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Saitō is depicted as a tall and lean man and has long limbs and a long face. His eyes are piercing and narrow and his short black hair is neatly slicked back with the exception of four forelock bangs which others have compared to cockroach antennae. During the bloody revolution he wore a samurai style ponytail, but cut it off after he became an agent of the police.
Though he frequently wore the traditional Shinsengumi uniform during the Bakumatsu, Saitō is almost always seen in his blue policeman's uniform during the Meiji era. In the anime, Shishio Makoto described him as "a man who looks like a wolf." This could be due to his gatotsu sword form, his overall lean appearance and angled golden eyes.
As was the same with the real-life Saito, this fictional incarnation of him is known for his unusual height for a Japanese man of his era, being just about 5 feet eleven inches tall. The real life Saito was known to stand out in a crowd due to his tall stature.