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Hajime Tsukishima (月島基, Tsukishima Hajime) is a Sergeant under Tsurumi's command in the 7th Division.

Appearance Edit

Tsukishima is a short but thickset, strong man, with dark hair and dark eyes. His eyes give him a stern look with big tears underneath them. He has a rather small nose as well as a small goatee with a shaved head, He has quite a muscular physique and wears the standard Japanese military uniform with a big coat over it.

Personality Edit

Tsukishima is a very serious man, taking orders from his superiors and being rather dilligent and dependable. Tsukishima is unfailingly polite and will address other people with honourifics and by their title, even when he does not have a high impression of or is upset with them. He is shown to be extremely loyal, though due to recent events regarding his past and Tsurumi's involvement in tricking him into learning Russian for use during the Russo-Japanese war may cast some of this into doubt.

He is brutal and efficient in a fight, willing to put himself into the fray and end the conflict as quickly as possible, whether that means kicking an animal off of his superior's back or just throwing bombs to clear out as many people as physically possible. By Tsukishima's own admittance, he is willing to dirty his own hands in order to get the necessary results that he desire.

He is described as "the conscience of the 7th Division.", often acting as the straight man as the entire group crumbles into chaos around him.

Despite his stoic demeanor, Tsukishima has shown to care for his comrades as seen when he offered words of consolation to Genjirou Tanigaki who had been verbally reprimanded and continued to show concern even when he is unable to address them directly.

Background Edit

Hajime Tsukishima was born on the island of Sado and grew up with a father who was widely detested by the locals. As a result of his father's reputation, he was known as the "murderer's son" and called many other names as he would often fight with the other people on the island. His only friend was a girl with wild, unruly hair called "Igogusa", who was the only person to ever call him by his name, Hajime.

As a young man, Tsukishima enrolled into the 2nd Division out of Shibata and fought in the First Sino-Japanese War that occured shortly afterwards. Before leaving to fight in the war, Tsukishima told Igogusa that when the war is over, that he will marry her and leave the island together. However, around the end of the war, Tsukishima stopped receiving letters from Igogusa and upon returning to Sado, learnt that he had been thought dead by the locals.

Tsukishima frantically searched for Igogusa whose shoes were found on the shores of the sea and everytime he saw egogusa seaweed washed up on the beach, it sent chills up his spine. He then began to think who it was that had spread rumours about his death and traced it back to his father. Filled with rage, Tsukishima killed his own father before he could ask why he had spread the rumours of his demise. As a result of committing patricide, Tsukishima was arrested and thrown into the army prison to be executed for the crime of parricide.

Sometime later in Meiji 29 (1896), his superior, the 2nd Lieutenant of the 2nd Division, Tsurumi paid him a visit in prison where Tsukishima recounted his early days to him. After telling him his story, Tsurumi went out to do some investigation on "Igogusa" and came back with the lie that "Igogusa" was still alive and produced some egogusa seaweed that he passed off as "Igogusa's" hair in order to relieve Tsukishima's mind. Tsurumi then tried to recruit Tsukishima into the 7th Division where he had been transferred to and told him to study Russian in order to become an interpreter despite Tsukishima's insistence that he cannot speak Russian.

Tsukishima took part in the Siege of Port Arthur where he fought in the Battle of 203 Hill along with his division and the other divisions of the Imperial Japanese Army. They were able to take 203 Hill with Tsurumi claiming victory.

Nine years later after being freed from prison, on Mukden during the Russo-Japanese War, Tsukishima who had been injured, was approached by a young soldier from his home island on Sado and told that "Igogusa's" body had been found. Realizing that Tsurumi had lied to him, Tsukishima roared at Tsurumi and confronted his superior with fury in his eyes. With a scream of rage, Tsukishima punched Tsurumi and grabbed him, asking why he had found Igogusa's bones under his father's house and if he had been lying to him for the past nine years. Tsurumi states that he had done so because Tsukishima had already come to accept his execution and that if he knew Igogusa was still alive, he would feel regret.

Tsukishima angrily retorted if he should feel grateful to him but after hearing Tsurumi's praise for him, broke down saying that he never wanted him to use her to deceive him. As Tsurumi was about to tell him more about Igogusa, the Russians began to bombard their location and Tsukishima pushed Tsurumi down in order to protect him. However, Tsurumi's face ended up getting injured as Tsukishima was sent flying by the impact. As Tsukishima slipped in and out of consciousness, he has a vision of Igogusa speaking to him and Tsurumi at the monument for the dead as he subconsciously replied to Tsurumi asking if he was still alive. The 7th Division brought them both to a frozen body of water to be carried away and Tsukishima stares quietly at the soldier who had given up a sledge as he is carried away.

