The Yiga Clan is a major antagonistic group from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
The Yiga Clan consists of Sheikah who abandoned the Royal Family of Hyrule and joined forces with the Calamity Ganon. The birth of the Yiga Clan is revealed to have been the result of the aftermath of Calamity Ganon's defeat 10,000 years prior to the events of Breath of the Wild. The Sheikah were instrumental in Ganon's defeat thanks to their advanced technology which included the powerful Guardians and Divine Beasts which aided the hero and Princess of Hyrule at that time. For a time, the Sheikah celebrated and their technology became known as the possessing power akin to the gods.
However, overtime the people of Hyrule began to fear the power of their technology which became viewed as a threat to the Kingdom of Hyrule. This lead to the Sheikah being ostracized and marginalized in Hyrulean Society. This eventually lead to a schism among the Sheikah. While some of the Sheikah remained loyal to the Royal Family and chose to bury their technology and live simply, others angered by how the Sheikah had been mistreated over fear of technology that had been created for Hyrule's benefit, chose to server ties with the Sheikah who remained loyal to the Royal Family and swore allegiance to Calamity Ganon whom they felt would appreciate their abilities, resulting in the formation of the Yiga Clan.
According to Zelda's Diary, the Yiga Clan where active 100 years ago shortly before the Great Calamity. During that time, the Yiga Clan attempted to assassinate Princess Zelda herself before she could awaken her divine sealing abilities which would be a serious threat to Ganon's imminent return. However their attack was ultimately foiled by the Imperial Guard Knight Captain and Zelda's personal bodyguard, the Hylian Champion, Link. To make matters worse, the attack resulted in Zelda and Link becoming closer, with Link opening up to Zelda about the burden he bared as the Chosen Hero, which Zelda related to as she too was burdened by her role as Princess of Hyrule and leader of the Champions.
However, despite the Yiga Clan's failure, Calamity Ganon having learned from his past defeat managed to corrupt the Guardians and sent phantom Scourges of himself, the Blight Ganons, to corrupt the Divine Beasts and kill their Champion pilots. With these powerful weapons under his control, Ganon's forces laid waste to much of Hyrule, destroying Hyrule Castle Town and taking control of Hyrule Castle and killing Zelda's father King Rhoam Bosphoramus Hyrule. Additionally, Link was overwhelmed and critically injured while defending Zelda at Fort Hateno. However, despite the Great Calamity that Ganon unleashed on Hyrule, Zelda finally managed to awaken her sealing powers which she used to defeat the remaining Guardians.
As a result of the Yiga Clan's failure to eliminate her, Zelda together with her Sheikah allies managed to save Link's life by having him placed under the Slumber of Restoration inside the Shrine of Resurrection, an ancient Sheikah medical facility capable of putting warriors into stasis to heal their injuries. Entrusting Link to her Sheikah allies, Zelda took the Master Sword to Korok Forest to entrust its protection to the guardian spirit of the forest, the Great Deku Tree.
Zelda herself having heard the voice of the Spirit of the Master Sword tell her that her destiny was not finished, resolved to use her powers to stop Ganon. She confronted Ganon and using her power, sealed both herself and Calamity Ganon in Hyrule Castle. Though Ganon was sealed, his evil still lingered in the land of Hyrule and he retained control over the Guardians. Though the Great Calamity had ended and the people of Hyrule began to rebuild and survive, the Yiga Clan remained active, hunting down and eliminating Ganon's enemies. They became dedicated to hunting down the Hylian Champion who had survived the Great Calamity.
100 years after the Great Calamity, the Yiga were enforced by Master Kohga to roam Hyrule in search for the hero Link in order to eliminate him. Throughout his travels, Link can meet various Yiga members posing as Hylian travelers and citizens, only to attack once Link comes closer or once their cover is blown.
While most Yiga are devoted to their mission with some being little more than fanatical zealots, at least one Yiga Clan member is known to have turned his back on the clan. The Sheikah Dorian was once a member of the Yiga Clan, though he turned his back on the clan after he fell in love with a Sheikah woman whom he married and started a family with in Kakariko Village. However, the Yiga Clan did not take kindly to Dorian's defection and killed his wife in retaliation.
