There were only seven of them, but their strength was incredible. They could do the work of a hundred men, and their raids were unnecessarily savage; those who were slain by the Band of Seven were sliced to pieces and burned alive. The only people capable of such atrocities are those with a real penchant for murder.
The Shichinintai (七人隊, しちにんたい, "Seven Man Band"), or Band of Seven in the English Dub, were seven powerful Mercenaries who loved to kill. They were eventually deemed too dangerous to live due to their bloodlust and the warring feudal lords of the region decided to unite their armies against them. They were eventually captured in the northern mountains and beheaded. A Tomb for them was constructed in order to quell their evil spirits.
The Shichinintai were brought back to life by Naraku using the Shikon Jewel Shards. As he was weakened following his proceeding battle against Inuyasha and Sesshōmaru, Naraku needed the Shichinintai to provide a distraction and a defense against his enemies while he repaired himself and separated his heart from his body. To that end, Naraku resurrected the Band of Seven and provided each of them with a Shikon Jewel Shard. Despite proving to be some of the deadliest opponents that Inuyasha's group had ever faced, they were ultimately all defeated and killed a second time.
Bankotsu was the leader of the Shichinintai, and the most powerful. His weapon of choice was an enormous halberd named Banryū. Although he was the youngest of the seven men at just seventeen years old, Bankotsu appeared to have a good handle on things and kept his army organized and efficient. He tended to be carefree and laid back outside of battle, and had a generally optimistic attitude towards life. In the anime, Bankotsu revealed his philosophy of life and death, declared that he did not believe in an afterlife (which implied that he was sent to limbo in his first death), and that we should enjoy our lives while we could. Bankotsu may have been naive, but more likely, he was just too generous and trusting, and believed that his "family" would never try to harm or betray him. Bankotsu was forgiving towards his friends, but not so much towards his enemies.
Renkotsu was second in command, and presumably he and Bankotsu were the only literate members. Renkotsu was most likely added to the team for his intelligence and literacy, as well as being a rather good handler of fire. He took most things seriously, was inquisitive, always tried to find out what really went on, and saw things in the big picture. Renkotsu always wore his signature blue bandanna, various shades of blue, and brown armor. After his fight with Kōga, Renkotsu changed to black and flame-decal armor. Renkotsu was not a particularly strong fighter, but made up for it with his expert knowledge of engineering and pyrotechnics, which allowed him to build and utilize a variety of highly advanced, and fire/explosive-based weapons, including a gourd of flamable oil that he could spew from his mouth. Although they never met face to face, Renkotsu was the only one of the Band of Seven who correctly mistrusted Naraku's motives for resurrecting them. His paranoia and mistrust of Naraku caused him to begin collecting Shikon Jewel shards against Bankotsu's orders, initially for his own survival but eventually for challenging Bankotsu. However, when he finally did, Bankotsu overwhelmed him in combat, then killed him for killing their mutual comrade Jakotsu.
Jakotsu was the cross-dressing, somewhat hyperactive, and openly gay member of the Seven-Man Army. He wore make-up and a pastel-colored Yukata, a type of female clothing, along with a purple scarf. Along with Renkotsu, Jakotsu was the only other member of the group who changed outfits. Jakotsu was often seen trying to seduce Inuyasha, and regularly whined about when he saw him again. Jakotsu sometimes got jealous, as evidenced by an outburst towards Sango when she tried to jump in between him and Inuyasha. His weapon of choice was the Jakotsuto, a sword that consisted of at least 50 blades segmented together; it could extend and retract rapidly, striking unpredictably like a snake, able to hit one or multiple targets at great range.
Jakotsu was also a bit dimwitted when he couldn't subtract 2 from 7. However, Jakotsu also lacked in greed, as shown when he gave up the second jewel shard that he collected to Bankotsu without hesitation, rather than using it to enhance himself, as supposedly planned. That also applied to his second life, in which Jakotsu died happy after he finally got the fight with Inuyasha that he wanted for so long. After being incapacitated and left behind by Inuyasha, he was killed when Renkotsu stole his Shikon shard. Bankotsu later avenged his death by killing Renkotsu.
