Peacemaker Kurogane (PEACE MAKER鐵 Pīsu Meikā Kurogane)(鐵 meaning Iron) is a historical fiction manga series written and illustrated created by Nanae Chrono (黒乃 奈々絵 Kurono Nanae). It is unrelated to the Peace Maker manga by Ryōji Minagawa. The story begins in 19th century Japan before the Meiji Restoration, a chain of events that led to enormous changes in Japan's political and social structure while the seeds of the revolution are being planted. The story follows the boy protagonist, Ichimura Tetsunosuke, who joins the Shinsengumi (initially as Hijikata Toshizo's page) while seeking strength to avenge his parents' death at the hands of a Choshu rebel.
The prequel of Peacemaker Kurogane is Shinsengumi Imon Peace Maker (新撰組異聞PEACE MAKER Shinsengumi Imon Pīsu Meikā) was published by Enix in the magazine Monthly Shōnen Gangan. Shinsengumi Imon Peacemaker is licensed in North America by Tokyopop.
A live-action adaptation of the manga was aired on TBS entitled Shinsengumi Peace Maker (新撰組PEACE MAKER Shinsengumi Pīsu Meikā). It premiered on January 15, 2010, until its conclusion on March 19, 2010.
The story is focused on the main character, Ichimura Tetsunosuke, an energetic, short, and very childlike 15 year old. He and his older brother (Tatsunosuke) are left to fend for themselves after the vicious murder of their parents. While Tetsunosuke wants to get revenge, his pacifist brother is not so inclined. 'Tatsu' joins a special police force dubbed the Shinsengumi, as an accountant to earn a living, his brother 'Tetsu' wishes to join as a soldier to seek his revenge. The story chronicles Tetsu's trials and tribulations as a struggling page craving redemption. He develops relationships with all the legendary members of the Shinsengumi army helping them with their various struggles as he constantly battles his own against himself. At the story's climax, Tetsu discovers himself and the overwhelming responsibility the power he is searching for holds.
- Ichimura Tetsunosuke (市村 鉄之助)
- The protagonist of Peacemaker Kurogane who was historically an actual member of the Shinsengumi. He is short, strong-willed, and often underestimated by his peers. Tetsu also has a cheerful, active and competitive personality. He joins the Shinsengumi in order to become strong and avenge the death of his parents at the hands of a member of the Chōshū clan, and ends up working as a page to Hijikata Toshizo. At the time in 1864, Tetsu had psychogenic dwarfism and has not grown physically for two years due to his emotional scar. He has been more-or-less adopted as a mascot/little brother figure by the senior members of the Shinsengumi. He cries a lot.
- Ichimura Tatsunosuke (市村 辰之助)
- Tetsu's over protective, easily worried and rather high-strung older brother/guardian (also an actual member of the Shinsengumi). He is polite, soft spoken, and down to earth. After the death of their parents, he had to take care of himself and his brother. He, in accordance with his more pacifist outlook, works only as a bookkeeper for the Shinsengumi. He has tried to put all thoughts of revenge for his parents' deaths out of his mind, but convincing his younger brother to do the same is a little more difficult. Tatsu has a habit of apologizing for his little brother.
- Okita Sōji (沖田 総司)
- The first unit captain of the Shinsengumi. He is deceptively delicate-looking and has an overall sunny disposition that occasionally borders on childishness, but displays frighteningly deadly skill in combat situations. He shares a strong bond with Hijikata and is also one of the only people who has a deep understanding of Tetsu. He takes Tetsu seriously and often practices with him. In addition, Souji loves children and is rarely seen without his piglet Saizo when he is off-duty. Although he denies it, Souji is diagnosed with tuberculosis later in the series.
- Hijikata Toshizō (土方 歳三)
- The Shinsengumi's second vice-commander, Hijikata hides his compassion behind a cold and ruthless front, and is known as "the demon of the Shinsengumi". A brilliant strategist and fighter, Hijikata's talent for battle is extraordinary. When dealing with enemies, his method is highly practical and often reckless. He counts Kondo, Yamanami, and Okita among his closest friends, and is a stern master to his page Tetsu. His hobby consists of writing haiku.
