free priestess Bizuki and restores her faith by making her his new assistant.[45]

He fights with a naginata and fans. True to his profession, he speaks in a theatrical dialect as though he were in a play, letting his audience and opponent know how or what he is doing. For instance, when he is defeated, he cries "I feel regretful!" or when he jumps, he cries, "And here (I am)!".

Kyoshiro is also playable in Samurai Shodown III, Samurai Shodown IV, Samurai Shodown RPG, Samurai Shodown VI, and Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny.

Tam Tam[edit]

Tam Tam (タムタム Tamu Tamu?) is a recurring character who was introduced in Samurai Shodown. He was dropped from the series after his appearance in Samurai Shodown but, like Jubei and Charlotte, he returns in Samurai Shodown IV.

He is the greatest warrior and hero of his village, Green Hell. The location, according to the SS map, is in Venezuela ("Green Hell" was the nickname of Kourou, a town in French Guiana, however it is portrayed as having a civilization similar to the Aztecs and Incas, which are found in neither Venezuela nor the Guianas). Hearing from the village elders that their sacred artifact is missing, he takes the responsibility of retrieving their stolen treasure, the mysterious jewel called the "Palenke Stone" (named after Palenque). He retrieves it and returns peace to his village.[46] He also protects his village from Amakusa a second time, but fails to prevent the thievery of the village's second artifact, the "Tanjil Stone".[47] As divine punishment, he is transformed into a chimpanzee, Paku Paku. In this form, he helps his younger sister Cham Cham recover both stones for his village.[48]

The Tam Tam in Samurai Shodown V is a different warrior, using his legendary mask in his stead. After the original failed, the second Tam Tam sets out to save the original. In his ending, the second Tam Tam places the magical mask on the deceased first. Once the mask is back on, the original Tam Tam comes back to life.[49]

Tam Tam is also playable in Samurai Shodown VI. He also makes an appearance in Samurai Shodown RPG, briefly as a human before remaining the rest of the game as Cham Cham's monkey companion, Paku Paku.

Earthquake[edit]

Earthquake (アースクェイク Āsukweiku?) is a character who was introduced in Samurai Shodown and was dropped from the character lineup after Samurai Shodown II. He continues to make cameo appearances in characters' endings.

He is a Texan who had trained under the same master as the ex-sailor Galford, Ayame, but quit early due to lack of interest. Thanks to some of this training, however, despite his enormous body, huge in both height and girth, Earthquake became deceptively fast and tricky. His ninjutsu combined with his size makes him a formidable warrior. He uses this to his advantage and becomes a bandit, somehow being the leader of his own bandit gang. When Amakusa starts creating havoc, he decides to steal all of the world's treasure. A year later, Mizuki telepathically hires him, telling him that if he killed those she told him to, she would reward him with gold. After the defeat of Mizuki, Earthquake and his henchmen go to the Makai, enchanted by the promise of greater treasure. After they enter, the entrance is sealed and they are never heard from again.[50]

One of Earthquake's earliest advantages over several fighters was the incredible reach of his kusarigama, reaching fighters from nearly the other side of the field without too much trouble. His main move was to spin rapidly and travel across the screen. His attacks are powerful but slow and his height makes him an easy target if he missed. His moves were also limited, making it sometimes difficult to catch quick characters. In Samurai Shodown II, he gained more ninjutsu techniques to better compensate for his weaknesses such as teleporting, fire breathing, and illusions. He also cannot be tossed into the air like other characters; if the throw command is used against him, a unique attack animation is substituted instead. If needed, he can also fight opponents with his farts and burps.

Earthquake also appears in Samurai Shodown VI, Samurai Shodown RPG (as an unplayable minor villain), and the crossover fighting game SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom. In one fan's response to SNK's Neo Geo Battle Coliseum Q&A section, developers admit that they were thinking of implementing Earthquake into the game to balance out all of the "pretty boy" characters. However, they also told the fan to keep playing as another character in the game might replace the gap.[51]

Genan Shiranui[edit]

Genan Shiranui (不知火 幻庵 Shiranui Gen'an?) is introduced to the series in Samurai Shodown. He is a demon with green skin. Like Earthquake, he is a character that was dropped after Samurai Shodown II and only makes cameos in other characters' endings in other games. Both of his endings feature characters from other SNK games (Fatal Fury and Art of Fighting).

He is a member of the enigmatic Shiranui Clan, one that follows the "way of the darkness". He seeks to enligten his progress in the "way of evil". To this end, he travels Japan, killing anyone he can. However, in his travels, he encounters an unknown female ninja (who greatly resembles Mai Shiranui) and is slain.[52] In Samurai Shodown II, his soul is revived by a being calling himself "leader of the Demon World" along with a proposition of servitude. Gen-an agrees but plots to one day slay his benefactor then rule the Demon World himself.[18] In his ending to the same game, he is convinced by his wife, Azami, to return home and live in peace.

He fights with a claw, which can also be extended with a hidden chain. He can also spew poison gas to his opponents.

Genan also appears in Samurai Shodown RPG as a minor villain and as a playable character in Samurai Shodown VI.

Wan-Fu[edit]

Wan-Fu (Chinese: 王虎; Pinyin: Wánghǔ; Cantonese Yale: Wong4 Fu2; Japanese: 王虎 Wanfū) is a character who was introduced in Samurai Shodown. He was removed from the series' lineup after Samurai Shodown II but is revived for his role in the upcoming game Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny. He is one of the few characters in the series to have a "joke" ending that breaks the fourth wall. Comically, he admits to the player that "there is no ending to [his] story".[53]

He hails from a powerful family that resides in China and acts as a general in the Qing Dynasty. With his cunning battle strategies and powerful army, Wan-fu seeks to unify all of China. Hearing news of "powerful warriors" gathering in Japan, he sets out in hopes of recruiting them.[34] After Amakusa's defeat, he fails to find any "powerful warriors". A prophet appears before the furious Wan-Fu and informs him of the existence of the "Seed of Destruction", which, in exchange for one's soul, can allow its possessors to rule the world. Determined to find it all costs, as his hope of uniting China would no longer be a mere dream, he leaves his homeland again to obtain it.[18] Wan-Fu's status after Samurai Shodown II is unknown.

He is still recruiting for warriors for his army in Samurai Shodown RPG. In the second chapter, he protects Beijing along with his brother, Wan-Ron. Together, they are fine warriors and are loved by the people in the capital. However, demons infiltrate their home and brainwash both brothers to be their slaves. The neglect from their protectors brings famine to the city, and protesting citizens are imprisoned to be eaten by the demons. With the party's help, Wan-Fu breaks free of his mind control and saves his brother and people.

A peculiar trait with Wan-Fu is his ever-changing weaponry with every new game appearance. When he firsts appears, he fights with a dao, or a Chinese great sword, which later becomes his weapon again in Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny. His next appearance in Samurai Shodown II changes his weapon of choice to a stone pillar that is apparently ripped off from a temple. Finally, his weapon changes again to a chúi, or a metallic mace, in Samurai Shodown VI.

