*****Spoilers for Chap 519 & 554 & 593 and 594 follow********
Yoshida Shouyou was amongs the seven personas created by Utsuro, a human who gained immortality due to the high amounts of concentrated Altana in his body. With his his high vitality and strength, he founded the Tenshouin Naraku, the covert ops squad that was loyal to the whatever government was in power at the time. For 500 years, Utsuro committed various acts of bloodshed and through various iterations of life, lead the Naraku through 30 different generations. After a long time, Utsuro decided to try and impart some good on the world after killing for so long, and defected from the Naraku during the Tokugawa reign. As a result, Yoshida Shouyou rebelled the Utsuros manage to resurfaced to the real world and completely took over Utsuro's body, especially able to save a young Oboro from death. It was after the burning of Shouyou's corpse that his immortality was made apparent to the other members of the Naraku. Curiously, he seemed to regain his original persona after this persona kills Shouyou on the inside, after killing the other six of his personas. He was taken away by the Tendoshuu after his revival, he offered to give his immortal blood to the Tendoshuu in exchange of power for destruction, thus becoming a member of the Tendoshuu.
According to Gintoki, Shouyou was (along with Gintoki himself) a drifter. Shoyo first met Gintoki in a deserted battlefield as a child searching for leftover food among corpses. Impressed by Gintoki's will to survive, he gave Gintoki his first lesson: a sword swung in self defense, while fearing others, should be thrown away. He threw his sword to Gintoki, offering to teach the child the proper way of using the sword. Attracted to Shouyou's words, the boy decided to follow him to his private school (named Shouka Sonjuku) where he taught poor children without charging them anything. Some time later, while looking for Gintoki, who had been slacking off, Shouyou saved Katsura Kotarou and Takasugi Shinsuke from being bullied by a group of their seniors.
After visiting Shouka Sonjuku for some time, the two boys grew bored with their current education. Upon hearing the rumors about the school and the government officials' attempt to destroy it, they defended the place with Gintoki, but Shouyou protected them and they decided to study under him since then. During that time, one of the lessons Shouyou taught them was that the sword should not be swung to cut down enemies and one's weakness, but to protect the holder's soul.
Shouyou was a popular teacher to the students until the Kansei Purge happened. He was found by Naraku, and was accused of creating gatherings that could create dissenters, thus leading to him being arrested by the Tendoshu. Gintoki, who was tied down, watched helplessly as Shouyou was taken away. While being taken away, Yoshida Shouyou left everything to Gintoki's care. He promised Gintoki that he would come back and he asked his student to protect his comrades before he returned.
*******Spoilers for Chapter 519 and beyond follow********Not long after his arrest, Gintoki, Katsura and Takasugi rose up as the last warriors of the Old Jouishishi and joined the Joui War, as a desperate attempt to rescue their teacher. Unfortunately, Shouyou was executed by Gintoki himself when he was forced by his enemies to choose between decapitating him or letting his fellow comrades be killed. Although Shouyou and him gave each other one last smile, with him being grateful that Gintoki kept his promise to protect everyone, this loss left them in despair and they were brutally left to face his decapitated head.
As his body burns, he was found standing up within the flames with a cold smile on his face, implying that he had returned to his original self as Utsuro. Since his head was given to his students, it was clear that he grew another head. In reality, inside his body, Shouyou's mind, along with other six Utsuros are destroyed by the original Utsuro, before resurfaced to the real world once again.
Throughout the series, Yoshida Shouyou was shown to have great influences on Gintoki, Katsura and Takasugi. His teaching was 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 claimed that he once shared the desire to destroy the world too, but 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.
Shouyou's appearance is very similar to that of Katsura. He has long brown-ish grey hair and grey eyes. He also wears a grey robe and a haori.
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, for all purposes, enemies. 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 Gin. Noticably, Gin 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 Gin.
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 year too early to [current situation]".
In all aspects, though, it's clear to see why Gin and Takasugi went the paths they went on after Shouyou's death: Gin had lost his father, and Takasugi lost the only person who could understand him.
As he was revealed to be Utsuro's good personality, Shouyou has a strong willpower to control Utsuro's body upon seeing the way of error for Utsuro and the other six personas had done, trying his best to redeem himself while using Utsuro's body for a greater good.
Strength & Abilities
- 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's head could break 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.
- 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 dishonours 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 curry. This possibly means that he does not need material items to remember Shouyou and his lessons. In addition, Gintoki also honours 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.
- Takasugi Shinsuke: Having grown bored of his current education, Takasugi followed Shouyou's tutor 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's tutor 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 Imai Nobume was a young girl, she was a jailer to Yoshida. While Yoshida awaited his execution, he taught her lessons from his jail. Additionally, she is the one who knows behind Shouyou's death and revival as Utsuro again, including his status as a good persona of Utsuro.
- Oboro: Oboro is revealed to be his very first disciple, by the time the young Oboro is about to die, Shouyou becomes sentient manage to take over Utsuro's body completely and saved Oboro under his wing. As Oboro joined Naraku, he saw his old master live happily with his three future Joui students, as Oboro wished to have a same way on always follows Shouyou's step and befriend with Gintoki, Katsura and Takasugi. However, it was too late, due the government orders on executing Shouyou, and regretfully for reviving Utsuro return to the real world after killing Shouyou and the other six Utsuro personalities inside his body's mind. Nobume also learn about this.
- Based on Yoshida Shoin (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 travelled 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."
- There's a belief and theory that Yoshida Shouyou was actually a member of the Naraku forces, usually specifically one of the Three Feathers (since only Oboro and Nobume have been mentioned) at one point in time due to how Oboro refered to him by his first name way back in the Baragaki arc as well as knowing who his students were besides Gin. It's interestingly backed up, as Shouyou laments in Lesson 523 that he wanted to start giving due to a long life of killing others, as well as apparently rebelling against the Tendoushou (though, not for why he was arrested). He only failed in that regard because someone else was giving him something instead of vice versa: his three students that, even now, respect the things he taught them. This was later proved to be true in Lesson 544, where it is revealed that Shouyou is actually Utsuro, the leader of the Naraku. However, as of Lesson 593, his revelations being a leader of Naraku was right before Shouyou, who revealed to be a good personality of Utsuro was born shortly, in the same time he met a young Oboro.
- "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.
- Although it seems he was a good-hearted man, he was cold to the police who wanted to attack the students, due to most of them are corrupted.
- Apparently he had to found a new school after the incident with the police.
- Its name is based on Yoshida Shōin (吉田 松阴), a Japanese intellectual prodigy, arrested by the bakufu I unable to leave Japan, so he used the students in his private academy, the Shoka Sonjuku to be aware of the events in Japan.
- (To Sakata Gintoki) Our comrades, everyone, please take care of them for me, okay? Let's make it a promise.
- (To Sakata Gintoki) A sword isn't meant to protect your body, a sword is meant for protecting your 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.
- 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.
- ↑ Translated from 空知英秋 Sorachi Hideaki, 銀ちゃねる! Gin Channel! (Gintama Official Character Book), 集英社 Shueisha Jump Comics, page 137.