Tekken: The Strange History of the Mishima Family
The lengthy rivalry between Heihachi Mishima and his family runs through the Tekken games. Let's take a look at this ever-expanding dynasty.
Mortal Kombat X and its comic tie-in had a running theme about family and living up to the previous generations. Not just in the young newcomer characters, but with a majority of the cast. Characters like Kotal Kahn, Mileena, and Goro fought in the name of their fathers and followed in their footsteps, while even Kano worked to train his never-before-mentioned son to one day take his place. For such a dark series, it was surprising to see such an emphasis on the bonds of kinship.
Tekken, meanwhile, spits in the face of that. Behind all the wacky character designs, the entire Tekken series is about the Mishima family destroying itself. Throughout the various games, there are four generations of extremely resilient martial artists constantly clashing, with or without demonic possession being tossed in there. What started as the revenge story of a young man going after his criminal father turned into a never-ending series of Mishimas and Kazamas coming out of the woodwork to battle for domination.
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Tekken 7 hyped itself up as being the end of the Mishima saga and…didn’t QUITE deliver. In fact, the story ends with the promise of more Mishima-on-Mishima violence.
Here’s a look of who’s who in this violent family tree. Beware of spoilers.
The elder in all of this is Jinpachi, a character alluded to in the early games as being long dead, only to show up in Tekken 5. Jinpachi was a good man and headed the Mishima Zaibatsu, which was at the time your usual gigantic corporation. Although Jinpachi had a loving relationship with his very young grandson, Kazuya, the same couldn’t be said in terms of his relationship with his son, Heihachi.
Heihachi was able to oust Jinpachi from the Zaibatsu and take over for himself. Jinpachi grew anxious at Heihachi’s ambitions, especially when Heihachi transformed his business into a more ominous military-based faction with intentions of world domination. Feeling that he had no choice, Jinpachi challenged his son to battle and lost. Heihachi chained his father up underneath a temple and left him there to die. It took a while, but despite his strength and willpower, Jinpachi succumbed to starvation and perished. Some time afterwards, a vengeful and evil spirit took over his body and resurrected him. Jinpachi still couldn’t escape the chains, but a major and very explosive battle taking place in the temple above him allowed him to break free.
In that battle, Heihachi was perceived as killed and now a demonic Jinpachi was on the loose. Working from the shadows, Jinpachi was able to retake the Mishima Zaibatsu and used it to advertise the fifth King of Iron Fist tournament. The winner would get ownership of the Zaibatsu itself. Unlike most final boss villains in these kinds of situations, Jinpachi’s intentions were anything but devious. The resurrected, old man knew that he was losing control to the dark spirit by the hour. It was only a matter of time before he’d lose himself completely and destroy the planet. He put together the tournament in a last ditch hope that someone – anyone – would rise up, kill him, and prevent him from running amok.
In the end, Jinpachi got his wish. His great-grandson, Jin Kazama, won the tournament and defeated him. With the dark spirit gone, Jinpachi’s body faded to dust.
Very little had been known about Kazuya’s mother over the years. She got some brief mentions in the Tekken anime, and she was namedropped in the background of one of the Tekken 2 stages, but the series never paid her any lip service. That said, considering Heihachi was not connected to the Devil Gene and Kazuya and Jin were, that meant that either it all began with Kazuya or it came from his mother’s side. Through Tekken 7, it’s confirmed that it’s the latter.
Kazumi Hachijou was a lifelong friend and training partner to Heihachi. The two grew up together and fell in love. They were married and Kazumi gave birth to Kazuya. Yup, things looked great.
Secretly, Kazumi was part of a bloodline of Devil-possessed assassins who dedicated themselves to wiping out those who were a danger to the planet. Kazumi knew that Heihachi and later Kazuya would be threats to humanity and prepared to kill them both. Just in case she failed, she sought out Akuma — a mysterious and powerful warrior that she once saved the life of — and asked him to eliminate Heihachi and Kazuya for her.
Transforming into her Devil form, Kazumi attacked her husband and announced her intentions. Distraught, Heihachi defended himself and defeated Kazumi. Although she broke his heart, he broke her neck.
