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"Yoshimitsu-sensei once told me this: life is but a game. The more seriously you take things, the harder its rules become. And it's not supposed to be easy."
— Tsubame, speaking to Natsu

Tsubame (燕, つばめ) is a character in the Soul series of fighting games, making appearances in Soulcalibur III and Soulcalibur V.

What lies in her soul is Focus.

In Soulcalibur V's promotional material, she is referred to as The Wings That Outflew Insanity.

Biography

Very little of Tsubame's early life is known. What is known is that she was born in 1570 in the city of Danzig, by the Baltic Sea and, after losing both parents to illness while still an infant, joined the Bird of Passage group at an early age, carrying out hits in their name, and where she used the codename Stahl Schwalbe ("Steel Swallow"), alluding to her strength and swiftness.

Schwalbe was gifted with an incredible memory, which came in handy when executing missions: she would remember every single detail not only from the briefing, but also from the place where the killings should take place, in such a way that she always carried out clean hits. During her time in the Bird of Passage, she earned the admiration of a younger companion codenamed Eiserne Drossel, with whom she would frequently be partnered. In spite of Drossel's unpredictability, Schwalbe always managed to maintain her composure and execute her missions without any problems - the closest brush she had with arresting was when Drossel ended up botching one such mission, to kill a corrupt associate of the Habsburg family in Pressburg, Hungary, by laughing loud enough that the guards were alerted to their presence as she minced his corpse with her Ring Blade. But even then, Schwalbe managed to flee and elude the guards by hopping across the city's rooftops with Drossel in tow.

When Schwalbe was 14, the Evil Seed was spread all over the world, driving the Bird of Passage's leader to insanity and culminating on the group's dissolution. She was not affected because she accompanied Drossel in a mission and, when they returned only to find that their brethren have disbanded, the two parted ways, wishing each other luck on a "normal life".

While Drossel wound up getting selected for adoption, Schwalbe chose to journey eastwards, having heard tales of valorous warriors who lived there. Having buried her Ring Blade somewhere in Central Asia as a rite of passage, she traveled night and day until she reached Japan, having been washed ashore after the ship she had taken sank. Barely conscious, she was found and taken in by Yoshimitsu, who nursed her to health and trained her in the ways of Manji Ninjutsu, leading to her being inducted to the Manjitou. This was when she was rechristened as Tsubame ("Swallow"), after the grace and nimbleness that she put in her moves. While still a ringer of her Bird of Passage days, she gladly embraced the name out of gratitude to her new master, marking her passage to a new life.

Soulcalibur III

Tsubame Yoshimitsu sparring

Tsubame sparring with Yoshimitsu.

With time, Tsubame became a valuable member of the Manjitou, thanks to her amazing photographic memory and her new fighting skills. When the planned heist at the yearly festival went wrong, she was part of the team that was sent to retrieve the arrested Manjitou members. While she did not know how could they be ambushed, she recognized the wounds on her compatriots: they looked remarkably similar to Ring Blade wounds.

Being the only one in Manjitou familiar with such a peculiar weapon, she confessed her own origins to Yoshimitsu, confused because she thought the Bird of Passage had been extinct, then afraid that the master that she came to like as a foster father would shun her for this. Yoshimitsu, however, gently assured her that it was not her affiliations that determined who she was, but her own heart, and he knew her to have a caring, honest heart. He then lectured her on the fragment of the Soul Edge that was taken and instructed her to head west separate from him because, as she probably knew who the assailant could be, she could quickly take care of him or her, while Yoshimitsu investigated on his own. Thus Tsubame did, unearthing her own Ring Blade, the Stahl Schwalbe, which was at the exact place where she had left it (a ruined palace along the famed Silk Road), on the way.

Eventually, Tsubame's journey led her to Ostrheinsburg, where she was glad, but at the same time shocked, to meet a face she had not seen for the last seven years... It was Eiserne Drossel, her comrade in Bird of Passage. Now calling herself Tira, she approached her old friend with a contented, yet twisted, smile on her face, which did not escape Tsubame's notice.

"Drossel... What happened? You seem... different..."

"Oh yes, Schwalbe, my dear old friend. I finally found what I was looking for after so long... The chance to live the life I always wanted! I'm sure you would enjoy it too..."

"There's something in you, Drossel... Something wicked. It feels like you're not the same Drossel I knew..."

"You'll get used to it. Now come with me, Schwalbe... I'm sure he'll love to meet you."

"He... who?"

"He who's destined to be master of this world... Soul Edge!"

Tsubame vs Tira

The fated battle between the Birds of Passage.

