Yoshimitsu appears in the fighting video game Soul Calibur. A descendant of his appears in the Tekken games as well. Bonus points for him being able to pass his legacy on to future generations!
The whole concept is that there is always a Yoshimitsu whose real identity is a closely guarded secret. But should one fall for any reason then another will rise to take his place. Thus it will appear to outsiders that there is an immortal ninja folk hero for the downtrodden. Kind of like the Phantom.
He’s an unusual Robin Hood type ninja with a distinctly Japanese flavor and a strange fighting style. Plus, he’s an off-the-wall character even for the games he hails from.
This profile covers three different continuities and multiple bearers of the Yoshimitsu identity, across two major fighting video game franchises.
We’ll therefore present it as two short articles, rather than as one article that might be too long for some.
- Part #1 is mostly about the material in the Soul Calibur games.
- Part #2 is mostly about the material in the Tekken games.
Still, part #1 flows into part #2 – so don’t read them too far apart. 😺
- Real Name: Unrevealed.
- Other Aliases: The First Mechanized Ninja, Space Ninja, Mechanized Space Ninja, The Inheritor of the Demon Sword.
- Known Relatives: Some Yoshimitsu might be the descendants of other Yoshimitsu.
- Group Affiliation: Formerly the Manji Ninja, now leader of the Manjitou Ninja.
- Base Of Operations: Mobile.
- Height: 5’7” to 5’10” (1.70 to 1.78m).
- Weight: 126 lbs. to 139 lbs. (57 to 63 Kg.).
- Eyes: Unrevealed. Hair: Unrevealed.
Powers and Abilities
Yoshimitsu is a highly skilled ninja and quite adept at stealth. He’s managed to evade capture by whatever powerful government authorities have been chasing him for years.
He’s also a decent fighter and tactician.
He’s lost a lot of men over the years in numerous battles. But he tends to face superior — if not overwhelming — odds on the battlefield. So the fact that he’s still alive has to say something about his abilities.
Ancient ninja cybersecrets
All versions have a few superhuman abilities. The most noticeable one is the ability to teleport short distances. No story explanation is ever given but it likely is ancient ninja magic, handed down through the generations.
In latter Tekken games, he can also turn invisible and even create a duplicate of himself. This too might be magic.
The modern Yoshimitsu also gained a cybernetic arm. It gave him limited flight by having the hand spin really fast and using his katana as a helicopter blade (!). In later Soul Calibur appearances, the Yoshimitsu of that time gained a presumably magic wooden arm prosthetic with the same properties.
Yoshimitsu’s beloved self-named katana is an heirloom in the Manji Clan.
It seems like just another katana, but it has quite a few unique features that accommodate the Manji style of fighting, Manji Ninjitsu.
Nobody outside the clan can duplicate it. With the entire clan dead, it seems that Yoshimitsu is the last one with the required knowledge. His blade is the last of its kind.
In SC4, Yoshimitsu has two such blades. Presumably, the Manji blacksmithing techniques have been recreated by that point.
The modern Yoshimitsu seems to have the same or a similar blade for the first few games. But he later gains a lightsaber-looking katana and some other wacky looking blades. It was also briefly cursed as well.
It’s entirely possible that the blades have been replaced for one reason or another. They may have been lost or stolen which has happened in some of the known storylines.
History (part 1)
This was a key step in unifying Japan. Though lord Oda Nobunaga couldn’t finish the job, his allies did. They thus are major figures in Japanese history.
Soul Calibur 1 – The origin of a folk hero
In 1583, Oda Nobunaga was a Japanese warlord with one ambition – to unite all of Japan under his rule.
To this end he needed to recruit powerful confederates. One potential ally was the Manji Clan, a village of skilled ninja.
The elder of the clan was far too old to make the journey. So he sent his best warrior in his stead. When the warrior arrived, he was met with lavish accommodation and banquets. But ultimately, he decided that the clan would be safer and better served by sticking to its tradition of staying out of major politics.
Upon returning to his village, he found it razed and with the entire population gone.
The ninja vowed revenge against Nobunaga. But the warlord was constantly surrounded by far too many trained soldiers. This led to a bloody battle in which the warrior lost his arm. Nobunaga spared the attacker’s life so that he would live in dishonor.
The right to bear arms
Rather than give up, the warrior decided that his revenge required a more powerful weapon. Through unknown means he acquired a fully functional, presumably magical wooden prosthetic arm. Then he set out to find Soul Edge – supposedly the most powerful blade that the world had ever seen.
While tracking down the weapon he witnessed some of the carnage left behind by the Azure Knight, Nightmare. After some meditation he concluded that if he were to wield the blade and use it purely for revenge, then he would be no different from Nobunaga.
