Character: All About Sesshoumaru » Tenseiga: The Sword He Inherited
This section will contain spoilers for those who have never even heard of the Tenseiga. This sword was not gone into detail until episodes 34-35/manga tankoubon volumes 13-14, when several significant things occurred in relating to Sesshoumaru.
Now, you may have wondered how come Inuyasha gets a great sword from his father while Sesshoumaru inherits nothing...but ah, it's not nothing! Sesshoumaru did indeed inherit quite a godly sword also created from one of his father's fangs by Toutousai. However, we quickly realize that he refuses to use it even though he carries it with him at all times. Tenseiga is roughly translated as "Heavenly Life Fang" and it too has some amazing powers residing within the blade. Well, the name is quite obvious as to what the sword is used for isn't it? Yep..to heal and give life! According to Toutousai, the Tenseiga can restore life if used by someone who's mastered it. While the Tessaiga has the capability of killing 100 youkai with one swing, the Tenseiga can be used to restore 100 lives with one swing by someone who has the heart to truly cherish others. The sword is like an equal to the Tessaiga, brothers that are two sides of the same coin...it is neither superior nor inferior so it's not as though his father gave him a lesser sword by any means. However, a sword that can only be used to heal and not kill, Sesshoumaru could only stare at it with distaste. Who could Sesshoumaru possibly want to heal? The idea is almost funny when you think about the irony of the situation.
The sword does eventually prove to be of some use to Sesshoumaru though. During one of his battles with Inuyasha, the Tenseiga emanated a light that was able to keep Sesshoumaru from dying when Inuyasha managed to truly unleash the Kaze no Kizu attack on him. In the pictures below, you can see how the Tenseiga glowed around Sesshoumaru at the moment when he was directly hit by the Tessaiga's powerful attack. As said by Toutousai, the fact that the Tenseiga had saved Sesshoumaru meant that the sword had chosen him as its true master. It is quite interesting when you think about how Sesshoumaru would be unable to kill his brother with the Tenseiga while Inuyasha himself is also not able to use the Tessaiga to kill Sesshoumaru. Apparently, the brother swords cannot go against each other. Was that the intention of their late father, who might've known that his two sons would be fighting each other? It's a mystery that we can only speculate but not confirm.
So what about that whole deal regarding the fact that the potential of Tenseiga can only be used by someone who has the true heart to heal? On top of that, the reviving sword had chosen Sesshoumaru as its true master? I mean the Sesshoumaru that we know is of someone who is cold-hearted and does not seem to care about who he kills much less about healing anyone. In that sense, the Tenseiga works like a double-edged sword for him. Is he even able to use the abilities of the sword with a heart like his? And even if he could, would he even want to? If he did...would that mean that he's *gasp* kind-hearted and not as badass as we or even he, himself, think? It is indeed a sword that would bring some surprises into his life.
More - spoiler content for anime episode 35:
The first picture down below shows Sesshoumaru swinging Tenseiga at Jaken after being asked what kind of sword it was. That was when we first learn that Tenseiga cannot be used to kill as Jaken basically gets back up without even a scratch- even if Sesshoumaru had to remind him that he wasn't dead before he realized it! XD
The picture on the right shows that with Tenseiga, he is capable of seeing what a typical person can't: the pall-bearers that comes to take the dead with them. He can then use the sword to kill the pall-bearers- which would then bring the dead person back to life. And so to answer the question of whether he can use the sword to save someone or not? The answer is yes. At that time, he used it to bring a little girl back to life and even though he sort of declares it as a test...we all have to wonder why he really saved her. Not only that, but him being able to restore her life....does it mean that his heart really isn't bad? Or perhaps, he actually wanted to save her? Or maybe we're all reading too much into it and all he really wanted to do was test the sword out. It makes you wonder doesn't it? In any case, more information on Rin may be found in my companions section.
More - spoiler content for anime episodes 76 and up:
Apparently, Tenseiga is also able to "communicate" with Sesshoumaru during key points. During episodes 76 and 77, Sesshoumaru was in a battle with the leopard youkai using the Toukijin. After several unsuccessful attempts in defeating the enemy, he had gotten angry and was about to transform into his true youkai form. However, his transformation was halted when the Tenseiga began pulsating. The sword was basically telling Sesshoumaru to use it to defeat the enemy. Sesshoumaru heeded its advice without so much as a hesitation, which ultimately "killed" the youkai with one swing. You may be wondering how the Tenseiga can kill when its purpose is to actually restore life. In short, the youkai was an undead...like a zombie. Therefore, using the Tenseiga would bring the appropriate results.
As the series continue, Tenseiga was seen to have "spoken" to Sesshoumaru during times when its service was required. It brings to question whether a part of his late father's spirit lingers within and continues to guide Sesshoumaru. In either case, it has helped Sesshoumaru in many ways and he has yet to refuse the sword's advices.
-Content Last Updated: September 21, 2003