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Overview

Tetsuzou Nihei (二瓶 鉄造, Nihei Tetsuzō) was a hunter and one of the Abashiri Convicts. He saved Genjirou Tanigaki after the soldier was injured by Retar.

Appearance[]

As described by Shiraishi, Nihei was "an older man with graying hair, carrying a Type 18 single shot rifle, and accompanied by a brown Ainu hunting dog". Nihei was of tan complexion and had deep wrinkles covering his face. He also sported a dark full beard.

While hunting, Nihei wore a white shirt, a light-brown undercoat, a checkered red hanten and a dark brown vest, as well as a leather belt with a pouch. He wore green pants with a patch of animal fur attached to his belt from the back. He also wore fur legwarmers over his legs. Nihei sometimes wore bandages on his hands.

Nihei was a muscular man and, just like other Abashiri Convicts, he had a map tattooed on his back.

Personality[]

Nihei was a confident, boisterous and tenacious man. He was direct, loud and straightforward, with a crude and sometimes vulgar sense of humor. He would often compare his excitement or the thrill of the hunt to an erection, loudly exclaiming "BONER!". Shiraishi would describe Nihei as "more like a wild animal, than a man"[2].

Nihei was passionate about hunting. He bestowed respect for nature and seemed to like the wild animals more than he liked humans. He had a lot of affection for his dog Ryu. However, he wasn't devoid of kindness to people: Nihei saved Tanigaki from freezing in the woods alone and overall wanted to help the Matagi with finding his purpose in life. Nihei seemed to enjoy teasing Tanigaki by saying sexual innuendo (like inviting Tanigaki for a "good scrub" together or talking about his genitalia). He would often crack jokes about women being scary and terrifying, likely due to his experience with his wife and many daughters he had.

Nihei used a one-shot rifle as he believed that a hunter has only one chance to shoot his prey. After years of hunting bears, Nihei learned how to determine a bear's character just from its face. Even though he had never hunted a wolf before, Nihei wanted to do it precisely for that reason as he enjoyed the challenge. Nihei seemed to be knowledgeable about hunting techniques and rituals of other cultures, like Matagi and Ainu.

Nihei wanted to die in the wilderness and become a part of nature. He considered falling in the battle with a wild animal and being torn to pieces by it to be the best death he could ask for.

Background[]

Nihei was born in Ishikari, Hokkaido.[3]

In the past, Nihei used to be a prolific Hokkaido hunter who had killed over 200 bears[4]. His fame even reached Akita, where travelling salesmen would tell people of the "Legendary Bear-Killer": every time he went up into the mountains, the bears that lived there vanished[5].

Nihei was married and had 15 children with his wife: a son and 14 daughters [6]. When one of his daughters was little, he took her to the veranda for a nap. Nihei noticed a giant hornet landing on his daughter's face and sensed the change in his body odor, discovering his ability to determine a person's emotional state by smell. He confessed to Genjirou Tanigaki that he hadn't seen his family in a long time.

In 1805, Nihei went hunting with Kirawus[7][8]. On their hunting trip, Nihei told Kirawus about his rifle and his son. Nihei's son was a soldier during the Japan-Qing War (First Sino-Japanese War) and died during the war. His son's friend brought Nihei the rifle and said that he had carved a notch into the stock for each enemy he shot. Nihei mused on whether his son stopped counting the people he had shot or if he was killed only after he had shot the 7th. Nihei exclaimed that his son wasn't a person who enjoyed shooting another and that he should have become a bear hunter and not a soldier.

Nihei murders the final bandit in front of the police.

Some time later, Nihei was sentenced to prison for killing three men who were stealing from hunters and murdering them. As told by Nihei, it happened in spring: that day he was butchering a bear in the woods when a bullet ricocheted off the ground at his feet, followed by a gunshot in the distance. Nihei realized he was being targeted and shouted at the bandits, threatening the men[9].

CAN YOU HEAR ME, YOU FUCKING THIEVES?! I'M NIHEI TETSUZOU! EVERY TIME I HUNT A BEAR, I GO INTO BATTLE FULLY PREPARED TO DIE! IF YOU'RE GOING TO HUNT ME... THEN YOU BETTER BE READY TO END UP AS ANIMAL SHIT!!

