Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan

In 2008, Hakuouki Shinsengumi Kitan was released as a new generation of otomegame (simulation love games for girls) for PlayStation 2. The illustrations of characters was done by Kazuki Yone. Even though the game was yet to be released, a 15-page artbook was first produced by Dengeki called “Girl’s Style.” The series is part historical part fiction. Most of the characters are true Shinsengumi persons depicting their stations during the historical and political period (Kondou Isami, Hijikata Toshizou, Inoue Genzaburou, Okita Souji, Nagakura Shinpachi, Saitou Hajime, Harada Sanosuke, Todou Heisuke, Yamanami Keisuke and Yamazaki Susumu)

An anime adaptation began airing on April 4, 2010 with 12 scheduled episodes.

There is one opening and ending theme:

1. Aika Yoshioka’s “Izayoi Namida” DOWNLOAD
2. Mao’s “Kimi no Kioku” DOWNLOAD

The story begins with young Yukimura Chizuru entering the city of Kyoto in search of her missing father. Unfortunately for her, she is met by criminals but is saved by the Shinsengumi. When they realize that she is the daughter to the doctor they are looking for, they decide to protect her until her father is found. At the height of the story, a cure must be found for a medicine, which although provides the taker with superhuman strength, turns the person into a monster. During their search, the Shinsengumi are also pitted against a changing of the guards: the Bakumatsu (late Tokugawa Shogunate) – final years of Edo period when the Tokugawa Shogunate came to a crashing end (1853-1867).

Kondou Isami, Hijikata Toshizou, Okita Souji, Nagakura Shinpachi, Saitou Hajime, Todou Heisuke, Yamanami Keisuke and Harada Sanosuke.

APRILMAYJUNE


April 4, 2010. Episode 1: The Snowflake Capital

The series begins at the end of Edo era, three years after the Bunkyuu era (1861-1864). It is February 1865, in the midst of winter.

Yukimura Chizuru is in search of her missing father, Yukimura Koudou, in Kyoto. After leaving Edo for 6 months, and receiving no news from him as a volunteer doctor, Chizuru gets worried. On the way there, she is chased after and attacked by outlawed samurai. The criminals, in turn, are attacked by zombie-like Shinsengumi. After these failed-soldiers (as later referred to by Saitou) finish off the outlaws, they find a clearly shaken Chizuru and try to kill her too. The Shinsengumi, a special police force established during the late shogunate period, appear and kill the intruders.

Worried that she will report on the transformed Shinsengumi, the three Shinsengumis, Hijikata Toshizou, Saitou Hajime and Okita Souji, bring her back to their headquarters. After discovering that she is the daughter of the western doctor they are looking for, they decide to keep her around. (Soon enough, it will be revealed that her father is the cause of the transformation and the search will be on to find her father to attain the cure for the infection! Koudou, under orders from the Shogunate, develops the “ochimizu.” This potion increases the drinker’s healing abilities, speed and strength but will eventually turn the drinker into a mindless, blood-craving zombie) They inform her that her father’s clinic was burnt down a month ago. No bodies were found, but her father has gone missing since then.

There, the eight main guys decide her future. The Shinsengumi are led by commander Kondou Isami, the fourth master of the Tennen Rishin Ryuu leader. He has a rather jovial, light-hearted and honest character, who seems to allow Hijikata to call the shots most times. He is the lenient father figure of the group, who is fast on getting angry, but even faster in calming down. He has the trust, respect, and loyalty of his men even with his “short-comings.”

 

Kondou Isami

Kondou Isami

 

He is followed by the General Commander/President, Yamanami Keisuke, also known as San’nan-san. He has a studiously preened character and seems to be a little too quiet and amicable for his own good. It looks like he is hiding something behind those glasses and a broken left arm. Before the injury, he was known to his men as a caring Commander, but after suffering the injury, he became cold and suspicious of everyone around him. It was later suggested by Okita that the “medicine” be used to heal his wound. (He becomes the first of the group to take the plunge)

 

San'nan san

San

 

Hijikata Toshizou is the Vice-Commander, who has a more suave and level-headed personality. It seems like he bears a lot on his shoulders for the good of his men. He is called “Oni-fukuchou” (the demon vice-commander) and is both feared and respected by his men. After he decides to spare Chizuru’s life, he is appointed as her guardian. Soon the others follow suit and become her protector too, as she searches the city for her missing father. He is also the only one (and maybe Okita and Saitou too) to have recognized her sex. To permit her residence, Chizuru is told to continue the pretense of being a boy. He is later sent on a mission together with San’nan-san in Osaka, whereby San’nan-san is injured and possibly looses the use of his sword arm.

 

Hijikata Toushizou

Hijikata Toushizou

 

The troop captains of the Shinsengumi are as follows:

Okita Souji, Nagakura Shinpachi and Saitou Hajime (Kenjutsu instructors).

Okita is the captain of the Shinsengumi’s first regiment or troop and lieutenant along side Hijikata. Okita has a laid-back and nonchalant personality who seem to be the one to crack a joke, while enjoying a good tease at Hijikata’s expense. It seems they both are much closer to each other than the other Shinsengumi members as they have been Shinsengumi for a longer time than the others. Okita is also the first to suggest that Chizuru be killed to shut her up permanently for having witness the zombied Shinsengumi, but later claims it as a joke. After Chizuru asks to go out in search of her father, Okita tests her sword skills against Hajime, the sword master. After “passing” the test, they speak on her behalf to Hijikata to permit her to leave the premises. He is a master swordsman.

 

Okita Souji and Saito Hajime

Saitou Hajime and Okita Souji

 

Saitou Hajime is an ultra cool, calm and collected character, who speaks only when spoken to. He has long purple hair and a white scarf around his neck. He is one of the few assigned to guard Chizuru for possible escape. He is a known master of drawing his blade at lightning speed.

