It is true: the sheaths of the swords the Tessaiga and the Tenseiga, passed down from Sesshōmaru's father, were carved from my very own boughs.
Old Tree Hermit
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Bokusenō (朴仙翁, "Old Tree Hermit") was a wise tree yōkai and ally of Tōga who would use the wood from Bokusenō's own boughs to craft the scabbards for two powerful swords, the Tessaiga and the Tenseiga. Bokusenō was familiar with Tōga's designs for his sons' futures and was the only one of his allies or vassals who got along with Tōga's eldest son, Sesshōmaru. As such, Bokusenō was instrumental in developing Sesshōmaru's understanding of the hanyō nature of his younger half-brother, Inuyasha, and the connection between Inuyasha and the Tessaiga, bequeathed to him by his and Sesshōmaru's father.
The fact that Sesshōmaru himself did not receive the powerful Tessaiga, but instead the healing Tenseiga, led to conflict with Inuyasha and resentment towards his father. Bokusenō was the means by which the Tenseiga was delivered to Sesshōmaru, since Tōga's vassals were too afraid of Sesshōmaru to deliver it themselves. Ironically, Bokusenō becomes instrumental in easing the feud between the two estranged brothers. Because of the information Bokusenō gives Sesshōmaru on Inuyasha's demon blood, Sesshōmaru began to realize his father's reasoning behind leaving the Tessaiga with Inuyasha and had a slight change of heart that consequentially led him to give up on his quest to actively claim the sword from his younger half-brother, even as Sesshōmaru continued to grapple with where he fit into his father's legacy without the Tessaiga and why he himself was given the Tenseiga.
Bokusenō was originally a simple magnolia tree, but as he grew older he eventually gained additional powers and transformed into a yōkai, similar to how kitsune and bakeneko start out as ordinary foxes and cats, respectively. Because of his great powers and wisdom that had accumulated throughout his 2,000 years of life, Bokusenō became an important ally for Tōga, a powerful dog daiyōkai who had two swords of great power crafted from his own fangs, the Tessaiga and the Tenseiga. In order to contain their extraordinary powers, Tōga sought out Bokusenō to beseech him for the use of the wood from his very own boughs to use as sheaths. Since the two swords possessed such awesome powers, no ordinary wood could suffice. Bokusenō consented, and the craftsman Tōtōsai created two sword sheaths for the Dog General's swords. These sheaths had strange powers of their own, as would anything crafted from the wood of such a powerful tree, and would prove invaluable to their users over the years. It is unclear what relationship Bokusenō had with Tōga beyond the provision of his wood for the sword sheaths, but as Bokusenō would later reveal, he had intimate knowledge of demon lore and of Tōga's sons in particular, despite his sedentary nature. Whether this was because he was close in the Dog General's counsels or was simply capable of discerning such things through his own wisdom is unclear.
Later, after Tōga died in battle, Tōtōsai bequeathed the Tenseiga, the Sword of Healing, to Tōga's eldest son, Sesshōmaru, as was the Dog General's dying wish. However, because Tōtōsai had a great fear of Sesshōmaru, he gave the sword to him indirectly by hanging it along with a posted note on Bokusenō's trunk, much to the magnolia tree's frustration, implying that it was done without his consent.
Some 200 years later, Sesshōmaru sought out Bokusenō to inquire about the connection between his younger half-brother, Inuyasha and the sword Tessaiga, which had been given to Inuyasha as the Tenseiga had been left to Sesshōmaru. Bokusenō was surprised that Sesshōmaru would request information about his younger brother, whom Sesshōmaru despised and never talked about. But Sesshōmaru explained that twice he had witnessed a transformation in Inuyasha's scent, from that of a hanyō to that of a full-fledged yōkai, specifying that Inuyasha's blood had the same scent as both Sesshōmaru himself and his father.
Bokusenō, however, was incredulous, explaining to Sesshōmaru that, as an individual born from a human and a demon, Inuyasha could never become a full-fledged demon. He continued to tell him that there was something that he, Sesshōmaru, as a pure-blooded demon, could do that Inuyasha, as a half-demon, could not. If Sesshōmaru ever found himself in a desperate situation, he could maintain his composure and remain in control of himself, but Inuyasha, as a half-demon, would be overcome by his own demon instincts as a sort of last-ditch defense-mechanism if backed into a corner. Elaborating further, Bokusenō revealed to Sesshōmaru that the blood of his and his brother's father was too powerful for a mere half-demon to control and when asked by Sesshōmaru what the outcome would be, Bokusenō told him that with repeated transformations, Inuyasha's soul would ultimately be consumed by his demon blood, causing him to degenerate into a mindless killing machine, unable to distinguish friend from foe, who would continue to kill indiscriminately until he himself was destroyed. This is why, Bokusenō concluded, Sesshōmaru's father had left the Tessaiga to Inuyasha, to ensure his youngest son's survival and prevent Inuyasha's human soul from being consumed by his demon blood.
