Kuroji in Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle
|Species||Scholar of Prehistory (Human)|
|Abilities||Reversing front and back|
|Occupation||Youkai exterminator, Scholar of Prehistory|
Kuroji Shitodo (鵐 黒巫鳥 Shitodo Kuroji) is a serious and taciturn person who dabbles in many fields of study, including prehistory. They are a recurring character in the Len'en Project, first appearing as the fifth stage boss of Evanescent Existence and later appearing as a playable character. Kuroji is the second-oldest of the Shitodo siblings who lives in Mugenri together with Hooaka Shitodo and Aoji Shitodo.
Kuroji and their siblings once lived in the Outside World. Unlike Hooaka and Aoji, Kuroji initially had no special abilities and was just a normal scholar. They have also been a military strategist in the past, but they're known to detest war. They seem to have known Yabusame and Tsubakura for a long time. Kuroji considers themself inferior to Tsubakura, believing that Tsubakura is always ahead of them.
Kuroji is very smart and knowledgeable in many areas. They're a jack-of-all-trades of sorts, but their forte is primarily prehistory. They had modest results as an archaeologist, related to subjects such as animism in ancient Japan and mythology.
Kuroji is ambitious and greedy and is referred to everyone as a lowly scoundrel. They are obsessed with easy ways to get money and are quick to come up with amoral plots to maximize profit. They have no qualms in stealing money from youkai or fellow humans and are more than willing to resort to violence and blackmail to get what they want.
Around their own circle of friends, Kuroji can be dominant, overconfident and has difficulty expressing sympathy. Their victims and even their younger siblings consider them to be amoral, self-centered and unable to care for others. However, their "immoral scoundrel" personality is, at least to some extent, an act - Ooama no Ake no Mitori says that Kuroji is not as egotistical as they claim to be, while Tsubakura states that they often fuss over others and are actually a good, considerate person. Kuroji shows this on occasions. For instance, while annoyed at their siblings' lack of participation upon moving to Mugenri, they still care for them and want to raise a schoolhouse in Mugenri so that they could work on it together. According to their first character profile, Kuroji isn't actually self-centered, but their way of thinking makes others dislike them. When it comes to themself, Kuroji appears to have a dismal outlook on their own life, with Shion commenting that they have "given up on both living and dying" after smelling their soul.
- Reversing front and back
They're able to reverse the front and back of things, to an extent, as shown in their spell cards. Because they only acquired that power upon arriving to Mugenri, they aren't very good at it. It's sometimes mentioned that this ability is useful for flipping hamburgers, even having a recipe called "Reverse Hamburger" in Book of the Cafe.
- Using technology
Although not as good as Tsubakura Enraku, Kuroji also has some technological weapons of their own. For example, their shooting type in-game are little robotic birds that shoot lasers and a bomb composed by a virus, the RNA "Retrovirus".
Their full name is Kuroji Shitodo (鵐 黒巫鳥). Their given name Kuroji (黒巫鳥) is pronounced the same way as the Japanese word for the grey bunting (黒鵐), a kind of bird. In its kanji, 黒 (kuro) is a Japanese word for black, while 巫鳥 is an archaic way to refer to meadow buntings in general. The two characters are also more often written as one, 鵐 (shitodo), which is also how their family name is written and read.
Despite being one of the oldest outsider humans, Kuroji is quite short in height (said to be one size smaller than the already shorter-than-average Tsubakura Enraku in the prologue of Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle). They also wear shoes with heel inserts to make themself look taller. They have short wavy black hair and black eyes. In all the games, they wear the characteristic Shitodo outfit: a black sleeveless shirt and puffy shorts with a long, hooded, purple jacket. They also wear a black and white mob cap on the front of which is a hitaikakushi with a black kanji written on it. Each game so far has featured a different kanji on the hat (考, 思, 想, 意); the kanji featured is always a synonym for "thought" or "thinking". The kanji on Kuroji's hat in the 2017 Christmas illustration is 聖, meaning "holy" or "saint".
