Characters / Shigurui
Below are the characters of Shigurui
. Note that names are in Japanese order (Family name first, then given name)
A stoic and diligent pupil of the Kogan dojo. In the present time in his duel with Seigen he has only one arm but it is noted that his back muscles could theoretically make up for lost strength. Fujiki is unwaveringly loyal to Kogan, and is said to be most likely to succeed him as the school's grandmaster.
- An Arm and a Leg: Loses his arm in the revenge duel with Irako, and almost dies from it. Afterwards he has to re-train himself to fight without it.
- Animal Motifs: A tiger and on occasions, a dragon.
- Badass Boast:
- Upon defeating seven sword-wielding ronin with his bare hands, he states, "I do not need a weapon when facing stray dogs."
- Before the final duel, when his sandal-bearer asks "You're not afraid?", Fujiki says witha perfectly calm and determined face, "I want to cut him down, so I will do so. That is all."
- Bait the Dog: At the start, he looks noble and admirable, but it becomes clear over time that he can commit or be complicit in cruelty for the sake of obedience and bushido.
- Berserk Button: Tends to be polite and is willing to take a lot of abuse as long as it's from his social superiors, but if someone insults his master Kogan or the Kogan school of swordsmanship then Fujiki will punish them with his sword.
- Bully Hunter: As a child he murdered the samurai boy who cruelly bullied the village children. He never breaks social convention like this as an adult, however.
- The Dog Bites Back: After the samurai boy also named Gennosuke beat him and forced him to eat dung, young Fujiki killed him by smashing his head against a wall and took his scalp as a trophy.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The "evil" part is arguable—Fujiki's not actively malicious, but his loyalty to Kogan is such that he is willing to do the most monstrous things imaginable to ensure Kogan's honor remains intact. That being said, he holds sincere affection and love towards Mie—however, the tragedy of their situation is that Fujiki's willingness to uphold his honor as a samurai perpetually ends up causing rifts between them both, and this ultimately drives Mie to suicide, when she realizes that despite everything that's happened between them, he is still a slave to his honor.
- Foil: To Irako. The both of them are demonstrably proficient in the way of the sword and hold their honor above all else, to the point where they would immediately kill anyone who would dare to put their swordsmanship skills into question. But Fujiki's Undying Loyalty to Kogan brings him in conflict with the self-gratifying Irako, who mainly sees Kogan as a way to push him up the social ladder. While Fujiki has Single-Target Sexuality towards Mie, Irako is a shameless lecher who sleeps with any woman who catches his eye. Even their respective swordplay styles are different—though both of them mainly rely on using inertia and momentum to deliver their killing blows, Irako specializes in ascending vertical slashes while Fujiki mainly uses horizontal ones.
- Fatal Flaw: For all his honor and good intentions, he cannot see any morality outside of Bushido and puts honoring the monstrous Kogan above all else. Due to this dogmatic outlook, he finds himself losing the only man who understood him, the woman he loved and finally, any semblance of humanity he ever felt.
- Green-Eyed Monster: When Fujiki beats Irako down on Kogan's orders, it is left ambiguous whether his...ferocity is due to his jealousy of Irako having taken Mie as his betrothed, Irako overtaking the Kogan school as its finest samurai, or if he's still just still salty over Irako utterly humiliating him during their first match together.
- Handicapped Badass: Losing his left arm is a huge setback. So he trains his right arm to the point where his back muscles begin to malform. By the time he begins his final duel against Irako, his remaining arm has the strength of two.
- Honor Before Reason: Fujiki does not take kindly to anyone tainting the name of Kogan, or ridiculing the Kogan style—and as such, is willing to do some truly terrifying things in order to uphold the honor of the Kogan school.
- One Steve Limit: Averted for his given name: He was the third son of a peasant couple, but in his village there was also a boy named Gennosuke from a samurai family who bullied all the other children. Young Fujiki killed that Gennosuke and brought his scalp back to his parents, which got him hung upside down from a tree to die. Kogan happened to come along and decided to save the boy by adopting him. Kogan declared the death of the samurai child Gennosuke to be an accident, and made them adopt the peasant Gennosuke as their heir. Kogan soon took Fujiki into his own house.
