|Tekken and Soul character|
Yoshimitsu in Street Fighter X Tekken
|First game||Tekken (1994)|
|Designed by||Aya Takemura (Tekken 3, Tekken 4, Tekken Tag Tournament, Soulcalibur II, Soulcalibur III)|
|Voiced by (English)||Phil Sheridan (Soulcalibur II)
Mitch Urban (Soulcalibur III, Soulcalibur IV)
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Katsuhiro Harada (Tekken - Tekken Tag Tournament)
Toru Okawa (Drama CD)
Nobuyuki Hiyama (Soulcalibur, Soulcalibur II, Soulcalibur III)
Norio Wakamoto (Soulcalibur IV, Soulcalibur V)
Tomokazu Seki (Tekken 4 - onwards)
Yoshimitsu Shimoyama (Japanese dub of the Tekken film)
|Portrayed by||Gary Ray Stearns (film)|
|Fighting style||Manji-style Ninjutsu and Kenjutsu|
|Occupation||Leader of the Manji Party (Tekken)|
Yoshimitsu (吉光?) is a name used by several player characters in the Tekken and Soul series of fighting games by Namco. Appearing first in the original Tekken, he has appeared in every subsequent version with the exception of Tekken Revolution. Although details of the character's biographies have varied in different games and other media, each Yoshimitsu is consistently portrayed as the leader of the honorable Manji Clan, a practitioner of ninjutsu, and a master swordsman with a mechanical prosthetic arm. The characters have been well received by fans of both series and critics alike.
In video games
Yoshimitsu's first appearance was in 1994's original Tekken. Kunimitsu's story in Tekken 2 reveals that Yoshimitsu's blade is passed down through the Manji Clan's leaders. The clan is dedicated to a mission to help the weak and fight the oppression. Upon the inauguration of a new leader, his or her predecessor is ritually sacrificed, and the blade absorbs the person's power and skill. In the game's story, Yoshimitsu enters the first tournament as a decoy so as to allow other Manji to steal the tournament's funds unobserved. During the tournament, Yoshimitsu learns of Ganryu, a sumo wrestler whose disrespectful attitude in the ring cost him his promotion to the rank of yokozuna. His base disrespect for the sumo code infuriates Yoshimitsu, who defeats him. Later, Yoshimitsu leads a raid on Dr. Bosconovitch's lab in order to steal his Eternal Energy device. Though Yoshimitsu loses his arm during the operation, Bosconovitch helps him escape and fits him with a mechanical prosthetic replacement. Grateful for his help, he tells Bosconovitch that he may call on him whenever he needs help. In Tekken 2, Yoshimitsu learns that Bosconovitch has been kidnapped by the Mishima Zaibatsu and enters the second Tekken tournament to rescue him. Also, Kunimitsu, Yoshimitsu's former Manji Clan second-in-command, returns to the tournament in order to steal the clan's tachi. Yoshimitsu defeats her and drops out of the tournament to rescue the doctor after learning his location.
In Tekken 3, Yoshimitsu visits Bosconovitch, who is suffering from a disease that he caught when he built the Cold Sleep machine. Bosconovitch tells him that the disease can only be cured using the blood of Ogre, a god recently awakened from its deep slumber. Yoshimitsu then enters The King of Iron Fist Tournament 3 in order to obtain the blood. During the tournament, he is targeted by Bryan Fury, a cyborg sent to kill him and capture Dr. Bosconovitch by Dr. Abel, Bosconovitch's rival. Yoshimitsu manages to escape Bryan. The outcome of Yoshimitsu's search for Ogre's blood is unknown, though he most likely succeeds.
Two years later, during the events of Tekken 4, Yoshimitsu realizes that the future of his clan is waning due to a lack of necessary funds and manpower. Upon learning of The King of Iron Fist Tournament 4, he forms an alliance with Mishima Zaibatsu and enters the tournament. While Yoshimitsu is robbing the Mishima Zaibatsu mansion near the end of the tournament, he discovered an unconscious Bryan Fury. He takes him to Bosconovitch's lab so the doctor can transfer Bryan to a new body. Bosconovitch then injects Bryan with drugs to put him to a year-long sleep. However, when Yoshimitsu visits Boskonovitch's lab a month later, he finds it destroyed and many of his compatriots dead. An injured Dr. Bosconovitch tells him that Bryan woke up only a month later and went on a rampage with his new body. Swearing revenge, Yoshimitsu enters The King of Iron Fist Tournament 5 to hunt Bryan. While trying to find Bryan, Yoshimitsu learns that his sword is weakening. As his sword is cursed, it will lose its power and drive its user insane if it doesn't kill evildoers for a prolonged amount of time. He decides to adopt a second sword called Fumaken, which has the ability to suppress the cursed sword's properties, and enters The King of Iron Fist Tournament 6 in order to restore the power of the cursed sword.
