Imai Nobume (今井信女, Imai Nobume), formerly known as Mukuro (骸, Mukuro), is a former member of the assassination unit of the Mimawarigumi, as well as its former vice captain. She is the secondary antagonist of the Thorny Arc.
Although not much is known about Nobume's origins, it is revealed that she was an orphan taken in and trained by the Tenshouin Naraku in order to be a professional assassin. At the time, her name was Mukuro. When Yoshida Shouyou was in jail during the Joui Wars, Mukuro was his guard, and during this time Shouyou taught her about knowledge and emotions, traits that she was lacking at the time. Afterward, she became known as one of the Naraku's "Three Feathers" for being a prodigy.
Four years before the start of the series, Mukuro met Sasaki Isaburou in a temple, together with other Naraku trained children. They were actually going to be used to assassinate the Hitotsubashi family. Sasaki attempted to thwart the assassination and succeeded, an act witnessed by Oboro. As a result, his punishment for the betrayal was the death of both his wife and his just born-child, and after that, Sasaki himself. Sasaki arrived at the death scene to find Mukuro standing on top of his wife's palanquin among a pile of corpses, all evidence pointing to her as the murderer. In truth, Mukuro came too late to save Sakaki's family but killed some of the Naraku assassins behind the murder. He himself realized this but did not tell her till years later.
In a fit of rage, he disarmed and cornered her easily. Pointing a sword at her, he asks why she doesn't strike back, and the reason for her tears. Mukuro says she is not fit to kill him, because she wanted to fight her own weakness and her fragile self, a lesson she learned from Shouyou back when she was his jailer. Although Mukuro was ready to accept her punishment, Sasaki lowered his sword, denying her wish to be killed. He then took Mukuro in for and trained her, later changing her given name from "Mukuro" to "Nobume", a name he wanted to give his daughter. He instructs her that until the time his goal will be in reach, he would have her to kill him, claiming that would be his revenge against himself for his lack of power for not being able to save his own family.
Nobume is a young woman with a triangular face with dull red eyes. She has long dark blue hair, evenly trimmed bangs and two shorter, rectangular strands falling on her face. Nobume has a Yatagarasu tattoo behind her neck, which is constantly covered by her long hair.
She is normally seen wearing a typical Mimawarigumi uniform. Under the neck has a white long scarf draped white suit with a collar, decorated with gold buttons on her shoulders, and the front rectangular brackets folded cuffs. Her uniform coat is a long trench coat extending to her ankles, while below was cut in half. She is also wearing a black colored belt with a silver buckle. She is seen wearing blue half-thigh shorts rather than the typical Mimawarigumi's long pants, she also wears the same colored socks decorated with white thread which form two X's on each side. She also wears the Mimawariguri uniformed boots.
During her childhood she had the same trimmed hair as in the present albeit much shorter. She's also seen wearing a kimono and the Yatagarasu's uniform. After she was picked up by Sasaki she wore an outfit similar to the one of Katsura when he was a child, and tied her hair up into a ponytail.
Her eyes were initially pupil-less and had a "murderous-like" look to them due to her past, being raised as a cold-blooded assassin by the Naraku. After Sasaki Isaburo's death, she renewed her ideals, with pupils full of life appearing in her eyes.
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As a result of having been trained by the Naraku faction to be a professional assassin, Nobume is shown to be an emotionless person in both her expression and speech. She appears to be sadistic (similarly to Okita Sougo), and she likes to cut down people (in the literal sense). According to Sasaki Isaburo, once she switches into her assassin mode, she kills everyone in her way. Although she seems to be quiet, she is surprisingly talkative. As shown during the Ikkoku Keisei arc, she thinks that it is better to cut down people that are knocked unconscious instead of leaving them alive, believing it is faster to cut them up in order to not get into trouble, with Gintoki and Tsukuyo trying to stop her. Despite her lack of showing emotions and serious attitude she has been shown to be quite childish as she enjoyed it when she, Kagura and Soyo played a prank on the guards, and playing kick the can.