Once upon a time, Heihachi was a good-hearted man who loved his wife and son. Kazumi sensed a dark future due to Heihachi’s actions and attacked him. Would Heihachi have brought doom upon the world regardless or did Kazumi’s betrayal cause a self-fulfilling prophecy? It’s hard to say, but despite Kazumi’s warnings that killing her would cause an endless cycle of hatred, Heihachi killed her. This Devil was not the woman he married. Upon committing the act, Heihachi’s world darkened.
Heihachi was disturbed at the possibility that Kazuya could have inherited the Devil Gene. Young Kazuya was already angry at Heihachi for killing his mother, but he was too young and weak to do anything about it. Heihachi threw Kazuya off the cliff as a sadistic test. If Kazuya survived, he had the Devil Gene. Years later, Heihachi would note that he should have just killed him on the spot.
To continue to stick it to his estranged son, Heihachi adopted Lee Chaolan and treated him with more respect as a way to slap Kazuya in the face.
Heihachi held a massive martial arts tournament called the King of Iron Fist. In the finals, Kazuya defeated him and got his revenge. Kazuya threw Heihachi off a cliff, giving him a taste of his own medicine. Heihachi survived due to his innate toughness and returned to even up the score. Kazuya – now in charge of the Mishima Zaibatsu – held a second tournament, and this time Heihachi came out the winner. He threw his son’s beaten body into a volcano.
As a couple decades passed, Heihachi’s age became more and more of a looming threat. While he was just as keen and powerful as ever, he knew that he couldn’t escape his mortality. Then opportunity made itself known when Ogre, a god obsessed with fighting, slaughtered much of his military force. Around the same time, Heihachi found out that he had a grandson named Jin Kazama, who wanted revenge on Ogre for killing his mother. Heihachi trained Jin, and for a time there appeared to be a bond. To lure Ogre out into the open, Heihachi hosted a third King of Iron Fist.
Being that Jin was Kazuya’s son, Heihachi secretly became afraid of what Jin could physically become.
After Jin killed Ogre, Heihachi betrayed him by having Jin riddled with bullets. Jin survived by transforming into his Devil form for the very first time, attacked Heihachi, and flew off into the night. To make matters worse for Heihachi, he soon found that the Mishima Zaibatsu was being opposed by a paramilitary faction called the G Corporation, which included a resurrected Kazuya. Wanting to steal Kazuya and Jin’s powers for himself, Heihachi put together yet another tournament. This time, the winner would be promised ownership of the Zaibatsu. Surely, his son and grandson wouldn’t be able to resist.
The three ended up battling in a temple, with Jin coming out the winner. He chose to spare Heihachi and flew away. Moments after, Heihachi and Kazuya were ambushed by an army of Jack robots. The two put their differences aside for a moment or two, but it was short-lived. Kazuya abandoned Heihachi and let the Jacks swarm him. The robots self-destructed and Heihachi was believed to be dead.
Yet Heihachi shockingly survived. His body was blasted into the distance and his pulse remained. By the time he regained consciousness, he found out that Jin had taken over his corporation. Since then, Heihachi has chosen to stay hidden, not playing his hand and allowing everyone to believe he’s dead.
When Jin went missing, Heihachi returned to take back the Zaibatsu and went to war with Kazuya’s G Corporation. During this, Akuma appeared before Heihachi, claiming that he had been waiting for years for Heihachi to grow in strength before making the kill. The two battled it out in an epic encounter and although Heihachi was able to recover from the soul-killing Raging Demon attack, he attacked Akuma head-on and lost badly. Akuma walked away, not realizing that Heihachi survived.
Heihachi knew that Akuma would go after Kazuya and used the battle as a way to publicly expose Kazuya by showing the world his Devil form. Kazuya, in return, blasted a Mishima Zaibatsu satellite out of the sky, which crash landed to Earth and caused Heihachi some nasty publicity. Heihachi then decided that he was done playing his games. It was time to end this rivalry for good.
Heihachi and Kazuya fought it out on a volcanic island. Heihachi was able to defeat and suppress Kazuya’s Devil form, but a weakened Kazuya still won out by unleashing an anger-fueled punch to the chest that caused Heihachi to fall limp. Kazuya took his father’s dead body and dropped it into the lava below, repeating his teachings, “A fight is about who’s left standing. Nothing else.”
