|Commentary by Barbara Sheridan
Kondou: In my opinion this is the BEST Kondou I’ve ever seen. This is no kindly old grandfather type, who keeps to the sidelines and busies himself with who knows what. This guy is most definitely the leader of the Shieken dojo and joins the roshitai and goes on to lead the Shinsengumi.Hijikata: I am hopelessly captivated by the image of the historical Hijikata and I adore the PMK version but this version is coming across as a total jerk! He has this “I’m too good for it all” air about him, he makes snide comments on the sword Kondou’s brother gives him (Kondou) as a going away gift and he sends a surrogate to tell his girlfriend he doesn’t want to see her anymore. I’ve seen quite a few more episodes since this comment and I’m glad to say that Hijikata is changing, maturing and becoming very much a leader in his own right.
Okita: ( before and after bad haircut images) I like this Okita; he seems very much like the Gohatto Okita who was a very cool young man despite his limited screen time. In Kyoto he develops a bit of a crush on the neighborhood “bad girl” and is clearly heartbroken when she sets her cap for the older and far manllier Serizawa Kamo. Poor kid. Time will tell if he’s going to be a kick-ass Okita like the Mibugishiden version.(who amazingly is this show’s Yamanami)
Nagakura: I haven’t seen a lot of him but he seems like a decent guy and is a far physical cry from the semi-cutsey little PMK version. Second in my opinion to the very cool Mibugishiden Shinpachi.
Harada: A rose is a rose and a Sano is a loud slob no matter where ends hails from.! I love this guy! He always looks like he’s half-crocked, is always laying around and running off at the mouth in all the wrong circumstances. He even went and filched the little rice cake Kondou’s wife had secreted away for her hubby and was rooting around for free food when they guys went to see what was happening with the formation of the Roshitai. However he has come to grow on me considerably. He’s still a bit of a doofus but he’s got a big heart as evidenced by his being so helpful to the ailing grandma Yagi when the boys get to Kyoto.
Yamanami: Haven’t seen much of him either but at first he seems very on the ball and intelligent and an overall take-charge kind of guy unlike the wishy-washy Yamanami of PMK. However, he’s starting to irk the crud out of me lately. The guys are ordered by Matsudaira Katamori to take down some signs the Choshu have posted which are deregatory to the Shogunate. Yamanami wants Kondou to know that if they follow orders then the Choshu will be t heir enemies. Hello!!! Um yeah, bud they already are. Amazingly by episode 25 Yamanami is showing some major signs of rutheless leadership a la Hijikata. And not a moment too soon!
Toudou: This Heisuke is such a dweeb I can’t stand it. The first time I saw him he and Kondou were trying to get an audience with Matsudaira. He was following Kondou around like a puppy and came across like a frightened little goof when they ran into Ryoma Sakamoto (drop dead gorgeous btw) who took them back to his place to drink and b.s. He had no problem boozing it up in the last episode when he was given money as a going away token and suggested that he and Okita hit the nearest sake bar. (the glass lifting motion needed no translation nor did Okita’s big “I’m one of the guys now!” grin. Of course when they get to the bar they run into the already hammered Harada *smirk*)
Saitou: Although I haven’t had a chance to see him in he show yet, what’s not to love? He’s got that sexy/deadly look about him that was so appealing in the RK version. After a few more episodes he seems to be a bit of a loner and is pleasantly surprised when the guys coax him to join in their off duty diversions. He’also very loyal to Kondou who helped him early on.
Serizawa: I’ve only caught glimpses of Kamo so far but that swagger and that sneer are so freakin’ cool I hate to think how Kondou and Co are going to do him in before too long. But what’s not to love about Serizawa Kamo when Koichi Sato portrays him? He’s brash and bold and acts like he owns the place and again, that sneer is to die for. FYI the actor Koichi Sato was one hell of a Saitou in Mibugishiden. Arrg! The death of Serizawa was ruined by a stupid plot device! He was unstoppable so they had to throw in a stupid stupid plot device to finish him off.
Screencaps by M
Comments on Shinsengumi Keppuroku by SHQ member Secretarytocapt3 with any additional comments appearing in different color text. example–BarbSheridan
Based on Shiba Ryotaro’s legendary novel…now I understand why it is a major source of inspiration for Shinsengumi fans to devote their lives to research.
