When childhood innocence gives way to a blinding thirst for revenge, is it worth the price of one's humanity? Tetsunosuke and Tatsunosuke are the sons of a diplomat who sought to bring peace and prosperity to Japan during the early Meiji Restoration. But when their parents are murdered before their very eyes, Tetsu seeks to join the Shinsengumi, the unofficial police who are capable of the same brutality as his parents' murderers. Wading through a sea of espionage, deception and bloodshed, the young boy must choose: should he take a step on the path to becoming a demon... or give up his rage and transform into the ultimate Peacemaker?
Volume 6: Wagamama Tenshi no Sodatekata.
Shinsengumi Imon Peace Maker was published in English as Peace Maker by Tokyopop from November 11, 2005 to November 1, 2008. The publication followed the second edition of the japanese print, with five volumes.
Nanae Chrono's Peace Maker was released at a time where Shinsengumi fiction was mostly confined to television shows and films - in fact, the same year saw the release of Nagisa Oshima's Gohatto - despite them being a staple of Japanese culture. Rurouni Kenshin and Kaze Hikaru were really the only other established manga that had depicted the samurai police force in any light. The decade since has seen the Shinsengumi reinvigorated, with numerous portrayals in Because Goodbyes Are Coming Soon, Sayonara Shinsengumi, Hakuouki and Gintama. However, no manga since Peace Maker has portrayed them so tremendously and to such a memorable degree.
The story follows
Tetsunosuke, a determined young boy seeking to join the Shinsengumi in order to enact revenge against the man who killed his parents two years earlier. Revenge stories often fail to avoid the cliches, and some are definitely present in Peace Maker, but the plot remains thoroughly engrossing through its historical content. The setting is the late Edo period, the Meiji restoration is on the horizon, the final days of the samurai are near approaching and many major events that occur in the manga are events that have occurred in history; such as the Ikedaya incident. The author follows a rough historical timeline and adapts her material along the way; it's incredibly well written, planned and paced. The manga is only five volumes long and it goes without saying there are certain liberties taken, but nevertheless Nanae Chrono creates a world partly based in reality and portrays - with great detail - historical Japan. It's a wonderful setting and the portrayal of the Shinsengumi - the Japanese police force at the time - is ever captivating. Tetsunosuke's story doesn't let up, either. It remains an engrossing, vivid, sensational read.
Chrono's art style is quite bold; the characters stand out firmly from the backgrounds and her action is ferocious and exciting to follow. Her backgrounds and settings help to bring out the world of Peace Maker and it becomes easy to imagine a general layout of the Shinsengumi headquarters and the surrounding areas, which is quite a feat for an artist in establishing the setting so strongly. The artist provides a fine amount of detail overall and the action is easy to follow through her attentive panel placement.
History books offer descriptions of the Shinsengumi - Okita is often said to be polite, honest and good-natured, though a strict teacher to his students, while Hijikata is said to be tall and handsome, but mean to all but his family and friends, later adopting the nickname Demon Vice Commander of the Shinsengumi - and Nanae Chrono generally follows these interpretations; portraying Okita as a sweet, good-natured pretty-boy, but deadly with the sword, and Hijikata as a tall, handsome fellow, with a mean demeanor. It's yet another aspect the author gives a real historical edge. Chrono's character designs are consistent and appealing, and the characters themselves are well written, diverse and absorbing, with great depth and a real sense of development and growth.
Peace Maker is a fascinating series that will not only entertain, but perhaps also pique your historical intrigue. The Shinsengumi are captivating historical figures and brilliant manga subjects. Chrono presents a wonderfully invigorating historical setting, chock-full with action and drama, complemented by a beautiful - and at times dark - coming of age story, set to the background of revenge. The author continues to excel throughout, offering readers a thoroughly explosive climax. Peace Maker is an engrossing, all around marvellous manga and contains easily one of the best portrayals of the Shinsengumi.
The Shinsengumi is a fairly common topic for anime and manga. They appear in stories ranging in style from the comedy Gintama to the shonen samurai action series Rurouni Kenshin. The real life special police force that existed during the final days of the Shogunate is indeed quite fascinating; their talent was renowned and, despite having lost their war, it is difficult to not paint them in the very least a remarkable light.
Shinsengumi Imon Peacemaker follows Tetsunosuke Ichimura as he struggles with the concepts of revenge, killing, and friendship after joining the Shinsengumi in order to become stronger and avenge the brutal murder of his
parents. To my understanding, it is impressively historically accurate, with Tetsunosuke and his brother, Tatsunosuke, being the only fictional characters to appear, and all major events having more or less gone down as they do depicted in the book. The story asks many questions, and the character development because of this is excellent. This is complimented by the often gorgeous art, which typically remains detailed while not becoming confusing.
However, the book is clearly written by a girl in her late teens to early 20s. The character designs lean almost exclusively towards bishounen or chibi. Situations often cater to the yaoi fandom at unnecessary times. The story (even ignoring the historical fiction aspects) is rather predictable. The pacing also leaves something to be desired, though it is interesting to see how Nanae Chrono becomes better at panel layouts as she goes on.
All in all, Shinsengumi Imon Peacemaker is incredibly entertaining. Despite its flaws, it is an incredibly good read, especially for those interested in Japanese culture and history. This being said, if one generally unfamiliar with Japanese culture, this book may seem somewhat confusing and inaccessible.