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Arashikage is a fictional ninja clan from the military-themed G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero series of comics, television shows, and action figures. The name is derived from the Japanese words for storm (嵐 arashi) and shadow (影 kage). It is central to the back-story of several prominent characters, including Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.

Fictional history[edit]

Centuries ago, the Emperor of Japan asked his general to protect the Jewel of Amaterasu, a gem said to allow the wielder to control their chi. The gem was so well concealed, that its location was lost with the ascendancy of emperors, and the general's family was eventually reduced to simple farmers, who would later become the Arashikage. For generations, the Arashikage worked as shadowy assassins, using deception to earn their keep as ninjas, as well as developing a reputation for being able to perform impossible tasks.

Later, the Arashikage would continue the deception, financing front businesses to hide their true work as covert operatives, bounty hunters, thieves, and contract killers. Their remote compound was hidden in the mountains of Japan. Only those who truly prove their worth, and commitment to the Arashikage katas and discipline, were allowed full membership into the clan. This was denoted by the tattooing of the clan symbol on the forearm, the 63rd hexagram of the I Ching.[1]

Marvel Comics[edit]

The Arashikage Clan first appeared in issue #21 of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, where it was revealed that Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow have the same tattoo.[2] Later stories described how Thomas Arashikage, after receiving his initial training in order to become a member of the clan, participates in the Vietnam War. During the war he meets an American nicknamed Snake Eyes, whom he brings back to Japan after the war for training in the ways of the ninja.[3] Cobra Commander learns of this and, angry with Snake Eyes because of a car accident in which Snake Eyes family and Cobra Commander's brother were killed, sends Firefly to kill Snake Eyes.[4]

Firefly decides that he is no match for Snake Eyes, so Cobra Commander sends another mercenary, Zartan, to finish the job. Zartan accidentally kills the clan leader, the Hard Master, instead of Snake Eyes.[4] Thomas is blamed for the Hard Master's death, and after taking on the name Storm Shadow he joins Cobra Command in order to find the Hard Master's killer and exact revenge on him.[5]

In later years, a group of ninjas affiliated with the Arashikage clan form the Ninja Force as a part of the G.I. Joe Team, in order to combat Cobra. Its inaugural members are Nunchuk, T'Jbang, and Dojo, led by Storm Shadow. In the Marvel Comics G.I. Joe series, Ninja Force goes to Beirut to answer a call for help from Snake Eyes.[6] They become involved in helping a Joe/Cobra force fight against the Night Creepers, with further assistance comes from the Joe "Sky Commandos".[7] The Ninja Force is seen later in New York, undergoing intensive training.[8] Ninja Force's roster is later expanded to include Snake Eyes (as their new leader), Jinx, and Scarlett.

Image/Devil's Due Publications[edit]

During the events depicted in Devil's Due 2004's saga Master & Apprentice (Vol. 1), Ophelia is under Snake Eyes' wing, who is also about to get married with Scarlett, Ophelia dies during her last training mission. At the same time Sean Collins, member of the same mission's team joins Snake Eyes, who takes him as his new student. Jinx, Budo, Snake Eyes and Collins, who now is known as "Kamakura" take a new assignment to capture Firefly (Ophelia's murderer). Suddenly Storm Shadow go forth and during his fight against Firefly Snake Eyes' team is left uncommunicative and injured, so Kamakura, Storm Shadow, Duke and Chuckles try to capture Firefly and the Nowhere man.[9]

In 2005's Vol. 2, Billy Kessler is told about how Storm Shadow and his pupil / lover Junko Akita came to met and how he is successful after years of fighting against Cobra's brainwashing. After a full scale fight against Night Creepers, Junko is captured and tortured by Slice and Dice. Jinx, Billy and Budo helped Storm Shadow to take her back while T'Jbang finds Sei Tin injured and captured. Junko is found in a Red Ninja's retreat in Tibet brainwashed and convinced that Storm Shadow is a "pain-bringer" to her life. Jinx and Budo are captured, T'Jbang and Billy fought against Slice and Dice while Snake Eyes and Kamakura fight against the rest of the Red Ninjas' clan. Junko felt from a cliff's edge apparently to her demise while Snake Eyes retakes full control over the Red Ninjas.[10]

