Assassin’s Creed Japan: Who Is Yasuke The African Samurai Protagonist?

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First AC Protagonist Based On A Real Person!

Story Highlights
  • Assassin’s Creed Red will feature two protagonists.
  • One of them will be Yasuke, a historical figure based on the real-life African samurai of the same name.
  • Yasuke’s story is mysterious, with various theories surrounding it. However, the game will craft its own narrative for him.

The Assassin’s Creed franchise is arguably one of the biggest in the world. Having sold 200 million units, this IP has been running for more than 15 years now. 2024 will be another monumental year for the series with the release of Assassin’s Creed Red, the long-awaited Japanese setting in an Assassin’s Creed game.

This marks one of Ubisoft’s biggest investments, bringing two brand-new protagonists to the IP. One of these characters is a famous historical figure known as Yasuke, but most fans might not be too familiar with his story and origin.

Yasuke was a samurai of African descent, but who is Yasuke, and what is his real-life story?

Why it matters: Assassin’s Creed games are usually based on fictional stories; however, Red takes a different approach by featuring a real-life inspired character for the first time in the long-running history of the franchise.

Yasuke’s Story

Art Depicting Yasuke

Judging by the characters and the leaks, Assassin’s Creed Red will take place in 15th-century Japan during the infamous Sengoku or the Warring States period, which was the age of uproar, filled with civil wars as various Feudal Lords sought power over the country of Japan.

The exact story about Yasuke isn’t confirmed, but there are multiple theories regarding him. Yasuke is said to be the one and only African samurai in the history of Japan. The Portuguese reportedly brought him in, though other theories suggest he was a free African who got into Japan independently.

However, in the game, Yasuke’s story is written differently. According to sources, Yasuke is a slave traveling on a slave ship before the ship gets attacked, and everyone is killed, including his lover.

As the lone survivor, Yasuke ends up being transferred to Japan to be trained as a samurai.

Assassin's Creed Red
Assassin’s Creed In Japan Concept Art

Regarding appearance, Yasuke was tall, almost 6’2, had black skin, and could have easily towered over an average person at the time. It is said that Yasuke had the strength of 10 men and could also communicate in Japanese.

In Japan, Yasuke served under the catholic missionary Alessandro Valignano in the Nanban period sometime in 1579, when many Dutch and Portuguese started visiting Japan. However, that was short-lived when Japan restricted foreign trade with a policy to remove foreign colonization or religious influence.

Soon after that, Yasuke served under the Feudal Lord, Oda Nobunaga, leader of the powerful Oda clan who came out triumphantly as the unifier of Japan and thus ended the long-running Civil War. Nobunaga was interested in foreign cultures and especially invited Yasuke to serve under him as he was the first black person he’d ever encountered.

Yasuke’s exact contributions haven’t been recorded, but it is implied that he played a vital role in serving the Oda clan and fought numerous battles under the leadership of Oda Nobunaga.

He helped Oda Nobunaga defeat the Takeda clan. It is also stated that Yasuke did not understand Japanese well, but he often conversed with the Feudal Lord. According to rumors, Nobunaga eventually planned to make Yasuke a Lord with his own castle.

Just like most of his life, Yasuke’s end is also mysterious, with some saying that he served under other Feudal Lords after the death of Oda Nobunaga, while others say that he retired as a samurai and devoted his life to becoming a monk.

Assassin's Creed Red Japan
A statue of Yasuke / Art

Yasuke’s Other Depictions In Fiction

Assassin’s Creed Red won’t be the first time Yasuke is being adapted into fictional media.

Being the only African samurai, Yasuke has become somewhat of a legend, which has led to several fictional depictions, including manga, anime, and more, to create stories about him.

One widely recognized portrayal of Yasuke is from the video game series Nioh. If you’re unfamiliar, Nioh is an action RPG video game series set in the Sengoku period and features Yasuke in a boss fight.

The most recognizable one is the Netflix Anime series Yasuke, based on his name itself. The anime is made by the minds behind Boondocks and animated by the talented studio Mappa.

Other than that, Yasuke is featured in a children’s storybook, in the mobile tactical game Yasuke Black Ronin, in the manga The Man Who Killed Nobunaga, and more. Each presented Yasuke’s story with a twist, and Assassin’s Creed Red will do the same.

What About The Other Protagonist?

The second protagonist of Assassin’s Creed Red, a female shinobi, will also be based on a real-life character called Naoe, the daughter of Fujibayashi Nagato, a fierce ninja from the Sengoku period who led the LGA Ninjas.

Earlier, the first look at Naoe was revealed in the profile banner of the writer Pierre Boudreau, who works at Ubisoft. Details reveal that Naoe is on a quest to avenge her father’s death in the game.

She and Yasuke start as fierce enemies before allying with each other later during the campaign.

It is also unknown what name both the characters will be called, whether it’s by their real name or a fictional one.

Assassin’s Creed Red is looking to be an exciting release and is said to be the final RPG entry before the series takes a different approach. Ubisoft also believes the game will be its biggest blockbuster of 2024.

The game is reportedly set to be released later this year in November, with a world premiere trailer in May. This should be followed by a gameplay reveal in July at a Ubisoft Forward event.

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