— Nihei to the bandits

The bandits didn't take Nihei's warning seriously and shot at him, the bullet passing through Nihei's hair. Nihei considered that shot "the opening of hunting season" and over the next three days hunted the bandits one by one, clubbing each to death. However, the last bandit got caught by the police. While the policemen tried to stop him, Nihei proceeded to snapping the bandit's neck. The murder of the bandit resulted in Nihei being sent to the Abashiri Prison.

While in Abashiri Prison, he became cellmates with Kazuo Henmi and Yoshitake Shiraishi, as well as Fusatarou Oosawa[10]. He received a tattoo from Noppera-bou and later escaped with other tattooed prisoners. Some time after his escape, Nihei found injured Tanigaki in the woods and rescued him. Nihei learned about Retar and visited a fur trader in town, asking about the money he'd get for the pelt of a white wolf.

Sometime during his lifetime, Nihei met a man from Mongolia who taught him how to cook blood sausages.

Plot[]

Legendary Hunter Arc[]

Nihei is first seen talking to Tanigaki while hunting a bear. He claims that the bears Tanigaki hunted as Matagi are merely cubs compared to those they have in Hokkaido. Nihei says that his dog is of the breed that the Ainu have trained to be fearless when going up against bears. Tanigaki, who is yet to learn of Nihei's identity, makes note of the Murata rifle Nihei is using, saying his Matagi father would also use one for hunting. The rifle is one-shot, which is not useful. Tanigaki claims that using a rifle like that isn't a personal preference but simply ignoring the march of progress. Nihei scoffs at that but remarks that Tanigaki's rifle can hold five rounds and so it must be mighty useful.

Nihei is excited about hunting the last Hokkaido wolf.

Nihei's dog, Ryu, rushes to the bear that is sleeping its den. Nihei commands Tanigaki to stand out of the fight, as its the duel between him and the bear. Tanigaki wonders if Nihei has prepared other rounds since hunters that use the Murata rifle always hold spare rounds between their fingers to quickly reload the gun. Nihei retorts, saying that having five rounds gives you an illusion of having five chances, which is wrong. The bear comes out of its den and approaches him, standing on its hind legs. Nihei successfully shoots the bear, and Tanigaki reveals that in his hometown he once heard stories about legendary bear-killer from Hokkaido. Tanigaki realizes that the man in front of him is in fact the legendary hunter Tetsuzou Nihei.

Nihei asks Tanigaki how long he is going to tag along with him, teasing the young man that he didn't rescue him because he wanted a new lover. Tanigaki replies that he isn't in the mood for jokes and that he knows that Nihei is after the same thing as he is: the white wolf.

After defeating the bear, Nihei explains to Tanigaki that the bear would have definitely become a man-eater. Tanigaki is curious about it, and Nihei cuts the bear open to demonstrate her insides to Tanigaki. Nihei concludes that the bear is a six-year old sow that has not had any cubs before, which is typical of bears that would later become aggressive. Nihei jokes that female bears are more emotional and scarier, just like female humans. As he continues to skin the bear, Nihei talks about bear character traits. He reveals that he has killed over 200 bears on his own, and each time was different. Nihei guesses that Tanigaki has never hunted a wolf, prompting Tanigaki to ask if Nihei has fought a wolf before. Nihei replies that he's never hunted one and doesn't know a thing about wolves, that's why he wants to hunt it down. He then recounts how the wolves were exterminated by humans after they started hunting livestock. Yet, there's a wolf that survived the battle of wits against mankind, the last of its kind. Hunting that wolf down excites Nihei, as he wants to find out who is more cunning out of them two.

"Nihei style roasted heart".

Tanigaki and Nihei proceed to dine on the bear meat. Nihei presents his special dish, "Nihei style roasted heart". Nihei says that eating fresh heart is a privilege reserved only for hunters, like him and Tanigaki. He then asks Tanigaki if Matagi drink bear's blood, then tells the soldier about the recipe he learned from a Mongolian friend — "Nihei style blood sausages". Nihei eats the sausages and warns Tanigaki that the sausages fill you with a lot of energy so he should watch himself to not blow off the roof of his hut. Nihei, clearly overly energetic, loudly exclaims "BONER!", which doesn't get any reaction from Tanigaki.

