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Shinsuke Takasugi (高杉晋助)Age: 20s
Birthday: August 10
Hair: Black (purple highlights)
Eyes: Light Olive Green (bandage over left eye)
Occupation: Leader of the Kiheitai
Hobbies: Smoking a pipe, Playing a shamisen
A former comrade of Gintoki and Katsura and a major antagonist. He now leads a radical Joui faction called the Kiheitai and is known amongst the Shinsengumi as 'the most dangerous man in both the Joui faction and amongst the radicals'. He is easily recognizable through his bandaged left eye, his colorful kimono, his eerie smile, and the pipe he is often seen smoking.
He, Gintoki, and Katsura studied in the same temple elementary school when they were children, and he fought with them against the Amanto invasion during the latter part of the Joui war. After the war ended, he vanished, and has since gained a dangerous reputation due to his assassination of many of the Bakufu's main officers and his planning of a large-scale coup d'etat. Before his first appearance in both the anime and the manga, he was mentioned to have fled Edo and to have been hiding in Kyoto, although it is unclear how long before this was.
He now believes that the only way to save it is to destroy the "rotten" post-Joui war world.
He is shown to like festivals, although this is mainly due to the opportunity they provide for a large-scale terrorist attack: he appears to have an attraction to ruin that is almost nihilistic. He also appears to have considerable insight due to his 'seeing through Itou's heart' and subsequently planting him in the Shinsengumi's ranks.
It can be assumed that he is as skilled a swordsman as both Gintoki and Katsura, having fought alongside them as one of the 'heroes' of the Joui war. That aside, he appears to have at least considerable skill in playing the shamisen, and is shown at one point playing it with Bansai as they talk.
He is based on the historical Takasugi Shinsaku.
If you're interested in an anime that's constantly hilarious, but also has a great balance with serious plots, Gintama is an anime to check out. To start you off, read this article that features the main and minor characters you'll see in this unique anime series.