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Tange Sazen. Tange Sazen was created by “Fubo Hayashi,” the pseudonym of the Japanese author Hasegawa Kaitarô (Kuginuki Tôkichi), and appeared in newspaper serials, kamishibai (stories for children told by wandering performers), and at least thirty films from 1927 to at least 2004, beginning with the serial “Shinpan Ooka Seidan” (Tokyo Nichinichi, 1927).

Centuries ago, in Japan during the Edo period (1601-1867), a loyal samurai of the Soma clan, Tange Samanosuke, is betrayed by other clan members. He is attacked and maimed, losing his right arm and his right eye. Tange forswears his clan allegiance, takes the name “Tange Sazen,” and wanders Japan as an embittered and cynical ronin. The loss of an arm and an eye have not affected his martial ability, however, as numerous enemies discover.

* I'm including the Tange Sazen serials, kamishibai, and films in the Best of the Encyclopedia list because of their historical importance. Tange Sazen wasn't the first samurai hero of Japanese popular culture, but the nearly eight decades of his lifespan have leant his stories a certain prominence in and influence on Japanese popular culture, and helped make him one of the icons of fictional samurai in Japan. 

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