Yet, the blade had caused far too much carnage. Someone had to step in and stop the slaughter of innocents. With this newfound purpose the warrior continued his journey.
He eventually tracked it down to Ostrheinsburg Castle, but he was too late. While there were signs that a great battle had been fought there, it was devoid of life. The warrior left, unaware that his own blade had been tainted by residual evil energy left behind by the cursed Soul Edge.
Soul Calibur 2 – The hero’s journey continues
Further meditation revealed the evil energy, and that his sword was now trying to corrupt him. But since it was the last heirloom of his extinct clan, destroying it was unthinkable.
With his great strength of body and spirit, the warrior resisted the temptation. But eventually, he passed out from exhaustion.
While he was asleep, Voldo, the insane blind servant of the long dead merchant of death Vercci, stole the Manji blade. He sought to bring it back to his master’s villainous lair, the Money Pit. The warrior awoke and knew that he had to reclaim his blade at all costs.
After more adventures and investigating he was able to locate the Money Pit. There, he reclaimed his blade – along with an original fragment from the cursed Soul Edge.
Fragments of evil
The warrior had come into contact with other evil fragments during his travels. And now everything came together. With so many fragments scattered around the world spreading their evil seed he would need a much greater force to oppose it. He would need a clan of brothers and sisters!
He christened both himself and the blade Yoshimitsu. Then ritually cleansed the sword and joined it to his very soul in the hopes that it would make both of them stronger as well as erasing his old identity.
Yoshimitsu returned to Japan where he recruited a bunch of outcasts and misfits. Proper training turned them into the Manjitou Clan. They were thieves that robbed from the rich and gave to the poor.
Soul Calibur 3 – The start of a legacy
After much success with their “wealth redistribution projects” Yoshimitsu and his merry band became folk heroes. Yoshimitsu decided that it was time to execute their biggest and boldest plan yet!
Half the clan would harass the city guards in small groups, using ninja hit and run tactics. Between this and the ongoing festival, the main team — led by Yoshimitsu’s second-in-command — could steal the Soul Edge fragment from a corrupt merchant’s house.
The plan was a dismal failure. The main group never even made it inside the treasure room and were slaughtered. The remaining ninja could free some survivors, but the reports about the ambush were unsettling.
There’s always an excuse for it
Survivors thought that the now-missing second-in-command had betrayed the clan. But Yoshimitsu was not convinced. Examining bodies, he also realised that some of the wounds emanated evil energy. His conclusion was that somebody had slain his operatives using the evil fragment.
He set out to find the fragment on his own, to bring closure about the incident to his clan. He eventually found his second-in-command, driven mad by exposure to the fragment. The man was babbling on about a mysterious woman accompanied by a flock of ravens and wielding a strange circular blade.
Yoshimitsu determined that this was Tira, a servant of the Soul Edge. She had been ordered by the cursed blade itself to collect more of its fragments so that it could grow in power.
Soul Calibur 4 – Cementing the legacy
As he turned over his wounded man to the rest of the clan, Yoshimitsu spotted a murder of Tira’s ravens. He followed them to Castle Ostrheinsburg and readied his remaining forces to attack.
Yoshimitsu and his ninja likely killed many servants of the big bad, Algol. But they didn’t have much effect on the convoluted main storyline.
Many years passed after that. Yoshimitsu grew old and realized that his days as a warrior were coming to an end. But he was also aware that both his identity as a folk hero and possession of the somewhat cursed blade had to be passed down to the right person.
He selected his strongest warrior who then assumed the identity of Yoshimitsu. The elder advised this successor from afar.
Soul Calibur 5 – Yoshimitsu II
17 years passed. A young ninja was corrupted by one of the evil shards, and assassinated the original Yoshimitsu. The new Yoshimitsu swore to avenge his fallen master, and went after their once-trusted student.
What happened next is unrevealed, since it was the last game in this continuity. As typical of fighting games, character endings aren’t considered canon unless supported by the storyline of the sequel.
History (part 2 – reboot)
Soul Calibur 6 was a reboot, in an attempt to revitalize sales. This new continuity wasn’t radically different, but there were notable changes.
To further muddy the waters, the original timelineUsed here in the sense of an alternate history, where events unfold differently apparently still exists. At least two characters are aware of it – one of which actually interacted with it.
The revised history for Yoshimitsu goes like this.
Soul Calibur 6 – Yoshimitsu 3.0?
In 1590 during Japan’s Warring States (“Sengoku”) period the Manji Clan decided that neutrality would be the best course of action for survival. However, one powerful warlord demanded fealty to him. He had their village torched when they refused. Only one member survived – Yoshimitsu.
Yoshimitsu waged a one-man ninja war against the warlord. But his enemy only seemed to become more powerful over time. In order to get his final revenge, the ninja would need a more powerful weapon.
