AKA: Mr. Goemon
As seen in: Ganbare Goemon (Famicom)
Also in: Goemon's Great Adventure (Nintendo 64)
Distinguishing feature: Golden pipe, crazy blue hair.
Strengths: Mean coin toss, giant super robot.
Weaknesses: Keeps losing his sandals.

Profile by Nich Maragos? | March 14, 2010

They don’t call him Mr. Goemon. Not anymore.

Ishikawa Goemon used the Western appellation for only one adventure, ironically one of his most purely Japanese. Many of his modern traits were in place from the beginning -- the blue hair, the red happi coat, the golden pipe he uses to bash his enemies’ brains in -- but his appearance was much different from the impishly mystical ninja we know today. His sprite was inspired by traditional ukyo-e paintings rather than the more manga-styled look he’d later get.

When he reappeared in the first Ganbare Goemon adventure, his looks were notably altered. His hair had changed from blue to black, and his garb was considerably simpler. The golden pipe stayed, though, allowing him to beat gold out of enemies and then use his ryo-throwing skills to use said gold as a weapon.

But for all his skill as a warrior, Goemon was unhappy, wearing a stern frown everywhere he went. Although he eventually learned to look cheerful enough on the outside for those suspiciously anachronistic photographers, flashing them an oddly contorted smile for his promotional stills, when not posing for the camera Goemon seemed irritable and despondent. His ever-present glare went a long way to unsettling his enemies long before he could stove their heads in with his pipe.

Just what was the cause of Goemon’s persistently foul mood? Historians believe it was his lack of a giant robot. Throughout his early, surly career, Goemon was forced to battle all manner of foes on foot with paltry, commonplace weaponry. His legacy of tanka collections revealed a running motif of yearning for a battle-droid to call his own. Fortunately, as any armchair student of Japanese history knows, Goemon did eventually obtain a hulking, bipedal tank of his very own, which marked the beginning of an entirely new phase in his adventures.

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