Tidbits…[again its a movie not a documentary]
Hijikata “The Shinsengumi is a fighting unit not a social club”
Shinsengumi (after dumping a bucket of water on someone who gets knocked unconscious during “practice”) “The Shinsengumi is not a soft city dojo!” Kenjutsu teachers commence yelling at people who didn’t want to work out…some pulling the seated guys to stand up and fight…talk about pressure
*dunk them in the water until they talk torture
*use the base of the sword for indoor fighting, no wide swings…watch for walls/ceilings
*during the Ikedaya affair armor/spears were transported to the city hall and the troops were sent there to prepare after they ate dinner (perhaps to prevent people from realizing their movements)…troops not allowed to leave headquarters before dinner/deployment…split up go to city hall in groups of 3 to prevent desertions
*Yamazaki (as in Shinsengumi Chronicles aka I want to Die a Samurai) had been watching the inn for some time as a medicine peddlar… in this depiction he is actually serving food to the revolutionaries and steps over the sword of one guest and uses his “rudeness” as a pretense to collect everyone’s sword and place them at the entrance (but the revolutionaries were armed during the fight)…Yamazaki is THE man in this series!
[Yamazaki is indeed cool and very thorough in this though he's not the hot young PMK ninja you might expect]
Hijikata “Festival brawls are my specialty”
Kondo (right after Ikedaya to 2 women whose business and personal belongings got trashed) “sorry about the mess”
[LOVED the way they threw the ruined garments they planned to sell at him]
Aizu folks (who arrive fashionably late to Ikedaya) “sorry we took so long”
Hijikata “we’ve made enemies”
3 members of the Shinsengumi died (1 at Ikedaya 2 from their wounds at a later time)
Aizu: 10 dead, 50 injured (it seemed that night Kyoto turned into a war zone) and Aizu attacked one of the clan’s headquarters (really confusing)
Ishin Shishi: 7 dead 23 injured
estimated 2 hours of fighting
besides the gold given as a reward to the Shinsen. they also received an official letter of appreciation from the palace which had not been issued in 250 years (I guess they didn’t like to do paperwork)
There were at least a couple of revenge attacks/ambushes after Ikedaya
Kondo was offered the post as an official vassal of the Shogun but stays w/ the Shinsen. because he is ready to accept the consequences (of Ikedaya)
[flashback to Serizawa Kamo]
Shinsen vs. sumo….no one in the Shinsen were killed/hurt in this scuffle however some wrestlers were killed
Shinsen runs in to report to Hijikata
“Serizawa Kamo is aiming a cannon at the Yamatoya silk shop”
Hijikata “we’re supposed to be protecting the city…this is a terrible precedence”
Hijikata (on killing S.K.) “When gangrene sets in we need to amputate before the whole body rots”
[Serizawa in this series was such a grimy slimeball. I was actually glad they did away with him.]
Idea of Hijikata not wanting Kondo to “soil” his hands in S.K. murder
100 ryo was used to pay for a funeral
[hist. S.H. stole 50 ryo from Itou...poor Itou he gets betrayed and robbed blind!]
Okita’s game of tag with children gets interrupted by Choshu scouts
Okita’s doctor is Nakarai Gensatsu (sounds like RK’s Dr. Genzai)
Explanation of the whole Okita vs Black Cat thing
Boy with Bangs
Script and overall story had some key differences from Gohatto version…and the boy looks totally like a girl!
[I think this should have been "Zombie Boy with Bangs" This kid looked seriously drugged to me.]
funny part: Hijikata tells Yamazaki to take the boy to Shimabara…
Yamazaki Susumu “Men should be with women…[pauses and looks away dead pan face] right women”
Kondou kills the boy and says he did not slay the boy but he slayed the devil within—Hijikata notes that Kondou fails to mention ‘ who was possessed by the devil/desire
(this version was to me more “dense” than Gohatto and in many ways better!)
Itou affair is actually portrayed as very very long and complicated…Itou teams up with the Mito clan (where Serizawa Kamo came from) and begins a complex plan of manipulating Yamanami (leading to Y’s death) in an attempt to destroy the group from within.
