Samurai Assassin (1965) Script

The Toho Co., Ltd. presents

A Toho / Mifune Productions Presentation There are a total of thirty-six gates into Edo Castle.

Eighteen of these cross the Outer Moat.

The other eighteen cross the Inner Moat.

In essence, they are the bottlenecks that control access to the Castle.

The Daimyo enter the Castle through one of the gates...

...usually the one closest to their Edo mansions.

Thus, each Daimyo has chosen one entrance as his favorite.

The Lord of the Hikone Domain, and Great Elder of the Shogunate...

...Li "Kamonnokami" Naosuke...

...always enters through the Sakurada Gate.

A hemp symbol in a circle...?

That's Sir Satake Izuminokami from Nihonmatsu in Ooshuu.

Sir Satake of Nihonmatsu in Ooshuu? I see. I see...

Well, it's almost 8:30... The entourages using the Sakurada Gate should...

Yes, sir. That's about it for now.

Here you go, sir.

Here you go, sir. Thank you.

Thank you.

It's cold this morning. Thank you.

Well, Edo Castle blanketed in snow is a sight to see.

Besides, for unemployed Ronin like us...

...the opportunity to witness the Daimyo processions is a true delight.

I hope that your wish to become an officer will come true soon.

Today, Li Naosuke did not arrive at the Castle.

By command of Commander Hoshino Kenmotsu...

...we retreat from the Sakurada Gate for the time being.

It is the morning of February 17th, 1860... Nine in the morning.

The 32 men who retreated from the Sakurada Gate...

...gather at Sagamiya, in Shinagawa.

Sagamiya is a large teahouse suitable for meetings...

...and is listed in the "Edo Illustrated Map of Famous Places."

Today is February 17th.

It's our understanding that the Shogun's household and the high officials...

...will be holding a "Ongusoku Iwai no Gi" armor ceremony...

...before Shogun Iemochi's excursion to the countryside.

Great Elder Li Naosuke had no reason not to show up at the Castle!

Our plan was...

...elaborately developed, with the utmost care, so that it would be top secret.

As such... it is unthinkable that there was an accidental disclosure...

...that would allow the House of Li to learn of our intentions!

There must be a traitor among us.

It's the only explanation that I can think of.

We have been infiltrated by someone working for the House of Li.

Samurai "Samurai Assassin"

Produced by Tanaka Tomoyuki Screenplay: Hashimoto Shinobu Based on the book "Samurai Nippon" by Gunji Jiromasa Photography: Murai Hiroshi * Art Design: Akune Iwao Sound: Nishikawa Yoshio * Lighting: Nishikawa Tsuruzo Music: Sato Masaru * Mixing: Shimonaga Hisashi Asst. Director: Yamamoto Yuzuuo * Effects: Izumi Minoru. Editing: Kuroiwa Yoshitami * Line Producer: Suzuki Masao Developing: Kinuta Labs * Fight Choreography: Kuze Ryu Starring:

Mifune Toshiro Kobayashi Keiju Aratama Michiyo Ito Yunosuke Ebara Tatsuyoshi Tono Eijiro Nakamaru Tadao Yachigusa Kaoru Tamura Nami Sugimura Haruko Otsuji Shiro inaba Yoshio Hirata Akihiko Amamoto Hideyo * Sawamura Ikio * Togin Chotaro Ogawa Yasuzo * Nihei Masaya * Kurosawa Toshio Tajima Yoshifumi * Ichikawa Koraizo Kirino Hiro-o * Yamamoto Yasushi * Mukai Jun-ichiro Iwamoto Koji * Kusakawa Naoya * Tsutsumi Yasuhisa Hidaka Yurie * Tokita Fujio * Hasegawa Hiroshi Terashima Mitsugu * Shimura Takashi Fujita Susumu * Nakamura Shikaku Ichikawa Chusha * Kita Nagama * Housei Kan Matsumoto Koshiro Directed by Okamoto Kihachi It is 11 in the morning.

The meeting at Sagamiya ends. Three men choose to remain.

So, it seems that... there's a traitor in our midst.

Don't worry. It's nothing but the Chief's absurd speculation.

Don't you worry. I have faith in us.

I have more faith in your Jigen-Ichi Style, Sir Tsuru...

...than I do in our leader's maneuverings.

Right... Without any solid evidence, he's already talking about a "traitor!"

We're supposed to be comrades, our lives all pledged to the same cause.

Thank you very much. Come back again!

Thank you very much.

Thank you very much. Please come again.

Please come again.

Sir, the baggage... Here you go, sir. Please come again.

What's wrong?

I apologize for the disarray, sir...

I'm sorry to barge in like this...

I'm sorry to barge in like this... Sir?


May I ask who you are? Sir?

May I ask who you are?

May I ask who you are? Sir, I may not look like it, but...

...thanks to our generous patrons, I am the manager of Sagamiya.

What do they call you?

What do they call you? Sir?


Your name. Sir?

Your name.

Your name. Sir, my name is Okiku.


There's no doubt that he's a Ronin, originally from Bishuu?

Well, at least that's what he claims. Nobody has confirmed it yet.

So, he lives in a mud hut by the Kamakura riverbed... as a bouncer... a hired body- guard... and extorts and blackmails?

He's a ruffian, indeed!

He's a ruffian, indeed! Yes, sir.

Perhaps I got carried away about increasing our manpower.

Seems I've hired someone we ought to suspect.

Niiro isn't the only man we ought to watch. There's another suspect.

Nobody important. One Kurihara Einosuke.

He used to work for Matsudaira Sahyo- nosuke, the Yada Clan Chief in Joshu.

I see... Matsudaira Sahyonosuke and Li Naosuke are...

...very close friends. That's a very obvious connection.

Besides, it's... unusual that he's friends with Niiro.

Sir Hoshino... Why not eliminate these two from our group, right now?

No, wait... We can't possibly do that.

These two...

...have become well acquainted with our other men...

...and many are undoubtedly loyal to them.

It would be different, if they chose to leave on their own...

...but if we discharge them, it might send the wrong message to the men.

Besides, these two... are no average swordsmen.

So, they'll be very useful to us, if the need arises.

But, if we don't do something...

But, if we don't do something...

Go check their homes and backgrounds. Report on their activities in detail.

And, if either turns out to be an infiltrator working for Li...

...or, if there's any reason for us to suspect them...

...then we'll slay them without mercy!

The sooner we find out, the better.

If we've been infiltrated by li's agents...

...who knows how he'll strike against us, and when.

We're dealing with the one they call the "Demon of Hikone," after all.

He who instigated the vicious and merciless Ansei Purge.

Well? So, what next?

Well? So, what next?

When will we attempt to carry out our mission again?

As the saying goes, "Walls have ears, doors have eyes."


It's not that I suspect you as well.

But, only I should know the actual date for now.


But, for the time being, let me tell you this...

We won't be waiting for long.

The date of the next attack has been decided upon.

However, aside from Chief Hoshino Kenmotsu, nobody knows when...

...except that it will be in the very near future.

So, you're telling me that...

...the suspects were gathered near the Inner Moat?

Correct, sir. I estimate there were about thirty Ronin, mostly of Mito origin.

How were you able to determine that they were from Mito?

Someone close to them must have...

...allowed an "exchange of information" to occur.

That's the only plausible explanation.

If we continue to let these rebels have their way...

...who knows what undesirable consequences await us?

We should strike at them now.

We should strike at them now. No...


Sir? No...

The Ansei Purge... was a bit harsh, in hindsight.

That being the case, wouldn't we be repeating that error...

...if we attack them, based only on a suspicion?

No, sir, it's not just a suspicion.

Until they've actually done something, it's no more than a suspicion, isn't it?

In that case, your processions must be more heavily guarded!

The foundations of the Tokugawa Shogunate... aren't that weak!

I didn't cancel my trip to the Castle today because of your concerns.

I did it so I could meet the messenger who arrived this morning...

...and hear from him the current situation in Kyoto and Osaka.

The Great Elder, assaulted by Ronin, in broad daylight?

How in the world could such a absurd thing happen?

For 300 years, the authority and spirit of the Tokugawa have endured.

It will never be so weak as to succumb to something as ludicrous as that!

It sure feels like spring today!