 

Shinpachi

Nagakura Shinpachi

 

Nagakura Shinpachi has a laid-back character and is seen constantly teasing Todou Heisuke by stealing his food. He isn’t the brightest dog on the block as he was visibly shocked when it was announced that Chizuru is a girl. What’s more, it seem that he maybe a womanizer, immediately jumping on the bandwagon of saving her when news of her sex is announced.

Inoue Genzaburou, an older and kinder gentleman of the house, seems to be the house caretaker and also a caretaker of the Shinsengumi. He was the first to come to Chizuru’s aid after she was first brought back from the night-time incident. After untying her ropes, he leads her to the group for “judgment.”

Todou Heisuke is the youngest boy of the group with a long pony-tail and an off-shouldered purple outfit. After showing his disdain of the intruder (Chizuru) at first, he quickly switches gears when he realizes her life would be spared and that she’s around his age. He’s the first to suggest that Chizuru dines with the group when they are forced to watch her round the clock. She eventually joins them, even after Hijikata returns from his mission.

 

Todou Heisuke

Todou Heisuke

 

Finally Harada Sanosuke, who is a spear wielding samurai but carries a katana too. He is the Tenth Unit Captain. After it was decided that Chizuru ate with the guys, Sano was the one to offer her a seat right between him and Shinpachi. He is however quick to throw a punch, before actually thinking of the consequence.

 

Harada Sanosuke

Harada Sanosuke

 

April 11, 2010, Episode 2: The Flames of Unrest

An injured San’nan-san, the captain of the Shinsengumi, returns from Osaka with Hijikata. He doesn’t look very pleased with his men who are concerned for his well-bring. He begins to slowly distant himself from the group, watching quietly as the rest practice and hone their technique. Chizuru notes, as he practices by himself late at night, the he seems to be irritated with himself and his situation.

Meanwhile, Hijikata questions Chizuru’s presence with the men during meal time. To which, Inoue, then Heisuke, then Shinpachi, and Sano all say they had a hand in it. After San’nan-san’s repeated refusal of food, Chizuru volunteers to be his “healer” and brings his food to him. He eventually emerges from his room to mingle and eat with the rest.

July 8, 1864, while Hajime practices sword, Chizuru asks if she can begin the search of her father, while Okita listens on. Hajime lists the capital’s unrest and insufficient men to escort her as reasons for not allowing her to roam the streets. But Okita suggests that she can definitely join them during their patrols only if she can prove herself capable of protecting herself without being a hindrance to the men around her. With Hajime’s endorsement, and request, she is permitted on the patrols by Hijikata. However, Okita warns that if she tries to run away or interfere with their rounds, he will kill her.

First patrol is with Okita and Heisuke, to find out what the Choshuu clan is up to and since news of Koudou’s appearance around the city is surfacing, Hijikata permits her leave of the grounds. As they make their rounds, the Shinsengumi are harassed by other samurai, calling them the Wolves of Mibu. Okita has to step in to stop the quarrel, while Chizuru wanders off to a shop where her father is last seen. She is immediately attacked, but saved by Okita’s quick appearance. The group at the Masuya store is apprehended and their smuggled weapons confiscated. It seems, luck is on Chizuru side. The owner of the Masuya store is a Choshuu spy. After interrogating him, Hijikata finds out that the Choshuu are planning on burning the city of Kyoto to the ground, upon which they will abduct the Emperor to Choshuu territory. With his apprehension, the group is in chaos. The Shinsengumi then plan a surprise assault, on two of their known locations – Shikokuya and Ikedaya. They also raise the alert to the Aizu clan.

San’nan-san is left in their residence instead of heading out to a raid to guard headquarters. As the Shinsengumi mobilizes their men, it seems that the Aizu clan has yet to show any movements. Since they do not know the exact location of the Choshuu’s hideout, the group splits in two. Believing that the Choshuu won’t reconvene at the same location that their spy was caught, San’nan-san suggest that the meeting will be at Shikokuya. However, Kondou thinks that there could be a possibility that they could appear in Ikedaya too. With that hypothesis, Hijikata leads the bigger group of 24 men to Shikokuya while Commander Kondou takes a smaller group of 10 men, including Heisuke, Okita and Shinpachi, to stake out Ikedaya. Eventually, they find out that the nest is really in Ikedaya.  The spy, Yamazaki Susumu, reports back to San’nan-san and he along with Chizuru are sent out to relay the message. Both Chizuru and Yamazaki are waylaid and stalled by a group intending to hijack the Shinsengumi base while no one is around, but asks Chizuru to run ahead with the message.

Meanwhile, the group at Ikedaya, unable to wait any longer for the Aizu clan as backup, bursts into action and storms the nest of Choshuu. It soon becomes a bloody battle.

April 18, 2010, Episode 3: Twilight Blossom

Chizuru finally reaches Hijikata’s team and leads them to the hideout.

Even though there are many casualties, the fatalities on the Shinsengumi side are much lower. Todou Heisuke and Okita Souji finds two men, suspiciously watching the fight below them and engage them. Heisuke takes on a goateed man with gloved hands. The stranger announces that since his fight is not with Heisuke, he should leave while he still can. As Heisuke refuses the notion, and attacks the stranger, he is dislodge and crushed immediately. He is left unconscious as the highly skilled and speedy fighter walks away. Meanwhile, Okita engages an unknown blond-haired guy, presumably of the Choshuu group. The Shinsengumi later presume him to be from another group spying on the Choshuu. This blond man is a very skilled sword user and badly injures Okita until the vomits blood.

Reinforcements finally arrive at the Ikedaya inn. The group quickly disperses in and around the perimeter. But a large group of about a hundred men appear in the horizon.

Hijikata remains outside of the inn, to act as a shield for his men against the new group. Hijikata blocks the Aizu force from entering the premises and claiming their wins by stating that by them rushing in like that, the Shinsengumi inside will assume that they are enemies, since prior arrangements weren’t made. This will prevent needless bloodshed, but more than that, it will ensure that the Shinsegumi’s efforts and loss are not wasted.

