After the shogun called for criminals to acquire the Elixir of Life from the dangerous island known as Kotaku, in exchange for a pardon for their past crimes, Shion joined in the expedition team as one of the Yamada Asaemon monitors and was assigned to keep watch over the criminal, Akaginu. Shortly after, Shion became a part of a united front formed from the remaining surviving criminals and executioners to defeat Lord Tensen, work together in capturing the elixir, and have everyone escape the island.
Shion is a blind man with short, spiky silver hair in a faux hawk cut. He has three long, distinctive scars crossing his face; two vertical running from forehead to cheek crossing the center of each eye, and one horizontal across the top of his nose through each eye. He wears the standard attire of the Asaemon, however, he does not carry the bell around his collar. After his confrontation with Zhu Jin, Shion now wears a bandage around his neck to keep the wound he received from opening.
After briefly settling in Hōrai, Shion changed from his Asaemon attire to a light blue robe with a pattern running down the collar and cuffs and wears matching pants.
Shion is a strict but kind man. He is well aware of the brutal nature of his work as an executioner, opting to spend the rest of his time helping others, such as when he saved Tensa from a life of crime by taking him in and training him in the way of the sword. Like the other Asaemon, he possesses a strong loyalty to the Yamada clan. Although blind, he is able to "see" by perceiving the unique "waves" of all the things in the world. Because of this, Shion is extremely perceptive. He also has a witty sense of humor, often making puns and jokes regarding his eyesight.
Shion has a fondness for dodoitsu poems. Because of this, Sagiri notes that Shion had a bad habit of assuming people's romantic intent. When Sagiri expressed her worries over Gabimaru, Shion blushed thinking that she had feelings for him, much to her annoyance.
Since he is a teacher, Shion would sometimes act as such during certain matters. After escaping Zhu Jin, Shion hit Tensa with the hilt of his sword for his sloppy swordsmanship and quickly corrected him. Even though he refused to become her teacher, Shion was unaware that he was teaching her the proper way of using a sword while fighting the Sōshin. After settling in one of the buildings in Hōrai, Shion clapped his hands to get everyone's attention and review what they know about Tao. This also makes him a great leader. Shion is able to take initiative by having his allies focus on the task at hand and come up with clever strategies, as well as take into account of their opinions on whether they are willing to follow his plan or not.
Shion is shown to be very fearless. He showed no fear or hesitation in facing against Mu Dan in his Kishikai form and stated that he gladly accepted death if it meant that he could take him down. Because he was forced to flee and leave Tensa to fight Zhu Jin, Shion felt responsible for his death. This action filled him with regret and caused him to push himself to the extremes in order to not have history repeat itself. Even though he lost a lot of blood and could barley stand, Shion stood his ground and forced himself through Mu Dan's vines in order to kill him once and for all.
Shion was born blind to the mother of a traveling street performer. At a young age, Shion awakened his ability to sense Tao and was able to perceive the world around him. Because of this, Shion's mother used him as a way to raise money and gave him the nickname Sword God Child (曲芸剣神の子 Kenjin no Ko?, Viz: Divine Blade Boy). As part of the act, Shion's mother also craved scars on his face. Shion would then go on to perform for others by dodging the participating customers wooden sword swings at him. He eventually caught the attention of the Grand Kengyō and was welcomed into the Tōdōza along with his mother. Through their connections, Shion was also brought into the Yamada clan and trained in the ways of an executioner. Upon entrance to both housings, Shion's mother fabricated a false story about him being born as an illegitimate child to a renowned swordsman and was given his scars from first seeing battle at a young age. Shion went along with this story knowing that it would besmirch his mother's honor if he were to stray away from it and hid his past throughout his years from the people close to him in the Yamada clan. He eventually earned his name as Yamada Asaemon Shion and earned the 4th ranking. After being accepted, Shion spent his time helping others and at some point found Tensa off the streets. He then took him in as his student and formed a bond.
- Main article: Island Arc
Shion is one of the Asaemon assigned to escort a criminal searching for the Elixir of Life on an island ordered by the Shogun.
After arriving on the island, Shion is almost immediately accosted by Akaginu when she tries to seduce him. However, Shion executes Akaginu due to her breaching the rules of the assignment. Having completed his mission, he tries to find a suitable current to return. However, the one optimal current he found was overshadowed by strange sounds and an unfamiliar presence. Shion decides to search for other Asaemons to help him escape the island.