Nobume loves eating donuts and will often behave in an animalistic manner to get them. When Sasaki rewarded her with a donut for her good work, she immediately bit down on his hand before he even had a chance to hand it over and wouldn't let go to the extent that Sasaki had to shake her around to get his hand free and ended up dislocating it in the process. Sasaki was also able to "fish" her out of a collapsed building by attaching a donut to a fishing rod and dangling it over the ruins. In addition, she is antagonised whenever someone tries to tease her by eating donuts in front of her and turns violent as Sougo learned the hard way, resulting in him almost getting castrated.
Despite her loyalty towards Sasaki Isaburo, she shows some good conscience to go against his orders. For example, she allowed Rotten Maizou to go to Yoshiwara, despite Sasaki's orders, and when he was promoted, Nobume stated that with both allies and enemies gone and them standing on the top of a pile of corpses, that didn't mean that they could call their jobs done. Also, when she was offered to seat in the commander's chair she stated that she would rather grovel on the dirt instead of sitting there. She has also shown to bear animosity towards the Tendoshu as she insulted them when they arrived to retrieve Nobu Nobu, and later she told Oboro that she will never serve them again. In short, she detests people who selfishly abuse authority power.
It is revealed later on in the series that Nobume is not emotionless but rather just hiding it, as shown when she cried after remembering that she has the mission to kill Sasaki, showing that she is not actually willing to do that, and she also cried for Sasaki after seeing him in a near-death state, and is shown mourning his death.
She later becomes independent, declaring to Utsuro that she will only kill people for herself and not for neither the Tendoushu nor the Mimawarigumi. Despite looking unemotional, Nobume has a strong sense of justice, like when she kills the assassins that killed Isaburo's wife, although she was too late.
Strength & AbilitiesEdit
Master Swordmanship Specialist: She was raised as an assassin from a very young age, she is very powerful, as stated by many characters. At a very young age, she is said to be immensely talented in assassination and was the best during her time and was able to be named as one of the Naraku three. She was able to successfully kill multiple Tendoushu assassins without any injuries as a child. Her sword appears to be a Nodachi but it turned out to be a regular sized Katana while a small tantō concealed at the end of her scabbard. She uses a 2 sword fighting style. Kondo Isao has compared her to the grim reaper, every strike she makes is lethal and capable of killing anyone if it hits.
Immense Endurance: Nobume appears to have a very high endurance, as she survived having a building crashing down with her in it with only minor scratches. Also, when Utsuro threw his sword and stabbed her in the stomach she still had enough strength to keep fighting him along with Kagura and Sougo. She was also able to avoid a point blank would-be lethal blow from Utsuro and hold him in place long enough for Gintoki to come in for a surprise attack.
Nobume is very skilled in imitating people's voices, as seen when she was voicing the Shogun during the Courtesan of a Nation Arc, and she also seems to be a good judge of character. Despite Sougo's cute appearance, she was able to tell that he is a sadistic murderer just by looking at his eyes. She was also able to see the sorrow in Gintoki's and Takasugi's eyes.
Friends & AlliesEdit
- Sasaki Isaburo: Sasaki is Nobume's commander. Even though it looked like Nobume murdered his family in cold blood, Sasaki was able to see who is his real enemy, blaming the era for allowing such brutality to happen. He chose to not kill her for it and instead have her serve him for his goals. Nobume, who felt strong guilt for her crimes followed him without questions. He seems to know anything about her, including her donut quirk, and managed to 'fish' Nobume out from a pile of rubble with a donut as a fish hook bait. She calls him Isaburo, and he calls her Nobutasu. She seems to be quite loyal to Sasaki as she claims that she would go along with him if he decides to tag along with Takasugi Shinsuke. Despite having the mission to kill Sasaki, she was shown crying after Sasaki died and mourned his death.
- Soyo Hime: She was ordered to protect Soyo-hime when the castle was heavily guarded. Soyo-hime and she are on good terms and Nobume would sleep with Soyo Hime whenever she gets scared at night.
- Sakata Gintoki: Isaburo said that Gintoki's influence on Nobume has started to change her. In the end she even went against her commander's orders, allowing Rotten Maizou to go to Yoshiwara. The two of them had showed to have an unusual ability to synchronize perfectly with each other every time they are seen together, despite being only acquaintances, like when they knocked out the shogun they were both ready to run away and both of them were able to fool Sada Sada with their puppet act. Also, Tsukuyo and she were able to notice Gintoki's signal and run beside the wall to distract the guards from the machine gun turret long enough for Gintoki to move in for the kill. She is also the only one who noticed Gintoki was alive after Utsuro's cannon attack and stabbed his foot for Gintoki to come in for a surprise attack. She destroyed the phones of witnesses who wants to rat on Gintoki's location to get some money. Nobume also helped him and the rest of Yorozuya find Sakamoto to find Kagura saying that the reason she helped them was because Gintoki has the same eyes as Isaburo.
