Benizakura - also known as Umibōzu - is a main character of Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin in the Akakabuto Arc. As well he got a role as the protagonist in the short story Benizakura Hen. He also appeared as a cameo character in Ginga Densetsu Weed and Ginga Densetsu Noah.
He is a legendary fighting dog and the world's strongest male.
Benizakura is a dark brown Tosa dog. He has a dark coat with pale face, chest, legs, belly and tail. Benizakura has a dark muzzle and black markings under his eyes, and also light markings above them.
His ears are torn off, making them look cropped. He has scars over both of his eyes, the left one has X-shaped scars over it, and the right one has two vertical ones. He also has a collar, being golden in the anime, and black with golden details in the manga. His manga-version collar is decorated with five golden blossoms in traditional style.
Benizakura is a serious and fearless dog. He was like that even as a young dog and he showed no fear even when facing much bigger dogs. He is helpful and quite a gentleman, as he helps the young orphan boy and then Cross.
Being an old fighter, he enjoys the idea of meeting opponents strong enough to give him a challenge. He doesn't want to return to dog fighting, though, because what happened to Tsuna Arashi made him dislike the idea of dogfighting.
Benizakura is very humble, often just calling himself an old man and not boasting about his strength nor glorious past. Being an old dog, he wants to be a role model to the youngsters.
Though experienced, he can be a bit impulsive and grumpy at the times. And though very strong, it should be noted that he isn't a very skilled fighter.
Birth and puppyhood
Benizakura was born in April in Sannohe, Aomori Prefecture, and the smallest of a litter of three. Less than a week after the birth, Kazuhiro Ishii noticed that the oldest pup was aggressive over the siblings to be the only one who can suck milk from their mother. In fact, the oldest puppy grew so rapidly and became more and more aggressive, over the other two pups much smaller than him. When the puppies were about 3-months-old, the smallest started to get tired to that situation and told to his big brother that his behavior angered him. He went to attack him and succumbed instantly the older brother. Shortly thereafter, the older pup moved into a new home, and he was finally at peace to drink the milk with the another brother.
The road to became a fighting dog
An half-year of age, the smallest pup was named Benizakura, after the late blossoming cherry. His middle brother was named Jirokichi. One day, in a walk, Mr. Aoshima's dog called Aoshima (like his owner) attacked Jirokichi, but Benizakura went in between and defeated him striking it against the fence. Mr. Aoshima showed interest to Benizakura's skills and believed that this would be a good fight dog. He began to train Benizakura together with Kazuhiro. At one year and two months of age, Benizakura easily defeated the great fighter Daigo owned by Yukinobu Kawano. Three months after that, Benizakura participated in his first official fight and won. In the next years, became the north-Japan champion.
Fight against Tsunaarashi and aftermath
Nobody dared to challenge the 3-year-old Benizakura, until the 8-year-old champion Tsunaarashi took up the challenge. The match ended in a draw. Benizakura lost both his ears and his pride. He also got scars on his eyes. The following year, Tsunaarashi became blind and retired. Benizakura was already the undisputed champion in Japan, but he cared only about the last battle, and preparing for his re-match with Tsunaarashi. Two years passed, and Benizakura's patience ran out. The 6-year-old dog escaped, jumped into the sea to swim until Shikoku to find Tsunaarashi. Eventually finding his old rival, he was shocked to discover that the former champion was used as a punching bag for other fighting dogs in training. In his anger, Benizakura killed the dogs that were attacking Tsunaarashi and fled back into the woods. After this, Benizakura disappeared from the dog fight circles. He was very shocked about Tsunaarashi's fate and believed the same fate waiting to himself if he continued his life as a fighting dog.
It's been five and a half years, now the 12 years old Benizakura lives in Uwajima with Nobuo, his new owner. The boy picked up Benizakura four years ago, in spite of their own life situation, and gave him a new name, Don. Benizakura feels indebted, decides to earn money for the boy, by fighting against bulls. However, Wilson told Benizakura's story to the Ōu Army, and Gin, was so impressed he decided to find the fighting legend and recruit him to their cause. With Wilson's guidance, Gin found Benizakura fighting a bull, and challenged him as an excuse to meet him. Although Benizakura pinned Gin at the end of their fight, he was impressed by the young Akita's courage and decided to join Gin's pack. During the battles against Akakabuto's generals, Benizakura was credited with being the only dog capable of solo fighting Mosa, but was critically injured while trying to save Moss. Eventually he dragged Mosa down to the bottom of a lake and tied him to a log, but his leg was caught in the rope he had used. Gin came down to save Benizakura, but Benizakura hit him with his front paw and sent him back to the top of the lake, thereby sacrificing himself to ensure Mosa died with him. Upon his death, the blood from his injuries rose to the lake's surface in the form of a cherry flower (Benizakura's namesake) and the pack mourned the passing of the strongest dog in the world.
He appears among the Ōu spirits in the last fight against Hōgen. He talks to Hōgen.
Benizakura appears as a spirit in the final battle and as one characters in the sky in the ending. He does not speak.
Benizakura was seen in the afterlife along with Ben and John, surprised to see their old comrade Hyena here with them. Surprised to find Hyena still here the tosa mix agreed with his comrades that it's not the wiemeraner's time to join them yet as he still had a duty to finished and pushed his old comrade to go back.
- He is Yoshihiro Takahashi's favorite character.
- Originally, Benizakura, was going to be part as secondary charater in Shiroi Senshi Yamato.
- He is mentioned to be 10 years old by mistake in both the manga and the anime. He is 12 years old.
- It's stated in Ginga Seiken Densetsu Meteor Gin that he's a Tosa mix