[The whole Yamanami affair was touching, and I was pleasantly surprised when Hijikata gave Okita orders to bring him back "BUT if you don't see him return and give your report." Okita--"You mean let him go?" Hijikata--"If you don't see him, return and give your report...." Yamanami, of course waited at a small roadside restaurant right out in the open so Okita had to have seen him and he insisted on returning...]
Itou’s job in the Shinsengumi by the way was as an official liaison with the Satsuma (well, before they teamed up with Choshu)
Takeda was from a family who were retainers to Matsudaira
***hist. Takeda may have been killed by S.H. this is a mystery mentioned on Japanese sites***
Itou intros Takeda to Satsuma
Note to self: If Saitou says he is going to escort you somewhere, turn down his offer
Takeda confesses xxxxxxx connection to Saitou…xxxxxxx is next on the list (secretarytocapt3 gets lost here)
Hijikata speaks to Saitou privately and chooses him for the Itou mission his reason being “I trust you” (duh)
Saitou with the Itou crowd jumps up to volunteer to kill Kondou and even sets his own deadline of 3 days. Itou and friends are happy and acknowledge Saitou had the skill to do so “ahhh you are a kenjutsu teacher for the Shinsengumi”
Kondo allowed his men to visit with former Shinsengumi who left w/ Itou
(S.H. NOT shown stealing $)
Saitou returns to the Shinsengumi by disguising himself as a beggar and waits in front of headquarters until someone recognizes him…Hijikata has him hideout with the Kishu(?) clan
Itou’s last meal/evening was spent at Kondo’s guest house
Todou Heisuke urged to escape during the brawl at Aburona… (place where Itou people get slaughtered)…but Todou stays and dies by the hands of his former friends.
[Nagakura pulled off fellow members who repeatedly attack Todou after it's clear he's mortally wounded.]
Shinsengumi watch Bakufu army practice French military tactics and learn that Hijikata wanted the Shinsen. to adopt these western strategies as well
Harada and family…very cute.
[I loved the interaction between Harada's wife and Nagakura's girlfriend/future wife. I also found it quite interesting that Harada and Nagakura spoke of being with the Shinsengumi as "We do our job. We get paid. We have fun." It was clear that their "job" was top priority though as they're called away from a night off and immediately so without even bidding the women a farewell.]
Swordsmiths and sword sharpening seemed to take a while as Okita had to wait a couple of days to get his sword back…a sword owner and sword smith can learn from each other and have neat conversations
Okita’s Kikuichimonji sword was 700 years old
How the Shinsengumi’s loss of Okita (declining health) and Kondo (shot by Itou folks) within a close time frame was devastating
Clans formerly loyal to the Bakufu changed sides
Bakufu army had no fighting spirit
Lord of Aizu + Shogun leave Osaka Castle…which puts the Shinsengumi in a hard political situation…Hijikata confronts Matsudaira and asks “so we have been used?” etc…this is where you wish Hijikata grabbed Matsudaira’s collar and slams him against the wall
Charter members, Nagakura, Sano, Saito were all considered to be “drop outs”
I thought I’d “seen it all” in terms of dramatic portrayals boy was I wrong…interesting story line of widow seeking revenge on Kondou, Shinohara the “eccentric” in the Shinsengumi who was a good samurai/person and victim in the Itou business, weird psycho hitokiri in the ranks of the Shinsengumi…theme of Shinsengumi fighting to the end not only for the sake of their fallen comrades but acknowledgment of the valor of their enemies (the idea of being ready for the consequences)
Kondou+Hijikata’s peasant background is mentioned constantly as an insult…they had a chip on their shoulder
Saitou is mentioned here and there…in the case of Hijikata wanting a Iaido expert to practice with the group…but the iaido guy wants to use a real sword so Hijikata wanted him to fight Saitou with a real sword (I guess Saitou was handy to have around for these situations)
Excellent cast for Kondou, Hijikata (tall imposing confident and cynical/cunning)…Okita who looks much better than the photo shown on the cover of the dvd (hands down best Okita I’ve seen)…Saitou is very young/eager to please Hijikata/while taking Kanryu on a walk pretty -scary-
Only slow part was the episode dealing with Okita and his love interest his doctor’s daughter which is actually VERY relevant as the doctor knows about Okita’s serious condition…the series is only 11 episodes and very well paced.
Series exceeded my expectations and the female characters are well developed too!