One mention of the evil blade, of which she learned everything Yoshimitsu could teach, was enough for Tsubame to see where this was heading. Tira then confessed that she was the one who ambushed the Manjitou in order to take the Soul Edge fragment, as well as mentioning the long trail of blood and death she carried behind her, without a single flicker of hesitation or repentance in her voice. Sorrowful and angered, Tsubame attacked Tira, declaring that she was not Eiserne Drossel, and the true Drossel had died by the hand of the monster she had become. Tira's only response was "If that's what you think, then yes, I killed Drossel... And Schwalbe's going to join her soon!"

It was a long, hard-fought battle between the two experienced assassins who wielded exactly the same weapon. However, while Tsubame was a capable combatant, her emotions in disarray had gotten the best of her and Tira managed to defeat and subdue her, but just before she could deliver the killing blow, Yoshimitsu saved Tsubame's life.

"Leave, now! I shall take over from here!" he warned, to which Tsubame obeyed. Even though Tira tried to give chase, Yoshimitsu held her off long enough for Tsubame to leave the cursed grounds of Ostrheinsburg Castle.

Even worried about her master's welfare, as she knew full well what Tira was capable of, Tsubame headed back to Japan, to wait for him. On her way, she stopped at the same place where she had left her Stahl Schwalbe when she first traveled this path and, this time, shattered her Ring Blade to bits, symbolically dropping them in a lake (which, centuries later, would come to be known as the Lake Balkhash, in Kazakhstan).

"I will never become a monster like my friend did... Never! I swear I'll rid the world of this evil that is Soul Edge!"

Between Soulcalibur III and V

Tsubame did not take part in the final battle against the Soul Edge and Algol because Yoshimitsu ordered her to stay in Japan, waiting for him to return. Despite her objecting that she could hold her own, she obeyed. Yoshimitsu would only show up again nearly a year after he saved her from Tira.

During the seventeen years that passed, Tsubame dedicated herself to perfecting her Manji techniques, while attempting to forget everything she knew about Dance of Death. While this task proved nearly impossible due to her gifted mental memory, her muscle memory became more and more used to the ninja arts. Her weapon of choice being a kodachi she called En'yoku-Maru ("Swallow's Wing"), Yoshimitsu would often comment on how Tsubame reminded him of Taki, the Fu-Ma kunoichi that Tsubame herself had met in her previous trip to the West. Indeed, she had absorbed some techniques from the Fu-Ma clan from observing Taki, and her training helped refine them.

She witnessed the ritual where the mantle of Yoshimitsu was passed on. Though for a long time she mourned the death of the only person she ever came close of calling a father, she also came to respect the new Yoshimitsu with the same deference she dispensed to the previous one.

Soulcalibur V

One year after the succession rites, Yoshimitsu decided to travel West so he could, once and for all, complete his master's task to vanquish Cervantes.

To that end, he enlisted the aid of Tsubame, now a mature warrior, trained to the peak of her abilities, and also seasoned in the Western battlefields, where this Yoshimitsu was inexperienced.

Remembering her pledge at the Silk Road, she accepts her mission and heads West once again, hoping also to bring some sense to Tira, whom Tsubame somehow knew was still alive after all this time...

Tsubame only plays a small part in the events that transpire from Soul Edge's reawakening. She and Yoshimitsu were brought to Europe by Maxi, and the kunoichi immediately hit it off with the youngsters who traveled with him, their youthful enthusiasm reminding her of the child Tira used to be before she gave in to her madness. Natsu especially held Tsubame in high regard, being a much more experienced ninja than herself, and they would often meditate together and even spar.

Yoshimitsu and Tsubame were dropped off in Valencia, where Cervantes' reign of terror had began decades ago, while Maxi and his companions headed off to France (where they would eventually meet Patroklos). None of them feared who they would eventually meet, but Tsubame did not know Cervantes except from the first Yoshimitsu's tales. So it came as a great surprise to them when they met a revitalized Cervantes, instead of an undead as they had expected.

Tsubame vs Cervantes

Tsubame confronts Cervantes.

In the grueling fight, under heavy rain aboard the dreaded Adrian, Cervantes barely prevailed, but a sneak attack from Tsubame stunned him before he could kill Yoshimitsu. She quickly took advantage of the distraction to rescue her master and flee. Yoshimitsu at first protested, but Tsubame convinced him that, wounded as he was, he would just die if he fought again then and there, and Yoshimitsu had to stay alive to guide the Manjitou. Besides, without the Soul Edge, Cervantes should not represent the same danger as before, so Yoshimitsu could kill him again if given the chance.

Tsubame stalking Tira

Their fate is yet to be written.

Tsubame then asked for permission to seek out Tira on her own, which her master granted, knowing that she had loose ends of her own to tie up.

Personality

Tsubame Natsu sparring

Tsubame sparring with Natsu.

