The Shirai Ryu (Kanji: 白井流; lit. "White Well Style") are a clan of Japanese ninjas in the Mortal Kombat universe credited with bringing ninjutsu and other secret martial arts to Japan from China.
For years, they were bitter rivals with the Lin Kuei, from which they had originally sprung. They were eventually wiped out by the necromancer Quan Chi, who destroyed all of the members of the clan (Hanzo Hasashi, also known as Scorpion, was murdered by the elder Sub-Zero prior to this).
The Shirai Ryu was formed many years ago by a Lin Kuei warrior named Takeda. He eventually grew tired of the Lin Kuei and left the clan. However, leaving the clan is punishable by death, and Takeda was sought after by Lin Kuei assassins. He left China and returned to his homeland in Japan, where he offered his services to the lords and generals. His art gradually spread throughout Japan and developed into the art of ninjutsu. In addition to teaching his new art form, he also taught modified versions of Lin Kuei tactics, as well as revealing many of their secrets. This only further infuriated the Lin Kuei when Takeda's teachings became well-known with many followers throughout Japan. His followers became known as the Shirai Ryu.
The Shirai Ryu and the Lin Kuei became tremendous rivals. Takeda's clan mocked the Lin Kuei by dressing in similar outfits of yellow color and teaching modified versions of their own secrets. While Takeda managed to avoid many assassination attempts well into his later years, he was eventually killed by poison in his tea. It was never known if the Lin Kuei was responsible for his death. The animosity between the Lin Kuei and Shirai Ryu continued after his demise, as the Shirai Ryu became more prominent.
After the Shirai Ryu were reformed by a fully resurrected Hanzo Hasashi (Scorpion), the clan now dedicates itself to protecting Earthrealm and aiding those victimized by others through recruiting them into the Shirai Ryu. Most recently, the animosity between the Shirai Ryu and the Lin Kuei has been resolved peacefully when the grand masters of both clans, Hanzo Hasashi and Kuai Liang (Sub-Zero), met to discuss their clan's history and relationship. All animosity between the clans was dispelled when Sub-Zero revealed that only a few (corrupt) Lin Kuei were involved in the first Shirai Ryu massacre as they secretly hired Quan Chi to destroy the clan in exchange for their services in the future. Sektor had allied with Quan Chi for the first Shirai Ryu’s destruction, starting the raid by igniting fires in the territories and the two would later frame Bi-Han for their crimes.
During the events of Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero, the sorcerer Quan Chi hired members from both rival clans to find the Map of Elements giving directions to the Amulet of Shinnok: Lin Kuei warrior Bi-Han and Shirai Ryu member Hanzo Hasashi were the members of the clans respectively chosen for the task. Quan Chi had originally sent Bi-Han to find the map, but he had also sent Hasashi in the event that Bi-Han failed in his arduous quest. Neither warrior knew of the other's involvement until they discovered each other in the room of the Shaolin Temple containing the map and immediately engaged each other in battle. Bi-Han won the battle with his ice-powers, killing Hanzo in the process, and retrieved the map. He gave the map to Quan Chi, and as payment to the Lin Kuei, he wiped out the rival Shirai Ryu clan bringing the clan leader bones.
Hanzo returned from death as Scorpion, and met his murderer in the Netherrealm, where Bi-Han had gone to stop Quan Chi from releasing the fallen Elder God Shinnok. The two engaged in a rematch of their earlier battle with Bi-Han once again emerging as the victor. Unable to exact his revenge, Scorpion waited until Mortal Kombat, where he battled Bi-Han for a third time. This time, Scorpion would be victorious and finally avenged his own death by killing Bi-Han. Bi-Han was reborn in the Netherrealm as the demon Noob Saibot, only to have his younger brother take his place in future tournaments using the Sub-Zero name.
