|Affiliation|| Azuma Ninja Clan|
House of Gohda
|First Appearance||Tenchu: Stealth Assassins|
Rikimaru (力丸?) is a master ninja and the leader of the Azuma Ninja clan, a loyal spy of Lord Matsunoshin Gohda and his country. Raised in the way of the ninja by Azuma Shiunsai, Rikimaru became perhaps the youngest leader of the Azuma Ninja ever, after a series of harrowing trials early in the reign of Lord Gohda.
Rikimaru was born the son of a samurai. When he was only an infant, Shiunsai was ordered to assassinate Rikimaru's father. He did so, but on the way out of the family home, the Azuma ninja came across Rikimaru's mother and a servant. The ninja dispatched both the adults, but Shiunsai stayed his hands from killing the child. Seeing potential in the boy, he took him as a student.
Initially, the young boy was something of a weakling. Shiunsai motivated him and trained him hard. This exceptional tutelage, combined with daily sparring sessions with his clan brother Tatsumaru, and took the scrawny child and turned him into a talented and deadly young man. At the age of sixteen, Rikimaru was made an Azuma ninja.
Burning Dawn CrisisEdit
Following the death of Lord Gohda's father, the Gohda family was split between Gohda Matsunoshin, the rightful heir, and Gohda Motohide, Matsunoshin's uncle. A rebellion broke out, and Motohide's forces attacked Gohda Castle. At a loss for how to respond, Gohda's advisor Sekiya Naotada requested the aid of the Azuma. Master Shiunsai dispatched his trio of students, Rikimaru, Ayame, and Tatsumaru, to aid their lord, but not before passing on leadership of the clan to Tatsumaru and giving him the ancestral sword of the Azuma, Izayoi.
In the chaos of the castle battle, Tatsumaru sent Rikimaru to save Lord Gohda. Rikimaru fought his way through the castle keep and came upon Matsunoshin and Motohide dueling. He dove into the fight, dueling Motohide and knocked him down. As he prepared to deliver the killing blow, Lord Gohda got in the way, and Rikimaru accidentally struck his lord instead. Once they escaped the besieged castle, Lord Gohda was informed that his enemy, Lord Toda, was attacking from across the border.
Rikimaru went to Toda's camp, intending to dispatch Toda himself. When he arrived, however, he was confronted by Suzaku, one of Toda's ninja. By the time their brief duel had ended and Rikimaru entered Toda's sanctum, both Toda and Motohide were already dead. Drawn by the sounds of battle, Rikimaru encountered Ayame and Princess Kiku, only to discover Tatsumaru embroiled in combat with a female ninja. Before either of the younger Azuma could intervene, both Tatsumaru and his enemy fell into the sea.
In the aftermath of the rebellion, Rikimaru was sent to investigate the disappearance of villagers on Demon Mountain. Arriving, he dispatched the ninja there, as well as their leader, Kamadoma. Following a lead from one of the villagers, he uncovered a Secret Harbor where Chinese pirates were taking Gohda's villagers as slaves. After killing off the pirates and their leader, Wang Xiaohai, Rikimaru was attacked by a masked man. The two fought briefly before Rikimaru recognized the stranger's weapon which looked like Izayoi. When the man removed his mask, he revealed himself to be Tatsumaru. Calling himself Seiryu, the Blue Dragon, Lord of the Burning Dawn, Tatsumaru left before Rikimaru could get any more information from him.
Rikimaru was next sent to investigate an attack on a temple by Burning Dawn ninja. Killing his way to the temple's Noh stage, he once again encountered Suzaku, but Yukihotaru blocked his way so Suzaku can fled before Rikimaru could face him. A carrier pigeon brought Rikimaru word that the Azuma ninja village was under attack, but by the time he returned, most of the villagers had been killed. At the village entrance, Rikimaru squared off with the same ninja who had been fighting Tatsumaru at Toda's camp. She introduced herself as Kagami, leader of the Burning Dawn.
Rikimaru was able to wipe out all the Burning Dawn ninja in his village, but even as he slew the last of them, an anguished cry echoed through the air. Rikimaru returned to Shiunsai's house only to discover Tatsumaru, with Izayoi drawn, standing over the mortally wounded body of Shiunsai. The two Azuma ninja fought, and Rikimaru's rage led him to briefly gain the upper hand, knocking Tatsumaru to the ground and standing poised to deliver the killing blow. In this position, however, he hesitated; his passions were warring with each other, anger at Shiunsai's death against brotherly love for Tatsumaru. Tatsumaru took advantage of Rikimaru's hesitation and struck him with Izayoi, leaving a bloody gash on his eye. Tatsumaru escaped with Kagami, and with his dying breath, Shiunsai ordered Rikimaru to recover the sword and to fight without passion.
