Samurai Gaiden: Akechi Samanosuke Hidemitsu

We brushed upon the battle of Yamazaki and Akechi Mitsuhide’s betrayal of Oda Nobunaga in the video on Takayama Ukon Shigetomo, last month. This month let’s talk about arguably the most famous Sengoku Samurai in video games, Akechi Samanosuke.

Akechi Hidemitsu (1560-1582)

Akechi Hidemitsu (1557?-1582)

What does Hamlet and the Betrayal at Honnoji have in common? Well…Demons, of course!

That’s right! We’re talking about Capcom’s very own Onimusha: Warlords. Originally released, in Japan, on January 25th, 2001; that makes it fifteen years old this month. Fifteen years old? I…remember when it was released; I was in High School.

I’m gonna need a minute!

Well, regardless of showing my age there, let’s talk about the hero of the game: Akechi Samanosuke. Did you know that he is based off a real person? Akechi Hidemitsu, also known by his government title, Sama no-Suke. The rank of Sama no-Suke roughly translates to Vice-Commander of the Left Cavalry Division.

Now the Onimusha series opens with Hidemitsu watching the Oda and the Imagawa fight at Okehazama. In reality Hidemitsu was probably only three years old when that happened. His birth date is generally regarded as either 1557 or 1560, Okehazama having occurred in 1560.

Hidemitsu was the son of Akechi Mitsuyasu, making him Akechi Mitsuhide’s cousin; although he is often referred to as Mitsuhide’s nephew in some translations. Hidemitsu’s father, Mitsuyasu, was the son of Akechi Yorihisa while Mitsuhide’s father, Mitsukuni, was the son of one Akechi Mitsutsugu. So…their branches of the Akechi family had separated at least 3 generations ago.

Most likely the term ‘nephew’ is used because Mitsuhide was thirty years older than Hidemitsu, so they use it to notate the age difference between the two cousins. That would be my guess.

Anyway, Hidemitsu, unlike his Onimusha counterpart was actually not strongly opposed to Oda Nobunaga. Hidemitsu is rumored to have advised against attacking Nobunaga when Mitsuhide decided to betray the Oda and kill him at Honnoji. Nonetheless, Mitsuhide decided the surprise attack was still going to take place and Hidemitsu led the charge.

At this point we all know what happened. And if not…let me know in the comments and that might be another Samurai Gaiden at some point.

Anyway, long story short, the Akechi are victorious and Hidemitsu is placed in charge of Mitsuhide’s old castle at Sakamoto. Mitsuhide takes over the capital, plunders Azuchi castle, and begins his takeover of the capital region.

Legends claim that Hidemitsu found Nobunaga’s head in the burned out remains of Honnoji and buried it with honor. These are more than likely false; if for no other reason than the fact that Mitsuhide probably would have lost trust in Hidemitsu for such an action and had him executed for treason.

When Toyotomi Hideyoshi came to the capital region to avenge Nobunaga, Mitsuhide fought him at Yamazaki. Again, long story short, Mitsuhide was defeated and killed in the battle. Part of the reason for this was that Mitsuhide’s allies didn’t come to his aid as quickly as he would have liked; or at all in many cases.

One of those allies was Akechi Hidemitsu. Hidemitsu brought his army from Sakamoto to aid his Uncle-Cousin but Yamazaki was over before he arrived.

Hidemitsu got caught up fighting against Hori Hidemasa at Uchide-hama shortly after Yamazaki’s completion. Hidemitsu’s forces were defeated by the Hori and Hidemitsu was forced to flee, riding atop his horse, Great Bay, he floated across the southern tip of Lake Biwa and rode as hard and fast as he could to Sakamoto castle to prepare a defense.

Unfortunately for Hidemitsu the Hori were right behind him and quickly besieged the castle. Deciding that the war was over Hidemitsu murdered what remained of the Akechi family and after setting fire to the castle, he and his retainers committed seppuku.

Not quite the daring rogue portrayed in Onimusha, rather more like a loyal lackey to his arguably more famous cousin. Nonetheless an interesting figure, especially contrasted to how he is depicted in modern lore.

~RCS

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