Is it possible that Katsumoto, the Samurai leader who was killed spearheading a rebellion in The Last Samurai, eventually became the mentor of Ra’s al-Ghul?
Could he have survived his supposed death to become not only a decoy for Ducard, but also The Sensei; the master instructor of the League of Shadows?
For those who are not familiar with the character of The Sensei, he is Ra’s al-Ghul’s second-in command, and he is the grand master who trains all members of the League. Just like Ra’s, the Sensei is extremely old, and uses the Lazarus Pit to keep himself alive.
With this in mind, let’s begin with the single most obvious fact; Katsumoto and Ra’s decoy share the same physical and demographic profile, as they are both Japanese men of average build and above average hight. But that profile is shared by many Japanese men, so let’s review what we know about Katsumoto himself.
At the end of The Last Samurai, we see Katsumoto sustain multiple gunshot wounds before impaling himself through the stomach with his own sword.
There is no mention of his burial or the fate of his body. Could this be because there was no funeral? Instead of being buried, could the legendary samurai have been resurrected?
Ironically, the evidence actually lies in the clashing personalities of Katsumoto and the Sensei.
Katsumoto was an honorable warrior who shows respect to his fallen enemies, while The Sensei practices a harsh and deadly form of justice.
In order for Katsumoto to have gone from a humble Samurai warrior to being the ruthless Sensei, he must have undergone a severe personality shift. This happens to be the signature side effect of the Lazarus Pit.
We know from the Batman Begins novel that The Pit’s magical waters can restore a person’s health, and even bring them back from the dead, but the price paid is a damaged soul. One passage in particular tells us this.
If Katsumoto really was resurrected in the Lazarus Pit, it only makes sense that his personality would change drastically. By the time we meet The Sensei in Batman Begins, he is already a ruthless assassin instructor, so we don’t know who might have saved him, but with his legendary skills as a samurai warrior, it’s easy to see how Ra’s himself might have resurrected Katsumoto. Katsumoto was once chosen to train the Emperor of Japan, so he would have been a valuable asset to Ra’s al-Ghul.
As the leader of a rebel faction, Katsumoto was also experienced in leading a movement for justice outside of the law. His famous Samurai rebellion would have also given him the leadership experience needed to train and command legions of assassins.
We can find further proof of Katsumoto’s teachings in Ra’s methods. Katsumoto’s attacks on Japan’s railroads were a form of economic terrorism, just like the attack Ra’s first attack on Gotham. When Ra’s al-Ghul confronts Bruce Wayne in Wayne Manor in Batman Begins, he hells his former student; “over the ages our weapons have evolved. With Gotham we tried a new one; economics.”
We can also see that Ra’s al-Ghul probably learned the value of theatricality and deception from Katsumoto, who uses theatrics to intimidate the enemy before the battle even starts.
This is a lesson he could very well have taught to Ra’s al-Ghul, who in turn, taught Bruce Wanye that “theatricality and deception are powerful agents.”
A closer look at Katsumoto’s rebellion and the League’s mission will reveal another key clue. Katsumoto was a man of simple means who despised luxury and led a rebellion to fend off what he saw as the West’s corrupting influence on Imperial Japan.
Katsumoto rebelled against Westernization, and when his Samurai Army was smashed by an American-led modern Japanese army, Ra’s al-Ghul’s League of Shadows would have proved the perfect instrument for him not only to resume his crusade, but to bring it to a global level. The Sensei’s hatred for Gotham is well known, and he revealed his distain when he told told Bruce Wayne that “Gotham MUST be destroyed!” and with Gotham being America’s greatest city, as it is described in the Dark Knight Rises, it would make the perfect target for an anti-western Katsumoto spearheading the League.
So let’s review the facts; Katsumoto suffered grievous wounds on the battlefield in 1877 with the fate of his body remaining unknown.
A very similar-looking, aging instructor of the league, who appears to have endured the mind-warping effects of the Lazarus Pit, appears in the early 2000’s. As an expert swordsman, Katsumoto had the skills to train Ducard. Katsumoto was also a seasoned battlefield commander with a history of operating outside the law and a flare for theatricality, and perhaps most importantly, he shared a hatred of western decadence that made the League target Gotham in 2005.
We never found out what ultimately happened to Katsumoto’s body, and we don’t know if Ra’s’ decoy was in indeed the Sensei, so it’s impossible to know for sure whether or not Katsumoto was indeed reborn as The Sensei, so I ask you; did Katsumoto become the Mentor of the Demon?