Saito Musashibo Benkei- Stephen Turnbull, The Samurai: A Military History
"Benkei stood there defiantly, naginata in hand, and so terrible did he look that none dared approach him."
Before we get started this week, I'll go ahead and address the obvious question – WTF is up with the ads? Well folks, after several months of progressively getting into deeper and deeper shit with my boss for writing and reading about badass stuff during work hours, I'm honestly about one TPS report away from ragequitting my day job with all the tact and subtlety of a guy hurling his controller against a wall after dying in the boss battle with Sephiroth 57 times in a row (or, perhaps more realistically, just getting outright canned). With my future financial well-being in mind I've decided to throw a couple hopefully-unobtrusive Google ads on the site as a means of gauging whether or not the Internet is something that can actually provide a legitimate income. If I'm somehow able to sustain myself and just do the writing thing full-time, it would give me a dickload of time to do a bunch of shit I've been putting off for a while (like re-writing those blacked-out badasses on the list, putting together some new miscellaneous articles, and maybe starting up a Podcast), as well as just being awesome just on general principle. In my HMTL wankering I also added a search box to the bottom of the page, in case you needed a more convenient way to figure out how many times in the history of the website I've used the word "douchebaggery" in a sentence (the answer is twice). So, with that out of the way, on to the badass shit.
The Japanese hero Saito Musashibo Benkei was a massive, ferocious behemoth of a man. This feudal Japanese sack-wrecker was known for being not only strong enough to pulverize your head into a disgusting grayish mush just by squeezing your face really hard with his bare hands, but also for having an appearance so hideously ugly and freakishly ogre-like that just looking at this guy caused many opposing warriors to drop their swords, go into respiratory failure, and instantly take a huge dump in their armor.
Benkei was a Buddhist priest, but he wasn't the sort of Buddhist priest that spends all day in their sanctuary praying, thinking about peace, and not going around smashing people in the groin with a bladed poleaxe until they cough up their prostate. He joined a monastery, but that was a little too tame for him, and he was eventually kicked out because of his recklessness and general balls-outitude. So, in true badass fashion, Benkei went out into the woods, built a one-man shrine to the Buddha next to a bridge over a quiet, peaceful stream, and dedicated his life to beating the holy living fuckshit out of any insolent jacknuts who tried to cross his bridge. During what must have been a rather successful and lengthy career as a moderately-holy highwayman, Benkei won 999 duels without suffering a single defeat.
The 1,000th man who attempted to cross the bridge was a samurai feudal lord named Minamoto no Yoshitsune. In an epic, Soul Calibur-esqe deathmatch between the two men, Yoshitsune somehow managed to emerge on top, disarming the hulking behemoth with some crazy Princess Bride shit. Benkei, totally in awe of the man who somehow just rocked his face in hand-to-hand combat, immediately swore a Wookie Life Debt to Yoshtisune. He followed his new lord through the entirety of a massive war that swept across Japan, kicking asses wherever he was able to find them, and helping the Minamoto Clan of neck-slashing samurai achieve victory over their hated rivals, the Taira Clan.
Things were going pretty well for these guys until one day all of a sudden Yoshitsune's brother decided he was going to take charge, seize power for himself, and declare his brother a traitor and an outlaw. Out of nowhere, a huge group of powerful Minamoto warriors came rushing out, destroyed all of Yoshitsune's retainers, and laid siege to the once-powerful warlord's castle.
Yoshitsune, knowing that the end was near, decided that the only rational way of dealing with the dishonor of having been cocked over by his own Clan and defeated in battle was to ritualistically disembowel himself by committing seppuku. It takes a little bit of time to do the seppuku thing up right, though, so in his final act as a samurai lord Yoshitsune ordered his last surviving warrior – Saito Musashibo Benkei – to guard the castle while he sat down and ate a folded-up Frisbee Real Ultimate Power-style.
Now, this may seem like a foreign concept to you and I, but back in the days of the daimyo killing yourself in the appropriate manner was a really big deal. I guess you can kind of think of committing seppuku as getting totally pissed off out of your mind because you're about to lose a round of multiplayer Halo, and ragequitting by blowing yourself up with the rocket launcher in order to deny your doucheface opponent the satisfaction of getting the final kill-shot on you. Ultimately, the point here is that Benkei took this order seriously.
Benkei went out to the drawbridge leading towards the castle, clenched his naginata in his fists, and dared the army on the other side to fucking fuck with him. A couple punk-ass bitches thought they wanted a piece of SMB, but Benkei slapped the fail out of them with the blunt end of his bladed axe, knocking their brains out and sending crumpled remains splashing into the moat. The enemy army stood across from him, trying to figure out how the balls they were going to get past him, and whenever some dumbshit managed to find the cojones required to step foot on the drawbridge Benkei made sure the last thing he saw was a foot-long hunk of razor sharp steel.
Realizing that any attempts of fighting Benkei like a man was going to result in an eviscerated brain pan, the opposing army just decided to shoot a bunch of arrows at him instead. Amazingly, this didn't even seem to faze him all that much – he just stood there, weapon at the ready, his armor bristling with a couple dozen arrows. Legend has it that he was so defiant and pissed off that he actually died standing upright, and that the dumbass retards he was fighting didn't seem to pick up on it until he'd already been dead for some time. Whatever the case may be, Benkei was eventually killed by a gatling gun barrage of arrows, but by the time the rival hordes broke into the inner sanctum of Yoshitsune's castle it was too late – the proud warrior had already completed the ritual and died with all the honor due a samurai of his stature. So I guess that's worth something.
De Benneville, James. Tales of the Wars of the Gempei. Bibliobazaar, 2001.
Murasaki Shikibu. Tale of the Heike. Trans. Helen Craig McCullough. Stanford Univ. Press, 1994.
Turnbull, Stephen R. The Samurai: A Military History. Routledge, 1996.
Turnbull, Stephen R. Warriors of Medieval Japan. Osprey, 2007.
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