As a little boy, Kazuya was thrown off a cliff by his father. Kazuya was horribly busted up until a demon within offered to give him ultimate power as well as survival and revenge. Kazuya accepted. His Devil Gene had protected him from death. Kazuya trained for years, only finding a challenge and rival in fellow martial artist Paul Phoenix. When Heihachi held the first King of Iron Fist, Kazuya blazed through the tournament and defeated his father in the finals. It’s there that Kazuya proved the true hook of the Tekken series: despite being given a sympathetic backstory that should make him the true hero, Kazuya revealed himself to be a monster as he threw his father off a cliff and took over his corrupt business.
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The Devil Gene within Kazuya began to manifest itself more during this time, but he seemed to have it under control. He held a second King of Iron Fist, where he crossed paths with a pure-hearted competitor named Jun Kazama, who was tasked with bringing him to justice. While the details are unknown, the two conceived a child during the events of the tournament. It’s mostly believed that Jun was able to appeal to Kazuya’s hidden goodness, but there are some fans who suggest that perhaps the conception wasn’t consensual.
Regardless, Kazuya was quickly taken off the board when Heihachi returned and defeated him in the finals. Victorious, Heihachi made sure Kazuya wouldn’t bother him again by dropping the body into a volcano. Unbeknownst to Heihachi, Kazuya’s body was collected by an organization called the G Corporation, who were able to resurrect him and help him understand the origins and makeup of his Devil powers. Kazuya remained hidden for years, but a raid on the labs by the Mishima Zaibatsu revealed his survival.
Heihachi held the fourth King of Iron Fist tournament in hopes of drawing out Kazuya and his son Jin. Heihachi successfully captured Jin and then faced Kazuya in the finals. Kazuya won and was brought to the temple where Jin was being held. Meeting his son for the first time, Kazuya showed no softness and instead egged him on to give into his Devil powers. Jin did so and overpowered Kazuya and Heihachi before flying off. Immediately after, the G Corporation sent a series of Jack robots to assassinate Kazuya and Heihachi. Kazuya left his father to die, returned to the G Corporation headquarters, killed those responsible for the ambush, and took over completely.
After Jin won the fifth tournament and became the new CEO of the Mishima Zaibatsu, Jin became bolder in his takeover of the world. The G Corporation was the only thing in his way, and the public saw Kazuya as a hero. In reality, Kazuya only opposed Jin out of megalomania and planned to take over the world the moment Jin was taken out. Instead, Kazuya was defeated by his half-brother Lars Alexanderrson.
Jin went missing and Heihachi returned to take over the Mishima Zaibatsu. The war continued with G Corporation appearing to have to upper hand. Akuma confronted Kazuya and the two fought it out on the rooftop of G Corporation’s headquarters. Kazuya transformed into his Devil form, but before there could be a true winner, a Zaibatsu satellite fired a beam that engulfed the building.
Kazuya survived, but his PR took a huge hit. The world knew about his true nature. Out of anger, he used his powers to fire a laser into space and knock that satellite to Earth. He then met with his father for the final battle, where he ultimately bested and killed Heihachi.
After dropping Heihachi into a lake of lava, Kazuya sensed Akuma nearby. Kazuya transformed into his Devil form and the two fought once more. While the ending is unknown, Kazuya definitely survived and currently refuses to let up on G Corporation’s world domination.
Jun Kazama is a psychic who worked for a wildlife protection organization called the WWWC. Due to Kazuya’s tendency to smuggle animals illegally during his time as the leader of the Mishima Zaibatsu, Jun was sent to enter the second King of Iron Fist tournament to stop him. During the event, the two gave the punching a rest, and instead, Kazuya impregnated Jun. Although Jun didn’t win the tournament, Kazuya was taken out of the picture and her mission was technically over.
Jun gave birth to Jin and raised him. Ogre, the battle-hungry god, sought her out. Jun told Jin to go seek out his grandfather Heihachi, and she took on the god in battle. Jun was defeated, although her remains were never recovered. In other words, she’s probably alive somehow, even though she’s too boring to ever bring back.
Jun has lived on in two ways. One is through visions Jin receives in later games, acting as a conscience and keeping him from acting on vengeance.
The second is through the non-canon Tekken Tag Tournament games. Not only is she playable in both, but both games feature a boss character named Unknown. Though ambiguous in the first game, the sequel makes it apparent that Unknown is a dark version of Jun, possessed by a forest demon and clad in only purple sludge. Unknown has yet to make an appearance in the main series.