Yoshimitsu also appears in other Tekken games, namely Tekken Tag Tournament, Tekken Card Challenge, Tekken Advance, Tekken Resolute, Tekken Tag Tournament 2, Tekken 3D: Prime Edition and Tekken Card Tournament.
An ancestor of Yoshimitsu with the same name first appears in Namco's Soul series in 1998's Soulcalibur. After refusing power-hungry lord Oda Nobunaga's offer of alliance, Yoshimitsu discovers his village has been destroyed. In a battle with Nobunaga's army, Yoshimitsu loses his arm. He subsequently sets out to find the fabled weapon Soul Edge in order to have revenge against Nobunaga. In meditation, Yoshimitsu decides that if he were to give in to his hatred, he would be no better than Nobunaga or Nightmare. When he reaches the castle where Soul Edge is, he discovers it has been locked away with Soul Calibur.
In the Soul series, Yoshimitsu uses his beloved self-named katana and the Manji ninjitsu combat style, handed down through many generations in the Manji Clan. His weapon seems like a normal katana, but it has many unique features that accommodate the unique fighting style of the Manji. Since it was forged with secret Manji techniques, it cannot be replicated and is the last of its kind. After the massacre of his clan, Yoshimitsu swears an oath of vengeance to the weapon. He also uses the sashimono on his back as a striking weapon. In Soulcalibur II, Yoshimitsu discovers that his katana has been impregnated with corrupted energy from the castle, and so resolves to rid his blade of the evil. The katana was stolen by Voldo when Yoshimitsu was worn out from trying to fight its corruption. Fearing what would happen if the weapon wound up in the wrong hands, Yoshimitsu sets out to retrieve the katana, and in the process discovers a fragment of the Soul Edge. Wanting to destroy the fragments spread across the earth, Yoshimitsu forms a band of chivalrous thieves, known as the Manjitou, in order to do good and to find the remaining fragments.
Yoshimitsu returns in Soulcalibur III, in which he plans a robbery in order to steal a fragment of the Soul Edge. The robbery fails as Tira, a servant of Soul Edge and Nightmare, ambushes the thieves and takes the fragment. Later on, Tira murders one of his clan members, causing Yoshimitsu to seek her for revenge in Soulcalibur IV. By the time of Soulcalibur V, the first Yoshimitsu has been ritually executed and succeeded by a younger, eerily similar protégé (hailing from Taki's Fûma village), who shares his fighting style, voice, mannerisms, and even his clockwork arm. This secret line of succession makes "Yoshimitsu" appear immortal to outsiders and is implied to continue into modern times with the Tekken incarnation of the character.
Yoshimitsu has appeared in other Namco games. His Tekken 3 incarnation is a bonus character available in Anna Kournikova's Smash Court Tennis for the PlayStation and his Tekken 3 "energy sword" is one of the game's unlockable secret tennis racquets. Yoshimitsu's sword is also an available weapon in the Tekken spin-off game Death by Degrees. He appears in the Capcom-made crossover game Street Fighter X Tekken, where his official tag partner is Raven. One of his alternate costumes in the game is M. Bison's uniform, and Capcom stated that a "rumors says" that after defeating Bison, Yoshimitsu also took his Psycho Power ability as his own.
Design and gameplay
Yoshimitsu's name includes the kanji "宇" (Romaji: u, Pinyin: yǔ), which means "universe" (roughly translated, his name means "light of happiness"). In the Tekken series, Yoshimitsu's sword is usually depicted as a tachi. From Tekken 3 onwards, the sword emanates energy around the blade, giving it the appearance of a lightsaber. In some Tekken games, such as Tekken 4, he wields a normal katana.
According to Namco's official description, Yoshimitsu's fighting style "incorporates a blend of ninjutsu, sword attacks from kenjutsu, and special stances from kabuki dance. Wielding a sword, he has many attacks that utilize it. He can perform slashes with it, use it to impale his opponent, and rotate it with his mechanical left hand in a windmill manner (he can also use this method to fly)". Yoshimitsu has many fast, poking attacks, such as his flying knee (fubuki) and his numerous spinning attacks, but performing too many of these spinning attacks may leave him dizzy. He also possesses many moves with strange properties; his "harakiri" moves require a large portion of his own health to perform, and he is the only character with the ability to restore health. Many of his moves are very situational, making him a character for more advanced players.
