Kayano Sanpei serves as the historical model for Hayano Sanpei. (As with most of the other characters, the names were close enough so that viewers would immediately be able to place a character within its historical context.) After the death of Asano, Senpei was one of the two retainers to make the urgent journey from Kamakura to Ak? in four days to report the event. Following the surrender of the castle, Sanpei joined Kuranosuke's league and then retired to his family's home to await further instruction. Once he was there, his family unwittingly arranged for him to go into service for another lord, an appointment that would have prevented his participation in the league's attack on Kira. Unable to tell his parents of this dilemma, Sanpei was caught between two crimes: shaming his family and severing his vows of loyalty to Asano. With no other recourse, Sanpei sent a letter to Kuranosuke explain his situation and killed himself.
Hayano Kanpei has no known counterpart in the Taiheiki.
Other Literary Models: (see appendix for
Katagiri Gengo (Oni kage musashi abumi)
Okahei (Goban taiheiki)
Terazawa Nanaemon (Ch?shin kogane tanzaku)
Hayano Kenpei (Ch?shin kogane tanzaku)
The character and actions of Kanpei borrows much more heavily from previous literary models than from the historical figure Sanpei. Aside from the tragic nature of his death, which occurs before the night attack, and the fact that he was in Kamakura at the time of Enya's assault on Moronao, there are no biographical elements within the representation of Kanpei in Kanadehon ch?shingura.
From the beginning of the play to his demise at the end of act six, Kanpei is a figure of tragedy. When Kanpei first appears on stage, he is the very image of a youth deep in the throes of love; the affection that he and Okaru feel for one another is presented through the light, flirtatious banter they trade back and forth. This affection, however, immediately takes on a darker tone when Kanpei, allowing Okaru to lead him away to a more secluded spot, abandons his post at his lord's side, and thereby indirectly plays a part in Asano's death. Although his decision is mediated by a certain samurai logic, Kanpei proceeds to compound this transgression by fleeing both the scene and his duties as a retainer, once again on the advice of the well-meaning Okaru. When Kanpei next appears in acts five and six, he quite mistakenly assumes that the man he shot was his own father. Tormented by patricidal guilt and eager to express his loyalty, he resolves to take his own life, only to learn that no crime had been committed.
In Ch?shingura, Kanpei represents the tragedy of normalcy. As the most human of all the male characters, Kanpei is beset by uncertainty, guilt, shame, lust and greed, and yet none of these emotions are unjustified or incapable of inspiring empathy within the audience. To speak more broadly, Kanpei is in many ways the embodiment of the conflict between duty (giri) and emotion (ninj?) that was, in literary terms, the primary source of conflict and struggle in the life of a samurai. (Let it be said that the paradox that resides in the impossibility of fully ridding oneself of emotion, despite the tenants of the warrior ideal, is a piece of literary genius.) His humanity, his inability to regulate duty and emotion, form the core of his tragedy. And like Honz?, Kanpei's character and decisions in life, regardless of their moral deviations, are somehow reaffirmed and elevated through his death.
It is also important to note that Kanpei's poverty-stricken lifestyle in
the hills of Yamazaki represents the depressed economy during the first half
of the 18th century and the harsh realities a r?nin would have
to face following the loss of his stipend.