Sure does. It's already February 20th. So the good weather is no surprise.

There must be a lot of visitors coming to Edo.

We've a lot to be thankful for.

By the way... have you found an appointment yet, or...?

Well... nothing ever goes as one would hope.

That must be Elder Li, right?

Yes. It's time for him to leave the Castle.

Anytime you see him, he looks like a man full of vigor.

Surely. He's the strong right hand of the Shogun, after all.

If it weren't for him, our business wouldn't be prospering as it is.

I have much to thank him for.

As always, leading the procession of men are...

...Nishikawa Chuuzaemon and about thirty of his aides.

With their guards, they totaled approximately sixty in all.

The procession, and the number of men, hasn't changed.

It is said that there's a spy among the men...

...but, could it really be true?

Mito Mansion ...but, could it really be true?

To investigate Niiro Tsuruchiyo's abode, a meeting is held...

...between Inada Juzo and two other men. It is February 21st.

His home is a disheveled and bare hut built out of mud... the Kanda-Kamakura riverbed, in a little-traveled area.

What does he do to earn his three meals a day?


Sir? What does he do for living?

Sir, from what I can gather, he doesn't have a steady job.

If one could call it an occupation...

...he bodyguards for Bizenya Tatsukichi, an employment agent in Fujimi Village.

We know that a monster like you is working here!

We'd like to save face... but, no, not for this pittance!

So, it's a pittance. What're you gonna do about it?

This is what I'll do!

Go back where you came from, you pest!

Or we'll break your arm right off!

So, he's quite capable.

And seems to be an extremely dangerous bodyguard at that.

Surely, sir.

Still, I doubt he can afford to eat three times a day on what Bizenya pays.

Certainly, he couldn't afford the booze that he loves.

So, he referees matches, and raids gambling houses and dojo.

He's more or less a blackmailer.

He'll do anything but steal and murder, so he can indulge in wine and women.

What about family ties?

Sir, there was his mother... but she passed away five years ago.

Mother died five years ago?

Mother died five years ago? Yes, sir.

So... how did this monster become one of us?

Sir... what happened was...

May you rest in peace...

May you rest in peace... Your deaths won't be forgotten!

Your deaths won't be forgotten!

We swear we'll behead "Red Devil" Li! Your deaths won't be forgotten!

Run for it! Follow me!

You're all with the House of Mito, right?

You're all with the House of Mito, right? Yes, sir.

"1 koku:" enough rice to feed a famiiy for a year. A foot-soldier; 10-koku and 3 retainers.

An aide to the Commissioner of Shrines; 3-ryo and 2 retainers.

An aide to a District Commissioner; 7-koku and 2 retainers.

You're nothing but a bunch of superfluous lackeys.

I was hoping that at least one of you was an Elder's son...

...or the son of a troop leader...

...I guess I was wrong.

...I guess I was wrong. Sir?

So the reason Tsuruchiyo helped them was because...

...if one of them turned out to be an important figure...

...he could extort a large sum of money?

No... that wasn't it...

"Built with utmost care..." but the Ecchuu Loincloth, upon completion, falls apart.

Well, you see... If one of you were somebody significant, then...

...I could've asked for a reward for saving you.

I could've used that chance to obtain a position, but...

The Ecchuu Loincloth must've fallen apart!

Well... as we are of low rank, we really don't have any way to thank you.

No matter how much searching you do around Edo...'s impossible to stumble upon a truly sweet opportunity.

So you see, from now on...

...if you aren't a high-ranking officer somewhere... you're doomed.

But... you're such a swordsman that any Daimyo house would want you.

Don't be ridiculous. You're all men with meager positions in life...

...but you still don't know the hardships of being a Ronin.

You have no idea to what extremes I've sunk... I've done everything I can.

Skills alone won't get you anywhere.

I wonder if what you're saying is true.

I wonder if what you're saying is true. By the way, fellows... were saying some rather serious things back there in Nihonbashi.

About beheading Elder Li, or something to that effect.

But, you know... that's pretty interesting.

Certainly interesting, if you're really serious about doing it.

Sir, what you're saying is very odd.

Still, you wouldn't have saved us...

...if you didn't resent Elder li's arbitrary conduct.

I've got nothing to do with him, no connections whatsoever!

I hold no grudge against him, nor am I indebted to him.

He's a complete stranger to me.

He's a complete stranger to me. No, that can't be so!

Otherwise, why help? If you got caught, you'd be in prison along with us!

You bunch of rockheads!

Sure, Li Naosuke is indeed the "Red Devil..."

...from your viewpoint as men of Mito.

But it's different, for someone like me, who's got no connection to him.

The reason there's been a lot of political crap these last few years... because the Tokugawa and their allies are scheming...

...about who'll be the next Shogun, that is. Isn't that so?

The House of Mito wants Nariaki's son, Yoshinobu, to be the next Shogun.

And, you want Nariaki to live in the Castle's Nishinomaru Quarters... that he can rule the nation. that he can rule the nation. B... But...

Listen to me until I'm done!

Everything seemed to be set, then he stepped forward to oppose you.

That was Li Naosuke, the Lord of Hikone.

He used his post as the Great Elder to bring to...

...Edo Castle a 13-year old, one Yoshi- tomi, from the House of Kii...

...and basically made him the 14th Shogun, Iemochi.

The infuriated, uncalmable Mito faction allied with...

...clans from Satsuma and Choshuu who shared the same feelings of outrage...

...and won the support of officials in Kyoto...

...who then brought the matter to the attention of the Emperor.

Once the Emperor learned of this... he declared that...

...the Shogunate, that is, Li Naosuke's achievement, was far from desirable.

And so, it was Li Naosuke's turn to be most imperially enraged.

He discharged the officials that worked for the Emperor...

...and arrested men from Mito and Satsuma...

...sent them to prison, beheaded them, and so forth.

This was the so-called "Ansei Purge."

Well? Did I get any of it wrong?

Indeed. There's truth in what you've said, sir.

But, there's something important that you've overlooked.

Say what?!

Consider Shogun Iemochi, only 14-years old, of the House of Kii.

The question is, can He save Japan from the crisis it faces?!

From the North comes Russia, from the East, America.

From the West come England and France.

Should He make one little error, what'll happen to Japan then?!

We must destroy Li Naosuke, the Devil, immediately...

...and make the Glorious Hitotsubashi Yoshinobu Shogun.

We must rebuild the Shogunate as quickly as possible, or...

...we'll be allowing the Emperor to be disgraced as well!

We aren't just concerned about who will be the next Shogun...

That's enough.

Imperialists, Anti-Shogunate or whatever... does me no good to listen to lame arguments like these.

What matters is whether... you truly intend to kill Naosuke...

...or are you just all talk?

If you're planning to do it, then count me in.

Li Naosuke's head is easily worth a thousand ryo.

I'll do my best, demonstrate my skill... and then I'll have his head!

That way, Mito, Satsuma, or Choshuu... one of them...

...will want to engage me, at a high price.

That much is true, without a doubt!

So... sir, what is your name?

Niiro Tsuruchiyo. Formerly of Bishuu clan, now a Ronin.

So, he joined us because...

...he wants to become a legitimate samurai... Just that?

Correct, sir. During our mission, he will do his best for the cause...

...and after we succeed, he'll request that the Mito, or another clan...

...grant him a position.

That is his only motivation, sir.

At sunset that day, Hagiiwara Matasaburo reports on...

...the living conditions of Kurihara Einosuke, the other suspect.

Thank you for your hard work.

Sir, Kurihara Einosuke's home is situated in...

...Honjo-Koume, where liege vassals and rich merchants maintain second homes.

Oh? Honjo-Koume?

Kurihara was once a retainer in the employ of...

...Matsudaira Sahyonosuke, the chief of the Yada clan in Joshu...

...and his stipend was more than 300-koku.

300-koku? He must've been an important man.

As close to his Clan Lord as Kurihara was... important as he was...

...why did he leave his clan, become a Ronin, and join us?

That, sir, we don't know for sure...

...but according to Yamamoto, a close confidante of his...

...Kurihara is an exceptional, avid scholar, who... well-read in Western philosophy. well-read in Western philosophy. Oh?

Based on his studies, he strongly believes that...