[It WAS very very good I highly recommend seeing it if at all possible. The actors portraying Hijikata and Okita (Hiroaki Murakami and Shunsuke Nakamura) were excellent and quite believable and you know I have to be the one to point out that they have serious fangirl appeal. Also I've been told that Murakami portrays the blind, older brother of the new NHK Hijikata. The man has some serious screen presence with his brief appearance really standing out--And that was before I'd even seen him in this series.]
Kunoichi Deadly Mirage: The Worst Shinsengumi Film Ever Made
Review by Chuck Harris
Ninja, Monsters and Slime!!!!
Year made 1997. Directed by Yutaka Akiyama. At the last anime con I attended, I stumbled across a movie called Kunoichi: Deadly Mirage that mentioned the Shinsengumi. I immediately purchased the movie, and later found that it was not in the list at SHQ (or in IMDB, for that matter). After watching it, I think I know why, but I will offer this review to save anyone else who might come across it. I will try to avoid revealing any spoilers (not that there is much to reveal in the first place).
The blurb from the back cover is more plot than you get in the movie itself: “During the Edo period of Japan, out of fear of losing authority, the Tokugawa shogunate hires the Shinsengumi to bring down the Imperial Court. However, the Satsuma clan finds out about the Tokugawa’s scheme and sends the last five Kunoichi (female ninjas) of Hiryu Ninja Clan to spy on the Shinsengumi. Meanwhile, an evil skeletal demon is brought to life to murder the Kunoichi ninjas and destroy the world.”
The most important thing to this audience, I’m sure, is the Shinsengumi content; I’ll cover that first, as it won’t take long. The only recognizable members are Hijikata and Okita. Hijikata was played by Hiroyuki Watanabe, who went with the tried-and-true heartless killer approach to the character. He actually was on the movie poster and DVD cover (because he actually has a career; he was in Ringu and a variety of rubber-suit monster movies), but he gets about two minutes of screen time. Okita was played by the standard young, cute, heart-throb type, and manged to be even more wishy-washy than the Peacemaker Okita; obviously he was still haunted by the death of Yamanami, which he talks about over and over and over. Every other member of the Shinsengumi shown is a generic extra, all of whom are dumb, poor swordsmen, and fated to die violently.
The overall feel of the movie is amateurish; it looks like a class project from a film school. The fight choreographer obviously quit after the first fight scene (which wasn’t _horribly_ bad), because the combat gets progressively worse as the movie runs. I think the director raided a kendo school for Shinsengumi extras, as most the extras seem to know at least which end of the sword to hold. The ninja and Okita, on the other hand, look like they studied swordsmanship for about five minutes before shooting started; my four-year-old niece can use a sword more effectively and more convincingly than these people. By the end of the movie, the fight scenes were almost painful to watch.
The special effects are perfect for anyone who has ever watched Dr. Who and said “Those effects just look a little too convincing to me.” They were poorly done on some PC graphics package (maybe the Paint program that comes with Windows?); the edges of the overlays were poorly trimmed, the CG effects didn’t mesh at all with the live film, etc. Granted, this movie was made in 1997, but this was bad by 1980′s BBC standards. The “skeletal demon” and his zombie sidekicks looked weak, fought poorly, and barely moved.
The writing probably took at least a half hour; there were plenty of plot holes you could pilot the SDF-1 through. The ninja’s dialog seemed to consist entirely of “You go on ahead, I’ll hold them here as long as I can” and determined-looking nods, while Okita whined his way through all of his scenes.
The costumes are the only decent thing about the movie. The Shinsengumi have their light blue jackets, the ninja are dressed 1980′s style (full black costumes (though the leader has a red vest), instead of the more modern fishnet and miniskirt style, ala Ninja Scroll). The sets look convincingly Tokugawa-era.
There is a little gratuitous nudity (top only) and sexual content that goes well beyond (PG-13) so please keep the kids away atleast for one scene.
Overall, I have to say it’s probably not the worst movie I’ve ever seen, but none that are worse come immediately to mind. I don’t even think it’s worth renting; the only reason I’m keeping my copy is that it is perfect fodder for a Mystery Science Theater make-over.
additional commentary by secretarytocapt3
The dvd makes a great coaster! Totally waterproof and protects tables!