Yamada Asaemon Shugen (山田浅ェ門
Shugen has chin-length hair with bangs that frame the sides of his face and slight hints of shadow below his eyes. He wears the standard attire of an Asaemon and favors the kataginu over the uniform.
Shugen is very dignified and diligent in his duties as an Asaemon and doesn't take it lightly when other Asaemon do not conduct themselves in the same manner.
Shugen greatly despises all criminals and truly believes that they are evil no matter who they are. At a young age, Shugen could not understand the Yamada clan's way of thinking when executing criminals and believed that they should all deserve a painful death. He believed that it was pointless to task the criminals from the vanguard party to retrieve the Elixir of Life and expressed his concern of the thought of one of the assigned criminals completing the mission and receiving the pardon, stating that it would leave him with nightmares. He also did not place his trust in the Iwa ninja and viewed them no better than criminals as well. Shugen's disdain towards criminals originated from the time his parents were killed by a murderer and sought revenge against the killer by executing them.
Shugen is known to be ruthless when performing his duties as an executioner. A great example being when he executed the captured underlings of the Silver Serpent yakuza group in order for their boss to reveal the remaining members that were not arrested and execute them as well. However, despite completing the task he was given, Shugen did not feel that his job was yet done. After finish executing the Silver Serpent group, Shugen moved towards executing the entire family of each member, showing no mercy in killing men and women, young or old, to infants. Although he was merciless in his duties, Shugen showed what little sympathy he had prior to executing the boss, shedding tears in hoping that he, along with the rest he executed, are righteous in the afterlife. This shows that Shugen's deep hatred towards criminals causes him to take drastic measures in order for justice to truly be served. Shion noted that no matter how critical the situation was, Shugen would not stoop so low as to ally himself with criminals or allow any Asaemon to ally themselves with criminals as well, even stating that his arrival on the island only made matters worse rather than good.
Shugen cares greatly for his Yamada clansmen, having spent his years with them and being taught what they know. He greatly expressed his concern for their safety on the island and vowed to bring them back home no matter what the means were. Even though the Yamada clan view women as inferior of becoming a executioner, Shugen is one of the rare few who do not believe in this belief as he vouched for Sagiri's qualifications in receiving a ranking and also did not think ill of Isuzu. Furthermore, when Shugen becomes concern for their well-being, he sheds a single tear drop from his eye. It seems that the only member he has a low opinion on is Jikka who acts as his complete opposite. Nevertheless, Shugen refers to him properly as his senior. Among his clan members, Shugen shows the most concern for Eizen who was the one who took him in when he was young and promised to oversee his maturity as a Yamada Asaemon. After finding his corpse, Shugen broke down into tears and took the time to lay his soul to rest with a prayer.
After finding the corpse of his fallen mentor, Shugen unleashed his ruthless, cruel nature and developed a more vengeful attitude, shedding a single tear of blood and furiously declared that he would kill every living thing on the island. He also becomes more violent and sadistic as he slowly carved away at a Dōshi until he told him everything he needed to know about the island. As they continue to travel the island and find the death of two more Asaemon, Jikka stated that Shugen was acting more psychotic after resorting to using the whistle the Dōshi had earlier to summon the Mōnshin and carry them to Hōrai.
After his parents were murdered, a young Shugen was taken in by the Yamada clan and looked after by Yamada Asaemon Eizen. He then undergone training as an executioner and learned all he could from his clan members. He eventually earned his name as a Yamada Asaemon and was given the rank of second. Sometime ago, Shugen felt that Sagiri was qualified for a ranking and begged his superior to consider in giving her one.
During one of his duties as an executioner, Shugen executed the captured members of the Silver Serpent yakuza group in order for their boss to reveal the remaining members hidden within the Castle Town. After successfully executing all 20 members of the group, Shugen moved towards executing the families of each member with the shogun present and the boss watching in horror moments before being executed. This event caused Shugen to have an infamous reputation but also caught the approval of the shogun who rewarded him with a sword named Fuributsu Kaneki and ceremonial clothing.
Lord Tensen Arc
Shugen sits next to Yamada Asaemon Jikka as he explains to the officials how he managed to return from the island. After angering them, Shugen apologies for Jikka's behavior. They overlook this incident and explains to them the next course of action written in the shogun's message, which is to send out another team of Asaemon to the island. Once they were done discussing matters, Shugen scolds Jikka's behavior but is met with disrespect by the senior Asaemon, causing him to become furious and speaks bluntly that he can not tolerate his attitude. After Jikka apologies, he wonders if there were any more criminals to send. Shugen informs him that the shogun has hired shinobi from Iwagakure instead of criminals and says that he will also be joining the next team as ordered by their leader, Yamada Asaemon Kichiji. He then sheds a tear after realizing that Eizen has failed to report back to him and becomes worried of his other fellow Asaemon members. A worker then comes up to Jikka asking what they should do with the giant monster head he had killed and brought back. Shugen gets close to the monster's head but the worker warns him that it may still be alive. However, Shugen says that the monster was dead after sensing no waves of life force. He then meets up with two additional allies and tells them that the four of them shall make preparations to depart to the island.