...unless Elder Li is destroyed, Japan will not see the dawn of a new era.

His scholarly studies lead him to believe that the death of Li is imperative?

That, sir, is what Yamamoto has told me.

By the way, this Kurihara... he is no longer an aide to his Clan Lord..., then, can he afford to live in such a noteworthy mansion?

Sir, as for that...

...his wife, Mitsu, happens to be the daughter of Kagaya Seibei...

...a shipping agent in Shinmachi, near Shiba Shiodome Bridge.

The mansion is Seibei's second home.

Thus, Kurihara's leisurely lifestyle in the mansion... not, I believe, grounds to suspect anything.

And so, Kurihara Einosuke can spend his days focusing his mind...

...on scholarship... and swordmanship.

I can well appreciate that he's absorbed in his studies...

...but, "swordmanship?"

Yes, sir. In Okachi Village, in Shitaya, one Tachibana Isshinsai runs...

...a dojo, specializing in the Nen Style.

Now, this Kurihara Einosuke, and Niiro Tsuruchiyo...

...I hear that the two are on very good terms.

Yes, that's correct, sir.

Their personalities and lifestyles make them complete opposites.

How could they possibly get along so well...? How?

Well, I wondered about that myself, sir.

A comrade named Kojima Kaname ought to know the answer... he's especially close to Niiro Tsuruchiyo.

You should definitely hear what Kojima has to say, sir.

In December of last year?

In December of last year? Yes, sir.

It was close to the New Year.

Having become uneasy about the advent of the New Year...

...Niiro headed to Tachibana Isshinsai's dojo in Okachi Village in Shitaya...

...after discussions with his fellow rogue Ronin.

For what purpose?

For what purpose? Sir... it was for Dojo-harassment.

Not good...

Not good...

That will be all.


We've accommodated enough outside styles for today. Please leave.


Here I stand.

I believe that... I've clearly demonstrated our strengths to your four friends.

If you want to brag, you ought to wait until you've finished dueling with me.

It seems I have no choice. Very well then, please prepare yourself.

I'm ready right now!

I'm ready right now! What?!

'Twas... a long duel... that left us speechless with admiration...

...but, in the end...

Their skills were perfectly matched, so...

...if they continued, the result would have been a simultaneous strike...

...and both would have suffered grievous injuries.

So, the match was concluded.

If I may so ask... that is Jigen- Ichi-Style, isn't it?

That is correct.

Your Nen Style... seems rather useful.

I haven't had this good of a workout in a while.

After that, the two rapidly became close friends.

Occasionally, Niiro would visit Kurihara's mansion in Honjo-Koume.

Actually, I personally accompanied him once or twice.

He laughed! He laughed!

The son of Kurihara Einosuke... Eiichiro?

What a fine name it is! A fine name, indeed!

Eiichiro... You're so lucky to have such wonderful parents!

Sir Niiro, do you have children yet?

I may not look like it, but I'm very much blessed!


"Twenty. Sir? Twelve sons, twelve girls..."


"Twenty. Twenty, in all!"

"Twenty. Twenty, in all! Surely you're joking!"

Well, not only don't I have kids, but I don't even have a wife.

I didn't realize... I am sorry.

How about your parents? Are they alive?

I did have a mother, but she left this world five years ago.

I'm so sorry.

That old fool... I constantly gave her a hard time when she was alive.


You see, I have no idea who my father is.

He doesn't know his father?

He doesn't know his father? Correct, sir.

By the way, Kojima...

How could such a fatherless fellow... be a Bishuu Ronin? Do you know?

Sir Hoshino... I do not mean to be disrespectful to you, sir...

...but Niiro is not a spy for the House of Li.

That... I, Kojima Kaname, personally attest!

If you can't determine the answer, then we'll have someone else find out.

But, Sir Sumida...

You were, after all, assigned the duty of watching the others...

...yet, you've not once passed on anything concerning Niiro!

What exactly have you been doing every day?!

Just what's Niiro been up to, since our last meeting?!

Sir, the truth is that...

...well... lately...

...since the February 17th plan was called off...

...our comrades congregated at Sagamiya in Shinagawa...

...where we had an official meeting.

...where we had an official meeting. We know that already!

Ever since then... Niiro has been staying at Sagamiya...

...and refuses to leave, no matter what we do!

"A traditionai sweet." Botamochi during the Bon Festival...

"Udon-noodles during the day..."

Get Okiku! Okiku, I said!

Here, now! Have some sake!

I'm not staying here so I can look at your ugly gourd of a face!

Get your boss! Get Okiku!

Madam! How many days do we have to put up with him?!

We gotta get him to go! I'm going to call in the Constabulary!

But you know...

...if the Constabulary comes around, business will suffer.

"Botamochi during the Bon Festival..."

"Udon-noodles during the day..."

"Have rice at night..."

My... my... if it isn't the arrival of the Ocean Princess!

Sir Niiro...

Sir Niiro... What is it?

What is it?

You've been here far too long, sir. What is it?

Your family must be worried about you.

Mind your own business!

Mind your own business! I must say this; Forgive my rudeness...

I must say this; Forgive my rudeness...

Say what?! I must say this; Forgive my rudeness...

Because you arrived with my long-time patrons, the gentlemen of Mito...

...I realized that I couldn't possibly be impolite to you, until today.

But... I ask that you settle your account for the time being... financial matters need to be taken care of.

So what if you need to take care of financial matters?!

I'd like you to pay what you owe us, and...

...kindly ask that you return home for the time being.

If our Sagamiya is to your liking, then...

...please come back again at a later date.

Since you demand it of me, I will leave.

But, let me tell you, lady... I've got no money!

But... if you tell me that...'ll be in trouble if I don't pay...

...then I guarantee that I'll get the money...

...after I leave, that is.

Please don't be concerned about the bill, sir.

I merely ask that you leave.

You're so aloof...

You're so aloof... Oh! Wh... What are you doing...?

So aloof...

Listen you, sooner or later... I will become...

...a full-fledged, two-sword retainer with four or five-hundred koku in income!

When that happens, Okiku... I will come here, to make you my wife!

Enough kidding around!

If you don't stop, I will be forced to call in the Constables!

Lady... how much do I owe ya?

I don't care about that!

However, I ask that you never come here again!

As long as I pay, I'm a customer.

No... perhaps it is you who owe me money, lady.

Listen, Okiku... I've become like this... like a stray dog... because of you.


Tell your boss, Masagoro. He'll understand.

Tell him that Tsuruchiyo is here.

"Sir Tsuruchiyo?"

That's Niiro Tsuruchiyo!

It's been five years, hasn't it? Since the last time I saw you.

You look healthy, at least from what I can see.

Isn't that obvious?

Isn't that obvious? But, it's so disgraceful...

Your mother would be so saddened, if she were still alive.

Stop talking about my mother!

I've come here to discuss money!

I've come here to discuss money! No, it cannot be.

Kisoya... you and my mother were two of a kind. Don't try acting otherwise.

Indeed, two of a kind... that was your mother and I.

We sacrificed everything to help you become an honorable samurai.

We encouraged you to excel in swords- manship... and academics...

My... And, look what happened...

But, these five years that I've had to live alone... I've learned a lot.

I left the path of the samurai once...

...but it made me realize how cold society can be.

Anyway, these days, you either become a merchant like you and save money, or...

...become a respectable samurai and strut around!

That is, if you've got any desire to live like a human being.

But, I can't imagine being a merchant or craftsman.

Of course not! Not you!

Of course not! Not you! There you go again, just like mother did!

If there's really samurai blood in me, as you've always said...

...then why can't you tell me who my father is?!

I'm not a kid anymore... It's no use trying to hide it!

But, let me say this...

...I've had it... with living like a lone wolf!

I'll... I'll become...

...a real, spear-carrying samurai.

...a real, spear-carrying samurai.

I'll become more important than you or my mother ever was.

I'm about to get involved in a fateful undertaking...

...not just that... it's a once- in-a-lifetime opportunity!

I'll keep on top of this opportunity...

...and I'll never let go of it, even if lightning strikes me!

Sir Tsuruchiyo... what exactly are you referring to?!

Forget it. Forget it...

I'll tell you about it someday... when I return with four or five vassals in tow.