A Chinese orphan, Lee was adopted by Heihachi as an attempt to really stick it to Kazuya growing up. Lee became the heir to the Mishima Zaibatsu and helped run parts of it in the US, where he studied martial arts. Once Kazuya took over, Lee was granted the spot of second-in-command, though Lee intended to use the second tournament as a way to take over himself. After Heihachi won the tournament and threw Kazuya into the volcano, he banished Lee and warned him that if he ever saw him again, he’d have him killed.
Lee was filled with hatred, but got over it. After all, the best revenge is living well, and he’d definitely outlive that old geezer. While Kazuya went against type by being a villain instead of a hero, Lee took what should have been a pompous, entitled jerk background and instead became one of the nicer characters on the roster.
Over the years, Lee started his own robotics company, where he created a fighting android called Combot. He saw the fourth Iron Fist tournament as a perfect opportunity to really stick it to Heihachi and even show off his new product, but he remembered Heihachi’s threat from years earlier. Lee created a new persona as Violet and entered, revealing his true identity later on. Sadly, he was defeated by his adopted brother Kazuya.
Lee entered the fifth tournament because he figured Kazuya was the new leader of the Mishima Zaibatsu. When he found out it was Jinpachi, Lee decided he had no horse in this race and dropped out.
In the war between the Mishima Zaibatsu and the G Corporation, Lee aligned himself with Lars Alexanderrson (coincidentally, Lee is one of the very few characters who doesn’t fight Lars upon meeting him in Tekken 6’s story mode because he’s such an excellent guy). Lars’ robot companion Alisa was almost completely destroyed in the climax and Lee promised to have her rebuilt using his company’s resources.
Lee fixed Alisa, although she initially tried to kill him. They reconnected with Lars and found the weakened, unconscious body of Jin Kazama. While waiting for Jin to recover, Lee and his allies sat on the sidelines to wait out the ongoing feud between Heihachi and Kazuya.
When Jin Kazama took over the Mishima Zaibatsu, a section of its military force went rogue. Swedish soldier Lars was the leader and opposed both the Mishima Zaibatsu and the G Corporation. During a mission, Lars was the only survivor and was struck with amnesia. As that was happening, the android girl Alisa Bosconovitch was activated. The two worked together to help Lars figure out who he was, which meant crossing paths with basically the entire Tekken cast.
When Lars found Heihachi, training in secret while the world believed him dead, he suddenly remembered who he was. As he told the cold, old man, Heihachi had an affair with a Scandinavian operative back in the day and Lars was his long-lost son. Heihachi was taken aback, but admitted he had his suspicions that he had another kid out there.* Heihachi briefly suggested working together, but Lars instead attempted to kill him. Heihachi caught a bullet with his teeth (!) and Lars decided to table their spat.
Lars got back in touch with his Tekken Force comrades and took the fight to the Zaibatsu and G Corporation. Soon he discovered that Alisa was really working as surveillance for Jin and was forced to attack him. Lars found a new ally in the ninja spy Raven and the two traveled to Egypt, where Jin was summoning the demigod Azazel. In the climax, Jin and Azazel appeared to kill each other and Alisa was badly damaged. Lars handed Alisa over to Lee Chaolan to fix up while continuing to lead the revolution and strike against his cursed bloodline.
Speaking of which, Lars is destined to lose his rocking hairdo and go bald just like his father and grandfather before him. Lousy genetics.
Lars discovered his nephew Jin in the Middle East and protected him from Zaibatsu forces. Alongside Lee, Alisa, and other rebels, Lars has been preparing a plan to destroy G Corporation and take down Kazuya for good.
*Tekken 7 retcons this with the revelation that Heihachi knowingly conceived Lars just to make sure that the Devil Gene came from Kazumi’s side.
As mentioned, Jin is the offspring of Kazuya and Jun. He was brought up by his mother, but that life came crashing down when Ogre appeared. With his mother apparently dead, Jin sought out his grandfather Heihachi and offered his loyalty in return for revenge against the murdering beast. Heihachi trained the boy and enrolled him in a school, where Jin met Lin Xiaoyu, the granddaughter of Wang Jinrei, one of Heihachi’s greatest enemies.
