Part of the reason that Ninja Scroll is my favorite anime of all time is because of its villains. The Eight Devils of Kimon are perhaps some of the scariest and most lethal badasses in any medium. Between this cadre of extremely deadly ninjas and their bizarre supernatural powers, there isn’t much evil they can’t accomplish. I knew from the moment I decided to do Villains Month that someone from the Devils had to make the list, but with so many amazing choices, who could I pick? Immortal mastermind Gemma? Brutal psycho Tessai? In truth, all eight are worthy of a place on the list, but if I absolutely had to pick, my choice must be Yurimaru.
Yurimaru is second-in-command of the Devils, carrying out Gemma’s orders and conveying them to the rest of the team. As far as powers go, he is no slouch either, able to conduct electricity through razor-thin wires, which he uses to great effectiveness in battle, as well as a makeshift telephone to speak over long distances or spy on his underlings (he can apparently wind them around someone’s neck without them noticing). At one point, Yurimaru is also shown to be able to teleport short distances. These abilities make him an excellent administrator as well as someone who can kill without ever having to be near his opponents. He is mostly calm and intelligent, and we are shown early on that even the monster Tessai defers to him. Yurimaru is also a homosexual and in love with Gemma, who is implied to be bisexual and not particularly monogamous, much to Yurimaru’s chagrin.
Yurimaru is as cold and ruthless as the rest of the Devils of Kimon, but more than the rest of them, he is truly loyal to his master. This loyalty does seem to be romantically motivated as much as anything else, and it fuels some of his other behavior as well. Yurimaru is most assuredly a misogynist. He is extremely hateful towards both of the women in the group, insulting them and their ability at every turn. Snake girl Benisato has a romantic relationship with Lord Gemma as well, and Yurimaru despises her for it. In fact, he takes the first reasonable opportunity to kill her for failing, something he was obviously waiting for. He also shows nothing but disgust for tomboyish explosives expert Zakuro, who oddly enough starts off attracted to him. Despite all this, Yurimaru is a consummate professional. He is icy to his subordinates and very rarely takes risks. Most of his own personal attacks are made from above and a decent distance, as well as with the element of surprise. He never admits his feelings for Gemma openly, but works within his role in the group to impress him, often seeking the chance to kill Jubei and Kagero himself.
Appropriately enough, it is Yurimaru’s love for Gemma and hatred of women which proves his undoing. Before Gemma’s ship departs with the stolen gold, Yuirmaru demands at last a chance to kill Jubei, who at this point is blinded by grief and exhausted from battling legions of Gemma’s ninja underlings. Gemma grants him the chance, and Yurimaru lays a trap. Unfortunately, when Zakuro offers her assistance, Yurimaru pushes her too far with his insults, and she lays a trap of her own. Yurimaru does manage to snare Jubei with his electric wires, but Zakuro sends a rat filled with enough gunpowder to destroy a building to kill them both. Jubei is lucky enough to escape, but Yurimaru isn’t. Zakuro tells Gemma that Yurimaru was careless, and laughs at the death of the man she once loved. Gemma, Yurimaru would be sad to know, shows no reaction either way.
I don’t know if I’d call Yurimaru’s story a tragic one, exactly. He was, after all, a ruthless assassin responsible for dozens of deaths and by no means seemed to feel any remorse over them. His hatred of women didn’t really do him any favors either. Still, as far as the Devils of Kimon went, I felt that he was the most human in terms of his motivations and behavior. He did feel love, or whatever passes for it in a person like him, and even though it was for someone who obviously did not reciprocate those feelings, he fought constantly to win that love by doing the best he could at his job, and in the end, he failed. I think in that, at least, many people could relate to his struggle. And you know, even if not, he’s a guy who can kill from above with electric wires, which is pretty cool regardless.