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Yasunori Katō (加藤 保憲 Katō Yasunori?) is the fictional antagonist of the Japanese fantasy/historical fiction series Teito Monogatari (Hiroshi Aramata).

Origin

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Katō is an evil Onmyoji who was supposedly crafted from the resentful souls of the ancient mystics who lived during the Heian era. In the original novel, Katō is supposed to be a reincarnation of Taira no Masakado himself, who (in the story) had cursed the city of Edo just before his death. Katō is the result of that curse but he is completely unaware of it—he believes that his destiny is to awaken Masakado's vengeful spirit to destroy Tokyo, when in fact HE is the incarnation of that angry spirit carrying out the action of Tokyo's destruction. Thus, he's an incarnation of Masakado's hatred for Edo joined with the power of the deceased Onmyoji from the Heian era, making him a nearly indomitable fusion of extremely powerful supernatural forces. Later on in the story, his power is also associated with Yama, the God of Death in contrast with his opponent, the shrine maiden Keiko Tatsumiya, who embodies the power of Kwannon the Goddess of Mercy.

Powers and abilities

This dark sorcerer is possessed of enormous versitude in the art of Onmyodo, using his incredible powers to confound and almost destroy the entire Tsuchimikado Clan (descendents of Abe no Seimei, who is the most skilled and proficient Onmyoji in Japanese legend) in a single night. On the backs of his white gloves are red inscriptions of the Doman Seiman, the magic symbol associated with Abe no Seimei. He extensively employs black shikigami inscribed with the Doman Seiman against his opponents. He is also a conjurer with the ability to summon evil yokai to do his bidding (such as the stomach worm he uses on Yukari Tatsumiya).

In the original novels, Katō is portrayed differently than in the films or the anime. Being revived in the form a trained imperial officer, he is skilled in the use of a katana (a trait which, ironically enough, would become associated with Washizaki, a character from the Riki-Oh manga whose design was influenced by the 1988 film version of Katō). Katō is also incredibly proficient in the art of using kodoku (worm toxins) to control and manipulate his victims. He also can shape shift when necessary in order to commune with other officials of Japan (especially powerful executives in the Japanese military). He uses his shape shifting abilities to become a Self Defense officer in order to manipulate the young Yukio Mishima.

Katō also possesses super-human physiology and bears no distinguishable mortal weaknesses (unlike his English counterpart, Dracula). In the cinematic adaptations, he has survived being dismembered, run through with a sword, having a hole blown through his body by powerful magic, scorched by lightning, being impaled in head, shot with a revolver several times in succession, and even having his entire face blown apart. In all these cases, he is relatively unfazed by the experience and recovers extremely quickly. It could be inferred that since Katō is the result of Masakado's curse upon Tokyo, he will exist as long as the curse exists. Since the curse can only be appeased by the complete and conclusive destruction of Tokyo, Katō will exist as long as Tokyo exists or until the curse is purged or appeased in some other manner (such as through an act of self sacrifice--a solution utilized in Teito Monogatari Gaiden and Volume 8 of the main Teito Monogatari series). Thus, Katō's soul is inextricably bound to the fate of the city, and until the city is destroyed, Katō's soul will never find rest.

Film versions of Teito Monogatari

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In every film version of Teito Monogatari that has ever come to the screen, Katō has always been portrayed by the Japanese stage actor Kyasaku Shimada. Both the anime Doomed Megalopolis and the live-action movie Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis share the same story following Katō's creation and his initial attempts to destroy Tokyo by awakening the spirit of Taira no Masakado and disturbing the Underground Dragon. The film Teito Taisen, a live action adaptation of the ending sections of Teito Monogatari, displays Katō's resurrection in 1945 and his subsequent demise at the hands of a young, psychic apprentice of the Onmyoji. His disembodied spirit returns (meaning Kyasaku Shimada did not portray him) in a third live action movie, Teito Monogatari Gaiden, wherein he possesses the body of a mental hospital nurse during 1995.

Trivia

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  • Katō has also been compared to Dracula in many cases, with the plot of Teito Monogatari being a Japanese retelling of the famous horror story.[1]
  • Katō also makes an appearance as the main villain of the movie The Great Yokai War (2005). Hiroshi Aramata was one of the screenplay writers as well as the author of the novelization of the film.[2]

There are obvious aesthetic similarities between the two characters as well as identical abilities bestowed unto them (teleportation, bodily possession, flight, telekinesis, telepathy, etc.) and Bison's character portrait from Street Fighter II is very similar to Yasunori Katō's (as portrayed Kyūsaku Shimada) portrait from Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis.[4] Anthony Romero, a writer at Toho Kingdom claimed in his review for Tokyo: The Last Megalopolis that Katō's design in that film "would undoubtedly become the inspiration behind the later M. Bison (or Vega in Japan) in Capcom's Street Fighter series..."[5].

  • In the second episode of Takara's Brave Series anime Yuusha Keisatsu J-Decker, a character parodying Katō, with the given name "Noriyasu" (which is an anagram of Yasunori) appears, dressing in a similar manner, and possessing similar powers. In sharp contrast, however, this Katō is presented mostly as a bungling fool, even forgetting the words to his own spells.

In the Manga, Anime Onepiece Shinryu of the Rain, A jailer in the Series is modeled after Kato

References

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  2. "Yokai Daisenso" Novel. Flicker.jp Books. Retrieved on 2009-5-28.
  3. Japanese Wiki Article on Vega. Retrieved on 2009-6-01.
  4. Comparison between Vega's Image and Kyūsaku Shimada's Portrait (at the bottom of the page). Retrieved on 2009-6-01.
  5. Review Anthony Romero, Toho Kingdom, September 22, 2006

Sources

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