According to the 2005 Arashikage Showdown comic, the Arashikage clan was founded many centuries ago by the Emperor of Japan to protect the Jewel of Amaterasu. The jewel allows its owner to control their chi. The "map" to the jewel is a kata, only members of the Arashikage ninja clan have access to it. Centuries later, the Arashikage clan went to the temple housing the jewel and performed the kata in order to access it. Soga, of the rival Nichira clan stole the jewel before the Arashikage could claim it. The Arashikage attacked Soga at his headquarters, inciting a clan war, killing Soga in the process. Storm Shadow, of the Arashikage clan, took the jewel to a location on Mt. Fuji and hid it.[11]

Japan's military class, the Bakufu clan, began destroying all ninja clans in Japan. War ensued and the Arashikage clan became farmers. Many years later, Storm Shadow sought to learn the clan's teachings and the clan was reinstated. Besides Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes, Jinx and Kamakura, were all members of the clan.[11]


  • Hard Master - The leader of the Arashikage clan and Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow's master. He was assassinated by Zartan when the latter was trying to kill Snake Eyes. He is voiced by Charlie Adler in G.I. Joe: Resolute and by Keone Young in G.I. Joe: Renegades. In the film G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, he is played by Gerald Okamura.
  • Soft Master - Hard Master's youngest brother and Dojo master. Murdered by Scrap-Iron while traveling with Billy Kessler.
  • Young Master (Storm Shadow) - Hard Master and Soft Master's nephew. He was blamed for his uncle's murder and the clan's ultimate demise.
  • Silent Master (Snake Eyes) - An American war veteran who joined the clan after Storm Shadow saved his life during the Vietnam War. He is Hard Master's most talented student and appointed heir of the clan leadership.
  • Blind Master - Sensei Moore is an honorary member of the clan who was taken in and trained by the Hard Master. He later opened a dojo in Denver, Colorado. Jinx, Billy Kessler, Nunchuk and an orphan called Tyrone were his protégés. He was murdered by Zartan once he realized that he had been used by Cobra, a penitent Zartan took his place. In the film G.I. Joe: Retaliation, he is played by RZA.
  • Middle Master - Older brother of Hard Master and Soft Master who worked as a secret agent during World War II, and passed the Arashikage secrets to his disciples. After he died, his son continued his work in Brooklyn where Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes and Billy found him, after hearing about an unknown Arashikage dojo.
  • Onihashi - The Arashikage's mystic swordsmith who trained T'Jbang and Zartan and fathered the Vypra Twins. He committed a ritual suicide after finding out Zartan's true intentions.
  • Iron Master - Another mystic swordsmith. He appeared only in the one-shot DVD G.I. Joe: Ninja Battles as the narrator. Tiger Claw was originally his protégé.
  • Anibal Alcazar - Former student of the Hard Master. Alcazar later hired Storm Shadow to kill him when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Storm Shadow refused, and Alcazar retreated to Japan for meditation before he died.
  • Jinx - Storm Shadow's cousin. Trained originally by the Blind Master and later by Snake Eyes.
  • Billy Kessler - The son of Cobra Commander. He was trained as a ninja by Storm Shadow.
  • T'Jbang - Storm Shadow's second cousin and Onihashi's pupil.
  • Dojo - "The talkative one" as he refers to himself. He wields a Kusarigama (a chain-sickle weapon) and is Soft Master's pupil.
  • Nunchuk - Expert in blunt weapons, Blind Master's pupil.
  • T'Gin-Zu - Student of Storm Shadow who considers him his most talented pupil.
  • Kamakura - Sean Collins, a G.I. Joe recruit and the son of Snake Eyes' and Storm Shadow's Vietnam mate Wade Collins. Snake Eyes' most prominent apprentice.
  • Tiger Claw - A young recruit obsessed with martial arts flicks. Trained originally by Iron Master and later by Snake Eyes.
  • Obake-Obaason - The wife of the Hard Master.
  • Junko Akita - Storm Shadow's apprentice and lover. She was tortured by Sei Tin and Slice & Dice, which resulted in her death.
  • Ophelia - Snake Eyes' pupil. She died during the events of the Master and Apprentice saga.


