Thursday, 15 May 2014

Nobunaga in Kabuki

Here's a second post dedicated to my "ukiyo-e digest", this time focusing on kabuki and the actors whose performance made Nobunaga popular (or unpopular!) with the masses.

The most of the pictures that I found refer to two plays.
The first one is what the website of kabuki 21 describe as "Badarai no Mitsuhide" ("Mitsuhide's Tub", the badarai was a lacquer tub used to wash the horses' legs).
Known in many variants and titles, it's the story that tries to explain Mitsuhide's rebellion and it doesn't hesitate to portray Nobunaga as bullying brute who spent most of his time degrading his retainer, apparently just to get a "reaction" out of the meek man.

In Meiji times this play was reduced in three acts, and it usually goes as "Toki-ha Ima Kikyô no Hataage" ("When the Bellflower of the Toki launched its attack", the "Bellflower" refers to the Akechi crest, and "Toki Clan" is the ancestor of Mitsuhide's clan).

The first act is called "The Banquet".
Mitsuhide was asked to take care of the preparations for a banquet at Honnoji to celebrate Nobunaga's promotion to Minister by the Imperial court.
Once Nobunaga came to inspect, though, he was bothered by the fact that Mitsuhide used the banner of his clan, portraying a bellflower, to decorate the place.

In one version, the first thing that Nobunaga did, was ripping the banners apart, as he felt that Mitsuhide was trying to overcome his authority.
In this print of 1834, we can see the actor Sawamura Tossho in one of Nobunaga's iconic moment.
Note the colourful attire, too, typical of kabuki plays: Nobunaga's is wearing an archery attire with tiger's pelts on his hips. It's something borrowed from the descriptions of his childhood, to emphasize his fiery attitude.

In another version, Nobunaga kicked away the food that Mitsuhide prepared for him.
Here's a powerful rendition by actor Bandou Mitsugorou on a print dated 1829. Note the similar attire as in the picture above.

The most of prints, though, like to depict this scene in its climax, when Nobunaga ordered Ranmaru to beat Mitsuhide with a metal fan between his eyebrows, or on his forehead, depending on the version.
The scene is usually arranged in a tryptic, and Nobunaga is usually sitting in the middle of it.
In this interpretation dated 1825, actor Ichikawa Danjuurou decided to show all of Nobunaga's rage in his features.

Here, instead, Seki Sanjuurou is enjoying the punishment of Mitsuhide, on a print dated 1858.

The second act of the play is usually known as "The badarai scene at Honnoji".
Hideyoshi and Mitsuhide's sister, Kikyo, were competing in flower arrangement. Kikyo wished to restore her brother's good name in front of his lord.
Nobunaga came to inspect the works, and was touched by Hideyoshi's composition, that made original use of a badarai. He was bothered by Kikyo's work, though, who used hydrangea flowers, that since they tended to change color, Nobunaga interpreted them as a way to say that to unify the country the leadership would change continuosly.
Nobunaga destroyed Kikyo's composition, then called Mitsuhide: both Ranmaru and Kikyo tried to calm him down, but Nobunaga first forced Mitsuhide to drink from the badarai, then ordered him to follow Hideyoshi in his campaign as a horse, then stripped him of his domains, and not yet satisfied, he made fun of how Mitsuhide's wife sold him her hair so to give employement to her husband.

Also this scene is usually depicted in a tryptic, with Mitsuhide facing the badarai as Hideyoshi and Nobunaga enjoyed the view, but for this scene I decided to pick prints that show Nobunaga dealing with Kikyo's flower composition, instead, as I was intrigued by the character of Mitsuhide's younger sister.

In this version, Nobunaga is depicted as a laid-off guy, making fun of Kikyo's composition as Mitsuhide spied from behind the scenes.
The actor here is Ichimura Uzaemon.

This is the interpretation of the same scene by Seki Sanjuurou (since this print is dated 1812, it's obvious that this actor is another generation from the one previously mentioned):
Here Nobunaga is shown in all his fury, as he destroyed Kikyo's composition with his fan.

The second plays where Nobunaga can be found are those called Taikoki, that as you can guess refer to the feats of Hideyoshi as the unifier of the country.
The one featuring Nobunaga for a brief moment is called "Ehon Taikoki", and it covers the period of 13 days when Mitsuhide managed to take control of the land after his betrayal and before his execution.
This is usually connected to the "Badarai" play, and is usually presented as its natural development.