Chasing Tatsumaru with the aid of Semimaru, Rikimaru came across Ayame. Though he vowed to kill Tatsumaru, Ayame angrily forbade him to do so, saying that she herself would kill Tatsumaru. Mistakenly assuming that she was saying this only because she herself would act with dispassionate selflessness, Rikimaru agreed, and the two ninja tracked Tatsumaru to the Kansen Caverns. After killing Byakko, the White Tiger and his pet Jirru, the Azuma infiltrated the caverns and discovered Kagami's warship, the Fire Demon. They also overheard Kagami planning to launch the ship and attack Gohda Castle. Ayame boarded the Fire Demon in secret, while Rikimaru went back to warn Lord Gohda.
Arriving just before the ship, Rikimaru was sent to eliminate the Burning Dawn. He crept from boat to boat in the harbor, killing Burning Dawn ninja, before encountering Suzaku yet again. The two duelled, and this time Rikimaru struck his enemy down. He boarded the Fire Demon and killed many of the ninja there until he found Ayame on the fore deck of one of the ships. She held Izayoi in her hand, and Tatsumaru lay dead at her feet. Ayame tossed the ancestral sword to Rikimaru, who caught it and set out to finish the final enemy.
He found Kagami on a Noh stage in the very aft of the central ship. The two warriors duelled, Kagami quickly tossing aside her fan and attacking with her long sword. Though the battle was fierce, Rikimaru struck a fatal blow on his enemy, and in doing so fully assumed his role as master of the Azuma Ninja.
- "You think you have destroyed my dream...by killing me...but my dream lives! You can not stop it from coming true, because...we will pay any price...for freedom! Freedom! But you...only a fool, follows the rules without questioning them...and fools can...never...stop...us... Ahh!"
- Kagami in Tenchu 2
- "Hmph. I'll happily suffer the title of 'fool' if it means I can save even one life from your blood-drenched dream! Farewell, Kagami."
- Rikimaru in Tenchu 2
Rikimaru searched the ship for Ayame, but could not find her, and with no other choice he dove off and reported his victory to Lord Gohda, who had his archers fire flaming arrows to destroy the ship. The day after the battle, Rikimaru discovered Ayame finishing a makeshift grave for Tatsumaru at the seaside. He vowed to serve Lord Gohda.
In the aftermath of the Burning Dawn Crisis, Rikimaru moved the Azuma Ninja Clan to Gohda Castle, presumably for a number of reasons (they were better able to protect Gohda if they were close, and with so many haunting memories in what remained of the Azuma Ninja Village, it would have been painful for both Ayame and Rikimaru to remain there). For the next seven years, both he and Ayame trained constantly, and their skills improved to even greater levels than they had been.
Seven years after the Burning Dawn was destroyed, on a mission for Lord Gohda, Rikimaru came across a mysterious warrior named Onikage. Onikage fled, but Rikimaru was to encounter him several more times in the coming days and weeks. Finally, Onikage revealed that he was working for Lord Mei-oh, the Lord of the Underworld, and that Princess Kiku had been kidnapped and taken to the underworld. Both Rikimaru and Ayame set out to rescue her.
In a vicious duel, Rikimaru finally killed Onikage - unknowingly striking down Suzaku, the enemy of his younger days. The Azuma Ninja descended into Hell itself, where Ayame rescued Princess Kiku and Rikimaru fought and defeated Lord Mei-Oh. While they ran to escape, a cave-in blocked their path. With the ceiling about to fall, Rikimaru set aside Izayoi, lifted the boulder blocking the path, and ordered Ayame to take Kiku and Izayoi and escaped. The two women escaped the tunnel just before the rocks buried it completely. Ayame stuck Izayoi into the ground as a grave marker for Rikimaru. Then, Ayame, Lord Gohda and Princess Kiku look off to the rising sun.
Skills and AbilitiesEdit
Rikimaru is an incredibly talented Azuma style master swordsman, skilled in both kenjutsu and iaijutsu, and was from a young age. He defeated several skilled warriors such as Suzaku, Kagami, Rinshi, Senjuro Akechi (Myojinsoga style swordsmanship Master) and overpowered Tatsumaru, and even won a one-on-one duel with Mei-Oh himself, not to mention Tenrai. As an Azuma Ninja, Rikimaru is capable of perfect stealth, striking from the shadows unseen, unheard, and vanishing without a trace. This has been expressed in his skill and experience when killing enemy ninja, ronin, and samurai.
In his youth, Rikimaru had nearly perfect physical combat technique, but lacked the mental self-discipline to fight without passion. Toward the end of the Burning Dawn War, he finally mastered his emotions, and was able to confront and defeat Kagami with a clear mind. His ability to focus dispassionately on the achievement of his mission makes him even deadlier.
