The State of the World
Four and a half years before the start of the series, Mikado City was attacked by giant robotic monsters known as Neighbors1, which came through a gate that connected the city to another world. At first, people fought the monsters with normal weapons and technologies native to the Earth but their efforts were ineffective against the robotic monsters.
When people began to lose hope, Border, then a mysterious and much smaller group, appeared amongst the chaos and repelled the invaders. In the end, although Border successfully defended against the alien invaders, part of Mikado City was destroyed with over 1200 deaths and 400 people missing. This event was later known as the First Large-Scale Invasion.
Border was founded six years prior to the start of the series and was hidden from the public eye until the invasion from four and a half years ago. The original Border had 19 members amongst its ranks and was headquartered in the building that houses the current Tamakoma Branch.
Border originally functioned as its name suggested, a border and a bridge between the humans on Earth and the Neighbors. It was allied with three Neighbor countries (similar to planets), and a pact was established between Earth and its three allies to help protect each other from other hostile countries should an invasion occur.
Approximately five years prior to the series, one of those allied countries was attacked, which caused Border to send reinforcement to help its ally fight off the enemy. Although Border and the allied country eventually chased away the enemy, Border suffered a great loss, which resulted in the deaths of ten members (although some did become Black Triggers2). Of the remaining members that survived, this event changed the opinions of some towards the Neighbors, and Border was split into two fractions – the members that left with opposing philosophies towards Neighbors went on to create the current (main) Border Headquarters, and those that remained with the belief that the Neighbors aren't all bad went on to establish the current Tamakoma Branch.
Name: Kazama Soya (風間蒼也)
Rankings: No.2 Attacker, No.3 Solo Overall
Birthday: September 24
Zodiac Sign: Crescent Moon (みかづき座)
Occupation: University Student
Likes: Katsu (Pork or Chicken Cutlet) Curry, Milk, Self-Discipline
Family: Dad, Mom, Older Brother (deceased)
Kazama is one of the many supporting characters in World Trigger who seemed to have joined Border immediately after (new) Border started recruiting members after the First Large-Scale Invasion. Kazama was first introduced as one of the top three Border members that were away on an expedition mission. Immediately upon the expedition team's return, Kazama and the expedition team, along with Miwa Unit, were given a personal mission from Commander Kido to retrieve Yuma's Black Trigger, which made Kazama one of the antagonists for this early arc in the series. In the end of the arc, Kazama and company did not complete their mission because Kazama, along with Tachikawa (the two strongest Attackers using a standard Trigger3 at Border) were defeated by Jin, a S-Rank agent with the Black Trigger, Fujin, which caused the two to Bail Out4 and ended the mission.
Although Kazama often gives people a first impression that he is younger than he actually is due to his stature (for example, when he first tried to recruit Kikuchihara for his Unit, Kikuchihara thought Kazama was younger than him at first and that Kazama was full of himself from the way he speaks before he discovered that Kazama was, in fact, a lot older than he was), Kazama is actually one of the few adult combatants within Border (most active combatants and operators at Border are middle school or high school students, because the organ that produces Trion5 within the human body stops developing after Age 20 and will grow weaker if it is not utilized regularly). As one of the top combatants within Border, Kazama is respected not only for his fighting abilities but also for his analytical skills, which the higher-ups within Border also regconize, as Kazama is often invited to strategy meetings with the executive board and consulted for his opinions on different situations that Border might be facing.
In one of the blurbs from Volume 4 of the manga, Ashihara stated that Kazama seemed to get shorter every time he had to draw him, to the point that he felt that Kazama is becoming more and more like Youtarou (the 5 year-old boy that rides on a capybara at the Tamakoma Branch). Ashihara also said that the Kazama Unit is very difficult to draw for him due to their uniforms being very troublesome.
The Kazama Unit
Ranked as the No. 3 Class A unit within Border, the Kazama Unit is comprised of three combatants and an operator, namely Kazama Soya (leader/Attacker), Utagawa Ryo (All-Rounder), Kikuchihara Shiro (Attacker), and Mikami Kaho (Operator). The Kazama Unit specializes in close-range stealth combat with the use of Scorpion (a Trigger for Attackers that has the shape of a short sword or a dagger) and the Optional Trigger, Chameleon (which allows the user to cloak).
