Tomoe was the daughter of Tatsutaro, founder of the Falling Rain sword school. From a young age, Tomoe showed an aptitude for sword-fighting, and was trained by her father, despite rigid societal mores that forbade a woman to become a samurai. Tatsutaro would also take her to tournaments that he was competing in. At one of these tournaments, she demonstrated her nascent prowess by defeating a young shugyosha in an informal duel. She practiced her sparring against her brother Tajima and her cousin Noriko. Tomoe was a better swordsman that Tajima, but Tatsutaro nominated Tajima to serve as his successor as master of the Falling Rain school, because of his gender.
Tomoe continued to practice her sword-fighting, alone or with her cousin Noriko, who came to live with the family after the death of her father. She could no longer spar with Tajima, as Tatsutaro felt it would not be suitable for the future head of the Falling Rain school to be constantly beaten by his sister.
When Tomoe became an adult, she was taken by her father to White Heron Castle to become a retainer to Lady Etsuko, wife of Lord Mataichi, in the Ladies' Wing. However, Tomoe was not used to traditional womens' roles and was frequently rebuked by Mistress Kazuko, the head of the Ladies' Wing, for her ineptitude and her continued practice of her swordsmanship skills. On Lady Etsuko's suggestion, Tomoe was reassigned as a guard of the Ladies' Wing.
One night while Tomoe was on patrol, Councilor Odo, an advisor of Lord Mataichi's who was secretly in league with Lord Hikiji, allowed a force of Neko Ninja into the castle to assassinate Lord Mataichi, Lady Etsuko and their son, Noriyuki. Tomoe's superior prowess let her defeat many of the ninja and personally save the life of Lady Etsuko and Noriyuki, despite fearsome odds. As a reward for her heroism, Lady Etsuko proclaimed Tomoe to be the Protector of the Heir. Tomoe continued to serve as chief bodyguard to Noriyuki for the rest of her life.
Meeting with UsagiEdit
Two years after the accession of the Shogun, Lord Mataichi died and Noriyuki became Lord of the Geishu Clan. He travelled to Edo to be formally recognised as daimyo by the Shogun, accompanied by Tomoe and a force of Geishu samurai. Their group was attacked incessantly on the orders of Lord Hikiji, to kill the Geishu lord. Tomoe was the only member of Lord Noriyuki's escort to survive. During an attempt to find shelter from the assassins, Tomoe met the ronin Miyamoto Usagi. Neither of the two remembered each other from their previous meeting years ago: Usagi had been the shugyosha whom Tomoe had defeated at a tournament in their youth. Despite her initial suspicions, the two soon became firm friends as Usagi joined with her in an effort to protect Lord Noriyuki. During the fighting, Tomoe was wounded and separated from the others when she fell into a river. Her unconscious body was found by Lord Noriyuki and Usagi, who then risked their lives to take her to Narai, a nearby town, to recover. The two remained with Tomoe until she regained consciousness, and then left her behind to recover. Usagi successfully delivered Lord Noriyuki to his retainers in Edo, before departing.
Tomoe rejoined Lord Noriyuki in Edo a week later, and soon departed to find Usagi, so she could personally thank him. She discovered him beset by Neko ninja, and her timely arrival saved his life as she helped to defeat them. She soon discovered the reason why: Usagi was carrying a confession from Lord Nerai that implicated Lord Hikiji as being responsible for the attempts on Lord Noriyuki's life. Tomoe and Usagi took the letter to Lord Noriyuki, who in turn attempted to take it to the Shogun. However, it was intercepted by Lord Okii Ashiyubi, who substituted the confession with a clumsy forgery.
Tomoe Ame returned to White Heron Castle with Lord Noriyuki following this incident. The Geishu Clan acquired a sword made by the master weaponsmith Muramasa. Tomoe was in charge of the guards protecting the sword. Despite her precautions, the ninja Shingen penetrated the castle and absconded with the sword, although he was wounded by Tomoe in the process. Tomoe rode out of the castle to search for the sword. She met again briefly with Miyamoto Usagi on the road, and informed him of the situation before continuing her search. Upon her return to White Heron Castle, she met two woodcutters who had discovered the Muramasa blade hidden in a bundle of wood. Tomoe realised from their story that Usagi had discovered the sword and arranged for its return.
