As ‘Bakumatsu’ is used to refer to the period right before the Meiji Restoration, ‘Ishin Shishi’ were the people trying to achieve that restoration. One of the major players of this period was Sakamoto Ryouma, who died in 1867, the year before seeing his dream of imperial power restoration realized. This new game from D3 Publisher, Ishin Renka ~Ryouma Gaiden~ focuses on Ryouma and some new faces. Okita Souji is also a main character, as he was in the original Bakumatsu Renka. It’s set for fall release on the PSP.
The art design is quite different from the other games; characters are a little more realistic looking.
The characters, other than the heroine (that I know of) are actual historical figures:
Sakamoto Ryouma: Originally he was in favour not only of restoring the emperor’s power, but expelling foreign influences from Japan. He was convinced by Katsu Kaishuu, who he was actually sent to kill, that Japan needed to modernize in order to survive as a sovereign nation, and became a key figure in the Meiji Restoration. For example, he was the person who negotiated a truce between two enemy clans, the Choushuu and Satsuma. He was a very good swordsman, but carried a gun as well.
Okita Souji: A well known member of the Shinsengumi who was a genius swordsman, in real life he died of tuberculosis alone in Tokyo after the rest of the Shinsengumi had left for battles elsewhere.
Kawakami Gensai: Another member of Ishin Shishi, Kawakami was an assassin who favoured violence as the method of restoring the emperor. He was short, and was bullied as a child. He was enrolled in sword fighting by his sister. In the game, he’s apparently been mistaken for a woman because of his delicate appearance.
Takasugi Shinsaku: A member of the Choushuu clan of relatively high birth, he used to steal away often to the Shoka Sonjuku (a private school) and study with Yoshida Shouin, a scholar responsible for teaching many Ishin Shishi. He was a dynamic leader who formed a modernized militia that beat the shogunate forces in a key step on the path of Meiji Restoration. In history, he died in 1867 at the age of 28 from tuberculosis.
Nakaoka Shintarou: A member of the Tosa clan and another Ishin Shishi, praised as a prodigy in martial arts. His meeting with the game’s main character is when he decides not to let other people’s opinions of him influence what he does. In real life he died from the same attack that killed Sakamoto Ryouma in 1867. In this game? We’ll have to wait and see.
The heroine in this game, Sawa Nanoka, grew up in the same household as Ryouma, after he found her alone in the wilderness. Her mother died when she was very young, and her father took her into the mountains to try to escape his master. Unfortunately they were found, so her father sacrificed himself and told his daughter to live free.
This series is fairly historically accurate, so until now many of the storylines have been in the ‘romantic but tragic’ category. But they do often use any uncertainty about a character’s death to get creative, so it’s hard to say what the endings to this game will be like. In any case, it will be interesting to finally play a game focused on the other side of the Bakumatsu from the Shinsengumi.