Upon hearing that Okita is spewing blood, Chizuru rushes up without thinking, just as Saitou comes to her rescue at a charging enemy. She reaches the room where Okita is, and feebly tries to protect him. Instead, an injured Okita has to protect her with his waning life. The blond guy decides to leave just as Okita crumbles to the floor. Chizuru then chastises Okita, saying that he once swore that he will kill her if she got in the way of a fight. So why did he end up protecting her instead?

As the Shinsengumi collect their men, and round-up enemy forces, they leave the scene with hatred ablaze in the eyes of the villagers there. Soon, they will be hated and feared by normal citizens, even though their intentions are good. That night will forever be remembered as the Ikedaya Affair of 1864. (Soon after this, their recruitment surged overnight)

Back at the base, everyone is recovering nicely, but are forced to take a medicine created from Hijikata’s family “Ishida Sanyaku” to renew and strengthen themselves.

A little fun in the lives of doomed men is permissable. Hijikata instructs Chizuru on a patrol with Sano and Shinpachi who end up taking her to a Gion festival in the village. With that, the duo end up taking Chizuru’s hand to get a closer look of the festival.

The next day, during their meeting they discuss the fact that this will not be the end of the Choshuu, and they have to act quickly before the next disaster arises. Unfortunately for them, along with San’nan-san, Okita and Heisuke will have to sit out on the next mission. Chizuru, on the other hand, as the daughter of a physician is asked to join in the next mission as a medical backup. And joins, she does.

April 25, 2010, Episode 4: Those Who Hail From the Darkness

The Shinsengumi of Kondou’s faction, the Shogunate’s special police force, march towards the capital to protect the Imperial Court from Choshuu by protecting its gates. They move from Shoshidai where the overlord there refuses to move with them, citing that no orders from Aizu reached them. The Shinsengumi then march ahead and are sent to the Ninth Avenue Riverbank by another group. As they reach the Riverbank, they realize that they are sent there only as a reserve unit. Kondou then splits the group for the protection of the capital, guarding all the opening. One group is sent to Kogun Gate while the other to Hamaguri Gate (two out of nine Forbidden Gates of the Imperial Palace ruled by the Tokugawa Shogunate under Emperor Komei).

Saitou Hajime takes a group with him, that stops in fighting between the Aizu and Satsuma clan. There Saitou meets the goateed man, who apologizes for unintentionally hurting Toudou. He introduces himself as Amagiri Kyujuu of Satsuma clan. After they agree that senseless fighting between groups trying to achieve the same thing is ill-mannered and foolish, they part ways.

 

Amagiri Kyuuju

Amagiri Kyuuju

 

Meanwhile, Sanosuke, who is left to guard another gate, is interrupted by a gun-totting ronin with a tied up purple pony-tail. He introduces himself as Shiranui Kyou (of the Satsuma clan) and after a half-ass battle of Sano, promises to kill Sano the next time they meet.

Hijikata’s group, together with Chizuru, are stopped on a bridge by blondie from Ikedaya. Chizuru immediately recognizes him as the man who injured Okita. Blondie complains that all the hype of ronins with skill is a ruse to scare normal folk, as they were truly incompetent – proven by his meeting with Okita. A man from the Shinsengumi group immediately attacks blondie, only to be injured in the process. Chizuru comes to his aid. Shinpachi tries to step in, only to have Hijikata send him away for more important matters – guarding the Imperial Gate. He understands his orders and takes the men with him, leaving Hijikata to settle the issue with blondie once and for all. Chizuru is left behind for the injured and to “protect” Hijikata. Hijikata argues with blondie that the Choshuu should not be left alone and not forced to face the consequences of their betrayal. Once a fight begins, he reasons, one should have the resolve to die. Otherwise, do not begin the fight. As the two men begin their swordplay, one of their katana is hurled into midair, and gets thrown in the direction of the injured Shinsengumi. Chizuru uses her own body to protect the unwary victim, and her right arm gets sliced. At that moment,  Amagiri Kyujuu (goatee man) shows up to stop Kazama Chikage (blondie) from continuing his fight. Kazama happens to see the cut on Chizuru, which heals immediately.

He thinks to himself, “It is as I thought, lady.”

Kazama is a member of the Bakumatsu, sworn enemies of the Shinsengumi. He is also part of the Oni clan.

 

Kazama Chikage

Kazama Chikage

 

Back in the Shinsengumi base, San’nan-san feels inept without his fighting arm, and weighs the pros and cons of taking the modifying yet unrefined drug.

In Mt. Tenozan where the Choshuu has fled to, it seems they have all taken their lives by seppuku, a Japanese ritual of taking one’s life by disembowelment once reserved only for samurais.  However, they set the capital aflame, before committing suicide. This incident is remembered by many as the Forbidden Gate Rebellion/Hamaguri Gate (Kinmon no hen) on August 20, 1864, whereby two-thirds of Kyoto was reduced to ashes. On that day, 1300 Choshuu men clashed with a combined force of 40,000 Satsuma, Aizu and shogunate samurais at Hamaguri Gate. It was a reflection of the discontent of rebels grouped under the slogan “Sonou Joui” started by the Emperor to revere him and expel barbarians.

Things are only going to get worst here on in, with the Satsuma clan eventually turning against the Shogunate while siding with the Choshuu.


May 2, 2010, Episode 5: Conflicting Blades

October (November) 1864. Kashitarou Itou (originally Okura Suzuki), a scholar, loyalist and skilled swordsmen, unexpectedly joins forces with the Shinsengumi. Heisuke, the former student of Itou, is told to run ahead to welcome him. Before he leaves, Heisuke asks for Chizuru’s home address in Edo since he will be in the area. The Shinsengumi are recruiting and expanding their power even to Edo.