The Dragon Bellow ConspiracyEdit
Shortly thereafter, Tomoe was sent as an envoy by Lord Noriyuki to Lord Tamakuro, a neighbouring daimyo. Her mission was to investigate reports of mysterious activities at his castle. Tomoe discovered that Lord Tamakuro was amassing an army of ronin and stockpiling teppo in quantities sufficient to challenge even the Shogun. Tomoe was discovered and captured while she attempted to escape. Tomoe was interrogated by Lord Tamakuro to find out how much she knew, and then left in the dungeons to die. Fortunately, Tomoe's capture was witnessed by Miyamoto Usagi, who infiltrated Tamakuro Castle and freed his friend. Once freed, Tomoe told Usagi about Lord Tamakuro's plot and then created a diversion so that he could escape with his information to Lord Noriyuki. Once Usagi had fled, Tomoe managed to hide from Lord Tamakuro's samurai. Usagi soon returned to Tamakuro Castle with Gen, Zato-Ino, Shingen and an army of Neko Ninja to delay Lord Tamakuro's operations until Lord Noriyuki's army could be readied. Tomoe emerged from hiding to join Usagi, and escaped the castle before its destruction at the hands of Shingen.
After the destruction of Tamakuro Castle, Tomoe led Usagi and Gen back to the Geishu lands to meet with Lord Noriyuki. Shortly after crossing into the Geishu province, the three were offered a place to sleep for the night by Lady Takagi. After dinner, Tomoe discovered that Lady Takagi was an Obakeneko, and only escaped from being burnt alive by Lady Takagi's fiery breath by diving into a well. She was discovered by Usagi, who helped her out of the well. The two samurai returned just in time to save Gen from being devoured by Lady Takagi. Tomoe was wounded by Lady Takagi and her arm partially paralysed, which led Usagi to confront the monster alone. Tomoe escaped to warn Lord Noriyuki, and encountered his army only a few miles away. Tomoe and Noriyuki returned to Lady Takagi's manor to Usagi unconscious and the Obakeneko slain.
Intrigue and ConspiraciesEdit
In the year 1605, Tomoe faced two different conspiracies against the Shogun. Geishu agents intercepted a porcelain green persimmon believed to hold the key to an agreement between Lord Hikiji and Lord Sakamoto which would see a boatload of teppo delivered to Lord Hikiji's armoury, a step towards his eventual goal of usurping the Shogunate. When the courier bearing the green persimmon was long overdue, Tomoe rode out in person to investigate. She discovered that Miyamoto Usagi had received the persimmon when the courier was slain, and saved his life from agents of Lord Hikiji intent on retrieving the persimmon. Tomoe, Noriyuki and Usagi were able to analyse the persimmon and discover the location where the arms shipment was to be delivered, and as a result Geishu forces were able to intercept the shipment.
Shortly thereafter, the Shogun abdicated in favour of his son. Lord Noriyuki decided to travel to Edo to show his support for the new Shogun, accompanied by Tomoe Ame, Lord Arimura, and a small, ceremonial escort. Little did Tomoe or Noriyuki know that the Conspiracy of Eight erroneously believed that Lord Noriyuki was part of a counter-conspiracy intended to steal the sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi from them for the Shogun. Lord Arimura was a sympathiser with the Conspiracy of Eight and undertook to assassinate Lord Noriyuki on the road to Edo. When an ambush was sprung upon the party, Tomoe's alertness enabled her to escape the massacre with a wounded Lord Noriyuki. The two took shelter in a peasant's hut while Tomoe removed an arrow from Lord Noriyuki's shoulder. Neither knew that the peasant calling himself Ike was in fact General Ikeda, who had attempted a coup against Lord Mataichi years earlier. Tomoe was suspicious of Ikeda, but allowed him and his son Motokazu to guide them through a back route over the mountains to Edo. The small party discovered the routes were guarded and attempted to break through unnoticed, but Ikeda's leg injury allowed one of the guards to escape and inform Lord Arimura of Lord Noriyuki's location. Lord Arimura intercepted them at the gorge bridge leading out of the mountains. Arimura identified Ikeda, but the former general refused to be betray Lord Noriyuki after the Geishu lord risked his life to save Motokazu. Tomoe and Ikeda fought bravely against Lord Arimura's forces, cutting the rope bridge so the enemy could not cross, and then holding them off at a village until Geishu forces arrived and slew Lord Arimura. After the battle, Ikeda asked that Lord Noriyuki accept Motokazu into his service as a samurai. Tomoe agreed to act as the boy's sponsor when he arrived at White Heron Castle, which he did shortly after the death of Ikeda.
