Usui was once a swordsman that worked for the shogunate government, killing hitokiri, and during the Bakumatsu, engaged Shishio Makoto. However he was defeated instantly by the hitokiri and was slashed across the eyes, losing his sight. Left to die, Usui wandered across the country, eventually finding his way into the mountains. On the verge of dying, he heard a stream and ran towards it to quench his thirst. However upon reaching it, Usui realized he’d heard it from a mile away and discovered that he had developed superhuman hearing, a power he believed that he gained from being so close to death. Usui perfected this into a new form of sight to use in combat, Shingan, planning to use it to have his revenge. He also returned to his home, the Ryukyu Islands, to learn the native fighting style there. Usui later joined Shishio’s Juppongatana, on the condition he could take any opportunity he wanted to try and kill Shishio. As one of the Juppongatana, many feared Usui due to his seemingly psychic Shingan, as well as his attempts on Shishio’s life to the point many thought Shishio feared him. At one point, Usui approached Yūkyūzan Anji, saying they should team up to kill Shishio and take control of his land. However Anji turned him down, saying it was a waste of time to talk to Usui.
Great Kyoto Fire
After Shishio began gathering the Juppongatana to put his final plan into effect, Usui headed to Kyoto, killing a squad of 50 policemen along the way, before heading to Shishio’s base. Upon arriving, the blind sword made his presence known by killing some of Shisho’s men. Usui then attacked the former hitokiri but his strike was blocked and Shishio noted that he improved his skills. The blind sword asked Sadojima Hōji why he was angry, since it was his right to attack Shishio when he wanted. Hoji stated he knew that, but he didn’t appreciate Usui pretending to be an intruder and killing their men. The blind sword just said he’d have to work as hard as a thousand men and it didn’t matter if the weak ones were killed. Usui then admitted he’d killed about 50 policemen in Kobe on the way there. Shishio asked the blind sword if Saito Hajime or Kenshin Himura were among them, but the blind sword told him he’d never encountered either. Usui later came across Komagata Yumi complaining about him to the returning Seta Sōjirō and Sojiro offered him one of the sweets he’d bought. However the blind sword noted that Sojiro only left Shishio’s side for special missions and said that despite his not having normal emotions, Sojiro was not proof to his Shingan. Usui said whatever he was hiding, it was of no matter to him and told him the Juppongatana had been ordered to gather in the main hall. At that gathering, Shishio told Usui and the others that the time had come to put their plan into action. As plan for the Great Kyoto Fire was set in motion, Usui told the other Juppongatana that they would have to change the plan and aid the men by slaying all the policemen that had arrived. Anji pointed out their orders were to kill key figures, but Usui said starting the fire was the same thing since it didn’t change the fact they would die. The blind sword said he wouldn’t force Anji and headed off with most of the other Juppongatana. However as the Oniwabanshu began interfering, Usui realized what they were doing. The blind sword appeared to attack their leader, Misao, noting his surprise that a little girl was the problem. But Usui was stopped by Anji and asked why, to which the fallen monk responded by saying their forces had already retreated and there was no more need to kill. The two faced each other silently for a time, but eventually left.
Duel with Saito
Later on, Shishio gathered the Juppongatana to brief them for the upcoming duel with Kenshin, Sanosuke, and Saito. However Usui said he wanted to ask about the Purgatory, saying he’d heard the Great Kyoto Fire was a decoy. He then pointed out that meant the Juppongatana were just pawns to waste. When Shishio and Hoji claimed that it was Hoji’s idea, Usui wasn’t convinced and told Hoji to tell the truth. The blind sword said his lies wouldn’t fool his Shingan and when Hoji still refused to tell the truth, Usui pulled out one of his fingernails. Despite this, Hoji still said it was his idea, ripping out seven fingernails for each Juppongatana member he’d “betrayed”. Shishio then ordered Usui, Anji, and Sojiro to remain to fight Kenshin and his allies while the others went to attack Aoi-ya. Later on Sojiro approached the blind sword as he was drinking a cup of snake blood, asking if it was to keep him cheerful. Usui responded that it was to keep him awake, though he preferred a woman’s blood and Sojiro noted he was one strange fellow. After Sanosuke’s fight with Anji ended, Yumi brought Kenshin and Saito to the room where Usui was waiting and he noted there were only two of them. He said they would be some practice before he did away with Shishio and asked the two which of them wanted to see the afterlife first. Usui asked if they were going to attack as he got to his feet and said he’d take their heads, along with Shishio’s, as his trophies. Yumi said she’d make sure Shishio heard what he’d said, but Usui said she really was stupid, since he’d always said he’d take any opportunity to try and kill the former hitokiri. Kenshin asked if Shishio accepted that and the blind sword said yes, but apparently Shishio needed him and his Shingan. Usui noted that judging from Kenshin’s cold sweat, he knew what was going on at Aoi-ya. He concluded that Anji had finally betrayed them and Kenshin asked if he’d step aside or not, when suddenly Sanosuke arrived, having been patched up with help from Anji. Usui was pleased however and Saito stepped forward to take on the blind sword, allowing Kenshin and Sanosuke to run ahead with Yumi. Usui noted that Saito seemed for more lenient than he’d heard, but the former Shinsengumi responded by saying Kenshin would just get in his way. The blind sword noted Saito was getting anxious and asked if had a grudge because of all the policemen he’d killed in Kobe. Usui went on to say he couldn’t hide anything from his Shingan, but