Back on base, it is Okita’s turn to cook; he makes boiled vegetables soaked later in soy. Saitou states that too much salt for the body is not good, as he leaves the room to wash his vegetables. The others: Sanosuke, Hijikata and even Okita too, do the same. The group realizes since Sannan-san’s return with the injury, he has become progressively distant from everyone, even though he remains a kind and wise leader to the men. Meanwhile, Sannan-san presses on with his research as he realizes that his left arm is beyond repair. He uses the research of Yukimura Kodou to recreate the ochimizu. Okita finds Sannan-san in his room brooding about this concoction. He tells him if all else fails, he will put him out of his misery. How reassuring.

Finally, Itou arrives in Kyoto to meet with Kondou. According to Itou, together, they will defend the country and expel the foreigners. At first, Kondou respects Itou’s intelligence and everything he has to offer to the Shinsengumi. He even treats him as an executive officer. Soon enough however, their opposing political views will clash. Itou recognizes that the Shinsengumi has strict codes to adhere to. He seemed surprised to find Chizuru amongst the men, and even tries to corner her. Okita appears to protect her with his Tennen Rishin Style of swords play. Itou expertly dodges every attack.

Soon, the Shinsengumi discuss their need for finding a new base for expansion. It will be a difficult task as not many neighborhoods will take them in with their bad reputation. Hijikata suggests the Nishi Hoganji Temple, once used as Choshuu hideout. Itou agrees, but will force the matter on to the people instead, stating the have no say in the matter. Sannan-san cautions against going against the will of the people. If the “inside” is not right, the “outside” will crumble. Itou sarcastically responds that, even though Sannan-san’s left hand is useless, he still has his intellect to fall back on. Kondou, after listening to all sides of the argument, decides that Hijikata’s suggestion of the Hoganji Temple as their new base will be best for all. Sannan-san then leaves, telling a surprised Chizuru that, “With a new member like that, there is no need for a President like me.”

After this first clash, the men of Shinsengumi realizes that Itou’s men all fear him, for his pitch black heart. He puts on airs and look down upon others. Okita tells Hijikata to send Itou back to where he came from, and ask for a refund. After all is said and done, the Shinsengumi men realize that what Sannan-san said earlier was true. They will collapse from within with all the differing viewpoints.

That night, Chizuru finds Sannan-san leaving the base, and after following him a bit, he disappears. She searches, and finds a room with medications. Sannan-san surprises her, but invites her in to show her her father’s works. Her father has been secretly working for the Shogun to create Western medications that drastically alters and changes the human by healing muscles and tissues. However, there is a flaw in the medication, which Chizuru has seen first hand on her first night in Kyoto. These men loose their minds and become blood thirsty monsters. Chizuru is taken aback by these new revelations. Sannan-san continues that after reading Kodou’s research materials, he made his own vial of ochimizu. He drinks it, much to Chizuru’s despair. His hair turns white, as he begins to loose himself to the medication. Seeing Chizuru, Sannan-san chokes her.

This first meeting with the new member of Shinsengumi is only the first of many, as Kondou will learn soon. Later, their differing political views will lead to their separation. Kondou was Sabaku – term used during the Bakumatsu Period in support of the Bakufu or supporting the Emperor and Shogun rule. Ito was Tobaku – wanting an overthrow of the Bakufu. In 1867, after the death of Emperor Komei, Kashitarou’s group left the Shinsengumi and formed Goryo Eji, Guards of the Emperor’s Tomb. The secretly came under the protection of the Satsuma han. Later in the same year, Kondou arrives at Itou’s residence and Itou as assassinated by Shinsengumi members.

May 9, 2010, Episode 6: The Demon’s Lifeline

Sannan-san realizes his hands are wrapped around Chizuru’s neck and immediately stops the strangulation. His experiment has failed and the odds are creeping up against him. He begs Chizuru to kill him, because, if she doesn’t, he will kill her when he looses control again.

The boys arrive led by Hijikata. Shinpachi and Harada are told to guard the entrances, while Saitou and Okita guard the courtyard in case Itou wonders in. It is now up to Sannan-san’s will to live, die or break from the curse of the medicine. Okita remembers his promise to Sannan-san that if he fails, he will kill him. Chizuru faints.

When she awakens, Hijikita is there to question her why she was with Sannan-san in the first place. She explained that she ran into him, but was told about her father’s creation of the medicine/ochimizu under the orders of the Bakufu. Before he completed his research, he vanished. This is the Shinsengumi’s dark secret, forced upon by the Shogun, to keep. Chizuru is warned that if she so much as raise any suspicion, she will be killed.

The next day, Itou wanders into the communal room and asks about the disturbance he heard at night. Saitou explains that it was something that they still had to check on. After he leaves, the men realize that they will soon have to explain Sannan-san’s absence. They will have to come up with a better reason soon. Later, they visit Sannan-san who declares he is no longer human. His arm is working now, but since he will not be able to participate in their missions, the men will have to say that he is dead. He reasons that the Bakufu has ordered this research to be a secret. If he is dead, then they will not be able to use the medicine anymore.

The move to Nishi Hoganji Temple is imminent, if they have to hide Sannan-san. Their current place is too small to keep such a secret. A month later, the Shinsengumi takes up residence at the former Choshuu hideout. While bringing food to Sannan-san, Chizuru sees a sudden change in Sannan-san’s hair from black to white and back again.

Heisuke finally returns and realizes that they people of the city has changed.  Maybe it’s their attitudes toward the Shinsengumi that has become hostile. The Shogun will be visiting Kyoto with a procession soon. As the boys make their patrolling rounds, they stumble upon a girl being harassed by samurais. A coughing Okita comes to her rescue, and realizes she is identical to Chizuru. She introduces herself as Nagumo Kaoru. She/him is in fact Chizuru’s twin brother separated at birth. He is a cross-dresser.

