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Kawakami Bansai

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"The final iron that remains here has worked it's way up to be something that can cut any metal in the universe to pieces. They may be our last blade, our last hope."
Kawakami Bansai
Qotd


Kawakami Bansai, also known as Deaf Man (つんぼこと, tsunbo koto) or simply Tsunpo (つんぽ), is a member of the Kiheitai 鬼兵隊, an extremist Joui faction bent on causing world destruction. Apparently, Bansai serves the Kiheitai as some kind of vice-chief, as he is the only one who's mostly with Takasugi, is, just as Takasugi, called "Bansai-sama" by all his subordinates and is in charge of the Kiheitai members when Takasugi is absent. He is the actual main antagonist of Shinsengumi Crisis Arc.

Background

He is the hit-making music producer for newcomer idol Terakado Tsuu 寺門 通. When producing music for Tsuu, he uses the pseudonym Tsunpo to conceal his identity due to his occupation as an infamous assassin, which makes him a wanted criminal. Tsunpo is a deragotary term for hearing-impaired people. As the Shinsengumi knows about Bansai's appearance, it can be assumed that despite being a very famous producer, he never revealed his face to the media.

Bansai has become a part of the Kiheitai and supported Takasugi Shinsuke since then. As one of the most important members, Bansai serves the Kiheitai with his outstanding assassination skills. He is also in charge of all kinds of negotiations regarding the Kiheitai due to his flawless eloquence.

Appearance

Bansai has a very fashionable style of clothing, which matches his occupation as a producer. He has styled teal green hair and wears a matching tight coat, which reveals his muscles. He is always seen wearing a pair of sunglasses and also headphones with distinctive yin-yang symbols on the sides. When fighting, he can been seen using a sword which is hidden inside a shamisen. The shamisen itself is also a weapon, with which he used its strings to obstruct Sakata Gintoki's movements in Episode 104. He can also play this instrument, meaning that his shamisen serves as an instrument, a sheath for his sword and a dangerous weapon at the same time.

Personality

It is uncertain how much Bansai actually picks up from his conversations with other people, seeing as he is always wearing headphones. That is also how he got the nickname Deaf Man when he was introduced in the Benizakura Chapter, as he had been sent to make a deal with the Harusame Space Pirates.[1] He was also instrumental as the go-between for Itou Kamotarou and Kiheitai during the Mutiny Chapter, and seems to somewhat have the role of a negotiator for the Kiheitai. Bansai is a refined and silver-tongued speaker, and uses the olden form of gozaru (ござる), instead of the modern gozaimasu (ございます) when speaking.  Bansai has an seemingly calm demeanor, which covers his vicious, almost cruel personality. Bansai apparently doesn't know how to take a joke as he took Gintoki seriously when he said that it was Bansai who destroyed the hidden bases with his "finger beam" and was preparing to cut off his own finger.

Strength & Abilites

Master Swordsmanship Specialist: He is a highly-skilled swordsman, as seen in episode 104 when he managed to stand his ground against Gintoki. He can listen into a person's tune, which can be considered a reflection of that person's mood or spirit. This ultimately led him to spare Yamazaki's life instead of killing him, as seen in Episode 105 of the Mutiny Chapter. In the same episode, Bansai told Takasugi Shinsuke that if he can't get into it (the beat/tune), he backs out immediately, because that's how he does things. In combat Bansai also focuses on the rhythm of his opponent, which can be considered a reflection of his opponents' fighting style. Thus Bansai can predict his opponents' upcoming attacks. Bansai is also capable of using the solid thin strings of his shamisen to chain his opponents and tear their limbs off. His speed allowed him to block every single one of Gintoki's attacks and even dodge a direct attack by jumping in the air while chaining Gintoki's limbs with his strings at the same time (despite not being able to read Gintoki's rhythm). However, not just his speed, but also his physical strength is impressive, as he had no problem holding the struggling Sakata Gintoki in place with his strings. He is also capable of fighting while motorcycling.

Bansai's eloquence also makes him a vital part of the Kiheitai. He is in charge of all kinds of negotiations regarding the Kiheitai due to his silver tongue. He can easily convince people and win them over to his side with his clever way with words. Thus he was able to convince the Harusame to support the Kiheitai in their fight against Katsura's men, as well as make Itou and several Shinsengumi officials betray the Shinsengumi.

Aside from his flawless eloquence and his extraordinary combat skills, Bansai is also extremely intelligent. He was able to manipulate each of Itou Kamatarou's actions and made him go against the Shinsengumi, although Itou was a genius who was by far one of the most intelligent people in the entire Gintama series. With that, Bansai caused the death of several Shinsengumi officials, including Itou himself.