Sesshōmaru immediately left to confirm Bokusenō's words and test Inuyasha's power while transformed. After doing so, in an apparent act of mercy and pity, Sesshōmaru spared Inuyasha's life and allowed him to retain possession of the Tessaiga, and would only challenge his ownership of the sword once more, much later, in order to confirm that he was worthy enough to wield it.
Being a tree, Bokusenō does not have a very dynamic personality, given his limited ability to express himself. Being over 2000 years old also gives him a tired, elderly demeanor. Still, Bokusenō is very wise and is quick to give Sesshōmaru information on subjects on which he has knowledge. Indeed, he is quite intelligent and his knowledge of Sesshōmaru's clan and the swords of Tōga is far greater than that of even Sesshōmaru, who covets the Tessaiga greatly and knows how to use the Kaze no Kizu upon drawing the sword for the first time. Unlike Tōtōsai, however, who thinks that Sesshōmaru and Inuyasha should figure things out on their own when it comes to their swords, Bokusenō is very free with the information he gives to Sesshōmaru. While very serious and to the point, Bokusenō's normally stoic nature is sometimes punctuated by brief moments of levity when he jokes with Sesshōmaru about the latter's strength. He also seemed very disgruntled when Tōtōsai posted a message to Sesshōmaru on his trunk, suggesting that he was embarrassed at being treated like a common tree. Complementing his wisdom, he is the only one of Tōga's friends that do not fear Sesshōmaru and seems to be the only one of his father's friends that Sesshōmaru respects enough to come to for guidance.
Bokusenō is a very tall, mature magnolia tree. Having grown over the course of 2000 years, Bokusenō has come to the greatest physical extent possible for his species, in terms of height and width. Bokusenō's trunk is about as wide as 3 or 4 large men standing shoulder to shoulder, perhaps 8 ft. (2.5m)[Note 1] wide and likely around 100 ft. (30m) tall. Based on the approximate measurements of his width, he is likely 24 ft. (7m) in circumference with a weight of over 2400 tons.[Note 2] Bokusenō has light brown bark and rich green leaves. His face is about the size of a dinner plate and appears in a crevice out of the side of his trunk. It is encircled by a raised edge in the tree bark. His long, beak-like nose curves over his thin mouth and the deep, wrinkle-like ridges on his face give him the appearance of a wizened old man. His eyes are pale with small, black pupils and are always half-lidded, giving him a tired expression. Like the rest of his body, of course, his face is brown and composed of the same bark as his trunk.
Powers & Abilities
Aside from being able to form a face and even an arm if he so wishes, Bokusenō has no other apparent powers. However, the wood from his boughs contain special properties which confer upon objects crafted from it a variety of potent abilities. The Tessaiga's sheath, for instance, was extremely durable and could project barriers against almost any attack. It was even able to stop an assault from Ryūkotsusei, if only once. The sheath could also be used to summon the Tessaiga if it was far away. Aside from these abilities, the sheath was capable of containing the Tessaiga's colossal power, an impressive feat in itself.
Bokusenō may also have some sort of special ability to gather information, as, despite being a tree, he knew much about Inuyasha and both the Tessaiga and the Tenseiga. While it is possible he found out about the swords from his friend Tōga, Inuyasha was born shortly before Tōga's death, yet Bokusenō still knew intimate details about his hanyō nature that even Sesshōmaru did not know. He also spoke about all these things with confidence, as if he had first-hand knowledge of these subjects, not like he was told about them by someone else. He was also able to predict that Sesshōmaru would seek information from him and had expected his arrival, which surprised Sesshōmaru. It is possible that, rather than a special ability, Bokusenō is simply able to deduce much about such things merely through his own store of wisdom; yet, again, how he gained such wisdom is unclear since he is a sedentary tree. Regardless, Bokusenō's rich knowledge (however he obtained it) was great enough that he was considered a trusted authority by Sesshōmaru, who himself was extremely intelligent.
Bokusenō is the only one of Tōga's former friends that actually gets along with Sesshōmaru. Bokusenō is therefore the only one that Sesshōmaru can ask for information about his father's swords, as both Tōtōsai and Myōga are much too afraid to meet with him. Whenever Sesshōmaru encounters Tōtōsai, Sesshōmaru usually ends up threatening his life or attempting to kill him when Tōtōsai refuses to cooperate with him. However, when he is with Bokusenō, Sesshōmaru treats the tree with respect and drops his normal haughty tone with which he usually speaks to people. Bokusenō holds Sesshōmaru's powers in high esteem and agrees with Sesshōmaru when the latter states dismissively that it would be impossible for him to ever to be cornered in a desperate situation. It would appear as if Sesshōmaru meets with Bokusenō frequently, as Tōtōsai deciding to leave the Tenseiga with Bokusenō indicates that he thought that Bokusenō was the surest way to get the sword to Sesshōmaru without actually giving it to him directly, suggesting that Sesshōmaru visits Bokusenō with some frequency. Bokusenō reacts to Sesshōmaru's visits with mirth and is always willing to give him whatever information he requires. Despite the fact that Bokusenō maybe the closest thing Sesshōmaru has to a friend, it may not be that they actually consider each other friends, since Jaken refers to Bokusenō as "your father's friend" rather than "your friend." Nevertheless, Bokusenō is the only demon that Sesshōmaru gets along with, as he treats all of his other acquaintances, including his own mother, with disdain.