Heihachi set up a King of Iron Fist tournament knowing that Ogre would have to show up. In the tournament, Jin took on fellow teenager Hwoarang, who soon became obsessed with constantly challenging Jin over the years. In the end, Ogre was initially defeated by Paul Phoenix, but after Paul left, Ogre recovered and transformed into his true form. Jin was able to avenge his mother by destroying Ogre once and for all.
Suddenly, he was gunned down by Zaibatsu soldiers. Heihachi appeared and fired a gunshot straight to Jin’s head. By transforming into his Devil form, Jin was able to shrug it off and manhandle his traitorous grandfather. Jin flew off and spent the next few years hiding from the organization, while teaching himself a new fighting style. Mainly because Kazuya was back in the fold and there was no point in having them fight the same way in-game.
Jin entered Heihachi’s next tournament and made it far, only to be overpowered and captured by Heihachi’s forces. Kazuya ended up winning and afterwards, he and Heihachi went to where Jin was being held. Jin was released from his chains and defeated both his father and grandfather. He began another transformation into Devil Jin, but he received a vision of his mother and calmed down. He spared Heihachi and flew off into the night.
During a side game in Tekken 5, Jin investigated his mother’s death and got in an adventure that led to him fighting clones of Heihachi and Ogre. Afterwards, he entered Jinpachi’s tournament and killed his great-grandfather. As the winner, Jin gained ownership of the Mishima Zaibatsu. Rather than play the hero, Jin followed suit with his bloodline and embraced megalomania.
Jin’s Zaibatsu basically went to war with the world, but there was more to it than simple plans for domination. Jin knew that he would soon lose control to the Devil within him. Likely inspired by Jinpachi, Jin wants someone to kill him before it’s too late. His big plan led to him summoning the godly beast Azazel, knowing that the two of them would be able to kill each other. The two fought it out, but in the end, Jin remained alive and the Devil Gene was still with him.
The UN Intelligence Agency captured Jin and flew him off in a helicopter, but Jin transformed into Devil Jin and escaped. Wandering around like a wounded animal, he came across Hwoarang yet again. The two fought it out, but Hwoarang saw some enemy soldiers coming for Jin and helped him escape. Jin weakly wandered from village to village and was almost taken in until Lars appeared and rescued him.
While Heihachi made an effort to capture Jin, Lars kept him safe. Jin spent almost the entirety of Tekken 7 recovering from his battle with Azazel. Despite the horrors he’s commited as leader of the Mishima Zaibatsu, Jin is aware that he and his Devil powers are all that stand between Kazuya and world domination. He’s ready to do the right thing.
Lastly, there’s Asuka, who is fairly high profile despite being a complete outsider to the Mishima dealings. She’s initially ignorant about her connection to everything and gets involved with King of Iron Fist for her own reasons.
She’s the niece of Jun Kazama, and while we never get a look at her father, we know that he’s a martial artist and instructor. Feng Wei, a ruthless and mute warrior in search of special scrolls, destroyed the Kazama dojo in his quest. Asuka, despite being a mere teenager, decided to enter the fifth Iron Fist tournament to get her revenge on Feng Wei. She didn’t catch up with him, but did cross paths with Jin in his Devil form. Likely due to her biology, she had a healing effect on him and unknowingly brought him back to his human form.
Asuka spent her days breaking up gang warfare in her neighborhood while constantly putting up with Lili, a rich French girl obsessed with fighting her. After finding out that Jin Kazama, the CEO of the Mishima Zaibatsu and scourge of the world, was actually her cousin, Asuka decided to do something about his crimes against humanity and entered the next tournament in hopes of stopping him.
She’s since been sidetracked by dealing with Lili’s unhealthy obsession with her.
Seven games later (nine if you count the Tekken Tag Tournament games), we have an overstuffed pile of family drama that overshadows the rest of the cast. It makes sense that this would be the finale to the Mishima turmoil. If there is a Tekken 8, maybe they can get around to centering it around Paul Phoenix. That badass doofus is worth a story or two.
And now, for your added enjoyment, here’s Heihachi vs. Kazuya vs. Jin from the movie Tekken: Blood Vengeance.
Gavin Jasper doesn’t know how Kazumi saved Akuma’s life but likes to imagine she noticed Akuma was about to eat expired Spaghetti-O’s and warned him at the last second. Follow him on Twitter!