In this play, Nobunaga usually appears on the first act only, where he's shown being assaulted at Honnoji.
He was usually portrayed as he held a bow, trying to defeat as many enemies as possible.
In this print I found him as he's holding a spear, facing his enemy Mitsuhide, portrayed by actor Jitsukawa Ezaburou.
This print deserves a few extra words, because it's a kamigata-e, a "picture from Kamigata" (a city by Osaka, famous for its prints).

Kamigata-e are peculiar because they tended to be very realistic, so they portrayed the actors with their defects and flaws, thus to made them recognizable for the fans.
Most of these prints were in fact self-printed, in a modern doujinshi fashion.

Here's another nice example, always from a Taikoki play, this time portraying Nobunaga while holding his bow as he realized Mitsuhide's betrayal:
The actor here is Ichikawa Danzou.

Sure the focus on these prints are not the historical character of Nobunaga (usually rendered as "Harunaga" because of Tokugawa censorship) but the actors that impersonated him.

Here I found two interesting prints, showing Nobunaga as portrayed by the same actor in two different renditions of the "Badarai" play:
The actor is Ichimura Uzaemon in both pics, but it's fun to see the different clothes and renditions of the character.
Look at how Nobunaga is dressed in the first print: his clothes are somehow "Barbarian-flavored".
That kind of collar shows on many prints on this page, and it rappresents Nobunaga's eccentric tastes, as to suggest the "randomness" of his character.

As we keep on talking about actors, we enter my favourite branch of ukiyo-e prints, the one dedicated to touristic and promotional themes, where the authors give their best when it comes to interpretations and inspirations.

Let's start with this print, dated 1852 and portraying actor Sukedakaya Takasuke as Nobunaga in the print collection "Rokujūyoshū", dedicated to the 60+ Old Provinces of Japan, as interpreted by artist Toyokuni:
Obviousdly Nobunaga was chosen to sponsor the depiction of "Owari", that you should recognize elegantly framed at the top-left of the print.

This print comes from the collection "Mitate Iroha Awase" by artist Kunichika, and it portrays actor Bandou Hikosaburou as Nobunaga.
This collection of prints is dedicated to the 48 divisions of Edo firefighting brigades.
Each division was rappresented by a kana, a letter of the Japanese phonetic alphabet: this print is dedicated to the sixth division, recognized with the kana "O"... Each print rappresents a character whose name starts with the kana of each brigade... So, "O" stands for "Oda Nobunaga (Harunaga)".

And to end this article, here's one of my favourite prints.
This comes from the collection "Chimei Juni ka Getsu no Uchi" ("Twelve Months of Geographical Names") by, again, Kunichika.
It portraits actor Nakamura Shikan as Nobunaga (here the name is spelled correctly, but "Oda" is rendered with different kanji).
This collection merged the months of the lunar calendar with a location where something important happened on that month.
This print depicts the "Sixth Month" and the "landscape" refers to Honnoji.
Note the bow that Nobunaga is holding, as in the kabuki plays that refer to the event!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

References for 花の香は撞く (Hana no Ka wa tsugu) - Pt.II

And here's the second part of my HanaNoKa's characters!
I don't even know if all of them will appear here, but here's the post dedicated to the girls!

Back in the days living in Feudal Japan wasn't much of a hype for a woman.
While browsing the internet you probably read about onna bugeisha, about how Japanese women trained with naginata to protect their household, how they could inherit lands or assume political roles... Well, forget the most of it.
In Feudal Japan, those were nothing but mere exceptions, and women rarely got some relevance.
Sure, we have some illustrious examples, but the great majority of women lived a simply a submissive existence, and whenever they got to shine or sport some biographical data, it's just because of their fathers, husbands, brothers or sons' feats.

By taking a glance of the lives of the ladies that I'm about to introduce you, you'd see that the life of a woman was pretty much standardized at the time, even if it wasn't free of strong emotions.

