Kagenobu Yoshioka

kagenobuyoshiokafilmWhen in the first season of Daredevil we met a Japanese villain, Nobu, portrayed by Peter Shinkoda, he appeared to be just a representative of Yakuza, until in the “final” fight with Daredevil he presented himself with quite a familiar ninja outfit. However, he ended up burnt alive, so it seemed to be the end for him…but in Seven Minutes in Heaven we meet him again, alive and well, and when Daredevil points out “You’re dead!”, our man answers: “There is no such thing.” Nobu’s full name is revealed to be Kagenobu Yoshioka, a long-time member of The Hand…and with “long”, I mean very long, as he apparently has been around for centuries, as his resurrection testifies. In the comics, Yoshioka is not only a member of The Hand, not even just a leader, he’s the actual founder of it. Let’s see together.

Kagenobu Yoshioka was born in Japan, in the second half of the XVI Century. Kagenobu was born in the small village of Kyushua, the son of a woman renowned for selling herself to foreigners, and of a deceased samurai: the boy’s claims were interpreted by everyone as a pitiful attempt to save his mother’s honor, and nobody believed him about his father. One day, when his mother was being beaten by a Portuguese client of hers, Kagenobu killed the man to protect her. The woman decided to take the blame for the murder, and she was arrested and executed in her son’s place. Seeing all the anger growing in the orphan, Saburo Ishiyama, sensei of the Ishiyama Sword School, decided to adopt Kagenobu, wanting to channel his rage into something positive. Ishiyama revealed to Kagenobu that he knew that he was the killer of the Portuguese, and that he wanted to help him being reborn stronger from his past, teaching him Bushido: eager to follow his father’s footsteps, Kagenobu entered his school. In ten years he became one of the top students, along with his rival Daisuke Sasaki: in the final test, however, Yoshioka defeated Sasaki, and was rewarded with the title of samurai; Ishiyama told his pupil he had nothing else kagenobuyoshiokacomics1to teach him, and encouraged him to travel the world to learn everything he could. As a Ronin, a samurai without a master, Yoshioka travelled Japan, and grew disgusted by the corruption that the foreigners were spreading in his country; he learnt many sword schools and martial arts, and became determined to give back his people his honor and the power over his own destiny. Using a bloody hand as his mark (the same mark that his mother left on his kimono the day she was arrested), Kagenobu became a living legend, fighting corrupt samurais all around the country. Reached by his fellow student Kikuchi during his travels, Yoshioka learnt that Ishiyama had died, and that his last wish was to have him succeed as the school’s master. Without hesitation, Yoshioka came back home to honor his master’s will. He directed the school along with Sasaki, and when the local Daimyos tried to limit the school’s power, paid by foreigner merchants, Yoshioka decided to found a secret society uniting the martial arts’ schools of the country against corruption and foreigner influence: The Hand.

Training his students with all the techniques he had learnt around Japan, Yoshioka created an elite strike force, which he led in raids against foreigner agents and corrupt government officers, starting a revolution to give back to Japanese people their rights. Despite some quarrels with Sasaki over the fact that Yoshioka invited as part of The Hand’s inner circles also men from the Japanese islands, considered “heretics”, The Hand’s influence and power grew constantly, as more and more schools joined them. The distance with Sakaki grew when Yoshioka accepted as a student Eliza Martinez, daughter of a Spanish merchant and a Japanese woman, a girl full of rage willing to learn how to kill in order to exact vengeance on her mother’s killers. Albeit he planned to use Martinez as an informer, and to kill both him and his daughter when his utility ran out, Kagenobu eventually fell in love with Eliza, finding in her the best of his pupils, and a mirror of the boy he once was. When Sasaki learnt of Yoshioka’s true feelings for the girl, he used the information to convince the other members of The Hand that also the founder had been corrupted by Western uses, and that he had betrayed their cause by uniting with a foreigner. Kagenobu realised kagenobuyoshiokacomics2that The Hand had become far too big for him to control, and learnt that some factions had started selling their skills to the highest bidder, even against fellow Japanese. Yoshioka also realised that the one responsible for The Hand’s betrayal was his very right hand man, Sasaki: he confronted him and killed him in duel, but it was too late, as the entire secret organization was now bent on killing both him and Eliza. Accused of betraying The Hand’s cause and identity by allowing an enemy in their ranks (and in his bed), Yoshioka now faced a corrupted version of his creation, a band of mercenaries who sold themselves to whoever paid them, a monster that now rebelled against its creator. With only Eliza left at his side, Kagenobu Yoshioka decided that he would have put an end to the beast he had given birth to, or would have died trying: Japan was now endangered by The Hand as much as by the foreigners, and it was his responsibility to protect it.

Kagenobu Yoshioka is a proud warrior and a man of honor, a skilled samurai who has learnt to control and suppress his emotions, and who is now a cold and calculative tactician who never lets his feelings cloud his judgement, even in the midst of a fight. A swordsman of unparalleled ability, Yoshioka is the best warrior in Japan, a martial artist with no equal who masters an incredible variety of styles and schools, and who has never been wounded once during his many fights. Deeply loyal to his country, Yoshioka dreams of freeing Japan from the plague of foreigners and to bring back the country’s old glory, and pursues this goal with his creation, The Hand: just as the fingers are different one from the other, but when they unite together they form a force to be reckoned with, The Hand will crush Japan’s enemies and restore its greatness and values.


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