Nihei notes that Tanigaki is very quiet and that the Matagi lifestyle really rubbed off on him. Tanigaki replies that Nihei must have met a really talkative Matagi before, as most of them don't talk about their lifestyle much. Nihei wonders why Tanigaki is here with him, and why he is still wearing the army cap; he asks why Tanigaki doesn't go back to his hometown to become a Matagi again. Tanigaki reveals that he has his own reasons for remaining in the army and he was fully prepared to abandon his hometown in Akita. But when he came to the mountains, Tanigaki felt like a toxin deep inside of him was slowly seeping away. As Tanigaki recites the Matagi chant that they say to guide the spirits of bears to the afterlife, he laments that he never said those words for the people he killed during the war.

Having heard his tale, Nihei says that hunting the wolf is just an excuse for Tanigaki, as he is unable to return back to the army or go back home. Instead, his hunter's spirit is wandering aimlessly through the forests of Hokkaido. Nihei tells Tanigaki that after they've killed the wolf, Tanigaki should take its pelt and return to his hometown. Tanigaki takes off his cap and throws it into the fire, and the two men laugh.

Nihei leads his team into the wolf's territory.

Next day, Nihei and Tanigaki are discussing their hunting strategy. Nihei suggests they shoot a deer to use it as bait for the wolf. Tanigaki says they have leftover bear meat, but Nihei tells him about the American Rancher who spread strychnine-laced bait all over his ranch to protect his horses. The man also advised this method to other ranches, which resulted in most of Hokkaido wolves being exterminated, with at least a dozen of wolves dying every day. However, there was a wolf that raised his leg and urinated on the poisoned meat instead of eating it; due to being extremely clever, that wolf managed to survive till this day.

Nihei and Tanigaki search for a deer to hunt. Nihei praises his dog Ryu, saying he can pick out the freshest, strongest scent from a jumble of different deer tracks. Nihei notes that Ryu is considerate of his owners and will check up if they're keeping up, adjusting his own pace to match with that of the hunters. Nihei then asks Tanigaki if his broken leg bothers him. Ryu starts fidgeting and acting strange, refusing to go any further. The legendary hunter realizes that Ryu must have picked up a wolf's scent, so Nihei grabs his dog by the leash and leads his party into the wolf territory. Nihei and Tanigaki hear a gunshot from a Type 30 rifle, the same one Tanigaki carries. They follow the sound and find the deer's carcass. Nihei notices wolf tracks and says that, judging by the state of the carcass, some hunters must have stolen the wolf's kill. However, they left a lot of meat instead of putting it in the safe spot, which is strange. Tanigaki observes the human tracks and recognizes they belong to the man and the Ainu girl he encountered the other day. He tells Nihei that the meat was probably left for the wolf to eat, but the animal sensed them coming and ran away. Tanigaki thinks that the wolf doesn't seem to be afraid of the Ainu girl, and that he might come back to eat the rest of the deer. Nihei looks pensive but then suggests Tanigaki the two of them head down to the river and give each other a good scrub.

Nihei's tattooed back.

Tanigaki and Nihei come to the river. Nihei inquires Tanigaki about Matagi hunting rituals, and Tanigaki explains that the Matagi believe that the guardian of the mountains is a goddess. To not make the goddess jealous, hunters wash away the scents of other women before going to the mountains. As Nihei starts undressing, he speaks of how uncanny the wolf's sense of smell is, and that they need to take every possible precaution. Stripped to his waist, Nihei reveals his tattooed back. Tanigaki recognizes the tattoo on Nihei's body and realizes that he is one of the tattooed convicts. Furious with Nihei only laughing it off, Tanigaki draws his gun and accuses Nihei of murdering soldiers during his escape from the Abashiri Prison. Nihei shrugs it off, claiming that he only killed fools who were blinded by their own greed; he notes that he feels more guilty killing animals than those guys. Nihei stands tall and asks Tanigaki if he is going to shoot him and skin him. He continues to question Tanigaki's identity, wondering if it's Tanigaki the Matagi or Tanigaki the soldier standing in front of him.

