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The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character
Ryuko Orsono
Bushido
of the Teen Titans

Ryuko Orsono, the superhero known as "Bushido," first appeared in Titans Annual #1 (2000). The character was created by writer Geoff Johns and artist Ben Raab.

Bushio is Japanese for "the way of the warrior." Bushido was the traditional philosophical system and code of ethics of the Samurai class in feudal Japan. Bushido is not traditionally classified as a "religion," but some rare Japanese individuals develop an interest in and committment to Bushido to such an extent that it becomes their religion. For Ryuko Orsono, Bushido was indeed his religion. In this, Ryuko Orsono is similar to some other notable followers of Bushido, including Kenuichio Harada (the Silver Samurai), Japanese author Yukio Mishima, and (to a certain extent) Hiro Nakamura of the TV series Heroes.

It should be noted that Ryuko Orsono's religious affiliation is classified as "Bushido" because of who he was, what he believed, and the path he chose to follow. His religion is not classified as "Bushido" purely because of his codename (although this is a strong indicator of what is important to him). Many superheroes have codenames which are associated with specific religious groups, but they themselves are not classified as adherents of the group. For example, the Young Avenger known as "Wiccan" is not actually a Wiccan with regards to religious affiliation (he is a Reform Jew). Also, the Detroit-era Justice League member "Gypsy" is not actually a Gypsy or adherent of Roma culture (and she is not classified as such).

From: "Bushido" webpage on "Titans Tower" website (http://www.titanstower.com/source/whoswho/bushido.html; viewed 28 May 2007):

Bushido Quick Bio: Japanese teenager Ryuko Orsono became the proud Bushido warrior upon his mother's death - fulfilling a long family line of honorable heroes. Bushido briefly joined the short-lived Titans L.A. Branch before his death during the Infinite Crisis.

The Myth
By the 12th century, local armed forces had developed into a distinct warrior class (bushi, or samurai), completely overshadowing the military strength of the imperial government. After the 16th century, a customary ethical code called bushido was developed. It is this code by which the samurai was bound to accept death in battle rather than flee or surrender. The code emphasized personal honesty, reverence and respect for parents, willingness to sacrifice oneself for family honor, consideration for the feelings of others, indifference to pain, loyalty to one's superiors, and unquestioning obedience to duty in the face of any hardship or danger.

According to Japanese authorities, the Bushido have protected The Land of the Rising Sun for generations; recorded history only dates to WW II when that generation's Bushido allegedly died in the Hiroshima blast, although oral history dates back hundreds of years.

The Hero
Ryuko's mother was Bushido before him. Ryuko's father died while he was still a young boy. As a child, Ryuko didn't pay much attention to his mother's teachings. When she was killed by the demon, Tengu, her last word to Ryuko was 'continue.' It was upon her death that his real education began. On that day, Ryuko assumed the legacy of Bushido. (see below for more on the Tengu).

Like his ancestors before him, Ryuko Orsono is devoted to the preservation of peace and the execution of justice, whatever the cost. As Japan's hero, Bushido battled everything from gangsters to evil supernatural forces. In particular, he wanted revenge against the Tengu, who killed his mother. His search for Tengu eventually brought him into conflict with the Titans...

Gar [Beast Boy] finally agreed to have the team re-form, and Titans West was re-dubbed Titans L.A. Titans LA members included Beast Boy, Flamebird, Herald, Bumblebee, Terra, Hero Cruz, and Captain Marvel Jr. Meanwhile, Bushido had recently left his native Japan and come to America in order to learn from the Titans how to promote peace without bloodshed. Locating Beast Boy, he elected to join Titans LA and hoped to learn the ways of peace...

When Superboy from Earth Prime ran amok during the Infinite Crisis, Superboy called on his Titans allies to subdue his Kryptonian doppelganger. The misguided Superboy-Prime inadvertently slaughtered Bushido, Pantha and Baby Wildebeest...