As part of a deal with the Elder Gods in order to combat the threat from Onaga, the Shirai Ryu were resurrected in exchange for Scorpion serving as the Champion against this evil. However, their deal was only partly followed as after Onaga's defeat, the Shirai Ryu were resurrected but not as flesh and blood Humans but rather as Undead Hellspawn like Scorpion himself. Scorpion would take his undead clan and wage eternal enimity against the Elder Gods for the crimes they had committed. At this point, the Shirai Ryu were also called Hellspawn.
In Scorpion's Armageddon ending, as the fire of Blaze was extinguished and divine powers were given to him, what appeared in its place brought elation to Scorpion's tormented soul: His ninja clan, the Shirai Ryu, had been fully resurrected and as complete flesh and blood human beings. Numbering in the thousands, they covered the surface of the Pyramid of Argus awaiting Scorpion's command. It seems that Hanzo Hasashi (Scorpion) was now the absolute leader of his people. Among them was Scorpion's wife and son. He was finally able to see and hold his family in his arms, yet however their reunion was to be short-lived. The wicked sorcerer Quan Chi suddenly appeared among them. He grabbed Scorpion's young son and disappeared through a portal to the Netherrealm. Enraged, Scorpion ordered his clan to hunt down the sorcerer. He will not rest until his son has been rescued and recovered while Quan Chi is exterminated.
In Mortal Kombat (2011), Scorpion, the last remaining member of the Shirai Ryu, still holds a grudge against the Lin Kuei clan, including the elder Sub-Zero, whom he believes was responsible for the murder of his family and the massacre of his clan.
After the Battle of Earthrealm had ended, Scorpion at some point met Kenshi, a blind swordsman and one of Earthrealm's surviving champions. Kenshi helped the Wraith find inner peace and free him of the corruptive influence of his "Scorpion" persona. Thus, the newly re-dubbed Hanzo Hasashi later aided the forces of good win the Netherrealm War, which was Shinnok's invasion of several realms, and soon rebuilt the Shirai Ryu clan. Enlisting survivors of tragic events and inhabitants of realms that suffered due to the Netherrealm War, Hanzo had a temple near the Himalayan Mountains of Earthrealm become the home of the Shirai Ryu.
Years later, the Shirai Ryu became a powerful group within Asia, with their territory covering the Himalayan Mountains and having countless members. When his friend needed help, Hanzo rescued Kenshi and his young son, Takeda, raising the latter and taking him under his wing. Along with this, Raiden asked the clan to safeguard one of the Kamidogu daggers, which they accepted, believing it to be nothing more than a sacred relic. Teaching Takeda for years as well as other students such as Fox, Hanzo was eventually contacted by Raiden, who warned him of a coming demonic entity that had escaped during the outbreaks of Netherrealm, and that Hanzo had to be on the alert.
However, Fox was soon possessed by the demon through the Kamidogu dagger. After horrifically disfiguring himself, Fox poisoned Hanzo to relive his worst memories so Fox could kill a majority of the clan during the same night. Although overpowered, Takeda was able to survive and defend his sensei long enough from Fox before Scorpion reawakened, who aided Takeda in killing their possessed enemy. With most of the Shirai Ryu eradicated once again, Hanzo and Takeda burn the corpses of their kin before leaving the Shirai Ryu temple, vowing to rebuild their clan once they had avenged their fallen members. After avenging their clansmen's deaths with Havik's defeat, Takeda would proceed to build a series of memorials for each individual clansmen killed in the massacre before he and his master proceeded to rebuild the clan.
Sometime later, the clan is restored after Takeda's and Hanzo's journey for the Kamidogu daggers. The Lin Kuei's Grandmaster, Kuai Liang, soon met with Hanzo to sit down together for a cup of tea and discuss their clans' relationship after having been freed from Quan Chi's sorcery. He proposed to improve relationships between the Shirai Ryu and the Lin Kuei in order to bolster forces to protect Earthrealm from future threats. Though Hanzo was extremely wary due to their past history, Kuai insisted on a peaceful negotiation. However, their peace is broken when an impulsive Frost intrudes on their talk. Hanzo's suspicions about treachery are seemingly proven right and he attacks him.
