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Characters / Rurouni Kenshin The Meiji Government

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Main Character Index | Main Characters (Himura Kenshin) | Supporting Characters | Rivals and Minor Villains | The Meiji Government | Oniwabanshu | The Ten Swords / Juppongatana | The Six Comrades | Anime Only Characters | Manga Only Characters

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    The Meiji Government 
With the successful revolution by the Ishin Shishi, a new government was formed, promising to bring Japan into the modern era. They try to rule fairly and justly but the actions they took to get to where they are continue to find ways to compromise them as they struggle to maintain order in the face of the new world.
  • Adaptational Badass: The live-action films incorporate the government forces in a lot more and the medium allows for large-scale fights whereas the anime's budget and manga's draw-space often have to make the soldiers fight off-screen. As such the military has a decent showing in the second and third live action movies, even managing to defeat a few of the Juppongatana. In the Shin Kyoto Hen OVA and in the films they're the one's who sink the Purgatory and put an end to Shishio's plan.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Disregarding the corrupt officials, the Government as a whole can be considered this. It's comprised of well-meaning men who can go to some cruel lengths to bring about peace.
  • Corrupt Politician: There's a number lurking in the Meiji but there's been quite a few plots dealing with sussing them out.
  • Men of Sherwood: While they can be disposable heroic mooks, the police and military have had a decent few victories.
    • In the anime they were lead into an ambush by Raijuta's private army, but though they were routed their superior fire-power managed to bring the fight into their favor before Kenshin intervened.
    • The defense in Kyoto against Shishio's forces was also a successful one with the armed peace keeping force managing to fight off the fire-starters.
    • The militaries launch a very strong ambush and offensive against Shishio and the Purgatory in the live-action films, even managing to sink it and defeat several of the Juppongatana without Kenshin.
  • Militaries Are Useless: Downplayed. While it's clear that Kenshin is the one who needs to come and clean up the Meiji's messes himself, the armed forces have had a number of successful campaigns.


    Yamagata Aritomo 
Voiced by: Seiji Mizutani (JP, Season 1 and early Season 3), Holly Kaneko (JP, later Season 3, The Motion Picture and OVA); Simon Prescott (EN; Episodes 3-16), Crispin Freeman (EN; Episodes 64-93), Bill Harwell (OVA and The Motion Picture), Kent Williams (EN, live-action)
Portrayed by: Eiji Okuda (live-action)

Yamagata Aritomo is the general of the Meiji Imperial Army, one of Kenshin's comrades during the revolution, and the first major player in the Meiji Government encountered in the series. He sought out Kenshin so that he could reunite with his fellow comrades as a high-ranking officer, but Kenshin declined, wanting to protect the people around him as a wandering swordsman instead. While disappointed, Yamagata respects Kenshin's choice and does not pursue him any further. The two continue to cross paths every so often and aid each other in any way possible.

  • Adaptational Jerkass: Yamagata is far less patient in the live-action film, being absolutely offended and scolding Kenshin for not taking pride in his work as Hitokiri Battousai, compared to his manga and anime counterpart who was understanding though disappointed.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: Avoided. Kenshin notes that Yamagata wishing to use his authority to make people respect the work Kenshin has done for the revolution, as well-meaning as it is, is ultimately no different from Ujiki using his authority to bully civilians. The realization and Kenshin reminding him that the revolution was meant to bring about peace is what leads to him respecting Kenshin's decision to not join him.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: Kenshin notes that Yamagata grew himself a fine thick mustache since the revolution. He is also one of the more patient men in the Meiji government.
  • Hero-Worshipper: He's one of the few major players in the Meiji government to treat Kenshin as a hero and is disappointed that Kenshin isn't proud of the deeds he accomplished in the revolution. It is because of this that he often trusts Kenshin's judgment despite having authority over him.
  • Historical Domain Character: Yamagata Aritomo was indeed the general of the Meiji Imperial Army and was instrumental in laying the foundations of the modern Japanese army.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He's one of the more patient and respectful men in the Meiji government and while he might not always agree with Kenshin's judgment, he's always willing to lend an ear and give Kenshin a chance to do what he needs to do. It helps that Kenshin usually brings about the most favorable conclusion to the conflict at hand.

