|Hiko Seijūrō I|
|Fighting Style||Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū|
|Occupation||Samurai of Kitakata|
|Manga Debut||Crescent Moon in the Warring States|
Hiko Seijūrō I is the progenitor and the first master of the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū. Appearing in Nobuhiro Watsuki's premier work, Crescent Moon in the Warring States, that laid the foundation for Rurouni Kenshin, his existence was also credited in the series.
Hiko Seijūrō is a tall man of fair complexion. His hair is long and kempt, yet a bit wild, poofy and with volume, similar to that of a kabuki's wig. He keeps the rest of his long hair kept in a ponytail.
In casual and contemporary times, he wears a simple hakamashita top, in white with red borders, with darker hued hakama and his cape.
Hiko Seijūrō is also with a set of samurai armor when he sees war and important battles. This armor is of an elaborate and unique construction design of studding metal plates into an underlying frame plate for an elegant look with protection, consisting of:
- a dō cuirass, with retractable layers near the waist for more flexible movement,
- kote gauntlets, extending from the shoulder to the hand, each with a round gem embossed near the top forearm and elbow, and a guard woven into the shoulder
- uniquely designed form fitting haidate cuisse thigh guards, with the kanji for blade on the bottom right's plate,
- suneate greaves
- Auxilary pieces such as sode shoulder armor, kusazuri waist guards, and hato no ita and sendan no ita used to protect the front armpits and designate rank, in a more simpler design of the same fashion
As the first master of the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, he is shown with two important items that would become heirlooms of the art in the far future, his cape, and his nihonto katana, the Fuyutsuki. His secondary sword, the Kogetsu, is a wakazashi, completing the two in a daisho set customary of samurai to carry. His cape differs than that of Hiko Seijūrō XIII's incarnation; it is a simple one cloth cape with a short and prim raised and tucked collar, along with the red border. His cape also bears a metal link to keep it in place when worn, possibly made of a precious metal like gold or silver.
Though not much is shown of his character, the first Hiko Seijūrō is much unlike his future successor. He is level-headed, calm, and carries himself in a regal demeanor, not unexpected of a samurai of his class and prestige in his times, though not above being a bit arrogant, judgmental, and condescending.
In battle, he is extremely well composed, being valiant, fearless, fierce, and focused. It appeared that his only weakness was his fatalistic approach to life, where his fealty to his lord and fief forced him to forsake his own romance and feelings with Princess Natsu, and took on an extremely close obligation to the rules of bushido to the point that he was willing to forsake his own life and to find only death on the battlefield as his only meaning in life.
Nevertheless, Hiko is understanding and sensible, willing to hear the words and plights of others. Though he forsook his compassion to Princess Natsu, he was selfless in knowing of the more unfortunate outcome should he had taken her and escaped, and while he showed unmoving loyalty to Kitakata, his loyalty was likely derived of respect towards his domain's benevolent treatment of their civilians and subjects.
Fighting Style and AbilitiesEdit
As the founding swordsman of the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, Hiko's skills with the sword appear to surpass even his successors in the art; in one example, Hiko wields his sword gripping the near end of the hilt and pommel, a position that while allows the blade to reach far and wide, requires a great degree of training and conditioning to control and swing habitually. Amongst those who have heard his name and reputation in his time, knew Hiko as the man who could kill 100 in one stroke, and has been known to be of such astute aptitude to act alone, seen in the story to take on armies unscathed. He was the first and one of few masters in the history of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū to be able to maneuver beyond godspeed without the aid of battōjutsu strikes and likewise use the ougi Hiten Mugen Zan, an incredible yet deadly technique of such shinsoku and power, that it was seen to utterly crush the ground in front of him to pieces, and deliver an unspecified amount of slashes unseen with the naked eye.
Long ago in the extremely turbulent and violent days of the Sengoku, Hiko Seijūrō was once a high ranking samurai whose loyalties were pledged with the domain of Kitakata. Unparallelled and bearing the knowledge of his self made kenjutsu style, Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū, Hiko undoubtedly had made a name for himself, and became the kenjutsu master for all samurai in Kitakata, teaching and training them at the palace.
When the large neighboring domain of Nagumo and its powerhungry damiyo Hirosaki Iwano desired to take over its smaller neighbor, the ruling clan of Kitakata decided to sue for peace, and give their daughter, Princess Natsu, hand in marriage and as a peace offering to Iwano. However, Princess Natsu was highly reluctant to be married to such a man, and came to hide in the residence of Hiko's estate, both of whom had affection for each other. Though she wished to be at his side forever and to run away from her domain's state of affairs with him, Hiko declined for the sake of all within Kitakata against the threat of Nagumo, despite his own feelings for her.