TOKU (徳), also Gotoku, Tokuhime, Toku-no-kata, Okazaki-dono (1559-1636)
The older daughter of ODA Nobunaga, famous for the so-called "Tsukiyama Incident".
Toku, at the age of 9, was sent over to MATSUDAIRA Ieyasu so that she could marry his son, MATSUDAIRA Nobuyasu, as a mean to strenghten the tie between the two clans.
The "story" went like this: Tsukiyama, Ieyasu's wife of Imagawa discent, couldn't stand Toku because her father Nobunaga was the one who destroyed her clan, so she came with the idea of ruining her marriage with her son by bringing in a concubine for Nobuyasu, affiliated with the Takeda. The Takeda were historical allies of the Imagawa, and enemies of the Oda. In a few years she managed to separate Nobuyasu from Toku, making the life of the girl miserable. Toku couldn't stand it anymore, so she wrote a letter to her father, accusing Tsukiyama of complotting against the Oda with the help of the Takeda: Nobunaga then ordered Ieyasu to kill both his wife and his son to remove any doubt about his loyalty, and Ieyasu, shockingly enough, obeyed.
As there are evidences of Toku's letter as mentions of "Twelve Clauses of Nobunaga" ("信長の十二ヶ条"), odering Ieyasu to deal with the conspiracy, it's not very plausible that a concubine would be a reason for such a thing to happen, expecially because wife and mother-in-law rarely shared the same quarters.
The idea of Ieyasu obeying Nobunaga's demands because his relationships with both his son and his wife got sour is getting more and more accepted by historians as time goes by.
While staying at Okazaki castle, Toku gave birth to two girls, Toku (登久) in 1576 and Kuma (熊) in 1577.
After Nobuyasu's death in 1580, she left Okazaki to stay with her brother Nobutada in Gifu but she had to leave her daughters behind because they were considered of Matsudaira descent (they got to marry OGASAWARA Hidemasa and HONDA Tadamasa respectively). Both girls would be raised by their grandfather Ieyasu.
After the death of Nobunaga and Nobutada in 1582, Toku moved under the protection of Nobukatsu, that at the moment was living at Kiyosu castle, but after the Battle of Komaki and Nagakute and the alliance between Hideyoshi and Nobukatsu (1584), she moved to Kyoto as an hostage of Hideyoshi, where she died.
It's worth mentioning that despite being a hostage, Toku was granted some freedom: in 1590 she moved to the Ikoma mansion in Owari, so to be closer to Nobukatsu. She went back to Kyoto in 1600, after the Battle of Sekigahara, though.

Because of the "Tsukiyama Incident" I like to characterize Toku as a bit of an introvert, someone who chose not to show her emotions clearly, giving the impression of a timid and fearful woman.
I like to think that she loved Nobuyasu and she felt responsible for his death... In that occasion she learned that misplaced words can kill, so for the sake of a peaceful life she would keep her mouth shut from there on.

MATSU (松), also Matsuhime (1561-1616)
A daughter of TAKEDA Shingen, famous for being married to ODA Nobutada while being still a child for political reasons.
Contrary to Toku, though, she would never "consume her wedding" because the marriage would be broken in 1572, with the start of the hostilities between the Oda/Matsudaira alliance and the Takeda.
The engagement was declared in 1567, but since then Matsu kept living in the Takeda household because of her young age: she'd be called as "the entrusted lawful wife of Nobutada", her new title being Niitachi Goryonin (新館御料人).
It's worth noting that after this event, both Nobutada and Matsu didn't marry anyone, both figuring as "unmarried" in their biographies.
After Shingen's death in 1574, she moved to a house in the castle town of Takato Castle under the patronage of her older brother NISHINA Morinobu, as Katsuyori inherited the Takeda household in Kofu.
In late 1581, however, ODA Nobutada would invade Shinano during the final acts of the war against the Takeda, besieging Takato castle and forcing Morinobu to seppuku.
The fact that Nobutada and Matsu may have met each other again in this occasion, as women were allowed to leave the castle and not taken as hostages, has been highly dramatized, leading to the legend of Nobutada sending to Matsu a message to reach him at Honnoji with the promise of finally getting together, but the love of the two being interrupted for ever because of the "Honnoji's Incident"... It looks as if Morinobu ordered the evacuation of the castle BEFORE the siege took place, so it seems as if Matsu left the castle before the arrival of Nobutada.
After the fall of Takato, Matsu found protection at Kaitouji, in Yamanashi prefecture, but probably she didn't stop there, and kept wandering around to search for protection.
She wasn't alone in her trips: apparently the daughter of her brother Morinobu, Toku (督), the daughter of her brother Katsuyori, Sada (貞) and the daughter of the Takeda retainer OYAMADA Nobushige, Kogu (香具), followed her in her wandering. The little girls were around 4 years of age at the time.
After Nobutada's death in 1582, Matsu became a nun, living the rest of her days at Shingen'in, in Tokyo.