- Tsukuyo: Nobume and Tsukuyo fight together during the Courtesan of a Nation Arc, They both were protecting Gintoki from Naraku agents attack. Notably, she asked Tsukuyo if she was allowed the cut people when they were ready to attack in the Shoguns palace.
- Kagura: They seem to have a close friendship and the same rivalry with Sougo. Shinpachi noted that her, Kagura and Soyo- hime are the "Sisterhood Sadist Three". In the Farewell Shinsegumi arc Kagura tried to convnice her to stop fighting because she believed it was not what Nobume really desired in her heart after seeing her tears. Nobume also saves Kagura from a sword that was thrown by Utsuro, getting injured in the process.
- Yoshida Shouyou: During the time when he was jailed, Nobume received lessons from him, even though she was serving as his jailer. With the help of his wisdom, she gradually develop her emotions and sense of morals. She and Oboro knows the truth of Utsuro's origin and one of his seven personas, including Shouyou.
- Okita Sougo: Nobume and Sougo are rivals. They fought each other when a fight between the Shinsengumi and the Mimawarigumi broke out. Though due to their sadistic similarities, they completely ignored the point of the fight and merely wished to fight each other to the death. However, in the Farewell, Shinsengumi arc after they fight again and are interrupted by Kagura's arrival and later Utsuro coming and attacking them, they become allies. Okita also helped Nobume get on her feet when she was about to collapse. Later, Sougo, along with the other Shinsengumi members, mourn Sasaki's death.
- Katsura Kotarou: It is considered that she knew him as one of the three of Shouyou's students, although she didn't encounter him due to Katsura not being involved in the first part of the war between Yorozuya and Shinsengimu's alliance and the Tendoshu. She and Katsura are now allies since when Sasaki's cover to take down the corrupted Bakufu again has been blown.
- Kijima Matako: Due to Nobume stating that she sided with some legendary Joui patriots like Gintoki and Takasugi, they seems to know each other. Matako accused her for having betrayed her due to not telling her that Gintoki showed up and started an argument between them
- Oboro: Nobume knows Oboro from her past, as they were both part of the Naraku. Even before Oboro revealed his face to the rebels, Nobume knew it was him when she infiltrated Tokugawa Sada Sada's palace. She possesses extensive knowledge about Oboro's combat skills as well as his position in the Naraku. Later Oboro called Nobume by her former name Mukuro and reminded her of her past as one of the Naraku Three. During their last conversation, Oboro implied that, because Nobume decided to side with Takasugi, one of them is going to die the next time they meet. However, it was not last long after Oboro is defeated by Takasugi to end his tragic immortal life, after Utsuro kills Shouyou inside his body. Both of them are the ones who knows the truth of Utsuro's origin and one of his seven personas, including Shouyou.
- Utsuro: Utsuro is aware of Nobume's actions, knowing that she betrayed the organization. He impaled Nobume by throwing a sword, and she pushed Kagura to safety. He proceeded to attack both of them, as well as Okita, and overwhelmed them in a three-on-one fight. Also, she is the one who knew the truth behind Shouyou's death before Gintoki does, as Gintoki was only aware of the Shouyou's execution that he was forced to carry out, to save his comrades Takasugi and Katsura. As Oboro also known this truth with her, what Nobume referring behind Shouyou's death is that the Shouyou's original evil persona, Utsuro kills one of his seven personas he created inside his body, including Shouyou to resurfaced to the real world once again for opposing him, due to his immortal body.
- Hitotsubashi Nobu Nobu: She follows the new government only because Isaburo was following them.
She first appeared in the Baragaki arc when Sasaki Tetsunosuke was captured by the "Check it Out gang". When Hijikata Toushirou tried to draw out his sword, Nobume instantly prepared for an attack until Okita Sougo intervened.
