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kitsuno
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2007 8:49 pm    Post subject: Members of the Shinsengumi Reply with quote
There were some members of the Shinsengumi who have been built up to mythic status. These were mainly four men:

Kondo Isami

Hijikata Toshizo

Okita Soji

Saito Hajime



Reading the above articles, why do they stand out? In particular, why Saito Hajime? Was it because he was one of the longest lived, did his duty to the end, or because he never talked about what happened, and the mystique took hold? He was also one of the main characters of "Mibu Gishiden" (When the last sword is drawn).
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msr.iaidoka
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 12, 2007 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno,

I am sure that most of the reason that Okita Souji is so built up is because of youth. Being the youngest member, who is still believed to have been a better kenshi than every other member, and to have been fighting tuberculosis the whole time is quite a way to start a legend. It is what made him stand out when I first read about him.
As for Saitou Hajime, his longevity probably had a lot to do with it and his closed-lip approach to his past. Usually when someone who has been through something like that remains quiet it gives the past a strong sense of mystery.
Since Kondo Isami is known to be the headmaster of the "official" ryuuha of the Shinsengumi it would probably make most people immediately think he has some level of godliness. Plus, being the leader of the Shinsengumi means that he has to have some level of charisma and/or command presence. Powerful people are popular for a reason. Plus there is that whole farmer-to-"samurai" thing.
As for Hikikata Toshizo, from what little I know, he seems to have been just as effective of a leader as Kondo. Other than that, it must just be the leadership position.
Their overall last stand with the rest of the Ezo Republicans can not hurt their reputation. In most cases, no matter the politics, rebels and resistance fighters will always have their admirers.


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マット
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Tatsunoshi
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 4:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Well, the entire Shinsengumi story reads like it was written to be a movie script (the following are not necessarily the historical truths of the figures, but their popular images, which help explain their appeal). You have your main characters-Kondo, The Noble Ronin, who found his honor and ideals corrupted by power and authority when he became part of the system he was trying to defend. You have Hijikata, The Power Behind The Throne, pushing his extremist policies through the personage of Kondo and bringing the group to ruin. There's Okita, The Young Master Swordsman, doomed to an early death by illness and embodying the whole 'live each day as if it is your last', cherry blossom falling, sammyrai ideal. Serizawa, The Bad Ronin, embodies the rebel that takes crap from nobody, does what he wants whenever he wants, abuses his authority, and generally makes himself the Darth Vader to Kondo's Luke. Saito is The Lone Survivor (well, one of a handful) that multiplies his mystique by never speaking of the events (because, of course, no one else alive could truly understand). All of this under the umbrella of an organization that stayed true to its ideals until the bitter end, had a code of conduct that mirrored the Bullshido-Sammyrai ideal (even though that code as usual didn't seem to apply to the guys in charge) along with the requisite of suicide for any infraction, and had that whole 'propensity to kill' thang Just Kidding. Let's face it-societies are fascinated by killers, government sanctioned or not. Look at the USA's fascination with gunfighters, serial killers, and mass murderers. The story of the Shinsengumi is tailor made to entertain, and I don't find their popularity strange at all.
I think the Shinsengumi has, however, gotten somewhat of a bad rap. They weren't formed in a void and told to go out and kill people-they were formed in response to criminal actions ranging from destruction of property to treason and murder. Their enemies weren't the sort of people that could be stopped with harsh language only. Yes, they were corrupted by the power they came to possess (rather common in situations where the 'average joe' is thrust into positions of authority) and were thuggish in many respects, but that's likely the type of people it took to combat the 'Royalists'. They performed their duties exceedingly well. I think a lot of the 'thug' image comes from the aftermath. As in most cases, the winner of the battle (the Meiji government) got to write the history of the aftermath. People that had historically supported the Emperor (Kusunoki Masahige), been seen as rebels against the Bakufu (the 47 Ronin), or institutions seen as slighted by the Tokugawa (Shinto) were elevated and romanticized to a ridiculous degree in the years after 1868. People who were seen as supporting the Bakufu (Ii Naosuke), working as agents for the Tokugawa (the Shinsengumi), or institutions favored by them (Buddhism) were villified, ridiculed, and persecuted.
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msr.iaidoka
Iaidouka
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 4:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
Tatsunoshi,

Well put.


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kitsuno
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 7:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
msr.iaidoka wrote:


I am sure that most of the reason that Okita Souji is so built up is because of youth. Being the youngest member, who is still believed to have been a better kenshi than every other member, and to have been fighting tuberculosis the whole time is quite a way to start a legend. It is what made him stand out when I first read about him.


He actually wasn't nearly the youngest member. The youngest member was Inoue Taisuke, about 11:

http://wiki.samurai-archives.com/index.php?title=Inoue_Taisuke
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msr.iaidoka
Iaidouka
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2007 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
kitsuno,

Well, I stand corrected. That is quite young.


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