Today's topic is money!


I must object, sir.

I must object, sir. What?

You say you've suffered greatly... but you don't know what suffering is!

The reason you've become this way, Sir Tsuruchiyo, is because...

...we always pampered you, perhaps too much!

Kisoya... so you're not going to give me money...?

If that's not to your liking, then force open my safe yourself!

You've not been to this mansion in five years...

...yet as soon as you do, look what happens!

On top of it, you come up with some fantastic story...

"If I go to Kisoya's, I can get money, no matter what."

You always behaved like a spoiled brat! You haven't changed a bit!

I, Kisoya Masagoro, refuse to give you a single mon!

If you're not going to pay... then I'll just have to ask my creditor to come here.

I must say that what I saw today was splendid.

Shichidayu Dances... Always a delight to see.

When people say something is "out of this world," this is what they mean.

They've all dedicated their lives to their craft.

'Tis the excellence achieved only by those devoted to a single thing.



Why did you choose an evocative piece as the "Kurozuka?"

Well, as I would be watching the play with you, Sir Sahyonosuke...

...I thought that we ought to watch something joyous and gorgeous...

...but, 'tis disheartening that you see it only as an evocatory piece!

If you put it that way, I must not say what I was about to say.

No need for such formality. Please speak your mind.

A unit of Mito's Tengu Faction has assembled...

...and they've filtered into our district.

Yes, I'm aware of that.

They pose as Mito vassals, and can use the Mito Mansion in Koishikawa.

From this base, they've contacted Satsuma and Choshuu vassals...

...and together, they've been hatching various plots.

I am aware of that, too.

I am aware of that, too. Things look to be coming to a head.

Things look to be coming to a head.

And, if so? Things look to be coming to a head.

And, if so?

And, if so? What if... your life were in danger?

That's totally ludicrous!

That's totally ludicrous! But... what if it were so?

No, it will not happen.

No, it will not happen. Why not?

Why not?

Do you expect me to put it in words? Why not?

Do you expect me to put it in words?

Do you expect me to put it in words? Tell me. Today, tell me everything.

Our Fourteenth Shogun, Iemochi... is how old as of this year?

Fourteen years old.

I am the Lord of Hikone, a Tokugawa- affiliated domain.

I am the Li Family's 15th descendant: "Kamonnokami" Naosuke.

And, to top it off, I'm the Great Elder of the Shogunate.

It is no exaggeration to say...

...that the Tokugawa government cannot run without me.

So, why would the men of Mito seek my life?

At a time when we're faced with many national dilemmas...

...the Mito... one of the three Great Houses, wants me dead?

It's ridiculous!

If I were to die now, the Shogunate would crumble into dust!

We are living in unstable times.

Reforming the government by killing me?!

'Tis nothing but a bad story, fabricated by fools!

Should anybody dare to destroy me...

...the 300-year old Tokugawa government would fall.

And that would mean...

...that the age of the samurai would be over!

Concerning Niiro Tsuruchiyo's background...

...even though his real father's identity is unknown...

...the fact is, Niiro Soan, a Bishuu clan physician, acted as his father.

So, this Niiro Soan, a physician to the Bishuu...

...with a fief of 10-koku, and two lackeys, is his adoptive father?

That means... he's considered to be a Bishuu Ronin?

Certainly, sir.

So he must've tried to get a position in Edo somewhere, but failed... that explains why he's living like an outcast.

Yes. I believe that's a plausible explanation, sir.

Although I did suspect him, I don't think Niiro is the culprit anymore.

What's the matter?!

What's the matter?! Allow me to report to you, sirs...

We've unmasked the betrayers... spies associated with the Li!


What?! It went to the mansion of Matsudaira Sahyonosuke?!

Yes, sir. From the Akasaka Gate, to the right, then...

...further up Ushinaki Hill via Omote-Denma Village...

...then, down Yagen Hill... past the Shogunate Sentries' office.

No doubt about it, sir.

Matsudaira Sahyonosuke, the head of Joshu-Yada, has a mansion there.

As it seemed rather peculiar, we investigated further.

The woman in the palanquin was Lady Ochiyo, Matsudaira's concubine.

Why would Matsudaira's concubine visit Kurihara?!

Mitsu, Kurihara's wife, and this Lady Ochiyo happen to be...

...sisters, blood relatives!

To check, we went to Shiodome, and checked with some shipping agents.

One Kagaya Seibei had two daughters. The older is the Lady Ochiyo...

...concubine to Matsudaira Sahyonosuke, head of the Yada clan in Joshu.

Her sister is the wife of Kurihara Eino- suke, a close aide to Matsudaira!

We have verified all of this, sirs!

Our secrets have spread from Kurihara to Matsudaira Sahyonosuke.

And, from Sahyonosuke to Li the "Kamonnokami?!"

So that's how it is.

Really... one can never tell about some people.

Well, I for one have always believed that... was rather odd that Kurihara joined us!

So... how shall we deal with this?



What's up?

What's up? What do you mean, "what's up?!"

I heard from Kojima Kaname that you're here all the time... I became worried.

Come on, Niiro. Let's go home.

Don't worry about the bill... I've taken care of it.

What did you say?!

What did you say?! I've taken care of it, the whole thing.

It's none of your concern.

Madam Okiku took the money from you, then?

No, I didn't see the Madam.

I was told that she was visiting a lumber- yard in Fuyuki Village, in Fukagawa.

This struck me as somewhat strange, but... I paid the head clerk.

Like I told you, you should've minded your own business!

You don't pay the clerk!

But, the fact that she went to the Fuka- gawa lumberyard is interesting...

...the fact that Okiku did that...

Now, that makes me laugh!

I am Okiku, the Madam of Sagamiya.

Niiro requested that I send my clerk here...

...but the matter isn't settled yet, so I've come here in person.

I'm sorry to interrupt your busy schedule.

So, miss, you're the... You're from Sagamiya?

Yes, sir. I am she who is called Madam Okiku.

My goodness...

Really... it's remarkable how there can be look-alikes in this world.

When they say "be as alike as two split melons," they mean this!

"Two melons?"

"Two melons?" No wonder Sir Niiro did what he did...

No wonder... he couldn't have helped himself!

Pardon me, but... what do you mean by that, sir?

When I first met Sir Niiro, he also had...

...a surprised look on his face, like yours, sir...

...and wouldn't stop staring at me.

I'm curious as to why...

No... as long as I can collect what he owes, that's all it matters.

But... something about this does bother me.

If you don't mind, sir, please tell me.

I'm sure that there must be a reason not to tell me...

...but, if I don't ask... then I'll regret it.

No... if I may be blunt... it does feel somewhat ominous.

If I may...

...if I may so ask, Mr. Kisoya...

Well, sooner or later, I would've had to tell..., of all people, at least., of all people, at least. Excuse me?

There is too much of a resemblance... too much for mere strangers.

As this may involve you in the future, please allow me to explain.

But, remember... I am telling you this because you seem trustworthy.

Please, never tell anyone. Not even Sir Niiro.

Do you understand?

Yes, sir. I'm not Okiku of Sagamiya for nothing... I know that much.

The blood of a samurai family runs in Sir Niiro's veins.

I cannot reveal their name, but they are of exceptional legacy and status.


Sir? But, he is the son of a concubine...

...or rather, I should say, adolescent mistakes resulted in his birth.

The woman... gave birth to him back in her home town.

There was a reason for that.

It was not possible for the son to be recognized by the father.

It so happens that the woman's father and I were very close friends..., recognizing how sad the situation was...

...I chose to take young Niiro and his mother with me...

...and we proceeded to a certain place.

It was the house of a physician, who worked for a major Daimyo.

We went there so that the child could be adopted.

Instead of growing up in a merchant's house like mine, it would be better...

...for him to be raised in the house of a physician with samurai connections.

That was what we... the child's mother and I... concluded.

But, when young Niiro turned 13, the physician was...

...transferred to a country fief within his Lord's domain...

...where, later, he contracted an illness and died.

That happened when Sir Niiro was 22.

However, he had no desire to succeed his physician "father."

Together with his mother, he left for Edo, in search of me.

He said that he had no intention of becoming a physician...

...but instead wanted to become a samurai of rank.

