Friday, 26 September 2014

Gunshi Kanbee (2014)

I could finally watch the subbed versions of the last episodes of the "Nobunaga's arc" of the current drama taiga Gunshi Kanbee, which means that I could finally drop it XD and most importantly, write about the Nobunaga starring there!

The role was covered by an actor that really meets my taste in men, so I was as surprised as a bit wary: in fact, I guessed that Eguchi Yosuke was a bit "too manly" to cover the role of Nobunaga effectively. To give you an example, it's as if someone like Lorenzo de' Medici would be interpreted by Sylvester Stallone.
Fortunately I was wrong: I liked the sanguine acting of Eguchi, and after the tiny trauma of seeing an oyaji playing the role of a 16 years old outsuke, I found myself more and more engaged with the work of this extraordinarily expressive artist.

So, after we ascertained that the actor playing Nobunaga was quite cool, we have to take into consideration his role in the drama and-- Let a grimace up my lips.

A few words on the nature of the drama are required.
First, the protagonist of the TV series is Kuroda Kanbei (played by the good Okada Junichi), a legendary strategist of Toyotomi Hideyoshi's crew.
I won't complain about the over-dramatization of his life on an attempt to make the watchers sympathize and cheer for him or the disturbingly "made-up" similarities with Yamamoto Kansuke, but it's obvious that the role of the strategist in this series is depicted as even superior to that of the warlord.
It shouldn't be surprising, but it is: warlords are depicted as fickle, unfocused and "sentimental". Unable to think coldly, they do the wrong thing at the wrong time, leading to desaster.

This aspect is quite strong with the interpretation of Nobunaga, and it's blatant since the first episodes.
In the scene of the first battle against Saito Yoshitatsu he's depicted as hopeless, acting only on instinct and regrets. In a difficult situation, he could only attack over and over, like a beast.
We have to wait for the intervetion of Hideyoshi (here played by an expressive Takenaka Naoto) to see our hopeless warlord "secured" back in his authority.

The drama is quite obvious about the kind of man who is supposed to lead.
Warlords are just required as a "symbol", for their "charisma", but sure they are not the best kind of people to take as an example.
Calculating, aware of his surrounding, favouring the "local" and a modest life with family and neighbours-- An ideal that sure doesn't fit Nobunaga.

An interesting example can be found in the decorations of Nobunaga's quarters:

Eccentric, colourful (I laughed when Nobunaga explained his room to Ieyasu with the expression "This is the style of the fool of Owari") and excessive. They are the traits of a creative, curious nature that sure fit Nobunaga's character, but they are also an accent on his vanity, his superficiality and, in short, his inapteness to lead, his lack of the balance and sobriety expected by the source of power.

The climax of this misrule on Nobunaga's part is the scene of the massacre of Araki Murashige (Tanaka Tetsushi)'s relatives and servants, here featured as some sort of Christian martyrdom by the hands of a merciless Emperor of Rome:
How Dashi (played by Kiritani Mirei) turned from the spoiled noblewoman of history to the angelic heroine of this drama was one of the tasteless parts of this whole series-- Thinking that it was supposed to be the emotive climax of the whole thing and that it left a good number of Japanese watchers teary-eyed!

In the end, the result of this and many more evil-doings (the top was Nobunaga planning to become the new Emperor-- Project that made Mitsuhide (Koasa Shunputei) take betrayal into consideration) is what we know, the Incident of Honnouji.
Sure the presence of Kichou (a vapid Uchida Yuki) in the middle of the battle was one of the most ridiculous things that I ever saw.
Also, I couldn't help but laugh at the "Dream of a Japanese Middle-Aged Woman", the recurring "ultimate wish" of the average Japanese old lady for a travel around the world with "hubby", that found its way also in this drama.
The presence of Nouhime in this scene was SO ANNOYING that I couldn't even focus on the nice arrangement of the final fight, expecially the manly way Ranmaru and his fellow kousho protected their lord:
--After all the scene of Nobunaga's last fight at Honnouji is pretty much standardized, thanks to the accurate depiction of the Shinchoukoki-- So the only things that capture the attention of the watcher and make it memorable are the "little details" like this.

