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Hamato Yoshi is a fictional character from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fictional universe. In all continuities, he was once a great and honourable ninja whose story is always closely intertwined with that of Splinter, but he is almost always no longer around during the course of the story.

In most versions he was the owner of a pet rat who became Splinter; this includes the original comics and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 cartoon series. The earlier 1987 cartoon series (along with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comics) provided a twist in that Hamato Yoshi was Splinter, having been turned into a giant rat.

Comics

Yoshi training in ninjutsu, with Splinter imitating him.
In the original comic book version (TMNT vol. 1 issue 1 (May 1984), Hamato Yoshi was a high-ranking member of the Foot Clan in Japanmarker. He owned a rat named Splinter, who copied his movements as he practiced ninjutsu. He was romantically involved with a woman named Tang Shen. However, their relationship attracted the jealousy of Oroku Nagi, who also loved Shen. When Nagi was rejected by her, he became enraged and violently beat her. Shortly after, Yoshi arrived and, in his fit of anger, murdered Nagi. He was dishonoured for having killed another member of the Clan and forced to choose between death or exile to the United Statesmarker. He chose the latter, and left with Shen and Splinter. Years later, Nagi's brother Oroku Saki climbed the ranks of the Foot to become assigned the leader of its New York branch. He followed the two lovers to New York Citymarker and killed them both in vengeance of Nagi. However, the rat Splinter escaped to the sewers and mutated along with the Turtles. He then proceeded to teach ninjutsu to the Turtles as he himself had learned it from Yoshi, in order to have them avenge his owner's death. In Tales of the TMNT #22, the turtles encounter a female ninja with a Shredder gauntlet on her arm; she vows to kill the turtles for crimes Hamato Yoshi committed against her family, but she is not a member of the Oroku family. This has the turtles wondering if Splinter wasn't telling them something.

1987 cartoon & TMNT Adventures

Yoshi mutating into Splinter in the opening credits of the cartoon.
In the 1987 TMNT cartoon and the TMNT Adventures comics that followed, Hamato Yoshi was conflated with Splinter himself, and the romantic subplot was eliminated.

Hamato Yoshi was once a member in good standing of the Foot Clan in Japan. Oroku Saki framed him for attempted murder of one of the Clan's leaders, and had him exiled to New York, where Yoshi was forced to live in the sewers in shame, and befriended the rats. Years later, when Saki moved to New York himself, he dumped mutagen into the sewers to kill Yoshi. But instead, the mutagen caused Yoshi and his four pet turtles to mutate. Yoshi himself mutated into a humanoid rat, as the last animal he was in contact with were rats, and took on the name Splinter because he could break wooden boards into splinters. He then proceeded to teach ninjutsu to the Turtles, to teach them self-defense because the different is feared by many.

In the episode Splinter No More, Donatello finds a remedy to the mutagen effect and uses it to turn Splinter back into Hamato Yoshi. He thus returns to the surface and the streets, but finds it difficult to re-adapt into normal everyday human life. When the effects of the remedy wear off, Yoshi turns back into Splinter and returns to the Turtles with few regrets about leaving his human life behind.

In Japanese dub of 1987 series, his name is "Takeshi Yoshihama" ( Yoshihama Takeshi).


Movies

Yoshi training in ninjutsu.


Yoshi's story, explained in the first of the three TMNT movies, mirrors that of the comics, although Oroku Nagi is mostly removed from the story, and Yoshi's conflict is with Oroku Saki himself. Instead of fleeing from the murder of a clan member, Tang Shen persuades Yoshi to flee to America to avoid fighting Saki (presumably to the death) for her hand in marriage. Saki vowed vengeance and spent years searching for them. Saki eventually finds and kills Yoshi and his wife in their New York apartment, leaving Yoshi's pet rat Splinter homeless. The actor who played him was uncredited.

In the third Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, the turtles save a child named Yoshi from a burning building in 1600s Japan, Michaelangelo getting him out of the building and Leonardo subsequently performing CPR. This Yoshi's relationship with Hamato Yoshi is never fully explained, but based on the number of past incarnations of other characters that the turtles meet on this adventure (such as a British ancestor of Casey Jones, Whit) a direct relationship between this boy and Hamoto Yoshi seems implied. If this is indeed the case, then when the turtles save the boy's life, they are also saving their own future, as their origin is inexorably tied to the fate of Hamato Yoshi.

2003 cartoon

In the 2003 cartoon, Hamato Yoshi's background was once again thoroughly revised. He was no longer a former member of the Foot Clan. His new origins are described in the season 4 episode "Tale of Master Yoshi".

Hamato Yoshi was an orphan, who, along with his best friend Yukio Mashimi, begged in the streets of 1960s Japan. When Yoshi returned a 5-yen coin dropped by the Ancient One, he took the two of them in for his honesty, and raised them both as his sons, training them in the art of Ninjutsu. The two boys grew up together in the same house, and learning the same arts. Unfotunately, they both also loved the same girl, Tang Shen, another orphan the Ancient One had taken in. But Tang Shen loved Yoshi more. During this time, Tang Shen spared a rat that had sneaked into the house, and took it as a pet.

One night, Yoshi, Shen, and Mashimi observed a lone man being attacked by four ninja. The two young men decided to help him, and fought off the ninja. The man they saved was none other than the Utrom Mortu, and the ninja were members of the Foot Clan. Impressed by their skill, and having been partially exposed when his robotic arm was sliced off in the battle, Mortu gave Yoshi and Mashimi the offer to become Guardians, which they both accepted over the objections of their master.

As a Guardian, Yoshi was promoted time and again, but Mashimi never seemed to advance. Mashimi grew jealous as Yoshi surpassed him in every way, and in his anger, he murdered Tang Shen and betrayed the Utroms to the Shredder. Yoshi and the Utroms escaped. When Yoshi discovered what had happened he went into a rage, stormed the Foot's citadel and slew Mashimi in single combat.

With their Tokyo headquarters compromised, the Utroms relocated to New York, under the name of TCRI. Yoshi went with them, taking along Tang Shen's pet rat, which he named Splinter, to remind himself against the splinters of hatred and rage that drove him to kill Mashimi.

The Shredder eventually tracked Yoshi down, and tried to force him to reveal the location of the Utroms. Yoshi resisted, and was killed for his defiance. Splinter escaped and fled to the sewers, where he mutated along with the Turtles. He then proceeded to teach ninjutsu to the Turtles as he himself had learned it from Yoshi. In the "lost season" of the series, it is learned that Yoshi and the Ancient One had tried, in vain, to get the Ninja Tribunal's help in the fight against Shredder. They refused as he was not the 'true' Shredder even though the Utrom Shredder was growing in power. Due to their refusal to help, Splinter partly blamed the Ninja Tribunal for Yoshi's death.

Yoshi, a former Battle Nexus champion, is seen in flashbacks of the history of the Battle Nexus. A statue of him is in the hall of champions of the Nexus, and next to him are statues of Splinter and Michelangelo, who won the following two tournaments. Before the Utroms departed Earth, they gave Splinter an orb that contained a hologram of Yoshi. That orb was destroyed by the Shredder's adoptive daughter, Karai, when she attacked the Turtles' lair in the episode "Scion of the Shredder".

In the final episode of the "lost" season five, "Enter the Dragon Part II", a spirit of Hamato Yoshi appears and defeats the Tengu Shredder. He then disappears into the abyss.




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