After departing the next day, Shugen thinks that Aoki is feeling uncomfortable with the ninjas presence and informs him that he can correct this. Aoki then becomes concerned with Kiyomaru and Isuzu being unranked Asaemon and wonders if they where capable of handling the mission. Shugen tells Aoki that despite not having a ranking they are skilled enough to handle themselves while also including Jikka, saying that he was adequate and declares that they will be determined to help his clansmen on the island. He then watches as one of the ninjas kills himself after being given the order by Kiyomaru to prove his loyalty and is approached by Kiyomaru asking if they can truly trust them. Shugen tells him that he never trust them to begin with and views them no better than criminals. He then expresses his resolve to kill the criminals on the island so that his clan members can return home. However, after being asked if they were already dead, Shugen becomes angry at the thought and tears up hoping that they are safe.
The group then finally arrives on the island. After landing, Shugen encounters a group of Sōshin and attacks them barehanded. Once he quickly dealt with them onster, Isuzu and Kiyomaru come to his aid but Shugen reassures them that as their senior, he will take on the responsibility of taking care of lesser matters like fighting the monsters. Jikka becomes pleads to hear this but Shugen reminds him that he is his senior. He then shockingly approaches the corpse of Yamada Asaemon Eizen and breaks down into tears.
Before he could agree to go any further on their journey, Shugen says a prayer to lay his former masters soul to rest. While praying, the group fight off a horde of Mōnshin commanded by a Dōshi to attack them. After he finishes his prayer, Shugen cuts the leg off a Mōnshin that attempted to attack him and uses its shakujō to chip away continuously at his blade. He then declares in anger that he will exact his revenge by killing every living thing on the island.
After quickly defeating the Dōshi, Shugen carves away at him until he answers his questions about the island. Jikka tries to reason with him by saying that they should return home, however, Shugen angrily scolds Jikka, saying that under no circumstances are they allowed to return to the mainland. After being calmed down by Isuzu, Shugen apologizes to Jikka but demands that the Dōshi provide him with information he needed. One of the ninja then comes up to Shugen suggesting that the ninja handle this matter since they specialize in interrogation and torture.
Palace Invasion Arc
While traveling to Hōrai, Shugen becomes furious after the ninja reveals to him evidence of Tensa's and Genji's deaths. Shugen then decides to use the Whistle of Mounts used by the Dōshi to call upon the Mōnshin. Once the Mōnshin were summoned, Shugen orders them to quickly transport him and the Asaemon to Hōrai.
Upon arriving in Hōrai, the Mōnshin breach the walls of the Hōrai palace.
Abilities and Powers
Shugen is viewed by his peers as being the strongest Asaemon in the Yamada clan. Being the second ranked Asaemon, Shugen's suitability for becoming the next head of the clan rivals that of Eizen. Unlike the first group of Asaemon that were dispatch to the island, Shugen was one of the three that were chosen to join the second team based on pure ability alone. After arriving on the island, Shugen was capable of single handedly defeat a group of Sōshin without the use of his sword and easily cut down a Mōnshin with no signs of worrying. He was also able to defeat a Dōshi, students of Lord Tensen who are well-versed at using Tao than any human.
Shugen possesses impressive physical strength. He was able to break the leg of a large Sōshin and easily lift its arms. Combined with his knowledge of anatomy and his ability to sense Tao, Shugen was able to fight barehanded against a group of Sōshin and easily defeat them without a single scratch.
Shugen is known to have great skill and knowledge in swordsmanship than any other member in the Yamada clan. As an Asaemon, Shugen is capable of decapitating his victims with a single cut of his sword. After chipping away at his blade, Shugen is able to execute cuts modeled after the execution method known as Sawing (鋸引き Nokogiribiki?), where he carves away at his opponent if they refuse to answer his questions.
- Further information: Tao
Shugen is capable of sensing Tao, which he learned from Shion. In combat, Shugen is able to target the weak areas of his opponents Tao and deal lethal damage.
Shugen possesses knowledge taught to him by a few of his fellow clansmen, such as Fuchi's understanding of anatomy and Shion's ability to perceive Tao. These two studies combined allows Shugen to easily defeat his opponents in a fight even without the use of his sword.
Having impressed the shogun, Shugen was given the named blade, Fuributsu Kaneki.
- Shugen ranked 15th in the manga's 1st Character Popularity Poll.
- In chapter 2, a silhouette of a person bearing resemblance to Shugen can be seen in Sagiri's flashback.