sources: manga drawn and written by Nobuhiro Watsuki
四乃森 蒼紫 in kanji
四 – “shi” – four (4)
乃 – “no” – namely [or a possessive article]
森 – “mori” – forest
蒼 – “ao” – blue
紫 – “shi” – violet
[continued after the break]
Species, Race, Nationality:
26 (he was 15 when he took over the Oniwabanshu not long before the end of the war, 11 years prior to the beginning of the series)
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No family are ever mentioned; the Oniwabanshuu are his family, even if they aren’t related. He would, more than likely, die for any of them, and four of them died for him.
Friends and associates:
The people he associates with a limited to almost everyone in the series. The Oniwaban (both Tokyo and Kyoto groups) are under his command and very important to him; he cooperates with Shishio’s Juppongatana for the chance to kill Kenshin; after being defeated again by Kenshin, he becomes their distant ally for the rest of the series and beyond and also works with Saitou occasionally.
The Tokyo Oniwabanshuu was made up of Shikijou (the muscled man), Hannya (the master of disguise and a kempo user), Hyottoko (a fire breather), and Beshimi (who specialized in darts).
The Kyoto Oniwabanshuu consists of (by nickname, rather than real name) Okina (the old man), Omasu and Okan (the women), Shiro and Kuro (the men), and Misao (who is especially attached to him).
Okashira and vigilante – he has been the leader of the Oniwabanshuu for 11 years, even though the Oniwabanshuu themselves no longer have a purpose in existing, and is not likely to give it up. After his time spent meditating, he also seems to have decided that his purpose, aside from protective them, was to kill villains and especially those using secret or ninjitsu arts. (See his fight with the Shadow Puppeteer and also the Four Gods.)
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Tall; Shonene Jump says he is 182 cm (6’1). He’s quite a bit taller than Sanosuke, about the same as Saitou, and scenes with him and doorways make it appear he’d have to duck his head not to hit them.
Shonen Jump lists his weight as 72 kg (159 lbs). He has a medium athletic build, and is not a muscleman.
He seems to like to mix traditional and Western clothing. His original outfit included a purple shinobi outfit (which is based on a normal hakama and kimono outfit but with all the loose parts tucked close to the body), a large pale and yellow overcoat, and hard Western shoes. His second outfit is a simple yukata (he is barefoot) which apparently he wears when he is in casual situations and not on business. His third outfit is a black shinobi outfit like the original one, with purple ‘ribbons’ (that are probably exaggerated tenugui) and once again hard shoes. Furthermore, in the “Cherry Blossoms In The Spring” special, he’s shown wearing a black suit and tie along with an overcoat.
Aoshi is ‘tall, dark, and handsome’, in short. He is lean, though the big coat he originally wore gave an illusion of mass that would be imposing and possibly deceptive to an opponent. According to the anime and a single image in the manga, his has a lot of scars over his body, normally hidden by his clothes, which is unsurprising for a person who has lived a life of fighting.
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He is quite intelligent; he was described to Kenshin as “some kind of genius”, and after the Kyoto arc he actually showed it. He was the one to figure out that Kaoru was still alive after hearing the story of the fight with Enishi, and he was able to pinpoint the location of mines under the water to within half a meter and a tenth of a degree.
Not much, aside from the Oniwabanshuu, to all appearances. He likes solitude and fighting.
Cowards, idiots, and villains, alcohol (he states that he doesn’t drink, though he doesn’t give a reason why; most likely he doesn’t like the thought of not being in control of himself), conversation.
They changed during the course of the series. Originally, his goal was to kill Kenshin – the strongest of the patriots – and take the title of “strongest” for his Oniwaban. After being defeated and reminded of why he should live, his desires reverted back to their most basic – to protect those close to him (the Oniwabanshuu). He also decided that it was his purpose to destroy villainy and the secret arts of the previous era.
“Gloom incarnated” is how he was described at one point, and he seems to embrace that. He is consistently described as gloomy and dark; he almost never smiles (though Misao claimed that he would occasionally force a smile for morale) and is very serious and intense all of the time. Even when he’s relaxed, he is serious; a touch of sarcasm is the only humor that he ever shows, and that without a smile. He also takes his responsibilities very seriously, and can go from dedicated to single-mindedly obsessed without too much of a push.
After the Tokyo Oniwabanshuu were killed, he lost his will to live and became obsessed with defeating Kenshin, and embraced a mentality of pure violence, fighting with nothing to lose and no thought of the consequences. After Kenshin defeated him, he spent a lot of time meditating and changed again when he found his peace, and became stoic and calm, rather than stoic and angry.
He is throughout very pragmatic, and has no qualms about defiling the body of someone he knows or hiding inside a grave when he has to. He is both private and introverted, telling nothing of his personal life and confiding in no one, including the Oniwaban he holds so dear. He also tends to be impatient with other people and social awkward (‘awkward’ in this case meaning ‘nonexistent’); unless he’s in a command or businesslike situation, he tends to interrupt people when they’re saying something he already knows, which is often, and ignore them when they’re not doing anything important.
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His greatest strength in a fight is probably his adaptability. More than not relying on a few moves, he does not even rely on a few weapons; should he lose one or both swords, his entire body is still a weapon. His Ryūsui no Ugoki (flowing water movement), a kind of hallmark of him, is based on adaptability and flexibility, and uses varying shifts in speed to confuse the eye and allow him to evade most any blow, and though not an actual fighting technique in and of itself, is one of the most powerful pieces in his repertoire.
