Mibu Gishi Den, Legend of the Loyal Retainers of Mibu

壬生義士伝

When the Last Sword Is Drawn

1 Shinsengumi

The Shinsengumi (新選組, new selected group) was a samurai protection force (1863-1869) who fought for the shogunate and thus against the supporters of the Tenno in the Edo period. It is the last known samurai militia that was active in Kyoto.

2 Murder and Blackmail

This militia was initially called Mibu Rōshi (壬生浪士 "Rōnin from Mibu" or Mibu-rō (壬生浪) for short), where Mibu was a district of Kyōto in which the group was originally stationed. Another very similar writing 狼生狼 was used with the same pronunciation, meaning "wolves of Mibu", as an insult.
Their banner carried the symbol 誠 (makoto, Japanese for loyalty).

3 The spouse

The farmer's daughter Shizu is to be the concubine of a higher-ranking samurai. However, she is friends with Yoshimura and flees to him.

4 Photo

The Shinsengumi leaders have a photo taken. They buy one for the odd Yoshimura.

Movie data

Original Title: 壬生義士伝 Mibu Gishi Den
Legend of the Loyal Retainers of Mibu
Published: 2002
Time: 137 minutes

Staff
Director: Yōjirō Takita
Script: Takehiro Nakajima
Based upon "Mibu gishi den (When the last sword is drawn)" by Jiro Asada (2000)
Music: Joe Hisaishi

Cast
Kiichi Nakai — Yoshimura Kanichiro
Kōichi Satō — Saitō Hajime
Yui Natsukawa — Shizu/Mitsu
Takehiro Murata — Ono Chiaki
Miki Nakatani — Nui
Yuji Miyake — Ohno Jiroemon
Eugene Nomura — Hijikata Toshizo

Plot

The film tells the story of two Shinsengumi samurai. Saitō Hajime (played by Kōichi Satō) is a heartless killer. Yoshimura Kanichiro (played by Kiichi Nakai) appears to be a money-grabbing and emotional swordsman from the northern area known as Nambu Morioka.
The main storyline is set during the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate, but it is told in a series of flashbacks as Saitō and another man reminisce. The themes include conflicting loyalty to the clan, lord, and family.
More than just swordplay, it is the story of a man willing to do anything for the good of his family, even if it means never being able to see them.