- Teen Genius: When he was barely three years experienced in Kogan-ryuu, he defeated an arrogant swordsman from another school who had thought he would walk all over some country bumpkins.
- That Man Is Dead: When his peasant brother calls out to him on the grounds of the revenge duel, Gennosuke ignores him. In his mind, Fujiki Gennosuke was born a samurai; that peasant boy died a long time ago.
- Tiger Versus Dragon: Despite being associated with dragons, he's the Tiger to Irako's Dragon.
- Tragic Hero: His quest to avenge his school and protect Mie is at least well-intentioned and brave, even if he isn't a good man by modern values. Nevertheless, his fatal flaw of blind obedience toward his master and the samurai hierarchy leads him to kill the only man who could understand him, sacrifice his integrity to avoid punishment, and in doing so drive his beloved to suicide.
- Undying Loyalty: To Kogan, which is par for the course in terms of a samurai's relationship to their master—but the argument can be made that Fujiki's a little too into it. Mie certainly thinks so, and though his loyalty shifts towards her after the death of her father, she ends up committing suicide when she realizes that he'll always hold his honor as a samurai above all else.
- Master Swordsman: An extremely diligent and talented student of the Kogan school, he was second only to Gonzaemon in strength among Kogan's students before Irako came along. He and Irako soon come to be known as the twin dragons studying under the old tiger, Kogan: together they defeat the fearsome Funaki brothers, showing them to be almost evenly matched. Three years after Irako's banishment, Fujiki has recieved his license to teach Kogan-Ryuu, and demonstrates just how skilled and powerful he's become by single-handedly defeating seven sword-using ronin with nothing but his bare fists, leaving only one of them alive. And immediately after that, when Irako starts slaying the members of his school one by one, Fujiki turns out to be the only swordsman who stands a serious chance of figuring out how to counter Irako's undefeated mumyou sakanagare technique. Even after losing his left arm, he manages to completely re-train himself to effectively wield his sword one-handed, and slays Irako in their final duel.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: As Kogan had saved his life when he was a little boy, he would kill anyone or do anything if Kogan commanded it.
- Nominal Hero: He may be the protagonist of the story, but Fujiki's done some truly abhorrent things in the name of his blind devotion to Kogan without even batting an eye.
- The Stoic: Speaks little, and tends not to speak out or wear his emotions even when provoked.
An ambitious man who seeks to raise his status. In the present time, he is blind and has a deep cut in one of his feet. Years before, he joined the Kogan-Ryuu school afterwards and was eventually picked to become the successor over Gennosuke Fujiki, but he and Kogan had a falling out which resulted in his present-day blindness.
- Animal Motifs: Becomes known as one of the two dragons of the Kogan school (Fujiki being the other), and after his blinding he is represented as a blind dragon.
- Bishounen: Goes into Dude Looks Like a Lady territory.
- Blind Weaponmaster: Kogan blinds Irako using his secret sword cut nagare boshi ("shooting star") as punishment for sleeping with his concubine Iku. Irako and Iku are rescued by a swordsman named Tsukioka Yukinosuke, who takes them to a village in the Hida Mountains. There, with the help of Iku and Yukinosuke, Irako goes through the painful and difficult process of adjusting to his blindness, and ultimately develops the ability to sword fight as efficiently as he did before. He goes beyond that, however, by inventing a technique called mumyou sakanagare ("lightless reverse flow"): it's a modification of and a counter to Kogan's nagare boshi, which is even more powerful because Irako sticks the point of his sword into the earth instead of gripping it in his other hand as Kogan did, so that he can use his whole body to charge up the sword with energy and release it like a slingshot in a vertical ascending strike as he dives toward his opponent. With this technique, Irako comes back and starts killing highly skilled members of Kogan Ryuu one after another. He eventually earns the favor of the shogun's brother, Tokugawa Tadanaga, and his fearsome reputation as the Blind Dragon spreads far and wide.