Before anyone else realized the potential of Kikuchihara's Side Effect6, Enhanced Hearing, and how it could be used in combat, Kazama recruited him for his own unit. At the time, Kikuchihara also believed his own Side Effect was useless due to it being classified at the lowest rank, but Kazama explained to him that "80% of all sensory information is based solely on sight" and that his Enhanced Hearing would give their unit an edge over the other units. Indeed, the reason why the Kazama Unit became known for stealth combat and the use of the Chameleon trigger is largely the result of Kikuchihara's Side Effect in conjunction with the Chameleon Trigger. Chameleon was a popular Trigger when it was first developed two years ago, but was rendered useless when other teams used it against the Kazama Unit, because the Kazama Unit would always know where the attacks from the other units are coming from even when they're hiding with Chameleon, thanks to Kikuchihara's Side Effect.
Due to the heavy use of Chameleon as part of the Kazama Unit's battle strategy, the uniform of the Kazama Unit is specially equipped with devices (in the shape of glowing green orbs/circles) that reduce Trion consumption from the Chameleon Trigger. The Kazama Unit's main Attack Trigger, Scorpion, is also modified with a hollowed out center in order to enhance the Trigger's offensive abilities.
Abilities & Trigger
Although Kazama and his unit's fighting style is comparable to the rouge classes from many RPGs/MMORPGs (using speedy attacks alongside hit and run tactics), Kazama himself is a fairly well-rounded Border agent, according to the parameters chart found within his profile from Border Briefing File.
As one of Border's top agents, Kazama is exceptionally powerful with his weapon of choice, the Scorpion, often utilizing a dual-wielding style with a blade in each hand. Not only is Kazama the agent who scored the most points with Scorpion but he is also able to fight evenly with Jin, who possesses a Side Effect that allows him to see into the future, and the Black Trigger, Fujin, while Fujin is in its sealed form. In another instance, while fighting in a mock battle against Osamu, when Osamu filled the training room with slow-moving Asteroid bullets (somwhat similar to landmines, in this particular instance), Kazama was able to cut the bullets with his blades.
Kazama is also a calm and logical fighter, often thinking on his feet and formulating strategies while he is in the middle of the battle. These traits also make him a good commander on the battlefield, which is demonstrated when the top 4 Attackers of Border were tasked with protecting the expedition ship from Galopoula invaders. After exchanging a few blows with the two humanoid Neighbors, Gatlin and Koskero, Kazama decided that the best strategy to defeat the enemies was for him to take on Koskero alone, since he felt that Koskero was wary of his Chameleon Trigger, while the other three focus on defeating Gatlin, since Gatlin seemed more troublesome and more difficult to take out with only one person.
In order to achieve the objective of the mission, Kazama would sometimes sacrifice himself if the situation and his strategy call for it. This was demonstrated during the mission to retrieve Yuma's Black Trigger, when Kazama and Tachikawa were seemingly backed into a corner by Jin, Kazama used Mole Claw (a technique where he grows an u-shaped Scorpion blade from the bottom of his foot into the ground and have it come out of the ground into the opponent's foot) to anchor Jin in order to allow Tachikawa to attack Jin (even if he would be in the middle of Tachikawa's slash.)
The Scorpion is a short, light Trion blade that has good offensive power but lacks durability and defense compared to other weapons that an Attacker might use. The Scorpion also allows for its users to be creative and unpredictable with his/her battling techniques and strategies, because the user can manifest blades from any body parts, such as when Kitora used it to replace a lost leg during the Black Trigger Retrieval Arc, or when Yuma used the blades to temporarily close up a wound in the Rank Battles against Katori and Kakizaki Units. Kazama's Mole Claw is also one of such manipulation of the Scorpion.
The Chameleon is an Optional Trigger that allows the user to become invisible, however, when Chameleon is activated, the user cannot use any other Triggers. For Kazama, the Chameleon Trigger not only allows him to surprise his opponents, but also allows him a moment of time to observe his opponents and formulate his strategies. It is also a useful trigger when he needs to run away from his opponent to regroup with his unit. However, Kazama has extensive experience in using the Trigger that he is able to see through most countermeasures others might use against the Chameleon Trigger.