Saito figured out that Shingan wasn’t psychic power or magic. He said it could see through to his psychology, not his reasons and that for the police, losing your life was a normal occurrence. Saito said that he was anxious to dispense his justice and Usui said he had no complaints about his opponent, as well as that he would bathe in Saito’s hot blood. The former Shinsengumi attacked with Gatotsu, but Usui blocked the strike, before knocking the blade away and launching a barrage of attacks with both ends of his spear. The blind sword managed to land three wounds on Saito and asked if he wanted to know how he blocked the Gatotsu as if he knew where it would land. Usui explained how he’d developed his Shingan and it made it so to him, every person was a collection of sounds, which let him know anyone’s moves. The blind sword said his Shingan made the Gatotsu useless and noted that Saito’s pulse had quickened. But Saito just responded that Usui’s thoughts were as ridiculous as his outfit and snapped his fingers. The weight on the end of the blind sword’s spear (which he used to deflect the Gatotsu), shattered. Saito said he’d show Usui his own Shingan and explained it wasn’t superhuman hearing, it was insight possessed by swordsmen who’d fought many death matches. Usui asked what he saw and Saito said it didn’t seem to be true that he’d joined Shishio for the purpose of killing him. He pointed out the blind sword had sneered when he spoke of the memory of Shishio blinding him, which told him Usui had given up on revenge. Saito said that despite the strength Shingan gave the blind sword, Usui had realized that Shishio was stronger and joined the Juppongatana so others wouldn’t realize he was defeated. Usui said that while Saito’s “Shingan” was impressive, there should only be one user of the technique and said he’d use his ultimate attack. The blind sword detached half his spear and pulled his tinbei (his tortoise shell shield) off of his back. Usui and Saito attacked each other with Saito saying he didn’t know what was behind the shell, but there was nothing his Gatotsu couldn’t pierce. However Usui used the shell to deflect the blade away and explained the tinbei used the shell’s roundness to deflect weapons. He then held it up to block Saito’s vision and struck with his rochin (his short spear), stabbing Saito in the leg. Usui leapt away and explained this fighting style was of the royal family of his homeland, Ryukyu. However Saito took the form for Gatotsu and Usui questioned this, laughing at the fact he had nothing to rely on but that. The blind sword said he would make no mistake with his three-staged attack and Saito charged, but Usui deflected again, stabbing him in his other leg. The blind sword said he wouldn’t kill the former Shinsengumi with one hit and noted how he knew what went on in his heart, which he’d make Saito deeply regret. Saito said Usui alleviated his frustration at not being able to kill Shishio by torturing weaker people to death. The former Shinsengumi asked if he thought Shishio didn’t know that and said the former hitokiri was just making use of Usui’s cheap pride. The blind sword told Saito to shut up and rushed at him, bringing his tinbei up to the former Shinsengumi’s face and getting too close for Saito to use his Gatotsu. Usui asked if he could still make wisecracks and prepared to finish off the former Shinsengumi. However Saito used his Gatotsu Zero Shiki, breaking through the tinbei and piercing Usui’s body so hard, it tore off his upper body, which was impaled above the doorway of the room. The blind sword asked what that was and Saito explained that it was Gatotsu Zero Shiki, one of the forms of Gatotsu, and one he’d originally reserved for Kenshin. Saito told Usui he should feel honored and the blind sword said this wasn’t supposed to happen. The former Shinsengumi said he should’ve given up his sword when Shishio blinded him, since a man who couldn’t hold onto his beliefs was always pathetic. Usui said Saito was one who truly never showed mercy and it was much more difficult than one thought to hold onto beliefs without any doubt. He then asked the former Shinsengumi how long could he live by his sword and his code of Aku Soku Zan in the days of the Meiji, before dying and Saito said he would until he died.
AbilitiesUsui is a highly deadly warrior, as evidenced by his slaughtering a squad of 50 well-trained policemen with ease, and is considered the second deadliest of the Juppongatana. His most deadly ability is his Shingan, which means Eye of the Heart, a superhuman level of hearing. It allows Usui to hear all the inner workings of his opponent, their heartbeat, the movement of their bones and muscles, etc. He can predict exactly where his opponents are and what they’re doing. When he worked for the government, Usui wielded a katana, but after being blinded, he took up weapons native to Ryukyu, the islands he hails from. His primary weapon is a rochin, a spear with a weighted ball on the end. With it, Usui can use an attack called Hyakka Ryoran, where he strikes at his enemy rapidly with both ends of the rochin. He can detach the lower half of the spear to make a shorter weapon when he wields it in combination with the tinbei shield that is made from a tortoise shell, which is also from Ryukyu. He uses its round design to deflect attacks and also to block his opponent’s vision.
- There was some censorship with Usui between the manga and anime. In the anime, instead of tearing off Hoji’s fingernail, he broke his finger instead. Also in the anime, when Usui was impaled on the wall by Saito’s Gatotsu Zero Shiki, his body remained intact, instead of his upper body being torn off.
- Usui’s rochin and tinbei are weapons used in an actual Okinawan weapon style.
- His character design model was Mercenary Tao from Dragon Ball with Nobuhiro Watsuki saying Tao had made a strong impression on him due to his defeating Goku, the main protagonist.
- Usui was a character that, like Isurugi Raijūta, Nobuhiro Watsuki regretted creating, but Usui proved a far more popular character than Raijuta so Watsuki decided that he was a stronger character.