- Break the Haughty: Blinding him was meant as this by Kogan. He doesn't stay broken for long.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Irako undoubtedly has The Gift when it comes to swordsmanship, and his skill continues to grow even though he seems less serious about his training than Kogan's other pupils. Mie recounts to Sasahara Shuuzaburou that Irako would only take part in each day's required training session, and that afterwards he would find himself a cool spot and spend the rest of his time in idleness while all the other students continued their training independently. Sasahara offers Mie an in-universe Alternative Character Interpretation to Irako's behavior:
"I was even more like that. Everyone said behind by back that I was conceited and lazy. But the truth is, I was desperate. In the confusion of spears in the dojo, I focused my concentration on the enemy as if I were on a battlefield. I had no strength to spare. It is probably the same with Irako Seigen.
- Byronic Hero: Intelligent, charismatic and capable man, who doesn't listen to anyone but himself. He is also idolized by the other blind men in the series, showing that even they can achieve something in life. At the same time, he is lecherous and ambitious, both which get him blinded in the first place.
- The Casanova: While a student of the Kogan Ryuu, he would go about sleeping with all the pretty girls and women of the village. When he finds himself about to be struck down by Kogan, his life flashes before his eyes and he sees all the women he seduced: Yae, daughter of a Kakegawa samurai; Fusano, younger sister of Sakurai Hikogurou; Kosuzu, wife of Master Kouta; Yoshi, the tailor's wife; Kimi, daughter of the eatery's owner; Man, widow of Kayoi Teramachi; and Iku, Kogan's Mistress, the last of which was the indiscretion that brought this upon him. After being blinded, he is left to be beaten close to death by two men whose female relatives he spoiled. After surviving all this, however, he goes right back to womanizing.
- Dead Person Impersonation: As a youth he ingratiated himself with a doctor named Irako Seigen, and beguiled the older man into teaching him all the techniques of manipulating pressure points to extend or shorten life. He then took Seigen out on a boat, murdered him using pressure points, and dissapeared. It was reported as a lover's suicide, but the bodies were never found. It wasn't until years later that the late Irako Seigen's other apprentice, Shun'an, heard that the long-haired youth was still alive and had stolen their master's name as well as his secrets.
- Determinator: Lost your eyesight? No problem. Just train until you don't need them anymore and then go after the martial arts school that maimed you.
- Foil: To Fujiki. The both of them are demonstrably proficient in the way of the sword and hold their honor above all else, to the point where they would immediately kill anyone who would dare to put their swordsmanship skills into question. But Fujiki's Undying Loyalty to Kogan brings him in conflict with the self-gratifying Irako, who mainly sees Kogan as a way to push him up the social ladder. While Fujiki has Single-Target Sexuality towards Mie, Irako is a shameless lecher who sleeps with any woman who catches his eye. Even their respective swordplay styles are different—though both of them mainly rely on using inertia and momentum to deliver their killing blows, Irako specializes in vertical slashes while Fujiki mainly uses horizontal ones.
- Tiger Versus Dragon: The Dragon to Fujiki's Tiger.
- Even the Guys Want Him: The original Irako Seigen most certainly did.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Subverted and then double subverted. He kills his mother to climb the social ladder, but it's the only death he deeply regrets. He also took care of her long after she could no longer recognize him due to insanity.
- Eye Scream: As punishment for sleeping with Iku, Kogan slashed Seigen's eyes with his katana, rendering him blind.
- Friend to All Children: Yes, really. Whenever he has to deal with children, he goes out of his way to be nice to them. Notable with the starving street urchin. No one else would touch the kid, but he washed her, gave her food and even a place to stay.
- Handicapped Badass: In addition to being blind, he also walks with a limp due to a large gash on his right foot.
- Noble Demon: Although he's a violent and even cruel man, Seigen still has his own moral code — even showing kindness to a starving child at one point.
