Shigurui (シグルイ?, lit. “Death Frenzy”) is a manga series by Takayuki Yamaguchi, based on the first chapter of the novel Suruga-jō Gozen Jiai by Norio Nanjō.
An animated television adaptation, based on the first 32 chapters (or the initial six and a half volumes) of the manga, aired on WOWOW July 19th, 2007 to October 12th, 2007. The series was directed by Hiroshi Hamasaki, written by Seishi Minakami, and produced by Madhouse Studios.
The series is noted for its realistic graphic violence and nudity as well as its abrupt ending. The anime was licensed in North America by Funimation Entertainment under the fully translated title Shigurui: Death Frenzy. The licensing was announced in May 2008 and the full series was released on March 31st, 2009 on Blu-ray and DVD.
The story begins in 1629 Shizuoka during Tokugawa Tadanaga's rule. The daimyo staged a tournament where the participants fought with real steel Japanese swords rather than bokken ("wooden sword"), against his vassals' strong objection. The story revolves around the first match between the one-armed swordsman Fujiki Gennosuke and the blind samurai Irako Seigen and deals with the circumstances that led the two to participate in Tokugawa's tournament.
Tokugawa Tadanaga, Lord of Sunpu Castle and the younger brother of Shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, has been sentenced to commit seppuku for atrocities and immoral conduct.
Years earlier, in January 1629 at Sunpu Castle, Tokugawa Tadanaga orders a tournament inside the Castle with 21 contestants armed with real swords. Despite the fact that desecrating the garden of Sunpu Castle with blood would surely be interpreted as an expression of rebellion against the Shogunate.
Later at the tournament, Fujiki Gennosuke, a young man with a missing left arm competes against Iraku Seigen. Iraku has long grey hair, is blind and crippled due to a cleft foot. Iraku limps to the centre with support from his female companion, Iku.
Seven years previously, in 1622, at the dojo of sword master Iwamoto Kogan, lived three disciples referred to as the “tiger and two dragons”. Fujiki Gennosuke, Iraku Seigen, and their Lord, Kogan Iwamoto, one of the most widely acclaimed swordsman within the realm. After breaking Fujiki’s fingers during his first visit at the school, Iraku knew that the man who married Kogan’s daughter, Mie, would succeed Kogan as the head of the Iwamoto family inheritance. Iraku later passes an initiation ceremony and the students welcome Iraku to the school.
A year has passed and Mie had passed the age of puberty. Cursing the absence of a son, Kogan orders his head master, Gonzaemon, to instruct Iraku and Fujiki to assassinate the twin sons of the rival Funaki dojo in order to help choose his successor. The twins are later ambushed by Fujiki and Iraku in disguise. Fujiki strikes the first blow, displaying a special technique called "Nagare Boshi", a closely guarded secret technique forbidden to be practiced even in the Kogan dojo. Iraku takes advantage of this moment and strikes the other twin down.
Iku is the concubine of Kogan. As Iku arrives at an unsegregated bathhouse, while all customers rush to the exits in the belief that Iraku is cursed, Iraku does not move. Later in her house in a backstreet, Iku explains to Iraku that two men she was engaged to in the past had died as a result of her curse. Iraku deduces Kogan killed both her fiancés, and reassures her she is a perfectly normal woman and the curse attributed to her was a fabrication to prevent others from winning her heart. Meanwhile, Gonzaemon observes the two outside the bathhouse.
Later at a local eatery in Kakegawa, Gonzaemon informs Iraku that either he or Fujiki will be betrothed to Mie and thereby appointed as Kogan’s successor, and warns Iraku never to visit Iku again. Despite Iraku’s plea of no wrongdoing, he begins an affair with Iku.
Upon completing the final ritual of training, Fujiki and Iraku sit before Kogan, who appears lost in a demented state. Iraku deduces that Kogan has ordered Iraku and Mie to openly consummate their marriage. In centre of the dojo Mie’s arms are held down and her legs spread apart by Kogan’s students, including by Fujiki. Mie considers biting her tongue in the hope of killing herself. Iraku anticipates this, and notes to Kogan that if Mie killed herself, the Kogan bloodline would be severed forever. Later that same night, during a walk in the freezing cold, Fujiki is met by a master swordsman sent by the Funaki dojo in revenge for the killing of the Funaki twins. Despite Fujiki’s broken fingers being near frozen, he kills the swordsman, and in doing so discovers a new technique.