Once their wounds had been treated, Tsurumi talks more about Igogusa's story to Tsukishima and spoke about the Ainu plan that he plans to execute once the war was over. Tsukishima then says that since Tsurumi had saved his life, he will pledge to use what remains of it for his service, to which Tsurumi says he is glad to hear as he pats Tsukishima on the shoulder.

Plot Edit

At a certain location during the night time, Tsukishima and Tsurumi are checking out various guns that were sold to them by Mr. Thomas. He notes that the guns are fairly old and that semi-automatic models of shotguns were recently developed. Mr. Thomas tells them that good guns require good money, and that they'll have to make do with what he gave them for the amount they have. He then says that they should have enough money once they get what they're after.

In the coal mining town of Yubari, under the commands of Tsurumi, Tsukishima is staking out a grave of a man who died in a mining incident, along with his superior and Kouhei Nikaidou in order to catch the grave robber. He questions if the grave robber would really take their bait, to which Tsurumi says that news of the mining incident must've spread all over town in no time and that the grave robber surely must've heard of it.

As Tsurumi is distracted by Nikaidou asking if he could give him his ear, he spots a silhouetted man to which he calls Tsurumi's attention. However, Nikaidou steps on a branch which alarms Tsukishima and Tsurumi and alerts the man, causing him to run. Tsurumi orders the two men to chase after him and Tsukishima with rifle in hand, tells Nikaidou not to kill him.[1]

After the chase, Tsukishima met up with a doctor in Yubari who told him that a man with a strange tattoo was carried into his clinic after a mining accident and passed away. He then went to the graveyard where he was buried and attempted to dig it up only to find that it was empty. Sometime later, Tsukishima and Nikaidou are seen in a house next to the Edogai Taxidermy store, ready to fire in case anything happens. When Nikaidou asks if it would be better to just kill Edogai and search the store, Tsukishima tells him that if Tsurumi really was planning to kill him, he'd have done it as soon as he answered the door. [2]

As Tsukishima observes Tsurumi praising Edogai trying out various costumes made from human skins, he rubs his eye and wonders just what is happening in that house. He then looks around and notices that Nikaidou has disappeared. Afterwards, Tsurumi and Nikaidou heads back to Otaru, leaving another member of the 7th division, Maeyama with him to look after Edogai. However, when Edogai gets frustrated with his work, he tries to cheer him up only to get yelled and threatened at. Edogai continues to throw a big tantrum while the two soldiers can only look on, doing nothing.[3]

When Edogai gets angry because someone had slammed the door to his store while he was working, he comes out and yells at Tsukishima and Maeyama. He endures Edogai telling the both of them to take a bath and to apologize to a mount of Tsurumi that Edogai had created. Once again, he just silently stares at Edogai during another one of his tantrum.[4]

Tsukishima heads out for a trip to the bathhouse and merrily sings a song about how bad the town is but then realizes that he forgot his wallet. He heads back to the Edogai store to retrieve it, unaware that he is being tailed by Saichi Sugimoto and Yoshitake Shiraishi. Along the way, he is stopped by an elderly man who tells him that he saw a white bear running around, but he thinks that he is just joking. Entering the store, he sees Hyakunosuke Ogata and engages him in combat. While fighting, he berates Ogata for killing Maeyama and his plan to rise through the ranks by turning Tsurumi's platoon in. He calls out for Edogai but then realizes the white bear that the old man told him about was him in disguise. Tsukishima flees the store in order to find Edogai and asks around town if anyone has seen a white bear. He is able to locate Edogai and rescue him from Ogata's interrogation by taking him into a mine cart that he rode in.

Tsukishima and Edogai heads into the mine but are being pursued by Sugimoto and Shiraishi in another cart. He and Sugimoto exchange gunfire at each other, but eventually Sugimoto's cart was able to catch up to them. Tsukishima then triggers a switch that causes their carts to go separate ways. However, since the miners had just lit a dynamite, they all are caught up in an explosion. Once it had died down, Tsukishima frantically searches for Edogai to find him trapped under a pile of rubble, with his legs crushed. Edogai hands the bag of skins and a final message to pass on to Tsurumi. With that, Tsukishima attempts to make his way out of the mines.

