A time travel to Bakumatsu Japan…
Within seconds, Emmi began coughing. She flailed her arms and legs, swatting a blanket from her face.
Her brain took its own sweet time processing the Japanese words someone called out. “Calm down. You’re safe now. You’re safe.”
Coughing, she sat up and scrambled to her knees as much as the cumbersome layers of clothing and the blanket covering her would allow. She bent forward taking in large gasping breaths, hacking to expel the smoky air from her lungs.
“Daijoubu desu ka? Daijoubu desu ka, oni?”
Was she a demon? What the hell kind of question was that?
Still kneeling, Emmi straightened and swiped her tousled hair from her eyes. She then turned to look over her shoulder. Had her mother sent some distant relative to watch over her and taunt her with the demon epithet in her stead?
“Are you a demon?” the man kneeling before her asked again.
Emmi blinked and wiped her eyes; they still stung from the smoke. She glared at her supposed rescuer. “Yes, I’m alright and I’m not a demon, you idiot.”
She looked around. This did not look like the sound stage. Where was the storm? Why were there no firefighters or paramedics?
Where on Earth was she?
Emmi looked back at the confused man. He was around her age and seemed rather familiar somehow.
“What?” she asked in answer to the very same question from him.
“Nani? Nan desu ka, oni?” he repeated.
“Look, I know I should be grateful to you and all, but…”
She broke off as his look of bewilderment grew. She closed her eyes a moment. She hadn’t carried on any long conversations in Japanese since she’d last seen her grandparents at the funeral. In fact, that hadn’t been quite normal since a lot of the time they chose to use the old, classical Japanese……which was exactly what this guy was speaking.
She spoke to him slowly in Japanese, hoping he’d get it straight that she was not a demon and that she was indeed all right.
“What is i-di-ot?”
Emmi coughed and wondered if coughing more might distract him from wanting to know what idiot meant. However, when he repeated the question, she knew that wasn’t much of an option. She looked at him and translated ‘idiot’ as best she could.
She gave a start when the look of bewilderment, which she thought might be his natural expression, turned to one of fury.
When he jumped to his feet and grabbed the katana lying on the floor a few feet away, Emmi knew without a doubt that he was not holding any movie prop.
It didn’t look like any unsharpened practice or prop swords she’d ever seen, but it did look exactly like the antique sword her father had owned. She knew without a doubt that this katana was very much the same, very real and very deadly.
She looked around the room again. Why wasn’t she in the same room? Why wasn’t it a shambles? Where were the security people or the paramedics, the police, and the firefighters? Where the hell was she?
Before she could figure it out, the man ordered her to stand. She knew that to refuse would not be wise–even if he insisted on calling her a demon.
He pointed the katana at her. “Go back to where you came from, demon. Now!” he ordered in Japanese, pointing the blade to the mirror lying face down on the floor near a small lacquered cabinet.
Emmi ran forward, fell to her knees and picked it up, making sure it was unharmed.
It was her mirror, but it was different. It looked newer, shinier, and while it had a dent on the right side, the other nicks and dents were missing from the base. Where did the cloth tacked onto the back come from?
“Go back inside, demon! You will not have my soul! Not now or ever!”
“Wha–?” Emmi’s voice died the instant she turned. The man had the tip of his katana a fraction away from the base of her throat.
“Go back inside to where you came from.”
What was happening?
Was she dead and in some kind of hell for causing the accident that killed her father?
Was she unconscious and having some freakish dream?
“Go back now, demon!”
Shaking in fear, Emmi blinked back the tears that formed in her eyes and prayed she wasn’t screwing up any old Japanese pronunciations. The last thing she wanted was to say something wrong, something that would push this guy over the edge.
“I’m not a demon. I swear I’m not. I don’t know how I got here. I was caught in a storm at a place I was working. The wall fell on me. There was a fire. That’s all I remember. I’m not a demon. I swear I’m not. My name is Emiko. Maeda Emiko.”
“Maeda?” he asked.
“Yes. My family comes from Kanaz–the Kaga han,” she added.
His eyes narrowed suspiciously. “Then how did you come to be in the mirror? If you are human, and truly a Maeda, what did you do to disgrace yourself? Why would your family send you here to Shimabara to be a whore?”
He pointed the tip of the sword to her throat.
“Prove to me that you are human.”
Emmi licked her dry lips and tried not to flinch. “How do I prove I’m human? Maybe by dying if you stab me?”
“Perhaps,” he said flatly.
recommend the OST
by Hisaishi Jo (best known for his work in Princess Mononoke)
Masato, Okita in Mibugishiden was Yamanami
Keisuke in NHK’s
Koichi , Saito, was Serizawa
Kamo in NHK’s Taiga SHINSENGUMI.
|Behind the scenes1||Behind the scenes2|
|Behind the scenes3||Behind the scenes4|
|Behind the scenes5||Behind the scenes6|
|Behind the scenes7|
a film I definitely had to watch twice, once to pay close attention
to the subtitles to get the backstory of the Yoshimura character
down and then again to be able to concentrate on everything
else. I know it was the story of the real Yoshimura Kanchiro
but I would have been much happier with more time spent on his
Shingengumi comrades and their explots instead of flashing back
to the family he left behind in Nanbu so often.
What action scenes there were, were super and I would have loved
to see them longer. To me Koichi Sato stole the film as Saitou
Hajime who had a loathing/respect relationship with Yoshimura.
