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Kisaragi Saemon

Image:Basilisk Saemon.jpg

Kisaragi Saemon (japanese: 如月 左衛門, hiragana: きさらぎ さえもん, rōmaji: Kisaragi Saemon) a major character featured in the Japanese Anime Basilisk: The Kouga Ninja Scrolls. Saemon was chosen by Kouga Danjo to be one of ten shinobi to represent their clan of Kouga Manjidani against the chosen ten of the rival Iga Tsubagakure clan.

Saemon is one of Basilisk's more complex characters. Cool and aloof, he conducts himself in both war and peace with an almost professional detachment. The only person he shows emotion to is his younger sister Okoi whom he shares a deep bond with. Following Okoi's brutal capture, interrogation, and subsequent death at the Iga's hands; Saemon throws himself whole-heartedly into the war between Koga and Iga, seeing his clan's victory and revenge for his sister as one and the same. To that end, Saemon will use any method necessary to physically and mentally break the remaining Iga ten. But after the fight is over and his enemy is dead, Saemon will always apologize to his slain opponents with the hope that in death they might know the peace they were denied in life.

Along with Kasumi Gyoubu, Saemon specializes in stealth and infiltration. By pressing another's face into a raised mound of mud or soft clay, Saemon can form a mold with which he can insert his own face into, taking their form and appearance for himself. This, along with his talent for impersonating voices, makes Saemon a master of disguise. His technique however is only effective cosmetically. It doesn't bestow him with any of a person's abilities or memories and anything with senses superior to a human's (as Hotarubi's snake proved) are able to see through it. Saemon is also one of the Koga's more capable fighters, at one point successfully defending himself against multiple opponents at once.

In the Japanese original anime, he is voiced by Youjii Ueda.

Saemon & Gyoubu VS Yashamaru (episode 6): After the Iga launched a surprise attack on Manjidani, Saemon was sent by Muroga Hyouma along with Kasumi Gyoubu to warn Gennosuke of what had happened and then return him to Manjidani. Along the way, they encountered Yashamaru who was returning to Tsubagakure from Sunpu. Hiding behind a wall, Saemon impersonated the voice of Yakushiji Tenzen and tricked Yashamaru into revealing that the Hattori truce had indeed been lifted as Hyouma had theorized. This revelation was enough to shock Saemon into blowing his cover and Yashamaru quickly bound him with his wires. Fortunetly for Saemon, Gyoubu materialized out of a wall and killed Yashamaru before the Iga could deliver the final blow. Afterwards, Saemon used his technique to take on Yashamaru's appearance so he could sneak into Tsubagakure and rescue Gennosuke.

Saemon VS Iga ten (episode 7-8): Arriving at Tsubagakure disguised as Yashamaru, Saemon encountered Yashamaru's lover Hotarubi and almost had his cover blown when her snake bit him on the finger. Fortunately, Hotarubi was blinded by her relief of seeing Yashamaru alive and remained ignorant of his true identity. Guiding him into the village, Hotarubi casually revealed to him that four of the Koga ten were already dead and a fifth, Saemon's sister Okoi, was being held in the clan's salt shed. Saemon went to see and arrived just after Okoi had been mortally wounded by Nenki. With Hotarubi and Nenki distracted, Saemon silently communicated with Okoi through a touch technique similar to morse code and learned where she hid the battle scroll, praising her for obtaining it and for killing Azuki Rousai.

After Okoi's death, Saemon retrieved the scroll and was about to leave when Oboro came running into the salt shed with Tenzen, Akeginu, and Koushiro in pursuit. Oboro had finally been told of the Hattori Truce's disolval and was desperate to stop whatever mistreatment her clan was inflicting on Okoi. One look into Oboro's eyes was enough to neutralize Saemon's technique and he reverted back to his true form, much to Hotarubi's horror.

