Takani Megumi (高荷 恵 Takani Megumi), known in Western order as Megumi Takani is the youngest daughter of Takani Ryūsei, a well-known doctor in Aizu which was an important province supporting the Tokugawa Shogunate. During the Boshin Wars, Megumi's father died and the rest of her family went missing, leaving her as the sole survivor. Megumi means "Blessing" in Japanese. Megumi was born in December 1857 during the Bakumatsu period of Japan. That would make her twenty-two years old (by East Asian age reckoning) during the start of the anime. Like the rest of her family, she is adept at "rangaku" (Literally "Dutch learning") medicine, although she mixes this Western learning with Eastern medicine as well. The fact that Megumi bore the last name 'Takani' spoke of her family's higher class level - peasants during that time were forbidden to carry family names. Megumi was portrayed both in the anime and in the manga as having long, dark hair and dark eyes. In the anime particularly, she usually wore a blue haori worn over a lavender kimono.
Sometimes, Megumi appears to have fox ears popping out of her head, an allusion to her nickname kitsune, which means "fox". Sanosuke especially likes to call her kitsune-onna (Vixen in the English manga, which is the name of a female fox) meaning Fox Lady, though Yahiko and Kaoru sometimes call her this as well. The nickname actually has two meanings: 'Fox' to describe Megumi's wily ways and 'fox' as in a compliment - "foxy lady" or beautiful woman.
Like Kaoru, Megumi is a strong-willed woman, but she is also depicted as a more mature and cunning compared to the younger Kaoru.
Megumi's family were a well-known family of doctors throughout Aizu (now the Fukushima prefecture), though were considered unusual because every generation of the family went into medicine and allowed both women and children to study medicine as well. They were highly ranked doctors in the social hierarchy, but despite the fierce discrimination present in the Edo period, they believed in equal treatment of all sick patients and were devoted to their treatment regardless of social status. The family's ideals was that the true purpose of medicine was life and found rigid system preference for the samurai class offensive to their profession.
Takani Ryūsei, Megumi's father, was an extreme believer of this ideal and courageously left Aizu with his family to Nagasaki to study western medicine. When the family returned through special permission, the province was at war. Megumi's family left her behind to serve as doctors on the battlefield. Her father died on the front while her mother and two brothers disappeared.
Being educated in herbal and Western medicine (renguku), Megumi eventually became an assistant to a prominent physician with the intention of training to become a full-fledged doctor herself. However, it turned out that the man she worked for was not the best of men. He was in turn working for a man named Takeda Kanryū who ran an opium syndicate in Tokyo.
Takeda commissioned the doctor to produce a new kind of opium which they then called "Spider's Web." The formula for the Spider's Web was a little different in that it uses half the normal dose of poppy juice but is twice as effective as the regular drug. While working for the doctor, Megumi learned the secrets of the formula and later, when Takeda killed the doctor, he forced her to use the formula to make more opium.