Benizakura, also known as Umibōzu and Don, is a legendary fighting dog and the world's strongest male. He's the protagonist in his own sidestory, Benizakura Hen.
Benizakura is a dark brown Tosa dog. He had paler belly and white above his black eyes.
He originally had drop ears but he lost them and also got scars on his face during the battle against Tsuna Arashi.
In the GNG anime, his belly was darker in color than his back, while in the manga it is other way around.
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 dog fighting.
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 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, Mister 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 Tsuna Arashi and aftermath
Nobody dared to challenge the 3-year-old Benizakura, until the 8-year-old champion Tsuna Arashi 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, Tsuna Arashi 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 Tsuna Arashi. 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 Tsuna Arashi.
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 Tsuna Arashi and fled back into the woods.
After this, Benizakura disappeared from the dog fight circles. He was very shocked about Tsuna Arash's fate and believed the same fate waiting to himself if he continued his life as a fighting dog.
Ginga Nagereboshi Gin
It's been five and a half years, now the 12 years old Benizakura lives in Uwajima with Nobuo, his new owrner. 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.
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 bearhound'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.
Ginga Densetsu Weed
In the anime, Benizakura appears as a spirit in the final battle and as one characters in the sky in the ending. In the manga and anime, he appears among the Ōu spirits in the last fight against Hōgen. In the manga, he talks while in the anime, he does not speak.
"The last responsibility of an old soldier is to be an example for young fighters!"
- Benizakura as he attacks Ginga Nagareboshi Gin, volume 12
"I die for my friends! There is no better end!"
- Some of Benizakura's last thoughts. Ginga Nagareboshi Gin, volume 12
"To leave a guide for the next generation of bear dogs... This is the way a fighting dog dies!"
- Benizakura before taking Mosa under water Ginga Nagareboshi Gin, episode 19
"Goodbye, Gin. Become a great warrior!"
- Benizakura's last thought in the anime Ginga Nagareboshi Gin, episode 19
"Tsuna Arashi, see how the male dies! This is the end of a real fighting dog! My only regret, I did not win for you, Tsuna Arashi... I expect you in the afterlife... There, I ask you for a rematch..."
- Benizakura's last thought in Shin gaiden Shin Gaiden (Benizakura's story)
See more pictures in Benizakura/Gallery.
- 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.