Bokusenō was considered a friend of Tōga and was trusted enough to learn about the secrets of the swords the Tenseiga and the Tessaiga and was close enough in the Dog General's counsels to deduce the reason for Inuyasha having been left the Tessaiga. Bokusenō was also close enough to Tōga that he was willing to contribute wood from his very own boughs for the sheaths of the both the Tenseiga and the Tessaiga.
- Vassals of Tōga
Despite having contributed the wood for the sheaths of the Tessaiga and the Tenseiga, Tōga's other vassals, specifically Tōtōsai and Myōga, never mention Bokusenō to Inuyasha nor bring him up in conversation amongst themselves. Whether it is because he is a tree demon that they have little to no dealings with or because of his close connection to Sesshōmaru is unclear. However, Tōtōsai's posting of a message on Bokusenō's trunk like a common tree may suggest that they do not respect him properly, despite his powers and wisdom.
Manga vs. Anime
- In the manga, Bokusenō grows an arm so that he can rub his chin thoughtfully, while in the anime this is not shown. It is possible that this ability was shown in the manga in order to convey Bokusenō's pensiveness while mulling over a question of Sesshōmaru's, while in the anime this could be conveyed through the voice actor's tone of voice alone, and therefore was not necessary in the anime. Combined with the fact that Bokusenō only uses his arm once and then it disappears immediately afterwards, it might have made animating the scene awkward and confused viewers had it been retained.
- "Welcome! I have awaited your arrival...I have been expecting you Sesshōmaru."
- "Do you seek information regarding the Tessaiga, your father's heirloom sword? Or perhaps..."
- «So the the sheaths for their swords came from this tree...they hold such strange powers...oh, I can see why after seeing this creature!»
- Bokusenō: "Sesshōmaru, there is something that you, a pure-blooded demon, are capable of accomplishing, but which Inuyasha could never do."
- Sesshōmaru: "Go on."
- Bokusenō: "It is simple: I speak of protecting oneself."
- Sesshōmaru: "Protecting oneself?"
- Bokusenō: "Yes, in battle, for instance. If you find yourself in a hopeless situation, you are able to remain calm, you never lose control of yourself."
- Sesshōmaru: "Huh. It wouldn't be possible for me to fall into such a desperate situation."
- Bokusenō: "Ha, ha; no, I don't suppose you would."
- ―Bokusenō and Sesshōmaru on the difference in strength between a yōkai and a hanyō[src]
- "Unfortunately for Inuyasha, the pure, demon blood of his father is too strong for a half-demon such as himself. In essence, the demon blood will attack the soul: he will not be able to recognize himself."
- While in the English dub, Bokusenō is referred to generally as a "magnolia tree," he is more specifically a member of the magnolia obovata species of the magnolia genus. This is indicated by Sesshōmaru referring to him in the original Japanese version of the anime and manga as a hōnoki (ホオノキ, 朴の木) which is the Japanese name for a specific species of magnolia tree indigenous to Japan, known colloquially as the Japanese bigleaf magnolia, or, alternatively, the Japanese whitebark magnolia. A generic magnolia tree would have simply been referred to as mokuren (モクレン) or magunoria (マグノリア). Coincidentally, the wood from a Japanese bigleaf magnolia is strong and light and therefore popular with craftsmen in Japan, making Bokusenō's contribution of his own wood for the sheaths of the Tessaiga and Tenseiga a logical choice.
- In InuYasha the Movie: Swords of an Honorable Ruler, Bokusenō appears slightly different than he does in his appearances in the anime and manga. His face is smaller and located higher up on his trunk (in the anime and manga, Bokusenō's face was slightly below eye level with Sesshōmaru; in the movie it is an entire head above Sesshōmaru). His trunk is also much thinner than in the anime and manga.
- ↑ Wikipedia articles on Kistune and Bakeneko
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 InuYasha anime; Episode 51
- ↑ InuYasha The Final Act anime; Episode 18. Assumption based on Tōtōsai's crafting of the sheath for the Bakusaiga
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 InuYasha anime; Episode 123
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 InuYasha the Movie: Swords of an Honorable Ruler
- ↑ InuYasha The Final Act anime; Episode 15
- ↑ InuYasha anime; Episode 18
- ↑ InuYasha anime; Episode 53
- ↑ Magnolia obovata
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 InuYasha manga; Chapter 181
- ↑ InuYasha anime; Episode 54
- ↑ InuYasha The Final Act anime; Episode 9