- Evanescent Existence
Like everyone else, Kuroji and their siblings are spirited away to Mugenri. They were placed into a specific spaces within the Dimensional Cave by Tsurubami Senri. Kuroji realizes that they now have the ability to reverse things and is trying out their new powers.
Along the way, Kuroji meets their rival Tsubakura Enraku, impersonated by Tsurubami Senri. Noticing that "Tsubakura" might know something about a way to escape Mugenri, the two fight, but Kuroji is defeated. The scholar realizes that there is something wrong and Tsubakura is behaving differently, not realizing that this is an impostor. Later, they run into Yabusame Houlen who asks for Tsubakura's location. Being disagreeable as always, Kuroji refuses to say anything and the two fight, but they are defeated again. After being defeated, Kuroji tells Yabusame to go to find answers in "a sun that casts a shadow", that turns out to be a portal to the Senri Shrine. Kuroji reunites with their siblings and settles in Mugenri afterwards.
- Earthen Miraculous Sword
Kuroji and their siblings have settled up in Mugenri but have trouble adjusting to it. They built a shabby cabin for their siblings to live, but it's slowly falling apart and their siblings are too dependent on them, much to Kuroji's chagrin. In order to have some funds, Kuroji decides to install a schoolhouse, but first they need the money for it. So they decide to resolve the incident.
After dealing with a few youkai (and stealing Hibaru Kokutenshi's money), Kuroji finds themselves in a ritual site, where Adagumo no Yaorochi and their partner Sukune Katano are. The two were gathering the spiritual energy of the weather to restore a replica of the Tasouken sword, but Kuroji stops them before they complete it. However, after Yaorochi is defeated, the sword attacks Kuroji on its own. Fortunately, the clay vessel was too much for the Tasouken and it stopped. After everything was cleared, Sukune reveals that the clay replica is actually a sword-shaped bottle opener, much to Yaorochi's chagrin. In the end, Kuroji makes fun of the orochi because of their poor communication and asks Sukune to treat them for sake.
Days later, the clouds return to Mugenri. Annoyed at the drunk people in the shrine, Kuroji goes to investigate. After dealing with an empowered Lumen Celeritas, Kuroji encounters the orochi Adagumo no Saragimaru, Yaorochi's younger sibling. They want revenge for having defeated their sibling and ruining their happiness, so they lured them into a trap. Kuroji tries to reason with Saragimaru, but in the end, they agree to fight. They have a battle and Saragimaru is defeated. Since Kuroji is sober, they invite the orochi to have a drink.
- Reactivate Majestical Imperial
Kuroji, while advertising in the Capital City, finds a signboard directed to Fujiwara no Iyozane, in which they offer souls in exchange for money. On the way, they bump into Adagumo no Saragimaru and forces them into cooperation, blackmailing them about telling Yaorochi about Saragimaru's stalking. It's revealed that Kuroji didn't accomplish anything by defeating Yaorochi in the previous story and has retorted to stealing youkai's money to gain money.
After dealing with youkai in the way as they recollect spirits, they meet the person who the signboard was directed to, Fujiwara no Iyozane. When they finally find Iyozane, the boatman reveals that they're working to resurrect someone important and there wasn't a payment to begin with. Angry for wasting their time, Kuroji and Saragimaru go to ruin said ritual. They find Taira no Fumikado, who was trying to collect spirits for their resurrection ceremony, since they want to resuscitate the vengeful spirit Taira no Masakado and store him in their homunculus body. After defeating them, they find out that all the spirits are attracted to a certain location. Finally, they end up in the Withered Grove, where they find the chimera soul Shion, who is the avatar of the soul-eater flower Harujion and was absorbing spirits, causing a long winter. Kuroji decides to steal the flower in order to sell it and Shion fights them in order to protect the Harujion.