Back at the Shinsengumi base, the men gather. Hijikata explains that after Ikedaya and Hamaguri Gate, the Shogun has been looking up at them. They have to set up protection units for when the Shogun arrives. Okita is immediately excused for his illness, but even Heisuke feigns an ailment to get out of the duty. Chizuru is asked is she wants to join in the “celebration.” She jumps at the chance to be part of the group. That night, as she calls for the change of guards in the temple, she senses something amiss after she shoe breaks. There standing before her, are the Satsuma / Oni clan members: Kazama Chikage, Amagiri Kyujuu and Shiranui Kyou. They claim that Chizuru is one of them. Like all Onis, their injuries heal faster. Apart from that, she has an Oni last name and carries a shorten distinctive Oni sword. They are here to kidnap her, as the women of Oni clan are very valuable.

 

Kazama Chikage

Kazama Chikage

 

Chizuru’s secret lies in the fact that she is a pure-blooded member of the “oni-ichizoku” (Demon Clan).

May 16, 2010, Episode 7: The Fetters of Fate

Did they really think the boys will let the Oni Clan take away Chizuru, right under their nose?

Kazama tries to forcibly take Chizuru. But Shinpachi, Harada and Hijikata comes to her rescue. At first they thought the Satsumas were there for the Shogun. Kazama corrects them, “We are here for the Oni.”

Hijikata hears that, and wonders at the meaning. Harada Sanosuke meets Shiranui once again since their last meeting at Kinmonhen. A battle ensues and it ends with Shiranui pointing a gun at Harada’s head, while Harada has his spear pointed at Shiranui’s throat. Yamazaki, the spy, appears and stand guard to protect Chizuru while Hijikata takes on Kazama. Kazama taunts Hijikata, “Chizuru’s too much or you. We’re taking her back.” Hijikita replies by slicing off a wisp of his hair. Meanwhile, Amagiri refuses to fight another useless battle with a present Saitou. He tries to cut him, but he soon disappears with the rest.

Hijikata immediately questions Chizuru the reason for them coming for her. She herself isn’t sure. But what did they mean when they say she was one of them.

The next morning, Chizuru catches Okita coughing again, and this time, he is coughing blood. As Saitou and Chizuru makes their morning patrol in the city, they find another woman protecting a boy who are harassed by a group of samurais. Chizuru rushes in to protect the woman and child, but it’s Saitou who ends up protecting them three. After the samurais are chased off, the woman immediately  befriends Chizuru since they are both girls. She introduces herself as, “Sen.”

After she leaves, Chizuru asks Saitou if her disguise is really bad. He looks her up and down, and shrugs, “Who knows?” He does!

Doctor Matsumoto Syojuu is visiting the Shisengumi to check on their health, but Itou takes offense to having to strip for his examination. Others are not so shy about it, with Shinpachi being the biggest braggart showing off his ripped body. Chizuru runs to see the doctor who is an old friend of her father’s. Before she gets a chance to meet the doctor, the doctor chastises Kondou for his ill-treatment of his men. One third of his men are either sick or injured. An infirmary has to be built and clothes have to be burnt. The men spend the day cleaning and dusting the entire household.

Chizuru see Heisuke and asks for his health since he missed the last mission. He confesses that he wasn’t sick but just didn’t want to be part of the guard for the Shogun. The Shinsengumi used to keep Kyoto safe. However, they have inadvertently become vassals to the Bakufu and that doesn’t bode well with him. But while he’s around, he will be doubling his efforts in protecting Chizuru.

Matsumoto Sensei finally meets Chizuru. He acknowledges the receipt of her letter asking for the whereabouts of her father, but couldn’t reply because he didn’t know where she was. However, he admits that he too does not know where her father is. It is true that Yukimura Koudou was developing medication under the direct orders of the Bakufu. The experiment was to create / replicate Rasetsu (a Buddhist term for a man-eating demon); humans who have great strength and healing abilities of an Oni. Rasetsu are created from the medicine Chizuru knows as ochimizu, or the elixir in the West. The taker will gain great strength and healing abilities. However, the result is pain that is so unbearable that it drives one mad. In the end, when Koudou realized how destructive this drug is, he simply left because he did not want to continue with his research. He could not defy the orders of the Bakufu, but with his disappearance, the research does not need to continue.

However, Sannan-san has taken over the research. He has yet to perfect the drug though, a proof in his inability to leave the premises. Matsumoto Sensei urges Sannan-san and the Shinsengumi to stop their research. But it looks like it has fallen on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, Okita secretly visit the doc, telling him of his lost of appetite and weight, constant fever and his persistent coughing. Chizuru overhears this as Matsumoto Sensei breaks the bad news. It is the incurable tuberculosis. His recommends that Okita leave the Shinsengumi immediately to seek treatment and to get fresh air. Okita refuses. The Shinsengumi is his life. Remaining with his brothers now would mean even more now that he’s going to die. Matsumoto leaves in resignation, but prescribes him with medications and warns him not to strain himself. Okita then pleads with the doc not to let the others now.

After Matsumoto Sensei leaves, Okita says, “You can come out now, Chizuru. It’s clear.” As she stumbles in, with teary eyes, Okita warns her, “I might  kill you if you rat on me.”

“You always say that. …but I’ll be quiet.”

Later, as Chizuru does her household duties, Kazama sneaks into the temple.

“You’ve got to do chores even as an Oni?”

Startled, Chizuru readies herself for a fight with her broom, but he assures her he is there not there for a fight or to take her against her will. He wanted to tell her that Koudou is with them, working for them. He is surprised, however, when Chizuru addresses Koudou as her father.

Hijikita appears with Shinpachi and Heisuke protecting Chizuru from the intruder. He marvels at Kazama’s bravery for infiltrating the Shinsengumi base. Kazama only states that he is not itching for a fight. He warns them of their foolishness for turning men to Onis. This has to stop. Koudou is on their side. He has turned his back against the Bakufu. With that, he disappears.

If her father is against the Shogun, does this mean her father also wants all foreigners to be expelled?

When Kazama returns, Amagiri questions his intention of seeking out Chizuru.

