Kazunari Kazemaru (風丸和成 Kazemaru Kazunari), better known as Seiji Kazemaru (風丸征次 Kazemaru Seiji) or the Dragon of Sawasaki (沢崎の龍 Sawasaki no Ryū) is a character in the Soul series of fighting games, making his first appearance in the series' fourth installment, Soulcalibur III, and has since returned to Soulcalibur IV and Soulcalibur V. He is the first protagonist of the Perfect Wind Fanverse.
What lies in his soul is Curiosity. In Soulcalibur V's promotional material, he is known as The Remorseful Shinobi.
In Soulcalibur V, Seiji has an alternate character called "Shin Seiji".
Seiji was the only son of the former pirate Seibei Kazemaru. During his time as a pirate, Seibei raided a port city called Sawasaki, where his crew was dispatched by samurai under the local daimyo, a Sengoku veteran named Nobuhiro Takazaki. Upon capture, Seibei swore to end his life as a pirate, and to become a soldier under the Takazaki clan.
As his father and Lord Nobuhiro were close, Seiji became best friends with the lord's eldest son, Hirosuke, who was almost the same age. At his coming-of-age ceremony, he would take the adult name Kazunari.
When Seiji was 18, Seibei died in a battle that otherwise wiped out a rival clan to the Takazaki clan.
A year later, the Takazaki clan was taken over by Hideyoshi Toyotomi's forces. This loss motivated Seiji to set out on a personal training pilgrimage. Though he would not limit himself to Japan; he would travel across East Asia to honor his father, who had traveled to the Asian mainland many times during his days of piracy. During this time, he initially traveled through the steppes of Manchuria and Mongolia, ending up in China.
In China, Seiji came across a martial arts school in a small village. He challenged them, only to be defeated by one of the students. Despite initial backlash against the seemingly cocky foreigner, the old master who ran the school, Tong Wufan, insisted on training him to "teach the boy some humility".
Over the course of two years, Seiji learned how to use a Chinese saber, and eventually gained the respect of his classmates, who would see him as one of their own. One student, a blacksmith, would forge a Wo Dao for Seiji as a gift, representing the unity of his Japanese heritage and his Chinese style; while the blade had a strongly Chinese aesthetic, its construction was identical to a Japanese katana. The two would dub the new blade "Byakko-Oh" (白虎王).
He also developed a close relationship with Master Tong's daughter, who was also his favorite training partner. In their off time, Seiji would often share his own war stories with the other students. Some claimed that he just did it to impress Lingmei. Others just saw his desire to entertain people. While he initially had feelings for Lingmei, they eventually faded by the time he returned to Japan. Before returning to Japan, he also traveled across Southeast Asia. It is said that he briefly spent some time as a mercenary for the King of Ayutthaya.
In 1589, Seiji returned to the Takazaki clan a more mature and experienced man, ready to serve his lord once again. He often brought his dao into combat. His prowess with his new combat skills earned him the nickname "the Dragon of Sawasaki".
The year is 1590. Nobuhiro Takazaki dies of illness.
Hirosuke, the new heir to the Takazaki clan, wanted to break free from Hideyoshi and restore his clan's former glory. He came up with a plan: To use the legendary sword, Soul Edge, which Hideyoshi seemed to have his eyes on, against him. He gave Seiji, his best friend since childhood, the mission of gathering information on Soul Edge, hopefully to gain the upper hand on other clans, and possibly become independent again. He knew that Seiji was a fine warrior, and trusted him above all others. Immediately jumping on a chance to see the rest of the world, he agreed. Meanwhile, Lord Takazaki would continue to feign loyalty to Hideyoshi until the sword was out of Hideyoshi's grasp.
In order to keep a light load during his travels while staying protected, Seiji wore only a footsoldier's suit of armor, and carried nothing but his wo dao.
Seiji paid a visit to Master Tong's school, where he was met with a warm welcome. Wanting to make a name for herself rather than live in her father's shadow, Lingmei, also missing her friend, offered to join him on his journey. Though her father was initially hesitant, he ultimately felt that it would benefit her more. While Master Tong continued to train his students, Lingmei packed her favorite sword and left with the young samurai.
