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For the Oboro clan!
~ Joe Musashi

Joe Musashi (in Japanese: ジョー・ムサシ Jō Musashi) is Shinobi's flagship character and the original shinobi. He is a recurring protagonist that appeared in the first five Shinobi games, and he made a cameo in both Shinobi (2002) and Nightshade as a playable character. Joe belongs to the Oboro ninja clan, and he is skilled in the art of ninjutsu and shuriken throwing. He uses Oborozuki, a mystical shinobigatana and Oboro clan treasure that was passed down to him by his predecessors. A master of the shinobi arts, Joe's immense power and fighting skill has led to many tales of his valor, which have in turn made him a legend and earned him the nickname "The Super Shinobi". He has faced many vile foes, from Zeed's terrorist and ninja forces to human bio weapons and mechanized and genetic monstrosities. Although some of his descendants have inherited his duties, Joe leads the Oboro with a fearless strength and a sense of duty.


In the original Shinobi, the only game where Joe acted unmasked, Joe was a young ninja in his early to mid twenties with short black hair and chestnut brown eyes wearing a dark ash colored shozoku with golden yellow greaves and gauntlets. In his subsequent appearances since he has worn red copper gauntlets and greaves with Mist Gray color, which appears as pure white in lighting. In some cases he wore shinobi kabuto over his Zukin (cloth masking) in order to give his head protection or a blood red and gold Hitaeate, which he wore in Revenge of Shinobi and in the PS2 reboot of the series when he appeared as a hidden character.

In Shinobi 3DS, Joe appears as a guest character, wearing the original dark ash colored shozoku and golden yellow tekko and kyahan with an added yellow cloth covering his lower face.

In his guest appearance in Sonic and All Stars Transformed, Joe wears his trademark mist colored shozoku with the same golden helm and menpo worn by Jiro Musashi.


Early Life

Joe Musashi; Oboro-ryu Shinobi Extraordinaire

Orphaned at a young age, Joe was adopted by the chief of the Oboro clan, a superlative ninja clan that descended from the famed ninja of Iga, who have worked in the shadows to protect the peace for generations. The chief raised Joe along with the other young Oboro ninja and had him enrolled in the Oboro School. Like many other great ninja warriors, Joe started out as the weakest of his classmates. As he grew, however, he became the best in class, and by the time he was in his twenties, Joe became a master ninja in less than ten years, a rarity seen once in a century. He received Oborozuki (朧月 Hazy Moon), a coveted katana that was passed down to only the best ninja of the Oboro clan for centuries. Soon after he completed his training, Joe worked for the Japanese government, and on the occasion that he found himself with some free time, he met with his fiancée, Naoko (ナオコ), who was the Oboro chief's daughter.

Shinobi (1987)

Joe's first assignment against Zeed

On his first mission, Joe's legend began. After receiving reports that children from the Oboro village were being kidnapped by the criminal syndicate Zeed; a criminal syndicate seeking to conquer the world from within the darkness, Joe is summoned by the Ondaisho (御大将 chief), the leader of the Oboro clan. Given the mission briefing by the chief, Joe accepts the mission, and is ordered to rescue the children and bring Zeed down. Receiving files from the chief for his mission Joe disappears into the darkness to confront Zeed.

After numerous battles, he saved the children and came face to face with Zeed's leader, The Masked Ninja, who was revealed to be Nakahara, his teacher from the Oboro School turned traitor. After he saved the children and brought down the Zeed syndicate, Joe's reputation grew, which honored the Oboro and earned him the nickname "The Super Shinobi".

The Revenge of Shinobi

Shinobi's Revenge

Three years after he dismantled the Zeed syndicate, Joe departed from Naoko, his master, and the rest of the Oboro village. He embarked on a journey to master the ways of the shinobi. During Joe's absence, Zeed was reestablished as Neo Zeed. More powerful than ever, the criminal syndicate attacked the Oboro clan and left many of Joe's comrades dead. When Joe returned to the village, he finds his home in ruins as he encountered the corpses of his fallen clansmen. As he combed over the ruined village and searched for survivors, Joe found his severely wounded master. With his last breath, his master explained that Naoko had been taken prisoner, and Joe could only watch in grief as the man who took him in and raised him died in his arms, Laying his master to rest, Joe recieves a letter left by the late chief detailing Neo Zeed's bases of operation before his death. After he buried and grieved for his companions, an enraged Joe vowed to rescue his beloved and avenge his master and comrades, and dashes into the stormy night as he sets out to find and destroy Neo Zeed. After many battles, Joe once again faced off with The Masked Ninja, who held Naoko in a death trap. While he used his shuriken to hold the ceiling above Naoko's cage, Joe defeated his mortal enemy and reunited with his lover, and the two watched the sunset in peace.