While Nihei continues to bathe himself in the water, he tells Tanigaki of his encounter with three bandits that were murdering hunters and stealing their prey. He tells Tanigaki that he killed those men and was sent to Abashiri. Nihei explains that he wants to die in the wilderness, so he escaped the prison. He dreams of his fallen body being consumed by wild animals and becoming one with nature. Nihei asks Tanigaki if he understands him.

Later, Nihei and Tanigaki are spending the night waiting for Retar to return to the deer's carcass. However, in the morning the find the carcass covered with wolf feces. Nihei concludes that the wolf must have done it when they were away washing themselves. Tanigaki says that he heard of a special kind of wolf behavior, where they track a strange human and observe them from afar; it's called "being watched by a wolf". He tells Nihei the white wolf must have watched them from the moment they showed. Excited about the hunt, Nihei proclaims that his boner is raging out of control. While Nihei examines the deer carcass, Tanigaki muses over the wolf's intelligence. Nihei notes that they will have to start from scratch and kill another deer; however, they need to eat some food first. As Nihei roasts the meat over the fire, he reveals that his sense of smell is much sharper than of the average human. He recalls the time when he took his baby daughter to the veranda and noticed a giant hornet land on her face. At that instant Nihei sensed the change in his body odor and that it reflected his emotional state. He tells Tanigaki that their blood-thirsty intent must give off quite a strong smell and perhaps that wolf sensed it.

Nihei explains his strategy of hunting Retar to Tanigaki.

Tanigaki then explains a Matagi saying, "Sink into the bark". When a hunter is waiting in ambush for his prey, he should become one with the trees. Hearing that, Nihei takes note. Tanigaki asks how's Nihei's daughter doing, and Nihei answers that he hasn't seen his wife or his 15 children in a long time, adding that "women sure a scary bunch".

Nihei asks Tanigaki to tell him what he knows of the wolf tracking behavior. Tanigaki says his father would tell him that one way to escape a wolf who is tracking you is to drop something on the ground, as wolves are naturally curious animals and will stop to investigate. Tanigaki comments that the wolf is probably observing them at this moment. Nihei burns the feces wolf left to aggravate the wolf and focus his attention on the two of them.

Nihei, Tanigaki, and Ryu prepare to ambush the wolf and set a trap for him by leaving a mess kit to grab the wolf's attention. Nihei takes a position up on the hill, waiting for Retar to appear. The hunter tries to quell his urge to kill and become one with the trees in order no stay hidden. Meanwhile, Sugimoto and Shiraishi spot Nihei, but Shiraishi can't confirm his identity unless he sees his face. Sugimoto tells Asirpa to stay put and use her bow as a back-up while he and Shiraishi get closer to Nihei.

Nihei clashes with Sugimoto.

Asirpa notices that Nihei is aiming at something and realizes he set a trap for Retar. Suddenly, she notices the wolf hiding behind a tree. Asirpa internally begs Retar to stay away, while Nihei, who has also noticed Retar, grows more excited and impatient. Retar emerges from his hiding spot but, before Nihei manages to pull the trigger, Asirpa shoots an arrow in the mess kit, alerting the wolf. Nihei takes a shot and the bullet grazes Retar's fur, scaring him away. Sugimoto aims his gun at Nihei, telling the hunter to toss his gun to him. Nihei smirks and says that now he sees why the wolf wouldn't show himself, noting that Sugimoto's urge to kill is practically gushing out of him. Sugimoto asks Shiraishi to confirm Nihei's identity, which makes Nihei realize that the two men came after his tattoo. Sugimoto once again asks Nihei to drop his weapon but Nihei is ready to fight. Before Sugimoto can fire his gun, he is attacked by Ryu. As Sugimoto fends off Ryu's attack with the barrel of the gun, Nihei swings a cleaver at him. Sugimoto takes out his bayonet and slices over Nihei's left hand, cutting off four of his fingers. Sugimoto stabs Nihei in the arm but Nihei hits his head with the rifle, drawing blood. Smiling, Nihei asks if Sugimoto is ready to end up as animal shit.

