Mod Aria’s here today for another Character Spotlight installment! Since Mod Zan had the opportunity to talk about one of her favorite Overwatch characters, I figured I would follow along with that vein and talk about one of mine. Though not my all time favorite Overwatch character, Genji Shimada ranks fairly high on my list. Though, sadly, I feel like he’s certainly gained a lot of ire from the Overwatch fandom due to the way that some people, uh…play him. So today, I’d like to talk about what I think makes Genji a really interesting character!
The Tale of Genji Shimada
As Overwatch is a game that does not focus so much on it’s story or the background of its characters, lore must be searched for on the internet through the sources that Blizzard provides. Fortunately, they have given Genji a bit of a backstory via the Dragons animated short; as well as some snippets of lore that can be found in his character bio and within the game itself.
Genji was the younger brother of Hanzo, and the two were the children of the leader of the Shimada clan. This family had an enormous empire built with blood, but Genji separated himself from the crimes of his kin to pursue the life of a libertine. This angered many of the members of the clan, but his father and Hanzo were remiss to stop Genji. It wasn’t until clan leader Sojiro Shimada passed that things began to change.
Hanzo, now the new head of the Shimada clan, requested (or demanded, this part is a bit vague) that Genji clean up his act and commit to the Shimada. When Genji declined (or refused, this part is also vague), it lead to a heated confrontation between the two brothers. Somehow, Hanzo managed to land a killing blow on Genji, who would have died if not for Overwatch and Mercy.
From the information I’ve found searching Overwatch websites and such, it seems like Genji was conscious after being rescued by Overwatch. It is implied that he made a deal with Overwatch officers to aid them in exchange for robotic upgrades and implants to help him fight. Genji’s goal seems to have been hunting the Shimada, as he left Overwatch once that was complete. Genji also seems to have been a part of Blackwatch (Overwatch’s darker sector); meaning that Genji took part it some of the more sinister missions undertaken by the organization.
It is also implied that Genji left due to his own inner demons; he hated his robot body, and felt like less of a human because of it. This inner struggle lead Genji to a nomadic life, and it was during his travels that he met Zenyatta. The omnic monk fervently pursued Genji in order to help him, but Genji declined. Through some miracle, Zenyatta was able to whittle down Genji’s hard shell and became Genji’s new master.
Reborn anew via Zenyatta’s guidance, Genji Shimada found inner peace. In Dragons, we discover that Genji had never taken revenge on Hanzo. Once the two fight, Genji notably says that he has forgiven Hanzo, and it is now Hanzo that struggles with his own inner demons.
Genji Shimada: The Meme vs The Man
Of course, it’s always fun to tease the Mercy of the group (or maybe just annoy her) buy spamming that you need healing. And the thousands of jokes made towards Genji’s backside never fail to make me grin. But beyond that, I think there is a great character that most of us have just kind of…forgotten about.
The Genji Shimada in the game is now serene and kind (while his previous self is implied to be cold and unfriendly). His battle-hardened attitude sometimes shows through, however, in his voice lines in the game. Some characters (like Hanzo, Zarya and Sombra) have some tense words between Genji pre-match. Genji can also be a bit cold when capturing a point or when losing the game. Despite that, he has many pleasant exchanges between other characters; mostly the old Overwatch crew. But he’s particularly kind to Mercy and Zenyatta, which is not surprising. Genji likely believes he owes his salvation to those two.
Other than that, Genji himself seems to be a man of few words. In a conversation pre-match with Winston, he mentions that he is uncomfortable with “awkward small talk”. His regular voice lines are usually only short sentences, and many of them are in his native Japanese. It seems to show that Genji must think before he speaks, and feels like conversations with no specified purpose are a waste of time. However, Genji is shown to have many witty retorts, and he feels quite unphased when threatened. This is a testament to Genji’s bravery, cleverness and determination.
Nevertheless, Genji still remarks during his visits to Numbani that he feels separate from both human and machine even after meeting Zenyatta. It seems like a subtle way of saying that it isn’t that Genji doesn’t continue to lament his new body. I think Genji has learned how to accept that he has no power to change what happened, and that the only road he can walk now is one of acceptance and love. By forgiving Hanzo, Genji seems to have embraced compassion; having a new relationship with Hanzo might not be something Genji would reject. However, I believe that Genji has also forgiven Hanzo as a step to find his own peace, not just to help Hanzo find his.
Suffice it to say, Genji Shimada is certainly one of the most intricate characters that came out of Overwatch. His personality has multiple facets, and a story that many find enthralling. Even if that part is glossed over for the sake of his healing line meme and his butt. I’m hoping that Blizzard will further expound upon his time spent with Zenyatta, as well as fully disclose what kind of relationship he and Mercy have. Until then, I’ll wait on bated breath for any and all Overwatch content.
Thanks so much for reading this article. Please stay tuned for more content from NWG!