First Lieutenant Tsurumi (鶴見中尉, Tsurumi Chūi) is the leader of the 7th Division and one of the antagonists of the series.
Tsurumi is a Japanese man whose most distinguishable physical trait is a metal plate that covers his forehead. He has his hair slicked on the back of his head and has a handlebar moustache and goatee. He is of average height and has a lean build.
Tsurumi usually wears his officer uniform with a coat to protect himself from the cold.
Tsurumi has an unpredictable, mildly histrionic and erratic behaviour. However, In the past, Tsurumi was normal and was even a brave Japanese officer who fought at the front during the Russo-Japanese war.
Receiving a shrapnel in the head and the general bitterness at the poor treatment his division has received after the war has made Tsurumi psychotic and violent, though some of his manipulative tendencies may have been present even before the injury. He is prone to threatening people and personally inflicting physical injury on his enemies but hides his brutal tendencies under a veneer of sophistication and sympathy. He also genuinely admires the macabre work of Edogai and develops a friendship with him. Tsurumi never becomes angry, but coldly manifests his rage with a brutal gesture, perhaps due to his brain damage.
Tsurumi aims to take over Hokkaido and is very ruthless in his methods. He kills anyone in his way or threatens his plan. He seems to still hold the men under his command in high regard but hates traitors. He has shown a level of care for his subordinates as seen when he tries to get Nikaidou to eat his food and provide prosthetic limbs for him.
Tsurumi is also a very charismatic and manipulative man that can sway the minds of other people with a powerful and explosive speech. As a result, he is not above lying to other people if it is to get what he desires, such as loyal and strong followers.
Tsurumi likes sweets and is regularly seen chewing on dangos.
Tsurumi was born on the Niigata mainland. It's hinted during the Herring Mansion arc that he had a wealthy upbringing when someone comments on his skillful piano playing. Tsurumi joined the Imperial Japanese Army where he became a member of the 2nd Division and attained the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. It is during his time in the 2nd Division that he became acquainted with one of his subordinates, Hajime Tsukishima. Some time later, Tsurumi was eventually transferred to the 7th Division.
In Meiji 29 (1896), Tsurumi paid a visit to Tsukishima who had been thrown into the army prison for commiting parricide where the latter recounted his early days to him, including the time that he spent with a girl called "Igogusa". After hearing Tsukishima's story, Tsurumi went out to tour the island as an excuse to fabricate his lie that "Igogusa" was still alive, in order to get Tsukishima to follow him into the 7th Division. Nine years later, on Mukden during the Russo-Japanese War, Tsukishima finally realizes this lie and confronted Tsurumi as he coldly stares back at him.
As Tsukishima screamed, he punched Tsurumi and grabbed him, asking if he had been lying to him for the past nine years to which Tsurumi replied that he had done it because Tsukishima had already come to accept his execution. Tsurumi then took a moment to tell the rest of the 7th Division, who had gathered due to the commotion, to leave the two of them alone. Turning back to Tsukishima, he tells him that if had found out Igogusa was still alive, then he would feel regret about being on death row and that his own life was more valuable than his father. Tsurumi then goes on to praise Tsukishima, which causes him to break down, saying that he never wanted Tsurumi to use Igogusa to deceive him. As Tsurumi was about to tell more about the story, the Russians began to bombard their location with cannons and Tsukishima pushes Tsurumi down in an effort to protect him. However, this causes Tsurumi's face to become severely wounded and sends Tsukishima flying.
The 7th Division tries to rescue the both of them as Tsurumi, blinded from his wound, screams for Tsukishima, asking if he was still alive. The other soldiers then brings the both of them to a frozen body of water to be carried away on sledges, unknowingly running into a soldier whom they would have a fated encounter with in the future. Sometime later, once their injuries had been treated at camp, Tsurumi continue to tell more about Igogusa and spoke of the Ainu plan that he plans to execute once the war is over. He tells Tsukishima that he needs men with resolve at his side and that he is the only one whom he can trust. When Tsukishima says that he will use his life for his service, Tsurumi pats him on the shoulder, saying that he is glad to hear him say that while staring at the soldier from Sado who peeks in momentarily before walking away.
Sometime during one of the 7th Division's excursions, they stayed in a wooden building in the midst of a heavy snow storm. While the rest of the platoon were resting, Tsurumi was in another room with Genjirou Tanigaki, listening to him talk about his Matagi heritage as well as his past about how his younger sister was murdered and his reasons for joining the 7th Division. After hearing his story, as well as him questioning what his purpose in life is, Tsurumi tells him that he is a man that he needs, and asks if he would be willing to make kane mochi with walnuts for him.
Sometime after subduing Nikaidou and before heading to Yubari, Tsurumi met with a fortune-teller named Inkarmat and advised her to make use of one of his soldiers, Tanigaki, whose leg should have be healed by now.
