“Lemme explain the lore”: The Assassin’s Creed Shadows’ Yasuke Debate is Done and Dusted

Maybe it's wiser to focus our energy on the game's pre-order prices.

assassins creed shadows

SUMMARY

  • The controversy over Yasuke's depiction in the game persists, as people argue about its historical accuracy.
  • Yasuke's historical status as a samurai is debated, with interpretations varying due to a lack of information.
  • Despite historical ambiguity, the game's Yasuke serves as a separate character inspired by real-life events.
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Assassin’s Creed Shadows has been in a ton of controversies since its announcement. While locking quests behind a day-one-season pass bundle worth $109.99 was one of them, there’s another problem that has taken priority in almost all the discourse surrounding the title.

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The existence of the samurai Yasuke in the game, one of the two protagonists of the game that you can play as, has rubbed many the wrong way, being that he is a man of African origin. While it might seem like a forced connection out of context, history says otherwise.

Was Yasuke from Assassin’s Creed Shadows a Samurai in Real Life?

Someone has to end the Assassin's Creed Shadows debate around this character
Someone has to end the Assassin’s Creed Shadows debate around this character

The Yasuke from Shadows is based on a real-life figure in history. What we do know about him is that he was likely a slave but was a free man when he met an Italian Jesuit missionary. A turn of events eventually led him to serve Japanese daimyo (warlord) Oda Nobunaga.

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Where things get a little muddied is whether he was simply a retainer or a samurai. People opposing his depiction as a samurai in Shadows claim he was the former, while others claim the latter. However, one X/Twitter user clears up the debate, revealing that the two roles are the same.

They explain that a ‘retainer’ in that era refers to Kashin, which is a member of a clan’s Kashindan. This is the clan’s standing army, or “the soldiers it keeps on retainer to fight wars at a moment’s notice.

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Being in a clan’s Kashindan meant you were a samurai. During the Sengoku Period, ‘samurai’ was used to refer to anyone who worked as a full-time soldier.

Samurai claims were aristocratic noble families, which meant you had to be born into them to be a member. On the other hand, being a member of a clan’s Kashindan doesn’t automatically mean you’re a member of the clan. However, you could still be a samurai.

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Essentially, Yasuke served as Oda Nobunaga’s ‘Kosho’, a young man serving a busho. The user emphasizes that Kosho were considered samurai.

Can the Yasuke Feud Be Laid to Rest?

The debate about the historical figure's role will seemingly never end
The debate about historical figure’s role will seemingly never end

Interpretations of Yasuke’s history are difficult, as historical documents, letters, and other material around the figure are scarce. Many modern written media around him explicitly refer to him as a samurai, and some historians have also concluded that he was indeed one.

There’s a great Reddit post that does a deep dive (with sources) into his history.

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Was Yasuke a Samurai?
byu/JumboTheCrab inAskHistorians

Regardless of what you believe, the Shadows character is ultimately a separate character that only takes inspiration from his real-life counterpart.

People can argue if it’s historically accurate to make him a samurai in the game, but the game did throw out 1:1 historical accuracy long ago when Leonardo da Vinci helped Ezio fly in Assassin’s Creed 2, or when Bayek fought the God Anubis in Origins.

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This wouldn’t be the first time that Assassin’s Creed has played fast and loose with history, and it won’t be the last, as games like Assassin’s Creed Hex will also change history to tell the story of the Assassin’s.

Shadows will explore the beautiful lands of central Japan through the eyes of a native and a foreigner. Are you excited for this sequel? Let us know in the comments below!

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Written by Vibha Hegde

Articles Published: 252

Vibha is an avid gamer that has been in the content writing space for over three years. With a Bachelors in Computer Applications, Vibha chooses to explore their passion for pop culture and gaming. When not hunkered over a controller trying to beat the Demon of Hatred in Sekiro, you can find Vibha relaxing to jazz during a digital painting session.