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Overwatch Origins – Why Does Hanzo Use A Bow?

Overwatch is an extremely fun, fast-paced, team-based shooter. With each of its 37 heroes bringing different metas and abilities to the gameplay. What we however don’t really get to explore as much is the stories behind the heroes. Overwatch does not have a story mode as of yet but the world in the game does have a nuanced and detailed history that we’ve seen during trailer releases and sometimes it’s even hinted at in gameplay.

But you won’t be able to find the whole story of Overwatch unless you go looking. We’ve done a couple of Origin series articles for Overwatch (check them out here). And today we’ll be going through another one. Most notably the half-clad bow-wielding hero – Hanzo.

“As good as I am with a bow, I promise you– I was better with a sword.”

If you’ve played or have met Hanzo out on the battlefield you’ll get a couple of voice lines alluding to his tragic past. He speaks about carrying a “burden” and that “Honor is all he has left”. He even talks about wielding a sword prior to Overwatch, but what does it all mean?

In this article, we’ll go through everything you might want to know about the oldest Shimada brother. And answer all the questions you might have about Hanzo.


The Shimada Clan

Hanzo Shimada was born in Japan, into the Shimada Clan which was run by his father Sojiro Shimada. He also had a younger brother Genji Shimada. Operating out of Kanezaka and Hanamura, the Shimada Clan was a powerful underworld organization dealing in arms, illegal substances, and assassination.

Even though they were criminals, the Shimada understood that honour and loyalty was the most important element for themselves and the people they looked after. They asked much of those who followed them, but they inspired them to give it. And in return, the Shimada clan led with integrity and treated the people of Kanezaka with respect.

As Sojori’s eldest son, Hanzo was expected to lead the Shimada Clan in the future. However, his younger brother Genji preferred living a more carefree life. And while they were both trained in the way of the sword by Asa Yamagami (Kiriko’s mother), Genji spent most of his time at the Hanamura arcade and getting into trouble with Kiriko. He was not interested in the workings of the Shimada Clan.


A Tale Of Two Brothers

In the period after the Omnic Crisis, Overwatch dismantled the Shimada clan. Its weakening allowed the rival clan – Hashimoto to step in. They assassinated Sojiro Shimada, and asserted their control over Kanezaka and Hanamura. Unlike the Shimada clan however, they ran the city through fear, often beating up the weak and innocent and extorting the citizens.

It fell upon Hanzo to rule the Shimada Clan in his place. But worried about his renegade brother the clan elders instructed Hanzo, to get him in line. But Genji refused, he was not interested in running the Shimada Clan and this enraged Hanzo. A battle ensues and ended up with Hanzo killing his brother.

This act broke Hanzo’s heart and drove him to abandon the Shimada Clan and his father’s legacy. He began roaming the world in solitude as self-punishment and swore to never again wield a sword from that day.

Every year Hanzo would break into Hanamura’s Castle to honour the brother that he had killed in his anger. And on the tenth anniversary of Genji’s death, (during the time of the Overwatch Recall) as he had done every year, Hanzo broke into Shimada Castle. But there he was met with an assassin.

This time the battle would end with Hanzo losing but before being killed the assassin would reveal himself to be his long-lost brother Genji. Part-cyborg now and clearly augmented from the damage that he had suffered, Genji tells Hanzo that he forgives him and now Hanzo needed to forgive himself.


Hanzo Joins Overwatch?

After Hanzo almost kills Genji he was rescued by Overwatch and saved by Dr. Angela Ziegler aka Mercy. In return for his life, Genji joins Overwatch and was set on dismantling his own family’s criminal empire. When Winston initiates the Overwatch Recall, Genji answers and it’s during this time it seems that he goes searching for his brother to join his path as well.

It’s clear that the burden that Hanzo has carried all this time has been the guilt of killing his brother. With something of a death wish in his aimless wanderings, Genji then reveals to him another path. A new purpose in life. Joining Overwatch.

“I will not grant you the death you wish for. You still have a purpose in this life.”


Overwatch Origin Stories

Catch up on more of our Overwatch Origin Series here!