On their travels, Seiji and Lingmei met a Chinese warrior monk named Ji Gang, who tested them in combat. The duo were very close to victory, until the monk turned the tides and defeated them, also breaking Seiji's wo dao in the process. He asked the young samurai why he was searching for Soul Edge, and he simply replied "because my lord asked it of me". The monk then warned him of its true evil power, and of the Azure Knight Nightmare, telling of the effects it has had on the world. Seiji made a new goal to gather information on its opposite sword, Soul Calibur, or as this monk called it, Krita-Yuga. For a short period of time, the monk even agreed to train the two, expanding the samurai's knowledge of Chinese combat forms, and refining the vigilante's skills.
In addition, Ji Gang had the blade of Seiji's broken wo dao reforged into a new form. The new blade was thicker, made of stronger material, and better-suited to Chinese combat styles. He would call the new sword "Shinbyakko-Oh" (真白虎王).
Seiji and Lingmei would continue to fight malfested in Astral Chaos, until Siegfriend Schtauffen defeated Nightmare, and the whereabouts of Soul Calibur seemingly disappeared. Shortly after recovering from the battle, Lingmei returned to China.
In this time, Seiji was nursed back to health by Wolfkronian peasants. The samurai would spend a full year continuing to wander the lands of Wolfkrone and the rest of Europe, challenging warriors of all weapons and combat styles, and even learning a few himself.
Seiji would make one last stop in China before returning to Japan. He would spend a few days with Lingmei at her newly-established school, and the two friends would catch up on what had happened since Algol was defeated.
Seiji returned to his lord with all of the new information, of the sword's true nature as an evil spirit, and informed his lord of the two swords' supposed disappearance. Clearly, the warrior that stood before Hirosuke was a much wiser man, and now sure that neither Hideyoshi nor anyone else could obtain the sword, he gave his friend new opportunities to rise within their clan. Due to Seiji's new status as a hero, the Kazemaru family were tasked with investigating supernatural occurrences and eliminating supernatural threats to the Takazaki clan, including the Malfested.
Upon his return to Japan, Seiji was arranged to marry a woman named Rinko Fujita, the daughter of a veteran general in the Takazaki clan army. It was said that the two had a very loving marriage.
Eventually, Hirosuke accepted the way things were, and no longer cared for overthrowing Hideyoshi; there were clearly much bigger threats beyond Japanese borders, and Hideyoshi was now the least of his problems. The Takazaki clan's military force, including Seiji himself, would participate in both invasions of Korea on Hideyoshi's behalf, despite some personal disagreements with it. It was said that Seiji crossed blades with a hot-blooded national hero of the country. However, the outcome is unknown, as both survived fully intact.
Seiji would further prove himself as both a warrior and a gatherer of information during the first invasion. For this, Hirosuke personally hand picked him to undergo training in ninjutsu. Now a ninja, Seiji would use his new skills in battles such as the second invasion of Korea, and on the battlefield of Sekigahara. He would make use of the island of Sawajima as a training ground for future generations of ninja, and also commissioned the construction of a Buddhist temple. During the first invasion Rinko bore her and Seiji's first son, Ryota.
Two years after the first invasion, Rinko would bear Seiji's twin children, a girl named Aoi and a boy named Kyuzo.
During the second invasion, Seiji would also participate, though he would often also take mercenary jobs around the country, also fighting off northern invasions from the Manchurians, and helping innocent Korean people on the side.
17 years ago, Seiji Kazemaru benefitted the Takazaki clan with information on the Soul Swords. 15 years ago, he was promoted, and bestowed with the status of a ninja. Within these 17 years, Seiji would also take jobs guarding merchant ships to Southeast Asia, gaining more opportunities to explore the world.
Seven years ago, shortly after the Battle of Sekigahara, Hirosuke Takazaki, who fought for the losing side, submitted to the Tokugawa clan and became their ally. However, he would eventually succumb to wounds from Sekigahara. For the death of his friend, General Seiji Kazemaru blamed himself for not being able to prevent it. Hirosuke's young son, Hirotsugu Takazaki, took over, though he was still a child. Young Hirotsugu would spend the next few years under the tutelage of his advisors, some of whom took advantage of their positions in the most corrupt ways.
Ever since Sekigahara, Seiji lived what appeared to be a lavish lifestyle due to his accomplishments as a general of the House of Takazaki. Since then, he would often spent most of his time at taverns and geisha houses, even taking concubines despite a history of strong loyalty to his wife, Rinko.