Return of the Ninja Master

After the defeat of Neo Zeed, Joe and Naoko married, and Joe became the chief of the newly rebuilt Oboro village. With peace restored, Joe trained the next generation of shinobi alongside his comrades. A few years later, the presumed defunct Neo Zeed had resurfaced. After he returned from training, Joe received word of Neo Zeed's return and that the Masked Ninja was merely a double for their true leader. As he was aware that Zeed could unleash a grave calamity upon the world if the criminal organization isn't stopped, Joe was determined to put an end to the syndicate once and for all. Joe bid his loving wife and friends farewell and left the ninja village. He vowed that he would not return until Neo Zeed was completely eradicated. After he cut through hordes of minions, Joe discovered the true mastermind behind Neo Zeed; the Shadow Master. Joe defeated the vile super ninja cyborg and watched from a cliff as Zeed's mother ship was destroyed. Riding on his beloved horse, he returned home.

The Shadow Dancer

Japanese Version

In the winter of 1977, in the Iga area of Mie, Joe decided to defect from the Oboro clan. He was being pursued, and in order to provide his wife and his son, Hayate (疾風), with an ordinary and happy life, he decided to become a nukenin (抜け忍;renegade shinobi), or rogue ninja. Joe and Naoko, along with Hayate and his canine companion Yamato (大和), were pursued by tracker shinobi as they attempted to escape on a small raft. Because the vessel would only accommodate two people, Joe sent his wife and son to safety while he fought their pursuers. This would be the last time that Joe would see his son.

Western Version

After Neo Zeed's defeat, Joe went to New York City to spend time with his student, Kato. Shortly after Joe left, Kato learned that Union Lizard had taken over an elementary school, and he decided to rescue the hostages. However, Kato was fatally wounded by a Union Lizard subordinate. When Joe raced back to the US to be by Kato's side, he realized that it was too late; Kato died from his wounds. Overcome with grief and rage, Joe swore to Kato's mother that he'd avenge her son. Joe trekked through New York City and eventually faced the monstrous Sauron.

The Game Gear Shinobi

During Joe's younger years before his mission against the hated Zeed Crime Syndicate, he was one of five young shinobi in training under the chief. As one of the Oboro Five Ninja, Joe trained together with his comrades in martial arts, Taijutsu, and Ninjutsu secret techniques. One day, terror and destruction have made their way to the Ninja Valley. The master of the Oboro school of shinobi sent four of his best students to investigate the suburban areas. They returned with news of a powerful and dark force that has established a base in Neo City. The master knew that only a warrior trained in the arts of ninjutsu could stand against this menace. One by one, his greatest pupils entered Neo City to locate and destroy the source of the evil. Ninja Valley lost contact with each of them, as they were captured.

Joe, the red shinobi, carried out a dire mission to rescue his comrades. As the oldest and strongest of his ninja disciples, Joe used his special skills in the art of ninjutsu and freed his fellow shinobi. With their combined strength, they destroyed the City of Fear.

The Silent Fury

The Oboro clan has protected the four Elemental Crystals for thousands of years. Each crystal represents an elemental power. The blue crystal is imbued with air; the yellow crystal harnesses the power of water; the pink crystal commands the intensity of fire; finally, the green crystal captures the essence of earth. Each crystal was entrusted to an Oboro jounin (上忍) that could utilize the magical energy of their crystal's respective element. The Oboro ninjas trained for their entire lives to safeguard these magical crystals.

An evil ninja syndicate, the Techno-Warriors, learned about the Elemental Crystals and joined forces with the Black Ninja, who was a master of numerous ninja techniques. The syndicate's goal was clear; they wanted to use the power of the crystals to take over Neo City. The group infiltrated the Oboro village, captured the four elemental ninjas, and stole the elemental crystals. When Joe learned that his clansmen were kidnapped, he infiltrated Neo City and helped them escape their imprisonment. Then, the ninjas joined forces and worked together to recover the Elemental Crystals and foil the plot to take over the city. The ninjas traveled through Neo City and fought through hordes of foes, including giant worms, robotic spiders, and armadillos, in order to retrieve the Elemental Crystals. Eventually, the ninja group infiltrated the Techno-Warriors' base and discovered that the Black Ninja was a combination of their own dark doppelgängers. The Oboro warriors engaged, and ultimately defeated, the dark copies in combat. After their victory, they escaped the Techno-Warriors' base and returned the Elemental Crystals to their rightful place in the Oboro village.