As seen in his adulthood, Rikimaru has expressed great skill in the more advanced arts of Azuma-ryu ninjutsu. Some of these include Hensojutsu (Chameleon Art), Taijutsu (Body Art), Kenjutsu (Sword Art), a minor example of Sojutsu (Spear Art), Kyujutsu (Archery Art). But more recently the Azuma Master has shown great skill in Suijutsu (Swimming Art) and Suirenjutsu (Water Survival Art). This is expressed when grabbing unaware enemies and pulling them underwater and drowning them, along with hiding underwater to avoid detection by the enemy. His mastery of Intonjutsu (Escaping and Concealment Art) has been shown through the use of smoke bombs to mask his escape and silent entry. Able to sneak up on most, if not all enemies and use Azuma style unarmed silent combat techniques to subdue them, in most cases lethal force.
Although non-lethal force is taught as well within the Azuma Shinobi-ryu, as seen through his students using non-lethal techniques. These unarmed combat techniques have shown Master Rikimaru, consistently removing the sword from enemy scabbards and performing stealth kills. Though not to much of his Azuma-taijutsu skills have been seen in great detail we have seen some techniques in combination with his Azuma-jutaijutsu skills. Either way Master Rikimaru is truly a master in Azuma unarmed combat and a visual representation of Ninjutsu.
In Tenchu 3: Wrath of Heaven, he mastered one ultimate skill named Wrath of Heaven, where he can instantly kill any enemy with one blow, but critically damaged himself at cost.
Personality and AppearanceEdit
Early on, Rikimaru had many of the characteristics he would display for the rest of his life: he was totally loyal to the country of Lord Gohda, stoic, serious, disciplined, and utterly devoid of a sense of humor. He was also brash, over-confident, and known to give in to great anger on rare occasions. These latter traits were burned out of him after his failure to kill Tatsumaru, and by the time he killed Kagami he had transcended to a higher level of spiritual self-control. Due to the numerous wars Master Rikimaru has silently fought in, these experiences have undoubtedly tested his spirutual, physical, emotional, and mental control to the fullest extent. As well as his sense of duty to the Azuma and the country of Gohda.
Though not intended to be the Azuma Ninja Master at 16, Rikimaru took to leadership very well. His loyalty to the country of Gohda made him an extremely reliable choice to employ for espionage against neighborhing countries, and when left with no one to command him, he had a knack for decisiveness and leadership. And later on in life, in his adulthood, teaching the Azuma techniques to his two students, the next generation of Azuma.Rikimaru usually wears a mask over the lower portion of his face (in his late twenties maybe very early thirties he chose to wear an oni-mask), though he rarely lowers it. He has a distinctive scar over his right eye caused by Izayois blade, the result of combat with Tatsumaru. He dresses in dark colors, usually dark brown or black, with gray undertones. And has very unusual snow white hair, with an athletic build to his physique.
As leader of the Azuma Ninja clan, Rikimaru firmly follows tradition and wields the ancestral sword Izayoi. In his youth he practiced an unorthodox style of kenjutsu, holding his blade behind his back and leading with his opposite hand. After the war with the Burning Dawn, and seven years of grueling Azuma ryu training, he adopted a more conventional style of holding his ninjato before his body. Either way he is a master of both sword styles.
Rikimaru was a very respectful disciple of Shiunsai, and the life of the ninja was the only one he remembered. As such, he was devastated when his master died, but by the time he could avenge the murder, he had let his anger give way to peace of mind.
Rikimaru and Tatsumaru were as close as brothers, and Rikimaru respected and admired his senior. As such, he felt personally betrayed when Tatsumaru turned on the Azuma, and was consumed with rage when Tatsumaru killed Shiunsai. The scar on his right eye was the result when he confronted Tatsumaru at the time Tatsumaru killed Shiunsai.
- "I wish only to serve Lord Gohda."
- Rikimaru, after the Burning Dawn Crisis
Rikimaru has always been an extremely devoted spy of the Gohda family. His loyalty has never faltered, and as he proved with Ayame and Princess Kiku, he was willing to sacrifice himself at a moment's notice for them.
- "I'm going with you to Gohda Castle."
- "I'm glad."
Ayame is a clouded matter. She has shown feelings for Tatsumaru, and treats Rikimaru only as a companion. Even though both of them show loyalty and respect towards each other, not much compassion is felt between them. This may be an illustration of the harsh life they take on together. Not much is told about their relationship (aside from being partners and being raised by Master Shiunsai).
- Rikimaru's name is composed by 力 (riki) meaning "power", "strength", and 丸 (maru) which means among other things "circular". In Japanese culture, the circle is a symbol of equanimity and perfection, and because of that, 丸 is also a Japanese dated suffix used in personal names. This is likewise related to the Ensō and Shunyata concepts.