"I love you… so die!"
There is actually not much known about Ladd's origins, or at least not much known to a poor, non-Japanese-speaking light-novel-less sap like me. However, I've become fairly certain that the origin of Ladd's psychotic worldview and behavior has to do with a tragedy that occurred when he was much younger (mid-to-late teens, I'd guess.) Back then, Ladd had an aggressive and feisty female friend called Layla, whom he came to love. The two were going to elope together, and then Layla was killed - the implications I've heard was that her death was directly Ladd's fault, somehow. And this totally messed up Ladd's head. Now, I can't read Japanese, nor have these parts been translated 'officially,' so I can't say it's true for sure.
In any case, what is sure is that Ladd is the nephew of the head of the Russo family, a mafiaesque gang based in Chicago. It's worth being noted that Ladd is definitely an odd duck and the other Russo gang members are not nearly as … gifted. Unfortunately, since he's a member of the family, they can't very well just get rid of him. So instead, they put him to work in their gang doing the one thing he's good at doing - killing. Ladd is an assassin, albeit an unusually loud and eccentric one.
1929: The head of the Russo family has been smuggling engine parts, but someone else has been stealing them en route. So Ladd gets sent to take care of business. In the middle of killing a few of the workers at the factory in Brooklyn where the Russo family believes the thieves are hiding out, Ladd ends up shooting a car, which, in turn, brings out a very disturbed young man with a big wrench named Graham. Graham is not pleased that Ladd damaged the car that he wanted to take apart, and of course, the best way to solve this problem is to bash his brains in with said wrench. The two of them fight for a while whilst calling each other names and Graham spews his ridiculously philosophy everywhere, but it ends abruptly when Ladd allows Graham to land a solid hit on him. The wrench hits Ladd's side like a brick wall - he doesn't move an inch, even with the steel lodged in his side. Then he proceeds to remove the wrench and hurl Graham against the wall. Ladd tells him off for being an idiot, but decides not to kill him since he's strong and interesting and because Graham's not willing to fight anymore. Suddenly remembering the man he was attempting to kill before Graham showed up, he whips out his shotgun and blows said man's head off as he tries to escape. The two laugh heartily about it. And that's the story of how Ladd gained a fanboy.
Some time later, during the fine year of 1931, a pair of heartwarming but extremely dim thieves knocked out two mafia members with bats and stole the large sum of money they'd been transporting. These mafia just so happened to be members of the Russo family. Placido never planned on using Ladd in the situation at all, but our good friend happened to overhear him yelling about it to two lackeys. Down two lackeys a moment later, Ladd's uncle listens to his nephew's plan - a trans-continental train, the Flying Pussyfoot, is leaving for a straight trip from Chicago to New York the next day, and a senator's wife and daughter are riding on it. Ladd can take hostages and extort money from him. Placido doesn't quite agree, but allows Ladd to go onboard as long as he doesn't act in the Russo name. ( A bit of coercing from a gang of like-minded killers Ladd rounded up helped. )
Ladd, along with his fiance, Lua, and his troupe of homicidal maniacs dressed entirely in white, board the train to have some kicks. What they don't know is that they are far from the only group on the train, and the whole vehicle is incredibly volatile. They just want to blow off some heads. Deciding to kill whomever they please and use the leftovers as hostages to threaten, Ladd and his group frolic ( in Ladd's case, quite literally ) throughout the train, leaving a trail of gore and bodies.
Needless to say, it does not go Just As Planned. Another group, a black-suited gang called the Lemures, comes into direct conflict with them often, including kidnapping Lua, and a mysterious monster known only as the Rail Tracer continually picks off Ladd's white suits. ( He doesn't mind much. ) It only starts becoming a concern when he encounters a woman named Chane Laforet who manages to fight him on even footing. Well, even as you can get on top of a moving train. And that just makes Ladd absolutely giddy - so much that he plans not only to kill her, but also her father. Unfortunately for him, an unexpected helper appears for Chane - the Rail Tracer himself, otherwise known as the assassin Vino. And while Ladd is tough, Vino is almost supernatural in his acrobatics and strength, and Ladd can barely keep up, even when Vino infuriates him with his bizarre world view and personality. Vino also has a second card up his sleeve - he manages to kidnap Lua, who climbs up onto the top of the train mid-battle. Taking one end of a rope and lassoing it around a water tower as the train passes it and slipping the other end around Lua's neck, he cheerfully tells Ladd that unless he jumps from the train to save her, his fiance will die.
Ladd doesn't want to lose this fight. But the idea of Lua being killed by someone other than himself is one that he can't stand. Grabbing Lua in one arm and the rope in the other, he jumps from the moving Flying Pussyfoot, warmly informing her that he can't wait to kill her before slamming into the water tower.
Lua is unharmed, but the ordeal costs Ladd both his left arm and his freedom. Once the train has stopped in New York, the authorities quickly learn about the awful massacre on the train - largely committed by Ladd and his cronies. He's arrested, and while he fights in court, claiming that his murders were all committed in self-defense ( technically true, since only one innocent non-mafia member was killed and it wasn't by his hand ), he is sentenced to prison in Alcatraz for his deeds.
Before arriving in prison at all, he's given a mechanical prosthetic arm to replace his lost one. And that's about where I'll be taking him from, as it's the limit of canon information available to me.
