Shinjiro Asai 

is a 20 year old Japanese man, cast in the role of the game's protagonist. He is slender and handsome, but not overly athletic or macho. His outward appearance screams business-world. Clean-shaven, wearing only the most expensive suits he can get his hands on. Whatever style is “in” for the season is his heart’s greatest desire. Shin saves up most of his earnings from Syndicate raids to buy the most high-end comlink device on the market and keep his closet lined with the most expensive suits in Neosaka

Shin feels exposed and vulnerable unless he's constantly blended with the sort of people he’s hoping will one day accept him: the Neosaka Megacorporate Elite. But engaging him in conversation exposes his lack of knowledge about the world at large. It’s not that he’s ignorant – no, he reads enough books to know plenty of things – he’s just not a people person since the interactions with people throughout his life have been stunted.

Of course, as he’s matured, the longer he’s worked as an operative in a Syndicate Cell, the more he’s beginning to realize that the megacorp way of life leads nowhere. Deep down, Shin wishes the seemingly indelible system of megacorp world dominance would just come crashing down. He joined the Syndicate because he thought he was doing exactly that. Later, his illusions were shattered when he realized that he was just part of the problem, when he discovered the clients hiring his Syn-Cell for raids - once you worked through their proxies and shell-companies, once you dug deep enough - were just other rival megacorps in the first place. He was simply a pawn perpetuating the cycle of control that he had hated all his life. His only “friend” (a term Shin never uses since he doesn’t necessarily understand its definition) is Ben Roy Doon. The two of them share this resentment of the system, having both been raised by it.

Shin knows absolutely nothing about where he came from. All he can tell you is about the Tenjin-operated orphanage facility and the torment he suffered there. Unwanted children are put into the Tenjin educational and training program, for which there are numerous high-tech facilities across Japan and neighboring countries where Tenjin Media Corp. has a presence. The facilities are almost completely managed and maintained by a robotic workforce. An intricate system of funneling children through daily routines has been quite successful at shaping the future human resources of Tenjin megacorp (and those of other megacorps, for a price). As perfect as they are, robots don’t understand the human condition. A young, helpless Shinjiro Asai grew up bullied and tormented by the other boys at the facility. And the torment only became worse when his inexplicable, unwanted spiritual powers began to manifest. He would involuntarily cross to the spirit world and encounter violent apparitions, only to “wake up” from those nightmares into the waking ones of bullying. He would plead, beg his tormentors to stop, to listen and look, to help him, but they would only beat him harder, laugh louder, and label Shin a freak. The alienation left deep emotional scars on Shin. He learned to keep his unique spiritual abilities a secret from everyone.

One particular night of torment has left a severe traumatic scar on his psyche, which must be confronted once and for all within Shin’s character arc. Being beaten by bullies, the vengeful side of his powers manifested in an immense armored samurai ghost that ripped a boy apart before his very eyes. Shin will have to decide along the course of the game how he feels about this event.

Will he finally see the bully got what he deserved? Will he finally realize his true power? Do the weak deserve death?

Or will Shin forgive himself for letting the dark side of his heart take over and kill another? Are those with power obligated to protect the powerless?

After that traumatic night, every single boy in Shin’s facility was "processed," sent away, one by one. All but Shin. From that point forward, on the rare occasion any other boys were brought into Shin’s facility, they were quickly processed out. Shin saw, in time, that he was a prisoner. Kept isolated – unable to form friendships – by some malicious force. And all this time, although the living nightmare of bullying had ended, the spirit-world nightmares never ceased.

As Shin grew older, he was attracted to a Shinto shrine being erected nearby the facility, fascinated by its old-world mystery amidst the bustle of the high-tech modern one. On a rare orphanage outing, he snuck into the shrine and found a traditional Shinto charm, which he has kept ever since. He believes it contains some mysterious influence that allows him to control his powers and keep the spirits at bay. (This mystery unravels along the course of Shin's journey.)

With his powers finally under control, Shin decided to remain a prisoner of the megacorp system no longer, and for the first time he ghostwalked and made his escape. Lost and hungry, Shin joined a local street gang, and for years he had to adopt a tough exterior that wasn’t truly him in order to blend in and survive. Of course, he could only lie to himself for so long before it became the truth; Shin developed a violent streak. But years later, during a mugging, in a defining moment, Shin refused to commit what would have been his first murder. Because of this choice, he was beaten out of the gang as a traitor.

It was the first time Shin died.

His spirit wandered, lost, tormented, in the realm called Yomi – the Shinto hell-underworld. But the charm that remained on his corpse was the beacon light that brought him back to the world of the living.