--I confess you that I really like the idea of Matsu and Nobutada being in love despite the rivalry of their families, it's a very "Romeo & Juliet" situation, but I'll be serious and I won't indulge myself in such a thing. Maybe.
As a woman of the Takeda, Matsu looks very strong-willed, as her dangerous trip looking for safety tells. I'll try to characterize her as a strong woman, but also quite aware of the limits of her situation.

SUZU (寿々), also Suzuhime (鈴姫) (??-1633)
A daughter of SHIOKAWA Nagamitsu, famous for being the mother of ODA Nobutada's first son, Hidenobu, and his concubine.
Nagamitsu was one of ODA Nobunaga's retainers, but once Nobunaga made Nobutada the head of the clan, he went over to Gifu to serve Nobutada as his retainer.
We don't know much about this woman, and all we know comes from a tomb in Shoku-Raikoji, a buddhist temple in Omi Province where she spent her last years; at the moment is even a mystery who her father is, other options being MORI Yoshinari (the father of Ranmaru) or other retainers of the Oda Clan.
Apparently she spent the most of her life in Gifu, first close to Nobutada, then following her son Hidenobu.
She joined monastic life in 1600 under the name Tokujuin and met her death in 1633.

Since so little is known of this elusive girl, I imagined her as not very noticeable and kinda naive, but very sweet and kind, somehow endearing.
I decided to give her those big eyes as a trait of her ingenuity. She's been pretty much a plaything for Nobutada, pressed about producing a heir as soon as possible, following the suggestion of his advisor on the matter.

In the picture above you can see also Ichi, the younger sister of ODA Nobunaga, famous in popular culture for her determination and beauty (AND for her marriage with AZAI Nagamasa, AND for being the mother of Chacha, Hatsu and Go).
--I just wanted to draw her, though, she's not going to star in the comic so-- No bio for her x'D !

As for the references, besides the usual Wikipedia, I found further infos on these girls here and here.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Goemon (2009)

I started to watch the taiga drama (again, I don't know how much of it I'll manage to watch, but expect a review of its Nobunaga) Gunshi Kanbei, and noticing that Eguchi Yosuke, who's playing Nobunaga there, starred in another movie featuring Nobunaga and ninjas, I had to give it a try.

This movie follows the typical plots of ninja-based jidaigeki movies: you have a poor boy who becomes a ninja to save himself from some miserable situation, gets superstrong, then realizes that joy is in other things, tries to get out of the ninja world but for some external circumstance independent from his will he can't do it and has to fight again for his rights, while behind the scenes the powerful guys keep pulling the strings to toy with the lives of "commoners" who can't get the "big picture".

The amusing things of this movie are two: the photography and scenography are both WONDERFUL, detailed, luxurious and extravagant enough to please me to no end (I even forgot to care about the invasive CG), and most importantly, for once Nobunaga is not portrayed as the villanious psycho, on the contrary, he's the patron and motivator of the protagonist.

Nobunaga here is played by Nakamura Hashinosuke.
I can't really say that I like or dislike his acting, 'cause the Nobunaga that he plays has such a hieratic and "divine" vibe that it's difficult to understand the skills of the actor: one is just expected to be IN AWE whatever Nobunaga does, and under this aspect, Nakamura is pretty good in delivering the right gestus when needed.
Portrayed as an inspiring warrior and a patron, Nobunaga in this movie is a rolemodel for the young Goemon: not only the boy looks up to him to get encouraged and inspired, but even when he turns into a thief, he tries to "save" the little Koheita using the same words that Nobunaga used with him.

The story is set during the rule of Hideyoshi (here portrayed as the super-villain of the story, followed by his traitorous retainer Ishida Mitsunari), but Nobunaga is shown during the flashbacks of Goemon, who uses to remember about his happy times while being in his service (and Chacha's).