Nihei and Sugimoto continue their fight. Sugimoto shouts at Shiraishi to get his gun but Shiraishi is stopped by Nihei's dog Ryu. While Nihei and Sugimoto face off each other in a deadly match, Shiraishi attempts to wrestle Ryu to retrieve the gun. Once armed, Shiraishi draws the gun at Nihei and warns the hunter. Tanigaki takes Asirpa hostage and orders Shiraishi and Sugimoto to drop their weapons. Furious with Tanigaki using Asirpa as a human shield, Sugimoto loses control and charges at Tanigaki with his bayonet and throws the blade at the man, stabbing him through the palm of his hand and his cheek. Nihei tackles Sugimoto and holds him in a chokehold on the ground. Shiraishi calls out to Tanigaki, saying he should be ashamed of using an innocent child as a hostage. Tanigaki doesn't budge and claims that the last time he saw Asirpa she was carrying a tattooed skin so they shouldn't pretend she has nothing to do with the situation.

Asirpa tries to reason with Tanigaki, telling him that her life isn't worth much to Shiraishi and he will start shooting. She says there's no need for them to shed blood and it's better to calm down and stop fighting. Nihei warns Tanigaki not to trust Asirpa, reminding him that women are frightening creatures. Tanigaki shouts that he doesn't care whether Asirpa gets hurt in the process, and Sugimoto gives in, telling Shiraishi to drop the gun. Sugimoto then asks Nihei to take Asirpa away so she wouldn't see them being killed.

"Tanigaki... You wait right here. I'm going to kill that wolf and bring it to you."

Nihei agrees and asks Tanigaki to get him some ropes to tie Sugimoto and Shiraishi up. Sugimoto and Shiraishi exchange looks, silently coming up with an escape plan. Nihei proceeds to bandage his injured hand while Tanigaki takes Asirpa away, much to her protest. Distracted by a sudden memory of his daughter, Nihei doesn't notice that Shiraishi and Sugimoto managed to flee. Nihei alerts Tanigaki of the two men escaping.

Later, Nihei finds Asirpa tending to Tanigaki at the riverbank and realizes that Tanigaki walked into the deer trap. Asirpa explains that she cut away all the flesh around the wound but since the poison was mixed by someone else she doesn't know if Tanigaki will survive; at any rate, he won't be able to move anytime soon. Asirpa suggests they stop their fight as they didn't come to kill Nihei in the first place. Nihei disregards Asirpa's words and promises Tanigaki to kill the white wolf and bring it back to him. Asirpa is taken aback by Nihei's tenacity. Nihei grabs Asirpa and runs away with her, hoping to get the wolf to come out of the hiding.

Asirpa tells Nihei to put her down. She pleads with Nihei, saying that Retar is the last of his kind. She asks if Nihei is going to wipe out the proud Horkew Kamuy just for some coins. Nihei claims the wolves are already wiped out and he doesn't care about the money — he just wants to be the last hunter to see a Hokkaido wolf. Nihei brings Asirpa to an open spot. Asirpa tries to put up a fight but Nihei ties her to a tree branch, telling her to not bother trying to kill herself by biting off her tongue. Asirpa cuts him off, saying that she isn't going to kill herself and all that matters to her is that Retar doesn't become a wen kamuy. Nihei recognizes the term, reciting that "that's when an animal kills a human and becomes an evil god". However, Nihei says there's nothing to worry about: human life isn't worth that much.

Nihei's final hunt.

Nihei tells Asirpa that their fight with Retar is a fight to the death between two beasts, and Nihei plans to survive. He promises to end it in one shot so Retar won't suffer. Retar appears and charges towards Nihei. Nihei aims his gun and fires a few shots but Retar manages to dodge every one of them. Nihei is amazed and thinks that Retar might understand how a gun works. Retar jumps at Nihei and bites into his left arm. Nihei puts the barrel of his gun to Retar's head and announces his victory. Suddenly, another wolf jumps at Nihei from the back and bites into his neck. Ryu rushes to Nihei's defense, barking loudly at the wolves and shielding Nihei from them. The wolf joins Retar, and Nihei realizes that they're a heat pack. Even while gravely injured, Nihei remarks how Retar's mate didn't respect the rules of a battle between men, attesting how terrifying women are. Still, Nihei is satisfied in his dying moments.