“I just want to confirm Koudou’s relationship with her.”

To which, Amagiri of the Bakumatsu clan simply states, “We do not associate with humans anymore. Our only alliance is with Satsuma – to repay our debt.”

Sannan-san is creating a new unit. It will be named the Rasetsu unit. The unit will fight alongside the Shinsengumi to protect the capital.

I guess he’s not happy until everyone becomes a monster just like him, or he wants more test subjects. Either way, they should take Kazama’s advice while they are still ahead.

May 23, 2010, Episode 8: Fleeting Dreams

The air in the Shinsengumi headquarters has been too stifling. Hijikata, as the boys note, has been a bitch lately. Even Chizuru has been unhappy ever since Kazama showed up spouting “nonsense.” Her father is with the Bakumatsu clan, and holds their ideals of expelling the foreigners.

To cheer her up, the boys set up a date with Osen-chan. Osen knows Chizuru’s sex. Chizuru tells Osen she is from Edo and is an only child. As she speaks, Osen eyes Chizuru’s katana. After this girl talk, Chizuru seems to be happier. The next day, she is even dries Okita’s wet hair for him, chastising him for tying it up while it is damp.

Meanwhile, Hijikata’s mood is still sour as he nabs Heisuke, Shinpachi and Harada from overstepping their curfew while out drinking. Shinpachi is pulled in to Hijikata’s room, who finally apologizes for his behavior.

It is August of the Second Year of Keiou Era. News of the Shogun Iemochi’s passing is heard across town. The Bakufu has been a steady giant for 260 years. But their hold has been slowly waning, first with their failed subjugation of Choshuu’s insurrection at Kinmon no Hen and then on October 1866, a notice calling the Choshuu clan traitors was torn down at the Great Sanjou Bridge. The Shinsengumi are ordered to guard the board.

The boys are not too excited about their roles of guarding a board. Itou tells them not to take the Choushuu and the job of protecting the bulletin board lightly. He is definitely plotting something, sneaking around late at night and gathering his comrades.

That night, Harada goes on his shift to guard the bulletins, but is ambushed by ninjas from the Tosa clan. They are quickly apprehended by the Shinsengumi, but a masked female, rescues them. Harada unmasks her to realize she looks like Chizuru.

The Shinsengumi boys have been cooped up too long, and Hijikata and the group goes out celebrating at an all-boys establishment with their reward money from the Bakufu. Harada uses the opportunity to question Chizuru of her whereabouts the night before, telling the men that they were attacked by a group led by a woman who looks like Chizuru. Heisuke realizes that Harada must be talking about Chizuru’s look-a-like, Nagumo Kaoru, while making their rounds. Saitou then suggests, to proof her innocence, to dress her up in girl’s clothing. She finally reappears before the boys as a girl, and the boys can only gape at her stunning beauty.

She runs away from their teasing and stumbles upon Hijikata sitting by himself. He tells her not to worry about her look-a-like, as that girl will be taken care of.

However, they soon receive unwelcoming news from the Bakufu.

Osen gets news that Kazama, Amagiri and Shiranui have returned to Kyoto.

May 30, 2010, Episode 9: The Trails of Carnage

December 1866: Itou, as the Military Adviser of the Shinsengumi, makes his moves. He tries to recruit from inside the captain ranks of Shinsengumi (trying to turn them against the Bakufu). But the men are too loyal to jump ship, and especially not to someone whom them despise.

(1867) One night, while Chizuru is asleep, someone creeps up to her room. It’s one of the Shinsengumi man gone amok on the drugs. She is attacked and is hurt in the process. First to come to her aid is Hijikata. Then Sanada and the rest of the boys kill off the zombie. Sannan-san apologizes for the release of the uncontrolled man, and suddenly, he too changes. He goes crazy with the smell of Chizuru’s blood, but they moment he tastes her blood, he is able to return to his senses.

In the chaos, Itou comes a knocking. Alarmed, Itou realizes Sannan-san is still alive! He vows to split up and destroy the Shinsengumi.

Hijikata offers to tend to Chizuru’s wound but she quickly dismiss him, telling him she can tend to herself.

(April 20, 1867) The next day, Itou informs Kondou and Hijikita that he intends to leave the Shinsengumi, even though the Shinsengumi do not allow people to come and go as they please. Itou secures his departure from the Shinsengumi with the job as guard to the Imperial mausoleum of the recently deceased Emperor Koumei. Apart from that, he’s got a bargaining chip on his side. Just to keep their secrets, he’s going to take two of their men: Heisuke and Saitou. With the imperial permission, Kashitarou Itou took the name of Settsu Itou.

Chizuru hears of Heisuke’s departure and hurries to speak to him. (Her injured arm has miraculously healed overnight. She hides this from her friends.) Heisuke tells her that things change with time, and Shinsengumi has changed. He insists that he doesn’t hate everyone, but he will definitely miss Chizuru.

Heisuke, Saitou and 13 Shinsengumi men leave with Itou’s men. Osen comes calling for Chizuru to take her away from the Shinsengumi for her safe keeping. Osen claims, in front of the Shinsegumi, to have an ancient Oni bloodline flowing in her. It is too dangerous for Chizuru to remain with the men. Kazama, Amagiri and Shiranui of the Satsuma clan have returned. They are bent on retrieving Chizuru as she is a pure blood too. The Onis don’t like fighting human wars. But with their numbers dwindling, they have no choice but to form alliances with their own agenda as the end goal. There is the Kazamas of the West and the Yukimuras (Chizuru’s family) from the East. Kazama wants her to mate with her to create a stronger Oni bloodline.

Chizuru finally acknowledges her healing abilities to her friends, as proof that she could be an Oni. The Shinsengumi lets her decide if she wants to remain with them or leave with Osen. She chooses to remain. Osen surmises that, maybe, she has feelings for someone in the group? (or is it everyone of those rugged handsome men?!) Whatever her choice is now, Osen will always be on her side.