Lord Tensen Arc
- Main article: Lord Tensen Arc
Later, Shion encounters Tensa and Nurugai as they are running from an unknown immortal being. He throws his sword and decapitates the immortal while he is regenerating, allowing the three of them to escape into the forest.
He is relieved to see Tensa alive, but promptly begins lecturing Tensa on his sloppy fighting against the immortal. Shion tells Tensa and Nurugai of his experience on the island, but then turns his sword on Nurugai, asking Tensa why he is covering for his criminal. While he is aware of Nurugai's past, he points out that the Asaemon are simply blades for the era to wield, and Tensa's rebellion could put the Yamada clan in danger. But Tensa is able to convince Shion that Nurugai is worth protecting, preventing Shion from carrying out the execution. When Shion says he will allow her to live, Tensa and Nurugai are astonished that he could tell Nurugai's gender.
As the three are discussing a plan for dealing with the immortals, it appears behind Tensa and Nurugai in its female form. Shion manages to grab the two out of the way, narrowly avoids being killed by her, but gets his throat cut in the process. Enraged, Tensa attacks her, only to be severely wounded. As Shion moves to attack the immortal, Tensa desperately tries to yell at him to run. Hearing this, Shion, knowing they are no match for the immortal, grabs Nurugai and runs away while Tensa sacrifices his life to buy them time. As they are retreating, Shion swears he will take vengeance for Tensa.
In the forest, Shion demonstrates his perceptive powers when Nurugai attacks him from behind. He knocks Nurugai's sword out of her hands, moving her out of the way before the sword comes back down and hits her. Although Nurugai begs him to teach her swordplay, he refuses, stating that they do not have the time for her to master the sword. Shion intends to fight the battle alone, unwilling to let another young life die before him. However, upon further pleading from Nurugai, Shion explains how he "sees" by perceiving the "waves" of everything around him, which allow him to sense his surroundings as well as boost him physical abilities. He explains that, to tap into this power, one requires a balanced spirit, not too intense, not too tranquil. When the two are approached by the Sōshin, Shion begins teaching Nurugai the proper stance and grip for swordplay. Nurugai wonders whether Shion has changed his mind or is simply absent-minded. Shion cuts down the Sōshin as he explains, telling Nurugai that he will not be her sensei but that she is free to learn as she sees fit. He then wonder how he will be able to develop his swordmanship enough to be able to kill the monster that killed Tensa.
After traveling for two days, Shion and Nurugai reach Hōrai and arrive just in time to save Sagiri, Senta, and Yuzuriha from the transformed Mu Dan. Shion faces Mu Dan alone, testing the use of his Tao attribute and successfully deals some damage. However, Mu Dan laughs as flowers bloom from numerous gashes on Shion's body from his stingers. Shion quickly reacts, slashing all the flowers from his flesh but briefly drops to his knees from blood loss. Sagiri and Nurugai assists him coated with Yuzuriha's fluid to protect them from the scratches that causes blooming. Sagiri suggests that they act as decoys while Shion strikes from behind to cut through both the monster's tanden, what she believes to be its weak point. The three fight Mu Dan, slowly overwhelming him as he takes a long time to regenerate each time. While Shion continues losing blood, he is driven by his hatred and regret at Tensa's death, swearing to kill the monster or die trying. When Sagiri immobilizes Mu Dan, Shion gets behind the monster and concentrates his Tao into his sword.
Just before striking, Shion hesitates, unable to sense strong waves of Tao emanating from the tanden. Senta yells out that the ovule at the centre of the petals is the monsters true weak point. Shion reacts in time to cut through the ovule just before Mu Dan's stingers attack, finally killing the monster. Shion and the rest of the group then comes to Senta and watches as he passes away in peace from being stung earlier by one of the stingers. After burying his body, Shion recommends taking a break and figuring a way out. He then listens to Sagiri's resolve in having the criminals and executioners cooperate to survive and return home.
The group enters Hōrai and takes settlement in one of the buildings. Shion starts to review everything they know about Tao, including the attributes and how they can exploit it to use against Lord Tensen. After Nurugai brings up the Elixir of Life, Yuzuriha tells them that the elixir they are looking for is not beneficial. Shion figures that they can not return home without it but Sagiri mentions Gabimaru's village chief benefitting from the elixir. However, Yuzuriha explains the possibilities of the chief using an illusion to fool others into thinking he is immortal. He then becomes one of the few to listen to Yuzuriha's theory of Gabimaru's wife being an illusion. He later changes out of his blood soaked clothing and meets with Sagiri feeling depressed over the deaths of her clansmen and for Gabimaru's situation. As he was about to make the conclusion that she has feelings for Gabimaru, Sagiri stops him and denies this claim. She explains to him that she feels pity for Gabimaru if it turns out his reason for survival has been a lie. Shion sympathies with Sagiri and believes that he is in no position to criticize, saying that he will "overlook" this matter. This causes Sagiri to laugh at his pun which delights Shion.