    Okubo Toshimichi 
Voiced by: Hōchū Ōtsuka (JP); Doug Stone (EN, TV series), Charles Campbell (EN, live-action)
Portrayed by: Kazufumi Miyazawa (live-action)

Ōkubo Toshimichi was one of the head samurai of the Ishin Shishi, and after the war ended he became head of the Department of Internal Affairs in the Meiji Government. The war is long over but it's taken its toll on Lord Ōkubo who finds their attempts at keeping the peace and building a nation far harder than destroying the old one. When Shishio reemerges he goes to his old comrade Kenshin for help defeating him but is ultimately assassinated by Sojiro. His death is what motivates Kenshin to step up and take down Shishio's new empire.

  • Beard of Sorrow: An impressive dignified beard that nonetheless contributes to Ōkubo's appearance as a tired and pensive man who's seen too much.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Restoration has been a long and grueling journey for him and when introduced he's the last surviving founder of the Meiji Government and he feels the weight of the struggling country upon him.
  • Foil: His role in the revolution and its aftermath mirrors Kenshin's; while Kenshin is considered the strongest in terms of fighting capability, Okubo is considered the most powerful man in the country in terms of political power. Okubo's role and stresses reflect the kinds of challenges that Kenshin will face in the Kyoto Arc. The main difference is that Kenshin ultimately remains true to his non-killing vow and his ideals in the face of the ruthless pragmatism of the government.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: To Kenshin's own Big Good role. Although his time in the series is short, he's shown as one of the highest-ranking good guys and the one involved with the major political stability in comparison to Kenshin's smaller-scale inspiration. While he isn't perfect, Kenshin notes that Saitou would've slain him long ago if he was truly corrupt.
  • Historical Domain Character: Ōkubo was a real-life person who served a similar position in real life. The manga even incorporates his real-life death by assassins into the story with them only taking credit after Sojiro kills him.
  • Real Event, Fictional Cause: In real life, Okubo was assassinated by a group of samurai unhappy with his rapid modernization/westernization and abolition of the privileges the samurai had enjoyed. In the story, Social Darwinist Shishio has his dragon assassinate Okubo as a step to weaken Japan and make it easy for Shishio to take over the country, and the samurai find Okubo's body afterward and claim credit for the deed.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: He's the calmer and more rational blue oni to the Hot-Blooded Chief Kawaji. Averted in the Live-Action films where they're actually more similar in demeanor at least in the scenes they share together.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Ōkubo's time in the story is very brief, but he is one of the key founders of the Meiji Government and the most powerful man in the country. It's his death that sets Kenshin down the road of the Kyoto Arc.

    Ito Hirobumi 
Portrayed by: Yukiyoshi Ozawa (live-action)
Voiced by: Sonny Strait (EN)

The Home-Minister succeeding Okubo both in the live-action films and in real life. Ito is decidedly less of an upstanding individual than Okubo and is implied to be behind many of the government's shadier moments. When Shishio brings out the Purgatory he puts pressure on Ito to capture and execute Kenshin. Ito reluctantly complies but it's clear that he's scheming.

  • Ambiguously Evil: Ito is a decidedly darker figure than Okubo was. Whenever the Meiji Government does something unethical, he covers it up and is implied to be the one behind Shishio's attempted assassination. In many ways he's much like Shishio himself: a man with strong convictions of what is right and a less than ethical means to achieve those. He ends up hunting Kenshin, but it's clear that he isn't interested in executing him just because it was Shishio's will.
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: He's Okubo's replacement and much more proactive in dealing with Shishio. While Okubo was The Atoner Ito is a Well-Intentioned Extremist who goes so far as to shell the Purgatory while Kenshin, Saito and his own men are still aboard.
  • Canon Foreigner: The succeeding Home Minister to Okubo, Ito Hirobumi (later to become Japan's first Prime Minister), was never name-checked nor appeared in the original manga/anime, but is a major character driving the third film.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Shishio implies that it was Ito who ordered his assassination and burning. Shishio was a loose end after all.
  • Pet the Dog: Ito pulled a lot of shady underhanded crap in the movie, but there is a genuine desire to do good in him. He honors Kenshin's wish to leave the Battousai and his past of bloodshed behind him and he and the police salute Kenshin and the others for their service to the country.