I myself believe that nothing is impossible, at least in spirit..., after discussing it with his mother...

...we let him study at a dojo in Ichigaya Yarai, under...

...Sir Todo Tatewaki, a master of the Jigen-Ichi Style.

As for academics, we sent him to Sir Miura Ansai's seminary... Yanaka-Oiwakekata Village.

For the next seven years...

...Sir Niiro was a young man, full of hope...

...who immersed himself in the worlds of academics and swordsmanship.

His mother and I both looked forward to his success...

...and bright future, with pride in our hearts.

This anticipation was not at all a dream... It was no fantasy.

I knew that Sir Niiro's real father, an important Shogunate official...

...also took an interest in his future.

When the time came, when Sir Niiro could live on his own...

...on the day when he became a respectable, deserving man...

...we had secretly arranged for a very special event to occur.

But... like they say, "Nothing ever goes as planned."

An unexpected incident took place... that drastically changed Sir Niiro's life.

It was about a month before he was to receive what he had worked for...

...a Commendation for Completion of Studies at the Todo Dojo.

In anticipation of this most commemorative event... pray for his life-long blessing in swordsmanship...

...we visited Kashima Shrine, in Hitachi, where the Gods of War are sanctified.

On the way back, we enjoyed a boat-ride in Itako.

It's nothing but rice fields, every which way!

"Oh, if only the Irises were in bloom!" Captain, we're bored to death!

Hey! Take us somewhere! Anywhere!

Excuse me, but seeing as we're traveling together, how about pouring me a drink?

Both the lady and I are a bit seasick, not feeling all that well.

I am sorry but we cannot serve you.

It must be fate that has brought us together. Pour me a drink.

It wouldn't be all that enjoyable if an old woman like me were to serve you.

I believe that it's best if you drink such valuable sake amongst yourselves.

You're too soft, fellow. Let me handle this!

C'mon, just one drink! Pour me some!

As I just told you...

I'm not asking you, old Mushroom! I'm asking this wench, over here!

Don't be so conceited! I ask you, just a drink!

How dare you! Shit!

Sir! Y... You're being unreasonable!

Sir! Y... You're being unreasonable! Shut up!

You young punk!

Kill him!

You bastard!

Come back here!

Just who was the lady that you speak of?

She was of the House of Takatsukasa in Kyoto...

...the daughter of Sir Ichijo Narihisa, the 3rd-ranking General.

Such an important person!

On top of that, this "princess" was named "Kiku-hime."

Oh, my... Even our names are the same!

Indeed... Strange things can happen in this world.

So... what happened after that?

You may fool others... but you cannot deceive the eyes of this samurai!

Who do you wait for... at Kanda Myojin Shrine, after the day's lessons?!

You are still in training... yet you're lusting after women!

How dare you let your mind stray from the sword?!

Further carelessness won't be tolerated!

Kiku-hime was to wed the eldest son of Miyamori Betto...

...a distinguished Shinto priest known throughout the Kanto region.

As Sir Kii's auxiliary mansion was in Edo, near the Akasaka Gates...

...she often traveled there with her father, Sir Narihisa, all the way from Kyoto.

Kiku-hime would leave the Kii Mansion just about every day... visit Matsunaga Wafu's residence, to study Nagauta singing.

For a lady of a famous family, she's rather spirited.

Instead of requesting that the instructor visit her, she'd travel so she could...

...take lessons in the company of regular girls.

It seems that you're visiting the Kanda Myojin Shrine all the time, Miss Ichijo.

Offering special prayers, perhaps?

Offering special prayers, perhaps? No... I don't believe in gods or buddhas.

Then, perhaps you're meeting someone special there?

Yes... Someone special is waiting for me.

If you'll excuse me...

The relationship between the two grew stronger every day...

...but there was no way that such a thing could last for long.

Soon, Sir Ichijo Narihisa came up with ways to...

...prevent Kiku-hime from leaving the Kii Mansion even for a minute.

Then... nobody knows how Kiku-hime managed to do it...

...she somehow eluded her guards... and escaped from the mansion!


You've run away, just to be here?!

Yes... my father wishes me to marry... against my will.

I had to be here, even if I had to run away!

I care not for status!

I thought that, if this is what Kiku- hime really wants, then...

...I'd offer to talk to Sir Ichijo, in hopes that the matter might be resolved... offering him a solution to his problem.

Why force apart two people in love?

What if it causes them to plan to elope?

Who knows what kind of nightmare it could become?

So I imposed upon a merchant who frequented the Kii Mansion...

...and after much discussion...

...we were able to arrange a meeting with Sir Ichijo Narihisa...

...who was staying in the West Quarters of the Mansion.

Kisoya... haven't you ever heard...

...people say that "lanterns and bells can never go together?"

But, Sir Ichijo...

Listen to me, Kisoya.

The owner of this mansion, Sir Kii Yorihisa...

...happens to be the 3rd-ranking Provincial General.

But, 3rd-ranking means... that they're at the same level as my House.

That means, Kisoya...

...that unless he's the noble son of a Daimyo or something...

...discussing his marriage to a princess is just absurd, isn't it?

"Unless he's the noble son of a Daimyo or something...?"

That's right.

That's right. T... The truth is that...

What is it?

No... It's nothing.

"Unless he's the noble son of a Daimyo or something..."

Considering the situation, I considered revealing Tsuruchiyo's lineage...

...but I just couldn't, not without asking you.

Of course not.

Even if marriage negotiations were entered into...

...who knows what problems of social standing might arise?

Besides, until he becomes a worthy warrior...

...until he's mastered swordmanship, and we can be proud of him...

...until then, the truth must not be revealed.

That was the promise we and His Highness made to each other.

We're nowhere near that time!

In the meantime...

...the marriage negotiations concerning Kiku-hime and Miyamori Betto's...

...eldest son continued to progress.

But, Tsuruchiyo could not wrest Kiku-hime from his heart.

Eventually, he marched straight into Sir Kii's mansion.


What?! What you've just told me, and the manner in which you said it...

...I for one believe it's a bit impudent.

But, sir, Kiku-hime clearly objects to marrying the son of Sir Miyamori.

Whom my daughter will marry... is none of your concern.

Of course, it is my daughter's life we're talking about... I cannot say that I have not considered you.

But, having done so, I have concerns, and so I simply cannot consent to it.

Niiro Soan, the Bishuu clan physician, was merely a father figure to you.

Actually, he's not your real father.

That means you're but the son of some concubine...

...a man who doesn't know who his father is.

How can I possibly give my precious daughter to someone so lowly?

But, what if I return with my parents? What then?!

That depends on what happens... when your parents and I talk.

Kisoya... why won't you tell me the name of my father?!

Hey! Why won't you tell me who my father is?!

Why won't you tell me?!

Why do you say that keeping it a secret is for own my good?!

If you're doing it for my sake, then tell me! Tell me who my father is!

Tell me! Mother! Tell me!

Next! Next! Who's next?!

You friggin' brat! Brat! Twerp!

You womanizing, drunken crazy bastard!

Forget about your Certificate!

As of today, we're no longer teacher and student... you're expelled!

You are to never step into this dojo ever again!

"To become a samurai is to master the sword?!" To hell with it!

"To become a samurai is to master the sword?!" To hell with it! What?!

"As of today, we're no longer teacher and student?!" That's for me to say!

This world never works the way you want it to anyway!

I, Niiro Tsuruchiyo, will live my life my own way!

As of that day, Sir Tsuruchiyo... left this house as well.

Oh, my... from that day on, he became... a rolling stone, tumbling down a steep hill.

Does that mean, Sir Tsuruchiyo is...

...dead, as far as we're concerned?

That's correct, sir.

He's no longer living in this world.

Sir Nozaka...

...even if you should meet someone that resembles Tsuruchiyo in every way...

...he's no longer... Niiro Tsuruchiyo.

What happened to Sir Tsuruchiyo over the next five years...?

Well, you know very well just what happened...

I understand now.

Actually, I understand very well now.

But, I'm not the Princess Kiku that you speak of.

I cannot possibly do anything for Sir Niiro.

No, you should not be so concerned.

Still, no matter what foolish deeds he's done...

...if it can be repaid with money, then I, Kisoya, will...

And, then... well, Okiku...