His personal strengths include his naturally calm and confident presence. Though he does not appear very charismatic, he is a natural leader and inspires loyalty through his very sincere loyalty to his men, his confidence and trust in them, and his ability. His emotional attachments also, though understated, run very deep, and those important him are more important than anything else, which inspires the same in return.
In his fighting style, he doesn’t seem to have any. Whether he has two, one, or no swords, he has shown himself to be an excellent, well-rounded fighter who is able to not only stand up to Kenshin but almost defeat him, twice; only the amakakeru ryu no hirameki was able to bring him down the second time. He neither neglects his defense nor hesitates to take the offense, and, as mentioned above, does not rely on one or two moves.
Personally, he remains distant even from those he holds dear and has a quietly angsty sort of personality that makes it extremely difficult to get personally close to. His greatest weakness is the way he isolates himself and holds even those who want to know him away. He also comes off as arrogant at times, especially when he is least interested in being social (though it is not usually more that his talents deserve).
Powers, Abilities, Talents:
Aoshi is a master at kempo (the link goes to wikipedia; ‘kempo’ in this case probably refers to Chinese martial arts) and a prodigy with a sword; in a few months he was able to teach himself and master a double-kodachi style, after his single-kodachi proved not strong enough to defeat Kenshin. He is almost as fast as Kenshin, very agile, strong enough to break a sword with his bare hands, and a genius tactician.
This section slightly modified from Wikipedia, where it was well and succinctly stated.
Onmyō Kōsa – (Shadow-Light Cross) Aoshi blocks an enemies striking weapon with one kodachi, then strikes it with the second kodachi, thrusting the first one through.
Jissen Kenbu – (Actual-Battle Sword-Dance) Combo attack using “water flowing movement” to flow around the enemy, confusing them with a constant change in speed. Aoshi will then strike from various points, slashing them with his kodachi or striking them with kempo, then ending it with “Kaiten Kenbu”. Before deciding to use a two kodachi style of fighting, this was Aoshi’s final attack. Though he is nearly impossible to hit during the Jissen Kenbu, he is vulnerable when he switches from a defensive to an offensive stance, a weakness exploited by Kenshin, and later Shishio.
Kaiten Kenbu – (“Spiral Sword Dance” or “The Dance Of The Wheeling Sword”) Aoshi claims to have used this attack to defeat “all who have intruded upon Edo castle”. It involves Aoshi rapidly spinning around three times, while holding the kodachi backhand, to slash the opponent thrice in an instant. Aoshi usually uses this attack after disorienting the opponent with “water flowing movement”.
Kaiten Kenbu Rokuren – (“Spinning-Heavenly Sword-Dance Six-Series” or “The Dance Of The Wheeling Sword Six Successions”) This attack is Aoshi’s ōugi. The attack involves Aoshi gripping his kodachi backhand, then slashing the opponent six times in rapid succession, from both sides (it relies on confusing the opponent on the direction from which each subsequent strike is going to come). It’s basically Kaiten Kenbu but done with two kodachi.
Onmyō Hasshi – (Dusk to Dawn Strike) Aoshi throws both kodachi at the opponent, hitting the end of the first one with the second one for an extra boost. The second kodachi is hidden directly behind the first, so the opponent would only see one kodachi heading for them in their line of sight.
Gokō Jūji – (Yin-Yang Cross) Aoshi crosses the two kodachi and moves them outwards in a scissor-like cut.
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His history is almost unknown. All that is revealed about his early past is vague and impersonal; he defeated Shikijou in a fight at the age of thirteen, he became Okashira of the Edo Castle Oniwabanshuu at the age of fifteen, and at some point in the same time period he found Hannya and brought him into the group.
He did explain his life after the end of the war. He was offered various positions in the new government but refused them all, because he refused to leave the men and women of the Oniwabanshuu. Eventually he and the only four remaining, who could not have found a decent life in the new era, were reduced to bodyguards for Kanryu Takeda, an opium and weapon merchant who, fed up with Aoshi’s insolence and open disdain, tried to kill him with a Gatling gun. The other four each gave their lives to protect him and allow Kenshin to beat Kanryu. While Kenshin was finding Megumi, he took hte heads of his men and escaped from the building, and evaded the police that chased him.
After that point, his purpose in life was to defeat Kenshin to give his fallen men the title of the strongest fighters from the revolution, and toward that end he trained in the mountains for several months to learn the double kodachi style. He missed Kenshin in Tokyo, and briefly cooperated with Shishio, though he neither knew nor cared of Shishio’s plans; because Kenshn would be there, that was where he went. At that time he attacked Okina to try to learn Kenshin’s whereabouts and wounded him very badly, but he either consciously or subconsciously held back (according to Kenshin) and didn’t kill him.
During their fight, Kenshin convinced him to live for Misao and the rest of the Kyoto Oniwabanshuu, and broke his obsession. The did finish the fight, however, with Aoshi’s kaiten kenbu losing to the speed of Kenshin’s amakakeru ryu no hirameki. He managed to face Shishio later, and though he was badly wounded enough that he couldn’t muster his normal speed or strength, he did buy Kenshin time to recover.
He thereafter spent a lot of time meditating in a Zen temple and eventually settled his mind, and he came back to Tokyo to help Kenshin in his fight with Enishi. He discovered the Kaoru was still alive, defeated the puppeteer, and helped to defeat the four bodyguards before Kenshin’s fight. When he and Misao returned to Tokyo, he mentioned that they were going to move the heads of the Tokyo group from the mountain where he buried them to proper graves.
In the special that followed the series, Aoshi was shown accompanying an older Misao (he was called her “companion”, not any sign of a deeper relationship) on a visit to Kenshin and the others, wearing a suit and providing information on Saitou’s whereabouts.