Additionally, they blackmailed Dorian who had become one of Impa's guards to spy on Kakariko Village by threatening the lives of his young daughters Koko and Cottla. However Dorian eventually grew strong enough to protect his family and stopped spying on the village. However, a Yiga Clan Blademaster threatened to kill Impa and Paya, blackmailing Dorian to seal the Sheikah Heirloom, a Sheikah Orb that was a key to a Sheikah Shrine near the village which had been passed down within Impa's family to await the one chosen by the Heirloom foretold of in legend. Unable to protect his daughters and Impa, Dorian stole the Heirloom and met with the Blademaster. Having out-lived his usefulness, the Blademaster attempted to kill Dorian, but Link who had followed Dorian defeated the Blademaster. Thankful Dorian told Link to use the Heirloom to reveal a nearby Shrine, fulfilling the prophecy. Free of the Yiga Clan's blackmail, Dorian returns to his post as Impa's loyal bodyguard.
In addition to being fanatical, Yiga Clan members are known to have a odd fascination with Mighty Bananas which boarders on the point of obsession, as Mighty Bananas can be used to distract patrolling Yiga Clan members. It is implied they often enter Gerudo Town and buy up Mighty Bananas from merchants whenever they are on sale. When defeated, Yiga Clansmen often drop Mighty Bananas as spoils. Yiga Footsoldiers often carry Rupees and some disguised Yiga disguise themselves as merchants.
Their leader Master Kohga commands the Yiga from the Yiga Clan Hideout in Karusa Valley in the Gerudo Highlands region of the Gerudo province, north of Gerudo Desert. Despite being a master of the esoteric arts and being in command of a group of fanatical loyal followers who idolize him and Ganon, Kohga himself is actually rather lazy, often spending his time sleeping and loafing around their hideout, instead of actively leading his Clan. Despite his laziness, Kohga is just as fanatical and loyal to Ganon as his followers. His mastery of the esoteric arts makes him a formidable foe.
In addition to roaming Hyrule, the Yiga have also invaded Gerudo Town and stolen a priced artifact, the Thunder Helm, from the Gerudo chief Makeela Riju becoming enemies of the Gerudo. In order to reach the Divine Beast Vah Naboris, Link has to retrieve the helmet for Riju which brings him into the Yiga hideout. There, Link can either progress through the hideout stealthily or can attack the Yiga outright. If the latter way is chosen, Link cannot advance until he has killed all Yiga.
After venturing through the hideout, Link encounters Kohga who is killed in battle. After Kohga's death, Link can retrieve the Thunder Helm for the Gerudo. However as he dies, Kohga states that the Yiga Clan will hunt Link down and avenge him. True to Kohga's words, the Yiga Clan become more aggressive in hunting Link, with Yiga Blademasters joining Yiga Footsoldiers in hunting Link throughout Hyrule.
Like monsters and Guardians, slain Yiga Footsoldiers and Yiga Blademasters are revived by Ganon when his powers reach their pique at midnight during a Blood Moon. Interestingly, Master Kohga is never revived by Calamity Ganon, though this is presumably punishment for his failure to keep the stolen Thunder Helm from Link and the fact that the Yiga Clan become for more aggressive and determined in hunting Link to avenge their fallen leader.
Powers and Abilities
Like their fellow Sheikah, members of the Yiga Clan are ninja-like warriors who are masters in the art of disguise, espionage, and assassination. When not in disguise, Yiga Clan all wear masks featuring their clan symbol which gives them a uniform and intimidating presence, allowing them to conceal their true identities. Members use various esoteric arts such as hand signs to disappear in a puff of smoke, then reappearing in order to attack. They are incredibly agile and can run very fast. Footsoldiers often wield odd shaped blades such as small scythes known as Vicious Sickles and Demon Carvers which are designed to inflict gruesome wounds to instill fear into their enemies. Some footsoldiers wield Duplex Bows which allows them to fire two arrows at once though only uses one arrow of ammunition. While it lacks the precision of the Sheikah Phrenic Bow, its ability to fire two shots at once increases rate of fire allowing the Yiga to strike fast then disappear.
Yiga Blademasters are elite members of the Yiga Clan who wield Windcleaver swords with such deadly efficiency, they can perform an powerful attack that bypasses Link's armor and defense, making them a serious threat. Additionally, they have also mastered thee ability to manipulate the earth itself to attack Link, though this technique produces updrafts that Link can use to dodge it via clever use of his Paraglider. Additionally, they can also unleash sword beams from their Windcleaver blades to attack Link. However like most enemies, Link can acquire Yiga Clan weapons by defeating them, as they are resistant to the disarming effect of electric weaponry.
Master Kohga mastery of the esoteric arts allows him to levitate and summon boulders and metallic spiked balls which he can throw at Link. However his spiked balls can be used against him by Link using the Magnesis Rune.