- Harada Sanosuke (原田 左之助)
- The tenth unit captain and the best spear fighter in the Shinsengumi. Sanosuke is best friends with Nagakura Shinpachi and Todo Heisuke, forming a trio known as "The Three Comedians", whose chief hobby seems to be annoying Tetsunosuke. He has a scar on his stomach from a failed seppuku attempt and is very proud of it.
- Nagakura Shinpachi (永倉 新八)
- The second unit captain of the Shinsengumi. He introduces himself to Tetsu as "Sanosuke’s keeper." Like Tetsu, he is often underestimated by his height (and young appearance — he looks like a child, but is actually in his 20s). In fact, he is extremely skilled with his sword and is a swordsman of Okita Soji's level. He is also quite the joker, especially in conjunction with Sanosuke and Heisuke.
- Tōdō Heisuke (藤堂 平助)
- The eighth unit captain of the Shinsengumi. Heisuke is the youngest member of Kondo's group and the youngest captain of the Shinsengumi. Since he has a slight infatuation with small, cute animals, he always calls Tetsunosuke "Puppy Boy" (much to Tetsu's dismay).
- Saitō Hajime (斎藤 一)
- The third unit captain of the Shinsengumi. The droopy-eyed and soft-spoken Saito Hajime has a supernatural ability to sense ghosts, spiritual auras (which unnerves many of the other members), and is able to perceive information about future events. He has an inexplicable camaraderie with Okita.
- Yamanami Keisuke (山南 敬助)
- One of the Shinsengumi's two vice-commanders. Yamanami (often called "Sannan" by Kondo and Hijikata, which is an alternate reading of the kanji in his name) is a good-natured and thoughtful figure, providing a counterpoint to Hijikata's blunt and Machiavellian tendencies. He also loves children and takes a shine to Tetsunosuke. He is beloved by his fellow Shinsengumi members, and, like Hijikata, is firmly opposed to putting a sword in Tetsu's hands. He is carrying on a clandestine affair with a Shimabara courtesan named Akesato.
- Kondō Isami (近藤 勇)
- The commander of the Shinsengumi. Kondo is presented as a grandfatherly, slightly-clueless figure who is still fully aware of his and his organization's goals.
- Yamazaki Ayumu (山崎 歩)
- The "den mother" of the Shinsengumi, Ayumu (most often known as "Ayu-nee", or "big sister Ayu") is the cook and housekeeper at the Shinsengumi compound. A pretty woman with a motherly nature, Ayumu is fully cognizant of what the people around her do for a living, and acts as a sort of big-sister figure to Tetsu. She is Susumu's older sister, and, like him, a shinobi. She mentions in one episode them as being apart of the Oniwaban. While Susumu is based on the actual spy, Ayumu is a fictional character. She dies during the course of the anime.
- Yamazaki Susumu (山崎 烝)
- Ayumu's younger brother, Susumu is one of the Shinsengumi's spies, reporting directly to Hijikata. A skilled shinobi and information-gatherer, his nature emulates that of his superior's. He often cross-dresses (quite convincingly) to gather information.
- Saya (沙夜)
- A fictional character. She is mute and writes to communicate. Tetsu tends to relate to her because her parents were also murdered. She and Hana are apparently 'girls-in-training' under Akesato in the red light district.
- Voiced by: Nanae Kato (Japanese), Nancy Novothy (English)
- She and Saya are 'girls-in-training' under Akesato. She the polar opposite of Saya. Very loud, blunt, upbeat and caring in her own strange way. She dislikes katanas. Her dad was an umbrella maker and spoke loudly about honor. When her mother was sick, he did not sell his swords for a doctor. What happened to them is unknown but it is assumed that the mother died of the illness. She wants Tetsu to make her his new mother out of compassion. She has a big crush on Harada Sanosuke after he saved her from thugs at a festival.