Powers/Weapons
The weapons wielded by Bushido tend to be of an older variety, including a nagin ata and jittei, the main weapons used by the last two Bushido (one of whom is the only female Bushido on record).

Ryuko is a reluctant killer, but a killer nonetheless. The sanctity of life is paramount in his philosophy, a paradox that challenges him every time he dons his ancient arsenal. The weapons he carries trace back several generations, from his mother's nagin ata to the very first Bushido's 1Oth -century kama yari. Other weapons in his arsenal include the hachiwara, the flintlock pistol, and the shuriken. Each weapon is imbued with the soul of the warrior who wielded it - and these spirits guide Ryuko in battle. How their souls were bound to these weapons is a mystery lost centuries ago.

Sources for this entry: Titans Annual #1 [1999], DC Secret Files, supplemented by titanstower.com

What is Bushido?
This term refers to the moral code principals that developed among the samurai (military) class of Japan, on a basis of national tradition influenced by Zen and Confucianism. The first use of the term apparently occurred during the civil war period of the 16th century; its precise content varied historically as samurai standards evolved. Its one unchanging ideal was martial spirit, including athletic and military skills as well as fearless facing of the enemy in battle. Frugal living, kindness and honesty were also highly regarded. Like Confucianism, Bushido required filial piety; but, originating in the feudal system, it also held that supreme honor was to serve one's lord unto death. If these obligations conflicted, the samurai was bound by loyalty to his lord despite the suffering he might cause to his parents.

The final rationalization of Bushido thought occurred during the Tokugawa period (17th century ff.), when Yamaga Soko (1622-85) equated the samurai with the Confucian "superior man" and taught that his essential function was to exemplify virtue to the lower classes. Without disregarding the basic Confucian virtue, benevolence, Soko emphasized the second virtue, righteousness, which he interpreted as "obligation" or "duty".

This strict code of honor, affecting matters of life and death, demanded conscious choice and so fostered individual initiative while yet reasserting the obligations of loyalty and filial piety. Obedience to authority was stressed, but duty came first even if it entailed violation of statue law. In such an instance, the true samurai would prove his sincerity and expiate his crime against the government by subsequently taking his own life.

By mid-19th century, Bushido standards had become the general ideal, and the legal abolition of the samurai class in 1871 made Bushido even more the property of the entire nation. In the public educational system, with the emperor replacing the feudal lord as the object of loyalty and sacrifice, Bushido became the foundation of ethical training. As such, it contributed both to the rise of Japanese nationalism and to the strengthening of wartime civilian morale up to 1945.

From: "Bushido (comics)" page on Wikipedia.org website (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bushido_%28comics%29; viewed 28 May 2007):

Bushido is the name of a DC Comics superhero and was a short-lived member of the Teen Titans.

Ryuku Orsono was a Japanese teenager who became a bushidoka upon his mother's death which fulfilled a long family line of honorary heroes. He did join the short lived Titans L.A. before its dissolution.

Bushido was killed in Infinite Crisis #4, his body blasted in half by a rampaging Superboy-Prime.

Bushido appeared in Season 5 of [the animated TV series] Teen Titans [in the episode] "Calling All Titans" as a silent young samurai, where he meets Robin and becomes a honorary Titan. His only power appears to be his superior sword-fighting skills. Shortly after, Bushido is ambushed by Katarou. Although extremely skilled, he is unable to defeat Katarou, and is flash-frozen with many other Titans. When Mas frees Menos, they are able to unfreeze all of the Titans. Bushido then joins the fight and cuts Atlas's left leg off as well as kicking Katarou square in the face.

Discussion

From: "Religions of super heroes" forum discussion page started 14 August 2006 on "Wizard Universe" website (http://wizarduniverse.invisionzone.com/lofiversion/index.php/t1595.html; viewed 28 May 2007):

MatchesMalone
Aug 15 2006, 04:32 PM

I dispute the fact that Bushido's (Ryuko Orsono) religion is Bushido. Most people who practice Bushido are either Buddhists or Shintoists. Bushido's not a religion.


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