|Books character||TV character|
Takeshi Lev Kovacs (nicknamed Tak) is a native of Harlan's World and a former member of the Colonial Tactical Assault Corps. Growing up with his sister, Reileen, they suffered an abusive childhood. Their father killed their mother and hid the body. One day his father threatened Rei, prompting Kovacs to shoot and kill him. Although he doesn't share his younger sister's last name, her father is shown in flashbacks to be a white male so it's safe to assume that while Takeshi took his father's name, Reileen would take her mother's, as their mother was of Asian descent from her family photo she shows to Takeshi.
Taken into custody by the Colonial Tactical Assault Corps, Kovacs was given the option to enlist. He agreed as long as they promised to look after Reileen. Kovacs' original sleeve was kept in storage on Harlan's World while he was needle cast off-world to begin his training.
After several years, a mission to Harlan's World brought Kovacs back into his original sleeve. During a mission against the Yakuza, he encountered his sister who was working as an enforcer for them. Kovacs immediately turned on CTAC when they tried to kill Reileen, while she turned on her Yakuza masters. Both fugitives, they fled into the wilds of Harlan's World where they encountered Quellcrist Falconer and joined her Envoys.
Following the defeat of the Uprising, Kovacs returned to criminal life and became a mercenary, and was eventually imprisoned, his Cortical Stack stored without a body for decades at a time as punishment before being paroled or hired out to work high-risk situations. His consciousness was eventually imprinted back into a new sleeve in 2384 when Laurens Bancroft "bought" his stack for Kovacs to investigate the meth's supposed murder.
Thirty years later, Takeshi was spun back up in a new body. After a series of cataclysmic events, Takeshi was forced to work with the younger version of himself, known as "Taskeshi Prime", to stop the last remaining Elder. He drew the firepower of the orbitals onto himself and was reduced to ash. Takeshi Prime lived despite the death of his future counterpart. When Poe returned from his reboot to the Nevermore, he shared a note with Annabel. They then worked together in an attempt to rebuild a fallen soul, which is presumed to be that of Takeshi Kovacs.
Takeshi was born on Harlan's World to Jakub Kovacs and an unnamed mother. He had a younger sister, Reileen Kawahara, with whom he was very close. He had a miserable childhood, stemming from his father's verbal and physical abuse, which turned for the worse when his father murdered their mother. In a fit of rage, he killed his father at the age of 12, before being arrested by Colonial Tactical Assault Corps. He was given a choice to either be imprisoned or join CTAC by Jaeger. After being promised (falsely) that his sister would be taken care of and put in a good home, Takeshi accepted and joined CTAC. His stack was placed into an adult body, leaving his original child body behind on Harlan.
For the next 10 years, Takeshi served CTAC with distinction, until, on one mission, he was brought back to Harlan's World, and, coincidentally, back to his original body, which was now that of an adult. Jaeger tasked him and his team to wipe out a Yakuza stronghold in a local warehouse. After storming the place, he is unmasked by a young woman working for the Yakuza, and, upon spotting her necklace, realizes that she is Reileen, who also recognizes Takeshi. Realizing that CTAC will kill her regardless of his pleas and that Jaeger lied to him, he instantly switches sides and attacks the Praetorians he has been with, slaughtering them all with Reileen.
Later on, in a local bar, Takeshi and Reileen discuss their options, as they are now wanted fugitives and all ports and bases for off-planet transport are closely monitored, and they have no possibility of switching to other sleeves. Lacking options, they decide to hide in the mountains of Harlan to wait until the heat dies down. After several days in hiding, they are ambushed by the Envoy, a resistance group lead by Quellcrist Falconer, who captures his sister. After some persuading by Quell, Takeshi decides to join them along with Reileen. While he is, at first, treated with hostility and distrust by other Envoys due to his CTAC background, he proves his worth and trains hard, gaining romantic feelings for Quell during his time with them. During one training in the virtual world, he quickly steals a kiss from Quell, who reciprocates but ignores it.
After Quell reveals that her final mission is to introduce a virus to spread around the galaxy to infect all Stacks, which would make them shut down instantly after 100 years, he joins in. After a failed attack on the CTAC base, he is captured and spun into VR, where he meets with Jaeger for the first time since his desertion. Due to his Envoy training, Takeshi is immune to VR torture submitted by Jaeger, refusing to give out any information about the Envoys, fully prepared to die. However, he is rescued by Quell.
