Romanticizing the Shinsengumi in Contemporary Japan -
by Rosa Lee, University of Sydney
[The author compares the influence of Moeyo Ken by Shiba Ryotaro to the appeal of the Shinsengumi in Gintama.]
“Their contribution to history is rather limited that at most, less than a page is allocated for them in history dictionaries such as the Great Dictionary of Japanese History…. However the group’s popularity is the inverse of their historical relevance….
Universality of their appeal is also suggested from their warm reception in other countries such as Taiwan and South Korea….
These factors suggest fascination with Shinsengumi is neither a trendy fad nor a manifestation of Japanese people’s cultural penchant for tragic samurai.
Since historical accomplishments do not explain why Shinsengumi is romanticised and idolised, this article will discover why this particular group of young men continue to appeal to the Japanese public by looking at popular imaginations.”
* For those of you who don’t know Shiba Ryotaro, he is one of Japan’s most celebrated writers, both for his historical books as well as his travel writing. ’Moeyo Ken’ is seen as the definitive fictional story of Hijikata Toshizo and the Shinsengumi. Yes, I’m a fan, but I actually prefer his ‘Shinsengumi Keppuroku’.