is a Japan manga series created by Yū Koyama in 1994. It was published by Shogakukan and serialized in Big Comic Superior, later adapted to two film, a video game and a stage play. It received an Excellence Prize at the 1997 Japan Media Arts Festival and the Shogakukan Manga Award in 1998.
The story concerns the title character, a young woman brought up as part of a team of assassins, charged with killing the warlord that threaten the peace in Feudal Japan with an agenda of war and bloodshed.
Azumi focuses upon the life of the female assassin Azumi. The manga begins an indeterminate number of years after the Battle of Sekigahara, but as the Azumi begins her assassination missions, the manga introduces the characters into mainstream history. Many of the early missions that Azumi undertakes are the assassinations of the prominent supporters and generals of the Toyotomi Clan, against whom Tokugawa Ieyasu expected to again go to war. The manga 'reveals' that many of the Toyotomi leaders who conveniently died of diseases or accidents prior to the final confrontation between the Toyotomi and Tokugawa were actually victims of assassinations by Azumi and her comrades, thus indicating to the reader when the events were taking place.
Azumi is raised by an old man known as Jiji (Grandfather), whose name is later revealed to be Gensai Obata, as the only girl among ten students. They are secluded from the society in a tiny valley called Kiridani (Fog Valley) to such an extent that they do not know the difference between men and women, what a baby is, or customs like marriage. Early in the manga, as part of their training, Azumi and her comrades are ordered to go to Shimotani, a hidden community of ninja who became farmers, to learn the basics of ninjutsu. The manga sets a very chilling tone early on. The 10 erabareta senshi (chosen warriors), who are all young children (Azumi has her first period well after her first missions, so she appears to be somewhere between 10–12 years of age at the onset of the manga) are told by Jiji that they have completed their training. For their first mission, they are to form a pair with whomever among the 10 that they feel the closest. Azumi pairs with Nachi, and all others pair with their closest friends. Having formed the pairs, Jiji tells them their first mission is to kill their partner—whoever is too weak to kill their partner is too weak to fulfill their life's missions, and will not be allowed to survive. The ten children each fight their respective duels, and Azumi slays Nachi, an event which appears to deeply traumatize Azumi, but she hides her feelings, as do the others. Then, their second mission was to massacre all 53 residents of the peaceful ninja village, including their teacher, women and children, as they know of the group's existence. Azumi slays three men and four teenagers but is unable to kill a woman with baby, a task which one of her comrades quickly accomplishes for.
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