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Baron Ashura (あしゅら男爵 Ashura Danshaku?) is a fictional character featuring in the works of mangaka Go Nagai. He/she is the main henchman of Dr. Hell, the antagonist of Super Robot series Mazinger Z. He/she plagues the hero Kouji Kabuto for much of the series' run, until finally being killed in one of the later episodes.
He/she is notable for being voiced by two simultaneous seiyuu (long before the gimmick was made famous by Dragonball Z's fusion characters like Gogeta and Gotenks) as well as being a disturbing half-man, half-woman combination. Mazinger's most persistent enemy, he/she makes regular appearances in the Super Robot Wars series as Dr. Hell's loyal underling.
Baron Ashura's origin began Long ago with a man and woman who fell in love. Their love was forbidden and upon discovery, the lovers shared a terrible fate: they were mummified and buried alive. Many years later, a cave in collapsed the roof of the tomb. A huge chunk of rubble landed between the two corpses, destroying the man's right half and the woman's left half.
The would-be world conqueror Dr. Hell stumbled upon the tomb. He sewed the two remaining halves together and then brought the composite being to life. The new being swore loyalty to Dr. Hell. Dubbing his creation Baron Ashura, Dr. Hell used him/her as his main henchman.
Ashura fatally wounded him/herself crashing his submarine Bood into Mazinger Z in a futile attempt to destroy the robot. Duke Gorgon saw the dying Baron on the sea surface and tried to save him/her. Baron Ashura died in the arms of his enemy, who finally acknowledged his/her bravery.
Chapters later Ashura was homaged with a mechanichal beast resembling his/her face.
Baron Ashura's appears again in the fist episodes of Mazinkaiser where Dr. Hell transforms him in a mechanical monster.
Baron Ashura is a sadistic and cruel creation with murderous impulses and genocidal lust. In the original manga, after a Mechanical Beast sinks a ship, Ashura surfaces his/her submarine and personally machineguns the survivors to death. In the anime, he/she confronts the Kabuto family's maid Rumi and murders her in cold-blood when she is unable to tell him where Juzo Kabuto is. On the other hand, Ashura is extremely loyal to Dr. Hell since he created him from the mummies of the tragic lovers, devoting himself/herself to help Hell to make his dreams of conquest come true.
While normally speaking in a simultaneous male/female voice, when shown from one of his sides Ashura will speak in a male or female voice, depending on which side of his/her face is shown. Ashura is also apparently an excellent disguise artist, fooling the entire Photonic Research Laboratory's staff (including Kouji) when impersonating Dr. Yumi.
- Dr. Hell (Dokutaa Herru): Ashura is extremely loyal to Dr. Hell and eventually sacrificed himself in a last ditch attempt to destroy Mazinger Z in an effort to redeem himself/herself in the Doctor's eyes. On the other hand, Dr. Hell treated Ashura very badly, punishing him/her repeatedly for his/her failures. Still, he was touched by Ashura's loyalty when he/she died, so he resolved to honour his servant by building a tomb over the flattened remains of the Photonic Research Institute. He also built the Jet Fire P1, a Mechanical Beast created in Ashura's likeness.
- Count Brocken: Ashura and Blocken had a fierce rivalry for Dr. Hell's favour, despising and backstabbing each other repeatedly. However, while witnessing Ashura's final battle against the hated Mazinger Blocken expressed respect for his rival's determination.
- Archduke Gorgon: Ashura distrusted and disliked Gorgon, and the feeling was mutual. Like Blocken, however, Gorgon was impressed by Ashura's courage and determination during his/her final battle with Mazinger Z and praised his demise in battle.
- Kouji Kabuto: Ashura hated Kouji and Mazinger Z for being the only ones to stand in Dr. Hell's way. Likewise, Kouji hated Ashura with a passion and held him responsible for the death of his grandfather. After Ashura's death, Kouji was greatly relieved as he had avenged his grandfather and robbed Dr. Hell of his right hand.
While not a pilot himself, Ashura has commanded Dr. Hell's Salude and Bood submarines. In addition, in the Mazinkaiser OVA he piloted the captured Mazinger Z (renamed Ashura Mazinger after modifications by Dr. Hell) and nearly destroyed the Photonic Research Institute before the arrival of Mazinkaiser. Towards the end of the OVA, Ashura is built into a gigantic mechanical beast called Hell King Gordon (several times larger than Mazinkaiser itself). In this form, Ashura provided the only true challenge to Mazinkaiser and managed to damage the powerful Super Robot, a feat even the Great General of Darkness was unable to duplicate when he faced Mazinkaiser.
He/she also is appointed as the pilot of Dayma U5 by Dr. Hell in chapter 27 of the Mazinger Z TV series.
Veteran seiyuu Hidekatsu Shibata voiced Baron Ashura's male side in both Mazinger Z and the Mazinkaiser OVA. His first wife and fellow seiyuu, Haruko Kitahama, voiced the female side in both Mazinger Z and Mazinkaiser.
In Tranzor Z, the American adaptation of Mazinger Z from 1984, Baron Ashura was called Devleen. Although acknowledged to be dual-sexed even in this somewhat Bowdlerized version (the narration described Devleen as "not just half-man/half-woman, but the worst of both" and his underlings addressed Devleen as "sir-ma'am"), the double voice actor gimmick was not carried over. Instead, Devleen spoke with a single high, nasally voice. The character was voiced by Gregg Berger in this dub, who also voiced Tommy (Kouji).
In the Latin American version Ashura is renamed as "Barón Ashler" but retains the voice gimmicks of the original. Also in the Arabic version he is renamed as "Mozdawij" or "The Double".
Ashura also appears in the Mazinger Angels manga. Notably, this time the character is represented by two separate individuals, a male and a female, instead of the classic merged character.