He regained life, inexplicably, in a filthy alleyway. After years of having no one to ask about the curse that was his powers, Shin decided to forget about this betrayal and reform himself. He was determined to never again let anyone close. He resented the “friends” he made, and decided that he needed no one in life. He wanted nothing more than to put an end to the megacorp system that had caused all his pain, that had never truly let him have a family. He tracked down an organization called “The Syndicate, hearing rumors of their raids and sabotage against megacorp interests all across Neosaka. Shin eagerly found his way into a team of Syndicate agents known as a Cell (Syn-Cell), specializing as a safecracker and lock-picker. (He finally puts his unique ability to talk to kami-spirits to use.) After a few years in his Syn-Cell, Shin makes the realization that he is just part of the problem. The quality of his work and his dedication to the Syndicate start to wane, and a job-gone-wrong brings him to the opening of the game’s story.

Despite this feeling of direction that guides his life, Shin is truly lost. He feels it, deep in his heart, but can’t define it: this emptiness, this tangible lack of purpose. Like so many of us, when there’s something missing, we try to fill the void with something we think we need, often times not knowing what it is, only knowing the emptiness when it's not there. Shin’s void is family. He wants to belong to something, someone, some group that will accept him. And yet if you were to psychoanalyze Shin and confront him with this truth, he would utterly deny it. He might inwardly hate megacorp society, but by dressing as much like a megacorp employee as he can, he is subconsciously conforming, becoming part of something, if only superficially.

The guiding philosophical question of Shin’s character is what to do with power. Shin’s reactions – to situations, to the world – that develop throughout the game are a tormented man’s reactions once he acquires power. Does he abuse his power and inflict the torment back upon those who have done him wrong? Does he exert his power because he believes they make him superior? Or does he let go and choose to forgive, to find solace by using his powers to do some good in the world, to right the world’s true wrongs? Players will discover Shin’s initial state of personality at the same time they uncover these points of his backstory. From that point on, players are free to develop Shin’s personality and thus answer these important questions as the game progresses.

 

Cayenne DeLeon

is 20 years old, beautiful and athletic, of Spanish and Russian descent, with silky platinum blonde hair held in an updo. Cayenne is all business, and it seems standing with folded arms is her most natural stance. Bent at the hip, fingers drumming impatiently, green eyes judging every movement of anyone lucky enough to be in her presence.

Cayenne remembers very little of her childhood, and almost nothing about the parents that died in a tragic transportation accident elsewhere in Japan. She was adopted by a secret benefactor when she was 5 years old and raised abroad by the finest tutors and universities. Money was, is, and always will be of no consequence to Cayenne. She never wants for anything, having all her heart’s desires fulfilled by a rotating staff of servants. As a severely spoiled teenager, she often used and manipulated people, never earning any true friends. She enjoyed the power trip. On a whim, she might ruin the lives of those she deemed inferior because she thought it was fun. Deep in her heart, however, she wished she could be open with someone about her lonely, empty life, but the only people who ever surrounded her were rich, fake brats just like her.

At the age of 16, she was summoned to Neosaka to meet her benefactor for the first time in the flesh. Prior to that, Tatsuhiro - the sole owner and operator of the once-powerful ShiroKaz Megacorporation - was nothing more to her than an electronically garbled voice on an annual message of encouragement. The withering old man Tatsuhiro offered her the key to the ShiroKaz kingdom (what little of it remained), but she would have to learn responsibility and tolerance. He needed her, in essence, to conduct his affairs because of his waning health. She felt nothing for the old man, personally, but was grateful for his money and the chance he gave her to run a megacorporation. Most of her duties involved organizing SynCell raids through hidden channels, directing them to sabotage rival megacorporations’ interests. To Cayenne, there was no rhyme or reason, no pattern or purpose, to any of these raids. She grew quite bored with it all, and so she spent the years trying to escape life one night at a time, hopping between exclusive clubs, entertainment venues, or sim-cube parlors.

Now, at the age of 20, Cayenne truly wants to find her own purpose for existence, but she is scared of being unprepared to fulfill it. In game terms, Cayenne will be Tatsuhiro’s “messenger” (she might prefer “puppet”) until a certain point. She is drawn to powerful men, and if/when Shin can prove that he has power and deserves more, she will be attracted to him. At first, however, Cayenne’s most defining tone of voice is certainly disinterestedness. She is indifferent, callous, and condescending throughout most of her conversations. This attitude, however, is simply a defense mechanism that Cayenne has put up throughout her life to deny her loneliness, and if Shin can bring that wall down and give her a purpose for being on his side (by revealing the truth of her father’s imprisonment), then she will reveal her true self: someone who wants to care about something but is afraid of what that might mean. She and Shin are both being manipulated, and when the truth is revealed, seeking to strike back at their common manipulator will be a bond that can bring them closer together. 