Wan-Fu appears playable again in Samurai Shodown VI. His role in Samurai Shodown RPG is a minor guest member and his actions are controlled by the computer.

Shiro Tokisada Amakusa[edit]

Shiro Tokisada Amakusa (天草 四郎 時貞 Amakusa Shirō Tokisada?) is a recurring boss and playable character in the Samurai Showdown series.[54] He is based on the historical Amakusa Shirō, who led a Christian rebellion in the Shimabara region of Japan where the bakufu army crushed his revolt and executed him.

Prior to the events of Samurai Shodown, Amakusa is resurrected by the dark goddess Ambrosia; he uses the body of Shinzo Hattori (one of Hanzo's sons).[34] His main plot involves him stealing the Palenke stone, with which he intended to bring Ambrosia to the mortal world. The player prevents this from happening by defeating him.[55] Upon his resurrection in Samurai Shodown IV, his spirit splits into two halves: one good and one evil. His evil counterpart is slain by Zankuro in the same game but his good side lives on thanks to Shinzo. During the events in Samurai Shodown II, he saves certain characters from Mizuki's wrath but is defeated, leaving only Shinzo's body for Hanzo to claim.

Amakusa fights his opponents by attacking them with a levitating gem. He can direct the gem with an impressive range, able to smash his enemies from the air and ground level from nearly any distance easily. At times, his gem may not compensate for opponents close to him so he also has a multi-hitting slap attack when he is close. To confuse his adversaries, he may also teleport and hover above them before diving upon them with a damaging attack. He also projects fiery projectiles in the image of demons to his foes, making him a formidable long-distance fighter.

In Samurai Shodown III, Samurai Shodown IV, Samurai Shodown V Special, and Samurai Shodown VI Amakusa is a playable character.[54] He returns in Samurai Shodown RPG as one of the game's main antagonists.[56] According to Gamest Mook (a Japanese mook created separate from its main publication), he was a possible candidate for the Samurai Shodown 64 lineup but was taken out due to time constraints.[33]

Kuroko[edit]

Kuroko (黒子?) was used as an official who officiated the match in early Samurai Shodown games. He starts to challenge players as a hidden boss in Samurai Shodown II and continues to do so in other games of the series. Kuroko is an alias; his real name is shown in the credits of the second game, but inkeeping with his role as a kuroko, is blurred.[57] His real name is revealed to English fans nearly a decade later as Dueling Judge: "Slick" Sukihiro.[58][59] Although he appears as his own character in the series, real life kuroko are meant to be anonymous and "invisible" stage men in Japanese theater.

He dons a red flag and a white flag (used in martial arts competitions to denote when a player hits an opponent) as his weapon. As a playable character, Kuroko parodied moves from other SNK characters, mainly from those in Fatal Fury or Art of Fighting, and unlike every other character in the game, it was his outfit that became red as his rage bar filled up. He also can't be thrown normally, like Earthquake in the same game, and apparently his flags, which he uses as weapons, can't be destroyed or lost. He becomes a copy of the player's character in Samurai Shodown III. In Samurai Shodown VI, his special moves further parodied King of Fighters characters.[60]

Kuroko continues to challenge players in Samurai Shodown 64. He returns as a character and a judge in Samurai Shodown VI[37] and serves as a save point for players in Samurai Shodown RPG.[61]

Introduced in Samurai Shodown II[edit]

Genjuro Kibagami[edit]

Genjuro Kibagami (牙神 幻十郎 Kibagami Genjūrō?), with Genjūrō meaning Mystic Tenth Son in Japanese) is a recurring character introduced in Samurai Shodown II and the official rival to Haohmaru.

He claims to have killed his family and at least a thousand other people. His mother was a prostitute and, due to her profession, he knows nothing about his father. When he was fifteen, Genjuro killed one of her clients -due to his mother's pleas for protection from her client's drunken rage. As he went to leave, she attacked him, leaving the scar on his back, and he killed her.[62] Orphaned, Nicotine spotted him and took him under his tutelage along with Haohmaru in his dojo.[3] Both students were close friends yet Genjuro's hunger for power worried Nicotine. To test his student, he decided to have them fight to determine who was stronger, with a scroll that promises power as the reward. Genjuro defeats Haohmaru but is banished for his murderous intent. He swore to kill Haohmaru and Nicotine, spiteful for their idealistic beliefs on swordplay.[63][dubious ] He hates Haohmaru especially, because he resembles the man his mother was with when he killed them (he also was attracted to Shiki at one point, as she resembled his mother).[64] His profession during his travels is a hitokiri or killer-for-hire, often accepting the more "dirty" jobs such as wiping out pirate brigades and bandit hideouts.[65][66] His former clients include Sankuro and Mizuki.[26] In Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage, Genjuro gains the upper hand in his last duel with Haohmaru. Before he could deal the final blow, a boy stabs him in vengeance for his unnamed father. It's heavily implied that Genjuro dies from his wound and, as promised, an older Haohmaru toasts to his friend's honor.

Though they both trained underneath Nicotine, his fighting style greatly differs from Haohmaru in execution. All of his special moves, as well as the scenery in his SSII stage, are direct references to the Japanese card game, hanafuda. Depending on whether a move hits or misses, the move will temporarily project the images of a "winning" combo of cards and/or a "miss" based on the featured hanafuda set. His "pet" of sorts is an unnamed orange frog, a reference to the card, Yanagi ni Ono No Toufuu, however he doesn't use it in battle. His win poses from his first appearance made several heavy references to the deck; his later win poses tone down the references. Genjuro's practical and historical inspiration is Miyamoto Musashi's first major foe, Arima Kihei, who was regarded as arrogant.

Since his introduction, Genjuro is playable in all of the games in the series with the exception of Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage (PlayStation). He also makes playable appearances in SVC Chaos: SNK vs. Capcom, Neo Geo Battle Coliseum[67] and the dating sim Days of Memories: Oedo Love Scroll.[9][10] In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, he was ranked the staff's eighteenth favorite character.[23] He was voted as the number one favorite character at the time of his debut.[68]

Nicotine Caffeine[edit]

Nicotine Caffeine (花諷院 和狆 Kafūin Nikochin?) is a character introduced into the series in Samurai Shodown II. Similar to Sieger, he was dropped from the character lineup after his introduction and is then limited to mostly cameos or background story appearances.

He is the chief priest of Koka-in (a pun on "Cocaine"), a temple deep in the mountains of Hida, and former master swordsman who taught Haohmaru and Genjuro. He once exorcised many demons in his prime but became a monk after he was defeated by a "certain evil one" (implied to be Mizuki). He leaves his temple in order to save his disciple from demons.[18] He returns home after Mizuki's defeat and continues to offer sage advise to Haohmaru on his visits. Shiki's child, Mikoto, is raised in his temple.

