Takeda Shingen (December 1, 1521 May 13, 1573) was one of the Big Three of late feudal Japan, alongside his legendary rival Uesugi Kenshin, and Hojo Ujiyasu. Said to be of unparalleled genius, rivaling Zhuge Liang as one of history's greatest strategists, Shingen is notable in that he was the first of the two great northern warlords, Kenshin being the other, who made their bid against Oda Nobunaga, only to die under mysterious circumstances before he could properly crush his opponent. His nickname was "Tiger of Kai", to contrast with Kenshin, the "Dragon of Echigo". His army was also well known for their cavalry units, called the strongest of their time.
He's noted for often being painted with a war fan. This is mostly taken from a story that supposedly took place during the fourth battle of Kawanakajima: Kenshin snuck into Shingen's camp, sword ready to kill him, but then Shingen deflected all his attacks with a nearby fan.
He made his bid to the capital earlier than the rest, in late 1572, and the first to get in his way was none other than Tokugawa Ieyasu, currently an ally of Nobunaga. Shingen trounced Ieyasu pretty badly at the winter battle of Mikatagahara, forcing him to retreat, but Shingen failed to kill him. While continuing the march in the spring, however, Shingen fell ill and eventually died en route (some say that he was sniped by a rifleman when he was by himself and listening to flute music being played from the enemy camp), to be succeeded by his son Katsuyori, who while a good war general, wasn't as capable a daimyo, resulting into a disastrous battle at Nagashino where Nobunaga utilized his muskets to utterly annihilate the otherwise invincible Takeda cavalry. Needless to say, the Takeda fell into ruins after that day, and Katsuyori eventually committed seppuku after being cornered into a Last Stand. Shingen's death propelled his rival Kenshin to make his own bid for the capital, managing to defeat Nobunaga once before he also died suddenly.
Aside from his cavalry, intellect, war fan and rivalry with Kenshin, Shingen is also known for inventing the phrase/motto "Fuu-Rin-Ka-Zan" (風林火山). Borrowed from Sun Tzu's The Art of War, it translates to "wind-forest-fire-mountain", which serves for the phrase "swift as the wind, silent as the forest, fierce like fire, strong like a mountain". There's also some nasty rumors that Shingen kept boiling pots around his camp, probably to punish prisoners of war. Considering the turbulent times, such a degree of ruthlessness was not uncommon.
Such is his legacy that a three-day festival, the Shingen-ko Festival, is held every year on the first or second weekend of April in Japan to celebrate him, which is full of serious, practiced reenactors to depict the Sengoku Period.
Takeda Shingen in fiction:
- Takeda Shingen's death and its aftermath is fictionalized in Akira Kurosawa's 1980 film Kagemusha, using the theory that he was fatally shot by a sniper.
- The enemy of Uesugi Kenshin in the 1990 film Heaven and Earth (not that one).
- Leader of the Takeda clan in the videogame Shogun: Total War
- A playable character in the Samurai Warriors series. As usual, he has his legendary rivalry with Kenshin, and is shown to be a Deadpan Snarker but at the same time a laughable Cool Old Guy who's quite the Technical Pacifist at heart (he cares more about his men's safety than his plans getting botched). Also there's one historical misinterpretation, in that Sanada Yukimura is amongst his army. While historically Yukimura never served the Takeda, his predecessors did such as Masayuki, for example (this is actually something they finally got right in Samurai Warriors: Sanada-Maru, by having the young Masayuki being an officer of Takeda while Yukimura is still a child at that era). His weapon? That infamous paper fan of his (and he's quite the grappler as of the second title), along with a variety of elemental powers at his disposal in nod to his ever so recurring creed. And NO ONE has EVER seen what's underneath that mask of his.
- His first Japanese voice actor in those said portrayals is the late Daisuke Gouri; Samurai Warriors 3 was his last voice acting gig before his death. Ryuuzaburou Ootomo takes over as of the Samurai Warriors 3 expansions.
