Shouyou is the last split personality developed by Utsuro, a human who became immortal thanks to the high amount of Altana within his body. For five hundred years, Utsuro became a government assassin, forming a trained assassin group known as Tenshouin Naraku and lead them with his other bloodthirsty personalities. Utsuro's original personality started to resist the way his other selves continued to slaughter and it resulted in the accidental creation of Shouyou, who was able to suppress the other personas, becoming the one in control. During an assassination of a household, Shouyou comes across a dying slave child and heals him using his blood. The child, Oboro, stays with Shouyou in gratitude despite the Naraku leader's warnings that he may end up being trained with the Naraku. Shouyou reveals to him that he has become wary of all the killing and death and wishes to open his own school to teach children, asking Oboro to become his first student.
Shouyou is able to defect from the group and Oboro later flees with him. While camping, Shouyou suggests the name Shouka Sonjuku for his new school and again asks that Oboro becomes his first disciple. Later in the night, Oboro finds Naraku assassins near their position and uses himself as bait to draw them away from Shouyou. He also springs a trap, set by the man, that kills Oboro along with some of the assassins, while Shouyou watches on. Devastated, Shouyou escapes and for a while wanders around Japan. He hears rumors of a "corpse-eating demon" within battlefields and encounters a child named Gintoki. Seeing the similarities between himself and Gintoki, Shouyou decides to take him in and train him, giving Gintoki his sword. The two wander around the country until settling down and opening the school near a village where the young Takasugi and Katsura live.
They gain many young, mostly poor, students and they also receive both Takasugi and Katsura, who became disillusioned with their own school discipline and gravitated towards Shouyou's philosophy, trying to find one's own ideals while struggling against themselves. A few years later, the Naraku arrive to arrest him and despite Gintoki's best efforts, Shouyou leaves without resistance and the school is burned down. Before leaving, he asks Gintoki to protect his fellow students for him. Unknown to the students, Shouyou was arrested for defecting from the Naraku, while they believed that it was a wrongful arrest for teaching "dissent" to the students. Unknown to Shouyou, the person who revealed his location was Oboro, who somehow survived thanks to Shouyou's immortal blood and trained with the Naraku to distract them from finding the ex-leader. Oboro happened to walk past Shouyou, Takasugi, Katsura, and Gintoki when they left the school and grew jealous of the happy atmosphere, wanting his teacher back.
The students decide to join the ongoing Joui Wars to save their teacher, inadvertently prolonging the war for a while. In jail, Shouyou teaches his jailer, Mukuro, while Oboro looks on in displeasure. During a battle, the surviving students are massacred and Gintoki, Katsura, and Takasugi are captured. The Tendoushuu decide to execute him by first showing him the bodies of his dead students and forcing his "first" disciple, Gintoki, to choose between killing him or killing Takasugi and Katsura. At the same time, Shouyou's original personality breaks free and decides to kill off his other personalities and leaves Shouyou for last, convinced that they will continue to suffer and decides to take matters into his own hands to end everything. Instead of seeing his impending death to Utsuro, he thanks Gintoki for keeping his promise to protect their friends with a smile. And he is killed figuratively and literally by Utsuro and Gintoki respectively.
Gintoki, Takasugi and Katsura are left to wallow in despair for their failure along with Shouyou's head. They bury the head and their comrade's bodies and went their separate ways. At the same time, Shouyou's body is burned by the Naraku until they see him revive in front of them, head regrown and body burnt-free. But the body now permanently belongs to the original personality, Utsuro.
Throughout the series, Yoshida Shouyou was shown to have great influences on Gintoki, Katsura and Takasugi. Shouyou is widely seen to be an impactful philosophical preacher, affecting even fierce brutes like Gintoki and Mukuro. His teachings were so important to both Katsura and Takasugi that they still carry the textbooks with them as adults, with the books ironically saving both of them later. While Gintoki claimed to have spilled ramen over the book and threw it away, it is evident that he keeps his respect and gratitude to Shouyou in heart.
Moreover, his death had greatly affected his three students. After the Joui War, Takasugi became willing to destroy the world, seeing his teacher's death as a proof of the world being unbearably corrupted. Katsura also shared the desire to destroy the world too, but due to re-meeting Gintoki, realized that there were many people he cherished and wanted to protect; in doing so, he believed that there would be a way to change Edo that would not sacrifice many lives, saying that was what Shouyou would have hoped for if he was still alive.
As for Gintoki, he was said by Katsura to have taken the death of Shouyou the hardest because of Gintoki's actions. Greatly respecting Shoyo, he believed that Jiraia's cowardice and his attitude towards Tsukuyo had dishonoured the titles of a mentor and teacher during the Red Spider arc. In addition, Gintoki had also shown a dark side, in which he wants to slay anyone related to his teacher's death.
After Utsuro's defeat in the Silver Soul Arc, he was reborn as a baby. Gintoki took care of the baby and watched him grow rapidly into a young boy. After saving the boy's life, the boy reveals that he has memories of his past lives, especially his life as Shouyou. While chased by the Naraku and to prevent Utsuro's resurrections, young Shouyou carves out his heart and entrusts it to Gintoki. His body, in a comatose state, was taken back by the Naraku and stored for research purposes.