She was killing the gang members in the abandoned buildings until she was stopped by Sougo, who realized that Nobume was not after Sasaki Tetsunosuke's head, but after his own. They were trying to kill each other until they had a S&M batting competition using the gang members as victims.
While Nobume and Sougo resumed their fight, it turned into a chase. Sougo kept dodging her attacks while running away as Nobume cut down the pillars of the building every time she failed to hit Sougo. When he cut down one of the few remaining pillars, he revealed that having her cutting the pillars was his plan from the start. Sougo left the building after it collapsed as Nobume was buried under the rubble. Later, Isaburo managed to lure her out of the rubble with a donut.
Courtesan of a Nation ArcEdit
Her second appearance was when Yorozuya and Tsukuyo entered the Shogun's castle, which was heavily guarded by the Mimawarigumi due to the recent Bakufu assassinations. Nobume was tasked with protecting Soyo Hime.
While Yorozuya and Tsukuyo encountered Isaburo, he ordered Nobume to keep an eye on them especially on Gintoki. Gintoki, Shinpachi and Tsukuyo tried to think of a way to get to the former shogun without attention and they came up with "kick the can" game. By using the hide and seek rule, they can reach the former shogun. Rotten Maizou said its improper to kick can and suggested kicking him instead. Nobume who saw this will not allow kicking the can or Maizou but suggested cutting him. She decided to join the game but changed the rule into cutting down people who she'll find. The game resulted however, in Tokugawa Shige Shige getting hit in the head with the can kicked by Gintoki, and knocked unconscious.
Not long after, Sada Sada wanted to talk with Shige Shige. Nobume and Tsukuyo pretended they were Shige Shige's courtesans. Sada Sada bought it, but wanted to discuss with the Shogun anyway, so Gintoki had to move Shogun around as if he was conscious through ventriloquism. When Tsukuyo asked Sada Sada about Suzuran, the place guards came and arrest them when Sada Sada framed them for murdering the Bakufu officials.
Being sent in a prison cell with Yorozuya and Tsukuyo, Sougo came and tried to annoy Nobume by eating donuts in front of her, but she got violent and pulled Sogo's legs through the bars along with Kagura, almost castrating him, and they managed to steal the donut, leaving Sougo in pain. Nobume revealed that the guards from earlier were no ordinary guards, but Naraku guards. After hearing the truth from Soyo's bedtime story, Shinsengumi let them out to head over where Sada Sada is located. Before joining Gintoki, Kagura, Shinpachi and Tsukuyo, She warned the Shinsengumi that once they joined, there's no hopes of going back. Sougo walked towards her and commented on her given state, stating that he could kill her here immediately and called her "Murderer." (Geshunin) which he and Nobume responded by drawing their swords to seemingly attack each other. Kondo gave a gasp, but then Sougo and Nobume revealed that they were actually trying to attack two Naraku agents who were on the rooftop. She gave them a advice, saying that they have no allies in the palace and says that they should forget about being black or white, Mimawarigumi or Shinsengumi, and walked away to join Gintoki's gang, while Sougo watches her go away and giving her a smirk. On the way, Nobume and Kagura pretends to take Soyo as a hostage to able to go through the Shogun guards as Soyo happily goes along with it. Later on, the group broke through the guards with force and entered the Bakufu castle.When Nobume and others reached Sada Sada's location, she's sees Maizou being thrown to the ground. Nobume decides to help Tsukuyo and Gintoki while Shinpachi and Kagura helps take care of Maizou. Almost defeated by the Naraku guards, Isaburo and the other Mimawaragumi members came to help. Nobume receives a donut by Isaburo for good work but takes it in a animalistic way by biting down on his hand before he could give it to her, forcing Sasaki to use force to get her off. While Gintoki plans to go after Sada Sada and Oboro, Nobume decides to go with him and Tsukuyo.
Gintoki, Tsukuyo and Nobume disguised themselves as Naraku agents and split up to hinder Sada Sada's escape. While Gintoki and Tsukuyo dealt with Naraku agents, Nobume sliced the ship's generator in half, causing it to explode.After Sada Sada was sent in prison and killed by Takasugi, Nobume encountered Oboro where it's revealed that she was a Naraku member during her childhood. She tells Oboro that she will follow Takasugi alongside with Isaburo. Oboro replies that they'll be enemies if they see each other again. Oboro ask if Takasugi and Gintoki were the same. Nobume replies that Takasugi will destroy what Shouyo left and that Gintoki will protect what he has left, but that the both of them have sorrowful eyes.