In the end, Kuroji and Saragimaru arrive at the Senri Shrine, bringing Shion with them. Shion is interested in Tsubakura's soul and stays at the shrine. Kuroji wants to sell the remaining spirits to collect money while Saragimaru is worried about the amoral things Kuroji does to get profit and decides to keep an eye on them.
Days later, Jinbei tells the group that the spirits came to Mugenri because of a hole in the Mugenri Barrier that separates the land from the Outside World. The hole was caused by Lumen, during the Clouds Incident and Tenkai Zuifeng was tasked to repair the hole, but is taking too long. Out of greed, Kuroji asks Tenkai to stop the reparations of the barrier in order to capture more spirits. On the way back home, they are ambushed by Sese Kitsugai, a youkai they had defeated at the beginning of the story. Sese absorbs the spirits the heroes had been recollecting, much to Kuroji's chagrin, who wanted to sell them. After Sese is defeated, the spirits leave Sese's body and Kuroji orders Saragimaru to retrieve them.
- Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle
Suzumi Kuzu barges into the Shitodo House and attacks the Shitodo siblings, resulting in Hooaka's arm being severed. With their ability to rewrite memories, the Shitodo siblings forget about the encounter, but for some reason they remember the words "The mirror of Heaven shall split". The siblings go to the Senri Shrine to treat Hooaka's injury and inform Yabusame and Tsubakura about the words. Kuroji doesn't care about the upcoming war but decides to take advantage of it gaining more money (even though they already have the amount they wanted for the schoolhouse). Since Saragimaru ran away from the Shitodo House to assist Yaorochi, Kuroji goes with Aoji and Hooaka.
It's revealed that after failing to sell the spirits gathered during Reactivate Majestical Imperial, Kuroji has resorted to stealing money from either humans or youkai and has stolen Fumikado's financial support off-screen. Kuroji is now infamous around Mugenri, but Kuroji doesn't care about that and is actually happy that they're known.
In all routes, Kuroji and their siblings deal with a few youkai and some of their human acquaintances, trying to steal valuable things in the process (such as the Harujion or Yaorochi's Tasouken). At the end of the Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle routes, Kuroji and their siblings find out about the war sides and the motives of the Imperial Military and the Dragonfly Army, but Kuroji decides to stay out of it, stating that they only care about their own well-being and doesn't care about what happens to Mugenri. Also, Kuroji is worried and has the feeling that they may have forgotten about something terrible. In the end, they meet Suzumi again, forcing the Shitodo siblings to remember they were attacked by Suzumi earlier that day. Suzumi reveals their intention to make Tsubakura's life a living hell and after a hard fight, Suzumi erases their memories again (with Aoji being the only one who vaguely remembers).
- Hooaka, Aoji and Hoojiro Shitodo
Kuroji cares about their younger siblings and provides shelter, food and money for them. However, sometimes Kuroji gets annoyed at their lack of ambition and easygoing attitude. On their side, Aoji and Hooaka mostly support Kuroji's schemes, though they have slightly more inhibitions than them (shown, for example, when Kuroji tried to extort money from Iyozane in the Neutral route of Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle).
Kuroji's and Hoojiro's relationship hasn't been shown on-screen, but Hoojiro believes that Hooaka and Aoji are in good hands with them around, indicating that she places trust in them.
- Tsubakura Enraku
On the surface, Kuroji and Tsubakura seem to dislike each other, with their interactions consisting of polite insults and sarcastic remarks. Kuroji considers Tsubakura to be better than them in every area, believing the latter is always one step ahead. Despite their dismissive attitude towards the gap between them, Kuroji's feelings of inadequacy do weigh on their pride - while they appear to have resigned themself to being inferior, they often make self-depreciating remarks upon losing against Tsubakura as if they never had a chance at victory, and the Scoundrel Team's Haze route ending shows them wondering if they could finally stand on their own against Tsubakura.