Tsukishima was able to escape the mines and made his way back to Otaru to make his report to Tsurumi. He delivered the fake tattoed skins that Edogai had made as well as Edogai's last word to his commander. Afterwards, Tsurumi tells him that he has done an excellent job and that he should take a long rest. Putting on his hood, Tsukishima steps out into the rain to make his way to his destination.

When Nikaidou was severely wounded on a mission against Sugimoto and Hijikata, he was brought to a hospital in Otaru to be treated, and Tsukishima would look after him. However, Tsukishima had to argue with Nikaidou due to him stealing bottles of morphine every so often. He was then brought out by Tsurumi to meet Lieutenant General Narizou Arisaka whom Tsukishima did not recognize at first. After apologizing to Arisaka and observing his exchange with Tsurumi, he wonders just how much he does not know about Tsurumi.

Arisaka then brought out some guns designed by him and his subordinates which Tsukishima immediately tested out. He continued to listen to the two eccentric men talking until Tsurumi brought up Nikaidou's plight. They returned to the hospital to find that Nikaidou is trying to steal morphine again, which Tsukishima tries to wrestle away from him. When Arisaka gave him a prosthetic leg capable of firing shotgun shells, Tsukishima, Tsurumi, Arisaka, and a strange man congratulates him on getting a new leg.

...

...

...

With the wolverine still outside the banya, Tsukishima wonders what they can do about their situation before noticing that Gansoku is adding more steam to the room, much to his desperation. When Gansoku takes out a venik and begins to slap everyone, Tsukishima allows himself to fall into his pace while wondering what he is doing. Koito thinks this is all part of Sugimoto's brilliant plan, but Tsukishima denies it. They then notice that the wolverine has finally turned its attention elsewhere, to Sugimoto and notes that a wild animal is doing battle with a monster. With the wolverine killed by Tanigaki and Cikapasi, they are able to leave the banya.

When Sugimoto and Gansoku begins to fight, Koito wonders if they should help and Tsukishima asks who he intends to help. Tanigaki says that the fight must be stopped so they rushed in to break them up, but the ice underneath them breaks, sending them all into the cold water. The five of them immediately jumps out, with Tsukishima helping Koito out, and back into the banya to warm themselves up. In the banya, Tsukishima agrees with Sugimoto's idea not to let Gansoku die, telling him to leave Karafuto and even suggests heading to Russia where he can continue to practice stenka. He then silently listened as Gansoku tells Sugimoto about his encounter with Asirpa.

As Gansoku takes Tsukishima's advice and leaves Karafuto, Koito asks Tsukishima why he let Gansoku go without consulting Tsurumi. Tsukishima then tells him that Tsurumi has left all decision making up to him, then turns to Sugimoto, saying that it also included what to do with him. He warns Sugimoto that if he were to ever lose control again, then he will kill him. Sugimoto's group comes to a Karafuto Ainu village and decides to stay there for the night. When Koito complains about not continuing on to Toyohara just to sleep at a wonderful inn, Tsukishima reassures him that they will arrive in Toyohara the next day since they need to do some shopping there.

They eventually reach Toyohara whereupon Sugimoto's bag is stolen by a young boy so Tsukishima, Sugimoto, and Koito chases after him. Tsukishima asks Sugimoto if Gansoku's tattoo is in the bag to which he admits it before splitting up with the others so that they can catch the thief between them. As he rejoins with Sugimoto, they hear a gunshot which was fired by Koito who had managed to catch up with the thief.

The thief and his master begins to apologize to the soldiers for the trouble that the boy had caused, and the master decides to take things further by taking his sword out to cut the thief. After clearing up the misunderstanding, they reveal that it was fake blood as part of a magic trick and that the two belongs to the Yamada Circus Troupe. This gives Sugimoto an idea to join their act so as to pass the message to Asirpa that he is alive by having the whole town of Toyohara talk about his performance.

Initially, Yamada refuses Sugimoto's request but gives in after Sugimoto threatens him and at Choukichi's suggestion. They are then led into the troupe's tent where they see some of their performances and given an opportunity to try them out. While Koito continue to deliver excellent performances one after the other, Tsukishima, Sugimoto, and Tanigaki perform poorly and so Yamada tells Sugimoto to practice the harakiri act and has Tsukishima and Tanigaki relegated to the Girls Group dance led by Fumie Yamada. Unlike Tanigaki, Tsukishima is not intimidated by Fumie's harsh words and attempts to console Tanigaki. However, Tanigaki is only upset that he is a burden on the GIrls Group as he cannot dance well.

