Apparently he also authored a novel on the same subject by the same title, but I don't know if it comes before or after the taiga drama itself.
I was really looking forward to watch this series because it looked quite historically accurate, and I have a soft spot for Toshiie, that I imagine as one of the most loyal vassals of Nobu, expecially since they knew each other since they were kids.
Unfortunately this is one of the most unnerving taiga drama that I happened to watch and the fact that it's quite popular, even among Western so-called scholars, leaves me a bit worried about the good taste of my contemporaries...
Even if the series is about Toshiie and Matsu, let's start with what's important for us, Nobunaga!
He's played by a handsome Takashi Sorimachi, from his ootsuke days to Honnoji events.
He's pretty much an inexpressive man with a temper that needs some delicious miso soup or some biwa chirping featuring Matsu to make it all better.
For example I liked his Atsumori here.
Another time when we see tha Atsumori dance is during Nobunaga's visit to Odani Castle, during a visit to Nagamasa and Oichi.
Here Nagamasa (Shingo Katsurayama) dances it to entertain a pleased Nobunaga.
The same happened with the "Tsukiyama accident".
Both Tsukiyama (Rika Tsuchida) and Nobuyasu (Howa Sekine), the treacherous wife and son of Ieyasu, looked quite meek during their meeting with Nobu, but he got to know that the whining of Toku (who's never shown in the series T^T) had a foundation in reality, as he got to know that both of them wanted to overthrow Ieyasu as the head of the family thanks to the faithful reports of his shinobi.
In this series there's an exaplanation for the banishment of Toshiie happening around 1559: in a fit of rage as he belittled Matsu and his love for her, Toshiie killed one of Nobunaga's brothers, the idiotic Juami(Shuuichiro Idemitsu), serving as tea master:
Of course Matsu would do her best to place her hubby back in Nobunaga's arms: she's the one who promised that he would kill one of the most dangerous foes to make up for his misbehaviour.
Then, a touching, yet quick, Honnoji incident, featuring a moved Ranmaru (Eiji Wentz) facing his moved Nobunaga during his last order, the one to burn everything down, including his bones.
Going back to the drama itself, we can sum it all up with this:
Ok, I already mentioned almost in every series featuring some female character of sort (from Go to Nohime) how little I stand this throwing the titular character into EVERY FREAKING IMPORTANT SCENE of an historical event... Of course since this series dates 2002 here you can enjoy the full glory of this unbearable tendency: Matsu being compared to a Buddha, Matsu that should become the ruler of Japan, Matsu that makes the most delicious miso soup of Japan, Matsu that is consulted whenever, even when Nobunaga decided to kill Nobuyasu and Tsukiyama... PLEASE! Show some decency!!
Oh, by the way, Matsu was played by hyper-popular Nanako Matsushima. Of course you can't get enough of her perfectly round face and dark, deep eyes!
Toshiie (Toshiaki Karasawa) left me with a sour impression too.
He's shown as the "hooligan for life", the rowdy type with a big heart and a tiny brain.
I assume that the "big-hearted fool" is one of those stock character that make sense next to a "Do-it-all" female character... Both actors were pretty good though, even if both of them were relegated to a minimal scope of expressions to make sure to represent their stereotypes to a T.
Shibata Katsuie (Ken Matsudaira) was pretty intense!
He showed the sweetness of a father, the roughness of a warrior and the rage of a revenger... He didn't show on screen very often but when he does you remember him.
Imagawa Yoshimoto was played by an inspired Mutsumi Sasaki:
definitely a breath of fresh air compared to the usual "OMG, bring me my palanquin, I need to escape, kyaaah!"... Here it took two guys to bring him down, just like the real thing.
Speaking of the girls, Kitsuno was played by Yoko Moriguchi:
If anything, she just suffered a little fever, had to move to Kiyosu where Matsu took care of her 'til her recovery (AAAAAARGH!!!).
I assume that Takeyama-sensei is a romantic at heart and wanted to grant Nobunaga and Kitsuno their happiness, even if it was horribly stupid, given how nicely exposed is the historical accuracy of the work... Maybe he just decided to recognize Nobunaga's Midaidokoro with Kitsuno.
As Kitsuno is the "real love of Nobunaga", Nouhime (Natsuo Ishido) had some brief appearances, and at a certain point she disappears from the screen:
On an interesting note, after the victory over Yoshimoto she said "Now Nobunaga can conquest Mino and avenge my father", implying that he didn't divorce her after Dosan's death, after all.
Ichi is played by Misato Tanaka:
Besides Matsu and Toshiie though, the protagonists of the series were One (Noriko Sakai) and Haru (Yuki Amami), the wives of Hideyoshi (Teruyuki Kagawa) and Narimasa (Yuichiro Yamaguchi) respectively, two of Toshiee's biggest friends.
It must be said that both characters, despite their flaws, were definitely more entertaining than Matsu anyway.
The scene with Haru playing the taiko in Atsuta to cherish Narimasa 'cause she couldn't join him on the battlefield was pretty cool.
After all this drama is all about "the neighbourhood": the whole thing is punctuated by stupid fights among women, chit-chat and rumors. Not sure if this thing has any value to watch, after all.
It's the case when the historical part is pretty good, and the rest is plainly stupid.