Yoshimitsu's second sword in Tekken 6 gives him a revamped move set, making him an even harder character to learn to play. According to IGN, in Soulcalibur IV "new players are often at a loss as to how to handle the character, but once they get a handle on him, Yoshimitsu becomes a true force of nature."
Yoshimitsu has brief cameos in the animated film Tekken: The Motion Picture. He also appears in the 2010 live-action film Tekken, portrayed by Gary Ray Stearns, where he fights and loses against Jin Kazama. A dossier on Yoshimitsu is briefly seen in the CGI film Tekken: Blood Vengeance when Anna Williams opens a file containing dossiers on various persons of interest.
In 2006, Namco and MegaHouse released a Yoshimitsu figurine as part of a Tekken 5 set based on promotional artwork for the game. While not posable, the PVC figure came with equippable clothing modeled after those in the game. Two more figurines were made by Bandai in 2009, based on his appearance in Tekken 6. A statue of Yoshimitsu based on his appearance in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was produced by Kotobukiya in 2012.
The character was very well received for his appearances in both the Tekken and Soul series. GamesRadar placed him third on the 2012 list of best fighting game character in the genre's history, calling him "also one of the most iconic playable characters in both the Tekken and Soulcalibur series" and adding that Yoshimitsu's "most impressive trait is how frequently his costume changes." In 2014, What Culture ranked him as the 9th greatest character in fighting games, additionally calling him "easily one of the fighting genre’s most stylish characters."
In a 2002 poll by Namco prior to the release of Soulcalibur II Yoshimitsu was named the sixth most popular character in Soulcalibur, with 4.56% of the tally. In 2008, he was also ranked as the sixth top character of this series by IGN, with a comment that "Yoshimitsu's blade has always felt more at home with his fellow Soul fighters." In 2013, Complex ranked the "easy to love" Yoshimitsu as ninth best Tekken character; as well as the ninth greatest Soul character, opining him to be "out of place in sister-series, Tekken, but a nice fit in the Soul universe." Lisa Foiles of The Escapist included this "scary-face crazy ninja" on her 2014 list of top five katana wielders and also noted him for "pretty much the coolest outfits ever."
In 2011, Machinima.com ranked Yoshimitsu as the seventh best ninja in video games, while PLAY listed this "insane robo-ninja " among the top ten ninjas on the PlayStation consoles. In 2012, Complex also ranked him as the eighth swiftest ninja in games, commenting on his strange and alien-like design. In 2011, UGO.com ranked Yoshimitsu's special costume in Tekken 5 as the ninth best alternate costume in all of gaming. Complex placed very existence 11th in their 2012 list of the craziest moments in the Tekken series. WeDoTech.net ranked Yoshimitsu as the 10th best fighting video game character of all time, commenting "Yoshimitsu has some iconic moves including the ability to spin on his sword that burn a memory into the mind."
1UP.com spotlighted him as "by far, the strangest character" of Soulcalibur IV. GamesRadar listed a crossover match-up between Sodom and Yoshimitsu "with his space cyborg alien freakshow" as one of the match-ups they wanted to see in Street Fighter X Tekken, calling them "two of the only jerks rude enough to bring swords to a fist fight." NowGamer listed a match-up between Vega and Yoshimitsu as one of the ones they wished to see in this game, as "any bout between these two would be a mind-boggling display of fast attacks across the screen." Following the release, PlayStation Official Magazine included Yoshimitsu and Vega among the game's eight best tag team finishers. FHM included Yoshimitsu and Dhalsim on their list of ten "awesome fantasy fights" in this game. Kotaku ranked Yoshimitsu 8th on their list "The Most Insane Cyborgs In Japanese Video Games." Gaming Debugged in their article "Iconic Ninja and Samurai In Gaming" commented on Yoshimitsu "Many a time gamers angrily walked away from a Tekken arcade machine or tossed a controller down in frustration after losing to this ninja master." In 2013, 4thletter placed Yoshimitsu's Tekken 3, Tekken 4 and Tekken 5 (alongside Tekken Tag Tournament 2) endings at 193rd, 33rd and 24th place, respectively in their list "The Top 200 Fighting Game Endings". 
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