  • The Red Ninjas - Renegade members of the Arashikage clan. At one point led by Master Sato, then by Sei Tin, and later by T'Jbang.
  • The Blue Ninjas - A group of cybernetically-enhanced ninjas with a vendetta against the Arashikage. They were responsible for the murder of Billy Kessler in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #172.
  • Faceless Master (Firefly) - Originally a member of the Koga clan, he infiltrated the Arashikage clan in order to kill Snake Eyes, but later refused to do so and referred the job to Zartan.
  • Night Creepers - A syndicate of hi-tech ninjas/corporate mercenaries hired by Cobra as spies and assassins.
  • Black Dragon - The Black Dragon group was originally a cabal of spies operating before the Cold War and destroyed by the original G.I. Joe Team led by General Joseph Colton over 30 years ago. The "Black Dragon Leader" survived to rebuild the organization, which now serves as Cobra Commander's personal guard, providing him with advanced weapons and tactical data. Each Black Dragon ninja is known to carry non-traditional bladed or custom-designed weaponry.
  • Cobra Ninja Vipers - Often called "Cobra Ninja Troopers", recruited from the highest Cobra Viper corps' ranks for their cunning and ruthlessness. Extremely obedient and always carry out their orders to the letter. At one point hand-picked and trained by Storm Shadow.
  • Sei Tin (Satan) - Red Ninjas' Leader. He was the Red Ninja's ultimate Grand Master with special mental abilities. Disabled by Snake Eyes.
  • Slice - A British Cobra Command agent described as "brutally efficient" who based his skills on the scorpions' attack patterns. Never officially confirmed, but he is suspected to be a former Arashikage member, Storm Shadow's pupil.
  • Dice - A sadistic ninja forsaken by the Night Creepers for his brutality. Slice's partner.
  • Slash - Renegade ninja recruited for Cobra and trained by Storm Shadow. A graceful fighter who based his technique on the moves of the praying mantises.
  • Shadow Strike - Another Storm Shadow's pupil, A Cobra infiltrated agent with the mission to "corrupt" the clan from within. Exclusive character from the "Ninja Battles" saga.
  • Master Sato - Once one of the most respected ninja masters amongst the Arashikage's ranks. He got embittered of Hard Master's attentions towards Snake Eyes. He planned the first attempt to assassinate Hard Master and later Storm Shadow, blaming the latter for the clan's corruption and ultimate disbanding.
  • The Vypra Twins - Daughters of the sacred swordsmith Onihashi, the Vypra Twins became mercenaries in the employ of Cobra.
  • Dark Master - Rogue ninja master exiled to cave beneath Arashikage Mountain for betraying the ninja clans. They were introduced in the last wave of Sigma 6 figures as "Dark Ninja Masters" before the series and corresponding toy line was canceled).
  • Rivals of the clan also include the Koga, Omikana, Nichira and Bakufu clans.


Uniform and symbol[edit]


Members of the Arashikage clan wore a tattoo on their right forearm, which is the ba gua symbol for 'water' and 'fire', representing the 63rd hexagram of the I Ching. Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow were first depicted to have the tattoo in their first battle at the Silent Castle.[2]

Arashikage Mind-Set[edit]

The Mind-Set is a form of hypnotism that requires extreme concentration and focus. It is perhaps the most powerful and dangerous of the Arashikage secrets, granting a warrior unshakable resolve and tenacity. The Mind-Set will cause a warrior to ignore pain and fear, and has proven capable of casting off the effects of brainwashing.[12]

The Cloak of the Chameleon[edit]

Using extreme physical control, the Cloak of the Chameleon alters breathing and circulatory patterns, in order to perfectly mimic the sounds of another person. As depicted in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #26, the Hard Master employed this technique when he was killed, because he was imitating Snake Eyes, the assassin's real target.[12]

The Ear That Sees[edit]

An exercise that concentrates hearing, to compensate for loss of sight. The Ear That Sees allows a warrior to identify a foe through sound alone, with cues such as heartbeat, the sound of cloth against cloth, and the patterns of breathing and other movement.[12]

The Sleeping Phoenix[edit]

This technique mimics death, by exerting extreme physical control over involuntary bodily processes. It has proven valuable in fooling enemies, and in extending survival, such as when Storm Shadow used the technique to preserve his life, after the Baroness shot him in G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #47.[12]

The Blind Sword[edit]

A lesser sword fighting technique that allows the practitioner to defend himself in low-visibility conditions, consisting in just extending the sword, using its scabbard for touch to compensate for the loss of sight. Hard Master taught this technique to Snake Eyes just before teaching him the "Cloak of the Chameleon".[13]

The Way Of The Inner Anvil[edit]

The most well kept secret technique handed down from ninja to ninja through countless generations whereby one may still one's breath and heartbeat to the semblance of death itself. This technique was revealed while Snake Eyes was subjected to the Brainwave Scanner.[14]

Animated series[edit]

Although the Arashikage clan is never mentioned during the events of Sunbow Productions' G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero series, certain elements are noticeable, as the mention of Blind Master by his pupil Jinx in G.I. Joe: The Movie.