- Saizō (サイゾー)
- Okita Soji’s piglet pet. He lives with his "family" at the Shinsengumi Headquarters. He also has a habit of chasing Tetsunosuke more often than anyone else.
- Akesato (明里)
- Voiced by: Michiko Neya (Japanese), Kira Vincent-Davis (English)
- Based on the actual person. Akesato is Yamanami Keisuke's lover, a Shimabara courtesan, and a shinobi working for the Chōshū clan. In the manga, it is stated by Sakamoto that Akesato is mixed blood (half-Japanese and half-Caucasian); she has blonde hair (which she hides under a wig) and blue eyes. She is a member of the Fūma clan and acts as Susumu's rival in the series. (Note: the real Akesato was not a shinobi.)
- Yoshida Toshimaro (吉田 稔麿)
- Based on the historical figure. Yoshida Toshimaro, a student of Yoshida Shōin, is a leader of the Chōshū clan and a master of military science. He was killed by Okita in episode 23 while pointing a katana fragment held in his mouth at Tetsu.
- Kitamura Suzu (北村 鈴)
- Voiced by: Yuka Imai (Japanese), Kevin Corn (English)
- A fictional character. Suzu intends to avenge the death of his older brother at the hands of the Shinsengumi. He becomes Tetsu's friend without realizing that he's part of the Shinsengumi. He is a follower of Yoshida.
- Sakamoto Ryōma (坂本龍馬)
- Based on the actual visionary. An old acquaintance of Tatsu and Tetsu's father, Sakamoto refers to their father as the "Peacemaker." Sakamoto also calls Tatsu "Dragon Boy", as "Tatsu" can be translated to "Dragon" in Japanese and nicknames Tetsu "Iron Boy", as "Tetsu" can be translated as "Iron". He is an expert swordsman but he mainly uses a pistol. In the Japanese version of the anime and manga, Ryoma tends to speak random English words. Ryoma is also wanted by the pro-Shogunate forces, as revealed by Okita when he sneaks into the Shinsengumi headquarters. In Episode 9, the tune Sakamoto Ryoma whistles is actually that of The Star-Spangled Banner.
- Kichisaburo (吉三郎)
- Nonexistent in the manga. He looks just like Okita Soji in terms of appearance. He first appears before Maro entertaining him, he worked for Maro and impersonated Okita Soji. After Hijikata, Hajime and Okita invaded Maro's place and was saved by Hotaru's ignorance, he was never seen again.
- A fictional character. A girl who has a crush on Soji. She becomes an assistant to Ayu, but later is revealed to be a spy for the Choshu. She decides to quit being a spy, and ends up being tricked by Kichisaburo, thinking he is Okita Soji. She frees Saito, Hijikata and Soji from the Eight Element Battle Formation without realizing it by peeling off the seals.
Peace Maker was published in Japan by Enix before it was transferred to Mag Garden. It is licensed and published in North America and Germany by Tokyopop. The manga is also licensed and published in Italy by Star Comics and in France by Kami.
Mag Garden released all 5 tankōbon volumes of the manga on September 10, 2005. Tokyopop released Peace Maker's 5 tankōbon volumes between August 14, 2007 and November 4, 2008. Later, Tokyopop re-releases the manga through Madman Entertainment. The first volume was released on November 10, 2008. The second was released on February 10, 2009. Tokyopop Germany released the manga's 5 tankōbon volumes between December 2005 and June 28, 2006. Kami released the manga's 5 tankōbon volumes between September 20, 2006 and July 11, 2007.
Peacemaker Kurogane itself was started as a new series in Mag Garden's Comic Blade in 2001. It was later licensed by ADV Manga, which released three of the five volumes before putting it on hold indefinitely. After the license lapsed, Tokyopop acquired it. The manga is licensed and published in France by Kami, and in Germany by Tokyopop.
Mag Garden released the manga's 5 tankōbon volumes between October 10, 2002 and March 10, 2005. ADV Manga released 3 volumes of the manga between October 4, 2004 and March 22, 2005, before putting the volume on hold indefinitely. After Tokyopop acquired the license, it releases the manga's first volume on March 10, 2009. Tokyopop Germany released the manga's 5 tankōbon volumes between June 1, 2005 and October 1, 2005.