When Tanigaki continues to make mistakes during the Girls Group dance routine, thus earning the ire of Fumie which causes him to cry again, Tsukishima watches from behind a stack of boxes as some of the girls console him. Tsukishima and the other solders kept practicing their acts until the day of the performance finally arrives as the whole troupe gets ready for their show. Tsukishima quietly takes part in the Girls Group dance as he partners up with Tanigaki. At a certain time, he put a photograph of Tsurumi on the tightrope so that Koito would notice and fail at his performance, however he watched as Koito was instead able to increase his popularity with the crowd. Afterwards, the Girls Group performed another dance and headed to the back where they celebrated their success, as Tsukishima silently watches them.

When Koito finds that the photograph of Tsurumi wasn't originally his, Tuskishima confessed that he had placed the photograph on the tightrope as he had figured Koito would be a huge success and as such there would be no point to doing the show themselves. He then laments that his plan had backfired but became curious when Koito expressed concern as he had switched Sugimoto's fake blade with a real one, since he believed that Sugimoto had taken his photo.

When Sugimoto cuts himself with Koito's blade and looks around in bewilderment, he sees Tsukishima and Koito holding the fake blade but when he decides to continue with the show, Tsukishima is surprised by this. As Sugimoto prepares to cut his stomach, Tsukishima and the others notice several Russian men walking on stage, one of whom points a gun at Sugimoto. However, Sugimoto is able to counter and kill two of them as Tsukishima knocks out the third one. Yamada tells everyone to go out for the final bow so that they can recover the bodies.

Some time later, Tsukishima interrogates the Russian man that he knocked out and finds that their target was Yamada and that they were hired by the Russian government to kill him. Tsukishima asks if Yamada is a spy, to which Yamada admits his background to Sugimoto's Group. Afterwards, Tsukishima was able to gain a copy of the newspaper and finds an article about their performance. Tsukishima then tells Yamada about their purpose and he tells them about the Alexandrovskaya Prison, where members of a partisan group were being held in. Sugimoto's Group believes that is where Kiroranke will eventually head towards to as Tsukishima comments that while their Karafuto performance was a failure, they were able to gain important information from Yamada.

Sugimoto's group then uses Enonoka's dogs to travel north to the national border through heavy snowstorms. Koito notes that the weather has gotten worse and Tsukishima comments that they will be in trouble if they don't find shelter. Just as Enonoka's grandfather finds a building nearby, Tsukishima notices that Sugimoto's sled is no longer following them and tells him to stop. He fires off a gunshot which Tanigaki responds with his own, and Tsukishima asks Koito if he had heard something, but Koito is unable to hear him through the strong winds.

As Tsukishima continues to search, Koito tells him that they will be in trouble too if they continue to stay in the blizzard. They both then hopped back onto the dog sled as Tsukishima says they should head to the building that Enonoka's grandfather found. Inside, they see cows but Tsukishima maintains that they should focus on getting a fire started to get warm. When Koito expresses concerns about Sugimoto's party, Tsukishima tells him that since Tanigaki is with them, they won't die so easily.

Tsukishima and Koito heads out once more and Tsukishima fires off another gunshot, but just then an elderly Russian man approaches and speak to them. Tsukishima tells him that they lost their companions nearby, to which the Russian man takes them to a lighthouse. Tsukishima and Koito prepares the lighthouse for use and turns it on. When Koito attempts to look for Sugimoto's party, Tsukishima tells him not to stand in front of the light as he will block it out.

When Sugimoto, Tanigaki, and Cikapasi finally rejoined them, Tsukishima tells them about the space above the pechka which is the warmest part of the room. As they huddle in the spot, Tsukishima says that they are lucky to be alive as the lighthouse had not been use since the Russo-Japanese War and that if the Russian couple had not been here, they'd be frozen to death. He then turns to the couple and thanks them in their language.

When the three had gotten warm enough, they help Enonoka's grandfather make another sled to replace the one they had burned for fire and upon finishing it, Tsukishima says that they will be able to set off. Just then, Koito yells out to Tsukishima, saying that a hammer is stuck to his hand. Tsukishima tells him that it is due to him touching metal with his bare hand at a cold temperature, and calls for someone to urinate on the hammer so that they can pull it off. Sugimoto volunteers to do so, which causes Koito to run outside.