There are many cool moments where this character shines, and one of my personal favourites is obviously the scene of the Atsumori dance, one of the most inspiring and poetic moments of the movie:

Long story short, I enjoyed watching this movie, and I liked its portrayal of Nobunaga.
It isn't something that one may expect from the genre, and I can see many wrinkling their noses to the excessive use of CG (sometimes it feels like watching a music video of Lady Gaga) and absolute lack of realism of any kind, but it entertained me just fine, even if it made me also a little more ignorant on Japanese story∼

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Musha Ningyo of Nobunaga

In a few days we'll enter one of Japanese gosekku, traditional festivities of Chinese origin, widely know as Kodomo no Hi ("Boys' Day"), celebrated on May 5.

Originally this festivity was known as tango no sekku or shobu no sekku, and it was celebrated because it indicated the start of the rainy season: the purifying rituals to grant a nice harvest involved the built of a doll made of grass and irises ("shobu") serving as a yorishiro, a temporary lodging place for the spirits.
Later on, the "sharp" features of the irises started to be associated with swords and masculinity, and the rural festivity turned into a celebration for males and virility, counterparting the "Girls' Day" of Hinamatsuri.
Irises started to be used to build ritual kabuto, and the dolls started to assume the features of popular samurai or legendary heroes, whose heroic feats were considered a good omen for the strong and healthy growth of a boy.

As a fan of figures when I saw such dolls depicting Nobunaga, I foolishly thought that they were some kind of "scale figures", but the price and refinement left me a bit wonderous.
After a few researches, I realized that those were musha ningyo ("dolls of warriors") indeed, the dolls that used to be exposed in the house during shobu no sekko as auspicious for the boy's well-being.

These samples come from this website, where you can see more.

Apparently Nobunaga wasn't popular as a musha ningyo back in the times when this festival developed its military characteristics.
Yoshitsune, Benkei, Empress Jingu and Kato Kiyomasa were the top-selling figures for the strong, masculine characters that they incarnated.
As the merchant class rose its sphere of influence, characters like Momotaro and Kintaro, coming from popular legends, started to pop-up on shelves and altars.
During the Meiji restoration, instead of the threatening look of old times samurai, the style developed a more refined and stoic attitude for the chosen heroes, now picked from the rooster of the Imperial family.
Mostly portrayed while sitting or riding a white horse ("tango"), the dolls can be displayed simply on a shelf or altar, or can be arranged on a "stage" decorated with auspicious symbols: a sword, a kabuto and arrows.
Similarly to the hina ningyo, they can be exhibited on platforms, but instead of fellow courtiers, the musha is accompanied by military and talismanic symbols.

Alternative or complementary displays for the musha ningyo are reproductions of samurai yoroi and kabuto.

Going straight to the point, these displays are quite obvious about the nature of the positive influence that they were expecting to have on a boy: courage, strenght, justice but first and foremost protection.
No wonder that they were used before the introduction of dolls, and artisans fought to make them every time more elaborated and precious.

After the Meiji era and WWII, the militaristic tone of the musha ningyo slowly disappeared.
Instead of being a festival for boys only it was "enlarged" to the whole population of children ("kodomo"), and the once fierce dolls started to turn into cute -but still somehow solemn, babies.

These dolls come from this website.

As this post comes to its end, I feel like sharing some interesting reads about the issue in case you feel like knowing more:
"Musha Ningyo: Portrait Dolls of Boy's Day", Pate, Allen Scott article from L'Asie Exotique;
"Japanese Dolls: The Fascinating World of Ningyo", Pate, Allen Scott the can be consulted partially on Google Books.

Nobunaga's Western Armor: Truth or Hoax?

When thinking of Nobunaga, the first image that comes to one's mind is that of the sharp samurai clad in a western armor and a bright red cape.
You can find Nobunaga dressed in such an attire everywhere: in videogames, figures, touristic pamphlets and even is statues dedicated to him.

While searching for references for such things, though, I realized that there's NOTHING about them.
As I could find Nanban gusoku belonging to Kenshin or Ieyasu, the only thing left concerning Nobunaga are mere "replicas" based on armors belonging to someone else on the assumption that Nobunaga wore "something like this".

