|“||The sword cuts, the smiths forge, the samurai... do what exactly? Well, let them be whatever they want. So long as they exist for the single purpose of being strong and beautiful. Like him.||„|
|~ Shinsuke Takasugi|
Shinsuke Takasugi is the leader of the Kiheitai, an extremist group which he resurrected from the Joui Wars. The Kiheitai is a Joui faction bent on causing world destruction. He is the main antagonist of the series.
Takasugi has short, black hair with dark-purple highlights. His left eye is bandaged, as he lost his eye during the Joui war and he is usually seen wearing a purple yukata with yellow butterflies. He likes to smoke a thin pipe called kiseru. He has also been seen playing the shamisen and wearing a sedge hat. He always carries a sword with him.
He is ruthless, and does not hesitate to punish insubordination with death, as Nizou experienced first-hand when he realized that Takasugi was seriously aiming to kill him during the Benizakura chapter. Takasugi also has a burning hatred for the new world that came to be after the Amanto settled down. This hatred seems to have originated from the loss of his mentor Yoshida Shouyou, as Takasugi wants to destroy the world that took away his teacher. According to Imai Nobume, Takasugi seeks to destroy what Yoshida Shouyou left behind.
Takasugi makes his first appearance in this arc when he attends a festival held honoring the amanto's first arrival. He reunites with Katsura and as they begin talking he asks Takasugi if he is planning on doing anything, he tells him he's not, but if something did happen, it would overturn Japan. He later goes and meets up with Gintoki which ends up surprising Gin, as he didn't realize he would be here. Before he can take out his sword, Takasugi takes out his and comments on how dull his fangs have become. He then tells Gintoki that he is only here to enjoy the festival, but hints at how he may have manipulated Gengai into trying to assassinate the Shogun to get revenge for the Bakufu having killed his son. Before leaving Gintoki grabs his sword with his bare hands and punches him so he can get away and try to stop Gengai from carrying out his revenge. Takasugi ends up leaving the festival when his plan ends in failure, but Katsura catches up with him and tells him that Gintoki's fangs are not gone, because "everyone has fangs when they protect something."
Takasugi comes to Edo to overthrow the Bakufu, but he didn't come alone this time, he decided to bring the entire Kiheitai. It was later revealed that he actually came to Edo in order to test out a new bio-weapon, Benizakura. They needed to gather in-battle information about it, so they needed the help of Murata Tetsuya, the one who made the Benizakura swords, he gives the sword to Nizou and lets him test it out. Nizou ends up challenging people to duels and killing them in one go, when he comes up against Katsura he nearly kills him, but the book Shouyou gave all his students saved his life. Takasugi and the Kiheitai were upset with Nizou because he was being too reckless and attracted too much attention. Nizou believed that Takasugi was only angry because he attacked his former comrade, but he told Nizou if he ever called Gintoki or Katsura his comrades again he'd cut through him and the sword.
While searching for Katsura, Kagura faced off against Takasugi for a short time, but her instincts told her not to fight him because of his "dangerous smell," she was then attacked and then captured by Henpeita and Matako. Takasugi silently watched the battle and made no orders concering Kagura or Nizou, who had returned to the base missing an arm, as Nizou was left alone and Kagura was next seen tied to the wall.
As the Joui patriots under Katsura attacked in revenge, Takasugi had disappeared to monitor the Benizakura's alongside Tetsuya and had made a quick stop to speak to and threaten Nizou. On deck, Kagura was put up as a hostage only to be ignored. He did eventually reappear, when he sliced through the head of the penguin mascot. He states this "isn't a venue for cosplay", he's surprised that Katsura was under the costume and is nearly cut down by his former ally.
Katsura reveals he had been on deck this entire time, watching from the shadows and studying Takasugi's plot. It's revealed that Takasugi was also protected by the blunt of the attack through Shouyou's book, and the two idly chat about Nizou's failure before a bomb Katsura set up goes off. In the confusion Takasugi escapes with Matako and Henpeita, his subordinates hold Shinpachi and Kagura back. He rests for a bit, finding a balcony from which he can watch Gin battle Nizou, and he chats with Katsura again. He reveals to his old friend his views about the world and being a samurai, stating he can't see anything but a path of destruction, and he exposes the source of his pain, the world that took away Yoshida Shouyou, his former teacher, and because of that, his burning hatred will lead him to do anything to take revenge.