Joe Musashi is the protagonist of Shinobi (1987), The Revenge of Shinobi (1989), The G.G. Shinobi (1991), The G.G. Shinobi II: The Silent Fury (1992), and Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master (1993). Joe also appears as a secret playable character in Shinobi (2002) for the PlayStation 2 and its sequel Nightshade, as well as 2011's Shinobi 3D for the Nintendo 3DS. His primary weapons in most games are shuriken or kunai. He also uses the sword Hazy Moon (in Japanese: 朧月 Oborozuki), which he is able to charge for a powerful special attack, and he knows various ninjutsu techniques and spells.

The identity of the protagonist in Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi differs between versions. In the Japanese version, players control Hayate, Joe's estranged son, who was raised in New York by a martial arts instructor named Dick C. Kato, after being separated from his birth parents. This backstory was discarded in the overseas versions in favor of making Joe Musashi the protagonist and having Kato be one of his young students. The original 1989 Shadow Dancer arcade game simply starred a nameless ninja, although the various home conversions would give him differing identities as well: the manual for the home computer ports produced by U.S. Gold claim that he is Joe Musashi, while the Master System version names him Takashi in the packaging and manual, and Fuma during the game's attract sequence.

Outside of the Shinobi franchise, Joe Musashi is a playable character in the racing game Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed, where he rides a quad bike and is able to throw fireballs. He also appeared in Sonic the Comic as the protagonist of the stories "The Dark Circle", "Fear Pavilion", "The Art of War", "Way of the Warrior" and "Power of the Elements".


A resolute and righteous man, Joe Musashi is devoted to the Oboro-ryu and takes his duties as a shinobi seriously in order to preserve world peace. Each member of the Oboro clan he treats like family, as he was raised and trained by the highest masters of the clan. Initially sickly and weak, Joe refused to remain a weakling, and under his mentor Nakahara's guidance, he became the top of the class and the star ninja of the Oboro.

A loving man he treats the chief of the Oboro like his father, and loves his fiancée Naoko with all his heart and would do anything for her. In the Japanese version of the Shinobi side-story game "Shadow Dancer: the Secret of Shinobi", Musashi became a renegade ninja and left the Oboro so that she and their infant son could live in peace, and sacrificed his joy with them to save them from enemy pursuers.

Loyal to the Oboro, Joe is a man who doesn't tolerate treachery, as shown when he discovered Nakahara had become corrupt and took on the Masked Ninja persona. After seeing what his mentor had become, and aware of his insane plan to send Japan and the world back into war, Joe decided to end Nakahara's life as a shinobi to prevent him from disgracing himself any further.

When he's not away on missions he's either training new shinobi, up in the wilderness honing his skills and powers, or spending time with Naoko. As head of the Oboro, Joe leads with a sense of purpose and duty, looking after the village's protection while helping his surviving friends and comrades train a new generation.


~ Joe Musashi that your best?
~ Joe Musashi.
Come get me!
~ Joe Musashi
Take this!
~ Joe Musashi
You fought well.
~ Joe Musashi
~ Joe Musashi
~ Joe Musashi
Rin (臨) Pyō (兵) Tō (闘) Sha (者) Kai (皆) Jin (陣) Retsu (列) Zai (在) Zen (前)
~ Invocation of the Kuji-in, as spoken in Japanese, after a successful tate.




  • In the Shinobi mobile game, which is a remake of the first game that features additional content, players can play as Joe. Because of his appearance, he can be easily mistaken for Hotsuma.
  • While Jiro is his father, their bloodline is linked via an alternate universe. In Jiro's universe, Joe was not born in the 20th Century but will be born to him in the late 21 Century.
  • In Shinobi (2002) and Nightshade, Joe is voiced by Casey Robertson in English and by Toshiyuki Morikawa in Japanese. In Shinobi, Joe uses the same spoken dialogue as Moritsune. In Nightshade, he has some new lines, but he borrows some of Aomizuchi's phrases; the spoken dialogue depends on which ninjutsu is being used, and can differ accordingly.
  • In Sonic All Stars Racing Transformed, Joe Musashi is a participant, but it is speculated that his name is inherited, and it is unknown if this is the same man who defeated Neo Zeed in the past. However, one of Joe's victory quotes, "For Jiro, my ancestor" confirms his familial ties with Jiro Musashi, which may imply that he is a great grandson of Jiro Musashi. Joe's all star theme is a shortened remix of the song Patience, Shinobi (2002)'s introductory theme.
  • The Kuji-in means “nine symbolic seals” and refers to a variety of mantras that consist of nine syllables. The syllables used in kuji-in are numerous, especially within the realm of mikkyo (密教Japanese esoteric Buddhism). Scholars have stated that kuji-in is of Taoist origin. The phrase can be translated as, "May those who preside over warriors be my vanguard", though there are other possible translations.