Who are Yasuke & Naoe, Assassin's Creed Shadows' black samurai and shinobi protagonists?

Who are Yasuke & Naoe, Assassin's Creed Shadows' black samurai and shinobi protagonists?
Images via Ubisoft

Written by 

Ben Williams


17th May 2024 09:42

Yasuke and Naoe being announced as part of Assassin's Creed Shadows has already started hype for the game with a pairing of a black, African-born samurai and shinobi as dual protagonists. 

Of course, the pairs' introduction sparks many questions as to who they are and they're connected to real-world history. Thankfully, this guide of mine will take you through all you need to know. 

Who is Assassin's Creed Shadow's black samurai?

As Assassin's Creed Shadows' black samurai protagonist, Yasuke is based on the real-life historical figure of the same name from the late-16th century of Japan's Sengoku period. This is an intriguing landmark for the AC series, letting you become a real-world figure as a playable protagonist for the first time.

Yasuke, the African black samurai in Assassin's Creed Shadows
Click to enlarge

As Ubisoft stated in their announcement post for the game, since Yasuke's story was "open-ended", this has allowed AC Shadows to be creative in how the game's narrative plays out.

Yasuke's history

Yasuke arrived in Japan in 1579 serving as a bodyguard for Italian Jesuit missionary, Alessandro Valignano. Although sources like African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan theorise he was enslaved and trafficked as a child, his life and even name before Japan has never been confirmed. 

After meeting and impressing Oda Nobunaga, a daimyo (great lord) who became the most powerful man in Japan after overthrowing the shogun, Yasuke was given his name and given the position of his retainer and vassal. 

Although Yasuke understood little Japanese, Nobunaga loved talking with him. Due to his strength and abilities, the Nobunaga even protected him to the point where locals believed he'd be made a tono - a samurai lord or master - himself.

Despite Yasuke serving Nobunaga well over the years, accompanying him across the final months of his unification campaign in 1582, everything soon fell apart. Nobunaga was betrayed and defeated by Akechi Mitsuhide, one of his generals, who ambushed his entourage with thousands of troops. 

Nobunaga later committed seppuku (suicide by disembowelling). Then, Yasuke went to find Nobunaga's son, Nobuada, before fighting and being taken prisoner by Akechi's forces.

After being taken to a Nanban-ji (Christian base) to have his wounds seen to by Jesuit missionaries, Yasuke's life afterwards is unknown. The only hint was confirmation by Portuguese missionary, Luís Fróis, stating that he did not die, but the rest is a mystery. 

Who is Fujibayashi Naoe in AC Shadows?

The shinobi protagonist of Assassin's Creed Shadows, Naoe herself isn't based on a historic figure but is instead the fictional daughter of real-life shinobi, Fujibayashi Nagato. In actual history, Nagato only ever had a son. 

As her home province of Iga gets entangled in Nobunaga's aforementioned unification campaign, Naoe seems to clash with Yasuke, at least to start, due to them being on opposite sides. As pointed out by Ubisoft, this will supposedly provide interesting dual perspectives on the conflict of the late Sengoku period. 

Naoe Fujibayashi in Assassin's Creed Shadows
Click to enlarge

However, as we've seen in the game's announcement trailer, events seem to lead to both Yasuke and Naoe working together - supposedly in the name of the Assassin's brotherhood.

Letting players take control of a samurai and shinobi respectively, having Yasuke and Naoe as dual protagonists promises to add some unique variety to the gameplay - alongside an alternate fictional look into the history of that time in history.

Sign Up To Our Newsletter

Get exclusive news, content, and discounts sent directly to your inbox

You've joined our newsletter. Thank you!
Sorry, there has been an issue in subscribing to the newsletter.

For more, check out everything in Assassin's Creed Shadows' Collector's Edition, if the game will be on PS4, how big the map will be, and the best AC games ranked from worst to best.

Alternatively, dive into our Assassin's Creed Shadows guides & news homepage for even more updates and essentials right here at GGRecon.

Ben Williams
About the author
Ben Williams
Ben is a Senior Guides Writer at GGRecon. Alongside his BA (Hons) in Business Management is a wealth of gaming and entertainment writing experience, having previously occupied roles as a Copywriter in e-commerce at Overclockers and Guides & SEO Writer at GameByte and FragHero. When not whipping up guides and reviews, Ben’ll be off playing the latest Pokemon games, Overwatch 2, Spider-Man, The Witcher, and Final Fantasy - all before reading manga and listening to Ice Nine Kills.
Assassin's Creed Shadows Collector's Edition contents & pre-order bonuses explained
How big will the Assassin's Creed Shadows map be?
When is Assassin's Creed Shadows set?
6 best games like Assassin’s Creed to play in 2024, from Spider-Man to Sekiro
How to access & complete 'River Exe' quests in Assassin's Creed Valhalla