There was also the inclusion of Ninja Force in the last season of DIC Entertainment's G.I. Joe series (Vol. 2).

It's not until the 2000s, that the clan came to be noticed as part of any cartoon continuity. The Arashikage Clan was featured most prominently in G.I. Joe: Valor vs. Venom and G.I. Joe: Ninja Battles, with the inclusion of exclusive characters as Iron Master, Tiger Claw, Slash and Shadow Strike, and the re-imagining of the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow rivalry's history.


The most radical re-telling of the clan's history and demise, is contained in the mini-series G.I. Joe: Resolute. In flashbacks, we learn that Storm Shadow; jealous of Hard Master's plan of passing the clan's leadership and most secretive and deadly technique (called "The 7 steps to the sun") to Snake Eyes, agrees with Cobra to assassinate his uncle. Zartan is again the man charged to do so (this time as a sniper). At the last second, Snake Eyes notices the sniper lens' gleam, and tries to warn Hard Master. Zartan shoots at Snake Eyes' mouth first, and takes the second shot at Hard Master's head.


In the two-part G.I. Joe: Renegades episode "Return of the Arashikage", viewers learn in a flashback that Snake Eyes saved Storm Shadow and Jinx's lives from a treacherous attack perpetrated by Koga assassins. The Arashikage clan's leader Hard Master (here depicted more akin to a Yakuza clan), named his daughter and nephew's savior "Ichi no zoro-me" (Snake Eyes), because he possessed the "steely gaze of a serpent", and he was accepted as a member of the "family". Hard Master favored Snake Eyes over his own nephew for his strong sense of honor and justice, claiming that being his student, he had become his master.[clarification needed] Therefore, he tried to convince Snake Eyes to become the new clan's leader, and saved his life, after noticing that the tea they were drinking was poisoned by an as-yet-unknown person. Snake Eyes tried to perform a tracheotomy to save his master's life, but Storm Shadow (believing that Snake Eyes was killing his uncle) injured Snake Eyes' throat with a shuriken. A brief fight ensues where Storm Shadow is beaten unconscious and defenestrated. Once Jinx arrived and witnessed the scene, Snake Eyes evacuated her to North America.

In "Cutting Edge", it is revealed that Storm Shadow was the one who poisoned the tea that was meant for Snake Eyes, but the cups were switched by an Arashikage servant and Hard Master was accidentally killed instead. Although Storm Shadow departs after revealing this to Jinx and Snake Eyes, Jinx departs back to Japan to lead the Arashikage down the path that the Hard Master wanted to take.

Live action film[edit]

In G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Hard Master is portrayed by Gerald Okamura who is the master of both Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. The Baroness is mentioned as one of Storm Shadow's best students, but was not identified as a member of the clan.

In the sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Blind Master is portrayed by Robert "RZA" Fitzgerald Diggs and is the master of Jinx (Élodie Yung). The Blind Master sends Snake Eyes and Jinx to apprehend Storm Shadow. Once Storm Shadow is apprehended, he tells the Blind Master that Zartan was the person who killed the Hard Master.


  1. ^ Hidalgo, Pablo (2009). G.I. Joe vs. Cobra: The Essential Guide 1982-2008. Random House. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-345-51642-8.
  2. ^ a b G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #21 (March 1984)
  3. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #26 (August 1984)
  4. ^ a b G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #126 (July 1992)
  5. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #27 (September 1984)
  6. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #117 (October 1991)
  7. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #118 (November 1991)
  8. ^ G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #135 (April 1993)
  9. ^ G.I. Joe: Master & Apprentice (2004)
  10. ^ G.I. Joe: Master & Apprentice 2 (2005)
  11. ^ a b G.I. Joe: Arashikage Showdown (2005)
  12. ^ a b c d Hidalgo, Pablo (2009). G.I. Joe vs. Cobra: The Essential Guide 1982-2008. Random House. p. 97. ISBN 978-0-345-51642-8.
  13. ^ Hama, Larry (w), Springer, Frank (p), Mushynsky, Andy (i). "Snake Eyes: The Origin Part II" G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero 27 (September 1984), Marvel Comics
  14. ^ Hama, Larry (w), Mike Vosburg (p), Chic Stone (i). "A Nice Little Town Like Ours" G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero 10 (April 1983), Marvel Comics

External links[edit]