However, when Hanzo moves into kill Kuai, the Grandmaster instead fires an ice blast at Frost to incapacitate her. Kuai Liang reassures Hanzo that his intentions for peace and cooperation were genuine and leads him to throne room to tell him the truth about Quan Chi and the Shirai Ryu through Sektor's head which contained a recording of the conspiracy. Quan Chi had in fact not only killed the Shirai Ryu by himself, but also created Scorpion from Hanzo's soul after his death, turning him into the vengeful spectre that compelled him to unfairly blame and kill Bi-Han. However, Kuai Liang instead blames Quan Chi's treachery for his downfall and Bi-Han's death, holding no grudge against Hanzo. Hanzo then states that there is a debt to be paid, one that Quan Chi will pay. Both leaders then give their salute as acceptance and become allies, ending the feud between their clans.
Five years later, Hanzo stages an assault with his clan members on the Special Forces refugee camp after learning of Quan Chi's captivity. Though they did not warn them of their impending arrival, Hanzo ordered his men to merely subdue his allies and avoid killing, not wanting to harm any of his allies in the process of taking Quan Chi. Both Kenshi and Johnny Cage step in to try and stop him as they need him to release their fallen allies and use him as bait to retrieve Shinnok's amulet, but Hanzo's rage could not be quelled and defeats both of them. After incapacitating the Special Forces, the Shirai Ryu bring Quan Chi to Hanzo. Finally confronting his family's and clan's true murderer, Hanzo faces Quan Chi in combat and moves into kill him, but D'Vorah appears to try and stop him.
Though he manages to slice off one of her extra limbs, she stabs him with another, causing him to fall to his knees in pain. While D'Vorah races to aid Quan Chi, Hanzo quickly recovers and tosses his Spear through Quan Chi's chest and pulls him in for the kill. As D'Vorah tosses him the Amulet, Quan Chi begins his incantation and as it finally comes within his grasp once more - it is short-lived for only a second before Hanzo slices his head off - finally avenging his clan and family. Blood for blood, Hanzo's anger was finally abated. But before he could relax, Quan Chi's last ditch effort was successful and the fallen Elder God is finally released from his confinement. However, as the results of Quan Chi's death because of Hanzo was being blinded by vengeance, this cost the remaining fallen heroes who were allied to Raiden, like Liu Kang, Kung Lao, Kitana, Sindel, and Smoke, including Kabal and Jade remained revenants forever.
Hanzo tries to strike down Shinnok himself, but is easily thwarted. The Shirai Ryu immediately releases their prisoners and together try to attack him, but are just as easily defeated. Shinnok then takes his leave for the Sky Temple, but not before capturing Johnny Cage, to keep him from intervering his evil plan. As soon as they disappear do Cassie and her team arrive. Kung Jin races to help Hanzo and he tells Cassie the whereabouts of her father.
When the time quake caused by Kronika occurs bring time-displaced old allies and foes (most were still alive), cybernized Sektor and Cyrax included, as well as a still wraith time-displaced Scorpion, Hanzo was alerted by Kuai Liang of the Cyber Lin Kuei’s return when they kidnapped Kuai Liang’s Lin Kuei members and being converted into mindless cyborg minions. Fearing his clan’s outcome, Hanzo rushes to Kuai Liang to destroy the rebuilt Cyber Lin Kuei’s mass productions, to make sure history of Sektor’s involvement with the first Shirai Ryu massacre never been repeated in the present ever again. Hanzo and Kuai Liang begin to infiltrate the rebuilt Cyber Lin Kuei to find and save time-displaced Cyrax from the slave protocol earlier. Before saving Cyrax, they found out that Frost betrayed Kuai Liang’s Lin Kuei and joined the new improved Cyber Lin Kuei, as well as Noob Saibot/Bi-Han had been revived in a new body after the first one was destroyed in the soul storm during Outworld’s invasion. Once Cyrax is freed, either Hanzo or Kuai Liang fights Sektor, with Cyrax sacrifices his system to shut down the rebuilt Cyber Lin Kuei’s mass production facility.