Shortly after Iwano's and Natsu's marriage, Nagumo underhandedly deceived Kitakata's ruling clan and had ordered all of them to death after laying siege to its castle. But, even after its own demise of its ruling clan, the remaining nobility and samurai of Kitakata still held hope on the one man with the sword that could kill one hundred in one stroke to bring back peace to their domain- And so, did Hiko make his way to the battlefield.
Cutting swaths through the forces of Nagumo, Hiko's campaign led him to save the life of a farmer boy named Isshinta. Upon meeting him however, the excited Isshinta unfortunately complicated matters for Hiko, with a retreating ashigaru making way back to the head camp and with the clinging Isshinta forcing him to retreat as well.
With the word of his arrival, Nagumo's forces came in numbers and scouted of his whereabouts. Hiding and resting in a valley crevasse with the help of the new moon's darkness, the two bide until morning to make an escape. Disturbed by his rest by a nightmare, Hiko and Isshinta came to learn that both shared a loved one by the name of Natsu, and grew to know more about another. While Isshinta told of his close girlfriend, Hiko made mention of Princess Natsu, whom he felt ashamed to talk about, as he felt that, as he had abandoned her in her time of need, he did not feel worthy of her feelings anymore. Isshinta countered that his obligations to his domain were not wrong, and that it was the greedy ambition of Iwano that came between them.
As Isshinta came to remind Hiko that he was Kitakata's last hope for peace, praised as the hero who would save them from the villainous Iwano, and the only one who could save Princess Natsu, Hiko would be forced into battle upon being discovered. Wishing Isshinta to leave the battlefield alive to the one that waits for him, and feeling that his time has come, Hiko gives him the Fuyutsuki for travel collateral, despite his objections.
Even armed with only the Kogetsu, his wakazashi, Hiko still remains unfettered by Nagumo's forces- Until he is cornered by Iwano to a duel himself and subdued with their secret trump: the arbeques. Shot three times with his armor barely holding defense against the bullets, Iwano makes it known of Natsu longing for Hiko, and is sickened of her sadness, wishing to quell it upon bringing her his dead body along with their victory over Kitakata. Facing certain death and Iwano's victory to be fulfilled, Hiko contemplates his last moments- Until he realizes that the new moon bears no crescent moon at all.
With Isshinta having come back to give him his sword, no matter what doubt Hiko spoke of, Isshinta made his way through the enemy infantry. Shouting with all his might, Isshinta also made it clear of his duty that, even though he did not want to perish in war to see his Natsu, Princess Natsu's tears never stop in sake of Hiko, and that if he were to die, they would never stop even after his death. On the border of life and death, Hiko realizes the truth of her love for him, and charges forward, brandishing his Fuyutsuki again and saving Isshinta. Making his victory to be known, Hiko finishes the duel between him and Iwano, stopping the last bullet by jamming the barrel with tossing the Kogetsu, and decisively pulling forward Kitakata victory by slaying Iwano with the Hiten Mugen Zan.
As days pass and Hiko continues his campaign against Nagumo, that winter would see him make a successful rescue of his beloved Princess Natsu and siege of Iwano's castle. As the last days of the war pass over into late spring, he and Natsu would be betrothed and married. Sojourning along with Isshinta back to his home village, it would be known now that Hiko Seijuro and Natsu would become the new damiyo of Kitakata.
Creation and DevelopmentEdit
Hiko first appeared in a one-shot story by Watsuki named Crescent Moon in the Warring States, set in the Sengoku Period of feudal Japan, which was later included in the English language Rurouni Kenshin manga volume six. Whereas Hiko Seijūrō XIII believed that it could only be wielded by a free sword, independent of any idealogy and loyalty, this previous Hiko had pledged his loyalty to the daimyo of a small prefecture and served him as a samurai. His weapon was a shirasaya nihonto with the name Fuyutsuki('Winter Moon') painted on its hilt. Hiko claimed that the Fuyutsuki, like his cloak, was an heirloom of the Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū, leading some readers to believe that the same weapon is wielded by Hiko Seijūrō XIII(both swords have a similar appearance, though his nihonto lacks the hilt markings).
Since the creation of Rurouni Kenshin, Watsuki has stated that this story is canon and tells the story of one of the previous Hiko Seijūrōs, thus making the name Hiko Seijūrō in fact a title granted to each succeeding master of Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū. Since Hiko Seijūrō II, and each new master has discarded his own name in favor of the name of the creator of Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū. From this story it appears that the various Hiko Seijūrōs followed different ideals and beliefs for the use of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryū. One important aspect derived from the story also appears to include the origin of inspiration used in the Amakaeru Ryū no Hirameki needed to fully master the Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryū.