Loyal retainer to Iga's leaders.
A ninja who serves directly under Fujibayashi Nagato, current leader of the Iga ninja. He does not waste words on light conversation, but is surprisingly articulate and well-spoken when he does talk. In combat, Katsuo is the archetypical ninja, with a variety of tricks and techniques to keep him a step ahead of his opponents.
Tsukuda Katsuo first appeared as a disguised traveler, responding to the rumors that the Hashinara clan was seeking to employ ninja. He thwarted an attempt on Yoshiyuki-hime‘s life by Momochi Sandayu, then introduced himself as an ordinary man from Iga, offering the Hashinara ninja services if they would help put down an insurrection in his home province. Ryuuzaki Sanosuke, speaking for Hashinara Katamoto, accepted, a decision which Katamoto ratified when he returned to the province.
The next day, with Katsuo as their guide, Katamoto and his generals set out for Iga province. When they arrived, they met with Fujibayashi Nagato, Tsukuda’s superior, in a tea house, where she informed them that she had put out word of their meeting and was expecting to be attacked. Sure enough, Igamono ninja appeared shortly after and engaged Nagato, Katsuo, and the Hashinara generals in combat.
Katsuo found himself in battle with a short ninja called Stoplight, who prevented him from going to his master’s aid when Nagato was surrounded by enemy ninja after killing Crocodile. He held Stoplight in battle long enough for Baby Huey to kill him, then began fighting the copies of Vengeance who had appeared in the fray.
Despite not having any overwhelming combat abilities, Katsuo managed to use his techniques to great effect and killed two of Vengeance’s doubles, the other two of which were destroyed by Hashinara generals. After the battle, he joined Nagato in offering their services to the Hashinara clan without pay for a month, after which a contract would be discussed.
Prior to the Hashinara invasion of Awa province, Tsukuda Katsuo was sent along with Ishikawa Goemon to scout the area and return with information on troop movements and strength. He did not return after several days, and as of the battle at Awa Harbor, his whereabouts were unknown.
He appeared seconds after the battle had ended, ready to lend his aid once more. It happened that he and Ishikawa Goemon had been captured by a keen-eyed guard, one Motoyama Tsugutoshi, during their scouting of the Chosokabe lands, and had been held inside one of Awa harbor’s towers. He had used his substitution technique to escape his bonds, leaving just a log chained to the wall, then freed Goemon from her bonds before following her outside.
Katsuo participated in many missions after that, but without notable contributions. During the celebratory tournament held by Katsusada Shishauezaemon, he participated as a combatant alongside his master, Fujibayashi Nagato. In Katsuo’s first round, he faced a pale martial artist called Jijage Koukou. Despite all of his best tricks and abilities, Koukou proved to be too skilled an opponent, and Katsuo surrendered before receiving the final blow, wishing to stay uninjured so that he might better serve as a shinobi.
In his second match, Katsuo fought Umashiashikabihikoji. Despite the opponent Kyonshi’s superior speed and strength, he was able to avoid the worst of her attacks with his substitution technique, and break her energy weapons with his own, ki-infused blades. So rendered weaponless, it was not difficult for Katsuo to wear Umashiashikabihikoji down and eventually win the match.
Katsuo’s third opponent, Byouyuugan Aika, was disqualified due to her actions in her previous match, and he was thus able to move forward in the bracket without a battle.