Ishida Mitsunari was a famous samurai from the Sengoku Period, and a loyal supporter of Toyotomi Hideyoshi
Born in Omi Province, he was a vassal of the Azai family, but left their service after their defeat at the hands of Oda Nobunaga
. He was eventually taken under the wing of Hideyoshi and became one of his most trusted retainers, though apparently he wasn't very popular amongst the other feudal lords, who believed that he was just a pen-pusher who wanted to steal power for himself.
Mitsunari's role suddenly became vital to Japan's future following the demise of his liege. As a faithful servant of the Toyotomi clan, he swore to protect Hideyori (Hideyoshi's son) and thus became a bitter enemy of Tokugawa Ieyasu
, the other major contender for the shogunate.
In 1600, Mistunari led the Western Army during the Battle of Sekigahara (though technically the leader was another feudal lord, Mouri Terumoto). Despite having more troops and initially gaining the upper hand, he was betrayed by some of his followers who sided with Ieyasu, and was defeated. Mitsunari managed to escape thanks to the Heroic Sacrifice
of his vassal and bodyguard Shima Sakon, but was eventually captured by the Tokugawa forces and executed. Nasty method too: he was buried up to his neck in the ground, then had his head sawn off.
Fiction hasn't been kind to Mitsunari, as he's often depicted as a villain and a Smug Snake
, usually opposed to a more or less heroic Ieyasu, though recent depictions have improved his image, and moreso during the decline of the Tokugawa shogunate, where he enjoyed a lot of positive portrayals alongside Sanada Yukimura
Portrayals in fiction:
- In Samurai Warriors, Mistunari became a playable character from the second game onward. He's depicted as cold, sarcastic, yet doing what he thinks is right. He wields a giant folding fan and has a Kitsune motif, opposing Ieyasu's Tanuki motif.
- In Sengoku Basara, Mitsunari is a blood-thirsty, white-haired youth who's utterly obsessed with avenging his liege Hideyoshi. He's also a skilled Iaijutsu Practitioner with Super Speed who, although single-minded when it comes to killing Ieyasu, turns out to be a very complex and tragic character.
- In Kessen, Mitsunari appears as the leader of the Western Army.
- In Shogun, Ishido is based on Mitsunari, and the main villain. Not that Toranaga is any better...
- In Onimusha: Dawn of Dreams, Ishida Mitsunari appears as one of the main villains, having sold his soul and body to the Genma lord Claudius. He's also voiced by Norio Wakamoto.
- In Age of Empires III: The Asian Dynasties, Ishida Mitsunari is the main villain of the Japanese campaign.
- A younger version of Mitsunari, know as Sakichi, is the protagonist of Rengoku ni Warau, where he's on a mission from Toyotomi Hideyoshi to find the Orochi.