A manga series based on part of Nanjou Norio's historical novel Suruga-Jō Gozen Jiai; the manga itself is illustrated and co-written by Yamuguchi Takayuki, and made into a 12-episode anime in 2007.The story starts with a fight between the blind, lame samurai Irako Seigen and the one-armed samurai Fujiki Gennosuke in a tournament for the daimyo Tokugawa Tadanaga. Both samurai are accompanied by women; Irako is led by a woman named Iku, and Fujiki is aided by a young woman named Iwamoto Mie who seems to bear a grudge against Irako. The fight is about to begin - and then we cut to a flashback which lasts the rest of the series (so far). The series tells the story of the two samurai who once belonged to the same school and how they got to this point, both maimed and determined to kill each other.The artwork is incredible. Yamaguchi seems to have a medical knowledge of the human body and likes to show it by giving us flash views of what the organs, or nervous system, or bones, or muscles of a particular person are doing - usually in the midst of a fight or strenuous activity. The gore is almost overwhelming; he devotes exactly as much attention to the guts when they're outside as when they're inside.The series contains very little dialogue, instead using its stunning artwork to get the message across. Thanks to the stunning artwork, though, the series seems all the more brutal. It is very realistic, and there is quite a lot of sex and violence and, as mentioned above, gore.Character sheet is here.
The Ace: Irako Seigen initially appeared to be this.
Anyone Can Die: Several characters had backgrounds, flashbacks, and exposition about their various physical feats, only to die with one sword slash, or even one punch, during a fight.
Armor Is Useless: Mostly averted. One of the characters is saved when the light chain mail woven into his clothes prevents a blow from cutting deep enough to kill him. Played straight, though, by two minor characters whose special skill is the ability to chop through helmets.
Attempted Rape: Mie has to deal with this a couple times - once from her crazy father, and again when her crazy father orders all his students to hold her down so Irako can impregnate her. Irako declines.
Black And Black Morality: The closest thing to a genuinely good guy is a minor character who only appears in a couple chapters.
Brain Bleach: If Kogen, Yamazaki, and/or the Funaki Brothers don't make you lunge for a bottle, you have no soul.
Break the Cutie: Irako, though he doesn't stay broken for long, and Mie. Subverted by Iku, who has horrible, horrible things happen to her and her breasts but stays fairly constant throughout. She's a tough lady.
Downer Ending: Fujiki finally got his revenge and killed Irako. Lord Tadanaga's officials commend him, then order him to cut off Irako's head and stick it on a pike. Fujiki is appalled by this order—by this point he has come to respect Irako (if not like him), and finds the command disgraceful to Irako's memory. But when the official invokes his duty as a samurai, he reluctantly obeys, severing Irako's head and humilliating the corpse. Mie, his betrothed, sees that he is still the same puppet that held her down on Kogan's orders to be raped, and kills herself in despair. In the end Fujiki lost everything to his quest for vengeance, his pride is dead, his wife is dead, and most important to him the Koganryuu school is dead as well. What is left to him is to live as a puppet for the Lord, attained the highest honor as a samurai but cannot enjoy any of it as he apparently ended completely mind-broken.
Made worse by the fact that in the very first chapter of manga, Tokugawa Tadanaga is executed for treason and planning a coup, so Fujiki's brief moment of glory, even if it's uniportant to him, will fall sooner than anyone expects.
No Woman's Land: Played with. Shigurui is a very misogynistic setting where women are treated as little more than property or bargaining chips. however, the setting is extremely cruel towards men as well since it's a world were Might Makes Right.