If you ever get a chance to...

...I know he can be like a wolf sometimes, but...

...please say something kind once in a while, a "hello" would do.

Yes, of course.

One, two... One, two...

Thank you for your patience!

Here you go, ma'am!

Here you go, ma'am! Welcome back, ma'am!

Welcome back, ma'am!

Is Sir Niiro in the "Paulownia Room?" Welcome back, ma'am!

Is Sir Niiro in the "Paulownia Room?"

Is Sir Niiro in the "Paulownia Room?" Oh! He's gone home, ma'am!

"Gone home?"

Madame, no more. No more, I'm fine.

It's just ordinary home cooking, but did you like it?

Very good! Very good indeed!

Somehow... I feel at ease only when I'm at your place.

It's intriguing.

Well, how could someone like you be so out of control at Sagamiya?

Well, don't worry about that.

Well, don't worry about that. Sir Niiro, would you like more sake?

Sir Niiro, would you like more sake?

No, I've had plenty already. Sir Niiro, would you like more sake?

But, you know... Wait...

Well... I just can't understand something.

What is it?

What is it? Something about you.

What don't you understand about me?

Your life... It seems to me to be peacefulness itself.

Why then... have you joined the cause?

It should be obvious to you. My reason is the same as yours.

No. You shouldn't joke about it.

I'm different from you.

If I don't do something, I'll either starve like a stray dog...

...or have to live like a bandit.

"In order to stay dry, you've got to cross bridges, no matter how dangerous."

On the other hand... your situation is completely different.

You resigned from a comfortable 300- koku post as a Shogunate aide!

My principles, you see... are contained in the books you see there.

The world is fast changing around us.

The 300-year old feudal govern- ment of the Shogunate... doomed, thanks to the arrival of the American Black Ships at Shimoda.

The world is moving in a new direction...

...and I want to help push it forward with all my might.

My feelings are the same as yours.

My feelings are the same as yours. No, it's different. I...

No, it's different. I...

Well, listen! No, it's different. I...

You're deliberately blinding yourself to what's really essential...

...and putting the blame on something else.

We are both at the center of a vortex of revolutionary change.

We're trapped in an unstoppable, enormous whirlpool...

And, everyone is thinking... "I've got to do something."

No, I'm not like that.

For me, this is the surest, quickest way of becoming a noble samurai.

In other words... I want to live more like a human being... And that's all.

What's the matter?

What's the matter? "Like a human being," you said?

"Like a human being," you said?

Why, is that crazy? "Like a human being," you said?

Why, is that crazy?

Why, is that crazy? No, it's not crazy.

In essence, I feel the same way you do.

However, what I am doing... I'm not doing just for myself...

...but, for the whole human race... that everyone can live like human beings. That's all that I wish for.

I don't understand...

I don't understand it at all.

There's only one thing that I understand...

...that you, Kurihara Einosuke, are a good man. That's all.

Oh, Ma'am, please don't mind me.

By the way, where's young Eiichiro?

By the way, where's young Eiichiro? Oh, he's sound asleep.

"Strong becomes a child that sleeps often," like they say?

Well, I'd better get going myself.

Give yourself a break, Sir Niiro. Why don't you stay here tonight?

No, I cannot do that.

It might be a disheveled hut, but for me, it's my one and only castle.

By going home to my castle, I can sleep the way I want to...

...with my knees in my arms!

Please excuse us for coming in while you were away.

We would like to make a formal request of you, Niiro.

A request?

A request? Correct.

We'd like you to assassinate the traitor in our midst.

A traitor?! Who is it?

A former Yada clansman from Joshu, Kurihara Einosuke.


It can't be true!

Besides, what evidence do you have?!

As they say, "Before accusing, question seven times!"

Actually, Niiro... to be honest, we suspected you too at first.

But, we found that there were no grounds to suspect you...

...and that Kurihara Einosuke is the traitor. We apologize for this.

Why do you say that Kurihara Einosuke is the traitor?! Explain!

Are you familiar with his wife?

Yes, I am. She is an admirable, wonderful wife.

What about her older sister?

What about her older sister? Her sister? No, I don't know her.

The sister of Kurihara's wife is named Chiyo... She is the Lady Ochiyo...

...a concubine of Matsudaira Sahyono- suke, Lord of the Yada clan in Joshu!


What?! Upon learning this, we too were stunned.

No... We were being too trusting.

Niiro... Matsudaira Sahyonosuke and Kurihara could be...

...considered to be brothers-in-law.

Lady Ochiyo has often visited Kurihara's mansion in Honjo-Koume.

Thus, anything could... No... everything will, via Sahyonosuke... relayed to Li Naosuke, the devil himself!


...that alone does not prove that Kurihara acted on li's behalf!


...are you saying, then, that you've never suspected Kurihara of anything, ever?

He's not of Mito, Satsuma or Choshuu provinces.

And... I don't mean to insult you... he's not an opportunist like you either.

Matsudaira's close affiliation with the Shogun means they're close to Li, too.

Besides, Kurihara was a trusted aide of Matsudaira, the head of the Yada clan.

So why did he join us?

So why did he join us? Well, that's because... It's because...

Niiro... our decisive moment is just over the horizon.

When we decide on the date, and carry out our mission...

...what will happen to us if li's men are forewarned?

We'll be arrested for sure!

And then we'll all be hung from the tops of trees!

Anyone suspicious must be eliminated as fast as possible, no matter what.

I refuse to do it... I cannot do it!

Then, who will?

Kurihara has mastered the secrets of the Nen Style...

Even two or three of our comrades wouldn't stand a chance.

Indeed, he'd cut them all down in an instant.

And, if we send many men, it'll stir up a lot of trouble and attention.

You, Niiro... You're the only one who can destroy Kurihara!

Here's the plan. Kojima will tell him that, even though it's late... emergency meeting will be held at Yamazakiya, by the Nihonbashi Bridge.

You'll be waiting for Kurihara by the river-side, where people won't be around.

There, you will slay him in one stroke.


But... Fine. Well, that's too bad.

There's not much more we can do to try and convince you.

Niiro... effective immediately, you are to...

...leave our Elder Assassination Group!

What did you say?!

We were hoping that you were with us, and that we could count on you.

But, if you can't be convinced, then... there's nothing to be done. Farewell.


I pledge that... I'll serve you, and that I will destroy Li Naosuke!

But, Kurihara Einosuke must be destroyed first.

We can't possibly proceed with our plans, if...

...we have a viper at our breast! Farewell!


Niiro... Then, will you... take care of Kurihara?

Well, you'd prefer not to act alone, I'm sure.

Don't worry. You'll have some help. Three good swordsmen, in fact.

No, they'd only be a hindrance! I will kill him by myself!

Who's there?!

Why... it's you, Niiro!

You heard about the meeting at Yamazakiya, right?

Don't give me the wrong idea...

Standing there like that, one might think you want to test your sword on flesh.

Come on. Let's get going.

But... how did you know that I was coming this way?

Niiro... what's wrong? You don't seem like your usual self tonight...

Niiro! Why?! Why, Niiro?!

Why?! Why?!

Why?! Tell me why!

Why! Why! Why?!



Why me...?


"'Tis worthless to leave behind valuable things."

"What's worth leaving behind is what's not valuable... Mother's..."

"...memories, imperceptible, intangible..."

"That is the reality of this ever-changing world."

Oh? You're not having any?

Sir Niiro, how about a drink of hot sake?

Sir Niiro?

Sir Niiro? Quiet...


But, you shouldn't drink so much. Quiet...

Be quiet!

Then, perhaps you should make that your last.

"The stomach is a part of the body also," as they say... You should be careful.

This is crazy! You shouldn't...

Ma'am, step outside! Excuse us. Please excuse us for a moment!

Niiro, something's come up! Something horribly unexpected!

What is it? Is our mission starting?

No, that's not it! Well, Niiro... we've found out who the real traitor was!

X... Kurihara Einosuke was innocent!

X... Kurihara Einosuke was innocent! What?!


It was all an awful mistake! What?!

Kurihara didn't betray us.

The conspirator who spied for Li was...

...without a doubt, Masui Sobei, the Staff Officer.

Sir Kenmotsu is conducting an inquiry back at the mansion!