- Shows up as Ground-type nation Terrera's warlord in Pokémon Conquest. Teamed with Rhyperior and eventually Groudon, he's still shown as being Uesugi Kenshin's friendly rival. He's also portrayed as carrying his infamous paper fan.
- Sengoku Basara had Shingen become more-or-less the Big Good, a hugely muscular and Hot-Blooded old man with a gigantic axe (shaped like his iconic war fan) and, aside from his rivalry with Kenshin, he's epically awesome to a fault (like riding two horses at once, up a vertical wall). He also employs Yukimura as his ward, submitting him to Training from Hell, and they often enjoy a memetic exchange of punches and wrestling moves while yelling each other's names. "YUKIMURA!" "OYAKATA-SAMA!" "YUKIMURA!!" "OYAKATA-SAMA!!" "YUKIMURA!!!" "OYAKATA-SAMA!!!" (rinse and repeat)
- Here, he's portrayed consistently by Tessho Genda. Also later on, it's revealed that he also employs Yukimura's family members, namely Masayuki and Nobuyuki.
- Curiously, for both Warriors and Basara, it's like Shingen and the Takeda clan are something of a Butt-Monkey for games like this. Shingen will always be the sole representative of the Takeda clan, whereas the other people in his ranks will usually be characters from the Sanada clan, like the Sanada is the developer's favorite and always leaving the Takeda and Shingen to look like 'stepping stones' to introduce more Sanada men. Which is quite a pity, because aside of Shingen and Katsuyori, the Takeda clan actually houses several competent and good officers such as Baba Nobuharu/Nobufusa, Yamagata Masakage (the original Red Devil), Naito Masatoyo, Kosaka Masanobu, etc. Also, the first Kunoichi, Mochizuki Chiyome, reportedly was in the service of Shingen. Samurai Warriors: Sanada-Maru is the first to break this mold even when the game was supposedly about the Sanada clan, by making Katsuyori a unique and playable character.
- He's the titular character of the old Jaleco arcade game, Takeda Shingen, depicted as a warlord fighting assorted enemies tom rule over the land.
- In Onimusha Soul, Shingen appears as one of the selectable warlords, but surprisingly he's on the side of the Genma demons, the bad guys. Furthermore, a "demon hunt" (as in: demons hunting for people as if they were game) was mentioned in the second game as being hosted by "Takeda". He's portrayed as a massive manly guy with his typical helmet, mask and signal fan wielded in tandem with a giant broadsword, better contrasting Kenshin, who's a woman in this game.
- As with every other name in Japanese history, genderflipped in Battle Girls: Time Paradox, where she's Playing with Fire and Blowing You Away. Despite Friendly Enemy Kenshin still being featured, it's Shingen who gets the "Instant awesome, just add dragons" treatment. Don't worry: she's still got the goddamn war fan, though.
- Appears as a main character in Voltage Inc's historical Dating Sim Samurai Love Ballad Party as a handsome but fiery redhead who has a strong case of tubercolsis.
- While he hasn't appeared in Fate/Grand Order, Shingen gets several mentions in the game, seeing that Nagao Kagetora, his rival, is included as a Servant; and his kunoichi, Mochizuki Chiyome, is an Assassin-class Servant who mentioned her service under Shingen as one of her portfolio. The closest he could get for appearance was during the first GUDAGUDA event, where he was 'represented' by the Persian hero Darius III as 'Takeda Darius'. (His Noble Phantasm about summoning his stampeding army accompanied with War Elephants was considered a close enough substitute for Shingen's famed Takeda Cavalry)
- In Assassin's Creed, Shingen possessed Sword of Eden until his death at the hands of his rival Uesugi Kenshin.
- SD Gundam BB Senshi had a model series titled SD Sengokuden Ten to Chi To, which focused on making Gunpla based on figures in Japanese history. However it only released two models, with one of them being Shingen Gundam. This concept was later revisited in SD Sengokuden Bushin Kourin Hen, which while also short-lived had more models, including Takeda Shingen Gundam.