Lastly, Tanigaki joins the others. He sits down with now deceased Nihei and reads the Matagi chant to him to guide Nihei in the afterlife. Before heading back to the Ainu village, Sugimoto removes Nihei's tattooed skin and takes it with him.

Abilities[]

Nihei's stats from the fanbook

Bear hunter feared even by those deep in hibernation.

— Nihei's description from the fanbook[11]

  • Legendary Hunter: He was a great hunter and killed over 200 bears during his lifetime.
  • Sense of smell: Nihei's sense of smell is much sharper than of the average human. He claimed to be able to sense the change in a person's body odor during acute emotional states, like stress or fear.

Equipment[]

Chapter Appearances[]

Appearances
Legendary Hunter Arc
22. Legendary Bear-Killer Debut
23. Hunter's Spirit Appears
24. What Lives On Appears
25. Yuk Appears
26. The Law of the Mountain Appears
27. The Scent of Death Appears
28. Complication Appears
29. The Old Man and the Mountain Appears

Quotes[]

  • (To Tanigaki) "If you don't end it in one shot, you die. I've only got one shot, and that's why I can use it with absolute confidence."[5]
  • (To Tanigaki) "So, Tanigaki. How long are you planning to tag along, Matagi? When I saved you after finding you collapsed in the snow, it wasn't because I wanted a new lover".[5]
  • "My hunter's spirit is throbbing with desire!"[4]
  • "Boner!"[4]
  • "CAN YOU HEAR ME, YOU FUCKING THIEVES?! I'M NIHEI TETSUZOU! EVERY TIME I HUNT A BEAR, I GO INTO BATTLE FULLY PREPARED TO DIE! IF YOU'RE GOING TO HUNT ME... THEN YOU BETTER BE READY TO END UP AS ANIMAL SHIT!!"[9]
  • "I'm more tenacious than any bear."[9]
  • "One day, I will fall in battle, and the animals will tear my body to pieces. I'll be excreted from their bodies as feces, spread all over the mountains. I'll become a part of nature. I couldn't ask for a better death."[9]
  • "My boner's raging out of control."[9]

Trivia[]

  • Nihei's appearance and personality are largely based on the character of Nihei Toshimitsu from Satoru Noda's previous work, Supinamarada!.
    • According to Satoru Noda, Nihei’s philosophy of the winner being decided in one shot was taken from a real life high school hockey team supervisor who is said to be a big deal. He also added that he thinks that Nihei from Golden Kamuy and Nihei from Supinamarada! are blood related.[12]
  • Nihei liked bear meat and disliked nothing.
  • In 2018 Golden Kamuy All-Stars popularity poll Nihei ranked 24th, gaining 2, 023 votes. [13]
  • There was supposed to be a scene between Nihei and Tanigaki performing a Matagi initiation ritual of kuraidori (クライドリ), with Nihei on the receiving end. However, since the ritual is too obscene, the idea was scrapped.[14]
  • Nihei could have become the main character of Golden Kamuy, but Satoru Noda scrapped the idea in favor of Sugimoto.[15]
  • Nihei is shorter than Kikuta and taller than Vasily.[16]
  • Nihei is lighter than Kikuta and heavier than Vasily, Sugimoto and Tsukishima.[17]
  • Nihei is older than Ushiyama, and younger than Ienaga and Nagakura.[18]

References[]

Site Navigation[]

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Staff Toshiyuki Kadokura Tokishige Usami 
Convicts Anji ToniFusatarou OosawaHeita MatsudaKanjirou KasaharaKano IenagaKazuo HenmiKeiichirou SakamotoKeiji UejiKiichirou WakayamaKiyohiro SuzukawaMaiharu GansokuMichael OstrogMutsuo TsuyamaNoppera-BouShiton AnehataSoroku FunabashiTakechiyo GotouTatsuma UshiyamaTetsuo TakaraiTetsuzou NiheiToshizou HijikataWaichirou SekiyaYoshitake ShiraishiYouichirou
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