Explain it! Explain!

Masui Sobei, a former Mito clansman...

...who had been a warehouse clerk, of 80-koku income. 35 years old.

In early February, this year, the said individual...

...covertly maintained a second residence in the hills of Kaminegishi...

...into which, he installed a mistress.

The source of his funds came under suspicion.

Sir Kenmotsu ordered Seki Tetsunosuke to conduct an investigation...

...and Masui was observed meeting with a samurai near the Nihonbashi Bridge... the tea parlor "Hatsune" in Yanagi Village.

When Seki Tetsunosuke followed them...

...he saw them enter a warehouse owned by Li Naosuke...

...near Nihonbashi's southern, eighth district.

After obtaining the samurai's name from the gate guard... was revealed that he was Takigawa Genba, an assistant to a Jr. Elder.

After interrogating Masui about his connection to Takigawa Genba... was found that Genba worked for li's vassal, Nagano Shuzen...

...and he has been secretly talking to Masui for a long time.

On January 31st, he received 20-ryo, and a further 30 on February 21st...

...totalling 50-ryo. Masui Sobei received these funds from Takigawa Genba.

He confessed to conspiring against us.

Thus, he is hereby sentenced to death.

Then... Kurihara Einosuke had... nothing to do with it?!

Niiro... You're such a simple- minded fellow.


You take things too seriously. You're too frank.

If you don't become a little more dispassionate... can't possibly destroy Elder Li!

That has nothing to do with this!

Kurihara Einosuke was one of our comrades!

Also... he had a wife, and even an innocent child.

The blood of Elder Li...

...and the blood of Kurihara Einosuke... what's the difference?

Sympathy has no place here!

From the start, this has been the nature of our mission.

We can't allow our enemies to wound us without reprisal.

Our hands must get dirty with blood, too.

Listen to me, Niiro!

You must become a little more cold-blooded.

By the 3rd of March, for certain!

By the 3rd of March, for certain! What?!

On March 3rd, in the center atrium of Edo Castle...

...a Joumi Day Celebration, important to the Shogun's family, will take place.

In other words, the so-called "Peach Observance."

Without a doubt, Elder Li Naosuke will attend.

One traitor... and one suspected of being a traitor...

...a total of two comrades have been eliminated.

Finally, our mission can commence!

Get rid of him.

Get rid of him. Yes, sir!


Ichigoro... Yes, sir.

Erase every single record concerning Kurihara Einosuke and Masui Sobei.

We must go down in history as devout men of principle.

There's absolutely no need to record anything about traitors.

The mission... was set for March 3rd.

March 3rd of the First Year of Man'en (1860). The "Peach Observance."

Tomorrow is the "Peach Observance."

Since I've come to Yokoyama Village, I thought I'd buy these while I'm here...

An Emperor Doll and an Empress Doll...

...they look so peaceful together.

They're timelessly splendid whenever you look at them.


...many things happen along the road of life, don't they?

They certainly do.

How 'bout it... If I become a noble samurai with 2- or 300-koku in income...

...why don't you become my wife?

But, I cannot possibly be apart from Sagamiya.

Even better, Sir Niiro...

...why not say farewell to your dream of becoming some stuffy samurai?

Why not come live with me?

Why not come live with me? No, I cannot do that.

But... you can't go on chasing a dream forever.

No, it's not a dream... It will soon be reality.

You can't live like that forever, Sir Niiro.

It may be a dream...

No, let's say it is a dream. At least, until it does come true.

But, Sir Nosaka... It can't be!

Well, I too think that it's impossible.

But, Kisoya...

You must be familiar with the Tengu Faction of the Mito clan?


Yes. A part of their group is in Edo, and...

...we know for a fact that they're planning on carrying out an unfavorable scheme.


Well, I'd like to believe otherwise, but...

...what if what we fear does happen?

You see, the Lord seems to be concerned about the matter.

Although Tsuruchiyo's "death" was officially recorded...

...the Lord has recently been asking about him... most emphatically.

The fearless Lord Himself... asking three times!

Now that we've come this far, he can't claim his official lineage.

If... even if it were only a glance... If our Lord could...

Yet, we cannot not let Sir Tsuruchiyo know anything.

This is such a shameful way of doing things... but we have no choice.

The feelings of the one and the only His Highness, Lord Li...

...and your consideration and concerns, Sir Nosaka...

...are completely understood, sir! Allow me, Kisoya, to see what can be done!


One, two... One, two...


Welcome. Oh! Thanks again for the other day.

Is he here, by any chance?

Is he here, by any chance? You mean Sir Niiro?

You mean Sir Niiro?

Yes. You mean Sir Niiro?


Yes. No, sir.

No, sir.

That's odd... No, sir.

I went looking for him along the banks of the Kamakura, but he wasn't there.

So I assumed he'd be here.

So I assumed he'd be here. Oh, I see.

I did the same thing when I happened to be in Yokoyama this morning...

And, what happened?

And, what happened? Well, he was in then.

I bothered him for a little while before coming home.

I see... I wonder where he could be...?

Is this... an urgent matter, sir?

Is this... an urgent matter, sir? Well, it may be, it may not be...

Well, it may be, it may not be...

Well, then, please come in! Come in! Well, it may be, it may not be...

Well, then, please come in! Come in!

Well, then, please come in! Come in! Yes! Thank you.

At times, he can be like a detached kite drifting away! Such a troublemaker!

It'd be nice if he'd walk in here while we're talking.

Oh, Sir Kisoya... didn't you say that it's an urgent matter?

Well, it's not exactly that urgent, but...

You see, a ship carrying some lumber will be arriving tonight from Kiso.

By evening, I must get going to take care of that... I thought it'd be nice if I could see him during the day, just for a moment.

I see. In that case, I will send my clerks to a place where he might be found.

Though, I cannot guarantee that he'll be there.

Oh, if I could impose on you to do that!

And... where might that be, if I may so ask?

The Mito Mansion in Koishigawa.

"The Mito?!"

"The Mito?!" The first time that he came here he was with Mito people, amongst others.

Since then, men from Mito are always coming here asking for Sir Niiro.

So, that's the only place that I can think of.

Sir Tsuruchiyo has been... associating with Mito men?!

Yes. They all seem to be on rather good terms with each other.

Well, at any rate, in that case, he might be back by now, so...

...I shall head over to the Kamakura riverside now.

Besides, using a palanquin, I could be at the Mito Mansion in no time!

Oh? Why, it's you, Okiku.

Oh? Why, it's you, Okiku. Sir Niiro hasn't been back yet?

Sir Niiro hasn't been back yet?

It doesn't seem so... Sir Niiro hasn't been back yet?

It doesn't seem so...

It doesn't seem so... What about the Mito Mansion?

It's not important enough to get me to go all that way.

Okiku... what brings you here?

Sir Kisoya...

Sir Kisoya...

I... Okiku of Sagamiya... feel a bit of resentment!

I sense that there is something about him that you're not telling me.

Even if you can't tell anyone else... I ask that you tell me, of all people!

I know it's rude for me... Okiku of Sagamiya... to say this, but... feels like you're not being frank with me.

Why, it's not whether or not I'm being frank...

It's just that, if I may be blunt... I have something on my mind.

But it's something that only I can be concerned about.

I don't know if it'll actually be a problem or not.

What is it... that you're concerned about?

You said that Sir Tsuruchiyo was quite friendly with the men of Mito.

When I heard that, I panicked.

Is there a problem with him associating with the Mito?

Okiku... you do know about the Tengu Faction of Mito?

Yes, well... that they caused a great commotion. I know that much.

Unscrupulous members of the faction have been sneaking into Edo.

That's the rumor that's going around.

Okiku... about the men Sir Tsuruchiyo was with...

Are they new to Edo?

Now that you mention it...

...I've seen some new faces... who, I'm told, were recently posted here.

"New faces?!"

Yes. Among my many Mito customers...

...are new faces with Satsuma accents... well as some who seem to be from Choshuu.

Okiku, listen... About Sir Tsuruchiyo...

Have you noticed anything unusual about him recently?

No... Nothing particularly.

The other day... Well, when he came to visit me for the first time... five years, he told me something quite puzzling.

He said he'd soon become a noble samurai... or words to that effect.

