I don’t mean to be presumptuous in introducing myself, but I am the army general director in support of critical tasks under direct control of Yanari Shogun of the Owari Shogunate, Togame the strategian. Oh, but strategian isn’t my job, it’s just a title I invented. Did you know that? Well, it doesn’t matter. Whatever you call me, I’ll still be myself, and I won’t turn into anyone else, so I don’t care what you call me, but it’s more convenient if you call me that. It’s just how I want to introduce myself.
Hm, while I have the chance, why don’t I talk about what a scheme is? It might just be idle talk, but it’ll at least help pass the time. If you aren’t interested, then go ahead and forget it. What a scheme is, the kind of plan a scheme is. It’s more than being unexpected or unusual. That’s what makes it hard to explain, but at least for me, schemes are just a plain and dull way of living. This might come as a disappointment, but it’s not about being flashy, either. It’s not at all like these clothes of mine.
Hm… no, never mind that. Actually, to tell the truth, the clothes I usually wear, my twelve-layered upon twelve-layered kimono, or rather twenty-four-layered kimono, isn’t just for show, you know? It has a sly and sneaky purpose. As you can see, I have a slight build, so if I dress as heavily as I can and cover as much skin as possible, I can at least try to give myself a bigger presence. If I avoid exposing my pasty arms and stick legs, I’ll look more threatening, right? My ornate clothing and haughty attitude are only means to an end. Sadly, they’re nothing more than means. They have the same purpose as a lion’s mane or a peacock’s tail. Of course, as strategic and eccentric as my clothes may be, hiding my presence would be the correct thing to do considering my job and position, yet I do the opposite for reasons that are not at all proper. That’s how it is.
But the opposite of proper is proper, and the reverse of proper is still proper. At least, for me. Ah, but my clothes, to be clear, well to be blunt, are at least in part due to my love for luxury and splendor, and my haughty attitude is part of my nature, too. So these are only justifications. But taking advantage of your nature is more important than you might think. Anyways, there’s no end to examples, or rather, examples will only confuse the matter, but I can at least say that coming up with novel techniques isn’t what it means to scheme. There’s no example without a precedent, no special case without a precedent, and no exception without a special case. There’s no need to confine yourself to the novel. I’m not saying that we especially need to learn from history, but it’s a huge blunder to think that intelligence must be original. See, that might be the difference between schemes and plans.
But I don’t believe this is enough to explain the gist of it. If you can tell that, then you have good sense. What I’ve said is more or less a pretense. It’s only something I say to dodge the question of what a scheme is. The truth is much more clear-cut. In my opinion, or rather my personal philosophy, the difference between plans and schemes is much simpler. To get straight to the point, without beating around the bush, the strong make plans and the weak make schemes, I suppose. It’s a makeshift and rather vague definition, but to me it’s the plain truth. The strong make plans, and the the weak make schemes. Winners make plans and losers make schemes. That’s all. The truth is that schemes are the logic of the weak and defeated. That’s why I don’t recommend them. They might help you move up, but they won’t help you move forward. Unless you can think of yourself as so terribly and awfully weak that you can’t live by normal means, there’s no point to using schemes.
I consider myself to be as strong as a paper screen. That I’ll die if I trip. That I’ll pass away if I don’t breathe properly. That’s not something I plan to change. It’s too late to train myself in military arts, and I see no need to. In fact, it’s almost superfluous. Weakness is my greatest weapon. I’m weaker and possess less than anyone else, which allows me to grasp my enemies’ weak points better than anyone else. That’s why… That’s right, I might be jumping from point to point in making my conclusion, but that’s why I’m more afraid of the weak than the strong. I’m more afraid of the have-nots than the haves. They ought to be feared. Still, if there’s anyone weaker than me, I’d like to meet them.
A method that focuses on avoiding defeat instead of winning, an approach that centers on survival instead of victory… that’s what a scheme is in more roundabout terms. Which is why specific tactics like surprise and targeting weak points are secondary. These various means are distant from the heart of scheming. Schemes are more sincere and earnest, as mad and desperate as biting into stone and slurping up mud. You can’t expect any quick or easy victories. It’s sink or swim, do or die. Of course, you might obtain a quick or easy victory on occasion. And there are times when feigning one may be necessary– but always, anywhere, and no matter what, it’s like tightrope walking without a rope. Acting out incredible miracles while coughing up blood. For me, schemes are for miracles, and nothing else. And I’ve already said this, but I don’t recommend them at all. If you have an enemy to defeat, you should train yourself from square one. Putting aside whether I needed to or not, I’ve had no opportunity to train myself in military arts. And so I’ve delegated it. That’s pitiful, sly, and sneaky. But as a strategian, I have the resolve to accept such criticism. I won’t seek acclaim. I haven’t been looking for glory from the start. And that’s fine by me.
All in all, I’m destructive. I don’t just cause destruction, I have destructive tendencies. And the kind of destruction I aspire to is the kind that’s a nuisance to everyone else. It must be unbearable to be around me. But even if I’m aware of that, there’s nothing I can do about it. My life is that of a strategian. Every little effort, from eating to breathing, is part of a scheme. Every remark and gaffe is only a crucial, irrelevant, and haphazard part of the scheme known as life. You could even say that that’s my strength. My weakness is my strength, and that strength is still weakness. There’s no other way around it.
There’s this madwoman in the center of shogunate who denies absolutely everything, but my advantage over her is that she’s strong, and I’m weak. The things we do aren’t actually so different. But her plots are plans, and my plots are schemes. We do the same things, but with a different name and meaning. It’s an old cliche that it’s not about what’s said, but who says it, but the same can be said about what’s done and accomplished.
Oh, am I almost out of time? Hm. Then I’ll sum it all up. The short answer to the question of what a scheme is… is that everything Togame the strategian does is a scheme. Even these things I’ve been going on about could be part of a trick, you know? It’s no fun to trick someone who’s too gullible. Don’t be so quick to trust me.
In the light novel, Togame is described as wearing a juunihitoe, an elaborate multi-layered kimono worn by court ladies. This is different from her design in illustrations and the anime.
Togame talks about the difference between 奇策 (translated as schemes) and 策 (translated as plans), which would be more literally translated as outlandish schemes and schemes, respectively. Meanwhile, she calls herself a 奇策士 (a made up word translated as strategian) in comparison to a 策士 (tactician or schemer). A more literal translation would be outlandish schemer.