Shonen Jump’s Most Disturbing Villain Is Based On A Real Person | Pretty Reel

Despite the presence of extremely evil supernatural enemies like demons and curses, Shonen Jump’s most disturbing villain is actually a real person.

There are plenty of depraved and disgusting villains in the pages of Shonen Jump, but surprisingly, the magazine’s most disturbing antagonist is actually based on a real person. This might seem shocking given the sheer number of manga these days that feature horrifying supernatural threats like demons and curses. But it’s a good reminder that sometimes the most terrifying villains are the ones that seem the most human.

This villain is Ashikaga Takauji, the main antagonist of The Elusive Samurai, by Yusei Matsui. The series is a creative take on the Kenmu Restoration, which was a short period of imperial rule that took place after the overthrow of the Kamakura Shogunate. Its main character is Hojo Tokiyuki, the son of the last shogun of Kamakura, who seeks to assemble an army to regain his family’s power over the country. Much like Kaiju #8 using real tragedy, Elusive Samurai’s plot loosely mirrored the real-life version of Japanese history, taking great liberties with how it depicts its characters. For example, Sadamune, the governor of the region Tokiyuki is hiding in, has eyes that are too large to represent his constant search for the remaining Hojo heirs. Whether these visual traits are purely metaphorical or actually real is ambiguous, but either way they have a huge impact on how the characters are portrayed. And nowhere is this more drastic than in the case of Takauji.

Takauji was one of the key players in the rebellion to overthrow the Kamakura shogunate, as he was a popular warrior who betrayed his lords to install the new emperor. Usually he comes across as a handsome and kind man, with a placid smile always on his face. But as the series reveals more about him, it turns out to be a kind of mask, hiding a horrific, almost Lovecraftian entity. It’s shocking to see the features of this creature transform his body at times when he can no longer hide his ambition, causing him to grow eyes and teeth on his face. These moments lend tension to the scenes in which he wears his normal expression, as it hides from the other characters the monstrous nature that readers know lies beneath.

What makes Takauji so compelling is that even though his demonic side is purely metaphorical, he still shows how monstrous his ambition has forced him to become. During the Kamakura Shogunate, he seemed to be loyal and caring about Tokiyuki and his family. But this was all just a facade, and when it became beneficial to him, Takauji slaughtered them without hesitation. And if the manga follows the true story of the time, it will soon betray its new emperor as well, establishing its own shogunate. He’s the kind of ruthless, almost sociopathic conqueror that abounds in real-world history, making him much more human and therefore much more terrifying than the more fantastical threats of other manga.

Interestingly enough, it’s precisely because Takauji was a real person that he’s such a great character. This makes the personality and actions more grounded and realistic than those of other characters, despite the exaggerated way in which they are portrayed. All of this makes Ashikaga Takauji from The Elusive Samurai much more disturbing and unique than the other villains of Shonen Jump.

Shonen Jump’s Most Disturbing Villain Is Based On A Real Person | Pretty Reel