After the event, Nobume joined the kick the can game and kicked the can out of view, claiming that it flew all the way to Yoshiwara. In that way, she allowed Maizou to be reunited with Suzuran, even though that would be going against her commander's orders.
Farewell, Shinsengumi ArcEdit
After the death of the Shogun, Nobume became the one to arrest Kondo personally for his failure of protecting the shogun and therefore being sentenced to execution. When an injured Gintoki tries to stop the Mimawarigumi from taking Kondo away, Nobume threatened him to not try go any further. She tells him up straight up that he should worry about protecting his own close comrades rather than trying to protect everyone else as well. Later, on a one-eyed Oboro appears before Nobume and claimed that her works under the Mimawarigumi had pleased the Tendoshuu, much to her dismay. He then asked her that she could return to the Naraku claiming that she cannot continue denying her nature.
Later, on Sasaki's order, Nobume is sent to the Prison Island Tokihara. Knowing that the Shinsengumi will not stay quiet while Kondo and Matsudaira are going to get executed, Sasaki used them as bait for the Shinsegumi to come and try rescue them. However, it turns out that Naraku Faction foresaw his plan and had already went to island to assassinate Kondo and Matsudaira before their execution. Once the Shinsegumi and the Yorozuya arrived in their rescue, Nobume with her Mimawarigumi troops and Oboro with his Naraku troops ambush them on the top of a mountain peak. Everyone then splits out as Hijikata heads off to Kondo's direction while Sougo and Gintoki's groups fight Oboro and Nobume's groups. Sougo engages in another personal fight with Nobume while everyone else fights off the rest. During their fight, Nobume starts to ask Sougo about why Sasaki have to be the only one that has to suffer and why the Shinsengumi were still around. This leads to Nobume telling about Sasaki's past and how he actually saved the lives of everyone in the Shinsengumi during a attempt of assissination against the Shogun. This led to Sasaki being punished for disobeying the Tendoshuu. The punishment was for Nobume (part of the Naraku at the time) to assassinate Sasaki together with his family. However, Nobume tried to kill the assassins that actually killed Sasaki's wife and child and made it look as if she was the one who killed them. Sasaki tried tio kill her but he chose to not do that. Instead, he decided to create a revolution against not only the country but also against himself. At the present, several Naraku ships arrive on the island as it turns out that their plan from the very start was to wipe out both the Shinsengumi and the Mimawarigumi in order to stop the spark of the revolution of the country. However, despite the new threat, Nobume continues to fight against Okita who asks if both she and Sasaki were planning to commit seppuku together with everyone else on the island. She claims that it was her duty to do so and that she had no right to question it either because of her great guilt for not being able to protect Sasaki's family. Although resolved with her final duty being to slay Sasaki, Nobume sheds a tear at the thought. At that moment, Kagura interferes in Nobume and Okita's fight, and tries to convince Nobume to stop fighting, due to believing that the Nobume she knew was actually a good person.
However, Nobume points her sword at Kagura's neck and tells her that she was able to do horrible things. Shortly after, Nobume pushed Kagura away and got stabbed by a sword thrown by Utsuro. Nobume, Kagura, and Okita engage Utsuro on a three-on-one battle, with Utsuro overwhelming the three. Some time later, Nobume meets with Sasaki (who was mortally wounded as well), but after an explosion, Sasaki sacrifices his life to save both Nobume and Tetsunosuke from the Naraku soldiers and falls to his death shortly after. Later, Noubme, along with the Shinsengumi, mourn his death and give a salute for Sasaki as a sign of respect, with Nobume sending him an e-mail, thanking Sasaki for the name he gave her.