The next day, the group goes back to the gate to see if others were able to make it to Hōrai. After coming outside, the group becomes captivated with the clear setting. Once they reached the gate, they encounter Yamada Asaemon Fuchi, Tamiya Gantetsusai, Gabimaru unconscious, Mei, Tōma, and a Dōshi. Seeing how there a small amount of survivors, Shion expresses his regret but is told by Gantetsusai that it was pointless since the condemned criminals were fated to kill each other including the executioners that were tasked with the mission. Looking towards Gabimaru's injured body, Shion senses that he has lost too much of his Tao and senses a particular aura. After waking up, Sagiri sees that Gabimaru is not who he was before. Shion and Fuchi block a sudden attack from Gabimaru and hears Sagiri explain that he has lost his memories. Shion senses that Gabimaru's soul has been damaged due to his extensive amount of fighting. After refusing to cooperate, Sagiri pins Gabimaru down to restore his Tao. Shion becomes surprise with Sagiri's approach and comments on how they have a connection in which he can not understand.
The group relocates to a cave to not be sensed by Lord Tensen but is warned by Shion that they should still be cautious. He then looks towards Gabimaru about his experience fighting one of them. After Yuzuriha informs him that his wife may be an illusion, Shion and the rest of the group listens to Gabimaru's confidence that she is real. Shion senses that Gabimaru's Tao has grown and believes that this sensation gives proof that his wife exist since people become strong if they have something to lose. He is later called out, along with Gantetsusai, Tōma, and Nurugai, by Gabimaru who requests that they help him train. After Gabimaru tells Tōma to use his hatred towards him after fighting his brother, Shion warns him that he will not allow it and is prepared to cut him down. The group then engages in sparring while Gabimaru starts to understand Tao and planning out how to defeat Lord Tensen. After they are done fighting, Shion becomes impressed with Gabimaru's strength but wonders if he should put his faith in a criminal and trust Tōma after realizing his true identity.
Later, Shion discusses with Gabimaru the group's next course of action and prepares to announce it to everyone. However, Mei warns everyone that she senses that someone or another group has arrived on the island. Shion and Fuchi believe that it is Shugen and the other Asaemon who were sent as reinforcements by Eizen, along with another group of criminals. Although Sagiri vouches for Shugen in being great help to the group, Shion disagrees since Shugen despises criminals and anyone who is connected with them. He then gives evidence by revealing the full story behind Shugen not only executing the Silver Serpent yakuza group but also their families. With this in mind, Shion calls upon everyone to listen to his plan of forming two teams where one finds an escape route and the other retrieves the Tan elixir. He also explains his strategy of attrition by using their Tao to hinder and defeat each Lord Tensen member. After hearing and understanding Yuzuriha's suggestion of finding a way off the island and go into hiding instead of completing the mission due to the many mysterious presented, Shion gives everyone the option of following through with the mission by working together or go their separate ways. After walking inside the cave, Shion senses the presence of everyone following him and willing to cooperate but is asked by Shion if they were sure of their decision. Everyone answers yes and Nurugai punches Shion thinking that he was ready to leave her but is corrected by the blind Asaemon.
- Main article: Hōrai Arc
Mei provides the group with information regarding the sea monsters and says that they are trained to not attack any departing ships within the palace's floodgate, which Shion recalls having found earlier during his scouting on the beach. They also learn that they can use the ships located within the palace to escape and capture the elixir located in Rien's laboratory. Believing that they have to act fast, Shion pulls Gabimaru and Yuzuriha over to have them instruct the group in espionage with Tao applied. After finishing the lessons, Shion places everyone into the Escape-Route Team and the Elixir Retrieval Team. Nurugai comes up to Shion to ask him a question but Shion tells her that he has not forgotten. The group then reviews their strategy on infiltrating the palace. Once they were finish, the two teams decide to deploy tonight.