He fights with a wooden staff and magical sealing cards. Of these cards, he can send projectiles from a high or low angle, confusing players as to which position they should block. The character also possesses a move that can reverse controller movements for a time. Because of his small stature, his attack range is short, though largely effective once in range.

Aside from Samurai Shodown VI, Nicotine only appears playable in the game he premiered. His role in Samurai Shodown RPG was an occasional guest member thus was unplayable.

Cham Cham[edit]

Cham Cham (チャムチャム Chamu Chamu?) is a recurring character who was introduced into the series in Samurai Shodown II. Curiously, she debuted the same year as another catgirl character, Felicia; additionally, Cham Cham even has an alternative color palette that looks similar to Felicia's default colors.[69]

She is the younger sister of the character Tam Tam.[70] She secretly took a village heirloom, the "Tangiers Stone" (タンジルストーン Tanjiru Sutōn?), to play with when a goblin snatched it away.[71] She thought her parents would be angry because of it so she sets out with her pet chimpanzee "Paku Paku" (who is actually Tam Tam transformed as punishment for his failure to protect the stone)[48] in order to look for it.[72]

Cham Cham is a catgirl in appearance and has feline mannerisms; for example, she walks on all fours when disarmed (she holds her weapon in one hand when she has it). Her taunts are also animalistic (in one, she meows and stretches like a cat, while in the other, she sits on her haunches and scratches behind her ear with her foot). Her boomerang can be thrown high into the air or at ground level, leaving her unarmed for a time; however, this may not be a total disadvantage, as her claws and kicks are enough to keep her foes at bay. Paku Paku may also be summoned to attack for her, which includes three Tam Tam attacks (throwing skulls, emitting fireballs, and a spinning knee-kick attack).

Despite being a popular character, she was not featured in newer games until she appeared in the PSX port of Samurai Shodown IV, Samurai Shodown RPG, and in Samurai Shodown VI. A pachinko game was developed surrounding her, adding more friends to be like her.[73]

Neinhalt Sieger[edit]

Neinhalt Sieger (ナインハルト・ズィーガー Nainharuto Zīgā?) was introduced in Samurai Shodown II. Like Nicotine, he was dropped after his introduction and is limited to cameo appearances throughout the series.

He is a Prussian warrior and the leader of the Red Lion Knights. He went to Japan to deal with the threat of Mizuki.[18] In his ending, he saves his country from demons and is married to Elizabeth, the daughter of the Prussian King.[74]

In the spin-off, Samurai Spirits RPG, he married Queen Victoria and is protecting France against any demon attacks. He assists the party battling Mizuki whilst they are in Paris and Green Hell. However, Mizuki traps him within one of the Dark Bells, a medium which increases Ambrosia's powers and siphons evil spirits. Knowing the dangers of the Bell, he allows the party to destroy it, killing himself in the process.

His fighting style consists of unique grappling and punching techniques, better amplified by the power of his weapon. His gauntlet, which is easily capable of shielding his entire body, also possesses the ability to shoot ammunition when he expands his fist. For some time, he was one of the few characters in the series who is capable of chaining different special commands together to create a specific combo.

Sieger is also playable in Samurai Shodown VI.

Mizuki Rashoujin[edit]

Mizuki Rashoujin (羅将神 ミヅキ Rashōjin Mizuki?), known as "The Marauding Deity", is the final boss in Samurai Shodown II. She is also the first and only boss to have assistance from a pet.

The original Mizuki was a rural Japanese child abandoned by her family due to severe poverty. Bitter with hatred and consumed with revenge, she made a pact with the evil god Ambrosia roughly a thousand years before the series begins, turning herself into a demon. Since this acquisition of demonic power, she proceeds to cause worldwide disasters and calamities around the globe. However, roughly 800 years after her pact, she was challenged by a priestess named Bizuki. Despite her best efforts, Bizuki was possessed by Mizuki and sent into hibernation. She was awakened by Amakusa's powers and invokes Ambrosia's mortal resurrection. Haohmaru and Nakoruru stop her before she could succeed. Upon her defeat, both Mizuki and Ambrosia were sealed in the Makai (demon world) while Bizuki was free to live in the mortal realm as Kyoshiro's assistant.

Mizuki has a wide arsenal of attacks to choose from. In some ways, she is similar to Nicotine in that they can both shoot upper and lower angled projectiles and also reverse their foes movements. Like her predecessor, Amakusa, she also possesses the ability of teleportation, a multi-hitting slap attack, and her weapon (a gohei instead of an orb) has a large slash range and cannot be destroyed by an opponent's super special move. She can also command a demon pet to charge and maul her opponent. Her pet also has the ability to transform foes into animals, disabling their attacks for a time. Her desperation attack is a unique projectile that will boomerang back to her if her opponent jumps over it. She is also quick on her feet, easily able to close distances between her foe in quick dashes with little trouble.

She appears as the second main antagonist in Samurai Shodown RPG[56] and is a playable character in Samurai Shodown V Special and Samurai Shodown VI.

Introduced in Samurai Shodown III[edit]

Shizumaru Hisame[edit]

Shizumaru Hisame (緋雨 閑丸 Hisame Shizumaru?) is the main protagonist in Samurai Shodown III who continues to appear in other titles in the series.

He is a young amnesic boy who believes his parents and his entire family were murdered by a vile demon. Because he was deemed a "demon's child" since childhood, he lives and survives alone.[75]

During the events of Samurai Shodown V, he was taken in as a servant by a noble young couple. The husband leaves to fight in the war at Hinowa, leaving his wife, Hakana, under Shizumaru's protection. Pregnant, Hakana wants to return to her father (who Shizumaru doesn't know is Youkai Kusaregedo) for shelter. Shizumaru, assured she is safe, feels obligated to help in the war. When the battles are over, he is rewarded a hefty sum of gold for his efforts. He leaves for home but is stopped by a man who calls him Yaiba. Despite Shizumaru's denial, the man insists that he is Yaiba and that "his family" misses him. Shizumaru chooses to stay with his master and flees.[76] Unfortunately, his master dies in the war and Hakana is eaten by her father.[77][78] Due to the trauma he has suffered, he labels anything malicious, be it person or mannerisms, as a "demon". He respects Haohmaru, who inspires him and teaches him the philosophy of the sword at an early age. Shizumaru seeks to defeat Zankuro and supposedly avenge his family's death. He and Haohmaru slay Zankuro.[26] After the events of Samurai Shodown IV, he confuses the remaining blood lust within him as a "rampaging demon". However, he comes to accept his "demon" as a natural part of himself and makes peace with his past.[79]

His fighting style is a unique combination between his umbrella and his sword. When he first premiered, he relies on his umbrella more, using his sword occasionally in special moves. His latter appearances, however, have him using more sword techniques, minimizing his umbrella attacks. His move set incorporates an uppercut move similar to Haohmaru's Kougetstuzan.

