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. 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, he resurrected them by providing 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 is the leader of the Shichinintai, and the most powerful. His weapon of choice is an enormous halberd named Banryū. Although he is the youngest of the seven men at just seventeen years old, he appears to have a good handle on things and keeps his army organized and efficient. He tends to be carefree and laid back outside of battle, and has a generally optimistic attitude towards life. In the anime he reveals his philosophy of life and death, declaring that he does not believe in an afterlife (implying he was sent to limbo in his first death) and that we should enjoy our lives while we can. He may be naive, but more likely he is just too generous and trusting, believing that his "family" would never try to harm or betray him. He is forgiving towards his friends, but not so much towards his enemies.
Renkotsu is second in command, and presumably he and Bankotsu are the only literate members. He was most likely added to the team for his intelligence and literacy, as well as being a rather good handler of fire. He takes most things seriously and is inquisitive, always trying to find out what is really going on and seeing things in the big picture. He is always wearing his signature blue bandanna, various shades of blue, and brown armor. After his fight with Kōga, he changes to black and flame-decal armor. Renkotsu is not a particularly strong fighter, but he makes up for it with his expert knowledge of engineering and pyrotechnics, which allows him to build and utilize a variety of highly advanced, fire/explosive-based weapons. Although they never meet face to face, he is the only one of the Band of Seven who correctly mistrusts Naraku's motives for resurrecting them.
Jakotsu is the cross-dressing, somewhat hyperactive, openly gay member of the Seven-Man Army. He wears make-up and a pastel-colored Yukata, a type of female clothing, along with a purple scarf. Along with Renkotsu, he is the only member of the group to change outfits. He is often seen trying to seduce Inuyasha, and regularly whines about when he may see him again. He sometimes gets jealous, as evidenced by an outburst towards Sango when she tried to jump in between him and Inuyasha. He is also a bit dimwitted when he couldn't subtract 2 from 7. However, he also lacks in greed, as shown when he gave up the second jewel shard he collected to Bankotsu without hesitation, rather than using it to enhance himself, as supposedly planned. This also applies to his second life, in which he died happy after finally getting the fight with Inuyasha he wanted for so long.
Suikotsu has two, distinct split personalities. One, a gentle, philanthropist doctor who looks after orphans; the other is a sadistic killer that earns him his spot in the Seven-Man Army. When his evil side takes hold he seems to possess a dry sense of humor and an insatiable desire for blood, while when his good side is in control he often hallucinates that he has blood on his hands. However, the evil side is shown to be mellow when sharing conversations with the others members of the Shichinintai.
Ginkotsu is Renkotsu's assumed best friend, since the two are 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, thinking 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, making Ginkotsu a walking arsenal.
Ginkotsu seems to be loyal to Bankotsu and Renkotsu, which would cause problems were he able to talk, but he is sadly limited to only a small "gesh" after his dangerous encounter with Inuyasha. At one point in the series, he says a sentence or two. He also provides transportation to the group by being able to roll on gigantic wheels. He generally does not move very quickly, but he could outrun an enemy any time.
Mukotsu is 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 was constantly looking for a potential partner, only in Mukotsu's case his "victims" were women. However, he couldn't stand rejection, mostly because of insecurity about his appearance. Any time a woman rejected his affections he automatically assumed it was because of looks, which was probably a large contributing factor.
He first appears during a battle between the Inuyasha group and Jakotsu, releasing his poisonous gases into the valley where the battle is taking place as a way to allow Jakotsu to escape quickly and safely. Later on, Jakotsu comes across Mukotsu in the shallow forest where he is mixing up some potions and talking to himself. Mukotsu is instructed to go after Kagome and poisons her near a little hut, dragging her inside and proceeding to try and marry her. He drapes a white blanket over the half-conscious Kagome and does a marrying ritual, singing and holding her hands. He gets on top of her, some say in an attempt to rape her, but Kagome thinks fast and stabs him in the throat. He becomes enraged, yelling that she doesn't love him because of his hideous appearance. Kagome listens but doesn't speak, and he slaps her hard across the face. He is about to kill her when Sesshōmaru suddenly appears and slashes Mukotsu across the back. Mukotsu tries in vain to kill Sesshōmaru, but is quickly killed himself by the powerful Daiyōkai.
Kyōkotsu is the first to appear in both the anime and manga and is the first sign of the existence of the Shichinintai. He is presumably the weakest of the seven despite his abnormal size. His appetite for human flesh makes him a cannibal, but he eats yōkai flesh as well- which accounts for his size and deformed appearance. His weapon is a chain ball before it is destroyed by Kōga, after which he uses his bare hands. He can usually crush an enemy within seconds. He's not the smartest of the army either, and is the first of them to die off for a second time.
In his short appearance in the post-Kagome era, he manages to infuriate what remains of Kōga's wolf tribe and proceeds to die by Kōga's hand. His Shikon shard was located in his forehead, where Kōga pulled it out. Because of this it has been questioned if he was actually shot in the head in his first life rather than being 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. He also had a short meeting with Kohaku shortly before his death.
These are the episodes that make up the Shichinintai arc in the anime with their English titles and US release dates.
- All of their names end in "kotsu," (骨) meaning "skill." However, it is 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 are only seen together in flashbacks; after their resurrection, they are never all together at once.
- All members of the Shichinintai have facial tattoos in varying colors 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 can be seen as representations of the Seven deadly sins;
- Bankotsu could represent Pride, as he is 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 fits this billing as well.
- Renkotsu could represent Greed, as he is willing sacrifice anyone to get what he wants even if it means betraying his allies in the process.
- Jakotsu could represent Lust, as he is easily attracted for what he sees as handsome men, like Inuyasha or Miroku.
- Suikotsu could represent Wrath while in his feral state, as he enjoys killing and possesses facial tattoos symbolic of rage.
- Ginkotsu could represent Sloth, as he tends to be sloppy when it comes to killing his opponents.
- Mukotsu could represent Envy, as when he can't have Kagome for his own he decides to kill her because he thought that if he can't have her then no one can; furthermore, it is said that envy is an ugly thing, and he has arguably the most repulsive appearance of the seven.
- Kyōkotsu could represent Gluttony, as seen for his cannibalistic appetite.
- Shichinin-tai Official Website (Japanese)