Gone into the history books and available as cellphone strap: Kondō Isami, Hijikata Toshizō, Okita Sōji, Saitō Hajime, Nagakura Shinpachi and Serizawa Kamo.
Something of a popular favorite for inclusion in samurai shows, the Shinsengumi have the advantage of actually having existed. The group, originally called the Roushigumi (lit.: "Roushi Group," Roushi being a synonym for ronin
), later changed its name to the Shinsengumi ("Newly Selected Corps") and moved to Kyoto. There, taking the side of the current shogun, they requested and were granted policing powers to deal with the revolutionaries who wished to see the return of the emperor to power. The raid on Ikeda-ya, where the Shinsengumi managed to stop revolutionaries from setting fire to the city, is probably the most well-documented single engagement of the group during their existence.
Easily recognizable by their distinctive sky-blue-and-white haori jackets. (Historically, these may have been yellow and white, but always seem to be portrayed as the blue and white style on television. The design were apparently based from their claimed Spiritual Predecessor
, The 47 Ronin
.) As something of a far right-wing praetorian guard, the Shinsengumi embodies the Knight Templar
trope far better than, well, the actual Knights Templar
. Ostensibly defenders of the shogun and Japan, they soon transformed into a ruthless Secret Police
force with an unbelievably strict code of conduct, and what even The Other Wiki
has to give up on sugar-coating and describe as "an unflinching readiness to kill."
Despite their job technically being to keep the peace, they were generally (and deservedly) viewed as a threat. Like other nationalist paramilitary movements, inter-faction violence and assassinations
Though they only ever numbered about three hundred at the very most, and were active for only about five years, they're often credited with singlehandedly delaying the Meiji side's eventual victory over the Tokugawa regime.
The leadership of the group was made up of the following individuals:
|Kondō Isami||Commander of the Shinsengumi|
|Hijikata Toshizō||Lieutenant Commander|
|Yamanami Keisuke||Lieutenant Commander|
|Okita Sōji||1st Division Captain|
|Nagakura Shinpachi||2nd Division Captain|
|Saitō Hajime||3rd Division Captain|
|Matsubara Chūji||4th Division Captain|
|Takeda Kanryūsai||5th Division Captain|
|Inoue Genzaburō||6th Division Captain|
|Tani Sanjurou||7th Division Captain|
|Tōdō Heisuke||8th Division Captain|
|Suzuki Mikisaburō||9th Division Captain|
|Harada Sanosuke||10th Division Captain|
Tropes that are frequently used in relation to the group:
- Historical Beauty Update
- To be exact, this is usually played straight with Hijikata (not that he needs it; the real-life Hijikata◊ was said to be incredibly handsome) and Okita, averted with Kondō (who is either depicted realistically or worse) and played Up to Eleven with others like Saitō Hajime (compare his portrayal in Hakuouki◊ and his picture◊* .)
- Historical Fiction
- Historical-Domain Character
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Fiction often glosses over the more questionable politics and acts of the leaders and the group as a whole.
- Incurable Cough of Death: Okita Sōji died young from tuberculosis, and he's often portrayed as romantically coughing up blood mid-battle (even though he expired at home; he did collapse during the Ikeda-ya raid, which is often attributed to the onset of his tuberculosis, but it's not entirely clear if this was really the case or if he actually coughed up blood during that specific incident).
were pretty much the equivalent to these guys, except they didn't have cool blue coats.
The Shinsengumi in television and anime:
- The Shinsengumi are the focus of Hakuōki, a Romance Game franchise which adds a young woman and some supernatural elements into the mix but also devotes a surprising amount of attention to the history of and politics surrounding the group. The original game and its immediate prequel were adapted into an anime of the same name.
- The most well-known member of the group, at least to western followers of anime, is most likely Saitō Hajime, from his appearance in Rurouni Kenshin. As in real life, after the fall of the Shogunate he joined the Imperial government under the alias "Fujita Gorō", though in the manga he becomes a top spy for the government rather than merely joining the Tokyo Metropolitan Police (the latter merely being his cover identity in Kenshin). (Okita Sōji also figures in the story, though only in a three-panel flashback—and he STILL ranked in the top ten of the character popularity poll!)
- Watsuki also based several characters on what he thought the Shinsengumi looked or acted like, and derived names from them. He says himself that you should be able to guess who he based Takeda Kanryu on... Sagara Sanosuke is also pretty obvious, as is Seta Sōjirō. The least-obvious is Shinomori Aoshi, who was based on Hijikata Toshizō almost accidentally.
- Shishio Makoto is loosely based on Serizawa Kamo, including details like his violent disposition and being assassinated by his own side as a result of it, though Shishio was actually on the anti-Shogun side (technically). Kamo also died with a woman he was sleeping with, which is probably where Shishio's girlfriend Komagata Yumi comes from. His initial plot, as a diversion, is to burn down Kyoto, a reference to the above-mentioned famous plot foiled by the Shinsengumi.
- Hannya has his personality based on that of Yamazaki Susumu. While the historical original was a samurai/ronin, because he was involved in espionage, it's common for his fictional counterparts to be ninja, and Hannya is no exception.
- The whole group was the supporting cast in the Kid Samurai series Peacemaker Kurogane.