An example of such interpretations can be seen in this armor exhibited at the Nobunaga no Kan at Azuchi:
It features a typical cabaset (helmet) and a gorget neck protector, coming straight for a Portuguese design.
The peascod breastplate of Japanese manifacture is decorated with a cross and Sanscrit characters of Buddhist inspiration on the chest.
It's a wonderful specimen, but despite the location, this armor doesn't belong to Nobunaga.
The description "admits" that the "Barbarian" items are there to give "an idea of Nobunaga's tastes", but they aren't his personal belongings.

This one probably is, but it's not a Nanban gusoku in a strict sense:
As you see the neck protector and the helmet are not "Made in Portugal" and the dou is of obvious Japanese manifacture.
This kind of armors is classified as Hatomune gusoku: since Portuguese cuirasses were extremely expensive, Japanese artisans started to copy the style but used local materials and adapted the design to Japanese tastes.

At this point in history this kind of armors were more effective: the itamono (iron scales) was in fact the only material that could save against firearms, and the "pigeon-breast" design helped to deflect the bullets.
But even if locally manufactured, this kind of armors were still expensive, so only powerful daimyos could afford them.
It's important to note that compared to the "classic" yoroi, these were quite heavier: the average weight of a cuirass was around 6 kgs, but it's safe to assume that moving around with one was simpler, expecially because the fuctional resizing of the sode (shoulder plates).

Another interesting contribution to the issue was given by a recent exhibition at Centrair Airport in Nagoya.
A special exhibition called "Samurai Lab" was held there to celebrate the culture of samurai, and this armor was displayed:
Now, this is what we recognize as Nobunaga's belonging--!
Unfortunately, it's just a replica made up by one of those companies that sell props for movies or documentaries.
Once again, it's based on what was "cutting-edge" back then.

Of the same exact kind is this:
It even boasts the famed cape!
--And again, it's another "made-up" specimen.
The manifacturer explains in its description that the artisan took inspiration from Tokugawa's Nanban gusoku preserved at Kishu Toshogu... That, and a good deal of videogames, I guess!

During my depressing research, though, I did find something interesting at the Kawagoe History Museum:
This amusing kabuto shaped as a Portuguese hat did belong to Nobunaga, but it wasn't worn: it was used as an "herald" to indicate Nobunaga's location on the battlefield.
You can see a pictorial evidence on a byōbu depicting the Battle of Nagashino.

Talking of folding screens and Nagashino I decided to try another route: I searched for portraits of any kind depicting Nobunaga in Western clothes of any sort.
And guess what? I found nothing.

Even on this portrait that I saw at Gifu castle, despite being surrounded by all kind of Western stuff, he's still wearing Japanese clothes:
So at this point I'm starting to wonder-- When and how the idea of Nobunaga wearing a Nanban gusoku developed?
The evidences are indeed there: it's reported on the Shinchokoki that in 1568 Shogun Yoshiaki presented him a cuirasse... So he owned at least one for sure.
But did he wear it in battle? Was he used to it? And if he did, how is it that nothing about it exists anymore..?

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Gō (2011)

I decided to give a try to this taiga drama because I guessed that I could use it for my upcoming project, since I'm having troubles with contextualizing the female characters of the story, and this tv series claims to "describe history through the eyes of a woman"... Obviously I was wrong XD
But since I liked the actor playing Nobunaga here, I decided to review the interesting bits of it!

Nobunaga is played here by Toyokawa Etsushi and he entertains us for the first five episodes of the TV series.
I don't usually like Japanese men, but he is the exact kind that I fancy. *cough*
Despite how well Nobunaga's features fit Toyokawa-sama, I must admit that I didn't find his portrayal completely satisfying. In my opinion this Nobunaga was too "proper", a bit too "serious".
Sure none expect a clown out of the Demon King, but this rendition didn't give the "unexpectedness" that makes of Nobunaga such an unique character-- The director liked better the idea of a "lonely" Nobunaga, and preferred to hide behind Toyokawa-sama's frigidity the real nature of this man.