In Samurai Shodown IV, Samurai Shodown V, and Samurai Shodown VI, Shizumaru appears as a playable character. In the NeoGeo CD version of Samurai Shodown RPG, he stars in the bonus portion of the game with his own story. According to Gamest Mook (a Japanese mook created separate from its main publication), he was one of the potential candidates for the Samurai Shodown 64 lineup but was taken out due to time and modeling constraints.[33] In their 1997 Hero's Collection, Gamest staff voted him as their thirteenth favorite character (tied with The King of Fighters character Benimaru Nikaido, for the same spot).[23]

Rimururu[edit]

Rimururu (リムルル?), mistranslated as "Rimnerel" in some material due to misreading of her katakana-written name, is a recurring character in the series and was formerly introduced as a new character in Samurai Shodown III. She made her first appearance in the series as a background character in Nakoruru's stage during Samurai Shodown II. Her prototype design in this game was formerly a scrapped concept for one of the heroines from another SNK game, Robo Army.[80]

She is the younger sister of Nakoruru, and lives in an Ainu village on Hokkaidō. She greatly admires her older sister, and like her, strives to protect nature. Rimururu has also been referred to as a priestess of the Ainu religion. In her ending to Samurai Shodown V, it is revealed to players that Nakoruru adopts her at a young age.[81] Although she is still training and not as adept as her sister at fighting, she repels evil from the forest for her elder sister. When her sister departs, Rimururu often follows her in hopes of offering assistance. Nakoruru originally forbids her younger sister's attempts to be a priestess but relents once she recognizes Rimururu's resolve. In Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage (PlayStation), Rimururu is a "Maiden of Light" like her sister. She was imprisoned by Oboro and cannot awaken to help her sister. The players need to rescue Rimururu for Nakoruru. When the sisters unite, they seal Oboro and his weaponry after his defeat.

With her ice spirit Konru, sometimes mistranslated as "Konril", she has the ability to freeze her foes. Her normal attacks are similar to her sister with some modifications in execution. Unlike her sister, many of her moves are short range, giving her a narrower range of efficiency than her sister. However, this may not be a disadvantage as the swiftness in most of her moves make up for it. Like her sister, she may also reflect projectiles with proper timing. In Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage, her Slash form relies more on Konru, making her playing style more defensive. Her Bust form, however, is more aggressive and the more close-ranged of the two.

Rimururu continues to appear in every game of the series after her introduction. However, in Warriors Rage (for the PlayStation), she is not playable. She appears with her sister in the dating sim, Days of Memories: Oedo Love Scroll.[82] She also has character image album made after her.[83] According to the creators' commentary for Samurai Shodown V, she is one of the main programmers' favorite characters.[84]

Basara Kubikiri[edit]

Basara Kubikiri (首切り 破沙羅 Kubikiri Basara?), sometimes known as "Basara the Executioner", is a recurring character introduced to the series in Samurai Shodown III.

He is a type of yokai "reborn" due to an extreme hatred he harbored before his death. In his previous life, Basara lived in peace with his wife, Kagaribi, until the monstrous demonic swordsman Zankuro came through and slaughtered everyone. He blames "the demon" for his wife's demise but, in Samurai Shodown V, it is revealed that Basara himself killed her.[85] In Samurai Shodown III, he remembers how he died and thus aimlessly seeks to take revenge on Zankuro. However, Zankuro is already slain by the time he finds him. Having no reason to remain, Basara searches for ways to finally rest in peace.[86] In Samurai Shodown IV, he discovers that his "rebirth" is caused by Amakusa, so he heads for Shimabara to kill him. After Amakusa's defeat, a vision of Kagaribi lures his soul to be captured and sealed away by Mizuki.[87]

Some of his powers are based in the use of his shuriken, as well as demonic powers like moving and disappearing into the shadows or release balls of energy. His normal attacks are adaptable to execute, easily ranging from close to mid-screen and often hitting for several hits upon impact. His distinguishing feature is a shrill laugh and claiming life to be "a beautiful nightmare".

Basara also appears playable in Samurai Shodown VI. In Samurai Shodown RPG he is an occasional guest member and doubles as an optional boss in the second chapter of the game.

Gaira Caffeine[edit]

Gaira Caffeine (花諷院 骸羅 Kafūin Gaira?), known to Korean speakers as Kim Ungche (Hanja: 金 雄載, Hangul: 김 웅재 Kim Ungjae, Japanese: キム・ウンチェ Kimu Unche), is a recurring character and is one of the few characters introduced in Samurai Shodown III.

He is the grandson of Nicotine Caffeine and a monk in training. In his ending to Samurai Shodown V, he is comically shaved bald at the whim of several other hairless characters.[88] Years later, with his hair grown back, he and his grandfather have an argument, causing Gaira to leave his home and venture out on his own. During his travels, he witnesses Zankuro Minazuki slaughtering an entire village but is too afraid to stop him. Ashamed by his cowardice, he decides to defeat the "demon",[89] but finds Zankuro already slain. He takes the body, buries and then enshrines it.[90] His later appearances in the series continue to have Gaira exorcise demons as training.[91]

Samurai Shodown III showed the departure of giant and muscular characters (such as Earthquake, Sieger, and Wan-fu) from the cast. Gaira, however, became the "giant" in their place as he boosts incredible strength for close-ranged fighting. He attacks his enemies with a belt of gigantic prayer beads and his fists. With this combination of weaponry, he can grapple and rush into people in his range. He technically may not cut anyone but has the power to rival several bosses in strength. Also, he may "seal" certain actions or "dizzy" his foe, similar to his grandfather.

Gaira has also appeared as a playable character in Samurai Shodown IV, Samurai Shodown V, and Samurai Shodown VI. He also has an EX form in Samurai Shodown VI under his Korean name.[37] His role in Samurai Shodown RPG was an occasional guest member and he was unplayable.

Zankuro Minazuki[edit]

Zankuro Minazuki (壬無月 斬紅郎 Minazuki Zankurō?) is the final boss from Samurai Shodown III and recurs as a boss character throughout the series.

He is a fearsome warrior who once traveled from village to village slaughtering people with no regard or disambiguation. During this time, he earns the title "the demon" in testament to his terrifying skill and battle prowess. He encounters a young girl who he couldn't bring himself to kill and realizes the error of his ways. He retires his massacring and enters hermitage, only drawing his blade to kill worthy opponents in duels. Eventually, he is defeated by Shizumaru and Haohmaru and his body is buried and sealed later by Gaira. His appearances after Samurai Shodown III continue to revive him as an unlockable boss for the players to defeat.

Zankuro wields a zanbatō which he uses to attack with amazing speed and strength. In his first boss appearance, he could easily defeat his foe in three strikes. In Samurai Shodown IV, his strongest slash can take away half a lifebar.

