Okuru is a character that appears in the 16th episode Lullabies of the Lost (Verse 1) and Lullabies of the Lost (Verse 2). He is voiced by Richard Epcar in the English Dub, and Aiko Ootsuka in the Japanese dub.
Okuru was an Ainu villager who went out hunting. When he returned, he found that a disease had infected his village, but the Matsumae Domain officials burned down his village killing everyone, including his wife and unborn child. He killed the head official and the rest of the soldiers in revenge, but as a result he was branded a criminal and left.
When Mugen wanders the woods on his own after an argument with Fuu, he’s unexpectedly shot at by Okuru who wields a Chu-Ko-Nu, a kind of rapid-fire crossbow originally developed in China. After dodging the assault of arrows, Mugen is asked by Okuru if he belongs to the Matsumae clan, but he doesn’t give a proper answer, forcing Okuru to leave the area before Mugen can do anything.
Okuru finds Fuu unconscious near a river after she falls down, and heals her as well as telling his name. While still together, Okuru talks about his past as the only survivor of a village besieged by a plague he refers to as “The Roaming God”, a disease that claimed many lives including his wife and newborn child. Meanwhile, Mugen finds himself being ambushed again, this time by police officers representing the Matsumae who have evidently mistaken him for Okuru.
While fighting, Mugen convinces everyone that he's not Okuru, and the Matsumae explain Okuru's crimes. Meanwhile, Fuu’s request to journey with Okuru is denied, citing his criminal actions as why he chooses to travel alone. After she falls asleep for the night, he leaves her a couple of fish and departs the cave, but Momo decides to abandon Fuu and tag along.
Mugen proceeds to track down Okuru in the forest, coming across him playing a tonkori, a native instrument of the Ainu people of northern Japan. Mugen recognizes the song he’s playing and strikes up a conversation with Okuru, warning him of the Matsumae’s pursuits as Okuru sticks with his story about a disease brought about by the Matsumae being responsible for his village’s death. The two eventually begin to fight as Mugen chases Okuru through the woods while he’s barraged with arrows. Eventually, Okuru’s ammo runs out which forces him to rely on his blade for self-defense.
the Matsumae have tracked down Mugen and Okuru, forcing them to hide behind a rock from these pursuers. After some deliberation, Okuru decides to finally give himself up to settle his business with them.
As he comes out to surrender, he speaks of the day his village died and his conflict with the Matsumae: a disease did in fact infest the village, but instead of trying to help the villagers or save them, a small set of Matsumae officials decided to burn the place down and kill everyone there, driving Okuru to murder the officials as revenge. Jin and Fuu show up in time to witness the Matsumae fire at and hit Okuru with multiple flaming arrows.
Mugen, enraged, attacks them for interfering with his fight, and Jin eventually makes his presence known to provide assistance. Okuru, still alive somehow, takes one of the flaming arrows and kills one of the attackers as he stumbles to the edge of the nearby cliff. Our heroes look on as he hurls himself off the edge, never to be seen again.
Okuru seems to be a kind man, willing to help any stranger in need. However, he develops a hatred for the Matsumae due to them kiling his family and village. He and Mugen develop a sort of respect for each other, as Mugen didn't want anyone to interfere with his fight with him.
Okuru is a great marksman, shown when he nearly hits Mugen (which is no small feat) with his Cho-Ko-Nu (a Chinese crossbow). He is adept at using a unknown bladed weapon, although it’s unknown if he's skilled with it, as he only used it as a impromptu defense against Mugen’s attack after he ran out of bolts, Okuru is shown to be dangerous, as the Matsumae considers Okuru a threat and a fugitive. He also has knowledge of herbs and forest survival, as he made a remedy for Fuu and was able to catch fish to eat and he killed a bear with his crossbow. He seems to be musically gifted, as he is able to play a tonkori, a traditional instrument of his people.
- It is unknown what happened to Okuru at the end of the series.
- Mugen believes Okuru to still be alive.
- Based on his unusual attire and choice of weaponry, Okuru appears to be of the Ainu people, an ancient indigenous ethnic group native to Hokkaido.