Kenta was an older man of above average height and weight with a well-built physique. He had short neat black hair, light brown or amber eyes, tan skin, and a short beard. His initial outfit consisted of the standard-issue olive-green uniform of an officer of the Imperial Japanese Army. The uniformed consisted of a new flat-topped peaked cap with a red band and yellow star, a single-breasted tunic that went down to the groin with a collar with red swallow-tailed gorget patches and red shoulder bars to indicate rank, matching slacks, leather shoulder belt, knee-high leather boots, and a white linen sash of the Dai-hachi. In later arcs, after Nanking, he along with the rest of the army switched to the Type-98 (1938) uniform which consisted of a single-breasted tunic with a stand and fall collar, five gold buttons running down the front. long trousers or pantaloons were worn as standard along with the lower leg-wrappings or puttees and tapes, and leather ankle boots. A collarless undershirt, usually white, khaki or light green, was worn under the tunic. While a majority or the army switched to a cloth field cap with a short leather or cloth peak, Kenta continued to use his peaked cap as well as the white sash as did a majority of the officers of the Dai-hachi.
Kenta was initially portrayed as a cold and stoic commander of Shiro Company of the Dai-hachi Independent Infantry Regiment. He showed little emotion or change in his facial expressions. Due to his sharp gaze and quiet disposition, he was nicknamed "The Eagle". This, coupled with rumors of his brutality during the Invasion of Manchuria in 1931 had made Kenta somewhat of a legendary figure to be both admired and feared in the ranks of the Dai-hachi and other units. However, it was later revealed that he is, in fact, a very sensitive man, having unfounded fears of infidelity in his marriage, and having a sense of inadequacy as a human being due to his status as a Burakumin, an untouchable in Japanese society.
Born in the southern city of Kagoshima
- “Motion, that is how we stay alive, my dear. By moving ever onward, you live. You cannot just stay in the past. For the past is for the dead and we that live must not walk with the dead. So do this one thing for me. Live.”
- Captain Kenta Tanaka's final words to his wife. (25 December 1942)