Surrounded by the enemy, Saemon took position against the salt bundles as Nenki charged toward him, only to be blinded when Saemon flung a handful of salt into Nenki's face, causing the now blinded Nenki to accidentally tangle Hotarubi in his hair as he wildly flailed about. Seeing Oboro as the easiest way out, Saemon hurled Yashamaru's cleaver at her but missed when Tenzen knocked her out of the way and took the blade on his arm, creating an opening which granted Saemon the opportunity to throw the battle scroll out the door. Jingoro, who Nenki had thrown out into the rain following his victory over Okoi, attempted to catch it but was knocked out of the way by Gyoubu who took the scroll and fled. As the Iga pursued his comrade, Saemon escaped onto the roof of the salt shed and took a moment to mourn his sister's death before leaving to rendesvous with Gyoubu and Gennosuke.

Saemon VS Hotarubi (episode 11-13): Setting out with the other Koga to Sunpu, Saemon stopped to rest at a roadside inn when a disturbance from Gennosuke's cabin roused him and Muroga Hyouma into action. After learning that Gennosuke had been blinded by Hotarubi's snake, Saemon spotted a swarm of glowing butterflys atop a nearby roof and took off in pursuit of the Iga kunoichi alongside Kagerou. Yet despite wounding Hotarubi's leg with a throwing knife, Saemon lost her when the butterflies led him in the opposite direction. Returning to the inn, Saemon found the body of Mino Nenki hanging from the ceiling and in a sudden burst of rage, tore him loose and threw him onto the ground. Saemon would then use his technique to take Nenki's appearance before setting off again to catch Hotarubi. Locating her at the edge of a canyon, he told her that he had killed the remaining Koga except for Saemon and in an attempt to mentally unbalance Hotarubi; claimed that Saemon was the one who killed Hotarubi's lover Yashamaru instead of Gyoubu. In her rage, Hotarubi vowed that she would hunt down Saemon no matter what form he took before she noticed the bandage on his finger; the same one she had put on when her snake had bitten Saemon while he was disguised as Yashamaru. Saemon took advantage of her shock and lunged for her, successfully stealing her tantō which he used to amputate her hands when she tried to summon her butterfly swarms before stabbing her through the heart. As Hotarubi leaned against a nearby rock, she began to call out Yashamaru's name and reached for Saemon. Realizing she was hallucinating him as her lover, Saemon compassionately nodded and Hotarubi died in peace as she fell over the crag's edge. Saemon took a moment to silently pray for her and was awed when a swarm of butterflies rose out of the canyon to illuminate the night sky.

In the manga, Saemon upon witnessing Hotarubi's death reveals that he hated having to kill a woman but was duty bound to avenge his sister's death and commented that a duel between ninja was the very image of hell.

Saemon VS Takechiyo sect (episode 20): After taking Yakushiji Tenzen's appearance and overhearing the real reason for the truce's disolval from Lady Ofuku, Saemon and Kagerou both agreed that it would be best if they left Gennosuke safely hidden while they eliminated the final two members of the Iga ten on their own. Arriving at the Inn where Oboro and Akeginu were staying under Ofuku's protection, Saemon (still disguised as Tenzen) found himself confronted by Ofuku's samurai who ordered him away. When one attempted to remove him by force, Saemon struck the samurai's forearm and succeeded in dislocating his wrist. Seeing their comrade injured, the other samurai surrounded and attacked Saemon who effortlessly dodged their attacks as he incapacitated their wrists before Akeginu stepped out of the inn to see what was occurring and ordered the samurai to cease their attack.

Saemon VS Akeginu (episode 20): Maintaining his disguise as Tenzen, Saemon was guided into the inn by Akeginu where he revealed to her that Kagerou was the one who had killed Chikuma Koshirou and that he knew where she was located. Enraged, Akeginu withdrew to her quarters where she retrieved Koshirou's scythe as well as the flute Gennosuke had left behind in Tsubagakure. When Saemon saw what she had in her position, Akeginu kneeled before him and tearfully begged him to allow Oboro to have one memento of the man she loved. Surprised at the intensity of her emotion, Saemon agreed and Akeginu left the flute to be delivered to Oboro by Ofuku's samurai.

