The tale starts in the Tokugawa shogunate when Yui Shōsetsu meets the old Mori Sōiken, who, in the story, had survived to the Shimabara rebellion and learned the dark arts of ninpou in order to get his revenge. Knowing they both wish for the dethroning of the shōgun, Soiken forms an alliance with Shosetsu and reveals a spell devised by him, the Makai Tensho, which can rise dead people as his puppets. They soon gather an undead army of legendary warriors and sorcerers, among them Amakusa Shirō Tokisada, Miyamoto Musashi, and Araki Mataemon, and plan to use their supernatural skills to destroy the shogunate. However, the crown of their army, Yagyū Jūbei Mitsuyoshi, breaks free from their control and becomes determined by his own reasons to stop their rebellion before it starts.
The roster of the dead varies depending on adaptation, but usually contains Amakusa, Musashi, Yagyu Munenori, and Hōzōin Inshun. Soiken himself is often left out in adaptations, which tend to have instead Amakusa as the villain mastermind of the story.
- Yagyū Jūbei Mitsuyoshi
- Mori Sōiken
- Amakusa Shirō Tokisada
- Araki Mataemon
- Tamiya Bōtarō
- Hōzōin Inshun
- Hosokawa Gracia
- Yagyū Jounsai Toshiyoshi
- Yagyu Munenori
- Miyamoto Musashi
- Yui Shōsetsu
- Tokugawa Yorinobu
- Tokugawa Iemitsu
- Samurai Reincarnation (魔界転生, Makai Tenshō, 1981) starring Sonny Chiba, directed by Kinji Fukasaku.
- Reborn from Hell: Samurai Armageddon (魔界転生, Makai Tenshō, 1996 direct-to-video) directed by Kazumasa Shirai.
- Reborn from Hell II: Jubei's Revenge (魔界転生 魔道変, Makai Tenshō: Madō-hen, 1996 direct-to-video) directed by Kazumasa Shirai.
- Samurai Resurrection (魔界転生, Makai Tenshō, 2003) directed by Hideyuki Hirayama.
- Makai Tenshō (魔界転生, 1986) by Ken Ishikawa.
- Makai Tenshō (魔界転生) by Shinzō Tomi.
- Makai Tenshō: Yume no Ato (魔界転生 夢の跡, 1997) by Shōko Toba.
- Makai Tenshō: Seija no Kōshin (魔界転生 聖者の行進) by Naoko Kugo.
- Jū ~Ninpō Makai Tenshō~ (十 ～忍法魔界転生～, 2012) by Masaki Segawa.
- Yagyū Jūbei: Makai Tenshō (柳生十兵衛・魔界転生, 1981), a stage play directed by Kinji Fukasaku.
- Resurrection from Hell (魔界転生, Makai Tenshō, 2003), a PS2 video game developed by Tamsoft and published by D3 Publisher.
- Makai Tenshō (魔界転生, 2006), a stage play directed by G2.
- Makai Tenshō (魔界転生, 2011), a stage play by the Herohero Q theatrical company.
- Makai Tenshō (魔界転生, 2018), a stage play produced to commemorate the 65th anniversary of Nippon Television.
- Fate/Grand Order - The Stage of Carnage: Shimosa (フェイト/グランドオーダー 屍山血河舞台, Feito/Gurando Ōdā - Shizankegga Butai, 2017) featured an adaptation of the story, crossed with Dante's Inferno, as part of a storyline set in Shimōsa.