Oh, he told me that, too!

Oh, he told me that, too! What?!


It was just this morning, in fact. What?!

I thought that he must be dreaming, but...

...he said that he would soon become a noble samurai.

Okiku... I'm afraid that he'll...

Forgive me, Kurihara...


I'll do it...

Finally, tomorrow morning...

For both of us, I shall strive to do my best!

If I may ask, Sir Kisoya...

...what did you mean when you said you were concerned about something?

Sir Kisoya...

No, it's just my imagination! It can't possibly be for real!

I just... cannot make any sense of it all.

Just exactly what are you talking about?

Okiku, it's just a rumor.

Understand? It's just some rumor floating around.

A group, led by Mito men, along with Satsuma and Choshuu Ronin...

...plans to assassinate Honorable Elder Li... or something.

That is ridiculous! It can't possibly be true!

With the world in a state of turmoil...

...unfounded rumors are bound to appear and be spread around.

But, if we paid attention to them all, we'd all die from worry.

Very true! I agree with you. I hope that's the case here.

But, what if...

Just, what if...

Just, what if... I understand.

Sir Kisoya, your concern is that... what if Sir Tsuruchiyo...

...becomes one of the conspirators.

These days, those wanting to become a samurai can do so by...

...being of service to the clans of Mito, Satsuma, or even Choshuu.

Y... Yes... that's right.

But, what's so wrong with that, then?


What?! Sir Kisoya, I too cannot believe...

...that such a thing could possibly happen right here in Edo.

But, if it were to happen, it wouldn't mean the end of the Tokugawa.

And if it happened, Sir Niiro would become an honorable figure.

It's so courageous... It's so like him... depend on nobody but himself. It's a goal worth pursuing.

No! It can't be allowed! Y... You can't be serious! It's ridiculous!

Nowhere in this world does the child kill the parent... It's absurd!

Okiku... the truth is that...

...Sir Tsuruchiyo's real father is...

...the Lord of Hikone, Himself!

So, anyway, Kojima...

...Niiro is not aware of this yet?

Correct, sir.

As I informed you earlier, sir, in preparation for tomorrow...

...I went to the Kamakura riverside to confirm our plans with him.

However, Niiro was nowhere to be found.

Just then, Kisoya Masagoro entered from the front, a bit hesitantly.

I immediately sought a place to hide.

A while ago, I reported that there seemed to be...

...a mystery regarding the close relation- ship between Niiro and Kisoya.

I became somewhat curious about that, sir.

Before long, Okiku of Sagamiya arrived...

...and they discussed the incredible story which I've just reported!

I knew that I had to report here as soon as possible, sir, but...

...I couldn't move until after the two of them had left!

Also, the way they were talking...

...leads me to believe they'll visit Niiro tomorrow, to tell him the truth.

Take care of it by tonight...

Who shall we send?

Who shall we send? We need our own men for tomorrow.

So, Sir Hoshino, perhaps you ought to contact our friends in the clan...

...and ask them to dispatch people unrelated to tomorrow's events.

But, if many men are running around in the middle of the night...

...the suspicions of the gate guards will surely be aroused.

Better to do it early in the morning...

...using ten or so strong swordsmen.

Please make the necessary arrangements at once, sir!

"Sir Niiro" "Masagoro."

"This is a matter of great urgency."

"When you wake up in the morning... please come to Fukagawa."

"Please be sure to come."

It cannot be done.

Because, tomorrow, finally... will deliver the chance of a lifetime...

...a major event, the outcome of which only heaven knows.

Oh? I'd expected that it would get chilly...

...but this is really cold for the "Peach Observance."

If you're thieves, you must've had too much to drink!

Reveal your names!

Oh? You're all unfamiliar faces...

Which House are you from? State your names!

Damn you!

As scheduled, at 5 a.m., the eighteen comrades gathered... front of Atago Shrine at the top of Mt. Atago.

Then, they went to the Sakuradamon Gates, and made themselves ready.

Sir Hoshino Kenmotsu, along with one man, assumed the vanguard.

They stationed themselves inside a nearby tea parlor.

Hagiwara Matasaburo and the six men of the First Unit, on the right...

...took positions by a trench near the checkpoint.

The Main Unit, on the left, waited in front of Matsudaira Osuminokami's Mansion.

It consisted of Sir Sumida Keijiro, the Sub-Leader, and six others.

To the rear of the Main Unit were three men lead by Kadowaki Shozaemon.

They stationed themselves at the side of Uesugi Mansion.

The snow, which started falling the night before, showed no signs of abating.

Would the heavens bring us fortune... or misfortune?

It usually doesn't snow this much in the morning.

It's certainly rare during an occasion like the "Peach Observance."

It sure is. By the way... have you become an officer yet, or...?

No... Things don't seem to go my way.

But, soon my dreams will come true.

That's excellent, sir! I hope it happens soon!


7:30? Yes, sir.

Yes, sir.

The entourage will come now? Yes, sir.

The entourage will come now?

The entourage will come now? Yes, sir.

As today is March 3rd, the procession celebrates the "Peach Observance."

But, with all this snow... the Daimyo must be having a hard time.

Lady... I'll leave the money here.

Lady... I'll leave the money here. Yes, thank you, sir.

Arrow ends and a circle means...

...Sir Mori, Lord of Ecchuu.

I'm glad I made it in time!

No... I'm sorry that I couldn't get here sooner.

I was assaulted this morning by nine assassins, hence the delay.

I'm afraid they might have been li's men.

Are the other comrades all right?

So far so good.


...all the Choshuu men... and, except for Arimura Jizaemon...

...all the Satsuma men... failed to show up.

As a result... we're slightly shorthanded...

...and so I've been impatiently waiting for you to arrive.

My apologies.

Where should I place myself?

Just like we planned, you're with the First Unit, on the right.

To the right of the checkpoint?


I expect you to do your best.

Sir Kenmotsu... the assassins that I fought earlier...

...they weren't sent by you, were they?

Don't be ridiculous.

A true Ronin, a starving dog...

...nobody can predict what he might do.

Besides... should the Mito fail to distinguish themselves...

...certainly, you wouldn't want the world to know.

Might as well play it safe and kill him.

Now, that's a plan that Sir Hoshino, the cold-blooded one, might consider.

Here we are, critically shorthanded!

Niiro, how dare you accuse me! It's ridiculous!

Wait! Even if you try to leave me out, I won't let you!

I've long waited for this chance to gain renown, here at the Sakurada Gates!

With strength paramount... I'll take li's head with my own hands!

I won't allow anyone to get in my way... be he friend or foe!

With you in such a frame of mind, we can all feel invincible.

Well, then... show me your prowess. Go and behead Li!

Well, then...

Sir Niiro!

Sir Niiro!

Please, sirs! Sirs! I have a complaint against you!

Insolent fool! Get out of the way!

Insolent fool! Get out of the way! I've a complaint against you!

Receiving Sir Hoshino Kenmotsu's signal...

...the First Unit attacks the palanquin's vanguard.

Next, they engage the rearguard.

The Main Troop storms Li "Kamon- nokami" Naosuke, head on.

Damn it!

Damn it! Damn it!

Damn it!

Damn it!

No, you fools!

Fools! The fools!

Fools! Idiots!

Let go!

Damn you!


Open the gate! Open the gate!

Open the gate! Open the gate!

Fools! This means that Japan holds no future for the samurai!

Niiro Tsuruchiyo, a Bishuu Ronin...

...beheaded Elder Li Naosuke, not knowing that Li was his father.

However, by order of Sir Hoshino...

...all records concerning Niiro were purged the night before.

Thus, Niiro Tsuruchiyo was never a member of our conspiracy.

However, the fact remains... that the one who took the head of Elder Li...

...was, without a doubt, his own son... Niiro Tsuruchiyo, himself.


I won't let this head go for less than 200-koku!

No... even 300 would be a bargain!


Here's today's paramount achievement!

Elder li's head is in the hands of...

...a Bishuu Ronin, Niiro Tsuruchiyo!

It was March 3rd, the first year of Man'en.

On the day we celebrate the "Peach Observance," it was unusual... see Edo cloaked in unrelenting snow.

Such were the events that transpired at the Sakurada Gates.

"The End"