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Useful Notes / Amakusa Shiro

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Amakusa Shirou as painted by Takato Yamamoto.

Amakusa Shirō (天草 四郎?, 1621? – April 12, 1638) also known as Amakusa Shirō Tokisada (天草四郎時貞?) was the teenage leader of the Shimabara Rebellion. With time, he has become a staple of Japanese culture - specifically, of the Jidaigeki-based fiction.

According to The Other Wiki, Shirō was the son of former Konishi clan retainer Masuda Jinbei (益田 甚兵衛?)... though according to some sources, he may have been the illegitimate son of Toyotomi Hideyori. He was born in modern-day Kami-Amakusa, Kumamoto in a Catholic family. At age 15, the boy was charismatic enough to be known to his followers as "heaven's messenger." Miraculous powers were attributed to him, like healing and being able to walk on water.

When he had enough of all the genocide against Christians and the mistreatment of peasants in the Shimabara area, Shiro led the defense of Hara Castle and defeated the strongest of the Shogunate attackers in a series of coordinated defensive surges. But, because the rebel force had no logistical support, their morale was seriously weakened in the following days. Shiro displayed posters in the castle in an attempt to enhance the morale of rebel force, saying "Now, those who accompany me in being besieged in this castle, will be my friends unto the next world."

A rebel soldier, Yamada Uemonsaku, betrayed Shiro and notified the Shogunate of the truth that rebel food supplies were becoming strained. The Shogunate forces performed a final assault, taking Hara Castle in the process. The Shogunate forces massacred almost 40,000 rebels, including women and children. Yamada, who previously betrayed his fellow rebels, was the only recorded survivor.

17-year-old Shiro was executed in the aftermath of the fall, his head being displayed on a pike in Nagasaki for an extended period of time afterward as a warning to any other potential Christian rebels. His last words were: "I shall return after 100 years and take my revenge!" Even now, many Japanese Christians consider Shiro as a saint, but the Roman Catholic Church has not officially listed him as such.

In media, Shirō tends to be portrayed as a girlish-looking Fallen Hero who endures soul-breaking hardships while fighting for his fellow Christians' freedom. He often ends up being Back from the Dead and having a Faith–Heel Turn after said breaking process, but sometimes is able to regain his faith in people as he dies.

Some Japanese media involving Amakusa Shirō are:

  • Azumi includes an expy of Amakusa Shirō named Konishi Shizune, a half-Japanese Christian who claims to be the Son of God and possess miraculous powers, and who is organizing the peasants into a heavily-armed militia to resist persecution by the Shogunate. This turns out to be smoke-and-mirrors on his part and the part of his twin brother Tadane, who are sadistic sociopaths using religion to manipulate the public in order to reignite the Warring States period.
  • Fate/Apocrypha has him under the false name of Shirou Kotomine. While he is nominally an antagonist, he's also a Well-Intentioned Extremist whose goal is to bring salvation to humanity through the use of the Holy Grail. His methods, however, are far from innocent and he's perfectly willing to manipulate and kill just about anyone who stands in his way. He can also be summoned as a Ruler-class Servant in Fate/Grand Order, and appears in the Shimosa chapter of Epic of Remnant as an Avenger, his mindset much closer to the Fallen Hero and Tragic Villain he's popularly depicted as due to being an Alternate Self that's been hopping dimensions seeing what happened to his rebellion and going completely insane over it.
  • In the josei manga Amakusa 1637, a Bifauxnen Action Girl named Natsuki Hayama must become the Body Double of Shirou as she and her friends are thrown via Time Travel into the Shimabara rebellion that he once led. Later we learn that Shiro was never executed but was instead made into the slave of the mentally unstable time traveler Naozumi "Kotaka" Yatsuka, one of Natsuki's friends, who saw him as a stand-in for her due to Shirou being Natsuki's Identical Stranger. Despite Naozumi's abuse of him, Shirou treated him gently and tried to reason with him instead, in hopes to make him an ally of the oppressed Christians and help him be redeemed. But when Naozumi realised how Shirou was getting under his skin, he reacted with fright and strangled him to death. Shirou's last words were still of affection and forgiveness towards Naozumi: "Yatsuka-sama... may God's blessing be with you...!".
  • In Live A Live, Amakusa appears in the Twilight of Edo Japan chapter, having been resurrected as a spirit by Ode Iou for his scheme to plunge Japan into civil warfare. If Oboromaru goes to rescue Sakamoto Ryoma, he'll have to fight Amakusa first, who in battle will be flanked and rendered invunerable by his Lost Soul minions. Defeating them is required to open him up for attack.
  • Amakusa Shirou appears in Shin Megami Tensei IMAGINE and Shin Megami Tensei IV as a recruitable ally.
  • In Samurai Shodown, one of the main antagonists is a very embittered Amakusa. Having crossed the Despair Event Horizon before dying, he made a Deal with the Devil and became an Evil Sorceror as well as the first game's Big Bad and SNK Boss. After his defeat, however, the deal was FAR more complicated as he developed a case of Split Personality: half of him was still a villain, the other wanted to become The Atoner.
  • In the Shimabara arc of Rurouni Kenshin, the Religious Bruiser Shougo Mutou sought to become an expy of Amakusa and used his image to gather an army of Japanese Christians.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Ange's bodyguard Juuza Amakusa is named after him in keeping with the Religious and Mythological Theme Naming. He sports a Christian cross on his jacket to further the reference.
  • Played by Kenji Sawada in Samurai Reincarnation.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, the Amakusa Catholics are named for him, and claim to be descendants of his movement that went into hiding following the rebellion's defeat.
  • He's the main character of the 2018 Takarazuka Revue musical Messiah.
  • In Olympia Soiree, Tokisada is one of the love interests that the heroine, Olympia, can romance.