In the PSX port of Samurai Shodown IV, Samurai Shodown V Special, and Samurai Shodown VI Zankuro is a playable character. According to Gamest Mook (a Japanese mook created separate from its main publication), he was originally planned for the Samurai Shodown 64 lineup but was taken out due to time constraints.[33]

Introduced in Samurai Shodown IV[edit]

Kazuki Kazama[edit]

Kazuki Kazama (風間 火月 Kazama Kazuki?) is a recurring character and one of the main protagonists introduced in Samurai Shodown IV. His demon counterpart, Enja (炎邪?), was first introduced as Kazuki's Bust form in Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage but became his own character in Samurai Shodown V. Developers wanted Enja to be different from Kazuki by making Enja "unable to speak human language."[92]

He is a member of the Kazama ninja clan who specializes in pyrokinetic ninjutsu. In Samurai Shodown V, he is ordered to execute a powerful fire-demon named Enja. He searches for the demon and eventually encounters him. Enja, however, is too powerful an opponent for Kazuki[93] but, his younger sister, Hazuki saves his and Sogetsu's life by sealing the demons in each brother's respective weapons.[94][95] In Samurai Shodown IV, after he learns that Hazuki was kidnapped by Amakusa, Kazuki decides to desert the clan to rescue her, essentially becoming a nukenin, or renegade ninja. His clan does not tolerate traitors and they send his brother Sogetsu to assassinate him.[96] The two rendezvous at Amakusa's castle. There, Kazuki defeats Amakusa and saves his sister. Sogetsu, on the other hand, stays behind to fight Zankuro.[97] After faking his death to his clan, Kazuki and Hazuki continue to run away together and live a carefree life.[98] His other appearances in the series continue to have him living with Hazuki whilst investigating mysterious calamities across the land.[99]

Kazuki is a sharp contrast to his brother in that most of his attacks are short-ranged and risky if performed improperly. His only long ranged attack is a fireball projectile. In his first appearance, his Slash mode can form up to three mini fireballs which may boost his special moves. His Bust mode relies on an aggressive, close combat moves that deals massive damage.

Kazuki is also playable as a character in Samurai Shodown 64, Samurai Shodown! 2, Samurai Shodown VI, and Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny. He makes a cameo appearance in the Neo Geo CD version of Samurai Shodown RPG. Gamest staff voted Kazuki as their 35th favorite character in their 1997 Heroes Collection.[23]

Sogetsu Kazama[edit]

Sogetsu Kazama (風間 蒼月 Kazama Sōgetsu?) is a recurring character and one of the main protagonists introduced in Samurai Shodown IV. His demonic form, Suija (水邪?), was first introduced as his Bust form in Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage but became a separate character from him in Samurai Shodown V. Game developers for Samurai Shodown V wanted Suija to be the "dangerous guy who wants to be a god".[92]

He is a member of the Kazama ninja clan who has the ability to manipulate water and is the older brother to Kazuki. In Samurai Shodown V, Sogetsu is ordered by his clan to defeat a powerful water demon named Suija. After much searching, he encounters the demon and engages him. Like his younger brother's encounter with Enja, Suija meets him with the intentions of possessing his body. To save them, their younger sister, Hazuki uses a ninjutsu spell to seal both Suija and Enja away in her brothers' weapons (Sogetsu and Kazuki respectively).[94][95] When Kazuki leaves the clan to save Hazuki, the elders of the clan order him to execute his brother.[100] Sogetsu eventually finds Kazuki at Amakusa's castle. There, he allows Kazuki to rescue Hazuki, while he stays behind to fight Zankuro. He slays Zankuro and returns to his clan, telling his superiors that Kazuki has been taken care of; in truth, he allows Kazuki to fake his death so he and Hazuki can run away. Sogetsu keeps a watchful eye on them in secret so they may continue to lead a carefree life.[101] He continues to serve his clan, loyally following their orders and meeting his brother by coincidence from time to time.[102]

Sogetsu, unlike Kazuki, has several long ranged attacks, most notable of which is his strongest slash attack. His power over water allows him to keep opponents at distance from both the air and ground level as he can raise geysers and throw bubbles to thwart their advances. In his Bust form, later adopted as Suija's fighting style, he becomes an effective close to mid-ranged fighter, able to shield himself from attacks during jumps and splash powerful geysers at close range. In Warriors Rage, his ninjatō changes to a longer tachi.

Sogetsu is also playable as a character in Samurai Shodown 64, Samurai Shodown! 2, Samurai Shodown VI, and Samurai Shodown: Edge of Destiny. He makes an appearance in the Neo Geo CD version of Samurai Shodown RPG. In the 1997 Gamest Heroes Collection, Sogetsu was ranked the staff's 21st favorite character.[23]

Introduced in Samurai Shodown V[edit]

Yoshitora Tokugawa[edit]

Yoshitora Tokugawa (徳川 慶寅 Tokugawa Yoshitora?) is the main protagonist of Samurai Shodown V. As the new protagonist, the creators wanted him to be different from Haohmaru. Instead of a "samurai who travels as freely as the wind" they wanted him to be an "elite military genius" with a sword. Character designer, Nobuhiro Watsuki, came up with Yoshitora's array of katana when he saw a similar image on a DVD cover to a sengoku based film.[92] Based on the year the game occurs, his character origin is loosely based on historical figure, Tokugawa Ienari, the eleventh Tokugawa shogun who ruled a decadent era akin to the Roaring Twenties.

He is the sole heir to the reigning shogun and former student of Gaoh and Jubei. More interested in women and partying than politics, he runs away from his home, refusing to be the next ruler. Gaoh, believing Japan would only prosper if Yoshitora were to rule, starts a rebellion in hopes of luring his student back. In his ending, he questions his former master's motives. Gaoh explains that the shogun ruling before Yoshitora is uncaring to the people and continuing under his rule would only bring famine and desecration to the people. He pleas with his pupil to become shogun. Realizing the responsibility of his role for the first time, Yoshitora finally agrees to his former master's request.[103] As shogun, he then challenges Haohmaru to a duel, asking the latter to join him and help him build a new country. Haohmaru replies that if he loses, he'll join Yoshitora. They fight but the result of their match is uncertain.[104]

He has seven swords; six are named after women except for the one named after himself. Each sword has its own unique ability, which he can use to confuse and corner his opponents. Analogous to his historical inspiration, he is a playboy. In one of his winning poses, he is followed by a crowd of young ladies.

He also appears in Samurai Shodown VI as a playable character.

Mina Majikina[edit]

Mina Majikina (真鏡名 ミナ Majikina Mina?) is one of the new characters introduced in Samurai Shodown V. According to the game's creators, Mina was created to be the "polar opposite to Nakoruru" and as the "new heroine" to the series. They extended these keywords to everything, including fighting style, weaponry, and clothing. Though she drifted slightly away from her original image, Mina became a favorite to them and they expressed an interest to implement her into more games.[92]

She is blessed since birth with powerful spiritual energy and was sent away from her home to train in the art of exorcising demons. Her village revered her as a kaminchu (goddess) but also shunned her as they were in fear of her powers. As a result of her isolation, Mina is unable to express emotions.[105] One day, she departs her village to destroy an ayakashi (a certain kind of yokai). Upon her victory, she senses a powerful and evil force in her village but returns to see everything in ruins and all the inhabitants dead. In the wreckage, she finds a seemingly harmless being named Chample to whom she grew to endear. Taking her new friend in her arms, she is determined to eliminate as many demons as possible, starting with Gaoh.[105] However, she eventually comes to the conclusion that Chample is the demon that destroyed her village when he transforms to his true form and attacks a by-stander. In her ending, she kills Chample to avenge the villagers; it's then implied that she commits suicide afterwards.[106]

Mina is the first archer character to grace the character lineup.