    Shindo Tatewaki 
Voiced by: Wataru Takagi (JP); Tom Wyner (EN, flashbacks), Doug Stone (EN, older), Greg Dulcie (EN, live-action)

A military commander who fought during the wars. He was responsible for the destruction of the Sekiho Army as the Ishin Shishi was maneuvered into a difficult position with promises they couldn't keep, so Captain Sagara and the Sekiho were blamed and executed. After the war ended Shindo was given a job in the government but he resents the position and feels that his contributions were overlooked. He orders a number of False Flag Operations pulled by thugs disguised as the Sekiho in order to steal money for him and to further soil their name.

  • Adaptation Distillation: Captain Sagara and the Sekiho don't appear in the live-action movies so it's surprising that Shindo has a cameo in them. This time he's involved with a different betrayal and he was part of the group that attacked and burned Shishio.
  • Canon Foreigner: He never appeared in the manga as the Sekiho Army simply receive word of the Ishin Shishi's deception and confront them directly. His reappearance during Katsu's introductory episode is also not in the manga.
  • Corrupt Politician: While the Seiko's destruction was horrible, it was also a decision cosigned by the Ishin Shishi and Shindo was merely acting on those orders even if he did enjoy it. However post-war he feels his new political position is too meager and has founded a group of thugs to steal things for himself.
  • False Flag Operation: The Fake Sekiho army was created essentially to steal things for him but he chose their disguise to further insult the division that he had crushed.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: The betrayal of the Sekiho was a clear Kick the Dog moment, but the live-action films have him betraying Shishio instead.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: He's ultimately undone by the children who were in the army division he exterminated, grown to adulthood, and out for revenge.
  • Retired Monster: A cruel and vicious man from an age of war, now settled into a small government job and waiting out his days.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: In the American dub, Tom Wyner voices him in his prime but the older Shindo in the present is voiced by Doug Stone.

Voiced by: Masaru Ikeda (JP); Steve Kramer (EN)

Another former Ishin Shishi samurai was given a government job in the Meiji Era. Shibumi had a bad case of both ruthlessness and ambition and sought to climb the ranks of the government by assassinating fellow politicians. He was behind Kurogasa and later hires Akamatsu and Saito to perform a hit on Kenshin.

  • Adapted Out: He's taken out of the live-action films and his role as Jin-e's employer is given instead to Kanryuu. Saito's role in the story has also been revised and as such Shibumi isn't needed as a cover.
  • Corrupt Politician: There're many, but Shibumi is one of the most notable for the sheer amount of bloodlust involved with his climb to the top. He was the one who sent Jin-e after all those people and he ended up cutting a swath of destruction across Tokyo.
  • Smug Snake: Cruel, corrupt, and overconfident. Upon learning that Saito was working for Okubo Shibumi sees an opportunity and feels he can bribe Saito into blackmailing Okubo to take his position. Saito kills him partly for such a presumption but also because eliminating corruption is his job.

    Tani Jusanro 
Voiced by: Koichi Kitamura (JP, TV series), Tomomichi Nishimura (JP, drama CD); Tony Pope (EN)

Yet another former Ishin Shishi samurai was given a government job in the Meiji Era, specifically as part of the Army Ministry. When he becomes a target for Kurogasa, Chief Uramura asks Kenshin and Sanosuke to protect him. He later shows up in the Jinchu arc, aiding his nephew Fudosawa in taking over a local village.