Now, at the age of 20, Cayenne truly wants to find her own purpose for existence, but she is scared of being unprepared to fulfill it. In game terms, Cayenne will be Tatsuhiro’s “messenger” (she might prefer “puppet”) until a certain point. She is drawn to powerful men, and if (or when) Shin can prove that he has power and deserves more, she will be attracted to him. At first, however, Cayenne’s most defining tone of voice is certainly detachment. She is indifferent, callous, and condescending throughout most of her conversations. This attitude, however, is simply a defense mechanism that Cayenne has put up throughout her life to deny her loneliness, and if Shin can bring that wall down and give her a purpose for being on his side (by revealing the truth of her true father’s fate - a subplot revealed late in the story), then she will reveal her true self: someone who wants to care about something but is afraid of what that might mean. She and Shin are both being manipulated, and when the truth is revealed, seeking to strike back at their common manipulator will be a bond that can bring them closer together. 

 

Yasuro Shiromatsu

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was a very well known figure in Neosaka society decades ago. A chiseled, elegant man with straight, long black hair, in public, he was one of Neosaka’s “Princes of ShiroKaz.” To the enemies of his family’s extremely powerful megacorporation, however, he was known as the legendary assassin: “The White Shadow.” And yet none of these titles were ever of any interest to Yasuro, who disregarded all luxury and riches to pursue a life of discipline, moderation, and tradition – his three defining principles.

Yasuro and his twin brother Zenjiro had the typical childhood of the extremely wealthy, elite megacorp classes: the finest education abroad, high-end clothing, servants, access to a side of the world seen only from the top. But when their spirit powers began manifesting at a certain age, their mother, the priestess who had saved their father from the Oni of grief, began to train them in Shinto rites and practices that would give them a measure of control. Yasuro was fascinated, and the traditions he learned from his mother transformed his life forever. Zenjiro learned the techniques well enough, but never adopted them as a defining lifestyle like his brother. Over the next several years, the boys grew apart in many ways.

Yasuro became the clearly favored son, openly dedicated to the ShiroKaz Legacy while still pursuing his spirit training and swordsmanship. Recognizing his skills, Yasuro’s father appointed him to the company’s special security division whose sole purpose was to protect the ShiroKaz reputation from subversive megacorp (and hired Syndicate) slander. In time, Zenjiro was cast aside, banished from his father's sight. Yasuro became the security division’s leader, and over many more years it became clear that he could do the job entirely on his own. Invincible because of his powers, there was no security force on earth that could keep him out. Wearing an immaculate white suit at all times, he became known as “The White Shadow.” Because of Yasuro’s efforts, ShiroKaz was able to pursue its corporate mission – the “ShiroKaz Legacy” – without being hindered. No one could have predicted the collapse that would come from within.

During the peak of his career and the height of ShiroKaz dominance, Yasuro was wed to Mizuko, a girl that had grown up alongside both twins. Mizuko and Zenjiro were secretly in love, but Mizuko refused Zenjiro’s pleas, claiming they could not disobey their familial duties. Oblivious of the affair, Yasuro loved Mizuko in his own way. Nothing in his years of training and dedication had ever taught him how to love, however, so to Mizuko he seemed incapable of affection. 

Shortly after the birth of their son, Mizuko, unable to deny the truth any longer, confessed her true love for Zenjiro to her husband (among other secrets). The invincible wall of discipline crumbled before the unstoppable human emotion: Jealousy. Yasuro killed his own wife with his black katana, which trapped her soul. During the vicious murder, Yasuro had been distracted just long enough for Zenjiro’s coup to infiltrate ShiroKaz Tower. The twins fought a vicious battle when Zenjiro found his love murdered, killing Yasuro and trapping his spirit within the white sword.

Yasuro’s spirit remembers nothing of its former life, so consumed it is by jealousy and the desire to kill his own brother. The spirit remains tethered by these memories that define its quest for vengeance. When Shinjiro first grasps the sword to save his own life, he releases these memories, and The White Shadow becomes incomplete. The details are lost. Yasuro wants someone dead, but he remembers neither the target nor the reason. During the game, Yasuro will serve as Shin’s mentor, of sorts, instructing him in sword techniques and driving him to reacquire his lost memories. But, in reality, Yasuro could care nothing for the young man. He is using Shin as a means to achieve the vengeance he craves – the sole reason for his existence. Yasuro will never share this secret manipulation with his new disciple, however. Everything Yasuro says or does is aimed at his goal of retrieving his memories and directing Shin to do his bidding. Little does Yasuro know that his twin brother is... gone.

Most of Yasuro’s personality is defined by an extreme Zen-like patience and reason. He often speaks in cryptic philosophies and riddles that are meant to teach a lesson. But, if Shin should ever suggest anything that could possibly detract from the White Shadow’s ultimate quest for vengeance, it will send the spirit of Yasuro into a fit of rage. Of course, because Shin holds the sword, he is in control, and in those situations the White Shadow will have no choice but to try to regain his composure and patience. Yasuro Shiromatsu can be interpreted as the game’s hidden or “true” antagonist, depending on whether Shin decides to take the path of forgiveness and redemption. For redemption, you see, stands in the way of The White Shadow's quest for vengeance.

 

This was just a small sample from the diverse roster of characters that inhabit the world of "the white shadow," the city of neosaka, japan, 2131.