Later in the same year, Lord Noriyuki was arranged to go on a pilgrimage to Kamakura. As he also had a secret meeting with an emissary of the Shogun, Lord Noriyuki sent a kagemusha, Kaze, on the pilgrimage. To ensure that the deception would be realistic, Tomoe was assigned to protect Kaze. The group was attacked by Neko Ninja, and despite the intervention of Miyamoto Usagi and Jotaro, Kaze was slain.
Tomoe also had to deal with the ambition of Lord Horikawa, who wanted to supplant Tomoe as principal advisor to Lord Noriyuki. While Lord Horikawa had been trying to drive a wedge between Lord Noriyuki and Tomoe for years, he had his first opportunity when Tomoe experienced a mysterious vision of events two hundred years earlier, when the Geishu Clan lost a battle to the Hoki Clan. Tomoe's vision indicated that General Ame had been betrayed on the field of battle by an earlier Lord Horikawa and that this had been the cause for the Geishu defeat, rather than the incompetance of General Ame. With no evidence to support her vision, Tomoe was forced to retract her statement and apologise to Lord Horikawa.
The Mother of MountainsEdit
In 1606, there was an outbreak of plague in the south of the Geishu province, along the border with Lord Sanada. Tomoe Ame was chosen to investigate, at the promptings of Lord Horikawa. Tomoe quickly discovered that there was no plague: that the wells had been poisoned and a small army of brigands was making sure no word escaped back to Lord Noriyuki. With the intervention of Miyamoto Usagi, Tomoe escaped a deadly ambush and discovered that agents of Lord Sanada, led by Tomoe's cousin Noriko, were mining the Mother of Mountains in an attempt to find gold. Usagi was captured and Noriko threatened to mutilate the ronin until Tomoe surrendered. The two were forced to join the slaves working in the mine. In addition, Noriko tormented Tomoe psychologically by revealing that she was in fact Tomoe's illegitimate sister and that she had murdered their father Tatsutaro. Shortly after the gold was discovered, Motokazu freed Tomoe and Usagi: he had abandoned his duties to find Tomoe when an official investigation was quashed by Lord Horikawa. Tomoe and Usagi freed the other miners and helped them to escape. During the battle, black powder intended to seal the mine was accidentally ignited, and Noriko was buried alive in the mountain. Despite her fate, she continued to haunt Tomoe, who suffered a dream (which may have been a second vision) of Noriko escaping from the cave-in and swearing revenge.
Tomoe and UsagiEdit
Following their experience in the Mother of Mountains, Tomoe and Usagi spent several weeks together. Together, they discovered that the screens which Goyemon the painter had given to Lord Noriyuki were responsible for a mysterious illness which he developed. Tomoe slew a kumo while Usagi defeated Goyemon. Tomoe also rescued Usagi from the spell of the kitsune Kuzunoha.
Tomoe and Usagi were also critical in the discovery and defeat of a trio of Neko ninja sent by Lord Hikiji to ruin the trade negotiations between the Geishu Clan and Kojima Clan. They attempted to assassinate Lord Daida, the chief negotiator for the Kojima Clan. Usagi discovered that the killers, believed to this point to be ghosts, were in fact using a 'haunted' well to enter and exit the grounds. The ninja were spotted by Masamune Saburo, chief yojimbo to Lord Daida. Tomoe, Usagi and Saburo defeated two of the ninja; the third attempted to escape, only to be slain by the spirit of Okiku, which haunted the well.