  • Action Survivor: Subverted. He indeed survived the arrows and blades of the Bakumatsu as he often boasts, but only because he was fleeing while Kenshin protected him from said arrows and blades.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: His anime counterpart lacks the massive ego he had in the manga.
  • The Bus Came Back: After managing to survive the attempted assassination by Jin-e, Tani doesn't appear again until toward the end of the Jinchu arc.
  • Corrupt Politician: While not shown to be corrupt early in the series, his dealings with his nephew, a crime boss who wants to take over Sanosuke's hometown, cement him as one.
  • Dirty Coward: His so-called legendary status of him surviving the trials and tribulations of Bakumatsu is actually him fleeing like a coward.
  • Fat Bastard: He's a jerk, a coward, a braggart, and, of course, fat.
  • Madness Mantra: After having beaten Tani's nephew and all 200 of his men, Sanosuke makes one last visit to Tani to introduce him to his fists. The next morning, Tani is found in a clinic muttering "Fear the evil! Fear the evil!"
  • Miles Gloriosus: He boasts that he's an Action Survivor who cannot be touched. Turns out that the only reason he was never touched was that Kenshin was fending off his opposition while he was running away like a coward.
  • Properly Paranoid: When Fudosawa asks his uncle why he's afraid of Sanosuke, Tani admits that he isn't afraid so much of Sano but Sano's relationship with Kenshin. Because Kenshin is respected within the Meiji Government, Kenshin could have Tani politically ruined if he learned that Tani was involved in illegal activities.
  • Skyward Scream: He lets out a scream when Sanosuke "offers" to join him for a drink after beating up Fudosawa, Kihei, Gohei, and 200 of their men. It's the last thing out of his mouth before Sano sends him to the clinic.
  • Sleazy Politician: While he wasn't shown to be outright corrupt when he was first introduced, he is certainly an egotistical coward.


Tokyo Police Department

    Chief Uramura 
Voiced by: Sukekiyo Kameyama (JP, TV series), Tomohisa Aso (JP, drama CD); Bob Papenbrook (EN, TV series), Brad Venable (EN, live-action; Origins), John DeMita (EN, live-action; The Last)
Portrayed by: Shingo Tsurumi (live-action)

The local chief of police, Uramura (or Muriaki) first appears during a raid on Kaoru's dojo looking for Kenshin at the behest of Yamagata Aritomo. After that, the chief occasionally approaches Kenshin and the gang for help on various cases.

  • Adaptation Name Change: Chief Uramura in the Manga, Chief Muriaki in the Anime.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: In his anime debut, he's very strict and pushy, intending to arrest Kenshin, and needed to be calmed down by Yamagata. In his manga debut, he's far more patient and doesn't antagonize Kenshin at all. Regardless, both end up becoming Kenshin's Friend on the Force.
  • The Cameo: He has a few brief appearances in the Live-Action films and a small speaking role. However, Kenshin's main contact with the police is now through Saitou.
  • Eyes Always Shut: An oddity in the series.
  • Friend on the Force: After a fashion, he becomes this to Kenshin and the other leads; often coming to them to ask for help when the situation is too tough for the police. Yahiko credits him with putting Kanryuu behind bars and letting Megumi go free as even with Kanryuu's connections the Chief trusts Kenshin's word over his. He also prevents the police from finding Sano when he becomes wanted for beating up the corrupt politician involved in trying to control Sano's birth village.
  • Inspector Javert: In his debut in the anime, he's quite pushy and willing to invade the Dojo just to capture Kenshin. Even after he watches Kenshin fight off the corrupt Sword Police Officers, he still tries to arrest him. In his next appearance, he apologizes for all the trouble.
  • Mr. Exposition: He is the one who tells the cast, and the audience, about Kurogasa; describing his actions and his murders.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Either he or Yamagata can be relied on to sort situations out favorably for the heroes.