Mina is also playable in Samurai Shodown VI and makes another appearance in the dating sim Days of Memories: Oedo Love Scroll.[9][10] Since her introduction, she has several figurines made in her image.[107][108]

Enja[edit]

Enja (炎邪?) is a powerful demon who once ravaged the lands. With the power of fire, he flew from village to village setting them aflame and slaughtering innocent bystanders by the thousands. Upon hearing of this atrocious demon, the Kazama ninja clan took action. They ambush Enja in a small, rural village and without fear, quickly set to the laborious task of attempting to seal the beast. However, Enja's might proved too powerful, and within moments, Enja had burned them all to cinders. Enja meant to reunite with his old friend, Suija, and steal the spell of Jinma-Itai from Kuraki-sumeragi.[109] However, he was sealed by Hazuki into Kazuki's weapon.[94] In Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage, he possesses Kazuki's body and becomes his new bust form.[3]

Enja's fighting style is patterned after Kazuki's Bust style, except he does not have a ninjato; on the other hand, he fights using punches that mimic Kazuki's sword strikes.

Enja is an individual character from Kazuki, rather than Kazuki's Bust Mode, in Samurai Shodown V and Samurai Shodown VI.

Suija[edit]

Suija (水邪?) is a powerful demon who was freed in Samurai Shodown V. He possesses a shinobi from the Kazama clan, who was investigating evil energies close to the lake where he was sealed. Suija is determined to take the spell of Jinma-Itai from Kuraki-sumeragi. He wants to reunite with his friend, Enja, to steal that spell. Parallel to Enja's fate with Kazuki, however, Suija is sealed in Sogetsu's weapon by Hazuki.[95] Over time, his spirit gradually seeps through the seal and takes possession of Sogetsu's mind and body.[3]

Suija's fighting style, lifted straight from Sogetsu's Bust Style, has a high reliance on close to mid-ranged attacks, as well as the ability to shield himself from attacks during jumps and splash powerful geysers at close range. Unlike Sogetsu, however, Suija fights bare-handed and relies mostly on kicks for normal attacks.

Suija appears as his own character, rather than Sogetsu's Bust Mode, in Samurai Shodown V and Samurai Shodown VI.

Rasetsumaru[edit]

Rasetsumaru (羅刹丸?) is hinted to exist in Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage but is introduced in Samurai Shodown V as his own character. In the creators' commentary regarding his introduction, it was revealed that he was a design created by series illustrator, Shiroi Eiji, as a "dark Haohmaru".[92]

He is a bloodthirsty demon from the dark world of Makai, which was opened up by Amakusa many years ago. Rasetsumaru can never assuage his thirst for killing. Because he doesn't clean his blade, it has turned the color of blood from the hundreds of people he has killed. He learns the existence of Haohmaru, an incredibly strong samurai who looks like him, and tries to find him in Hinowa to kill him. He finds Haohmaru at a temple a year later, but it is really a nun (implied to be Yumeji) disguised as an illusion of him. Claiming him to be his/her final opponent, Yumeji decapitates him.[110]

Parallel to Rera's fighting style with Nakoruru, Rasetsumaru is the former Bust form of Haohmaru. Unlike Rera, he is a separate entity from Haohmaru and shouldn't be confused as a part of Haohmaru's subconsciouses. He mirrors several of his counterpart's normal attacks but has a different move set.

Rasetsumaru is also playable in Samurai Shodown VI.

Liu Yunfei[edit]

Liu Yunfei (Chinese: 劉 雲飛; Hanyu Pinyin: Liú Yúnfēi; Japanese: 劉 雲飛 Ryū Yunfei), also known just as Yunfei, is a character introduced in Samurai Shodown V. In their commentary for fans, it was one of the director's request to make another overseas character. During his designing process, they were afraid of making him too similar to Chinese actor, Chow Yun-fat. Since they were already making a "new young lady" (Mina), Yunfei was eventually modeled to be the "cool old guy".[92]

He lived at one point in 800 A.D. with his wife. Desiring to gain more power, he made a deal with a being calling himself "The Dark Emperor" and apparently becomes immortal due to an evil entity. However, he went insane and berserk until he was sealed in a boulder by his students, Enja and Suija. A millennium later, he is freed due to the entity leaving him to possess someone else. Wanting to redeem himself, he tracks down the entity's source with intents to exorcise it. In his ending, the entity is found in Gaoh and it begins to overwhelm its host. In order to help Gaoh, Yunfei takes possession of the monster's body and urges the free Gaoh to slay the demon. He is struck down and is reunited with his wife (presumably in heaven).[111]

Yunfei takes most of his mannerisms from typical wuxia traits. Parallel to other wuxia borrowing some elements from real-life martial arts, his fighting style is a rough deviation of the Wing Chun martial arts. He also possesses the ability to fly, best exampled in the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Yunfei also appears in Samurai Shodown VI.

Kusaregedo Youkai[edit]

Kusaregedo Youkai (妖怪 腐れ外道 Yōkai Kusaregedō?), also sometimes called "Gedo Kusaregedo", appears for the first time in Samurai Shodown V. His given name literally means "rotten bastard". During his concept stages, the creators wanted to add a "giant bald character" who was a "yōkai" to replace the character Earthquake. Creators wanted his character to make the line "Itadakimasu" very memorable. In the end, the design they created was "a mix of Genan and Earthquake".[92]

Kusaregedo was once a very kind man, but is transformed after his death into a gaki because of his habit of cannibalism. In his present demonic form, he is cursed with an insatiable appetite. One day, he smells a young girl (Rimururu) not too far away and he quickly gives chase. He fails to capture and devour her, and instead finds a girl named Hakana, who turns out to be his daughter. She pleads for him to stop and to come back home. He instead devours her.[78]

As his character is a cannibal, a great deal of his attacks center on eating his opponent. His final attack, which was censored for international release, has him completely devouring his opponent whole save for their skull or hair. His weapon of choice is an exposed bone on his arm (presumably the ulna or radius) sharpened approximately at the wrist to form a spike. Kusaregedo's sprite also uses a hefty amount of space to fit on the screen (similar to other characters like Earthquake and the upright Tam Tam), weighing down his speed and jumps, as well as making him an easy target if his attacks miss.

Kusaregedo returns as a playable character in Samurai Shodown VI.