That night, Kazama, Amagiri and Shiranui sneak into the Shinsengumi headquarters and assassinates the guards. However, the Rasetsu Squad, lead by Sannan-san, is activated. The Shinsengumi men are mobilized. But Kazama leaves Amagiri and Shiranui to the group to search for Chizuru. She is quickly knocked out and kidnapped by Kazama, but Hijikata is there to stop him. Shinpachi takes on Amagiri, while Harada faces Shiranui, Hijikata breaks Kazama’s katana, much to his surprise. Chizuru comes to, and when she sees Kazama about to attack Hijikata, she immediately jumps in to protect him with her life. Kazama wonders why she would do something as so for worthless humans. It is because she believes in them.


June 6, 2010, Episode 10: Where the Bonds Lead

After the attack by the Oni at the Nishi Hoganji temple, Shinsegumi moves once again to Fudou Village to a new manor.

By now, Okita is severely weakened by tuberculosis. Yamazaki leaves him in Chizuru’s care, together with Matsumoto sensei’s notes. Okita is approached by Kaoru, who reveals his true identity as Chizuru’s twin and having the oni blood. The family was torn apart when the main branch refused to aid the overthrow of the Bakufu. Chizuru left with Koudou, their father, while Kaoru was left in the care of the Nagumo family of Tosa Clan. He offers Okita a vial of ochimizu that will not only heal him but turn him into a Rasetsu (demon).

During his time away from the Shinsengumi, Itou keeps up the pretense of friendly relations. However, he is secretly meeting with members of the Satsuma clan. Kondou and Hijikata are not fooled by his demeanor. They are waiting for an opportunity to present itself, as Imperial orders keep Itou safe. Saitou is sent in as their spy waiting to pounce on Itou’s mistake.

Itou has finally dug himself a hole too deep to climb out of! On the 10th of November, Saitou overhears a plan assassination of Kondou on the 20th. He immediately rushes back to the Shinsengumi to inform them. Apart from that, Saitou also learns of a plan alliance between the Choushuu and Satsuma clan of overthrowing the Shogunate.

However, Itou also has a card up his sleeves. For a while now, he has been planting the seed of distrust by forewarning Ryoma Sakamoto (and Shintaro Nakaoka) that the Shinsengumi were after his life.

Ryoma was leading the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate during the Bakumatsu period.  He was also the man behind the secret alliance between the defecto Choushuu clan and the anti-Tokugawa Satsuma clan. During this time, Kondou was in close contact with Nagai Naomune (Naoyuki), the police magistrate in Kyoto. They learned of Ryoma’s part behind the Tosa proposal that forced the Shogun Tokugawa Yoshinobu to surrender (resign) to the Emperor, while retaining their lands and power in the newly formed government (Meiji Restoration in 1867). A month after the Restoration, Ryoma was assassinated. Itou later identified a sword found at the crime scene of Ryoma’s assassination as belonging to Harada Sanosuke of the Shinsengumi, thus effectively framing them even though Harada had his sword with him all the time. (Kondou was later said to be executed for this “crime.”)

On November 18, 1867 [December 13, 1867], Kondou invites Itou to the house of his mistress for dinner with Hijikata present. Against the advice of his followers, Itou attends and even discusses with them the amassing of foreign guns. Itou even smirks at the irony of the Shinsengumi paying him to gather information on the Choshuu clan, while he is secretly behind their plans. The night ends rather mundanely with pleasantries exchanged, but on his way home, Itou is waylaid by the Shinsengumi members and is soon killed at Abura-koji.

Despite concerns for Heisuke’s safety, who is still in the dark and naive about Itou’s plans, the Shinsengumi dispatch their men to assassinate Itou. Saitou and Chizuru then face Heisuke and convinces him to fight alongside them once again, against Itou’s men. This is a retaliation against Itou, who planned Kondou’s assassination first while secretly working for the Satsuma clan. They are only responding to the fight that Itou and his Kodaji faction started. Upon hearing of Itou’s assassination, Heisuke runs to the crime scene, with Chizuru hot on his tails.

The Shinsengumi men are then ambushed by Itou’s men, the Kodaji faction, and Shiranui and Amagiri of the Satsuma clan. Their alliance with the Choushuu clan is made known! It was a trap from the start, to finish off the Shinsegumi. Itou was just a pawn. With the numbers stacking against the Shinsengumi, Amagiri proposes that Chizuru leaves with them and in turn, the men will be allowed to live. Chizuru, having reached the scene with Heisuke, overhears this proposition. She walks towards the enemy to give herself in, but Harada and Shinpachi stop her. They will never let her sacrifice herself on their behalf. They are too protective of her well-being. Heisuke engages Amagiri in a battle but is fatally wounded. This will be known as the Aburakoji incident in December 1867.

June 13, 2010, Episode 11: Fallen One

Saitou arrives just in time to rescue his fellow Shinsengumi.

After Heisuke’s mortal injured, he decides to take the Ochimizu. He is up in no time after taking the elixir. To the world outside, he is dead. He sees Chizuru out in the courtyard, but alarms her. She drops the cup she is holding, and while picking up the pieces cuts herself. Heisuke immediately turns, suffering from his newly acquired vampiric impulses for blood. Sannan-san appears before them and encourages Heisuke to just give in to his urges. Don’t the Onis desire blood too? The lad stave off  his hunger. Seeing his inner struggle, Sannan-san produces medicines, which Matsumoto sensei made to suppress the urges for blood. He warns Heisuke that this is only a temporary solution, holding on to his humanity will only hurt him. Soon enough, he will look for the real thing. On that note, Sannan-san leaves on the night patrol of the city. Soon enough, Heisuke will only leave the grounds for night patrols. He will never be able to enjoy the sunlight again.

A month after the Aburakoji incident, the Sacho alliance forces (Satsuma-Choshuu) march towards the capital. To counter their growing forces, the Shinsengumi is sent to the Fushimi office to prepare for the impending war. Okita’s condition worsens. Kondou, his role model who he looks up to, pays him a visit before heading out on the mission. On the way back from Nijon Castle, they are ambushed and Kondou is shot down.