After sneaking into the palace, the Elixir Retrieval Team signals the Escape Route Securing Team that it is okay to enter. The team advances into the palace but are met by a sudden mist, causing Shion and Nurugai to get separated by Gantetsusai, Fuchi and Tōma. The two then encounter Zhu Jin once again, who plans to offer them as sacrifices to the grandmaster. Knowing that their plan to avoid Lord Tensen has failed, the group moves on to their second plan of fighting against them.
Shion uses Gabimaru's advice about destroying Lord Tensen's body until they run out of Tao. He manages to slice through Zhu Jin's body two hundred and fifteen times and sees that his regeneration is slowing down. Shion continuous to cut his lower body completely but becomes exhausted using too much of his Tao. Zhu Jin leaves some distance between him and Shion and recovers in a weakened state. Shion and Nurugai are then attacked by the thrown remains of Zhu Jin, however, Shion knew that this was a ploy to buy time to recover and cuts them to pieces. Shion attacks by throwing the tip of his broken sword at Zhu Jin's tanden but becomes exhausted afterwards. Nurugai rushes in to help but Shion tells her to stay back. Zhu Jin then takes the opportunity to crush Shion with his corpses that he manipulates. However, Shion cuts his way out and causes to Zhu Jin to ask why he was going so far for his deceased student. Shion tells him that he hasn't had time to grief, mourn, or rage as long as the Tensen continuous to live and asks in anger how many times he should cut Zhu Jin until they die. Shion then dodges his broken blade that Zhu Jin manipulated to attack but senses him falling into the water behind. Shion calms himself knowing that he will not have time recover their Tao. However, Shion becomes shocked after Zhu Jin emerges from the water fully recovered in their Yin form. Zhu Jin then decides to face Shion and Nurugai by partially transforming into her Kishikai.
Shion fights Zhu Jin enraged and tells Nurugai to stand back as he prepares to attack Zhu Jin alone. After managing to disembody Zhu Jin, Shion opens up her stomach to reveal the ovule and presses down with his sword to put an end to the Tensen's life. Vines then emerge from the ovule to protect it by invading Shion's body, however, Shion ignores their assault and continuous to press his sword down. Shion is begged by Nurugai to stop but yells out to her to regroup back with the others and that he must stay in order to avenge Tensa's death. As Nurugai forces herself to leave, Shion feels his life slowly fading away. However, Nurugai returns to push Shion away from his blade, remove the vines, and embraces him to restore his Tao. Nurugai tells Shion that they have to use their chance to escape instead of finishing off Zhu Jin. She further explains to Shion that Tensa died without any regrets because he wanted the both of them to live on and, instead of taking revenge, she wishes to learn more about Tensa. After looking at his blade and envisioning Tensa beside him, Shion thanks Nurugai and agrees to leave off with her.
As they make their way out, Shion gets down on his knee and promises to Nurugai that he will keep her safe until he is able to find another mountain clan she can settle in after returning to Japan. Unexpectedly, the two starts to feel the palace shaking. Shion could tell that what caused the tremors was something massive but was unable to sense anything in front of him. The two then finds themselves cornered by Iwagakure shinobi from the second landing party who have come to eliminate any criminals alive and a Dōshi army tasked with eliminating all intruders. Shion fights back against both groups but lays down his weapon after Yamada Asaemon Kiyomaru appears. The crowd then witnesses Zhu Jin emerge from the Main Temple after fusing with the Banko, causing Hōrai to be taken over. With the situation changing, Shion, Nurugai, Kiyomaru, and the Iwagakure shinobi regroup with everyone gathered at the Rentan Temple where Jikka proposes that everyone cooperate to defeat Zhu Jin.
Abilities and Powers
As the fourth ranked Asaemon, Shion is recognized by the Yamada clan as one of its strongest members and is viewed by the Yamada clan as being one of the next suitable heads. While traveling on Kotaku, Shion became one of the first few in 1,000 years to have managed to survive the ordeals the island had to offer and reached Hōrai where Lord Tensen currently resides. During his fight with Mu Dan at his strongest, Shion was able to hold his own against his attacks and ultimately kill him.
Shion possesses great speed, reflexes, and agility. After noticing Zhu Jin behind Tensa and Nurugai, he was able to quickly grab them out of the way from his attack and was able to arrive on time to save Sagiri and Yuzuriha from being attacked by Mu Dan's stingers. During his fight with Mu Dan in his Kishikai form, Shion was fast enough to quickly avoid his stingers while running along a couple of golden head statues. When combined with his swordplay, Shion can execute extremely fast sword strikes and cut objects into many pieces in an instant.