In short, a wonderful actor, nicely fitting also a charming but not very pleasant portrayal of our favourite warlord-- The drama is entertaining, but it has some parts that are quite difficult to digest, besides the unbearable "interpretations" of the script-writing.


  1. *headdesk* Gosh, I can't stand that kind of writing. I know the strategist is important but... AUGH.

    This is why I had to quit in the middle of Hanzo no Mon XD
    I cannot stand seeing Hanzo being involved in EVERYTHING. It's kind of annoying XD

      It's as if these writers can't manage a choral movie: just because Kanbei is the protagonist, you can't have him IN EVERY SINGLE EVENT OF HISTORY, and when he doesn't, he's facing some DRAMATICAL event of sort... To be honest, I'm not very acknowledged on the life of Kanbei, but I don't think that Araki held him captive in his castle ò_o; ...
      But this is a flaw of every drama of this kind, see Gou's-- That was even more unbearable, considering how little relevant her role in Japanese history was.

    2. I agree with you about Gou. What was the point of having Nobu in there at all? It's perfectly fine to skip straight to the Hideyoshi issues.
      I only tolerate it because Toyokawa Etsushi was a fine Nobu and it's an interesting portrayal, but other than that... it makes no sense \(ಠ益ಠ)/

      You don't have to force the character to participate in EVERY SINGLE MAJOR EVENT in history!!! Just pick the events he/she actually is involved in. That is fine. Seeing the same major event re-portrayed in many different versions will only confuse people about the real history >:(

  2. I've only recently found out your blog and after reading all its articles I've gotta say it's the most informative website I've ever read on the subject, thanks a lot for your great work.
    Speaking of television productions, have you seen the two parts TV-movie starring Ken Watanabe as Oda Nobunaga?
    It far from being 100% historically accurate but if you're okay with a light hearted rendition of the character you should definitely check it out, Watanabe's performance is quite entertaining.

  3. Thank you, Anon, I'm glad to hear that you found my website informative and entertaining :D

    --I WOULD LOVE TO WATCH THIS MOVIE! I checked some bits of it on YouTube, and it really intrigues me! I'm quite charmed by the energic rendition of Nobunaga by Ken Watanabe!
    I found it at a decent price on samuraidvd, unfortunately since I live in Good Ol' Europe the shipping from the USA tend to be outrageous, so it's definitely unworth a purchase :/ I hope that someone would put it on streaming somewhere T_T ...

  4. I'm not sure if I can talk about this here, but you can download all the SamuraiDVD movies from AsiaTorrents (they are bootleg to begin with anyway).
    The one with Ken Watanabe is called "Oda Nobunaga (1992)" (even though it's actually from 1989).
    Just be ware of your upload/download ratio on the site.
    It doesn't really works well with dynamic IPs and partial downloads but you should be able to get tons of stuff before the system actually blocking you and you can easily cheat it by creating another account with a different e-mail address anyway.

    1. Wow thank you for the hints :D !!

      --Unfortunately I don't do torrents, so I don't have the chance to get it anyway by myself, but I may ask to my more geek-cultured friends :D

    2. I've recently received a LOT of recommendations for that movie from Amazon JP and some other Japanese shopping site that I bought stuff from.

      I didn't want to buy it because it has no subtitles and there's no way I can understand it XD

    3. As far as I know the one sold on samuraidvd is subbed :o !

    4. Ergh, I'm not in the US at the moment, so I can't try to buy it -___-

      But the stores that send me advertisements are Japanese stores from Japan so the movies they sell usually don't have subtitles XD

      But I've seen the Atsumori scene and some short scenes from this movie in Youtube.

    5. I don't know if they are not subbed, some happen to have the subtitles in English, also if they are not exact translations and are kinda vague (see "King of Zipangu"). You should check it.

      I can't buy anything 'cause everything is too pricey for me at the moment.
      As the Anonymous said, torrents would be a nice alternative... Do you have the required technology? I don't XD

      And yes, I already saw those on Youtube :3
      They really intrigued me!