(From chapter 70 onwards)
in Yubari, Tsurumi is staking out a graveyard with Sergeant Tsukishima and Nikaidou in order to capture a grave robber. As he and Tsukishima are talking about the latest events in town, he notices Nikaidou holding his brother's ear to his, and he asks if he could have Tsurumi's left ear. Tsurumi humours him saying that he could have it if he dies, just then Tsukishima calls out to him to spot a silhouetted man in front of a grave. However, Nikaidou steps on a branch which alerts the man causing him to flee. He tells Tsukishima and Nikaidou to chase after him as he stops to pick up a glove that the man dropped. He sees that it is made out of human skins, and supposes that he'll have to bring it back to him as he puts it on his left hand.
Tsurumi is seen approaching a big store and knocks on the door. He is greeted by a kind-faced man who Tsurumi confirms as Yasaku Edogai and is let into the store. Inside, Tsurumi asks Edogai several questions about his duties as a taxidermist and pats his shoulder, praising him for his skills. Edogai sees that he is wearing a glove made of human skin, and pretends to not know anything. However, approaching a window, Tsurumi tells him that they were able to track him down as Nikaidou and Tsukishima are in the next house over prepared to fire in case anything happens. He surprises Edogai by saying that he would like a pair of human gloves made for him as well. When Edogai goes into the next room to retrieve them, Tsurumi throws the door open to see that the other people in the house aren't alive, seemingly unaware that Edogai is behind him waiting to kill him.
However, Tsurumi speaks up saying that the people seem like they may start moving any time, surprising Edogai. As Edogai is arguing with his mother, he comments on how Edogai is the only one who can hear her voice and that it is not healthy. In order to grab Edogai's attention, Tsurumi takes off his coat to reveal Tsuyama's skin to which Edogai is fascinated with. Back in the workshop, Edogai shows Tsurumi some of his skins to which he praises. When Edogai heads back into the dining room and sees Nikaidou on top of his mother, Tsurumi grabs him and gives him a gun to shoot at his mother to let go of his past. Afterwards, as Tsurumi and Edogai have one final dance, Tsurumi tells Edogai that he wants him to make fake skins with fake tattoos to throw off the other parties also in search of the skins.
Tsurumi and Nikaidou returns to Otaru leaving Tsukishima and Maeyama to watch over Edogai's activities. Some time later, he received a report from Tsukishima whose uniform had been dirtied in the Yubari mine explosion. Tsukishima was able to deliver the fake skins to him as well as Edogai's final word "iron". He says that he had received a report while he was on his way back to Otaru and assumes that Edogai had passed away. He tells Tsukishima that he has done an excellent job and that he should take a long rest. Later, Tsurumi muses on Edogai's final word while feeling the rain drops with his skin glove from a window. He then touched a pot which revealed markings on the gloves. At this, Tsurumi realized how to distinguish the real skins from the fake ones and swore that he would not let Edogai's sacrifice go to waste.
When Nikaidou was severely wounded on a mission against Sugimoto and Hijikata, Tsurumi paid him a visit at the hospital in Otaru. There he finds that Nikaidou has been stealing bottles of morphine and scolds him for it. He takes Tsukishima out to meet Lieutenant General Narizou Arisaka who supplies them with the latest weapon designs made by him and his subordinate. Due to Arisaka's hearing loss, they have a conversation in shouts as they talk about Asahikawa, opium, weapons, and Nikaidou's situation.
They return to the hospital where Tsurumi introduces a wonderful guest to Nikaidou but are interrupted by a strange man who Tsurumi shoos away. Arisaka then comes into the room and greets Nikaidou, giving him a prosthetic leg as a present. The leg is capable of firing off shotgun shells in close combat for a surprise attack, which Arisaka shows off to the injured man. After being scolded by the doctor, Tsurumi, Tsukishima, Arisaka, and the strange man all congratulates Nikaidou on his new leg.
After returning to Abashiri, Tsurumi visits Nikaidou at the clinic since he'd had heard from Usami that Nikaidou hadn't been eating due to having lost motivation from Sugimoto's "death". Tsurumi tried unsucessfully to convince Nikaidou to eat his food by rewarding him with morphine. They are then joined by by Arisaka who'd had made a new hand for Nikaidou and Tusrumi tries to get Nikaidou's attention by asking if it had anything special in it. However, after seeing that its special trick is a chopstick holder, Nikaidou, unimpressed, goes back under his covers.
Abilities and Equipments Edit
Career Military Officer, Russo-Japanese War IJA Veteran, Intelligence gathering and analysis. Owns a Borchardt C-93
Tsurumi likes Japanese sweets but dislikes alcohol.
(To Sugimoto) "I'm your Shinigami. Your life is a candle, and I can blow it out anytime I choose."