Shion has shown to possess impressive endurance. After sprouting flowers from Mu Dan's stingers, Shion didn't hesitate in cutting away at his body in order to remove them. Also, despite losing large amounts of blood, Shion had enough strength left in him to continue fighting and ultimately kill Mu Dan. He also possesses enough physical strength to send Mu Dan far back with a single kick.
- Further information: Tameshi Ittō-ryū
Shion is a master swordsmen. He is skilled enough to wield his sword using both the normal and reverse-grip style and execute swift sword slashes with great precision. Being an Asaemon, Shion is capable of decapitating his victims with a single cut of his blade. Shion's sword drawing speed is so fast that he is capable of using Iaidō where he unsheathes his blade to rapidly slash his enemy and then re-sheathes it after completing the attack. Combined with his ability to sense Tao, Shion is able to time his sword strikes perfectly well enough to counter oncoming projectiles. He was able to easily kill multiple Sōshin and defend himself against all of Mu Dan's attacks and lasted long enough to finish him off.
- Tameshi Ittō-ryū: Demon Rain (試一刀流 鬼雨 Tameshi Ittō-ryū: Oni Ame?, Literally meaning: One Sword Style Test Cutting: Demon Rain): A sword technique where Shion swings his sword from above and below to cut his opponent. This is called Ittō-ryū School: Fiend's Flurry in the Viz Manga.
- Tameshi Ittō-ryū: Long Autumn Rains (試一刀流 秋霖 Tameshi Ittō-ryū: Shūrin?, Literally meaning: One Sword Style Test Cutting: Long Autumn Rains): While in the air, Shion drops downwards delivering a series of quick slashes. This is called Ittō-ryū School: Autumn Rains in the Viz Manga.
- Tameshi Ittō-ryū: Autumn Shower (試一刀流 村時雨 Tameshi Ittō-ryū: Mura Shigure?, Literally meaning: One Sword Style Test Cutting: Autumn Shower): Shion lifts his sword up to release multiple slashes in an instant to shred his target into bits. This is called Ittō-ryū School: Harvest Shower in the Viz Manga.
- Further information: Tao
Shion possesses Wood-attributed Tao and has shown proficient usage in it. Shion awakened the ability to sense Tao to compensate for his blindness at a very young age, which he describes as perceiving the signature "waves" that flow around all things. The sensation allows him to operate as well (or better) than a person with sight, as he is able to throw his sword with pinpoint accuracy and defend attacks from all angles. After experimenting with Tao during his travel to Hōrai, Shion learned how to cloak himself in it and use it in conjunction with his swordsmanship.
As a teacher, Shion has high knowledge of swordsmanship. He critiqued Tensa's swordsmanship from his fight with Zhu Jin and instructed Nurugai in how she should properly wield a sword. Similar to Gabimaru, Shion showed that he is a fast learner that is able to figure out the nature of certain things without any proper guidance. After experimenting on the Sōshin, Shion was able to quickly learn the properties of Tao in just a single day.
As an executioner, Shion carries around his own katana. The sword was later broken in half during Shion's fight with Zhu Jin but was still useable up until Shion procured himself another sword from an Iwagakure shinobi.
- Shion ranked 1st in the manga's 1st Character Popularity Poll with 2797 votes.
- Shion and Jikka are the only known Asaemon to not wear their funerary bells tied to their collars. The reason for Shion's being that the noise made him feel uncomfortable.
- According to Hideaki Sakakibara, Yūji Kaku intended for Shion to have a crazy personality similar to Kazuo Kiriyama from Battle Royale but was changed to the kind teacher he is now. The crazy personality was instead given to Shugen.
- Shion takes after many similarities to the blind swordsman, Zatoichi:
- Most notably, Shion resembles the actor Takeshi Kitano who played the role of Zatoichi in the film Zatoichi.
- The style in which they wield their swords are identical and both are capable of utilizing iaijutsu.
- Both are affiliated with the Tōdōza.
- Both are willing to help those that are in need.
- Both had their blades broken during battle and had to find a replacement.
- Both carry regrets from within their hearts. Zatoichi regrets his past of killing many people during his time in the yakuza. Shion regrets abandoning Tensa to fight Zhu Jin alone.
- They are willing to accept death and not allow the people that are close to them to share in their fate.
- They are able to strike fear in their opponents during combat, and sought out justice towards antagonist groups.
- Shion is also similar to Issho from One Piece, who is also based off of Zatoichi and have similar scars running down their face.