Manga / Shigurui

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A manga series based on part of Nanjou Norio's historical novel Suruga-Jō Gozen Jiai (mainly the first chapter); 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 for most of the series. 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.


Examples:

  • The Ace: Irako Seigen initially appeared to be this.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Completely deconstructed and Played for Drama. Nothing positive comes from Iku's relationship with Kogan as he is just as cruel, violent and ruthless to her as he is to his men.
  • Animal Motifs: See Tiger Versus Dragon below.
  • 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.
  • Artifact of Doom / Evil Weapon: Kogan's sword is said to be this.
  • 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.
  • Backstory: Basically the whole thing aside from the beginning and ending.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: The helmet-chopping twins.
  • Badass Normal: Irako, Fujiki, Ushimata, Kogan.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Female breasts are drawn in great detail, but genitalia are drawn as just a blank
  • Berserk Button: You will not disparage Iwamoto Kogen or praise Irako Seigen front of Fujiki, not if you want to remain whole anyway.
  • BFS: Ushimata's wooden practice swords
  • 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: Kogan, Yamazaki, and the Funaki Brothers are pretty grotesque.
    • Gannosuke aka Toad Guy... although calling him that is doing toads a disservice.
  • Break the Cutie: 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. She only gets broken when Irako dies at the end of the series.
  • Breast Attack; Iku got this treatment for cheating on her cruel lover Kogan. Later, under duress, she burns her own breast instead of Irako's manhood with a hot iron.
  • Broken Ace: Irako.
  • Bury Your Gays: Yamazaki
  • The Caligula: Tokugawa Tadanaga, a powerful damiyo in his own right. Subverted in that he is "only" the Shogun's brother, and was eventually put down like a mad dog by his brother.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Irako, who instinctively makes the move necessary to save his own life, going so far as to stab through the bones in his right foot to use his ultimate technique and then using the cut to remove the restriction on said attack. Also, Fujiki does not give a damn about political and court etiquette, will throw away his daito if it no longer proves useful, and will draw his opponent's blade and slit his throat with it.
  • Crapsack World: Between executions and bandits, people did not live very long, whether they were samurai or not.
    • Tokugawa Tadanaga, the man responsible for the tournament being fought with real weapons. He's been shown killing or torturing somebody in every scene he was in.
    • Apparently serene Fujiki Gennosuke, who scares a man to death by hitting him once then staring at him.
    • Kogen without a doubt left his sanity with the Moral Event Horizon Station Attendant, but arguably so did his followers by explicitly following his orders.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Fujiki and Irako get tangled in this, which ended up destroying them.
  • Deconstruction: It could be argued that the series is a deconstruction of the romanticized image of feudal Japan found in modern media. To be more precise, it highlights the horrors that could happen when crazy or psychotic leaders abuse the system.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Tadanaga will not let something so trivial as a rape victim (Chika) having the wrong equipment stop him.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Supposedly the cause of Iwamoto Kogan's madness after his betrayal by Yagyu. While Munenori recommended Kogan for an interview with the imperial bureaucracy, he knew that Toyotomi Hideyoshi, by then the Retired Regent, also had six fingers. By telling Kogan to hide his sixth finger, the interviewer will naturally take Kogan's attempt to hide said finger to be an insult to Hideyoshi.
  • Diagonal Cut: Used, but not as often as you might think.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Fujiki as he helped maim Irako.
  • Downer Ending: Fujiki finally got his revenge and killed Irako. In despair, Iku committed suicide. 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 humiliating 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 and his wife are dead, and most importantly to him, the Kogan-ryuu school is dead as well. What is left to him is to live as a puppet for the Lord. He 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 the manga, Tokugawa Tadanaga is executed for treason and planning a coup, so Fujiki's brief moment of glory, even if it's unimportant to him, will fall sooner than anyone expects.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Sanity is a rare quantity indeed in the Japan of Shigurui.
    • Deconstructed in that leaders who don't value sanity eventually do lose their heads. Tadanaga was executed without so much as facing his brother Shogun in a proper war and Kogan's legacy was totally destroyed as well.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Even Gannosuke, who murders Chika's fiances as they come, could do nothing against Tadanaga, who takes Chika as a concubine.
  • Eye Scream: How Irako was blinded.