His body was taken by the Seibouists, a cult which believes in Utsuro and immortality. He was attached to a machine on the terminal in order to restore his adult body and reawaken him through giving him an artificial heart of altana. During the raid on the terminal, Shoyo's young body immediately matured. Eventually, he awoke with a member of the Tendoshuu waiting for him. Distraught, he killed the Tendoshuu and found a weakened Takasugi begging to come with him to live in the province peacefully. He came close to Takasugi, held his shoulder and said that he was sorry because he can no longer be Shoyo. In a sudden turn of events, Takasugi's body gets controlled by Utsuro, and he attempts to stab Shoyo. The attempt fails as Takasugi, with Oboro's help regain control. Shoyo gets to flee and meets up with Shinpachi and Kagura. He had a short conversation with Shinpachi about how he brought nothing but pain and suffering to his students, to which Shinpachi replies that they're all grateful to him for making Sakata Gintoki the man he is, in turn becoming a part of their lives. They reach a central core of the terminal where he decided to sacrifice himself so that he can 'cancel out' the overflowing Altana. He makes a last call to Katsura, entrusting the safe evacuation of all those in the building to him. At the very last moment Gintoki makes it in time to be reunited with his teacher and the Yorozuya, before Shoyo disintegrated into the Altana.
Shouyou's appearance is very similar to that of Katsura. He has long light brown-grey hair and green eyes. He also wears a grey robe and a haori. He is often seen with a gentle smile on his face.
A kind and gentle man, Shouyou was the kind of man who remained in his students' memories long after he died. Well known for his ways, he always extended his hand to children and possibly adults: Gintoki was outwardly adopted by him and the poor children who attended his school were always welcomed for free. He supplied his own books and even was shown teaching Imai Nobume his lessons despite the fact that they were prisoner and captor. When Takasugi and Katsura started coming to his school, he wasn't fazed at all, even welcoming Takasugi despite his eagerness to defeat everyone there in Kendo and even treated him just like Gintoki. Noticeably, Gintoki was allowed to sleep during lessons and Shouyou didn't ever seem to mind, and when Katsura attempted to defuse a situation by making rice balls for everyone, Shouyou ate several and assisted in calming Takasugi and Gintoki.
But like all Gintama characters, Shouyou has a peculiar trait: being capable of knocking people literally into the ground with a single tap on their heads. He always uses this technique when berating or warning his students when they go out of their way to do something for him (like attacking the government officials looking for him, or when Gintoki attempted to save his future friends from bullies), always saying with it "You're a 100 years too early for [current situation]".
In all aspects, it was clear to see why Gintoki and Takasugi went the paths they went on after Shouyou's death: Gintoki had lost his father figure and Takasugi lost the only person who could understand him.
As he was revealed to be Utsuro's good personality, Shouyou had a strong willpower to control Utsuro's body and suppressed his other personas so he can try his best to redeem himself for a greater good.
His influence was such, that during the Silver Soul Arc, the main antagonist, Shouyou's original personality, Utsuro, hesitated when he saw the perseverance of the humans he hated including the human that Shouyou placed his hope in, as if the teacher himself was holding the immortal in place for the final blow. This didn't kill Utsuro but made him acknowledge them. Even later when Utsuro reincarnated with a new personality, hearing Shouyou's name and seeing Gintoki was enough for the new personality to focus more on Shouyou's memories then any other, whereas Utsuro begin to possess Takasugi’s body at time of Shouyou’s revival.
Strength & Abilities
Since Shouyou and Utsuro share the same body, all of Utsuro's abilities Shouyou knows as well.
- Physical Strength: According to a flashback, Shouyou was shown to have great physical strength. In his first meeting with Katsura and Takasugi, he defeated a gang by a simple knock on their head, and his knock on Gintoki, Katsura and Takasugi's head is enough to plant them in the ground.
- Master Swordsman: Gintoki, who had never lost a match (no matter his opponent being children or adults)before meeting Shouyou, had never once been able to win a fight against Shouyou.
- Charisma: Shown to be fun-loving and kind, this behavior was the reason young, poor children joined his school, how Gintoki joined him, how Oboro looked up to him and how Takasugi and Katsura abandoned their prestigious school to join his.
- Sakata Gintoki: Shouyou was the one who found Gintoki at a battlefield and offered him a stable life. He then proceeded to open a school in his home, making the boy his first student. Gintoki deeply respects him, to an extent that he gets furious if someone dishonors the name of being a master. According to Katsura, Gintoki took Shouyou's death the hardest, and it still haunts him up to now. Although he treasures his teacher's lessons, Gintoki claimed to have thrown away Shouyou's sword and his textbook when he stained it with ramen. This possibly means that he does not need material items to remember Shouyou and his lessons. In addition, Gintoki also honors a promise between them when Shouyou was arrested, in which he promised to protect what Shouyou left behind, which he still does at present, even though it meant that he had to execute Shouyou to save his comrades. As a result, although he controls himself, Gintoki has showed a dark side in which he wants to slay those who were related to the death of his teacher. Shinpachi notes to Shouyou that the latter himself being the one who give Gintoki a self-purpose to live, and both Gintoki and his newfound friends wanted to return their indebted favors to Shouyou. Although not biologically related, their relationship heavily resembles that of a father and son.
