|Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012 TV series) episode|
|Original airdate||July 23, 2017|
|Written by||Stan Sakai|
|Supervising Producer||Patrick Krebs & Ant Ward|
|Directed by||Rie Koga|
|Voice Direction||Andrea Romano|
|Supervising Director||Ben Jones & Ciro Nieli|
Production-wise, it is the fifteenth episode of Season 5, as well as the one hundred and nineteenth episode overall. It first aired on July 23rd, 2017.
The Ninja Turtles are transported to an alternate dimension where they meet the rabbit rōnin, Miyamoto Usagi. In order to find their way home, the Turtles must help Usagi on a quest to help Kintaro fulfill his destiny.
- Donatello (Rob Paulsen)
- Jei (Keone Young) (debut)
- Kintaro (Evan Kishiyama) (debut)
- Leonardo (Seth Green)
- Michelangelo (Greg Cipes)
- Miyamoto Usagi (Yuki Matsuzaki) (debut)
- Raphael (Sean Astin)
- Akemi (Brittany Ishibashi) (debut)
- Murakami Gennosuke (flashback only)
- Samurai Army (Keone Young, Tohoru Masamune) (debut)
- Sumo Kuma (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) (debut)
In an alternate dimension inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, a rabbit ronin, Miyamoto Usagi, confronts a seemingly blind wolf wielding a spear who has just murdered an innocent family. The wolf claims the family was infected with evil and that the gods revealed their nature to him. As they do battle, the wolf further states that the gods have given him his skill so that he may cleanse the world of evil. Enraged, Usagi accuses Jei of being pure evil (which he truly is), but the delusional and sadistic wolf-demon rebuffs this, thinking of himself as a hero. Lightning strikes a tree, which bursts into flames, throwing the two of them off guard. As Jei gangs up on the rabbit rōnin, Usagi demands to know who he is, and the wolf-demon reveals his name to be Jei, the 'blade of the gods'. Raising his spear menacingly, he prepares to finish off his foe, but before Jei can strike a finishing blow against Usagi, lightning strikes him, and he disappears, leaving behind his smoking spear in the dirt.
Usagi arrives at a ramshackle village left in ruins, where he finds his friend, Akemi. She reveals that a band of samurai lead by a mercenary, Sumo Kuma, attacked in search of the holy child, Kintaro. Akemi brings Kintaro, a pug, from his hiding place, and he begins to act very childish and bratty. Akemi explains that as the Golden Boy destined to have superhuman powers (which he has yet to unleash), Kintaro has been pampered his whole life, resulting in his unpleasant behavior. They are to deliver Kintaro to a safe temple palace so he can reach his true potential, but Akemi cannot travel due to a leg injury sustained in the battle. Akemi leaves Kintaro in Usagi's care, much to the pug's dismay.
From a mountain lair, Jei magically watches Usagi and Kintaro depart. He decides he needs great warriors to destroy Usagi, and performs a summoning ritual with four turtle totems. The ritual brings the Ninja Turtles from their own dimension, much to their confusion. Leo is very curious of what place are they in. Meanwhile Raph demanded of Donnie an explanation for what brought them into this place. Then Raph and Donnie got into an argument. At first, Jei is initially confused to see the Turtle Ninjas, as this goes against what he originally planned. Nonetheless, he snickers evilly and decides to make-do. Pretending to be a blind, injured and crippled old man, Jei approaches the turtles, imposing with his black spear, claiming that Usagi attacked him. As he lays a hand on each, he casts an evil spell on them, one by one, their eyes turning white like his own, and he orders them to hunt down and kill Usagi, but to leave Kintaro unharmed.
As they camp for the night, Kintaro continues to berate Usagi and becomes outraged when told he could help with the campfire. While Usagi collects water and reminds himself to be patient, the mind controlled Turtles, mistaken for kappa, rise from the river and engage the ronin in combat. Each Turtle receives a blow to the head during the fight, bringing them out of Jei's control. They explain the wolf's involvement with their presence and Usagi clarifies that Jei is not blind, but possessed by evil. Usagi offers the Turtles refuge in their camp before telling them his story. He was the personal bodyguard of Lord Mifune, his master, in the battle against Lord Hikiji. Had not a trusted general turned against them, they might've won the battle. Usagi failed to protect his master, resulting in his death and leaving Usagi a ronin, wandering the land.
Usagi assures the Turtles that the monks of Kintaro's order might be able use their mystic knowledge to send them back home. As the group travels through the forest the following day, Sumo Kuma and his band of samurai ride through on horseback. Usagi and the Turtles ambush some of the samurai and use their armor for disguises so that they may discover what they plan for Kintaro, who is made to ride in a basket. Unfortunately, Sumo Kuma discovers their presence due to them smelling different.
Sumo Kuma and his samurai battle Usagi and the Turtles, with the latter group gaining the upper hand. Kintaro's basket is briefly sent rolling along the valley before he is saved by Usagi, who uses a bow and arrow. As the heroes ride faster to escape, they end up at a cliff, where they and their horses leap off. The episode ends with a freeze frame shot as they fall through the air to the trees below them.
- The title of this episode, "yojimbo" (用心棒) means "bodyguard" or "bouncer" in Japanese.
- This episode is the first part of a three-part crossover story arc featuring between TMNT 2012 and Miyamoto Usagi, a fictional rabbit rōnin created by Stan Sakai, who was inspired by the famous swordsman Miyamoto Musashi. It is set primarily at the beginning of the Edo period of Japanese history and features anthropomorphic animals (include mythical creatures, replacing humans. Usagi wanders the land on a musha shugyō (a warrior's quest or pilgrimage to which some samurai undergo sometimes), occasionally selling his services as a bodyguard to those in need.
- Stan Sakai, who was the creator and artist of the Usagi Yojimbo comics, also supported this arc by serving as a screenwriter.
- Sakai was also the screenwriter for this particular episode.
- This episode is also named after the 1961 movie of the same name directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshiro Mifune. This episode also includes several references towards that film.
- Usagi scratches his head just like the film protagonist Kuwabatake Sanjuro.
- A Tokage lizard is seen running away with a severed hand in it's mouth, but in the film, it was a dog.
- Kintaro hides just like the samurais in the movie sequel Sanjuro, which they were under the floorboards.
- Murakami Gennosuke can be seen briefly amongst Lord Mifune's forces within Usagi's flashbacks.
- Akemi is voiced by Brittany Ishibashi, the same actress who portrayed Karai in the 2016 film, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows.
- Raph's difficulty riding a horse is a reference to the third live-action movie.
- This is also a callback to the 2012 series season 3 episode, "Turtles in Time".
- When Usagi warns the Turtles of horses approaching, it is implied that the horses are far away. However, the horses arrived only a few seconds after the Turtles and Usagi took cover in the trees. The horses would've seen Usagi and the Turtles, yet somehow they did not see them.
- When the Turtles scurry up the trees to hide from Sumo Kuma's horsemen, they are seen scurrying up into different trees. However, in a later shot when Usagi and the Turtles spy on the horsemen from the trees, they are all on the same tree.
- When Usagi and the Turtles land after jumping from a cliff on their horses, the horses are nowhere to be seen in the next scene by the same cliff, perhaps to avoid showing the horses (likely) died from the long fall.