  • Finishing Move: Irako. Every main character. The Kogan-ryu is basically nothing but this.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Historically, Tadanaga committed seppuku just after the death of his father shogun Hidetada, this after Iemitsu (his Shogun and brother) stripped him of all possessions and offices. Here, the same thing happens, but the series purports to show the real reason why Tadanaga was condemned.
  • Genre Throwback: This series, both visually and story-wise, brings to mind old Jidai Geki manga like Lone Wolf and Cub.
  • The Ghost: Shogun Iemitsu. However, he did give the order to execute his brother Tadanaga.
  • Gorn: It's drawn by the same man who made Apocalypse Zero, so this is to be expected.
  • The Grotesque: Gannosuke Kutsuki.
    • Anyone dumb enough to challenge the Kogan-ryu. "Give him a new look and send him home", indeed.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Tadanaga Tokugawa is described as having a "temper like a natural disaster" and anything could set him off and there's no controlling him. Deconstructed in that without control, he had no chance of actually deposing his brother Shogun and was executed instead.
  • Handicapped Badass: Both main characters, eventually.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Tokugawa Iemitsu and Tadanaga, grandsons of Tokugawa Ieyasu. A contemporary of their grandfather, Date Masamune, also makes an appearance. Appropriately, the name of the chapter was "One-Eyed Dragon", which is also Date's Real Life nickname. As he meets Tadanaga, he noted Tadanaga's resemblance to Oda Nobunaga, Tadanaga's "granduncle". note 
    • Yagyu Munenori, father of Yagyu Jubei, also appeared as Kogan's rival in the backstory.
    • Toyotomi Hideyoshi is also mentioned, along with the interesting trivia that he had six fingers on one hand, which became a plot point in Kogan's backstory.
  • Ironic Echo: Iruko's taunt towards an enraged Gonza in chapter 49 recalls an earlier dialogue between them when Iruko entered the Kogan dojo to join as a student.
  • Literary Agent Hypothesis: The series claimed to rely on accounts found in the private diary of Suruga's (where Sunpu Castle is located) chief councilor, a document that is handed down in the family of one Tejima Takeichiro.
  • Manly Gay: Yamazaki. Also the Funaki Brothers. Though they drop hints to being Depraved Bisexuals.
    • Kogan's corpse and Ushimata's massacre after Fujiki loses his arm.
  • Made of Plasticine: It's the type of world wherein all it takes to slice through victims as if they were warm cheese is a very sharp weapon and a gruelling martial arts regimen.
  • Might Makes Right: Only the strong and the tough can actually live in the series' Crapsack World.
    • However, Birthright is greater than Might. Tadanaga is your Ur-Example. Only his brother could rein him in.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Fujiki a couple times. Also Yamazaki.
  • 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.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The entire series.
  • Slasher Smile: Ushimata.
  • Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: A very strange case that mixes level 2 (Whores, whores, whores) and level 7 (Can't Stand Men, Can't Live Without Them). On one hand, all female characters of the show are just here to be fucked and discarded like mere prostitutes and/or being taken advantage of. On the other hand, men are not presented as being particularly heroic for doing this to women who are all described as deeply depressed and broken because of how men treat them. But unfortunately, In a World... where Might Makes Right, if a woman can't fight, she has no choice.
    • Sometimes, even if a woman is a warrior, she can't change her fate. Chika (Gannosuke's crush) eventually became Tadanaga's concubine, and can't retaliate when he rapes her as he's the Shogun's brother.
  • The Stoic: Fujiki. Ushimata (who also counts) even lampshades it at one point.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Fujiki chose to be Lawful, even if he did struggle at one point.
  • Tiger Versus Dragon: Kogan Iwamoto and after him Gennosuke Fujiki symbolise the Tiger while Seigen Irako symbolizes the Dragon.
  • Tragic Monster: Fujiki. Pity the peasant boy who was given a second chance at life by a master who then went crazy, causing him to be honour-bound to do some evil acts.
  • The Unreveal: In the anime, we never see how Fujiki lost his arm, what happened to Ushimata, or the fight between Fujiki and Irako.
    • Since the manga largely takes its material from the first chapter of the source novel, how the other fights at the tournament played out were also not revealed. We only know that in the end, out of the 22 contestants, only 6 survived, two of whom were "severely injured." Of the other 16, 8 were killed in defeat (this includes Irako), 6 were killed by each other's hands at the same time, and 2 were executed by firing squad.
  • Villain Protagonist: Sort of. It's open to debate whether any of the characters are technically a hero.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Fujiki are you really just going to sit there as Mie is about to be raped? Yes, you are. Resident JerkAss Irako Seigen is the only one to oppose this.
  • World of Badass: Being a piece of Jidai Geki fiction, this is a given.
  • Yandere: In a rare deformed male example, Gannosuke.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Manga/Shigurui