Suikotsu had two, distinct split personalities. One was, a gentle, philanthropist doctor who looked after orphans; the other was a sadistic killer that earned him his spot in the Seven-Man Army. He converted his surgical knives into a set of Tiger-Claw gauntlets which he uses to kill his victims, using his skills in hand-to-hand combat. When his evil side took hold, Suikotsu seemed to possess a dry sense of humor and an insatiable desire for blood, while, when his good side was in control, Suikotsu often hallucinated that he had blood on his hands. However, Suikotsu's evil side was shown to be mellow when he shared conversations with the others members of the Shichinintai. Suikotsu's dark personality was eventually suppressed by Kikyo's sacred arrow; his doctor personality asked Kikyo to kill him by removing his Shikon shard, so that he couldn't hurt anyone else. Before she could do so, Jakotsu cut his throat and took the shard.
Ginkotsu was Renkotsu's assumed best friend, since the two were hardly ever apart. Renkotsu built Ginkotsu's mechanical body and kept it running throughout the time that Ginkotsu had it before it was blown up by Inuyasha. Jakotsu was also looking at the new guns and thought that they might be good additions to Ginkotsu's body. Renkotsu then rebuilt Ginkotsu's tank body in a cave with a whole new variety of weapons, which made Ginkotsu a walking arsenal.
Ginkotsu seemed to be loyal to both Bankotsu and Renkotsu, which caused problems were he able to talk, but he was sadly limited to only a small "gesh" after his dangerous encounter with Inuyasha. At one point in the series, he said a sentence or two. He also provided transportation to the group by being able to roll on gigantic wheels. Ginkotsu generally did not move very quickly, but could outrun an enemy at any time.
Mukotsu was commonly assumed to be the oldest member of the Shichinintai, mostly because of his elderly appearance. Mukotsu was very similar to Jakotsu in the fact that he constantly looked for a potential partner, only in Mukotsu's case, his "victims" were women. However, Mukotsu couldn't stand rejection, mostly because of insecurity about his appearance. Any time that a woman rejected his affections, Mukotsu automatically assumed that it was because of looks, which was probably a large contributing factor.
Mukotsu first appeared during a battle between Inuyasha's group and Jakotsu, and released his poisonous gases into the valley where the battle took place as a way that allowed Jakotsu to escape quickly and safely. Later on, Jakotsu came across Mukotsu in the shallow forest where he mixed up some potions and talked to himself. Mukotsu was instructed to go after Kagome, poisoned her near a little hut, dragged her inside, and proceeded to try and marry her. He draped a white blanket over the half-conscious Kagome, did a marrying ritual, sung, and held her hands. Mukotsu then got on top of her, some say in an attempt to rape her, but Kagome thought fast and stabbed him in the throat with a pair of chopsticks. Mukotsu then became enraged and yelled that Kagome didn't love him because of his hideous appearance. Kagome listened but didn't speak, and Mukotsu then slapped her hard across her face. Mukotsu was about to kill her when Sesshōmaru suddenly appeared and slashed him across the back. Mukotsu then, tried in vain, to kill Sesshōmaru, but was quickly killed himself by the powerful Daiyōkai.
Kyōkotsu was the first who appeared in both the anime and manga and was the first sign of the existence of the Shichinintai. Kyokotsu was presumably the weakest of the Band of Seven despite his abnormal size, as his only abilities were his strength and physical size. Kyokotsu's appetite for human flesh made him a cannibal, but he ate yōkai flesh as well- which accounted for his size and deformed appearance. Kyokotsu's weapon was a large flail before it was destroyed by Kōga, after which, he used his bare hands. He could usually crush an enemy within seconds. He was not the smartest of the seven either, and was the first of them to die off for a second time.