- Obfuscating Disability: Downplayed because he really is blind, and the wound to his foot really did hobble him somewhat, but he knows that he'll only get more famous for winning despite being blind and lame, so he deliberately exaggerates his limp and blindness in front of others. This has the added benefit of making opponents underestimate him until it's too late.
- Pet the Dog: Despite a lot of wicked deeds, he also saves Fujiki from drowning, treats Iku better than Kogan did, gives his aid to a beggar girl, speaks passionately to Toudouza member Tsutanochi about how he wants to prove their worth, and leaves a miracle cure for Fujiki while he's deathly ill.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Perhaps he really took pity on Fujiki in some way, but at least part of the reason he leaves a cure for him is that he can't defeat Fujiki and increase his fame if his opponent dies before the match.
- Social Climber: Born into abject poverty, he took advantage of the doctor Irako Seigen and, using his name, set out to win a name for himself as a swordsman. He plans to ingratiate himself with Kogan Ann's marry Mie in order to inherit the dojo with its stipend of 300 koku, and that's just the beginning! Later, having obtained the patronage of the leader of the blind men's guild and impressing Tadanaga, he hopes to enter the top ranks of society. Ironically, the samurai class which he wants to join are still the kind of people he hates the most. Ultimately he is motivated to rise not merely by his own ambition, but in order to repudiate hierarchical society and the fixed class system.
- Worthy Opponent: One scene does show that Irako actually respects Fujiki, but the feeling is not mutual. It became mutual only at the very end of the series.
- Villain Protagonist: The story focuses on him as much as Gennosuke and both are violent men who will kill anyone who questions their honor.
A master of the Kogan-Ryuu school and Gennosuke's senior.
- Animal Motifs: The bull, largely owing to his burly stature, enormous physical strength and later on signifying his elite position within the house of Iwamoto as an accomplished practitioner and instructor of Kogan-ryuu.
- The Big Guy: The biggest and strongest member of the Kogan school, who pulverizes opponents using his giant wooden swords.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Though portrayed as naturally endowed rather than gifted though training, Gonza's ridiculous strength is only enhanced by his mastery of Kogan's techniques.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Cruelly subverted. Gonzaemon, in his youth, had a mutual crush on a girl in his village named Fuku—and tearfully promised her, when he went off for training, that he would return as a powerful warrior. Sure enough, he realizes that the cost of becoming a powerful warrior meant sacrificing his love for her—so he would never be conflicted again. And the only way he saw fit to do this was to kill her the minute they reunited. The kicker is that his last coherent thoughts are that of his beloved, hinting that despite it all he still held her deep in his heart.
- Determinator: Even after being cut down with massive brain trauma by Irako in the revenge duel, his body gets up and hunts Irako down to his lodgings, almost killing him before being taken out for good.
- Glasgow Grin: When Kogan asks him whether Irako or Gennosuke should be the successor, and he makes the mistake of suggesting that it should be Gennosuke out of respect for Mie, Kogan shoves his blade into Ushimata's mouth until he's cut deep into the cheeks, giving him a permanent slit-cheeked grin afterwards.
- Groin Attack: Tore off his own testicles at the time he killed the woman he loved, as a sign of devotion to Kogan and his sword above all else. Irako tries to kick him in the testicles during the revengue duel, which doesn't work because he has none, so Irako contorts his foot into a point so he can penetrate to Gonzaemon's organs and successfully stagger him.
- Honor Before Reason: When forced to choose between his childhood love and his master, he ultimately chose the latter; going so far as to disembowel his beloved the moment they reunited and later that evening tear off his own testicles.
- Red String of Fate: Promised to return to his childhood love Fuku, and Kogan refused to take him with the other students for special training. He told Gonzaemon that as long as he was tied to another by the red string of fate, he would not be truly devoted to Kogan-ryuu. Gonzaemon took this to heart, and killed her so that he would never be conflicted again.
