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Something of a popular favorite for inclusion in samurai shows, the Shinsengumi have the advantage of actually having existed. The group, originally called the Roushigumi (lit.: the Roushi group, Roushi being a synonym for Ronin), later changed its name to the Shinsengumi and moved to Kyoto. There, taking the side of the current shogun, they requested and were granted policing powers to deal with the revolutionaries who wished to see the return of the emperor to power. The raid on Ikeda-ya, where the Shinsengumi managed to stop revolutionaries from setting fire to the city, is probably the most well-documented single engagement of the group during their existence.
Easily recognizable by their distinctive sky-blue-and-white haori jackets. (Historically, these may have been yellow and white, but always seem to be portrayed as the blue and white style on television. The design were apparently based from their claimed Spiritual Predecessor, The 47 Ronin.) As something of a far right-wing praetorian guard, the Shinsengumi embodies the Knight Templar trope far better than, well, the actual Knights Templar. Ostensibly defenders of the shogun and Japan, they soon transformed into a ruthless secret police force with an unbelievably strict code of conduct, and what even The Other Wiki has to give up on sugar-coating and describe as "an unflinching readiness to kill." Despite their job technically being to keep the peace, they had a tendency to deserve being viewed as a threat. Like other nationalist paramilitary movements, inter-faction violence and assassinations were frequent.
Though they only ever numbered about three hundred at the very most, and were active for only about five years, they're often credited with singlehandedly delaying the Meiji side's eventual victory over the Tokugawa regime.
|The leadership of the group was made up of the following individuals:|
|Kondou Isami||Commander of the Shinsengumi|
|Hijikata Toshizou||Lieutenant Commander|
|Yamanami Keisuke||Lieutenant Commander|
|Okita Souji||1st Division Captain|
|Nagakura Shinpachi||2nd Division Captain|
|Saitou Hajime||3rd Division Captain|
|Matsubara Chuuji||4th Division Captain|
|Takeda Kanryuusai||5th Division Captain|
|Inoue Genzaburou||6th Division Captain|
|Tani Sanjurou||7th Division Captain|
|Toudou Heisuke||8th Division Captain|
|Suzuki Mikisaburou||9th Division Captain|
|Harada Sanosuke||10th Division Captain|
Tropes that are frequently used in relation to the group:
- Historical Beauty Update
- Historical Fiction
- Historical Domain Character
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Fiction often glosses over the more questionable politics and acts of the leaders and the group as a whole.
- Incurable Cough of Death: Okita Souji died of tuberculosis.
Texas Rangers were pretty much the equivalent to these guys, except they didn't have cool blue coats.
The Shinsengumi in television and anime:
- The anime series Hakuouki centers around the Shinsengumi. Also, the otome game series by the same name involves the lead actively trying to woo the Shinsengumi members.
- The most well-known member of the group, at least to western followers of anime, is most likely Saitou Hajime, from his appearance in Rurouni Kenshin. (Okita Souji also figures in the story, though only in a three-panel flashback--and he STILL ranked in the top ten of the character popularity poll!)
- Watsuki also based several characters on what he thought the Shinsengumi looked or acted like, and derived names from them. He says himself that you should be able to guess who he based Takeda Kanryuu on... Sagara Sanosuke is also pretty obvious, as is Seta Soujirou. The least-obvious is Shinomori Aoshi, who was based on Hijikata Toshizou almost accidentally.
- Shishio Makato is loosely based on Serizawa Kamo, including details like his violent disposition and being asaassinated by his own side as a result of it, though Shishio was actually on the anti-Shogun side (technically). Kamo also died with a woman he was sleeping with, which is probably where Shishio's girlfriend Komagata Yumi comes from. His initial plot, as a diversion, is to burn down Kyoto, a reference to the above-mentioned famous plot foiled by the Shinsengumi.
- Hannya has his personality based on that of Yamazaki Susumu. While the historical original was a Samurai / Ronin, because he was involved in espionage, it's common for his fictional counterparts to be Ninja, and Hannya is no exception.
