During the first game Zaji appears as a Boss character for two story-mandated battles. He can only be fought after reaching a certain point in the story and completing a mission in certain maps; a prompt will appear warning the player and selecting "Yes" will initiate the battle.
Zaji returns in Revenge of Zen, acting as a sort of mentor to the game's main character Zen as he attempts to guide him along a more moral path.
Like Goh and Kinu, he was presumably born in the Asuka Village and trained all his life in the arts of ninjutsu. He had something of a friendly rivalry with Goh in the past, inciting the latter to make a bigger name for himself and make his presence known to his enemies, despite this going against the tenets of ninjutsu.
During a strife between the Asuka and Mosu ninja he witnessed Goh murder the Mosu leader Tateha even after they had surrendered and begged for mercy. Shorly he discovered Goh's relation to Gamuran, their clan's ancestral enemy, and since then believed him to be a traitor.
He lost his right eye during the massacre of the Asuka Village. He might have escaped or stayed and survived the siege, either way he became one of the only three survivors, the others being Kinu and a now-amnesiac Goh.
Way of the Ninja
He reunited with Kinu and warned her against interacting with their former friend, since then actively hunted Goh with the intent of slaying him for his betrayal. During their first encounter he tries to ambush him and refuses to answer Goh's confused questions, they fight to a stalemate and Zaji escapes promising to kill Goh the next time they meet.
He and Goh fight a second time after the latter meets Kinu in the ruins of the Asuka Village and rescues her from the Kenobi. As before he tries to ambush Goh after a mission, Goh blocks the strike and tries to mediate with Zaji but he refuses to listen, they fight to a stalemate and Zaji flees again without giving Goh the chance to explain himself.
Eventually he learns of Goh's condition and intentions to repent from Kinu, after she overhears Gamuran and Kabuto talk about the Soul Fragments and the full moon ritual in the Phantom Forest. He meets Goh a third time in Sengen Town, this time they don't fight but Zaji refuses Goh's wish to repent for the liberation of Gamuran and the destruction of the Asuka claiming it's now his and Kinu's duty as the remaining clan members.
He comes around shortly after the final battle. Trusting Kinu's judgement he tentatively accepts Goh's alliance, now the three united would fight against their mutual enemy. They rush to the Asuka Village to stop Gamuran's resurrection, but as they try to sneak to the shrine Zaji is ambushed by the Taraba. Kabuto waited for Goh to pass first before attacking Zaji, and seeing this the latter believes Goh to truly be a traitor all along before passing out. Depending on the ending obtained his fate varies:
- Daimyo Ending: Zaji is impaled by sharp debris and dies from his injuries. After Gamuran is slain Kinu decides to travel alone, abandoning Goh to rebuild the clan herself.
- Hidden Ending: Zaji is caught by three different clan soldiers before he's impaled and survives. After Gamuran is slain, he wakes up and finally forgives Goh for his previous transgressions, declaring the three united will protect Utakata as members of the Asuka Clan.
Given his later appearances in Tales of the Ninja and Revenge of Zen the Hidden Ending is considered canonical.
Tales of the NinAbilities & Gameplay
He possesses the same skills as his fellow Asuka shinobi. This includes their knowledge oftactics, unaand Alchemy. He also has knowledge over the identification (and possibly the cultivatin of) different medicinal and po location of the Tenma Mirrors and a base of operations. He also does what he can to guide Zen towards a moral path an
- Zaji is playable as an alternate skin in Way of the Ninja and Revenge of Zen (playing as Zen).
- The english version of Way of the Ninja spells his alias as "The Hawk". This is corrected in Revenge of Zen.
- He made a guest appearance in Way of the Samurai 3, another franchise developed by Acquire and published by Spike.
- A programming bug in Way of the Ninja made him the only boss character who can be distracted by sushi: When fought, the player can hide from him and throw a piece of sushi, which he always tries to pick up if he hasn't spotted the player yet. It became a meme with the japanese fandom to portray Zaji eating or holding sushi, and the joke was eventually referenced in the developer's blog of Revenge of Zen.