Saturday, 21 June 2014

Onna Nobunaga (2013)

While watching this tanpatsu, the words of the freshly elected governor of Tokyo came to my mind.
The ones about women being unable to rule because menstruations make them unstable, you know.
Besides the tragedy of a normal girl being forced to act as a man to grant the succession of her clan, this is what the female Nobunaga thought too, after all: she just wanted to comb her pretty hair, found a lover and eventually went to an oversea trip with her hubby once reaching mid-life, thus reflecting the convictions of every average Japanese woman and explaining how Masuzoe-san could be granted his seat in Tokyo.
Nobunaga was considered a fine leader and someone who could easily think outside the box exactly because of her female sensitivity. But at the same time this "femininity" of her (coadiuvated by the "temper" of a "young lord") is also the reason for her poor judgment, expecially when it came to her lovers (that she tried to turn into her successors EVERY TIME), and the hostilities and suffering of her once "partners-in-crime", see Ichi and Nou.

Besides the pitiful rendition of the strenght and the pride of a woman (and I'm not referring only to Nobunaga), this mini-series has been quite entertaining, even in its outrageous interpretation of historical characters and events, because of a solid, intriguing plot and a number of "plot-twists" that enrich the narration.
Paradoxally, the best way to enjoy "Onna Nobunaga" is knowing the actual facts, so to smile and nod at the interpretation of the movies with the knowledge of Nobunaga's gender and her emotive situation at the moment.

Nobunaga in her young days is played by Chika Arakawa.

The curriculum of this girl is quite tiny because of her young age, but I really enjoyed her performance and her interpretation of the character.
She's a gloomy, melanchonic youth forced to wear someone's else identity to please a mother that didn't consider her anymore because of the birth of a male son and for the sake of a clan unimpressed by her goodwill to meet their expectations.
She secretly danced and wore female clothes to find a connection with her identity, only to meet the spite of her tutors and parents because she couldn't keep up with her role.
A role that was forced on her, not differently (and even more cruelly, because it goes against her "nature") from the women sent to marriages or as hostages out of profit and alliances-- By men for men.

It's time for Nobunaga's baptism of fire, so enters Yuki Amami, that will cover Nobunaga's role for the rest of the series.
I'm not going to complain about the fact that a woman in her 40s is playing the role of a boy of 13, I'm used to this stuff by now, but I think that it must be noted anyway.

I loved the performance of this actress. Her facial expressions, gestures and voice, everything was perfect, and I can admit that if I kept watching this is because of her wonderful acting (and for Masaaki Uchino, a guy that I developed a crush on while watching "Fuurin Kazan", here playing as Mitsuhide)-- It'd be good if male actors could play male characters like she did XD

I was glad to see Toshiyuki Nishida again! I was endeared to him after his performance on "Katen Shiro", and here he was playing a thoughtful Nobuhide.
I loved how he grew accustomed to the role of Nobunaga as the heir after the initial disgust, and it was nice to see that he could see through his "son"'s apparent weakness and recognize a personality that could grant peace and stability for the whole country.

As for my favourite Masaaki Uchino, he played a cute Mitsuhide. And I'm sure that it wasn't his intention to appear as "cute", but the hopelessness of his characters just makes me want to hug and squeeze him ;_; --Something that Nobunaga thought too, apparently, LOL.

Going back to our story, I found the idea of the "double identity" of Nobunaga quite smart.
The issue of keeping the secret of Nobunaga's gender faced when our Nobu fell ill and the assistance of a doctor was required. Ichi wass quick to explain to Nou that in these cases "her brother became a woman": under the identity of Chou she's introduced as an anonymous lady-in-wait.

"Lady Chou" will appear more and more frequently under the protective (and a bit frivolous, even if animated by the best intentions) wing of Nou, but this would bring unhappiness when Mitsuhide, an old flame of Nou, fell in love with the pretty, misterious lady, requited.

Speaking of the action scenes, they manage to be quite entertaining, assuming that you're ok with ignoring how the actual history went.
Amami-san as Nobunaga in these scenes, the parts where "he" displays his power and rule is quite convincing, even when he's "acting" to follow his "secret agenda":

--I must admit that she's not very credible in male clothes (that tiny neck!), but her pointy yet delicated features surely hit the spot.
I was really positively impressed by her acting, and coming from me it's a huge deal, guys.

Of course, the movies didn't ignore the "infamous" acts of Nobunaga: from the golden skulls to the declaration of his divinity passing through the "Atsumori" dance, you can enjoy all of them, here relished by the unexpected "behind the scenes".

Curious bit, at least the burning of Mount Hiei and the persecution of buddhist monks was devised by Mitsuhide, here introduced in the unexpected role of the "nanban-fanatic": starting from guns, he's the one who presented his nanban armor to Nobunaga, brought the missionaries to Azuchi and entertained his lord with this or that war strategy from Europe.
Intriguing how the "three volley pass" of Nagashino was credited to a foreign tactic and not to Nobunaga's intuition.

Jumping to the end of the movie, a few words on the Honnoji's Incident, which interpretation was indeed what one would expect from a nice happy ending.
Mitsuhide faced a betrayed yet fiery Nobunaga and after a bold turn of events, Chou could be granted her mid-life cruise, finally.

My overall opinion is that this was a nice series and an entertaining watch.
I must admit that my maiden heart whimpered when Nobunaga found her way into the warm and manly embrace of both Nagamasa and Mitsuhide (kyaaaah!), so even the romance, despite its obvious accent of stupidity, was really well constructed, even if a bit too vicious in certain parts (obviously Nobunaga had to "steal" other women's husbands and lovers LOL).
I also liked the portrayal of Hideyoshi (played by Yusuke Iseya), the shrewd man of fortune (even if he was given too little screentime, in my opinion), and cute Ieyasu (played by Naohito Fujiki), the man with neverending patience (poor Ieyasu, LOL) and, despite being a minor character, my heart bet a little faster when Hanzo Hattori (played by Koichi Satou) jumped on the stage.

All in all, you can say that the worst thing that could happen to a woman is not her period.


  1. Aaah, I've been wanting to watch this movie forever, but I couldn't find a good online free-viewing source :(
    If you know a good place, do tell me :(

    Ooh, Hideyoshi is Yusuke Iseya? It's funny, he plays a pretty cool Nobunaga in the movie Rikyu ni Tazuneyo (about Sen no Rikyu, obviously). And a crazy Nobukane in Kiyosu Kaigi, for that matter (it's a comedy, so almost everyone is acting weird). I'm interested in how he portrays Hideyoshi here!

    "His" children probably don't show up, but I'd love to see how they would explain THAT XD

    1. Here: ;D
      --And now you tell me where did you get both Rikyu and Kiyosu D': ! English subbed, right..?

      About the children, LOL, it's pretty easy, they just DON'T explain anything XD Nobu is too busy to seduce people to make them warlords in his place to worry about producing heirs, LOL

    2. I don't have those movies! D':
      I was on a flight to the USA from Singapore a few months ago, and they happen to have those movies in flight. I've been trying to look for downloads myself, and I cannot find anything yet :(

    3. OH NOES ;_;
      --Yes, same here T^T ...Well, but that's a nice selection of movies indeed XD

    4. They did not say anything about children and that is a BIG hole in the credibility of the story.

    5. Well, maybe in the book they did! But it's obvious that it's fiction and that it has lots of limits!