In the bedroom at the Iwamoto Kogan’s estate, Kogan fondles a naked Iku in his unstable state. Iku removes her hairpin, and contemplates using it to murder Kogan. At this moment, Kogan suddenly wakes from his episode and realizes his future son in law has betrayed him.
An initiation ceremony for the chosen successor of the Kogan-ryuu is held at Kontake temple at Mount Akiba. Kogan announces he will unveil the secret art, Nagare Boshi, to Iraku, but only after Iraku has sparred with Gonzaemon. Gonzaemon strikes the first blow deep into Iraku's shoulder and vertebrae; causing Iraku tremendous pain. Fujiki then proceeds to strike using the tip of a wooden sword across Iraku’s chin. The remaining students look on with his surprise at this new and unseen technique.
After being tortured at the dojo, Kogan slashes Iraku’s eyes and is left to the mercy of his students. Later while walking together down the summit of Mount Akiba, Gonzaemon informs Fujiki he would be appointed as successor, but is alarmed that Fujiki has the face of a demon. At the base of the summit, Mie stares onwards eagerly awaiting the return of Iraku.
3 years since Iraku was expelled from the Kogan-ryuu school, Tadanaga has become ruler of Enshuu. Fujiki enters the dojo the next day and discovers the decapitated head of a young student. As days pass, the bodies of more students are discovered. Fujiki deduces that Iraku is the killer, and after a series of investigations, discover a powerful blind nobleman called Shizuhata Kengyou could know of Iraku’s whereabouts.
One night, Mie steals Kogan’s demon sword, Nanacho Nunbustu, and runs into the streets with only her undergarments. As Fujiki reaches her, Mie takes the Nagare Boshi stance and attempts to strike Fujiki but deliberately drops the sword. At this moment, Mie wakes from a demonic state.
Later, a man from Kengyou arrives bearing a letter to Kogan, inviting them to the estate of Shizumata Kengyou. Kogan, Fujiki and Gonzaemon visit the estate and see Iku and Iraku are guests. After a heated exchange, Iraku warns Fujiki that his turn would be next. Later that night at the Kogan estate, Fujiki discovers a written invitation from Iraku for one on one duel at Mt. Ariba on the coming of the full moon.
Later, Fujiki waits at Mt. Akiba in Kontake temple, but realises he has left the dojo undefended. Meanwhile, Iraku and Iku appear at the doorsteps of the Iwamoto Kogan dojo and kill Kogan. At that moment an official arrives, and later testifies that Kogan had taken leave of his senses, and that Iraku and Iku defended themselves. That same month at Sunpu Castle in the Castle grounds, Iraku sits prostrated before Tokugawa Tadanaga. Tadanaga asks what school Iraku was from, Iraku replies, “Mumyou Sakanagare”.
Back in the present, sitting with Mie, Fujiki writes an official letter, a “request for vengeance”. Meanwhile, having reflected favourably in the eyes of Tadanaga, Iraku was gifted with an estate and was enjoying a luxurious life. Sometime later, Iraku learns that the officials of Kakegawa had granted permission to the Iwamoto clan’s request for revenge.
Sometime later an officially sanctioned duel is held and the battle is even, until a strike from Fujiki forces Iraku to the ground. Iraku counters another attack from Fujiki from above, and severs Fujiki’s left arm. Before delivering a killing blow, Gonzaemon intervenes and commences murderous rampage across the duelling ground.
In a flashback, Iku and Iraku are tied outside a tree and left to die in the snow. Accepting death, three wolves pounce on them until a stranger swiftly kills them with one strike. The man who saved them was a master swordsman named Tsukioka Yukinosuke. Led by Tsukioka, Iraku and Iku find shelter at a village in the Hida Mountains to live peacefully. During this time, Iku helps Iraku to come to terms with his blindness.
In the present day at the duel, Iraku kills Gonzaemon only to later discover at night that Gonzaemon had been resurrected as a demon.
Fujiki keeps himself alive by using his sleeve as a bandage to stop the bleeding and was taken to a surgeon by those still loyal to the Kogan-ryuu. Meanwhile, Iraku and Gonzaemon continue to engage in battle outside. Iraku struggles to find a suitable place to dig his sword, given the rain has reduced the ground into a watery mud. Iraku improvises a stance which was effectively a kneeling Nagare Boshi. Iraku pierces his foot with his sword, and uses the new leverage to defeat Gonzaemon for a second time.
Later, Mitsuyougata announced Iraku willed a ceremonial rematch. This was an imperial decree not permitted to be rejected by any Samurai.