Due to his treatment during this encounter by the Kojima Clan and by Lord Horikawa, Usagi decided to depart the Geishu lands and to continue wandering. He and Tomoe had one last adventure together, when they rescued the street performer Kitsune from a band of thugs and retrieved the Lotus Scroll, which had been stolen from the Midori Temple. The next day, Tomoe invited Usagi to partake of the Chanoyu tea ceremony together. The two performed this highly ritualised ceremony, and then Usagi departed.
The Wedding of Lady TomoeEdit
During Tomoe's time as a prisoner of Noriko, Lord Horikawa persuaded Lord Noriyuki that Tomoe ought to be married, for the sake of her own happiness. Lord Horikawa mentioned that Lord Ito Noren, an ugly but wealthy vassal of Lord Kojima, had become infatuated with Tomoe, and pointed out the political benefits of such an alliance. As a result, during the trade discussions between the Geishu and Kojima Clans, Masamune Saburo was given the task of evaluating Tomoe's fittingness to serve as wife to Lord Ito. Upon his return with a favourable opinion of Tomoe, Lord Ito began the marriage negotiations, with Lord Horikawa as go-between. It is unknown whether Tomoe herself knows of these plans, and what her reaction would be. There is evidence of ever-increasing mutual romantic feelings between Tomoe and Usagi, which culminated when the two possibly slept together following their ordeal in the Mother of Mountains. How this will affect the wedding arrangements is currently unknown.
Tomoe and Usagi have had at least two friendly duels; the first was a draw, the outcome of the second was not revealed. It is therefore fair to say that Tomoe and Usagi as adults are closely, if not equally, matched.
Recently, the pair has started to share fleeting moments that suggest a deeper love that both are only now willing to admit. In particular in Vol. 3, #89, Tomoe, after some disturbing dreams, requests Usagi's company for the remainder of the night although the exact nature of that company is not revealed. Furthermore, Stan Sakai noted the stories in the early Fantagraphics Books color specials, in which Usagi and Tomoe shared adventures together were to be chronically placed between #89 and #90.
- Stan Sakai named the character after a candy he once liked as a child called Tomoe Ame (トモエ飴) (similar to Botan Rice Candy).
- The character is partially based on Tomoe Gozen, a real-life female samurai who lived during the period of the Genpei War (1180–1185).
- Sakai claims to have based the character's appearance on female Japanese martial arts star Etsuko Shiomi, a member of Sonny Chiba's "Japan Action Club".
- Tomoe Ame also appeared in the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series in the episode "The Real World: Part 1", which she was voiced by Rachael Lillis.
- "Lone Rabbit and Child" (collected in Book 1: The Ronin).
- "The Confession" (collected in Book 1: The Ronin).
- "The Shogun's Gift" (collected in Book 3: The Wanderer's Road).
- "The Clouds Gather" (collected in Book 4: The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy).
- "The Winds Howl" (collected in Book 4: The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy).
- "Downpour" (collected in Book 4: The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy).
- "Thunder and Lightning" (collected in Book 4: The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy).
- "The Heart of the Storm" (collected in Book 4: The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy).
- "Storm Clouds Part" (collected in Book 4: The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy).
- "The Obakemono of the Geishu Clan" (collected in Book 11: Seasons).
- "Green Persimmon" (collected in Book 11: Seasons).
- "Jei" (collected in Book 12: Grasscutter).
- "Inazuma" (collected in Book 12: Grasscutter).
- "Noriyuki and Tomoe" (collected in Book 12: Grasscutter).
- "Ikeda" (collected in Book 12: Grasscutter).
- "Tomoe and Ikeda" (collected in Book 12: Grasscutter).
- "Usagi and Jei" (collected in Book 12: Grasscutter).
- "Kill the Geishu Lord!" (collected in Book 19: Fathers and Sons).
- "The Pride of the Samurai" (collected in Book 19: Fathers and Sons).
- "Into The Mist" (collected in Book 20: Glimpses of Death).
- "The Treasure of the Mother of Mountains" (collected in Book 21: The Mother of Mountains).
- "Tomoe's Story" (collected in Book 22: Tomoe's Story).
- "The Doors" (collected in Book 22: Tomoe's Story).
- "Fox Fire" (collected in Book 22: Tomoe's Story).
- "The Ghost In The Well" (collected in Book 22: Tomoe's Story).
- "Chanoyu" (collected in Book 22: Tomoe's Story).