One day he heard of a legendary sword the likes of which the world had never seen. Yoshimitsu then left Japan for the first time to search for it.
As expected, he followed the wake of the sword’s destruction. But he grew deeply concerned. If he were to finally possess the sword and use it for revenge, would he not be adding to the carnage? But Yoshimitsu eventually decided that he had come too far to turn back.
The quest for Soul Edge
Along the way he had some adventures. Yoshimitsu:
- Pursued Lyla, who seemed to have the Soul Edge. But he wound up fighting and losing to Maxi instead.
- Fought Taki, another Japanese ninja from the Fu Ma clan. But “Taki” turned out to be some sort of automaton.
- Clashed with bandits, then warned them that the village they were about to steal from was corrupted. They raided it anyway, but Yoshimitsu was faster. He destroyed all the Soul-Edge-corrupted gold there.
- It then turned out that the “villagers” were a rival bandit gang, who had killed and replaced the locals. They wanted to turn the village into a black market for weapons and slaves. But with the cursed gold’s influence gone, they lost all desire to fight and fled.
Yoshimitsu eventually tracked the sword to Castle Ostrheinsburg. He arrived too late, but ran into fellow warrior Sophitia. She convinced him that the only way forward was to destroy the evil blade. Yoshimitsu therefore turned his back on revenge.
He returned to his native land. Yoshimitsu recruited others who had been displaced by the war that raged throughout the country. The new Manji clan would stand up for all those that were powerless, and it would do so for the sake of justice.
At this time his blade transformed. It had previously been corrupted by lingering evil energy from the Soul Edge and Yoshimitsu’s desire for revenge. But now that both his heart and motives were pure, he could seal the evil energy by naming the sword after himself and thus binding it to his will.
He also decided that, once he would be old, he would pass on his blade and the Yoshimitsu identity to a worthy student. As a means to inspire others, and strike fear into the hearts of evil doers.
DC Heroes RPG
Yoshimitsu in Soul Calibur
|Dex: 07||Str: 03||Bod: 04|
|Int: 05||Wil: 05||Min: 06|
|Inf: 06||Aur: 04||Spi: 06|
|Init: 022||HP: 040|
Jumping: 01, Teleport: 03
Bonuses & Limitations:
Teleport uses normal Range and doesn’t have the +7 range bonus.
Acrobatics: 04, Martial Artist: 04, Medicine (First aid): 04, Military Science (All but demolition): 04, Thief (All but forgery): 06, Weaponry (Melee): 06
Area Knowledge (Japan), HQ (Expansive), Iron Nerves, Languages (Japanese), Leadership, Lightning Reflexes, Local Hero (Impoverished and downtrodden people), Schtick (Blindside Adept, Unpredictable fighting style).
Some versions of Yoshimitsu (including the second, third and sixteenth) have Schtick (Paired katana).
Manjitou ninja clan (High).
Enemy (Japanese government, powerful), Enemy (Voldo), Mistrust, Unluck, SPR (Missing right arm), Secret Identity. Since his face is never shown an Appearance Drawback is a possibility.
Leader of the Manjitou.
For the Wealth Score 03 represents his personal wealth and 10 is for his organization. He doesn’t usually keep more than he needs for the basic day to day living, but his organization is obviously well financed and doesn’t skimp on equipment and whatnot. So I figured this would be a better way of modelling it than giving him a Wealth score and Financial Backer.
- Yoshimitsu katana [BODY 06, Enhance (EV): 02 (cap is 09), Sharpness (EV): 01, Descriptor: Slashing, Piercing].
- LIGHT, SILENT LAMELLAR ARMOUR [BODY 03, Blunting: 02, Damage capacity: 02, Enhance (Cold RV): 01 (cap is 08), Enhance (Lightning RV): 01 (cap is 06), Enhance (Slashing, Piercing, Bludgeoning RV): 01 (cap is 06), Bonuses & Limitations: Damage Capacity has the Instant Recovery Bonus.]
- Last, but certainly not least he has a mechanized wooden arm that negates his SPR and grants him a few other abilities. [BODY 06, Gliding: 03, R#02, Flight needs an object of opportunity such as a katana to use as propeller helicopter style].
The body armour seems cosmetic in the games, but entirely ignoring it in his TTRPG stats felt odd.
So it was given unhelmeted armour jack stats, the rationale being that it’s light enough to be silent. Perhaps Yoshi never takes his helmet off because his head is unusually vulnerable due to wounds, explaining the overall lack of protective benefits from a helmet?
This article continues in the second half.
Source of Character: Soul Calibur and Tekken games.
Helper(s): roto13, Sébastien Andrivet, Darci.