Chika was the daughter of Funaki Ichidensai, the master of a rival school. After beating a student in training, she attempts to seduce him later at night. During intercourse, a penis grows from her vagina. In horror, she slashes the face of her lover. Katsuke Gannosuke, a deformed looking man bearing an appearance similar to that of a toad, witnesses these bizarre events while hiding underneath the floorboards. This man was the son of a Ronin who collapsed on the street and who her father, Funaki Ichidensai, took in. Chika displayed kindness towards him and because she considered Katsuke an animal, she did not show modesty around him. Katsuke mistakenly takes this as a sign and murders potential any suitors for Chika.
In the Kakegawa district in Awamoto village, by order of the Suruga clan, the Iwamoto house is prohibited from committing suicide, and ordered to move into unknown territory and pay excessive rent to live in a farmer's shed. Later, Fujiki and Mie walk to Sunpu.
At Sunpu. Iku observes Tsukioka escorting Fujiki and Mie. Iku witnesses Mie, who suddenly appears as if possessed by a demon. Tsukioka draws his sword as Mie unsheathes a knife. Fujiki stands in front of Mie and draws his sword as if under Mie’s spell. On completing his Nagare strike, which Tsukioka skilfully evaded, Fujiki drops his long sword, and as Tsukioka sword strikes down on Fujiki, Fujiki blocks it using the grip of his short sword. Iraku. Later at his home, Tsukioka explains he was ordered to take care of Iku, and notes when Fujiki realised his blade was of no use to him, he did not hesitate to discard his sword, which was the soul of a Samurai.
At the great palace. Behind the citadel of the great Sunpu Castle, was a dungeon designed specifically for Tokugawa Tadanaga’s sadistic enjoyment. He observes a woman tied up and killed by the toad Katsuke, who had been caught. It also came to Tadanaga’s attention that Funaki's only daughter, Chika, was the last remaining heir of the Funaki dojo. Chika’s fate lay with being brutally beaten and raped by Tadanaga. The curse of her body changing to that of a boy was of no concern to him.
Fujiki and Mie are transported to the Sasahara estate. Tadanaga sent an invite “seeking the most skilled Samurai throughout the realm", Ronin seeking employment gathered in droves to the castle. Those considered especially skilled were allowed to stay at the estate of the head instructor in spearmanship for Suraga domain, Sasahara Shuuza-Burou. Sasahara possessed abnormally long, snake like arms, and was famous for having killed a giant serpent without shedding a drop of blood.
Iraku stands in Tadanaga’s dungeon, and defeats a wild ape captured inside for Tadanaga’s amusement. Later in a chamber, Iraku is asked who he thought he was fighting given his lack of sight. Iraku responds he once defeated a tiger among tigers, not a mere “monkey”. Upon revealing he knew what he was fighting and was feigning ignorance throughout, all in attendance take offence. Standing accused of treason, Tadanaga strikes his sword down on a frightened Iraku, but as Tadanaga rests his sword, Iraku’s long black hair turns grey.
In April, in a call back to the first volume, Tadanaga orders a tournament at Sunpu Castle using real steel.
Fujiki falls into a coma and Mie nurses him. Later, Iraku visits and presents Mie with the head of the ape he had killed. Mie prepares to dig her blade into Iraku but rests her blade. Observing Iraku now walking away, she witnesses a rainbow in the shape of a dragon and wonders whether it was Iraku’s avatar, or an illusion.
At night, Mie discovers Fujiki has awoken from his coma and is busy devouring the charred head.
13 days since awakening from his coma, a radiated Fujiki returns to health. Fujiki tells Mie although he was defeated by vengeance and failed to protect her father and the reputation of the Kogan-ryuu, he vows he would at least protect her. As the Fujiki utters this vow, his cheeks flush red in his burning love for Mie. Mie realises this was the most sacred moment of her life, and for the first time, they walked slowly together side by side.
Date Masamune was an old veteran of the warring states era, who was visiting Sunpu on his way to the capital, for he had a secret meeting with Tokugawa Tadanaga. In a chamber, Tadanaga explains that Sunpu was swarming with Ronin. In order to secure the Tokugawa Shogunate, 17 daimyou families were abolished or discontinued. As a result, the number of Ronin reached 220,000. Tadanaga went on to explain he would ascertain the martial skills of the Ronin and employ those who proved their might at an imperial tournament using real swords. Date deduces that Tadanaga was planning an uprising against Shogun Iemitsu and was indirectly asking for his fealty. In the same month, other clans decline any participation in the tournament with real swords. In this state, his advisors thought, even if he did not ferment an uprising, the Lord was in danger. They decide an eventual shortlist of twenty swordsmen who would be sacrificed to calm the violent passions of the demon king.
