If a historical anime were set in the United States or France, it wouldn’t be uncommon to see George Washington or Napoleon Bonaparte. However, when it comes to historical anime set in Japan, I could not be more clueless. The first figure I chose to look at is Shimazu Toyohisa of Drifters fame.
Toyohisa was a Japanese samurai born in 1570 into a prominent organization called the Shimazu. He was also born to Commander Shimazu Iehisa, and was the nephew of famed General Shimazu Yoshihiro. At 20 years old, he joined his Uncle Yoshihiro during the Odawara Campaign and fought with him throughout in the Korean Invasions and the Battle of Sekigahara.
Unfortunately for Toyohisa, the Battle of Sekigahara is where his story ends. On October 21, 1600, it appeared as though he and his Uncle Yoshihiro’s troops were surrounded. In order to preserve his Uncle’s life and likely the Shimazu clan, Toyohisa flung himself at the enemy troops, allowing his uncle to escape.
Oddly enough, despite the fact that Toyohisa was a samurai, at the Battle of Sekigahara, he carried a yari (essentially a spear) into battle. The anime, however, depicts him as carrying two samurai swords.
It is interesting to note that there is no historical image of Shimazu Toyohisa. His character designs in Drifters and the video game Samurai Warriors 4 are essentially made up.