The aged Grandmaster of the Kogan-Ryuu school, notorious for his deadly techniques and having six fingers on his right hand
. Lately reduced to a state of senile dementia in which he behaves like a beast of pure instinct, he temporarily regains his sanity at certain times, most often in the period between fall and winter. He cares nothing about the feelings of his daughter, Mie, only thinking about the future of his school.
The daughter of Iwamoto Kogan.
- Avenging the Villain: Swears vengeance on Irako after he kills her father.
- Ax-Crazy: Kogan's abuses really take a toll on her sanity, to the point where it goes full circle—even long after he's dead, she's obsessed with avenging him by having Fujiki kill Irako.
- Driven to Suicide: When Fujiki obeys the command to decapitate Irako's corpse at the end of their duel at Sunpu Castle, she realizes that he's still the same puppet who was willing to hold her down to be raped because her father ordered it, and commits jigai by stabbing herself in the throat.
- Dissonant Serenity: Mie suffers constant abuse from her senile and sociopathic father, and at one points ends up despairing over her situation so much she emaciates herself—at this point, her dad pretty much had Irako, the one guy she held any affection towards, blinded and maimed before being exiled. Gradually, though, the ensuing abuse takes such a toll on her that when she senses Irako's return to the dojo, she suddenly starts acting like a proper maiden again, to the point where even drenched in the blood of other samurai, she pretends as though she's about to be wedded to her long lost love.
- Extreme Doormat: Zigzagged. She can't really do much, in a household where she's seen as little more than a broodmare by her father, treated as though she is meant solely to produce a strong heir for the Kogan style and nothing else. She lashes out against her father's wishes when he demands she give up her virginity to Irako right in the middle of the dojo, in front of literally everyone—and is horrified when Fujiki is willing to help carry out the order by holding her down. So while she tries not to be an Extreme Doormat, everyone's so driven by their loyalty to her father that she can't do anything but lash out against the fate she's been handed. This plays massively into why she's Driven to Suicide in the ending; despite growing to love Fujiki later on in life, the fact that he would still put his own honor as a samurai above all else makes her see him as the same man who had held her down to be raped by Irako.
- Forgets to Eat:
- Honor Before Reason: Her father is a monster, but he is still her father. Which is why, when Kogan dies, despite suffering her entire life under his abuse, Mie still urges Fujiki to slay Irako.
- Stockholm Syndrome: This is at least partly the reason why despite all the terrible things her father had done to her, she still attempts to avenge his death through the killing of Irako.
- Woman Scorned: After initially putting her faith in Irako as her husband-to-be, she turns against him for cheating on her with Iku and murdering her father.
- Yamato Nadeshiko: Mie has always lived with the expectations of being the only daughter of the grandmaster of the Kogan school, expected to uphold the honor of the Iwamoto clan through hard work and sacrifice. Despite going through periods of rebellious behavior in which she lashes out against her father and her sad lot in life, after Kogan's death she takes up the burden of restoring her family's honor through revenge on Irako. Mie's pride and loyalty are especially poignant while she and Fujiki are living as social outcasts because they did not commit seppuku after losing the revenge match with Irako. While waiting for the tournament at Sunpu castle they live in a miserable shack with no servants or income. Being treated as scum by people who used to be her social inferiors is painfully humiliating, yet she puts on a brave face for Fujiki and never lets him see how much she's suffering. She comes home from shopping later and later every day because she has to walk miles to find a merchant who won't recognize her and charge exhorbitant prices, and she is unable to get dried abalone for the before-battle meal she serves to Fujiki before they leave for the tournament, but she presents it to him without the abalone, and he pretends to eat it. All of the officials who deal with her and Fujiki are struck with admiration for the beautiful maiden who stays constantly at the side of her samurai champion, helping him with all her strength and never losing her poise or grim determination to get justice for her family.
- You Killed My Father: Urges Fujiki to slay her father's killer, Irako.
The concubine of Kogan. When she was younger, she was consistently taunted with a children's song and the masses fled at her approach. This public scorn only increased her dependence on her husband.