- The OVA and later television series, Kidou Shinsengumi Moeyo Ken deals with female (supposedly lineal) descendants of the original leaders of the Shinsengumi.
- NHK aired a live action drama simply called NHK Shinsengumi.
- Movies centered on the Shinsengumi include the 1969 film Shinsengumi (also known as Band of Assassins), Nagisa Oshima's Gohatto and Mibu Gishi Den (When the Last Sword Is Drawn).
- The Shinsengumi also exist in the world of Gintama — though, the show being a Gag Series, the group has more than a few dysfunctions: Kondō is a hapless, idiotic Stalker with a Crush, Hijikata has a short fuse, chain smokes and puts mayonnaise on all his food, and Okita is a sadist who tries to blow Hijikata up with a bazooka every chance he gets. And Yamazaki is obsessed with badminton, so much so that he is more likely to be carrying a badminton racket than a sword. (Their personal names are also slightly changed - for example, Hijikata Tōshirō and Okita Sōgo.)
- The organization of the Gotei 13 in Bleach seems quite similar to the shinsengumi. In addition to being divided into "Captains" and "Divisions", later chapters reveal that the initial group were "defenders of the peace" in name only were bloodthirsty Knights Templar like the shinsengumi. It is unclear, however, whether the organization was actually were based on them.
- In the fourth and most recent Code Geass Alternate Continuity manga, Lelouch leads the Shinsengumi against the Meiji revolutionaries - who are the Shinsengumi, unbeknownst to the Emperor.
- The Shojo historical manga Kaze Hikaru is about a samurai's daughter who joins the Shinsengumi disguised as a boy in order to revenge her family's death at the hands of imperialists.
- Hijikata and Okita are major characters in the third arc of the Shura No Toki anime. Saitō and Kondō make appearances as well.
- One episode of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger involves our heroes attempting to recreate the Meiji era (using Toei's own Jidai Geki film sets, no less) to pacify an ancient alien, and some of them dress up as Shinsengumi members. In keeping with the traditional depiction, Okita Sōji is portrayed by a female.
- (One of) The most popular fashion doll(s) in Japan, Takara's Jenny, is available in a Shinsengumi uniform.
- The music video for Tsukiko Amano's song "Same" features her and her band dressed as samurai, battling cowboys in a far west town with katanas and peashooters. The drummer is wearing a Shinsengumi haori in black and white.
- The Kyoto Arc of Mahou Sensei Negima! had one chapter where Konoka and Setsuna hide in Cinema Village, which had reproductions of Edo-era Japan and samurai movie sets. Being the resident Samurai, Setsuna was naturally dressed up as a Shinsengumi member. And if there are any doubts about her clothes, the title of the chapter was "The Bodyguard is a Member of the Shinsen Group".
- The hero of Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto seems to know several of the group's leaders for some reason or other. Hijikata is shown as part of the turbulent political maneuvering of the period while the series takes some liberties with history such as including a cursed flying skull that can take possession of people as a mayor influence.
- Four members show up in Papuwa — Kondo, Hijikata, Okita, and Harada.
- It is not known if it was coincidental or a deliberate deconstruction, but early in Blade of the Immortal there is a gang of punks who call themselves Shinsengumi. These punks (led by a certain Hishiyasu Shido) kidnap and kill Machi, leading Manji to actively start his attempt to get rid of the Kessenchu inside his body (though not without completely butchering them before).
- Ginga Reppu Baxinger is basically the Shinsengumi In SPACE, on bikes that combine!
- The upcoming otome game Harukanaru Toki No Naka De 5 features Kondo, Okita (who is one of the Hachiyou) and Hijikata. It is currently unknown if the rest of the group will appear in any form, but since the characters are explicitly identified as The Shinsengumi, there's a possibility of other members at least getting a mention.
- Okita Sōji's great grand nephew with the same name appears in Yaiba's last Arc as an incredibly skilled yet lazy Master Swordsman who'd prefer to have a normal life rather than being a champion. He even wears the same Shinsengumi jacket as his grandfather.
- The Fall of the Samurai expansion to Total War Shogun 2 features Shinsengumi (and their Imperial counterparts, the Ishin-Shishi) as agents on the campaign map. They can be used to assassinate rival generals and agents, bribe troops into joining your cause, instil discipline in your troops (which translates to a boost to melee defence), and incite rebellions in enemy provinces.
- Shogunal factions also have access to Shinsengumi police as battlefield units, where they prove themselves to be both excellent line infantry and deadly melee combatants, especially with their 'Banzai' ability.
- In The Sword Of Doom, Ryunosuke is hired by them as an assassin, helping them kill enemies of the Shogun and each other.
- The Shinsengumi and its members are a central feature in the manga Bakudan! - Bakumatsu Danshi. Makoto, the main character, ends up joining them when he gets thrown back in time to 1863, during the Bakumatsu era.
- In episode 19 of My Bride Is a Mermaid, the heroes help film a movie about the Shinsengumi after the original actors become incapacitated. Hilarity Ensues when everybody except Nagasumi gets drunk, leading to scenes like Akeno attacking Nagasumi with a real sword.
- In Type-moon's recent Koha-ACE EX comics, the identity of a "joke character", Sakura Saber◊, reveals to be the genderflipped version of Okita Sōji◊.