Tsubame is a serious, yet caring, individual, who is always striving to improve herself, both in body and mind. Growing up as an assassin desensitized to violence (unlike Tira, whose mind snapped from all the killings), she was a cold and intelligent killer, putting her physical and mental skills to good use. It was Yoshimitsu who taught her the value of human life and, with kindness and strictness, she came to acquire such values, causing her latent empathy to surface. Because of this, she respects Yoshimitsu and sees him as a paternal figure, viewing his successor more as a commander. She also has a soft spot for children, at first because they reminded her how she used to watch over Drossel (who was four years younger), but most of all because of the innocence and hope they possess before adults try to instill their bleaker mindset into them. As such, she took a liking to Taki's apprentice Natsu and Xianghua's daughter Leixia, as well as their friend Xiba. Despite hating Tira for what she became, deep inside Tsubame wants to save her old friend, even knowing that she follows Soul Edge of her own volition.

Quotes

Soulcalibur III

Tsubame SC3

Tsubame's appearance in Soulcalibur III.

  • I'm ready. Let's go!
  • I suggest you run if you can't fight.
  • Evil one, prepare to be torn away!
  • Tsubame, kenzan!
  • Forfeit your life!
  • Repentance awaits you!
  • Namu amidabutsu.
  • Form... is emptiness.
  • Pray for your soul!
  • You who are evil, repent for your sins!
  • Tsubame... is here!
  • Come on! Raise your blade!
  • I'll reap the life from you!
  • It's not too late to see the light.
  • Only hell awaits the wicked!
  • Let fate decide this battle!
  • Disciple of Yoshimitsu, Tsubame, arrives!
  • Do you have a death wish?
  • Shall we dance?
  • Show me what you got!
  • Are you still alive?
  • Come on!
  • Bring it!
  • Ichi! Ni! San!
  • Meaningless!
  • You missed!
  • Stay down!
  • Idiot!
  • Damn it!
  • Ah-ah!
  • High!
  • Low!
  • How could I...?
  • The final blow!
  • How do you like that?
  • Damn yooou!
  • Over here!
  • Can't catch me!
  • The swallow takes flight!
  • May you know mercy.
  • Hope you get a new lease in life.
  • Consider salvation as another chance.
  • This victory's for the Manjitou!
  • Enjoy the opportunity I gave you.
  • Walk away while you still can.

Soulcalibur V

  • I am Tsubame, disciple of Yoshimitsu!
  • I won't show any mercy!
  • Are you ready for this?
  • I won't hold anything back!
  • Now's your time to face judgement!
  • Say your prayers!
  • Time to meet your maker!
  • Afraid? You should be.
  • The day of reckoning is upon you!
  • Are you sure you want to take me on?
  • Akuryou... taisan. (JAP: "Demons, disperse")
  • Shikisoku... zekuu. (JAP: "Form is emptiness")
  • Namu... amidabutsu. (mantra recited in honor of the dead)
  • Don't go easy on me, alright? — intro against Natsu, Leixia or Xiba
  • I'm all set, master. Let's go! — intro against Yoshimitsu
  • Is there any problem? Maybe I can help... — intro against Pyrrha
  • Let Enma decide on your penalty! — intro against an evil character, except for Tira and Pyrrha Omega
  • So, it's finally come to this... — intro against Tira
  • This dark aura... Soul Edge?! — intro against Pyrrha Omega
  • Here it goes! Cleansing! — spoken during her Critical Edge
  • Goodbye... My friend... — spoken during her Critical Edge against Tira
  • Tsubame is here! — taunt
  • I'm not done yet! — taunt
  • Was this your best? Insignificant! — winning quote
  • Let the wheel of fate guide your way! — winning quote
  • You fought well. I'm very honored. — winning quote
  • I dub thee... Unforgiven. — winning quote
  • I'm with you, whenever you need. — spoken after defeating Natsu, Leixia or Xiba
  • Thanks for the match, master! — spoken after defeating Yoshimitsu
  • Maybe now we can sit and talk this over? — spoken after defeating Pyrrha
  • As long as I draw breath, your evil won't spread! — spoken after defeating an evil character, except Tira and Pyrrha Omega
  • You left me no choice, Drossel. I must purge you now. — spoken after defeating Tira
  • Don't let this evil take hold of you! — spoken after defeating Pyrrha Omega
  • Damn it aaaall!!! — spoken after being K.O.'ed, except when fighting Yoshimitsu, Natsu, Leixia or Xiba
  • No waaaay!!! — spoken as she is thrown out of the ring
  • Not agaaaain!!! — spoken as she is thrown out of the ring for the second time in the match
  • Tch! Damn it. — spoken after losing a battle by Time Over
  • I still have some fight in me. Come on! — spoken after being defeated in Arcade Mode
  • There's a reason you're the master after all. — spoken after being defeated by Yoshimitsu in Arcade Mode
  • Heh, looks like you're improving. — spoken after being defeated by Natsu, Leixia or Xiba in Arcade Mode
  • The only way to stop me... Is by killing me! — spoken after being defeated an evil character, except Tira, in Arcade Mode
  • This isn't over yet, Drossel! — spoken after being defeated by Tira in Arcade Mode