- The whole group was the supporting cast in the Kid Samurai series Peacemaker Kurogane.
- The OVA and later television series, Kidou Shinsengumi Moeyo Ken deals with female (supposedly lineal) descendants of the original leaders of the Shinsengumi.
- NHK aired a live action drama simply called NHK Shinsengumi.
- Movies centered on the Shinsengumi include the 1969 film Shinsengumi (also known as Band of Assassins), Nagisa Oshima's Gohatto and Mibu Gishi Den (When the Last Sword Is Drawn).
- The Shinsengumi also exist in the world of Gintama -- though, the show being a Gag Series, the group has more than a few dysfunctions: Kondou is a hapless Stalker with a Crush, Hijikata has a short fuse, chain smokes and puts mayonnaise on all his food, and Okita tries to blow Hijikata up with a bazooka every chance he gets. And Yamazaki is obsessed with badminton, so much so that he is more likely to be carrying a badminton racket than a sword. (Their personal names are also slightly changed - for example, Hijikata Toushirou and Okita Sougo.)
- Oh, and Yamazaki also tends to run around dressed like Ryoma Echizen.
- While the organization of the shinigami in Bleach initially seems quite similar to the shinsengumi, it is unclear whether they were based on them.
- In the fourth and most recent Code Geass Alternate Continuity manga, Lelouch leads the Shinsengumi against the Meiji revolutionaries - who are the Shinsengumi, unbeknownst to the Emperor.
- The Shojo historical manga Kaze Hikaru is about a samurai's daughter who joins the Shinsengumi disguised as a boy in order to revenge her family's death at the hands of imperialists.
- Hijikata and Okita are major characters in the third arc of the Shura no Toki anime. Saitou and Kondou make appearances as well.
- One episode of Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger involves our heroes attempting to recreate the Meiji era (using Toei's own Jidai Geki film sets, no less) to pacify an ancient alien, and some of them dress up as Shinsengumi members. In keeping with the traditional depiction, Okita Souji is portrayed by a female.
- (One of) The most popular fashion doll(s) in Japan, Takara's Jenny, is available in a Shinsengumi uniform.
- The music video for Tsukiko Amano's song "Same" features her and her band dressed as samurai, battling cowboys in a far west town with katanas and peashooters. The drummer is wearing a Shinsengumi haori in black and white.
- The Kyoto Arc of Mahou Sensei Negima had one chapter where Konoka and Setsuna hide in Cinema Village, which had reproductions of Edo-era Japan and samurai movie sets. Being the resident Samurai, Setsuna was naturally dressed up as a Shinsengumi member. And if there are any doubts about her clothes, the title of the chapter was "The Bodyguard is a Member of the Shinsen Group".
- The hero of Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto seems to know several of the group's leaders for some reason or other. Hijikata is shown as part of the turbulent political maneuvering of the periode while the series takes some liberties with history such as including a cursed flying skull that can take possession of people as a mayor influence.
- Four members show up in Papuwa - Kondo, Hijikata, Okita, and Harada.
- It is not known if it was coincidental or a deliberate deconstruction, but early in Blade of the Immortal there is a gang of punks who call themselves Shinsengumi. These punks (led by a certain Hishiyasu Shido) kidnap and kill Machi, leading Manji to actively start his attempt to get rid of the Kessenchu inside his body (though not without completely butchering them before).
- Ginga Reppu Baxinger is basically the Shinsengumi In Space, on bikes that combine!
- The upcoming Otome Game Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 5 features Kondo, Okita (who is one of the Hachiyou) and Hijikata. It is currently unknown if the rest of the group will appear in any form, but since the characters are explicitly identified as The Shinsengumi, there's a possibility of other members at least getting a mention.
- Soshi Okita's grand grand nephew with the same name appears in Yaiba's last Arc as an incredibly skilled yet lazy Master Swordsman who'd prefer to have a normal life rather than being a champion. He even wears the same Shinsengumi jacket as his grandfather.