The time-displaced Scorpion sides with Kronika, who claim her promise to him to bring the “true” Shirai Ryu, and his family.
After the destruction of Special Forces Canyon base and Shaolin Temple since the incident on Kuai Liang’s Lin Kuei temple, Shirai Ryu’s Fire Garden becomes the only main hero base left. Due to his past experiences in Netherrealm, Hanzo went solo to find and rescue the realm’s ferryman named Kharon. Upon encountering his past-self, Hanzo understands his past-self only wants his family back, but not alongside the previous clan. Hanzo manage to convince his past-self manage about Kronika’s manipulations and she was the one who caused Shirai Ryu and their family’s demise in all timelines from behind. When Hanzo was poisoned by D'Vorah from the back, Scorpion rescues his present-self and begin to carry the latter’s wishes in his place, with his dying counterpart’s last word to him that the Shirai Ryu are defined by their heart, not blood.
Returning to Shirai Ryu under his deceased present-counterpart’s wishes, Scorpion is fascinated that Shirai Ryu has been rebuilt. Scorpion tries to convince both Sub-Zero and time-displaced Raiden about Kronika’s plan, but the two latter being too suspicious of him, and Scorpion being electrocuted by Raiden, who has started to become corrupted like his dark self thanks to Shinnok's amulet. However, only the time-displaced warrior Liu Kang noticed that Scorpion is being honest. When Raiden unlocks a full pattern of his new visions where he and Liu Kang keeps killing each other in all timelines caused by Kronika’s machination, Scorpion is healed by a recovered Raiden, but Kronika kidnaps Liu Kang to prevent him and Raiden from teaming-up to stop her.
Due to the death of Grandmaster Hanzo, what become of Shirai Ryu’s fate without a grandmaster remains unknown, leaving Hanzo’s past-self Scorpion, who is yet to be a grandmaster as the only member who participated with the allied forces of Earthrealm (surviving Special Forces and Shaolin) and Kitana’s new Outworld army in a final raid to Kronika’s Keep in the Netherrealm. Scorpion, Kuai Liang and Raiden guards Kharon’s ship from the fleeting Cyber Lin Kuei, now led by Frost, as well as bringing the present-day Jax Briggs back to the hero side, who was reluctant to join Kronika’s side before Raiden convinced him. Scorpion is one of the few heroes who witnesses the ultimate fusion between Raiden and both iterations of Liu Kang into Fire God Liu Kang. With the knowledge of Lord Liu Kang’s former present-day revenant counterpart, Scorpion and his allies finally get to island where Kronika’s Keep is. Once arrived, Scorpion and his allies fights off every Kronika’s remaining forces for Lord Liu Kang, Kung Lao and Kitana to enter her Keep, until Kronika resets time and leaves Lord Liu Kang to deal with her alone once and for all.
- Throughout the series, the Shirai Ryu's name is mispronounced as Shirai Rye-yu (when the correct would be Shirai Ree-oo). Also, given that "Ryu" is the Japanese suffix for "style", the name would be more properly parsed as "Shirai-ryu". Shirai Ryu means "Style/Flow of the White Well".
- Quan Chi is connected, if not responsible, for both iterations of the Shirai Ryu massacre, as he helped the Lin Kuei destroy the original iteration in exchange for Bi-Han to retrieve Shinnok's Amulet in Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero and in the Mortal Kombat X (Comic Series), the demon which possessed Fox to kill a majority of the second iteration did so through the Kamidogu dagger, which is connected to Quan Chi in some way. It turns out the Kamidogu daggers were keys to a ritual needed to summon Shinnok's Amulet. Quan Chi had conspired with Havik to summon Shinnok's Amulet before the latter betrayed him.
- While other factions have had a stage dedicated to them over the years, the Shirai Ryu didn't have a selectable stage belonging to them until Mortal Kombat 11 (the Shirai Ryu Fire Garden).