After a second attack is planned, he meets up discreetly with Quell, who is writing her journal. She reveals that she was the one who invented the stacks as a means of faster interstellar travel. However, after realizing that stacks could be used by the rich and powerful to gain immortality, she regretted her decision and created the Envoys. Takeshi reveals his romantic feelings for her. Despite Quell's reluctance to react due to her duty, she reciprocates his feelings and they have an intimate encounter at the lake that night, not realizing that Reileen secretly observed them.
The next day, as the team is preparing to storm CTAC, they are suddenly attacked by them, who firebomb the area and launch the Rawling Virus, which tampers with the stacks directly, causing most of the Envoys to go insane due to their stacks being corrupted. Takeshi, being out of the blast range, survives. He flees with Reileen and Quell, who both survived, and sends them to a transport shuttle so they could flee, while he goes off to fight CTAC to give them time. However, just as the shuttle flees, it is suddenly destroyed by a laser, killing both Quell and Reileen. Takeshi, witnessing the event in horror, hides from CTAC and flees the scene, heartbroken.
Over the next 4 years, Takeshi stays on Harlan's World, being unable to flee due to his criminal status. He becomes a local mercenary, and eventually teams up with another local mercenary, Sarah, and they become lovers, working together on several jobs.
In 2134, CTAC caught up with Kovacs and Sarah after a mission to retrieve several Cortical Stacks. During the firefight, Sarah's Sleeve was killed and Kovacs was arrested by Jaeger. Because of their past and Kovacs' disrespectful attitude, Jaeger shot Sarah through the Stack and frames Takeshi for the murder. Kovacs attempted to fight back but his Sleeve was killed and his Stack retrieved. He was incarcerated at Millsport Maximum Security Prison, with Jaeger's report claiming that Kovacs had shot Sarah in the Stack before being arrested. Kovacs' sentence had no end date.
Throughout the series
Kovacs's Stack was shipped from Millsport to Alcatraz Prison in Bay City on Earth and Resleeved in the body of Elias Ryker, currently serving a prison sentence at the facility. The conditions of his parole leased him to Bancroft Industries, run by Laurens Bancroft.
Takeshi appears to be a person of strict loyalty to both his family, people, and organizations- in that, he is loyal to a person/organization who has earned his loyalty, but he has no qualms in breaking that loyalty if the person/organization in question breaks that loyalty. A prime example is the CTAC. Takeshi was loyal to this organization for many years in the understanding that they had looked after his sister by placing her with a loving family. When he realized they had sold her to the Yakuza, his loyalty was shattered, and his family loyalty towards his sister took precedence.
- In "Fallen Angel", Kovacs is shown to have another seven known sleeves (including the ones played by Will Lee Yun and Byron Mann when entering Psychasec.
- He is fluent in Japanese. As seen in In a Lonely Place at Bancroft's party.
- He can read people's lips.
- Kovacs is of Japanese and Hungarian descent.
- Though "Kovač" (as spelled in Serbo-Croatian, which translates to 'a smith') is a widespread family name in Hungary as well as Slavic countries, brought there mostly from Slovaks, and also Serbs, Croats, and other Slavs during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the spelling "Kovacs" is Hungarian.
- As Hungarian-Japanese genetic-combination, as Takeshi correctly states: "In the case of my parents: The match made in hell".
|Out of the Past||Young Tak, 2130, 2134, 2384|
|Fallen Angel||2130, 2384|
|In a Lonely Place||Young Tak, 2130, 2384|
|Force of Evil||2130, 2384|
|The Wrong Man||2134, 2384|
|Man with My Face||2134, 2384|
|Nora Inu||Young Tak, 2130, 2384|
|Clash by Night||2130, 2384|
|Rage in Heaven||2384|
|The Killers||Young Tak, 2130, 2384|
- "Technology advances, but humans don't. We're smart monkeys, and what we want is always the same. Food, shelter, sex, and in all its forms, escape..."
- "The danger of living too many times, you forget the fear of death."
- “Sometimes, belief isn’t about what we can see. It’s about what we can’t.”
- “The instinct of violence curls inside us like a parasite, waiting for a chance to feed on our rage and multiply until it bursts out of us.”
- Takeshi Kovacs (Prime) - Kovacs in his original sleeve before the TV series.