However, their relationship isn't entirely antagonistic - Kuroji's been shown to worry about Tsubakura at times to the surprise of their siblings, with Tsubakura themself saying Kuroji tends to meddle in their affairs out of worry to the point of being annoying. Kuroji's feelings of inferiority appear to stem from genuine admiration for Tsubakura's talent as well, as they've been shown to praise the young prodigy on occasions. They also trusted Tsubakura enough to let them treat Hooaka's injury in the prologue of Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle. In addition, Tsubakura occasionally visits Kuroji and the other Shitodos at their house, albeit unwelcomed by Kuroji.
- Yabusame Houlen
Although Yabusame is Tsubakura's best friend, Kuroji actually seems to get along with them and calls them "Yabusame-kun". Yabusame doesn't mind the animosity between Kuroji and Tsubakura and is on friendly terms with them. On the other hand, Yabusame does consider Kuroji to be vicious and self-centered, like everyone else.
- Adagumo no Saragimaru
Kuroji likes Saragimaru because of their strength and straightforward, down-to-earth personality. However, Kuroji is willing to blackmail the orochi into cooperation or sell their identity. Since Reactivate Majestical Imperial, Saragimaru works as Kuroji's unwilling servant, something the they are not happy about.
Saragimaru considers Kuroji a contradictory and vicious scoundrel who gets away with everything. Kuroji doesn't mind Saragimaru's low opinion of them, but when angered enough, they will not hesitate to remind Saragimaru of their position.
In Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle, Saragimaru has run away from Kuroji in order to watch over Yaorochi. Kuroji seems to have mostly forgotten about them, but upon running into them, they have no qualms about taking Saragimaru back and punishing them. Kuroji also attempts to sell Saragimaru off to Garaiya.
- Kuroji is one of the only two humans to be spirited away without having any powers prior to arriving in Mugenri, the other being Clause. They're also the only boss in Evanescent Existence to use self-made weaponry.
- Their sudden disappearance to Mugenri along with the rest of the Evanescent Existence cast is known to have made a huge news story in the Outside World.
- Due to story reasons, JynX elected to have Kuroji be the stage 5 boss of Evanescent Existence despite being more powerful than Clause.
- Hooaka Shitodo's nickname for Kuroji in Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle, Kuro-jii (黒じぃ/クロじぃ), is a portmanteau of the words black (黒/クロ) from their name, and old man (爺 Jii), making fun of Kuroji's age.
- Interview with JynX (2015): Question 18
- Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle: Scoundrel Team's Neutral Scenario - Lumen Celeritas
- Interview with JynX (2021): Kuroji Shitodo, Question 176
- Book of the Cafe: EE Back Issue - Yabusame's Route, Stage 5-4
- Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle: Scoundrel Team's Brilliant Ending
- Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle: Shrine Team's Neutral Scenario - Kuroji Shitodo
- Evanescent Existence: Official Profiles - Kuroji Shitodo
- Reactivate Majestical Imperial: Slaver Team's Scenario - Stage 6
- Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle: Scoundrel Team's Haze Scenario - Stage 4
- Interview with JynX (2017): Miscellaneous, Question 139
- Interview with JynX (2015): Question 16
- Evanescent Existence: Tsubakura's Scenario - Stage 5
- Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle: Scoundrel Team's Haze Ending
- Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle: Scoundrel Team's Neutral Scenario - Tsubakura Enraku
- Reactivate Majestical Imperial: Slaver Team's Scenario - Stage 4
- Brilliant Pagoda or Haze Castle: Skills - Monochrome Ray -Flash-
- Interview with JynX (2021): Kuroji Shitodo, Question 175
- Interview with JynX (2021): Kuroji Shitodo, Question 178
- Interview with JynX (2017): Len'en Miscellaneous, Question 77
- JynX's Twitter: "By the way, I had the stage 5 boss be stronger than the stage 6 boss in EE. After all, Kuroji is the more competent one, but I didn't want to let them be the stage 6 boss due to the story."