However, none of this would truly satisfy him. Seiji felt that he could never find peace, both due to the atrocities he was forced to commit in Korea, and due to the death of his best friend and master. All of it was merely a distraction.
The year was 1607. Seiji heard news of the return of the Soul Swords. After notifying his lord Hirotsugu of the potential rise of threats beyond their borders, the experienced general was tasked with neutralizing them. For the following months, he resumed his training, even cutting down his own sake intake to stay focused.
A few mere days after Lord Hirotsugu was notified, a mysterious merchant sold what he claimed to be a fragment of Soul Edge to Seiji, which he took to use as a way to find the whole sword. Seiji took the fragment home for safekeeping until he would leave for his journey.
One night, Rinko fell deathly ill. The fragment caused an incurable illness in her, which nobody was aware of. Though Sawasaki's finest doctors could do nothing, it was said that Seiji consoled and comforted his beloved in her final moments. Though he continued to spend time with concubines and at geisha houses in the final days before his departure, it was said that nothing could ease the pain of losing Rinko. Eventually, the disease even spread to his concubines, until only one, named Kiku, survived. She had unwittingly taken in some of Soul Edge's energy, giving her a low level of malfestation, though she was easily able to hide it.
After a week of mourning, the veteran ninja set out west, leaving his children behind. Before leaving, he passed his beloved dao Shinbyakko-Oh to his son Ryota, instead taking only his specialized ninja weaponry with him. Ryota was now the successor of the Kazemaru clan. Should Seiji not return, the young 15-year-old boy would succeed him in family and political matters.
Seiji's new goal in addition to serving Lord Hirotsugu was revenge against Soul Edge. However, Seiji also had another secret goal: seeking an honorable death, both to finally end the pain of losing his lord and his wife, and to avenge those that he had wronged in Korea. However, as he had not dishonored the Takazaki clan and thus was not allowed seppuku, he instead used the journey as an opportunity to seek strong opponents, hoping to find one that could finally and fairly end his misery in honorable combat, and avenge the innocents he killed in the name of a mad ruler's conquest.
Seiji traveled through China, where he stopped by the swordsmanship school of his old friend and traveling companion, Tong Lingmei, now married to Wu Chun. Though she refused to follow him due to wanting to manage her school, she allowed him to stay and train with her for the time being. During this time, Seiji also learned to wield a new weapon recently discovered by the Wu family: the nunchaku. The Wu family was also hosting a Ryukyuan warrior, who had previously met Wu Chun while he was on a diplomatic mission to Ryukyu, and introduced them to the new weapon.
Ryuki asked Seiji if he could travel with him. Though the ninja initially refused, he eventually allowed it.
While traveling through Western China, the duo encountered a young thief. After Seiji defeated her in a duel of deception and pragmatism, she joined them on their quest.
By the time the three reached Europe, they were caught in the war between Schwarzwind and the Malfested. Though they did not necessarily take a side, Seiji used his information gathering skills and sold information to Schwarzwind officers, so that they would give him leads on the swords. In the meantime, Ryuki and Jiaohu would take mercenary missions to make money for their travels.
The trio eventually found leads on the swords, and fought alongside the warriors of Schwarzwind.
Towards the end of the war with the Malfested, the trio encountered two Astaroth. One destroyed Seiji's twin kodachi, and the other threw Ryuki off a cliff, apparently killing him. Seiji and Jiaohu killed the two Astaroth in revenge. Now without a weapon, Seiji kept the young warrior's nunchaku in his memory, which was all that seemed to be left of him.
When the war ended, the swords disappeared from the sight of all common people. Seiji stayed in Europe for approximately a year, assisting various bands of warriors in taking down malfested remnants. During this time, he would truly rediscover what it meant to be an adventurer, eventually accepting everything that had happened to him.
Seiji eventually returned to Japan once again to discover that Kiku had given birth to his daughter, who she named Azumi. Due to Kiku's involvement with the Soul Edge fragment, Azumi was born with cursed blood. However, Seiji was unaware of this, and Azumi kept it a secret. The two would raise the girl together, and Seiji would slowly grow to love Kiku just as he did Rinko.
Later Life and Legacy
After his final return to Japan, few had ever heard from Seiji Kazemaru again. Though he was hailed as a hero, even his closest associates claimed that he largely withdrew from society, only making public appearances for political purposes.