Rera[edit]

Rera (レラ?) is based on the alternate palette swap of Nakoruru (noted for her evil grin during her victory images since the first game). The developers admit basing her mannerism on Nakoruru's Bust form.[92] It is said that Nakoruru suppressed this side of herself as Rera saw killing as a necessity to protect nature. She merges with her host after she realizes that fighting doesn't solve everything and peaceful solutions can be made.[112] She can physically take over Nakoruru, but has only done so when Nakoruru is reluctant to kill her enemies.

Like Nakoruru, Rera wields a kodachi, and fights alongside her wolf companion, Shikuru (like Nakoruru's Bust form did in Samurai Shodown III and IV). She has the same strengths and weaknesses than Nakoruru, though somewhat more aggressive.

Rera also appears in Samurai Shodown VI.

Sankuro Yorozu[edit]

Sankuro Yorozu (萬 三九六 Yorozu Sankurō?) is a character who appears in Samurai Shodown V. He was originally designed to be a devilish "no-good person" and is thought by the creators to fit the image.[92]

He is an ambitious leader to a trio of minions named Gosichi, Fuyo, and Ippachi. Wanting to become the lord of Hinowa without much effort, he hires Genjuro to dispatch Gaoh. Upon Gaoh's defeat, he offers Genjuro another job which is promptly refused. After Sankuro bribes with him information about his parents and membership to his gang, Genjuro attempts to kill his employer. Sankuro is saved by his gang and, apparently uninterested with killing women, Genjuro demands that he leave. Sankuro, however, chooses to shoot Genjuro's back and brags about his new title. Genjuro slashes him while he is distracted, leading to a hasty retreat.[113]

Like Yumeji and Rasetsumaru, Sankuro borrows several poses and animations from another character. In this case, the lower half of his body and some of his attacks are nearly identical to Genjuro's sprite. He fights swinging a huge mallet and has the ability to call members of his gang to help him. While his gang distracts his opponent, he may also eat food to heal himself. He later gains accessibility to a revolver and bombs in Samurai Shodown VI.

He makes a playable appearance in Samurai Shodown VI.

Yumeji Kurokouchi[edit]

Yumeji Kurokouchi (黒河内 夢路 Kurokōchi Yumeji?) is the sub boss in Samurai Shodown V. Yumeji is unique to the roster in that he/she has no definite gender; the developers to the game, Yuki Enterprises, entreated players to "believe whatever you believe Yumeji to be". To add to the confusion, Yumeji speaks in gender neutral Japanese in both his/her official story and in-game text and Yumeji's voice actor has a history of voicing for both genders. Due to the openness of the statement, players still argue over his/her gender to this day. The character designer for the game affectionately nicknamed Yumeji as "Souji" -a reference to the Shinsengumi captain, Okita Sōji.[92]

Yumeji is the sole successor of Sakon Kurokouchi, a sensei of iaijutsu and the previous mentor of Ukyo. However, for a dubious reason concerning issues with his/her body, Yumeji was expelled from his/her father's dojo and living facility. Yumeji follows Gaoh and swears to serve him as his "right arm". In the end, Yumeji is defeated by Ukyo, and, to save his/her family name from disgrace, begs him to take his/her life. Ukyo, however, only cuts off his/her ponytail and orders Yumeji to go home.[114] Instead, Yumeji becomes a nun. One year after Gaoh's defeat, he/she tricks and beheads Rasetsumaru.[110] Her father and the rest of his disciples were later slain by Zankuro.

As Yumeji shares the same fighting style as Ukyo, Yumeji borrows several poses and animations from him. The main deviation between them, however, is his/her ability to morph into aspirations of other characters to perform their signature moves (Haohmaru with Kougetsuzan, Hanzo with Mos Otoshi, Genjuro with Inoshikacho, Nakoruru with Ainu Mutsube, etc.).

Yumeji also appears in Samurai Shodown VI.

Kyougoku Hinowanokami Gaoh[edit]

Kyougoku Hinowanokami Gaoh (兇國 日輪守 我旺 Kyōgoku Hinowanokami Gaō?) is the final boss in Samurai Shodown V. Gaoh was fashioned as a character to concisely reflect the times of the era that the game takes place, speaking in the same dialect and dressing himself in similar fashion.[115]

He was once a loyal general to the Tokugawa clan and lord to the land of Hinowa. He is one of the previous mentors to the clan's heir, Yoshitora. However, Yoshitora and his father became indifferent to the land during the Tenmei famine and the country was thrown into more chaos as a result. Concerned about the well being of his countrymen, he decides to rebel against his lord with an army of powerful warriors until he is defeated by Yoshitora. He begs for his pupil to become shogun for the sake of the people, which Yoshitora finally accepts as his responsibility.[103]

When he is in POW, he transforms into a demon in armor, an evil entity that once possessed another character, Yunfei. This form is killed by Gaoh with the assistance of Yunfei.[111]

Gaoh also appears in Samurai Shodown V Special and Samurai Shodown VI as a playable character.

Introduced in Samurai Shodown VI[edit]

Andrew[edit]

Andrew (アンドリュー Andoryū?) is one of the main protagonists and new characters from Samurai Shodown VI. His character creation most likely takes inspiration from U.S. president Andrew Jackson; he shares the name "Andrew", and his stage is in front of the White House.

He is portrayed as an American soldier who goes to Japan to stop a new menace to his relatively young country. In his ending, he befriends Tokugawa Yoshitora.[116] Andrew likes tea and reading; he dislikes tobacco and is self-conscious about dealing with women.[117]

Iroha[edit]

Iroha (いろは?) is one of the main protagonists and new characters from Samurai Shodown VI. Her namesake is taken from the Heian poem of the same name which is a pangram used for learning the hiragana syllabary.

She is a crane who transforms herself into a Japanese maid. She serves her master and appears to think of him as the most important aspect of her life. Her master is unknown (rumored to be Andrew), but is likely to be the player him/herself as she often bows and speaks to the player before and after her fights.

She fights with two butterfly swords and relies on her speed for close ranged combat. She can also double jump. Several of her moves hint to her original form as a crane such as her projectile (a white feather) and her normal fighting stance. The most obvious reference is her POW move, where she grabs her opponent and, behind shoji doors, disrobes and physically beats her foe. Her silhouette during this sequence briefly changes into a crane.[118]

Although Iroha is displayed as a typical Fan Service character she is very popular in Japan, and stars in her own mobile game called Maid by Iroha.[119] Another game based around her is currently scheduled for release on the Nintendo DS.[120][121] She makes another appearance in the dating sim Days of Memories: Oedo Love Scroll.[9][122] Recently, she has also been added to a roster of usable characters in the Queen's Gate series, which is an extension of the fantasy game series, Lost Worlds.[123] She also has several different figurines, hard cast and otherwise, made in her image.[124][125][126]

Sugoroku Matsuribayashi[edit]

Sugoroku Matsuribayashi (祭囃子 双六 Matsuribayashi Sugoroku?) is a character who premieres in Samurai Shodown VI. His character design and mannerisms are based on the Naked Festival that occurs in Japan. He is another character in the series who brings comic relief.