- Anti-Villain: Despite serving the ambitious and amoral Irako, she comes across as more of a pitiable victim of circumstance than a malicious villain. She initially reacts against Kogan's mistreatment, and her acts of loyalty and sacrifice for Irako are frequently admirable.
- Breast Attack: Kogan slices off her nipple when he finds out she's been cheating on him. Later, when commanded to castrate Irako with a hot iron, she pretends to do it to Irako but actually burns her own breast, which gives him a chance to flee.
- Cartwright Curse: Two of her fiancés, died before Kogan took her in, and no one dares to woo her because they think she's cursed. The children sing a song about her, and the people in the public baths all vacate whenever she arrives. Irako is the one who reveals to her that Kogan was responsible for her partners' deaths, and that the curse attributed to her is mere nonsense.
- Morality Pet: Irako's relatively considerate treatment of her reflects more favorably upon him that most of his behavior.
- Neutral Female: Averted. She isn't a fighter, but more than once she saves an about-to-lose Seigen by other means, and often at great cost to herself:
- When commanded to castrate Seigen using a hot iron, she instead burns her own breast with it and begs him to flee.
- During Irako's fight with Kogan, she crawls over to the lantern and extinguishes the light to give the blind Irako back the advantage.
- Unholy Matrimony: Completely devotes her body and soul to Seigen. Seigen fools around with other women too, and it's unclear exactly how much he values her, but at least he treats her like a human being unlike her previous lover Kogan.
Lord of the Sunpu castle and the shogun Iemitsu's younger brother. He is mad, bad, and dangerous to know.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: Tadanaga abuses his position as the shogun's brother to utterly terrorize the population of his domain, raping and killing people as he pleases.
- Ax-Crazy: Prone to killing people for any reason—or even no reason at all—which he sometimes delegates to subordinates but often does with his own hands. His methods include bows and arrows, the sword, strangulation, defenistration, and throwing them in the dungeon with his monstrous pets. When he is made to commit seppuku at the order of the shogun, they do not even trust him with a blade to cut his stomach open and give him a fan instead: the appointed second cuts off Tadanaga's head as soon as he reaches for the fan.
- The Caligula: One of the previous shogun's sons, and favored by his mother to become shogun before his older brother Iemitsu beat him to it, he nevertheless rules a domain of 550,000 koku as a mad tyrant. He rapes and kills his subjects at a whim and with complete impunity, causing even his subordinate daimyo and counsilors to be utterly terrified of his unpredictable cruelty. His complete incapacity for restraint eventually causes the only power greater than him, his brother the shogun, to sieze his lands and make him commit seppuku.
- Depraved Bisexual: Discovering Chika's unusual genitals doesn't deter him from raping her.
- Dissonant Serenity: Fitting of a man who lives for nothing but violence, Tadanaga bares the same creepy smile when committing seppuku as he does watching anyone else die.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Even an off comment reminding him that he's not shogun can set him off. When he realizes his brother is becoming aware of his planned coup, he reacts by throwing servants out of a tower in his castle and butchers a samurai who was bowing to him.
- Historical Villain Upgrade: The real Tokugawa Tadanaga was almost certainly not such an outrageous villain, and most of the details of his depravities were invented by the author.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Tadanaga becomes aroused by violence: he keeps a deformed warrior to watch as he rapes and cannibalizes women and strangles his sex partners to death with a look of bliss on his face.
- Royally Screwed Up: Being spoiled rotten by his mother, while having subjects constantly praising and kowtowing to him from the time he was a boy, caused him to grow up with megalomania and the belief that he should have been shogun instead of his brother Iemitsu.
- Serial Rapist: Routinely summons woman of all classes and conditions to his chambers, where they have no choice but to serve his lust and run a considerable risk of never coming out alive.
- Stupid Evil: Couldn't see that his acts would draw the attention of Edo (and his brother). As a result, he gets put down like a mad dog.