- Takasugi Shinsuke: Having grown bored of his current education, Takasugi followed Shouyou after visiting his school and defending it with Katsura and Gintoki, even if it meant that he would be disowned by his family. He greatly respects his teacher, to a point of carrying his book along as an adult. After the death of Shouyou, Takasugi sought to destroy what Shouyou left behind, believing that his death was a proof of the world being too corrupted.
- Katsura Kotarou: Like Takasugi, Katsura was sick with his current pressure-free education and followed Shouyou after visiting his school and defending it with Takasugi and Gintoki. He greatly respect his teacher, to a point of carrying his book along as an adult. After the death of Shouyou, Katsura initially wanted to change the nation by destroying the Bakufu but now he looks for a peaceful method without any unnecessary sacrifices, believing that was what Shouyou intended.
- Imai Nobume: When she was with the Naraku, she was Shouyou's jailer. He taught her during his incarceration and it is this influence that will later make her turn against the assassin group. It is unknown how she learned about Shouyou and some of the history surrounding him.
- Oboro: Oboro is revealed to be his very first disciple. When a young Oboro was mortally wounded by the Naraku, Shouyou (who was the leader of the assassins at the time) gave Oboro his blood, saving him. Oboro became his servant and the final push Shouyou needed to defect from the Naraku. The duo flee and made plans to create a new school but with the Naraku chasing them, Oboro sacrificed himself so Shouyou can be free, yet unbeknownst to either, Shouyou's blood had kept Oboro alive. Oboro made it his mission to distract the assassins by joining them, becoming one of the strongest. But when Oboro encountered Shouyou again after the immortal had established the school, filled with jealousy and longing, Oboro revealed Shouyou's location wanting his teacher back. He spends the rest of his life atoning for betraying his master and being too weak to save him by staying with Shouyou's new persona, Utsuro.
- Utsuro: Shouyou was the first personality that wasn't bloodthirsty and is implied to be the personification of the other personas' will to atone for their centuries of sin. Shouyou himself was aware that there was the existence of another stronger personality, the original, who ultimately became the personification of the personas' nihilism and death wish. He made sure that his school, Souka Sonjuku, created a new hope for the future with his biggest hope, Gintoki, protecting it.
- Shimura Shinpachi: As the original persona Utsuro left the original body, Shouyou was helped by the Yorozuya during the final battle in Edo Terminal. Despite his original personality causing so much tragedy to them, Shinpachi supported him when escaping the falling Terminal, mentioning how his encounter with Gintoki had changed himself for the better and was grateful towards Shouyou for raising Gintoki in return.
- Based on Yoshida Shōin (吉田松陰), who once became the teacher of Takasugi Shinsaku and others. Shoin began to study tactics when he was 5, attended college when he was 8, and even taught in college when he was 9. At one point, Shoin was sent to a jail and sentenced to house arrest. He ran a school in jail, and after being released he taught the youth about military arts and politics. Afterwards, his students traveled around Japan in his place as he was forbidden to.
- The name of Shouyou's school, Shouka Sonjuku, is also the name of the historical Shoin's school.
- His first name, Shouyou, means "pine trees in the sunlight," whereas his last name, Yoshida, means "lucky field."
- "100 years too early" quote is based on the Akira Yuki's "10 years too early" quote from Virtua Fighter. Ironically, Sakamoto Tatsuma's Japanese voice actor has been known voicing Akira Yuki since the second game.
- His physical appearance is similar to Katsura.
- His voice actor is Kōichi Yamadera in the Gintama Live Action Movie.
- (To Sakata Gintoki) Our comrades, everyone, please take care of them for me, okay? Let's make it a promise.
- (To Sakata Gintoki) You will no longer swing your sword to defeat your enemies nor will you use it to protect your body. From now on you will swing your sword to protect your very soul.
- (To Sakata Gintoki) Those who called themselves samurai must not take half-measured. It is inexcusable to use superior numbers to bully people.
- (To Takasugi Shinsuke) If they each carry their own bushido in their hearts, they can each become their own samurai.
- (To Takasugi Shinsuke) All a victor receives is a sense of self-satisfaction and conceit. As the loser, you won something far more meaningful.
- (To Takasugi Shinsuke) But thats alright. Doubt yourself, lose your way and become the kind of samurai you want to be..
- I don't mind you spreading whatever rumors you want about me. If I'm being an eyesore, then I'll be on my way somewhere else... However, if you point your swords at my students, then I wouldn't mind overthrowing something like a government.
- (Last words to Sakata Gintoki) Thank you.