Lesson 563, titled Runaway Kotarou, is the 563st chapter of the Gintama series.
In a Joui War flashback, a group of soldiers around a campfire discuss who they believe to be the strongest of the Four Heavenly Kings. They conclude that it is a toss-up between Gintoki and Takasugi (Sakamoto is noticeably disqualified due to their belief that no one is above his greed and obnoxiousness). Yet when Katsura is brought up, they admit that he was a good mediator with the Kings and a good general overall. But because Katsura's style of fighting is more cautious and defensive compared to both Gintoki's bold attacks and Takasugi's tactical savvy, he had been cynically nicknamed "Runaway Kotarou", a coward who let the others take all the glory. Sakamoto (who was there unnoticed the entire time and was the one who put his own name in the discussion) admonishes them, telling the soldiers that Katsura's greatest skill was making sure their army is able to minimize their losses and to retreat and regroup. Yet with the men's apprehension, Sakamoto decides to tell them a little bit of Katsura's past.
Katsura's parents died of an illness; as a result, he and his elderly grandmother were thrown out into the streets when their home was seized. His grandmother was the one to teach him about becoming the cowardly, cautious, survivalist general, in order to continue living. After his grandmother died, Katsura became the sole head of the family, placing on the mask of a 'coward' and gaining a reputation of being clever. He ends up being adopted yet living a separate lonely life. Young Katsura decides to learn and train with his new friends at Shouyou's school so he can become a strong coward to protect his friends. Sakamoto tells the soldiers that despite the 'mocking' nickname, when either another 'general' takes his burden for him or when he must risk his life against a stronger opponent, this is when he will discard that 'coward' mask.
During a particular day at Shouyou's dojo, child Gintoki lazily calls Katsura 'Zura', asking him for a match. Young Takasugi mockingly states that a general like Katsura can't get involved in private battles like this. Gintoki naively decides that he and Takasugi can take Katusra's place as the 'general' so Katsura can do whatever he wants. Secretly surprised and grateful, Katsura asks for them to fight him to see who has what it takes being a general.
Back in the present, Shoukaku states his surprise that Katsura decided to stand and fight instead of fleeing with the others. The patriot responds that he can't run in this case so he's resolved to fight. The two men fight evenly until Katsura attacks the monkey's neck. Shoukaku catches and cracks Katsura's sword with his teeth, slamming his pole into Katsura's stomach and to a building's roof. The Harusame captain slams Katsura through said building, destroying it in the process. Shoukaku commends the human for his prowess yet is stunned to see that Katsura survived, holding onto the pole. He hits Shoukaku in the stomach with said pole, stating a reverse of his catchphrase.
- Sakata Gintoki (flashback)
- Takasugi Shinsuke (flashback)
- Sakamoto Tatsuma (flashback)
- Katsura Kotarou
- Neptune Shoukaku
- Sakamoto: In a war, fighting a losing battle is much harder than fighting a winning battle. Unless ya know when ta retreat and how to minimize yer losses, ya won't be able ta regroup. Rather than the kind of war when you're attacking the enemy, the part of the war with no glory where you're just protecting your comrades is the kind of war Zura is always shouldering.
- Katsura's Grandmother: For a general that leads an army, what do you think is the most important quality? No matter how mighty a warrior he is, and no matter cleverly he can use his soldiers, if the general's head is taken, the war ends in his loss. If you die, your cannot protect your soldiers, your country, or anyone at all. Therefore, a general must be the most cowardly person on the battlefield. Being more fearful than anyone else, more cautious than anyone else, and surviving is the job of the general.
- Child Katsura: Being a general is tough. Even if you live alone constantly running from all sorts of danger, you cannot run away from loneliness. You can't get through the night just by being a coward. So I will become a samurai that is both more cowardly and stronger that anyone else. And I won't do it alone. I want to become a strong enough coward to be able to protect comrades to make it through the night with.
- Child Gintoki: I'll become the "general" guy in your place.... Because you're a general or whatever you can't just do whatever you want. So I'll be your general. So when I'm around, you just be Zura.
- Katsura: It's not Katsura, it's Zura!!!
- This chapter not only delves into Katsura's past for the first time, but it also reveals how he received the nickname 'Zura' and his "It's not Zura, It's Katsura!" catchphrase.