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Murakami Gennosuke (aka "Gen", spelled in Japanese as 村上 源之助 (むらかみ げんのすけ) ) is a prominent supporting character in the Usagi Yojimbo comic book. He's an anthropomorphic rhinoceros who makes a living as a bounty hunter.


History

Originally, Gen was the son of a renowned samurai, General Murakami, in service to the prestigious Asano family of the Shirogeta Clan. However, while Gen was still very young, the Asano family fought as enemies to the current Shogun during the Age of Warring States, and they were losing. The clan's doom came in the form of treachery, when a greedy subordinate named Oda assassinated Lord Asano and fled. Leaving only his widow, Lady Asano, but no heirs, the Asano family's land was given to a distant relative who supported the Shogun. Lady Asano refused to accept this treachery and gathered what few Asano loyalists remained, including General Murakami, and sent them on a vendetta to find the traitor Oda, and bring his head.

Gen was only a child when his father set on his vendetta to avenge his lord. Despite the fact that he was acting out of honor in his duty as a samurai, General Murakami was now a ronin, and his quest led his family into utter poverty. Gen's childhood was harsh and miserable. Wandering around as vagabonds, they were always hungry, sleeping under bridges with derelicts and people looking at them as vermin.

While General Murakami was still focused on carrying out his vendetta, Gen's mother was forced to prostitute herself just to help her family survive. Eventually, Gen's mother died, leaving father and son alone in the endless vendetta. As Gen matured, his father trained him in swordsmanship and despite his resentment to his father, Gen excelled in the instruction, becoming a formidable warrior.

Upon reaching teens, Gen abandoned his father, wanting nothing to do with his vendetta. Carrying a daisho but with little chance for employment, Gen's prospects looked bleak. However, things improved when he encountered a young man and an attractive woman claiming to need medical attention on the road. Tempted by her beauty, he stopped to examine her injury only to find nothing and suddenly realized that the man was about to backstab him. Gen immediately struck him down and subdued his female accomplice. A pair of woodcutters witnessed the incident and, recognizing the defeated criminals, told Gen that there was a bounty on them. Gen claimed the bounty and suddenly had enough money to eat better than he had in years. From that day on, Gen became a professional bounty hunter.

Eventually, Gen met up with Miyamoto Usagi and the pair struck up a tenuous relationship as they periodically teamed up for major bounties, only to cheat each other at the conclusion of their mutual business. Eventually, the relationship matured into a more trustworthy friendship, and the two shared many adventures since.

During the Dragon Bellows Conspiracy, Gen was on a hunt after the wanted blind swordsman, Zato-Ino, during the ensuing duel, Zato-Ino cut off Gen's horn. Before their duel could reach its end, Usagi appeared with a small army of neko ninja, all of whom were on their way to assault Lord Tamakuro's castle. In need of as much help as possible, Usagi promised a reward to both swordsman for their aid. During the battle, Zato-Ino saved Gen's life from a gunshot, and at the end of the battle, Gen stated that the blind sword-pig was dead, which later turned out to be a lie.

On another adventure, where the two crossed paths again, the two of them met the Lady Asano, now reduced to a beggar. When she say Gen, she mistook him for his father and thought he would help her with her vendetta, but Gen made it clear her grudge had nothing to do with him. Lady Asano soon did find the betrayer, Oda, who was now magistrate of the town they were in. She tried to attack him, but he took her prisoner. Usagi went to save Lady Asano, and Gen went to help Usagi. They both ended up captured, but managed to escape thanks to a blade Gen had hidden, and escaped the dungeon with Lady Asano. They managed to find Usagi's swords, and Gen found a new pair before having to fight Oda's guards. During the ensuing battle, Lady Asano was mortally wounded by Oda, but she avenged her clan by killing the traitor before succumbing to her wound. Gen carried Lady Asano's body out of the castle as he and Usagi made their escape. As they were giving Lady Asano a proper burial, Gen discovered that the swords he had taken were in fact his father's daisho, heirlooms to his family; such a proud samurai would never have abandoned his swords, so there was only one way Oda could have obtained them. Gen took a private moment to mourn his father's much to the son's belated regret.