    Kawaji Toshiyoshi 
Voiced by: Katsuya Shiga (JP); Joe Ochman (EN, Episodes 30-31), Doug Stone (EN, Episodes 76-94), David R. Jarrott (EN, The Motion Picture), Chris Guerrero (EN, live-action; Kyoto Inferno and The Legend Ends), Rick Zieff (EN, The Final)
Portrayed by: Mantra Koichi (live-action)
The Police Commissioner of Tokyo. He accompanies Okubo to recruit Kenshin and appears intermittently afterward.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: His film incarnation is a lot calmer and more reserved than his manga and anime incarnations. His threat against Megumi is also a lot more veiled and framed as a bonus to helping them rather than something they would do if he didn't.
  • Ascended Extra: He's only really in the story to assist Okubo and get Kenshin to join them during the Kyoto arc in the manga but in the live-action films the government has a larger and more active role in opposing Shishio so Kawaji is given more scenes and more things to do. He would also come back in the third season of the show to assess Shougo's fate and to play a bigger role in the Feng Shui Arc.
  • The Bus Came Back: He reappears in season 3 of the anime, having come down personally to assess the fate of Shougo and his followers. And he would go on to reappear in the final Feng Shui Arc of the show.
  • Everyone Has Standards: In the live-action films he treats the manhunt for Kenshin less as a means to an end and more of a way to counter-plan against Shishio. When the military begins shelling the Purgatory Kawaji is outraged because Kenshin, Saito, and many of their own officers are still onboard the vessel.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Much less tactful than Okubo when recruiting Kenshin as his idea was to threaten Megumi with legal charges to make him obey. In spite of this, he is a man for peace and justice. When Okubo dies, he is in tears fearing for Japan's future.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: A Police vs. Military example. In season 3 he clashes with Yamagata over Yamagata's investigation of Feng Shui as Kawaji finds it pointless. Yamagata, being a higher-ranked official, threatens to pull rank and continue Yamagata's corruption investigation without him.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Japan's future is his first priority and he does what he can to save it.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: He's the Red Oni to the other Japanese Officials. Kawaji is hot-headed, confrontational, and not the easiest to get along with so at first he plays off the cooler and more reasonable Okubo and in Season 3 plays this to Muraki and Yamagata.

Voiced by: Mitsuru Miyamoto (JP, TV series), Takehito Koyasu (JP, drama CD); Tony Pope (EN, TV series), Charles Campbell (EN, OVA)

The captain of the Sword Bearing Police. Ujiki abuses the power afforded to him by his ability to carry a sword in the no-swords era of the Meiji by bullying various unarmed villagers and assaulting other non-sword-carrying police officers.

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the Reflection OVA, his character design is in line with most of the characters, lacking the beady eyes and massive chin of his anime/manga counterpart. Naturally, this reflects the fact that he's not the complete ass that he was in the source material.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the Reflection OVA he's just doing his job and trying to apprehend Kenshin for violating the no-swords rule and in the end lets him go on Yamagata's instruction (acting more like Chief Uramura than himself). He's not the smarmy dick he was in the original.
  • Dirty Cop: Mentions that he tries to kill at least one person a week in order to keep his swordsmanship in practice.
  • Jerkass: There's an insufferable smarminess and wretchedness in every scene he's in, mocking anyone he views as beneath him including the other police officers.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Shown-up by the Samurai he mocked and arrested by the regular police that he looked down on.
  • Licking the Blade: When Kenshin draws his sword, Ujiki licks the blunt side of his saber, satisfied that he and his fellow officers can use lethal force and justify it with self-defense. It's the last thing he does before watching Kenshin completely annihilate his fellow officers.
  • Rationalizing the Overkill: Tries to arrange things so that he can claim that his use of lethal force was justified to his superiors when in truth he kills suspects purely because he likes killing.

Kyoto Police Department

    Chief Officer 
Voiced by: Norito Yashima (JP-Anime), Hiroshi Shimozaki (JP-OVA); Dan Lorge (EN-Anime), Lowell B. Bartholomee (EN -OVA)

The Police Chief of Kyoto falls under Saitou's command when he finally arrives in the city. He's the one who sends out his men to stop the burning of Kyoto.

  • Adaptational Badass: In Shin Kyoto Hen, it was he who stops Shishio's plan with the Purgatory by shelling the battleship with cannon fire, with the cannon blast he fires being the one to strike the ship's engine and sink it. By comparison, his last appearance in the manga and anime is him being horrified by Fuji's size and at how he effortlessly destroyed the police station.
  • No Name Given: Unlike Uramura/Muriaki, this chief has no name.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: In the OVA's he plays a surprisingly pivotal role in Shishio's defeat.

Portrayed by: Hidekazu Mashima (live-action)
Voiced by: Aaron Roberts (EN)

  • Canon Foreigner: Created for the films. He does take on the role of the unnamed chief officer as the one who Saito rendezvous within Kyoto.
  • Mauve Shirt: A named police officer who has a few scenes to give him some characterization amongst the army of officers used to combat Shishio.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: When Shishio's forces begin the Inferno Operation Takano stands at the head of the gathered police and declares that they will protect the city.