He wields a fireworks cannon as his weapon and can summon an entire parade on an opponent.

Ocha-Maro Karakuri[edit]

Ocha-Maro Karakuri (機功おちゃ麻呂 Karakuri Ocha-Maro?) is a character who premieres in Samurai Shodown VI.

Ocha-Maro is a wooden puppet that was created by an onmyōji during the Heian period. Aside from performing Shinto dances for the gods, he is also given the task to be a warrior against demons.

Animal partners[edit]

Several of the characters on the SNK series of Samurai Shodown fighting games are aided by animal friends during gameplay. These animals can be used for attacking purposes, or sometimes other uses, such as improving character's jumps and defense. Poppy becomes playable independently from Galford in Samurai Shodown V; several others (with the exception of Haon) become playable in Samurai Shodown VI.

Mamahaha[edit]

Mamahaha (ママハハ?) is Nakoruru's hawk who hovers above Nakoruru during play. He was introduced in Samurai Shodown and acts as her animal companion in her Slash form in Samurai Shodown III.

Mamahaha can be used by the player to attack opponents in a diagonal aerial attack. When used effectively, he acts as Nakoruru's projectile and anti-air defense. The player may also command Nakoruru to use him as a mount for a limited time. Whilst she is in the air, players can command the pair to hover higher, drop, or use Nakoruru to attack foes. She may do so normally from Mamahaha's height or players may choose to drop her in a swirl attacking motion or use a diagonal nosedive attack. This allows players to confuse opponents on whether to block while standing or crouching, leading the way for an open hit.

Poppy[edit]

Poppy (パピー Papī?) is Galford's husky companion introduced in Samurai Shodown who acts as an exclusive helper to Galford's Slash form in Samurai Shodown III. During the course of the series she gives birth to at least three other puppies: Pahpa, Pippy, and Pippa.[127] In Samurai Shodown V, players can play as her by inputing a special command on the character selection screen.[128] In her ending, she sacrifices herself to save Galford. In honor of her memory, Galford renames one of her puppies in her name.[129]

With a special input, the player can order her to headbutt, bite, or drop from above on their opponents. She may also piledrive her foes during Galford's desperation move -which relies entirely on her- in Samurai Shodown II. In Samurai Shodown III, Galford's Slash form relies on Poppy for a vast majority of his special moves. She retains her attacks from before but can also be kicked as a projectile and replicate Galford's movements in his desperation move. When utilized strategically, she can distract opponents whilst the player moves Galford into a more favorable position or act as a counter against most projectiles. However, she is not invulnerable to attacks as opponents can strike her down to defuse her advances, leaving her unusable by the player until she recovers. Players also have to be aware of which direction she is facing when summoned as she may charge in a direction opposite than intended.

Paku Paku[edit]

Paku Paku (パクパク?) is Cham Cham's chimpanzee companion introduced in Samurai Shodown II. Cham Cham mistakes Tam Tam's form for him when she leaves her home. In Samurai Shodown II, he was voiced by Chiba Reiko's manager at the time.

Although he cannot perform normal attacks, Paku Paku essentially fights as a miniaturized Tam Tam in Samurai Shodown VI. He acts as a defensive mechanism for Cham Cham. He can be commanded to a variety of long-distance projectiles, including skulls, anti-air fireballs, and himself through a spinning-split kick attack

Haon[edit]

Haon (破怨?, formerly 波音 with the same pronunciation) is Mizuki's demon pet who was introduced in Samurai Shodown II and remains the only animal to assist a boss character in the series. He is officially unnamed but in Samurai Shodown RPG he was named Haon.

In the game he premiered, Haon is by Mizuki's side. Like Poppy, he can be commanded by the player to bash into and maul opponents. However, he can also fire an electric ball that can turn foes into animals -the most common result being a pig- rendering the player's opponents unable to input special commands and defenseless against Mizuki for one attack before reverting to normal (alternatively, transformed opponents can also wait a few seconds before the effects wear off). Appearance-wise, he is an alternative color palette of Poppy when he is idle, but morphs into a giant demonic creature when he is commanded, making him able to catch most opponents who try to jump over his attacks. Though instances are rare, he can be injured and his attacks can be interrupted. Players must also keep an eye on which direction he is facing whilst commanded, as he may attack in the opposite direction of their opponent. In Samurai Shodown V Special, he is summoned in his demonic form by Mizuki via teleportation and is not visible by the player until then.

Shikuru[edit]

Shikuru (シクルゥ Shikurū?) is Nakoruru's wolf who is first introduced in Samurai Shodown III as her animal helper for her Bust form. He later becomes Rera's companion upon her arrival in Samurai Shodown V.

Unlike other pets, Shikuru serves primarily as Nakoruru/Rera's battle mount. Shikuru is a necessity for several of his master's special moves, as having her travel on him is a great emphasis to mastering her form of gameplay. Whilst Nakoruru/Rera mounts him, the player can run faster and jump longer distances -at the sacrifice of a lower height. If their opponents attempt to attack, the player can quickly counter with Shikuru's rush attack, which may also launch Nakoruru/Rera after the blow for increased damage. Players may be handicapped, however, due to the heavy reliance put on mounting Shikuru. For instance, Nakoruru/Rera cannot mount him if he is too far away from her and when she is in the process of mounting him, she remains temporarily vulnerable to any attack.

Chample[edit]

Chample (チャンプル Chanpuru?, in reference to chanpurū), sometimes called "Ceaser", is the lone friend and companion of Mina Majikina in Samurai Shodown V. It is voiced by Hitomi Nabatame in Samurai Shodown V and by Rie Kugimiya in Samurai Shodown VI.

When Mina's village is destroyed, Mina senses a problem emanating from the land of Helios, or Hinowa. She believes that Gaoh Kyogoku Hinowanokami is responsible, so she sets off with Chample to defeat him. It turns out, however, that Chample is the demon that destroyed her village. He goes on a rampage and Mina is forced to kill him. It's implied that after killing him, she commits suicide.[106]

Unlike other animal companions, Chample is used less for attacking purposes and mostly remains as a mascot character, participating in battle through background animations and noises. Several moves do include him though, like 'Good night Chample' in which Mina puts him to sleep, stopping his movement and sounds. Because he seldom helps Mina in her fights, he has been called "annoyingly cute" by critics.[130][131]

Reception and legacy[edit]

Characters introduced from the first two games received generally positive reviews from critics. A handful of professionals in the gaming industry are fans to the games' balanced cast, such as Denis Dyack from Silicon Knights.[132] Several professional manga artists were also fans to the series' characters and once created doujinshi for the series, like Trigun creator Yasuhiro Nightow[133] and Toshinden character designer and illustrator Tsukasa Kotobuki.[134] Other known fans, such as Aoi Nanase and Nobuhiro Watsuki, were eventually hired to create character designs for later entries in the series' franchise.

References to certain characters have also continued to appear as easter eggs in MMOG such as World of Warcraft[135] and Guild Wars: Eye of the North.[136]

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