Sometime later, the Russian couple prepares some food for Sugimoto's group and they all gather around a table to eat. When Cikapasi asks how to say "delicious" in Russian, Tsukishima tells him it is "vkusno", which Cikapasi, Sugimoto, and Enonoka repeats. When Sugimoto and Koito asks about the Russian couple's home life, Tsukishima translates to them that their daughter had been taken by some Russian army deserters and that the government had done nothing to help them. Sugimoto then says that the lighthouse had saved their lives and asks to borrow a picture of their daughter.

As Sugimoto's group says their farewells to the Russian couple, Tsukishima tries to confront Sugimoto about their objective, but Sugimoto tells him that they are just going to ask around about their daughter at the places they stop at and that even though their original goal is their top priority, he wishes to repay the couple. Afterwards, Sugimoto's group leaves the lighthouse to continue their journey.

Sugimoto's group stops by a Karafuto Ainu village in Niitoi where Sugimoto asks the local childern about Asirpa and the Russian couple's daughter, whose name Tsukishima states to be Svetlana. As they rested in a hut, they overhear Cikapasi and Enonoka talking about a meko oyasi and Tsukishima was able to figure out that it is a lynx from Enonoka's description of the monster cat.

Koito wonders if they are talking about Ogata and that they may have caught up with Asirpa's group. Sugimoto asks what Ogata has to do with a lynx, and Tsukishima explains that "wildcat" is a slang term for "geisha" and that it is just a pathetic joke that was passed around through their division. Koito then goes on to talk more about Ogata and his personailty while Tsukishima and Tanigaki continued to remain silent on the subject.

As Sugimoto stares at the copy of Gansoku's tattoo, Tsukishima asks him if he realized something but Koito says that Sugimoto wouldn't be able to solve the tattoo's mystery since he is an idiot. Sugimoto fires back, saying that he did realize something but he won't tell either of them what it is. They then hear a loud commotion coming from outside and checks to see that an escaped killer has taken Enonoka captive. However, Sugimoto and Cikapasi are able to subdue the killer and rescue Enonoka.

With the killer tied up, Sugimoto says that he could've killed him since the Ainu doesn't practice the death penalty, but the Ainu states that they have their own ways of dealing with criminals, to which Koito is curious about. The Ainu reveal that they stab needles into their eyes and bury the criminals alive in a bottomless casket, to which Koito notes that even when punishing criminals, they do not want to directly kill them and Tsukishima comments that it just goes to show how much the Ainu dislike the act of murder.

Sugimoto's Group runs into an Orok settlement where one of the men is able to speak Russian, and so Tsukishima is able to find information about Asirpa's whereabouts. Tsukishima then calls for Koito who had ran off to chase a little reindeer. Sugimoto then suggests that they put a reindeer collar around Koito's neck, which Koito found to be rude, asking Tsukishima if he thought so too, but Tsukishima just stayed silent as he stared at the reindeer collar.

Inside the tent, Cikapasi and Enonoka finds some carved statues and Sugimoto's Group wonders what kind of animal they are. Tsukishima speaks to the Orok man and reveals that it was left behind by a man from the Nanai people and that even the Oroks does not know what it is. Afterwards, Sugimoto's Group makes their way to Akou Prison. As they got closer to the prison, they hear a loud explosion and sees smoke flowing in the distance. Using his binoculars, Tsukishima tells everyone that the smoke is coming from Akou Prison.

Upon arriving at Akou Prison, they find that they are too late as Asirpa's Group has already left but Tsukishima notes that they must still be close. Sugimoto then has Ryu sniff out Asirpa's scent from her makiri knife, saying that he now believes in the dog. When Cikapasi and Enonoka suddenly screams, everyone turns around to see an Amur tiger coming out from the hole in the prison's wall. Tsukishima and Tanigaki both shoots at the tiger, managing to scare it away.

Abilities and Equipments Edit

Tsukishima is armed with a rifle. He is also proficient enough to earn the rank of Sergeant and the trust of First Lieutenant Tsurumi.

Russian language - Tsukishima is fluent enough in the Russian language to hold conversations with native Russian speakers. However, he is not proficient enough to translate difficult expressions.

Nomenclature Edit

Tsukishima's name contains the words:

  • (月) Moon
  • (島) Island
  • (基) Basement, first

Trivia Edit

Tsukishima likes egoneri.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Chapter 70
  2. Chapter 71
  3. Chapter 74
  4. Chapter 77