The Shield is a Defensive Trigger that produces a protective barrier in the location of the user's choosing. The size and thickness of the shield is also adjustable, allowing it to block most attacks to varying degrees, but this is dependent upon the user's Trion level.
The Bagworm is an Optional Trigger that is generally used to hide one's prescience from appearing on the enemy's radar. It is a very useful trigger for Snipers for their hit-and-run tactics.
Throughout the main storyline of the series, Kazama is portrayed as being stern, mostly expressionless and somewhat blunt at times, especially when giving advice and evaluating people. For example, when Karasuma asked him for his opinions on Mikumo after he fought Mikumo in a series of mock battles, Kazama went straight to the point and told Karasuma (and everyone that was present) that he thought Mikumo was weak, has barely passable Trion and physical abilities, and that he couldn't see what Jin saw in Mikumo. Kazama was also quite harsh towards his teammates when he tried to get them to retreat (due to a bad match-up and to be useful in the battle against the invading Neighbors later) during the Second Large-Scale Invasion after he was defeated by Enedra, a humanoid Neighbor and a Black Trigger user. After his teammates seemed reluntant to follow his commands, Kazama blunting told Utagawa and Kikuchihara that Sasamori, an Attacker from the B-rank Suwa Unit, was more obedient in following his commands even though he isn't Sasamori's direct superior. Kazama also went on to call his teammates out after he finished talking to them, in front of their Operator, Mikami, for being childish for wanting to avenge their captain instead of thinking about the big picture in terms of how to be useful in the whole defensive efforts against the invading Neighbors.
However, Kazama is also a fair and perceptive observer who is able to see both the strengths and weakness of people. In the case of Mikumo, in addition to his criticism, Kazama also praised him for his abilities to be aware of his own weakness, to read his opponent, and to formulate a strategy against Kazama and his Chameleon Trigger while fighting. When Kazama tried to recruit Kikuchihara for his own unit, he was able to pinpoint exactly how Kikuchihara's Side Effect would be useful on the battlefield.
Despite being a formidable leader and combatant within the series' main storyline, Kazama also has a mischievous side as imagined by Ashihara in the series' omake (bonus) materials. In the 4-panel omake comic strip from Volume 4, Miwa was upset with not being able to make the ✧ appear next to his face while all the other A-Rank characters can do it. Miwa's teammate, Kodera, tried to console him and told Miwa that Kazama probably can't make the ✧ appear either. However, right on cue, Kazama stepped into the room with the ✧. In the Question Corner from Border Briefing File, Ashihara stated that several examples of things that Kazama did that were not "cool", such as paying the child fare whilst riding public transportation as an adult and not realizing it for years, fighting a mailbox after Suwa got him drunk (Kazama is apparently a light-weight drinker), and riding on Rajinmaru (Youtarou's capybara) when he thought no one was watching but his act was caught on tape by the surveillance camera and so on.
On a more serious note, in Ashihara's words, Kazama is "small and efficient", and "a passionate man who has made up his mind to fight with the cards he has been dealt with”. It is also interesting to note that in one of the character blurbs from Volume 4, Ashihara described Kazama as an "A-Rank 21 years old kid", but used the -san suffix (polite form) to address him and referred to him as "Kazama-san". While, for many other character, Ashihara would just call them by their family name, like Tachikawa, Reiji, Jin etc.
Despite there being plenty of other male characters being equally short, Kazama's stature seemed to be constantly emphasised form both the series' main storyline and omake materials. Within the main story, Kazama is often mistaken for being younger than he actually is due to his height. Even Osamu's mom thought that Kazama is Osamu's kouhai (junior) with black hair and a sharp gaze, when Kazama visited Osamu at the hospital after the Second Large-Scale Invasion while Osamu was in a coma.
Outside of the main story, on multiple characters ranking poll, Kazama's character one-line description often stresses his height, such as “the popular 158cm”, “the star of not-even 160cm”, “his heart is always in the growing stage” (as in, even if he stops growing taller physically, he’s still growing in his heart) etc.