Relationships

Friends & Allies

  • Takasugi Shinsuke: Bansai shares Takasugi's vision about destroying the Bakufu and Amanto, but is also shown to be the least cooperative of the Kiheitai, as he seems to also understand Gintoki's willingness to protect what's dear to him, even questioning Shinsuke whether he could ever understand something like that. Despite that, Shinsuke and Bansai seem to get along with each other very well. Bansai is the only Kiheitai member who has a relationship with Shinsuke that is not limited to their occupation. While Shinsuke mostly ignores or even attacks other Kiheitai members, he was seen having a shamisen duet with Bansai. Even when Bansai went as far as to state that he can relate to Gintoki and accused Shinsuke of not being able to understand such a thing, Shinsuke kept quiet. Okada Nizou on the other hand was instantly attacked by Shinsuke for merely labeling him and Katsura Kotarou comrades.
  • Kijima Matako: Bansai is shown to get along with Matako. Though Matako usually doesn't show her "soft spot", she revealed her solicitousness to Bansai when she was worried about Shinsuke, while Bansai tried to comfort her by convincing her that there is no reason to worry about Shinsuke. Together the two of them are shown torturing Henpeita when he pretended to be Takasugi. As the Kiheitai was ambushed by the Harusame, Bansai is also shown to care for Matako, as he protected her from the enemies and allowed her to escape safely, while he himself stood behind, promising her to get Shinsuke out alive.
  • Takechi Henpeita: Despite torturing Henpeita along with Matako for "messing with their memories" by dressing like Shinsuke, Bansai and Henpeita barely interacted with each other. He doesn't seem to dislike Henpeita as much as Matako does, yet he has not shown to care about him either.
  • Okada Nizou: Though just like Bansai, Nizou was also an assassin working for the Kiheitai before he died, these two have never been seen interacting with each other. Bansai didn't even mention him a single time, neither before nor after Nizou's death.
  • Terakado Tsuu: Bansai is Tsuu's music producer who provides her with songs. Thanks to his outstanding talent, Tsuu became a very famous singer with a huge fandom. Although it's due to Bansai that she became so famous in the first place, Tsuu has never either seen Bansai in person or learned about his real identity. As the police knows about Bansai's appearance and identity, Bansai uses the pseudonym Tsunpo when interacting with Tsuu and only contacts her by phone.
  • Itou Kamotarou: Itou was unknowingly Bansai's tool to destroy the Shinsengumi from the inside. After the job was done and Bansai no longer had use for Itou, he left him to die in an explosion.

Enemies

  • Sakata Gintoki: Bansai and Gintoki are enemies due to Bansai's affiliation with the Kiheitai and the Harusame. The first time Bansai and Gintoki met was when Gintoki fought the Harusame troops in the Benizakura Arc. When he saw Gintoki fighting the Harusame troops, Bansai revealed that he would like to have a death match with Gintoki and Katsura Kotarou. During the Shinsengumi Crisis Arc, Bansai finally got his chance to face Gintoki in combat. Gintoki managed to defeat Bansai in an enormous fight, though Bansai later stated that falling in love with Gintoki's song was his defeat, with which he hinted that he held back during his fight against Gintoki. With this, Bansai also hinted that he can understand and relate to Gintoki's actions.
  • Katsura Kotarou: Katsura was used by Bansai as a bait to make the Harusame fight the Jouishishi lead by Katsura. When Bansai saw Katsura fighting the Harusame troops he brought, Bansai stated that he'd like to have a death match with him and Sakata Gintoki.
  • Yamazaki Sagaru: Yamazaki was one of Bansai's victims during the Shinsengumi Crisis Arc. When Yamazaki ran away from Itou, Bansai appeared before his eyes and stabbed him. After that, Itou left, believing Bansai would kill Yamazaki off. However, Bansai decided to spare Yamazaki's life and let him live a little longer, as he was interested in Yamazaki's "song" and wished to hear the continuation of it one day.

Story

His first appearance was in Episode 56 where he was sitting a bench in the park and reading the newspaper with music on.

Benizakura Arc

He was introduced along with the rest of the Kiheitai in the Benizakura Chapter. He had been sent to negotiate with the Harusame Space Pirates, delivering Gintoki and Katsura's heads to them in return for their cooperation in Takasugi's plans. However, Takasugi's plan failed and both Gintoki and Katsura managed to escape. Kawakami was intrigued by Gintoki's and Katsura's fighting abilities and wanted to duel them one day.

Shinsengumi Crisis Arc

He made another appearance in the Mutiny Chapter, where he worked as a go-between for Itou and the Kiheitai, and also personally fought against Gintoki and the Shinsengumi, in order to help destroy them both internally and externally. Although Itou and the Kiheitai managed to create quite the stirr, the Shinsengumi ultimately survived.

He was also briefly mentioned in Episode 124, where he had left a message to Tsuu saying he sprained his finger when a man with naturally wavy hair (Gintoki) slammed his helicopter, with him in it, to the ground using his bokutou. Because of this, he couldn't produce Tsuu's new album in time for the release date, and she had to write a new song herself (with some help from her friends and fans).