Some time later Nobume meets up with the Yorozuya at their new working place in the underground city of Akibahara for otakus. She explains that she left the Mimawarigumi who had now become a allied army force with the Shinsegumi. Before Gintoki could ask her about Utsuro and Shouyou's origin, Matako suddenly shows up at the scene and fired a bullet between his legs,accused Nobume of betraying her. Though Nobume replied that only Sasaki was the Kiheitai's ally, much to her and Takechi's disappointment who showed up as well. However, Nobume suggested the two asking for help from the Yorozuya "Akiba branch," now that Katsura and Gintoki were there. She went on asking about Takasugi, who was still in coma. Nobume then tells Gintoki that, because of the Harusame's connection to the Tendoshu, they had to defeat the syndicate to reduce the Tendoshu's power and change the country. She then explains about Utsuro or rather Yoshida's origin and how he actually was an immortal being thanks to the power of the Altana energy. After explaining everything she knew, Nobume ask the Yorozuya in a job request to help the Kihetai to rescue their leader and take down the Harusame.
After some time of thinking it through Gintoki and Shinpachi decides to take on the job as Kagura had already went onboard one of the Kihetais airship beforehand. Durinh their departing with the other half of the Kihetai, Nobume decideds to stay behind on earth to protect the town in Yorozuya's place. When Gintoki asks her about why she"s so serious of helping them Nobume replies with a smile that Gintoki reminds her a lot of Sasaki and his dimwitted-face.
|Fight||Outcome||Time it Occurred|
|Imai Nobume vs. Okita Sougo||Loss||Episode 246 - Episode 247|
|Imai Nobume and Tsukuyo vs. Naraku Agents||Interrupted||Episode 259|
|Imai Nobume vs. Okita Sougo||Interrupted||Episode 312 - Episode 313|
|Imai Nobume, Okita Sougo, Kagura and Sakata Gintoki vs. Utsuro||Retreat||Episode 314|
- Her former name "Mukuro" means "corpse"
- She is roughly based on ex-Mimawarigumi, member Imai Noburo. Imai Noburo had confessed that he was involved in the assassination of Sakamoto Ryoma with Sasaki Tadasaburo (the real person behind Sasaki Isaburou) and others.
- Nobume share some similarities with Akame from the anime "Akame Ga Kill!" Visually, they share a similar hairstyle, dark hair, and red eyes.They both were trained as assassins since they were very young, they both left a corrupted Government/Empire to join a rebel army (although Nobume is in the Mimawarigumi who are police officers secretly in alliance with Takasugi), they both would kill their targets without hesitation, both are very skilled swordswomen and both of them have an unhealthy obsession over their favourite foods (donuts for Nobume and meat for Akame).
- According to Sorachi the reason Nobume's Mimawarigumi uniform and Shimaru's Shinsengumi uniform are different from the standard one is because they want to look cool.
- Imai Nobume's looks and standards are quite similar to Izayo Gorugo from Sorachi's one-shot 13. Both of them have long hair and wield a samurai sword for sadistic use. It is possible that Sorachi took part of Izayo's design and put it into Nobume.
- She is ranked 16th place in the 4th popularity poll.
- She shares the same Japanese voice actress as Lucy Heartfilia from Fairy Tail.
- Nobume name is a combination of the Kanjis to believe, trust and woman.
- Like Kagura she has a great rivalry with Sougo.
- Similarly to Soyo she also doesn't know how to be the straight man in a situation.
- (To Okita Sougo) "I knew you weren't a cop. You have the eyes of a murderer... just like me."
- (To Okita Sougo) "Never sheath your sword until you've dispatched your target. Isn't that right, murderer?"
- (To Shimura Shinpachi) "As a survivor of the Mimawarigumi, it is my duty to fulfill my mission. Also, I get to cut people up."
- (To Tokugawa Sada Sada ) "The criminal here is you. All your crimes till now have been witnessed by me, Vice-Captain of the Mimawarigumi, Imai Nobume. Tokugawa Sada Sada, you're under arrest for the assassination of Bakufu officials."
- (To Tsukuyo) "It's alright to cut down who I want now... right?"
- (To Sakata Gintoki) "Time for the last stage, huh? I won't let you hog the glory. The last bite of a donut is always the best."
- (To Oboro) "Isaburo said he would go along with that man's foolish dream... so I will do the same."
- (To Oboro) "They weren't like him. One was trying to protect Shoyo's legacy. The other was trying to destroy it. However, they had one thing in common. They both had such sorrow in their eyes.
- (To Sakata Gintoki and Tsukuyo) "Last bite is always the most delicious"
- (On mail to Sasaki Isaburo) Isaburo, I want to thank you for the name, k'?