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|His is the first life I have ever saved... I will not allow it to be taken away so easily.|
Ryōken Hōinbō is a blind assassin with a large pet dog called Kuro. The ringing of the custom-made bells attached to his knife and Kuro are said to be the last things his victims hear. He was eventually caught and imprisoned at some point before March 2019.
Hōinbō the saviourEdit
While walking with Kuro on a particularly cold day on Dec. 23, 2000, Hōinbō came across two boys trapped inside a frozen car, freezing to death. He saved them and took them to the Happy Family Home orphanage. Both boys lost their memories due to the trauma of their near-death experience, and no families seemed to be looking for them, so they remained in the orphanage. The irony of an assassin saving lives was not lost on Hōinbō, but this would only be the beginning of his interactions with the boys.
A presidential assassinationEdit
- Main article: SS-5 Incident
Six years later, Hōinbō was hired to assassinate Teikun Ō, the president of Zheng Fa, by one of his body doubles. The body double brought Chief Prosecutor Bansai Ichiyanagi to his cause, who in turn bribed Marī Miwa, the owner of the Happy Family Home orphanage, into cooperating. Hōinbō waited at the entrance of the orphanage for the president to arrive, then introduced himself and his intentions to his target. To the assassin's surprise, Ō begged not for his life, but for the opportunity to fulfill a planned meeting with his secret son, Shimon Aizawa. Hōinbō denied this request and attacked the president. The first strike sliced off a horn from a Borumosu doll with a built-in recording device, while the next strike dealt the fatal blow to Ō.
Hōinbō then waited inside the orphanage so that his employers could clean up the crime scene. However, Sōta Sarushiro, one of the boys he had rescued from the car years prior, warned him that the three co-conspirators were planning to kill him. The boy set a fire to distract the assassin's former employers so that Hōinbō could escape. Hōinbō began to grow fond of the boy, and the two kept in touch through correspondence chess. The president's murder was made to look like a kidnapping (with the body double assuming the real Ō's identity), and it was known within police files as the SS-5 Incident.
- Main article: The Imprisoned Turnabout
Hōinbō was eventually caught and convicted of his crimes, with Miles Edgeworth being the prosecutor in his trial. Knowing that Miwa had become the warden of the prison in which he would reside, he threatened her and her family, claiming that he still had many henchmen outside working for him. He also told her that he knew about Shimon Aizawa; knowledge that could be used to expose the body double as a fake. This made Miwa so deathly afraid of the assassin that she would capitulate to whatever he demanded. Among other things, Hōinbō used this advantage over Miwa to procure various items for other prisoners, giving him the nickname of "the Supplier". Miwa would use Kuro to deliver the goods from a well in the prison courtyard to Hōinbō's cell. During his stay in prison, Hōinbō took up chiseling and continued to play chess with Sarushiro through mail correspondence.
On March 25, 2019, Manosuke Naitō was arrested and brought to the prison. Two days later, Kuro brought Naitō's dead body to Hōinbō. Near the neck of the corpse, the assassin heard the sound of the bell that had been attached to his knife. However, he found that the apparent murder weapon was not his knife, but a small chisel similar to the ones that he had acquired. Realizing that he was being set up to be implicated in the crime, he had Kuro drop the body off in Workroom A, pull out the weapon there, and bring it back to him. Hōinbō followed the ensuing investigation and ended up meeting Miles Edgeworth again.
Although the prison was searched, Hōinbō was able to hide the murder weapon by having Kuro keep it inside his mouth whenever he had visitors. Nonetheless, he found himself being suspected of the crime by Edgeworth, who eventually found the chisel. Hōinbō was also surprised to find that Edgeworth believed that Naitō was his chess opponent. Fortunately for him, fingerprint testing on the chisel revealed only Naitō's prints. Edgeworth eventually exposed Miwa as the real killer the following day, and found the murder weapon, Hōinbō's knife, hidden inside her pet alligator.
- Main article: The Grand Turnabout
Five days after Miwa's arrest, Hōinbō escaped from the prison to find Sarushiro. Three days later, the body double was murdered, and the assassin found Miles Edgeworth at the crime scene conversing with Shi-Long Lang about the SS-5 Incident. It soon became apparent that they had figured out the truth behind the "kidnapping", prompting Hōinbō to reveal himself and offer information about his acolyte. Hōinbō learned that Sarushiro had merely pretended to play chess with him, and that he had really acted as a middle-man, pretending to play against both Hōinbō and Naitō and having them unwittingly play against each other. After learning where Sarushiro was, the assassin made his exit.
Edgeworth confronted Sarushiro and successfully showed that he was the mastermind who had killed the body double and instigated Miwa into killing Naitō by making it look like he was one of Hōinbō's henchmen (hence why he had gone to lengths to made it seem as if Hōinbō and Naitō were knowingly playing chess with one another). The assassin Shelly de Killer suddenly appeared in order to kill Sarushiro, as the latter had betrayed his personal code of client-assassin trust. However, Hōinbō crossed blades with the fellow professional killer and asked him to spare Sarushiro's life. De Killer scoffed at the idea that Hōinbō would beg for someone else's life, but agreed to spare Sarushiro and left.
Shimon Aizawa, who had been present during Edgeworth's confrontation of Sarushiro, then called out Hōinbō. Identifying the anger in the young boy, Hōinbō offered Aizawa a knife and gave him the opportunity to exact his revenge. However, Aizawa put aside his feelings and refused to kill the assassin, leaving Hōinbō to eventually return to prison with his acolyte.
Hōinbō is a patient, cryptic, unflappable man with a dark sense of humor. He mostly makes up for his blindness with his hearing and his long memory. He remembers everyone he has killed, as well as tiny details like the mention of horn props on Shimon Aizawa's head. He is also very perceptive of the personalities of others, recognizing why Teikun Ō's body double could never really live up to the legacy of the real deal.
Hōinbō's life changed after his encounters with Sōta Sarushiro. By becoming something akin to a father figure, he ceased to be merely a ruthless assassin, and was willing to go to great lengths to protect Sarushiro. He eventually grew tired of killing and took up chess and wood carving in prison. He then grew weary even of those activities and seemed to have no issue with allowing Aizawa to avenge his father's death. This opportunity to die was denied, but Hōinbō gained Sarushiro as a new prison companion.
Hōinbō and fellow assassin Shelly de Killer appear to have encountered each other at some point in the past, as Hōinbō comments that "It has been far too long" during their standoff.
- His surname "Hōinbō" may have been derived from the Japanese school of Go Hon'inbō.
- His given name "Ryōken" is a homophone for the Japanese word for "hunting dog".
- Hōinbō's English name in the Gyakuten Kenji 2 fan translation patch is "Sirhan Dogen"; "Sirhan" is an African name that means "wolf" (as well as being the name of the assassin who killed United States Senator Robert F. Kennedy), while "Dogen" is both a play on "dog" and the name of a Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher.
- His prison number is "B-055", which looks similar to the English word "boss". This is likely a reference to his status as the "Supplier" for the prison's inmates.
- Like a few other characters in Gyakuten Kenji 2, Hōinbō has design and personality parallels with a chess piece. With his prayer beads, Buddhist-like leitmotif, "fallen priest" nickname, and even the shape of his head, Hōinbō represents the bishop.
- Hōinbō uses "sessou" (拙僧) in his style of speech, which is a very humble first-person personal pronoun that gives him the feel of a Buddhist monk.