The last known battle that Seiji participated in was the Siege of Osaka, alongside his children, most of who were now of age. Though the Takazaki were a tozama clan, they fought alongside Tokugawa against the last of the Toyotomi clan, in the hopes of gaining favor with the shogun despite their status. It is said that Seiji felt nothing but joy at fighting alongside his children against the clan who forced him to fight in Korea. Though he had already accepted what he had done, it was at this battle that he finally found true peace. However, most historical records claim that he was killed in this battle. Ryota Kazemaru's memoirs claim that Seiji was among the men who killed the legendary warrior Sanada Yukimura.
Within the former lands of the Takazaki clan, the Kazemaru family would remain prominent well after the disappearance of the Soul Swords, due to Seiji's status as a local hero. Thanks to his heroic deeds, the family was tasked with investigating and intercepting outside threats to the Takazaki clan before they reach their borders. While virtually unheard of throughout the rest of Japan, the Kazemaru family is still remembered as heroes by the locals to the present day. Shinbyakko-Oh, Seiji's favored dao, has become a ceremonial family heirloom and the de facto badge of the Kazemaru clan's heir. A handful of Seiji's present day descendants still own and run businesses in Sawasaki, while others have moved abroad to places such as the United States, Brazil, and others.
One of his descendants in particular, an American martial artist named Gaku Kazemaru, prepares for the King of Iron Fist Tournament. Decades later, one of Gaku's grandchildren would return to Japan and fight demons known as the Aragami, continuing the Kazemaru family's legacy.
At some point, a G-Corporation scientist from Sawasaki, who was obsessed with the region's legends and history, led a secret project to clone the legendary General Kazemaru. The project was highly successful, and the clone, resembling Seiji in his 20s, bore many of the original's memories, but also learned of the modern world while in the facility, as well as the modern combat styles of the corporation's private army. He would escape the facility at some point after hearing rumors of an evil sword resurfacing in the modern day, and swear to hunt down the sword and destroy it.
It is implied that this clone's body contains either a fragment or even whole copy of Seiji's original soul.
Seiji is an open-minded traveler with a love for exploring who, while able to show respect for traditions, accepts changes and advancements rather than shunning them. Much of this is a result of his training pilgrimage across East Asia. However, it has also made him more easily susceptible to his own emotions. However he will still carry out his duties as a samurai.
In Soulcalibur V, Seiji is much more weary of the world. Having been forced to commit great atrocities while in Korea on behalf of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, it has made him much more cynical and weary, wishing to find a worthy opponent to finally finish him honorably.
He would not find peace until the Siege of Osaka in 1615, where he and his children join in vanquishing the Toyotomi clan.
Seiji is a young Japanese man of average build and slightly tanned skin. His long black hair is usually tied in a ponytail.
In Soulcalibur III and Soulcalibur IV, his primary outfit consists of a dull crimson suit of Japanese armor sans helmet, over a blue kimono and hakama, and black tabi. In Soulcalibur IV, his secondary outfit is a black kimono with a blue hakama and straw sandals over black tabi. IV also features a bonus third costume, which is entirely Chinese, in contrast to his usual Japanese outfits. It consists of a a wide straw hat, a blue changshan, a wide green sash, black pants, and black cloth shoes with white socks.
In Soulcalibur V, Seiji's age shows, as his ponytail is much longer while he sports a beard. His primary costume is a dark red shinobi shozoku with silver armor on the shins and forearms. His secondary costume is lifted from IV, a black kimono with a blue hakama, but with an added red haori. He has a bonus third costume which is a black and red Chinese garb with a black ninja mask.
In Soulcalibur V, he has an alternate costume as Shin Seiji. It resembles his default ninja outfit, but in the P3 colors, without the hood or the arm guards, instead with bandages around the forearms. Shin Seiji also possesses an alternate color resembling his P3 outfit from Soulcalibur IV.
For his first two appearances, Seiji uses a wo dao. In Soulcalibur III, his style is identical to the generic "katana" moveset, with the Wo Dao intended as his primary weapon. In Soulcalibur IV, his style resembles Yun-Seong's, and is closer to a Chinese combat form than the katana moveset, representing the evolution of his style. The White Storm model is also meant to represent Seiji's reforged sword. The resemblance to Yunseong's style is explained that the monk Ji Gang had once studied under Master Seong Hanmyeong in Korea.