To be blunt, Ladd is completely nucking futs. We're talking about a 25-year-old man who dances around giddily at seeing an absolutely awful murder scene and throws tantrums over not being the first one to kill on the train. As he puts it, he has an 'excitable' personality, and that's with a hefty dose of eccentricity. He wears his emotions on his sleeve for the most part, and usually means just what he says and says just what he means. Another good way to describe Ladd would be 'passionate' - his feelings are often way over-the-top and he's quick to articulate them to whoever might be listening, even if he plans on killing them. His forceful and eager personality make him a force to be reckoned with, especially considering his profession. He's generally quite a talkative fellow and usually in good cheer, although almost always for the wrong reasons. Rarely will you find a depressed Ladd - usually it's channeled into further sadism or just plain anger.
But none of that is what people think of first when it comes to Ladd. Simply put, Ladd loves to kill. He's a sadist in the purest form of the word. Nothing makes him happier than watching someone else bleed or cry or break, especially if he's the one that did it. He gets his kicks by splattering brains against walls or punching someone in the face until they die. And nothing makes him more gleeful than getting to kill someone who absolutely doesn't believe that they're going to die. People who think they're safe, or that they're invincible, or simply can't imagine being killed - those are the types of people that Ladd loves killing the most. He'll put himself and others at a loss or in danger just for the opportunity to prove them so terribly wrong. Ladd is fully aware that most people would think this is horrible, and that most people would think he's a monster. And he just thinks that's amusing.
In fact, Ladd's so passionate about killing other humans that his love for slaughter is meshed inseperably from his ideas on romance and relationships. When he kills people who are afraid to die or afraid of him, he thinks they should be grateful that he's bestowing them with the honor of his murder. When Graham tries to kill him and fails after a drawn-out battle ( in which the two of them mocked each other relentlessly ), Ladd decides not to kill him simply because Graham is strange, bright, and because Ladd likes 'strong guys that only he can kill.' His relationship with Lua is based almost wholly on the strange sadistic-masochistic interplay of their personalities - Lua is passive, suicidal, and longing for Ladd to kill her, and Ladd wants to kill her more than anything, but the fact that she wants to be killed makes him spare her, since there are still so many people who don't want to die for him to murder. Telling her "I'll kill you last" is the equivalent of a tender "I love you" from him. And when Ladd is confronted by Chane on the train, he considers her appearance to fight him a delcaration of love, and that he will accept it by killing her. As far as Ladd is concerned, killing is a very high form of heartfelt compassion - or at least something along those lines. ( Naturally, this idea is taken to its logical extreme during the battle between him and Vino in the DS game's crack ending. )
As for why Ladd loves to kill people so much? Well, if the tiny smidgen of novel information on Ladd's pre-crazy life and former fiance are true, then it really is born out of compassion. A woman he loved died, and he couldn't do anything to stop it. But if he's the one in control of peoples' lives, then he has the power to 'save' them, in a way. Ladd resents people that don't understand the beauty and fragility of life - that's why he loves to so brutally slaughter those who don't fear death at all. He wants to make them realize that they're not invincible to the wiles of fate and nature itself.
In a nutshell, Ladd is a loquacious and exciteable homicidal maniac. Not too shabby.
Ladd's certainly one of those intimidating types you'd expect to be a gangster. He's tall ( around six feet ) and heavy-set, and it's likely that it's mostly muscle under there. Strangely enough, he has an almost heroic face-type - dirty blonde hair, blue eyes and a square jaw - but he's probably about as far away from 'hero' as you can get. Always a snappy dresser, he's typically wearing a suit of some kind, although he favors the unstainable all-white tuxedo that Nautilus gave him while in this city. It's also normal for him to be carrying around his weapon of choice, an old-fashioned shotgun, which he'll usually either carry hoisted over his shoulder or holstered to his leg.
One unusual thing about Ladd is his prosthetic left arm; this is mechanical in appearance and probably in make as well. Thanks, Claire! Despite this handicap and his size, Ladd is by no means a slow brute - he's almost constantly in motion, skipping, swaggering, gesturing, or, yes, dancing, and this agility carries over to his fighting abilities as well. Loud, confident and often provocative, as well as being quick of foot and large in body, Ladd is hard to miss and even more difficult to ignore. This is why he's the Boss.
Ladd's a normal human being. 'Normal' being relative in this case. Even then, he's probably a bit of a handful to deal with unless one is undeniably super-powered. He has prowess with any number of weapons, but he particularly enjoys hand-to-hand combat or a shotgun ( which he has the strength to fire with only one arm. ) He's very quick, very confident, and 100% merciless in battle - killing people is his forte, naturally. He also seems to have a very high resistance to pain.
Badass Normal: ESPECIALLY in Nautilus
Blond Guys Are Evil
Card Carrying Villain: He knows he's bad. It doesn't bother him.
Dressed To Kill
Evil Has A Bad Sense Of Humor: Although we find him rather funny.
Even Evil Has Standards: Weird ones.
Evilly Affable: Shades of both!
Heroic Sociopath: Believe it or not.
Large Ham: One of the hammiest guys in his canon. THINK ABOUT THIS FOR A SECOND…
Murder Is The Best Solution
The Only One Allowed To Defeat You: With Lua and Graham.
New in Nautilus:
Big Brother Mentor: To Graham
Boisterous Bruiser: Comes off this way a lot now that the killing's been toned down.
Bullying A Dragon: To Aya
Friendly Enemy: To Aya especially, but… to most people he's fought/killed, really.
Man Hug: With Graham. Then he shot him in the face. FRIENDSHIP
The Don/Large And In Charge: Vaguely in Nautilus. He's scraped together a few crazy people that want to work with him.