Guest writer: Darkrose#1437
The Shinsengumi warriors were a group of samurai that lived at the end of the Tokugawa period (1600-1868). In this article, I will talk about the lives and the existence of this group as well as the visual novel and anime that were made that were based off of this group.
How it came to be
As the Tokugawa period was slowly nearing its end in the 1860’s, they formed a police force in Kyoto and called it the Shinsengumi. They were tasked to withhold peace and arrest any of the anti-shogunate followers. The shogunate, also called bakufu or ‘tent government’, were a force that ruled the country, but it was very one sided and dictatorial. Bakufu were samurai warriors that took over the ruling system. The emperor had nothing to say. He just had to sit on his throne and look pretty. The anti-shogunate wanted the emperor back on the direct ruling side of things in Japan.
The Shinsengumi warriors were not loved by many as the followers of the anti-shogunate group were quite large. The group itself did not last long but there were some memorable people among these warriors, such as Kondo Isami, who became the leader of the group after he and his right hand man Hijikata Toshizo assassinated Serizawa Kamo that had taken advantage of the position. Several of Kamo’s crimes were: Abusing women, getting into fights and running up debts. These two may have not been samurai themselves but they honored the bushido code (warrior ethics).
The group was said to live by a code. “The group lived by a strict code, known as gohatto. Amongst its stipulations was that once you became a member, you could never leave. Brotherhood was cherished, and private life came a distant second.”
The Ikedeya incident (1864) is the Shinsengumi most famous incident. The anti-shogun were plotting assassinations and they attacked the inn. They were led by Okita Souji, a young man that was five years younger than Kondo and Hijikata was very well known for his sword mastery. Unfortunately Okita did not live long as he was diagnosed with tuberculosis that was still back in the day an incurable disease.
Hakuoki: Visual Novel
Synopsis: A girl named Yukimura Chizuru is looking for her father who has left for Kyoto, but never came back. She follows her father’s steps and when she arrives in Kyoto she is being attacked by some ronin. Ronin are samurai with no masters. She is saved by the Shinsengumi and taken in by them. They are also looking for her father and they team up to find him.
There have been quite a bit of visual novels made from this series. The most popular ones being Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds and its follow up Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms. Both are available on PC and are also released on Nintendo SWITCH in Japan. The games have been brought on sale by IDEA Factory, a company that also made games like Date A Live: Rio Reincarnation and Neptunia Shooter. Both of them are also available on steam.
Like any otome visual novel, your task in this game is to just read along and make some important choices now and then that will lead you to either a bad ending, good ending or the true ending. This game has been said to have the most beautiful visuals, OST and a lot of paths to take.
Hakuoki: Anime Adaptations
Hakuouki, or Hakuoki, is an anime with multiple seasons, movies and OVA’s that talks about the lives of the Shinsengumi. It is mostly true to history, but they added a little touch of fantasy in it. Demons and a few fictional characters appear in the story as well. The anime was adapted by studio DEEN in April 2010. The two part movie was adapted three years later but skips a lot of events because of lack of time. The movies are far shorter than the first two seasons, but scenes that you won’t find in these seasons itself are also shown which makes the movies worth a watch.
Even though the Shinsengumi weren’t liked by many in the time they originated, they still left an impression on the current day. Almost all adaptations have english subs and the games are being translated more and more to English as well.