Appearances in Other Media
Though he originated in the Soulcalibur series and is ultimately tied to it, Seiji Kazemaru has appeared in countless other video games.
Seiji appears in Mortal Kombat: Armageddon as a playable character, in a cross promotion between the Mortal Kombat and Soulcalibur franchises. This is his first chronological guest appearance. He is heavily based on his Soulcalibur III incarnation, wearing his usual crimson armor, though redesigned in a style that better fits the typical Mortal Kombat aesthetic. He uses "Tong quan" (Fist of the Tong Family) as his unarmed fighting style, and a Wo Dao as his weapon style. While in this realm, he fuses with a wandering spirit, granting him magical powers on par with the kombatants around him.
He is said to have been brought to Edenia by Soul Edge after it sensed the energy and concentrated fighting spirit emanating from the Mortal Kombat universe. While there, a wandering spirit fused itself to him, granting him magical powers and an enhanced connection to other spiritual beings.
His personal story involves him returning to his own time after reaching the top of the pyramid, though separating himself with the spirit in the process, thus losing his magical abilities. He narrowly escapes Armageddon, returning to Soulcalibur's Earthrealm in his native time. As he returned, the spirit used its magic to make sure that Seiji would only remember the events of Mortal Kombat and Armageddon as a dream, so that he would continue his own quest unhindered.
Seiji's direct descendant, Gaku Kazemaru, is playable as of Tekken 6.
Seiji is available in Tekken Tag Tournament 2 as a clone with his memories and possible soul. His fighting style is identical to Kazuya Mishima.
Koei Warriors series
For unknown reasons, Seiji Kazemaru has close ties to Koei-Tecmo's Warriors/Musou (無双 Musou) series.
Though he is not available as a playable character, a story containing Seiji exists in the Warriors Orochi universe. Much like Sophitia, Seiji is wandering Europe after the events of Soulcalibur IV, only to find himself taken by a rip in time to a time-displaced realm. During this time, he was said to have partnered with Sayaka, an escaped clone of Kasumi who also ended up in Orochi's realm. The two later reunite with Lingmei, who has also been taken to the Orochi world. After many adventures and battles against Orochi, he is ultimately returned to his own time, wiped of all memories of Orochi's dimensional realm.
In Koei's games, Seiji makes his playable debut in Samurai Warriors 3, where he uses a generic katana moveset. He returns in Samurai Warriors 4, again using the same moveset. He is typically an offense-oriented character with a focus on combos.
Seiji appears again as a playable officer in Dynasty Warriors 8: Empires, where his moveset is altered to more closely resemble his combat style in Soulcalibur IV. He uses the same weapon as Sima Zhao, while sharing Musou attacks with Guan Suo to reflect his Chinese kenpo training.
- Seiji's overall concept was inspired by fighting game characters who, like himself, are of Japanese origin and nationality, but use Chinese martial arts. These include but are not limited to Akira Yuki from Virtua Fighter, Hotaru Futaba from Garou: Mark of the Wolves, and Kokoro from Dead or Alive.
- The author also wanted him to use a weapon that was unconventional for a samurai. He thought of Ukon from Samurai Champloo, and decided on a Chinese dao.
- Another integral idea for Seiji's backstory was a more historically accurate portrayal of a ninja. Though the franchise contains ninja in the form of the mystical assassins they are often portrayed as, Seiji became a ninja in the way a real ninja would have. Instead of being trained in mystical assassination arts from birth, Seiji was hand-picked by his lord for his accomplishments, and his skill in ninjutsu is focused more on information gathering rather than assassination, though he has been known to do both. Like a historical ninja, Seiji still keeps his same status and responsibilities as a samurai.
- In an example of hair color dissonance, the Soulcalibur series and other games depict Seiji's hair with a dark green shade, or as black with green highlights, even though his hair is officially black. This is a reference to characters such as Spike Spiegel or Bright Noa, who both have black hair, though their respective anime depict it as green.
- However, in anime-esque settings where unnatural hair colors are the norm, his hair is usually blatantly depicted as green.
- Seiji's 3P costume in Soulcalibur V is based on early Western portrayals of ninja. These designs, which are still commonly seen in "samurai and ninja"-themed Halloween costumes, often haphazardly combine Chinese and Japanese elements, and come in silky red and black color schemes.
Seiji Kazemaru on Another Stage of History (Note: User "The Strongest Bad" is PutYaGunsOn under another name)