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Hanzo Hattori (服部 半蔵, Hattori Hanzō) is one of the few characters introduced in Samurai Shodown that appears in every title of the series. He is based on the historical figure of the same name, who was a Tokugawa ninja and head of a clan in Iga (in various fictional mediums). Like several other mythical incarnations, he is an old friend to Jubei Yagyu due to their ties to the Tokugawa clan. He also married a Koga ninja, Kaede, quelling a long feud between the two ninja clans that is often romanticized in the historical novel, The Kouga Ninja Scrolls. He also appears as a secret character in another SNK Playmore game, KOF: Maximum Impact 2.
He was the development team's third favorite character in Samurai Shodown II. In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Hanzo ranked 46 of the staff's favorite characters. He shared the spot with seven other characters, including Art of Fighting character, Robert Garcia and Darkstalkers character, Demitri Maximoff. He has one known action figure, based on his appearance in Samurai Shodown 64.
He is the mightiest of the Iga ninja, employed under the Tokugawa shogunate. Leading his band of ninja, he specializes in assassination attacks against their enemies. For instance, in Samurai Shodown V, Hanzo is given the task to execute the traitor to Yoshitora Tokugawa's father. In Samurai Shodown, he discovers his son, Shinzo, exhibiting mysterious mannerisms due to Shiro Tokisada Amakusa's possession. He fights to save his son but only succeeds in recovering Shinzo's body. Eventually, Hanzo learns that Shinzo's soul is still in the demon world so he sets out with his wife and his second son, Kanzo, to retrieve it. In his ending to Samurai Shodown II, they succeed but Kaede sacrifices herself to unite her son's soul to his body. Despite the hardship, he continues to serve his lord with his sons by his side.