The Juppongatana (十本刀, Ten Swords) is a special attack force of elite warriors assembled and commanded by Shishio Makoto for the purpose of leading his revolutionary army against the Meiji government. With Shishio's army behind them, they serve as the main antagonist group of the series' Kyoto Arc.
The Juppongatana are the main antagoninsts of the Kyoto Arc, and are gathered for the first time (except for Cho, who is in prison) in episode 44 of the anime series. A group of extremely skilled fighters and warriors, they are considered as some of the most powerful in all of the nation of Japan in the era of the Meiji, and as the most powerful within the ranks of Shishio's militia. Despite the tendency to rank the fighters in groups like this, none of the Juppongatana have an official rank, although they agree in some points: that Soujiro was the strongest and that Iwanbo was the weakest. Ultimately, the Juppongatana weren't just enforcers and commanding elites, as it was revealed that their ranks were mainly a buffer for Shishio's crippling weakness of his disabled perspiration giving him an extreme form of hyperthermia should he see strenuous physical activity for more than 15 minutes.
Each one of the Juppongatana has a different skill and fighting style, all of which is centered around the ideas of wielding a "sword" of some sort, either literally or metaphorically. Many within these elite ranks also hold different motivations for their allegiance, some with resentment against the Meiji government, some with admiration and respect for the goals of Shishio, others with nothing other than a burning grudge against Shishio, and some just there to show off their strengths for the thrill of it.
The Juppongatana have 11 members:
- Shishio Makoto, leader and founder of the Juppongatana.
- Seta Sōjirō, also known as 'Soujiro, The Tenken'. Wields a speed known as Shukuchi and prodigal kenjutsu as if they were granted from the heavens by birth.
- Kariwa Henya, also known as 'Henya, The Flighted'. Uses a style centered around literally flying in battle, while using wristmounted blades and gunpowder bombs.
- Honjō Kamatari, also known as 'Kamatari, The Large Scythe'.
- Yūkyūzan Anji, also known as 'Anji, The Destroying Bright King'. A muscle tempered and highly trained fallen monk claiming the titles of the Wisdom Kings of Buddhist lore who uses hand to hand martial arts, alongside kenpo and a devastatingly powerful destructive technique known as the Mastery of the Two Layers.
- Sadojima Hōji, also known as 'Houji, The One Hundred Fold Knowledged'. Skilled in marksmanship with a rifle, his sword comes from his sharp and very cunning mind.
- Sawagejō Chō, also known as 'Cho, The Sword Hunter'. Wields various blades and swords of unique rarity and extremely deadly and fatal designs that he has collected over the years.
- Uonuma Usui, also known as 'Usui, The Blind Swordsman'. A murderous and almost demonic blind killer claimed to have gained an incredible extrasensory ability known as the Heart's Eye, and wields a weight hafted Tinchin with a turtle shell Ronbe shield.
- Iwanbō, also known as 'Iwanbō, The Round Demon'. A fat, mentally challenged, but violently unpredictable and chaotic madman wielding finger mounted blades.
- Saizuchi of the Destruction Army, also known as 'The Destroying Yin'. A small, manipulative and miserly elderly man whose edge lies in his persuasion and speech.
- Fuji of the Destruction Army, also known as 'The Destroying Yang'. A fearsome and omninous looking giant of a man, often considered more monster than human.