Haohmaru (覇王丸, Haōmaru; also can be written as "Haoumaru") is the star character of the Samurai Shodown series and one of the series's most known characters, the other being Nakoruru. He was introduced in the first Samurai Shodown and continues to appear in every title of the series.
His character origin was originally based around the famed swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi, a duelist who claimed to have never lost a match. He is visually modeled after Hyakkimaru from the manga Dororo. Though he is a swordsman with no loyalties to any lord (rōnin), Haohmaru has a "samurai spirit" which is often stressed in the series. He is also often accredited to defeating most of the series's villains.
In Gamest's 1997 Heroes Collection, Haohmaru was tied with Ukyo Tachibana for 29th (out of 50) of the staff's favorite character rank. He was also voted as the second favorite character by the development team and fans in Samurai Shodown II. According to the Q&A page for Neo Geo Battle Coliseum, developers admitted that no matter what the fans wanted, they wanted to include Samurai Shodown characters and made Haohmaru's inclusion one of their top priorities in development. Garou: Mark of the Wolves planner and The King of Fighters XIV producer Yasuyuki Oda states that Haohmaru and his rival Genjuro are his favourite characters from the Samurai Shodown series.
He also makes regular appearances in the series's merchandise and has at least two action figures.
At the age of fifteen, he challenged Jubei Yagyu to a duel but lost due to lack of experience. Jubei, amused by the youth's bravado, brought Haohmaru to Nicotine Caffeine so that he may gain proper training. Whilst living there, he also met and befriended Genjuro Kibagami, fellow student and another orphan like himself.
Orphaned, Nicotine spotted him and took him under his tutelage along with Genjuro in his home. Both students were close friends, yet Genjuro's hunger for power worried Nicotine. To test his students, he tempted them to fight over the treasured sword, Fugudoku. They were tested by facing off with a group of other fighters. In contrast to his friend, Haohmaru fought only until his opponent lost the will to fight and didn't give chase. After Genjuro left Nicotine's home, Haohmaru was rewarded with the sword. Encouraged by his master to further improve himself, Haohmaru travels the lands perfecting his sword skills, and searches for worthy challengers in the name of Shura.
During his many travels, Haohmaru trains Shizumaru Hisame and inspires Takechiyo. He guided both until he felt they had matured enough before continuing his journey. He will sometimes challenge them to a duel after a certain amount of time to test their skill and resolve.
In Warriors Rage, Haohmaru is a skilled and active swordsman at the age of forty-seven who is revered by many to be the "Legendary Swordsman". He learns that his adopted niece, Mikoto, ran away from the temple (her childhood home) and follows her to the cursed island of Riten Kyo. There, he grows aware of the evil entities at work there, and departs on a journey to stop the Razor Trio, as well as duel worthy opponents along the way. In his ending, Haohmaru eventually reaches Mikoto at Riten Kyo and reveals her unspoken past to her.
Confident in his abilities, Haohmaru enjoys the thrill of fighting against strong opponents. Seeking enlightenment with each encounter, he constantly journeys in order to improve himself. As he gets older, he feels less inclined to fight and will try to avoid it if possible.
Outside of battle, Haohmaru is a crude but easy-going man, caring only for sake and food. He has a romantic interest in a simple girl named Oshizu ("O" added as a honorific prefix).
- Hurricane Attack: He can create a small hurricane with a slash of his sword. Upon contact, the hurricane sends the enemy flying.
- Energy Slash: He can use ki energy to increase damage of his slashing attacks.
- Deflection: His jug can somehow be used to deflect projectiles of all sorts with proper timing.
Much of his fighting style revolves around power-based swordplay, and seems to be personalized by himself. He can use his sake jug to hit the opponent or to reflect projectiles. His trademark moves are Kogetsuzan (Arc Moon Slash), a crescent shaped uppercut, and Senpū Retsu Zan (Whirlwind Rending Slash), a whirlwind projectile which can launch targets up into the air with a vertically-expanding tornado on hit. In Samurai Shodown II, he also gained a somersault slamming slash known as the Resshin Zan (Violent Quake Slash), which could cause massive damage upon crouching foes and giving him a bit of a mixup game. Most of his special moves have the term ōgi (secret skill) put before them (save for his fake Senpuu Retsu Zan, where the "gi" is the kanji for "fake/imitation" as a pun). He is also one of the few characters to sport a special move that can only be done while dashing, namely his Shippū Kogetsu Zan (Hurricane Arc Moon Slash).
When his style splits in Samurai Shodown III, his Slash form retains several strategies used in previous games, being a balanced and easy-to-master mid-ranged combatant. By contrast, his Bust form alters several moves, granting him access to aggressive close-combat fighting. His appearance in Warriors Rage also combined some elements from Genjuro's fighting style such as his stance and crouching strikes.
One thing is certain, Haohmaru is a shotoclone who alters the archetype by being mainly more power-based compared to most beginner-type characters, with his infamous standing Hard Slash (as well as a stronger version of it, the Zankōsen/Slashing Steel Flash) being one of the series' longer-reaching and strongest attacks. Said Hard Slash even in Capcom vs. SNK 2 deals a massive amount of hitstop on a connected hit, which even slows the frame-rate of the game down somewhat for dramatic effect.
- Time of the man - Day (男節 日, Otoko setsu - Hi) - Samurai Shodown
- Path of the man (男道, Otoko michi) - Samurai Shodown II
- Alcoholic (男酒, Danshu) - Samurai Shodown III
- Path of Shura (修羅道, Shuradō) - Samurai Shodown IV, SNK vs. Capcom: The Match of the Millennium
- Zeal (精進, Shōjin) - Samurai Shodown 64
- Champion (覇者, Hasha) - Samurai Shodown 64-2
- Meeting Haohmaru (覇王丸見参, Haōmaru Kenzan) - Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage
- Legend (伝説, Densetsu) - Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage
- Sakura (櫻, Sakura) - Samurai Shodown V
- Imperial Sundance - Samurai Remix VA
Shurado is often used together with Bushido. Whereas Bushido represents discipline and moral code, Shurado represents walking a road of war and carnage without regrets. Shōjin can be translated as either zeal, devotion or concentration, and it is often used as term for advancing in quest for enlightenment. Sakura are also a common Japanese symbol used to describe the transience and beauty of life.
- Masaki Usui - Samurai Shodown ~ Samurai Shodown IV, Sen, Samurai Shodown VI (re-dub voice), Neo Geo Battle Coliseum
- Dorio Takaya - Samurai Shodown V
- Daiki Nakamura - 64 series, Warriors Rage; Capcom vs SNK 2
- Hiroyuki Koga - Samurai Shodown VI
- Toshiyuki Morikawa - Samurai Spirits Oni
- Shingo Katori - Samurai Shodown: Motion Picture
- Milton Lawrence - Samurai Shodown: Motion Picture (English voice)
- Bin Shimada - Samurai Shodown Dengeki drama CD series
- Samurai Shodown
- Quiz King of Fighters
- Samurai Shodown II
- Samurai Shodown III
- Shinsetsu Samurai Spirits: Bushidou Retsuden
- Samurai Shodown IV
- Samurai Shodown 64
- Samurai Shodown 64-2 - his Shura/Slash form will not appear as a CPU opponent
- Samurai Shodown!
- Samurai Shodown! 2
- Samurai Shodown: Warriors Rage
- SNK vs Capcom: Match of the Millenium
- Capcom vs SNK 2
- Samurai Shodown V
- Samurai Shodown V Special
- Samurai Shodown VI
- Neo Geo Battle Coliseum
- Samurai Shodown Sen
- Samurai Spirits (pachinko)
- Samurai Spirits Oni
- Samurai Spirits ~Kengou Hachiban Shoubu~
- Samurai Shodown (2019)
- Days of Memories (third and seventh titles) - unplayable
- Neo Geo Tennis Coliseum
- Samurai Spirits - Shimensouka
- Samurai Spirits - Makai Rineki
- SNK Dream Battle
- SNK High School Collection
- KOF x Fatal Fury
- Granblue Fantasy
- Yamato Chronicle
- The SAMURAI KINGDOM
- If World
- Samurai Shodown Online
- Kingdom Story
- The King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match Online
- Kimi wa Hero
- Samurai Shodown: Oborozuki Densetsu
- Samurai Shodown Tenkadaiichi Kenkakuden
- Might & Magic: Elemental Guardians
- The King of Fighters M《格鬥天王M》
- SNK Gals' Fighters - cameo in background of hot springs arena, together with Jubei
- Nakoruru: Ano Hito kara no Okurimono
- Samurai Spirits Gaiden: Cham Cham
- The King of Fighters: Maximum Impact 2 - Ryo Sakazaki's Normal Outfit-Variation E
- The King of Fighters XIII - DLC background cameo (NESTS-Style Kyo); in the Esaka stage (in the night)
- The King of Fighters XIV - Nakoruru vs. Chin pre-fight talk, mentioned as "sake bottle warrior", and in text-cameo in Nakoruru's win quote
- Lost Saga - as a premium character skin
- SNK Heroines: Tag Team Frenzy - in Nakoruru's ending