Kabukicho Four Devas Arc

Bansai made yet another appearance alongside fellow Kiheitai members Takechi Henpeita and Kijima Matako in Takasugi's spaceship in Episode 215 (chapter 310-311).

Shogun Assassination Arc

Like the the rest of the Kiheitai Bansai joins in Takasugi attempt of the assassination of the Shogun, until it was merely a set caused by Tendoshu and Nobu Nobu, to assassinate the wise Shogun, using Kiheitai as a tool.

Rakuyou Arc

After the first act of rebellion by Shige Shige's police alliance, then depart into joining Joui alliance for a rebellion against the sudden return of corrupted Bakufu led by Nobu Nobu and Tendoshu. Kiheitai are under attacked by Tendoshu and Harusame while Takasugi is in coma. Bansai tells Kijima to escape with her allies, sacrificing his life to protect a comatosed Takasugi from Naraku's attacks. Leaving Bansai and Takasugi's fate unknown afterwards. Later, it was revealed before the base destroyed by Harusame and Tendoshu, he and Takasugi are separated, whereas Takasugi is under the Yatos' care to the Planet Yato, while Bansai was found and is under care of Kaientai, led by Takasugi old closest ally, Tatsuma Sakamoto.

He's later awaken in Kaientai ship and shocks to see that Kaientai, Katsura's Joi faction and Yorozuya (sans Kagura who follows Matako and Takechi first and left with them) reunite to find and save their old friend, Takasugi in Planet Yato. Despite asking why those three formers are Takasugi's enemies, yet wanted to help him to Bansai, they still consider Takasugi as a friend. This makes Bansai realize the Joi reunion will make a reconciliation with Takasugi, as he later helps them counters Nobu Nobu's detection and ambush, thus capturing the tyrant shogun, making him reveal his true ruthless color to his own subordinate and being shut up by Bansai with a punch.

Once they arrived at Planet Yato, they are founded by Takasugi's two subordinates to find the safe place where Takasugi and Kamui's Yato troop is. However, after seeing the attack on the safe place and goes there to save Takasugi, Bansai and his new found allies are being ambushed by a sudden arrival of Harusame, who first appeared before Yato ship and Kaientai ship does, having most of his two subordinates being killed by the ambushed. All that he and his allies needs to do now is to defend themselves from the Harusame trapsters while going to a now compromised safe place.

Trivia

  • Bansai's name is based on the real life Hitokiri or Manslayer, Kawakami Gensai 河上彦斎, a reknowned extremist, assassin and a highly skilled samurai of the Edo period who was one of the four notable assassins of the Bakumatsu period.
    • Bansai's given name may be based on the term banzai which is typically yelled as a battle cry or form of celebratory declaration.
  • Bansai was the first samurai Kamui has ever seen and was the one who aroused Kamui's interest in samurai.

Battles

Fight Outcome Time it Occurred
Kawakami Bansai vs. Yamazaki Sagaru Win Episode 102
Kawakami Bansai vs. Sakata Gintoki Loss Episode 104 - Episode 105
Kawakami Bansai, Kijima Matako and Takechi Henpeita vs. Harusame troops Win Episode 215

Quotes

  • (To Sakata Gintoki) "I wouldn't struggle so much if I were you. I'll rip your arms and legs off, I daresay."
  • (To Sakata Gintoki) "Sakata Gintoki. You are a specter, I daresay. Once, you tried to protect the country of the samurai and fought together with Shinsuke and the others. You couldn't let go of those feelings and held on to your absurd delusions. You're a living specter! What you should be protecting... doesn't exist anymore! Specters should just return to where they belong!"
  • (To Sakata Gintoki) "I will play you a requiem, I daresay."
  • (To Sakata Gintoki) "By the time he learns of his own strength, it will be too late. It will be after everything has been broken into fragments. Rest in peace, Itou. Together with the Shinsengumi."
  • (To Yamazaki Sagaru) "I've had a change of mind, I daresay. Your song... I want to listen to it a little longer. Live on, and I am looking forward to the day when I can listen to the continuation of it, I daresay."
  • (To Kijima Matako) "In other words you are worried about Shinsuke? Don't worry. That man won't fall before the Bakufu does. Did you forget about the promise he made?"
  • (To Takechi Henpeita) "Still... Destroying your own fangs to hold onto your position... There are always more fools when an organization begins to grow."
  • (To Takasugi Shinsuke) "You would have to be insane... to go against the entire world, I daresay!"
  • (To Takasugi Shinsuke) "Shiroyasha said that what he protects now hasn't changed a bit since then. Shinsuke, do you understand that? I ended up wanting to listen to it until the end. I fell in love with their songs. That was my defeat, I daresay."

References

  1. Sorachi Hideaki. Gintama. VIZ media, Vol. 12, Lesson 97, p. 10.

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