Although Katsura tries to pull Takasugi back, stating he's upset as well but now has things to protect, the Amanto appear as Takasugi's allies. Explaining that he heard both Gin and Katsura had gotten into an altercation with the Amanto earlier, he offered his assistance in taking their heads for their gunpower and manpower. Reinforcing that all he wants is to destroy this corrupted world, he flees his burning and battered ship with the rest of the living Kiheitai members onto the Harusame flagship, only sticking around long enough to see Gin and Katsura promise a battle the next time they met. The bomb Katsura set up caused the loss of the main Kiheitai ship. Through losing the ship, Takasugi also lost the Benizakura swords and some manpower, so he decides to take his leave.
Shinsengumi Crisis arc
Takasugi sends one of the Kiheitai, Bansai to Edo in the hopes of destroying the Shinsengumi. Bansai was ordered to follow Itou's orders no matter what, in exchange Itou would have the power of the Kiheitai at his disposal. But this plan was ultimately foiled by Gintoki and Yorozuya. When he returned back to base he greeted his boss, Takasugi, who is seen playing shamisen, he then comments on how strong the government is and how weak his subordinate was. He then looks on in disdain as he continues to play shamisen.
Kabukichou Four Devas arc
Takasugi is shown on the main Harusame ship, likely making more dealings for assistance. However, the Admiral of the pirates at the time, Admiral Abo, sent Kamui to eliminate him due to Takasugi's reoccuring habits of following his own plans. Although it was revealed to eventually be a ruse to kill Kamui, as the Admiral feared that he'd be overthrown if Kamui continued to live. Kamui withstood being periced by poison arrows and being struck by Takasugi's sword. Takasugi decided to recruit Kamui by offering him a deal which would allow him to cause as much destruction as he wanted.
At Kamui's public execution, Takasugi broke the bonds holding Kamui and sided with him, taking on the Harusame with the Yato by his side. When the Yato and the Kiheitai got involved in the battle, Admiral Abo fled and was soon caught by and killed by Kamui. With Harusame now in the control of Kamui, the two became allies in a temporary truce.
At the end of the arc Takasugi meets up with Sasaki Isaburo as the police chief is literally fishing for his subordinate, Imai Nobume. Takasugi refers to Sasaki with the honorific dono, showing respect he otherwise wouldn't give. Sasaki says that he realizes that the Bakufu, and everything else is on the edge of "crumbling away" and after stating he's already accepted the idea of becoming bait, Takasugi leaves with a smile and with the promise to "turn the sea of rubble that is Edo and transform it into a vacant lot."
Courtesan of a Nation arc
As Tokugawa Sada Sada calmly waits in jail, he believes he will escape from with his life, but Takasugi, who disguised himself as a Naraku agent comes to visit him in his cell and Stabs Sada Sada, he then states he'll judge him and ironically, requotes Gin from several chapters ago, "give my regards to Sensei for me." Takasugi then cuts off Sada Sada's head and disappears before the Shinsengumi can catch him. He happens to walk by Gin when he is leaving, but only Gin looks back.
Grim Reaper arc
He once again appears at the end of the arc before Hitotsubashi Nobu Nobu, smoking his pipe. He comments that Nobu Nobu will never take his or Gin's head, but the other man seems more interested in Takasugi's desire for destruction than actually killing him. Their words imply a partnership, but as Takasugi leaves, he warns Nobu Nobu that he will either face Gintoki if he opposes the government or Takasugi if he joins their side.
Shogun Assassination arc
Kamui and Takasugi arrive on earth to carry out their plan of assassinating the shogun.
Powers and Abilities
Takasugi was trained by a master swordsman named Yoshida Shouyou, as such Takasugi is an excellent swordsman with unparalleled senses and abilities. His only equals are Gintoki and Katsura who trained alongside him. He is shown to be a very charismatic leader, which is why people loyally follow him.
- Enhanced Swordsmanship: Takasugi was trained in the art of swordsmanship alongside Gintoki and Katsura by Yoshida Shouyou. He is very proficient with a sword, as such, only a few people can be considered to be his equal.
- Takasugi Shinsuke is based on the real Kiheitai leader Takasugi Shinsaku 高杉晋作, a samurai who founded and commanded the Kiheitai in an effort to fight against the Bakufu. His actions eventually lead to the Meiji Restoration.
- In all versions of Episode 150 he appears as the final enemy, in a battle against Gintoki while Edo is burning, but this is proven false because he joins forces with Kamui.
- In the manga, Takasugi's yukata has flower patterns, however in the anime he wears a butterfly pattern yukata.
- In the popularity poll, Takasugi is placed 4th in the first and second popularity poll and in 5th during the third popularity poll which makes him one of the most popluar characters even though he barely comes out.
- As of chapter 452 he is associated with the yogurt-like beverage Yakult.
- He was the cover for lesson 466.