The manga was later adapted into an anime series by Gonzo Digimation and produced by Geneon ran for 24 episodes, which aired on TV Asahi between October 7, 2003 and March 24, 2004. The US license for the anime is held by ADV Films under the title Peacemaker. The anime follows the plot of the manga mostly, but also introduces characters that are only shown in the sequel of the story. The anime aired in the United States on Showtime Beyond, alongside Chrono Crusade. On June 25, 2010, anime distributor Funimation Entertainment announced on their online panel FuniCon 4.0, that they have acquired rights to the series along with 3 other ADV title, after ADV's shutdown in 2009. The anime was broadcast in France by Déclic-Images. It was broadcast in Spain by Buzz Channel. It was broadcast in Saudi Arabia by space power, in the Philippines by QTV and Hero.
The anime uses two pieces of theme music. "You Gonna Feel" by Hav is the opening theme, while "Hey Jimmy!" by Hav is the ending theme of the anime.
Gonzo Digimation released the anime's seven DVDs between December 21, 2003 and June 25, 2003. Gonzo Digimation released the DVD box set, containing all 7 DVDs, on December 22, 2004. ADV Films released the anime's seven DVDs between September 14, 2004 and September 13, 2005. ADV Films released the DVD box set, containing all 7 DVDs, on November 15, 2005.
Drama and Animation CDs
On December 21, 2003, Geneon released an animation soundtrack CD for Peacemaker Kurogane. Geneon released a set of 5 Drama CDs for Peacemaker Kurogane. The first CD was released on December 21, 2003, the second CD on January 23, 2004, the third CD on February 25, 2004, the fourth CD on March 21, 2004 and the fifth CD on April 23, 2004 The songs were sung by Mitsuki Saiga, Yuka Imai, Joji Nakata, Takaya Toshi, Junichi Suwabe, Kappei Yamaguchi and Kenji Nomura. On November 25, 2005, Geneon released a Drama CD for the second season of Peacemaker Kurogane. The songs were sung by Mitsuki Saiga, Joji Nakata, Takaya Toshi, Kappei Yamaguchi, Kenji Nomura, Kousuke Torimi and Takahiro Sakurai.
On March 10, 2004, a soundtrack CD was released for the opening theme of Peacemaker Kurogane, "You Gonna Feel" by Hav.
Mania.com's Megan Levey commends the tension and emotion of the second volume of Peacemaker Kurogane that "seems to just ring from the pages". Mania.com's Megan Levey commends the third volume of the manga for its "very close facial expressions" in its artwork but criticises the manga's color pages for coming "across as extremely flat and somewhat washed out".
Peacemaker was ranked 9th as the "Favourite Anime Series" in the 26th annual Animage readers' poll. THEM anime reviews comments that the "drama of the series is paramount" but its comedy is lame. Animefringe.com criticises the protagonist of the series, labelling him as "an annoying brat that cries and moans when he doesn't get what he wants". Mania.com's Chris Beveridge commends the anime for its slowly revealed "supernatural elements" as well as the simplicity and comical nature of Saizō the pig. John Sinnott at DVD Talk praises the first DVD of Peacemaker for its original language version over the English dub because Ayumu's English voice actress uses "one of those fake southern accents that are really horrible". DVDtalk's John Sinnott criticises the fifth DVD of the anime for "the lack of focus this series has". Brian Hanson at Anime Jump criticises the anime for aping Rurouni Kenshin as well as not displaying the qualities of other Weekly Shōnen Jump anime when it becomes "surprisingly violent". DVD Verdict's Judge Jeff Anderson commends the anime for its "CGI that blends well with the animation" and English dub that has a much more dynamic sound than the original Japanese track. Science Fiction Weekly's Tasha Robinson commends the anime for its "highly textured, detailed and beautifully rendered semi-historical drama, very much in the spirit of Rurouni Kenshin" whenever Tetsu "drops to the background" or "shuts up for a few scenes".
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