The drama is entertaining, but it must be said that for what concerns the historical accuracy and plausibility it is extremely poor.
When one says "history through the eyes of a woman" it shouldn't mean LITERALLY! Gō, the niece of Nobunaga who's the protagonist of this drama (whose actual merit was only being married to a Tokugawa shogun, in reality) practically gets to know EVERYONE and EVERYTHING concerning the events taken into consideration-- When there's no way that a kid her age could have done what she did in that drama, expecially THE WAY she did (Ueno Juri is a very nice and expressive actress, but all of that "flailing" made her look like some kind of parody of the Sengoku lady instead of a genuine portrait of it)-- Her presence was so out of place that when it reached its climax, her "mystical apparition" to Nobunaga who was about to die at Honnoji, I couldn't help but laughing:
Someone really "jumped the shark" here.

All in all, though, even if completely out of a historical context, I found the relationship between Gō and Nobunaga quite cute in this rendition.
The way the girl developed some kind of crush on his uncle made me remember that I have a heart of a maiden too, after all, and every now and then I couldn't help blushing like a little girl...

Besides my shameless fangirling over the oyaji type, I found it nice how the drama tried to explain some of the most obscure actions of Nobunaga, in an actual decent, rational way. --Also if, sure, the use of Gō to let out such "confessions" out of Nobunaga & Co. sure was quite naive and bothering.
The "obscure actions" taken into consideration here that made an impression on me, were those of the "golden skulls" of Nagamasa, his father Hisamasa and Asakura Yoshikage and the "Tsukiyama's Incident".

In the first case, Nobunaga explained that he just wanted to honor his enemies by goldening their skulls and ritually drinking sake with them to celebrate the new year.
He explained that the deal with the "skull cups" was just a rumor spread by his enemies.
I could buy that Nobunaga wanted to cherish the memory of Nagamasa, since it's reported that he held the man in high consideration, but what about Hisamasa and Yoshikage..? I don't think that Nobunaga admired them-- So I think that the goldening was just to celebrate his victory in a very morbid way.
Whatever affection Nobunaga may have had for Nagamasa, I'm sure it disappeared when his brother-in-law joined the Asakura forces.

The "Tsukiyama's Incident" refers to what brought Ieyasu to order the death of his wife Tsukiyama and his heir Nobuyasu after Nobunaga's daughter, Toku, reported of their secret conspiracy with the Takeda clan.
Sure Nobunaga's request was absurd, but the fact that Ieyasu obeyed looked even more absurd.
Nobunaga explained to Gō that he wasn't suspicious of those two, but that somehow he happened to find himself testing Ieyasu's loyalty: if he refused to obey, he would have respected him, but since he obeyed him, he swore to Ieyasu absolute loyalty in return.

At a certain point, I had to deal with my historical pet peeve:
Nobunaga's self-deification!
He confessed to Gō that if there was the need of a god, that place belonged to him only, and that he was going to use Sokenji (his family temple built in Azuchi) as the center if his cult.

Obviously Gō hated the idea, and scolded her uncle harshly!
She decided that she didn't like him anymore and stopped paying him visits.
This made Nobunaga sulk, and once his sister Ichi would come to visit him, the deification's project would disappear to make room for the altruistic plans of Nobunaga to bring a long-lasting peace to the country.
Ooh, at least this made Ichi fall in love with her brother all over again.

I agree with the idea of Nobunaga fighting to grant a peaceful existence to his contemporaries, but I'm sure that they could find a thousand better ways to explain it than the one in the TV series... It was nice to witness Nobunaga's soft side, though, the one that hid love and respect for everyone behind his rude acting.

Speaking of rude acting, he sure had the time of his life punching Mitsuhide around!
When Nobunaga confessed to Ranmaru (woah, for once it wasn't Gō!) that he treated Mitsuhide harshly so to let him understand his petty limits and that he actually respected the man, I couldn't help but nod in approvation, but when Nobunaga added that he was planning to leave the control of the Tenka's matter to Mitsuhide I felt like throwing up. Mitsuhide what?! Of course Nobunaga's heir was obviously his son Nobutada!

Even the scene of Honnoji wasn't such great.
I enjoyed the extremely dramatic and emotional moment, but the "action factor" was pretty much lacking.
I couldn't forgive the director (or the writer, whoever came up with such a thing) that Gō managed to pop-up randomly even there! That was-- SO STUPID!!

Long story short, I liked this rendition of Nobunaga, but just because of how well Toyokawa-sama fitted the visual image that I have of him:
I easily dropped this drama after six episodes, with no traces of regret.