In addition, through Usagi, Gen met the street performer/petty criminal Kitsune and joined her on a trek of their own; there is a hint of a romantic attraction between the two, but for now they are merely friends, and have gone their separate ways. Since then, however, Kitsune had admitted that she actually preferred Gen to Usagi when Kiyoko asked if she liked him. It's probably through their shared love of money and their pragmatic view of the world that causes their attraction.

His latest bounty was the fugitive female swordswoman Inazuma, not realizing that she was possessed by Jei; however, after finding one of Inazuma's recent victims, he decided to abandon the search, but not before assaulting a competing bounty hunter, Inukai. However, they evidently both reconsidered and tracked Inazuma down together just as she was going to kill the Woodcutters. At that confrontation, Gen now realized the true situation with Jei. Furthermore, fighting her became more difficult when Gen learned forcefully that the possessed Inazuma can cause him debilitating pain at a distance at will with an old spear wound inflicted by Jei. Eventually both bounty hunters were struck unconscious in battle with Inazuma but were puzzled why she then departed without killing them. Considering how supernaturally formidable their quarry is, the bounty hunters have decided to call for help to bring her down. To that end, the pair soon meet Usagi and the monk Sanshobo who both insist on joining the hunt. They eventually found Inazuma mortally wounded and while he, Usagi and Inukai held off a horde of competitors, Sanshobo exorcised Jei's spirit out of the swordmaiden, enabling her to die in peace.

Personality

Growing up the son of impoverished samurai, and seeing the cost of a samurai's honor, Gen disdains bushido in favor of a cynical mercenary attitude determined never to be poor again. Gen often puts his coin purse before anything else, not willing to do anything unless there's coin to be had. He's also quite a miser who will either not spend his money on others, or even mooch off of other people, like Usagi, rather than spend his own coin. He also has no compunctions about stealing coin from the dead.

In contrast to Usagi, Gen is uncouth, boorish and possesses little to not tact, which often makes him come off as rude and inconsiderate. Despite his harsh exterior, Gen does have positive qualities, such as loyalty to what few friends he has. While he often admonishes Usagi for his always sticking his nose where it doesn't belong, Gen has never abandoned his friend and has helped save his life many times over.

Gen also possesses a sense of generosity that he actually tries to hide from most people. At the end of Grasscutter Part 2, Gen gave the money he had gotten from a bounty to General Ikeda's family because he knew that without their father they would struggle, so he wanted to help them. While trying to bring in a man with a bounty on his head, Gen came to sympathize with the man who was trying to get back to his family and actually helped him to get back to them, but he was deeply upset when he was killed by Inukai. During the Dragon Bellow Conspiracy, Gen's life was saved by Zato-Ino, and as thanks, Gen lied about the sword-pig's death so that he might finally have a life of peace.

Fighting Style

While Gen has never set foot in a dojo, he was trained by his father, a once mighty general, in the ways of combat. Gen's style is a mix of what he learned from his father and what he picked up in his life as a bounty hunter, and has been honed by real-life application rather than dueling. In combat, Gen makes use of his strength to overwhelm his opponent and break down their defense, leaving them wide open. And since he often has to go after many criminals at once, Gen has been shown to be quite effective at attacking multiple opponents.

However, Gen has a nasty habit of underestimating certain people, and his reliance on his strength leaves him open to styles that are more based on speed or counter-attacks, like in his duel with Zato-Ino or Inazuma.

Gen in the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Gen, along with Usagi, is a recurring character in the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, where he is voiced by Dan Green. Although his character is for the most part unchanged, there has been at least one significant alteration: while he is no longer an avid drinker, he is instead a heavy gambler.

Gen can be seen in the following episodes:

In "Samurai Tourist", Gen took for a moment clothes that were identical to those worn by Rocksteady, a rhinoceros mutant from the 1987 TMNT series.

Trivia

  • Gen lost his horn in a sword fight with Zato-Ino.
  • The character is partially based upon "Sanjuro Kuwabatake" (aka "Sanjuro Tsubaki"), a ronin portrayed by Toshiro Mifune in the Akira Kurosawa films Yojimbo (1961) and Sanjuro (1962).
  • Gen is skilled at Kenjutsu.
  • Quote: "After all, I am your best friend".
  • Gen made a small cameo in Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles, when his descendants Gen and Toshiko were playing with figurines that looked like him and Inazuma during a flashback.

External links

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