Kimigiku-san visits Chizuru, with Osen in tow. They seek an audience with Koudou, but he has left on orders of the Bakufu. Hijikita will have to do. They come for two reasons:

The Rasetsu unit should not be allowed to expand, not when it is a known failed experiment. Not only that, under the guise of a night patrol, they are out hunting on innocent civilians. Chizuru immediately thinks of Sannan-san leaving that night after Heisuke’s incident. Hijikita immediately tells them that this is not of their concern but he will look into the second problem.

Osen continues that war will break out in Kyoto soon. She begs Chizuru to leave with her. This way, the Shinsengumi men can focus on their battles and not worry about protecting her. Hijikita once again steps in, and “permits” her to remain under their protection. As Osen takes leave, she wonders if Hijikata is the man who Chizuru loves?

Kondou’s men immediately bring the captain back to headquarters. Yamazaki does his best to stop the bleeding but the attempt on Kondou’s life leaves him in a critical condition. The Shinsengumi are left in shambles and upheaval. Seeing this, Okita is angered. He stumbles back into his room, reaches for his sword to avenge him, but is unable to even stand. He takes the Ochimizu and immediately turns into a Rasetsu.

Gunshots are heard immediately after that, to lure the Shinsengumi out. Okita takes the bait, but not before Chizuru sees a turned Okita running out. Sannan-san and Heisuke stop Chizuru from leaving the manor knowing it is a trap, but she runs after Okita.

In the meantime, Okita sees the men firing the guns and attacks and kills them. He sees Kaoru, dressed up as a boy, finally revealing his identity to him. He laughs at the honor that Okita has bestowed upon him by turning the best swordsman into a Rasetsu. Kaoru was the one who told Itou’s men, the Kodaji faction, to stake out and hunt down Kondou. Not only that, the Ochimuzu will not heal Okita’s tuberculosis. Kaoru hates Chizuru. He wants her to suffer as he has. Not only was he badly treated by the Nagumo family for not being a female oni, but Chizuru actually forgot about him, her twin brother. She will feel the pain he had suffered. Now, both Okita and Kondou are badly injured. Sannan-san is alarmed that Okita is not healing from the gunshot wounds. Perhaps it is because those were silver bullets. Hijikita decides to send them to Osaka Castle, base of the Shogunate, to seek treatment from Matsumoto sensei.

June 20, 2010, Episode 12: On Opposite Ends of the Sword-Fought Battle

The conflict between the Shinsengumi (Tokugawa Yoshinobu/Aizu) and imperialist forces (the Meiji Emperor/Satsuma/Choshuu/Tosa/Yodo) breaks out into the Boshin War in January 1868. During the Battle of Toba-Fushimi,the Bakufu had 15,000 men strong against the 5,000 men of Sacho alliance. But with the introduction of the latest weapons, guns, the Bakufu men fell like dominoes. With Kondou resting at the Osaka Castle, Hijikata leads the Shinsengumi army in his place. They are the true warriors, fighting for what they believe in. With the long range assault weapons, the Shinsengumi forces are no match against the Sacho army. It is no longer the age of swords and spears. Hijikata calls for a retreat.

Since everyone is injured and battle-weary, Chizuru offers to go to Yodo castle to seek reinforcements, with the Rasetsu squad clearing the path for her. Inoue offers to go as her protector too. As they reach the castle, the gates are closed to them. They shout out for help, but they are shot at instead. The Yodo have switched their alliance to the Emperor. They retreat into the safety of the forest, only to be ambushed by the ex-Bakufu ally. Inoue immediately relays his final words to Chizuru.

“Tell Hijikata, I am sorry for being weak. Forgive me for not staying with you until the end.”

Inoue is brutally murdered in front of Chizuru, even as he gives his life to buy time for her to run. She stands there in horror, watching a friend and a true warrior stand up for his beliefs. The Yodo clan is about to turn their swords against Chizuru when Kazama appears. The Clans received their orders from the Emperor calling the Bakufu traitors. They are promised land and money at the end of the war with their alliance to the Emperor. Unlike these traitors, the Shinsengumi and Hijikata fight because they have something to protect. Kazama takes down Inoue’s murderers. Thinking that Kazama killed Inoue, Hijikata engages Kazama in battle. Kazama takes on his Oni form to take down a worthy opponent. Hijikata doesn’t stand a chance against Kazama in his current state. He pulls out the Ochimizu and becomes a Rasetsu to increase his winning odds. They were foold from the start, fighting for their dreams. Turning himself into a living dead doesn’t change anything except soothing his anger. It does not matter that he is a fake. He attacks Kazama and cuts his face. Just as they both attack each other, Yamazaki and Amagiri step in for the other’s intended victims. Amagiri is cut, but quickly heals. Yamazaki, on the other hand, is grievously wounded.

In the aftermath, the Shinsengumi bury the dead before departing by ship for Osaka Castle in Edo, where the Shogun is. Hijikata cannot believe he sacrificed a subordinate for his survival. He knew from the start that Kazama didn’t kill Inoue. If he did, Chizuru would have drawn her sword against him. He was just furious, and had to take it out and blame someone for the deed. The Rasetsu unit was obliterated in one night with silver bullets. They no longer have provisions, man power or ammunition. They have been abandoned and left to die. They will take the fight to a reinforced Edo. En route, Yamazaki passes his notebook to Chizuru. She will have to care and treat the men’s injuries from now on. Yamazaki succumbs to his wounds and is buried at sea. In the end, only Saitou, Shinpachi and Harada are the only human standing. Did the Shinsengumi die for the Bakufu in vain? No one died in vain. There will be more troops and more fighting waiting for them in Edo.

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Hakuouki 2 (Hekketsu Rokku)

The Last Samurai – Saigo Takamori

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