Continuing from volume 1 at the duelling ground, Fujiki raises his sword above his head, similar to the way Mie raised her sword above her head to strike Fujiki the night she ran away. Fujiki commences to attack Iraku, and in the same way Mie threw her sword when Fujiki attempted to subdue her, he throws his sword towards Iku. Iraku begins to strike, but sensing Iku is in mortal danger, misses Fujiki. Fujiki’s sword meanwhile lands square next to Iku’s knees. With Iraku distracted, Fujiki draws his short sword, and using the monstrous strength of his back muscles, overpowers Iraku and clefts the breast bone, killing him. In shock, Iku takes her own life, slicing her own neck against the sword Fujiki threw away.
Saegusa, Lord of Izu who sits next to Tadanaga, congratulates Fujiki. Saegusa states Iraku had the effrontery to sully the sacred duelling ground, and for that reason their Lord Tadanaga had already decided to kill him before long. He orders Fujiki to cut off Iraku’s head immediately, and to stick it onto a pike. Fujiki reluctantly proceeds and Mie watches onwards, observing Fujiki obey in the same way he held her arm down to allow Iraku to rape her. Fujiki eventually displays Iraku’s severed and bloodied head to the spectating Lords and to Tadanaga’s approval. Saegusa states Fujiki will be provided employment at Sunpu, and for this great debt he must offer his life to his Lord. Departing the tournament grounds towards his tent where Mie awaits, he discovers Mie has committed suicide. She had sliced her own throat.
|1||"Shigurui Volume 1"|
|The story begins at an imperial tournament ordered by the sadistic daimyo Tokugawa Tadanaga in 1629. The volume introduces the students Iwamoto Kogan.|
|2||"Shigurui Volume 2"|
|Despite a warning from Gonzaemon, Iraku begins an affair with Kogan’s concubine, Iku. Fujiki discovers a new secret striking technique.|
|3||"Shigurui Volume 3"|
|After discovering Iraku’s betrayal, Kogan organises sham initiation ceremony at Mount Akiba to punish Iraku.|
|4||"Shigurui Volume 4"|
|Fujiki and Gonzaemon investigate the identity of a mysterious killer who has been murdering members of the Kogan-ryuu school.|
|5||"Shigurui Volume 5"|
|After the dramatic events of the last volume, Mie’s health begins to deteriorate. Kogan, Fujiki and Gonzaemon discover Iraku and Iku have allied themselves with a high ranking nobleman.|
|6||"Shigurui Volume 6"|
|Fujiki realises he has left the dojo undefended while Iraku and Iku set their plot to assassinate Kogan into motion.|
|7||"Shigurui Volume 7"|
|The remaining members of the Kogan dojo plot revenge.|
|8||"Shigurui Volume 8"|
|Iraku and Fujiki undertake a sanctioned duel with high ranking officials of Kakegawa in attendance.|
|9||"Shigurui Volume 9"|
|Iraku and Fujiki continue to duel, each displaying masterful techniques neither swordsman nor spectator have ever witnessed before.|
|10||"Shigurui Volume 10"|
|Iraku prepares to engage into battle with Gonzaemon.|
|11||"Shigurui Volume 11"|
|Despite the House of Iwamoto Kogan confiscated and its reputation in tatters, the authorities of Kakegawa announced Iraku willed a ceremonial rematch.|
|12||"Shigurui Volume 12"|
|Iraku’s ascends into the social hierarchy while Mie and Fujiki travel to Sunpu, and meet a mysterious stranger with ties to Iraku.|
|13||"Shigurui Volume 13"|
|Tadanaga issues an invite seeking the most skilled Samurai throughout the realm for a tournament at Sunpu Castle using real steel. Meanwhile Fujiki and Mie are transported to the estate of the head instructor in spearmanship for Suraga domain, Sasahara Shuuza-Burou.|
|14||"Shigurui Volume 14"|
|One year before the imperial tournament, Date Masamune, an old veteran of the warring states era, has a secret meeting with Tadanaga. In the present, Fujiki falls into a coma, but is assisted by an unlikely visitor.|
|15||"Shigurui Volume 15"|
|The volume ends with a battle that will forever change the survivor of the tournament.|