As he escourted her to the bridge where Kagerou was waiting, Akeginu explained to the man she thought was Tenzen the reason for the renewed conflict between Koga and Iga. Saemon admonished her for accepting the help of outsiders, saying that the Iga's war with the Koga was theirs to fight and that the succession dispute was no concern for either clan. Akeginu agreed but with Oboro's eyes still sealed shut, ensuring her protection was a higher priority for Akeginu than her revenge. For Saemon, the shock of learning of Oboro's blindness was overshadowed by his surprise at seeing another side of one he had only known as a heartless enemy.

When they finally arrived at the bridge, Saemon took a moment to ask Akeginu why she kept Gennosuke's flute from Oboro since it would help ease the pain of separation. Akeginu answered that it might actually intensify Oboro's suffering and Saemon agreed that the heart was a hard thing to understand, especially the heart of an enemy. Although surprised to hear such words from Tenzen, Akeginu remained ignorant of Saemon's deception and stepped forward to challenge Kagerou. During the fight, Saemon seized Akeginu before she could deliver the killing blow and allowed Kagerou to stab her though the heart. As she toppled into the river and disapeared into the current, Saemon thought back on the concern Akeginu had shown for Oboro and remembered what Gennosuke had told the Koga before setting out for Sunpu; that Iga and Koga were both people and that the only way to truly end the conflict was through understanding. Although Saemon could now see what Gennosuke had meant, he also realized too much blood had been spilled by both clans for any sort of understanding to prevail and their only choice left was to eliminate the other.

Saemon VS Tenzen (episode 20-21): After revealing to Kagerou that Oboro was blind, Saemon arranged to meet with her at the inn where Oboro was staying when Ofuku's samurai suddenly approached from down the road. As Kagerou retreated, Saemon stayed behind to delay them and reported that Akeginu had gone off in pursuit of Gennosuke whom they had mortally wounded before the samurai arrived. When one of them asked about Kagerou, Saemon claimed he had captured her earlier, made her his woman, and succeeded in converting her to the Iga's side. The samurai congratulated him and then asked if it was true what he had heard about Tenzen, that he was an immortal ninja who could only be killed by either cremation or decapitation. Shocked at the inquiry, Saemon attempted to dissuade the question when the samurai interrogating him said he would like to see Tenzen's skill personally as the soldier hiding behind him thrust forward his spear and impaled Saemon through the stomach. The shock of the surprise attack caused Saemon to drop his disguise as he desperately swung his sword, knocking off the samurai's hat and revealing him to be the real Tenzen. As Tenzen's twin repaired the gash Saemon had carved into his cheek, Tenzen revealed that years ago a member of the Iga with skills similar to Saemon's had infiltrated Manjidani disguised as the Elder and tricked the Koga into attacking Tsubagakure alongside Nobunaga. Enraged that he and his clan had been pawns in Tenzen's scheme; Saemon plunged himself down the shaft of the lance in an attempt to take Tenzen with him when the rest of Ofuku's samurai drove their spears forward and skewered Saemon to the railing of the same bridge he and Kagerou had killed Akeginu on only moments earlier.

Saemon is also a featured character in the Japanese live-action film SHINOBI Heart Under Blade. Within this movie, his whole body is wrapped up in a certain type of cassock, in which he wears a mask over his face. He had the apparent ability to teleport and instead of pressing a person's face in mud, he simply has to rub his hands on their face and then rub his hand on his own face, thus successfully mimicking their appearance.

In the novel it is stated that he appears so plain and common that a person would forget what he looked like moments later and even upon several meetings. And between his own clansmen and the Iga ten, Saemon does appear to be the most ordinary. It is also contemplated that the face he usually has might not even be his real face at all.

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