In his short appearance in the post-Kagome era, Kyokotsu managed to infuriate what remained of Kōga's wolf tribe and died by Kōga's hand. His Shikon Jewel Shard was located in his forehead, where Kōga pulled it out. Because of that, it was questioned if Kyokotsu was actually shot in the head in his first life rather than beheaded like his comrades. Another theory for why his shard was located in his forehead was the flexibility of his neck, as displayed when Kōga twirled Kyōkotsu's head around and failed to remove it. The placement in his forehead could have been a preventive measure from having it crushed. Kyokotsu also had a short meeting with Kohaku shortly before his death.
These were the episodes that made up the Shichinintai arc in the anime with their English titles and US release dates:
- All of their names ended in "kotsu," (骨) meaning "skill." However, it was often mistaken for meaning "bone," because the kanji "骨" can also be read "bone."
- When the resurrected Shichinintai were being killed off one-by-one, Bankotsu buried his comrades. However, Bankotsu, Renkotsu, and Jakotsu's remains were buried in the rubble of Mount Hakurei.
- The Shichinintai were only seen together in flashbacks; after their resurrection, they were never all together at once.
- All members of the Shichinintai had facial tattoos in varying colors that were unique to each member.
- In an interview, Rumiko Takahashi said that, originally, she hadn't planned on seven, but that when it came time for them to appear, she thought of the days of the week.
- All of them could be seen as representations of the Seven deadly sins;
- Bankotsu could represent Pride, as he was always confident when in battle with a tough opponent; also, since Pride is thought to be the greatest of the Seven Sins as well as the one that leads to all the others, his leadership in the Band of Seven fit that billing as well.
- Renkotsu could represent Greed, as he was willing sacrifice anyone to get what he wanted even if it meant betraying his allies in the process.
- Jakotsu could represent Lust, as he was easily attracted for what he saw as handsome men, like Inuyasha or Miroku.
- Suikotsu could represent Wrath while in his feral state, as he enjoyed killing and possessed facial tattoos that were symbolic of rage.
- Ginkotsu could represent Sloth, as he tended to be sloppy when it came to killing his opponents.
- Mukotsu could represent Envy, as when he couldn't have Kagome for his own, he then decided to kill her because he thought that if he couldn't have her then no one could; furthermore, it is said that envy is an ugly thing, and Mukotsu had arguably the most repulsive appearance of the seven.
- Kyōkotsu could represent Gluttony, as seen for his cannibalistic appetite.
- Though Bankotsu blames Inuyasha for the death of the other members of the Shichinintai Inuyasha was never the direct cause of any of their deaths.
- Bankotsu himself was done in by Naraku.
- Renkotsu died at Bankotsu's hand.
- Jaokotsu was killed when Renkotsu took his shikon shard.
- Suikotsu passed because Jaokotsu stole his jewel shard.
- Ginkotsu sacrificed himself to save Renkotsu.
- Mukotsu was done in by Sesshomaru.
- Kyōkotsu perished after Koga removed his shard of the shikon no tama.
|Incarnations||Kanna • Kagura • Goshinki • Jūrōmaru • Kagerōmaru • Musō • Infant • Hakudōshi • Byakuya • Akagane|
|Rejected parts||Unnamed incarnation • Hair monster • Eye monster • Onigumo (reabsorbed)|
|Allies||Saimyōshō • Sesshōmaru (formerly) • Tsubaki • Hakushin • Shichinintai • Abi • Tekkei • Mōryōmaru • Mirror demon • Magatsuhi|
|Enemies||Kikyō • Inuyasha • Kagome Higurashi • Miyatsu• Miroku's father • Miroku • Sango • Kohaku • Kōga • Sesshōmaru • Kaguya • Mōryōmaru • Hitomiko • Kansuke • Kaede • Midoriko|
|Miscellaneous||Shikon no Tama • Kazaana • Onigumo's cave • Naraku's castle • Mount Hakurei|
- Shichinin-tai Official Website (Japanese)