As for Kazama himself, as Ashihara has stated in one of the character blurbs from Volume 4, he doesn't really care about being short, However, even if Kazama mostly embraces his stature due to his underlining nature of being able to understand and work with his own weaknesses and limitations, occasionally, it seems like he still has a little bit of a complex regarding his own height. For instance, when he first tried to recruit Kikuchihara and commented on Kikuchihara's Side Effect, Kikuchihara snapped at Kazama for being full of himself for someone so puny (Kikuchihara thought Kazama was probably younger than him, so he was rude for talking in casual/blunt Japanese to someone who's "supposedly" older than he is), but Kazama quickly introduced himself stating that he was 19 (Kikuchihara was 14 at the time). In another example, one of the things that Kazama like is milk, which seems like a rather obvious trope/character cliché, since short/small characters have a tendency to either like or hate milk in many anime/manga. For characters that like milk, it is usually in hopes that they would grow taller. For those that hate milk, it is usually used as the reason why those characters are so short.
Basically aliens. Initially it was used to refer to the robotic monsters that would come through the gates and attack people, but it was later explained that the robotic monsters are Trion Soldiers, while "Neighbors" refers to human/humanoid beings not of Earth who control the Trion Soldiers.
2. BLACK TRIGGER
Black Trigger are extremely powerful triggers created by the self-sacrifice of its creator by pouring his/her life energy, as well as Trion, into an object, resulting in the creator's death. A Black Trigger generally chooses its own “master”, meaning that not many people will be compatible with a specific Black Trigger due to the Black Trigger often inheriting the personality of its creator.
Most of what is referred to as “Trigger” as seen within the series is of combat use. Triggers originated from the Neighbors, it is a piece of technology that manipulates and uses the user's Trion as its source of power. While regular human weaponry is useless against Neighbor technologies, such as Trion Soldiers, combative Triggers are able to do damage and even destroy such technologies.
4. BAIL OUT
A standard fail-safe Trigger equipped on all Border agents rank B and above, which allows the user to escape back to base (generally to the unit's control room within the Border building) during emergency situation or when his/her Trion (combat) body is incapacitated (Bail Out will be automatically activiated in this situation). Bail Out has a limited range, but for Border agents, it seems the range covers the entirety of Mikado City.
Energy needed to use Triggers/Neighbor technologies such as the expedition ship, which can be thought of as similar to MP/Mana etc. in a Role-Playing Game.
6. SIDE EFFECT
An enhanced physical or extrasensory ability that tend to manifest in some individuals with considerably high Trion levels. Kikuchihara's Enhanced Hearing would be considered a low-ranked Side Effect, while Jin's ability to see the future of people he has met before (cannot control whose future he sees) would be classified as higher-ranked.
*Notes on characters’ names: The same romanization as the ones given in Border Briefing File were used throughout the site, which is why Kazama Soya is written as such instead of Kazama Souya (which is what I would use if no official romanization was given) even when the “o” in “So” is a long vowel (written as そう in Japanese, which would generally be romanized as “sou”). This is also the case with Kikuchihara and Utagawa's first names (Shiro/Shirou and Ryo/Ryou respectively).
I have actually forgotten my first impressions or how I've come to like Kazama, but as it currently stands, Kazama is probably my favorite character from the series, due to the fact that he doesn't let someone else's opinions cloud his own judgement of someone's potential, and would rather see things for himself before he forms his own opinions, such as in the case of Kikuchihara and Mikumo. The fact that Kazama is very analytical and observant, adjusting his battle strategies as he fights/as needed also resonated with me, as I enjoy seeing how a character thinks.
The name isn't super special or creative this time, and I just went with something very obvious. Since the Kazama Unit specializes in stealth combat, I went with the word Incognito because for some reason, it reminded me of Chrome's Incognito mode. (Don't ask because I don't really know either. Haha.)
Lastly, I want to dedicate this fanpage to Elysa, who came out of ghostville just to say hi to me after she saw that I had Kazama listed on my collective's projects section. She also gently urged me to build it when we first started following each other on twitter, so since I've finally materialized the fanpage, it's only natural for me to dedicate this to her. Thank you! ♥
Here are some buttons to use if you would like to link back to Incognito. Please save the buttons to your own server and do not direct link. A text link back to the URL http://cissnei.net/kazama would also be greatly appreciated. Thank you!