Weapons

Soul Calibur III

  • Stahl Schwalbe
  • Jörmungandr
  • Yamata-no-Orochi
  • Dharma Chakra
  • Iron Maiden
  • Helloween
  • The Ancient (Tsubame)

Soul Calibur V

  • En'yoku-Maru
  • Kamakiri
  • Ryuuga
  • Akumagari
  • Tetsu-no-Tsugumi
  • Pooper Scooper (Joke Weapon)
  • The Master (Tsubame)
  • Shirohebi (Ultimate Weapon)

Stages

Jyurakudai Villa (SC3)

The blossoms of the cherry tree already fall like snow. What more can the wind ask of them?

--Ohshikouchi no Mitsune

This poem, recited in lament of the sight of fleeting cherry blossoms as they wilt away, comes from a bygone age of flowery aristocratic culture, when the capital city of Kyoto was once called "Heiankyo", meaning "capital of peace".

Time has since passed, and the world is now one of warriors. The land is ruled by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The dazzling Azuchi-Momoyama era is in full bloom.

Hideyoshi built his great citadel upon the remains of the imperial palace. This villa, too, with its fusion of the extravagant style of the time with the traditional beauty of the cherry blossom, presents an imposing grandeur which invites spectators into a dream-like world.

This mansion stands as a symbol of Toyotomi's power, yet it will face destruction within a mere ten years. The cherry trees, perhaps foreseeing its fate, perhaps not, continue to silently shed their petals into the wind...

Mt. Fuji the Holy: Hidden Dragon (SC5)

Theme Music

Soulcalibur III

  • "Ephemeral Dream"

Soulcalibur V

  • "Faster Than a Howling Wind"

Critical Edge

Into the Void: similar to Natsu's Great Curse of Arahabaki, Tsubame adapted the technique to herself during their time training together. She crosses her kodachi with its scabbard behind her back and shouts "Here it goes!", before crouching and slamming each of them to her sides on the ground, sending out three pillars of chi in each direction, at which point she shouts "Cleansing!" If one of them connects, it will throw the opponent backwards into the next one, causing progressive damage. While it may be devastating if unblocked, the attack may be avoided if blocked or sidestepped in time, therefore speed and strategy are important in using it.

Trivia

  • Tsubame is the only character to change fighting styles between games: in Soulcalibur III, she uses Dance of Death, while in Soulcalibur V, she uses Ninjutsu.
  • Her fighting style and appearance in SCV resembles, to a degree, Kunimitsu from the Tekken series; incidentally, Kunimitsu is a former member of the present-day Manji Party led by the present-day Yoshimitsu. Using the Fox Mask when customizing her furthers the similarities.
  • In both of the games Tsubame is featured, her Destined Battle is Tira.
  • One of Tsubame's weapons in V is called Tetsu-no-Tsugumi, which is Japanese for "Iron Thrush", the same name as Tira's weapon in German. Likely Tsubame chose this name to allude to their time at Bird of Passage, when they used the same name as their weapons.
  • Despite her formidable memory, the only part of Tsubame's life that she cannot remember is her early childhood, because she was still very young when her parents died and left her alone in the world.
  • Some parts of Tsubame's character make references to heavy metal music:
    • Her Ultimate and Joke weapons in Soulcalibur III are named after the eponymous bands.
    • Similarly, her Ultimate Weapon in Soulcalibur V is Japanese for "Whitesnake".
    • One of her win quotes in Soulcalibur V is a reference to the Metallica song "The Unforgiven".
    • Her Critical Edge is named after the eponymous song by Black Sabbath.
    • One of her Soulcalibur III win quotes comes from a line in the Faith No More song "A Small Victory".
    • The phrase she tells Natsu when they are talking about their hard journey (cited atop the page) is quoted almost literally from the Megadeth song "A Tout Le Monde".
  • Her "Namu amidabutsu" quote is essentially the same as Yoshimitsu's "Namu" - Tsubame's quote is only the complete form.
  • The "Akuryou taisan" quote is inspired by Sailor Moon character Rei Hino/Sailor Mars. In the manga/anime, said phrase refers to one of her techniques, which makes use of paper talismans to ward off evil presences.

Relationships

  • Served in the Bird of Passage alongside her childhood friend Tira.
  • Trained by the original Yoshimitsu in ninja arts.
  • Journeys with Yoshimitsu II.
  • Befriended Maxi's new traveling partners Natsu, Leixia and Xiba.
  • Is an acquaintance of Taki.

Series' Appearances

Gallery

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