In fact all the main Shinsengumi players shown were excellent,
Nagakura, Okita, Hijikata even Kondou. This is a definite must
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0359692/ deals with Yoshimura, a
fictitious character (this was mentioned on a site—it is -incorrect-
Yoshimura Kanichiro was a REAL person) created to represent
alot of the other nameless samurai/swordsmen and I think that
portraying Yoshimura did a great job. However, good acting cannot
make up for a poor writing/directing in regards to the fate
of Yoshimura (his last
scenes in particular which dragged on and on and on).
The movie should have been better edited because the content
did not move the story along (I’ve seen MANY Japanese films
by several directors and although some are SLOW the content
is still relevant to the story)
[I know that the film is a drama but who watches a film on the
Shinsengumi and not expect to see some ACTION?] To me, if feels
like the fired the choreographer who designed the first action
sequence between Yoshimura and Nagakura (one Nagakura’s one
handed overhead deflection looked cool)…if they sprinkled
the movie with a few more of those I’d be REALLY happy.
my final score 8/10
*good analyzation of left handed sword technique (examination
of a corpse)
*Saito uses his special technique (left hand thrust with right
hand supporting sword) in almost all fight scenes and the directing
is very detailed…he eats with his left hand
*very realistic beheading (this movie is not for kids)
*inclusion of guerilla warfare techniques which the Shinsengumi
*showing Saito taking out the trash existing in the Shinsengumi
*GREAT fight between Nagakura (cute) and Yoshimura
*cross generational impact of Shinsengumi
*the detail is awesome note Yoshimura’s damaged metal headband
after deflecting a slash to his head from the guy he cornered
in the alley
*S.H. spitting water on the sword handle + catching drops of
rainwater before unsheathing the sword (to get a better grip
[cut scenes worth mentioning]
1) a member of the Shinsengumi threatening an accountant with
a sword and asking for more money to fix his sword (I gather
from the body language)…S.H. sees this and looks at the list
of rules posted on the wall and thinks to himself
*transition* S.H. and Okita beating a guy up in the dojo with
a wooden swords (no body armor)…it is really hard to tell
but it seems that S.H. is beating the guy who earlier threatened
2) Hijikata using a rifle!…in the movie he grabs the barrel
of the gun with his hand (shot)…I think the director removed
this because he wanted just to portray Hijikata wielding traditional
3) Okita action scene…Saitou at Toba Fushimi running into
a building with the enemy following…he kills all of them in
4) Okita making fun of Yoshimura while Yoshimura was having
his pic taken (Okita was funny even though I didn’t know what
he was saying I think he was trying to imitate Yoshimura’s accent)
behind the scenes all in Japanese…Koichi Sato looking very
very handsome in a blue kimono…also showed CG techniques for
the beheading scene…showed Okita practicing all of his moves
for filming but then they cut the scene.
|OKITA SOJI (1974)
Okita Soshi (Samurai Okita Soshi)
I’d like to state right off the bat that MANY fangirls will appreciate the casting choice of Okita. He is tall, rugged,
and has very beautiful eyes. Simply, he is a very manly Okita! Easily one of the best actors to portray Okita. Both Kondou and Hijikata are miscast.
I’ll mention some parts of the film which I found striking.
Shieikan is depicted as experiencing financial hardship (based on what the characters were eating). The future members of the Shinsengumi all
look as if they haven’t bathed for weeks.Mention of the popularity and spread of Tennen Rishin Ryu and moving in on the “turf” of other schools.
Kiyokawa Hachiro and Murakami comment on the Shieikan men “either they’re loyal to the Shogun or they’re dirt poor.” Serizawa Kamo is shown in a helmet splitting demonstration. Hijikata while in the Roshigumi “never in the Tokugawa history could this large a group of
ronin walk in public.” Kondo dreams of being a hatamoto. Hijikata dreams of forming the greatest army in Japan and Okita dreams of eating sweets in Kyoto. Assasination of Serizawa Kamo was shown briefly but in a pretty creative manner.Pretty graphic depiction of the torture of Furutaka Shuntaro (if you ever wondered how and where the
candles were stuck on the guy—well this is the movie which shows it).
The Raid on Ikedaya is very brief however the event gave the viewer a “first person” claustrophobic view. Unlike many well staged
The title of this film is also “Shinsengumi: Band of Assasins”
(commentary by Barbara Sheridan)
Band of Assassins is an interesting film though as so often seems to happen the major players don’t fit the historic people they portray in terms of age or appearance. However, I have to admit that Toshiro Mifune does bear some resemblance to the actual Kondou Isami. AND it’s also noted that he “changes” after becoming Shisnengumi head, apparently this is something drawn from real life as Nagakura, Saitou and a few others did end up going to Matsudaira Katamori and asking for Kondou to be dealt with because of his attitude change (that isn’t mentione din the film though).
Hijikata and Yamanami are far older than the actual men but again their portrayals do fit in well with the information I’ve come across. The same goes for Okita, I thought he was handled very well although they show him meeting his end by being shot at Toba-Fishimi.
The character I was most anxious to see was Serizawa Kamo (portrayed by Rentaro Mikuni father of the current NHK version of Serizawa–Sato Koichi) I much prefer the Sato angsty/troubled Seriawa as opposed to the totally messed up, pathetic alcoholic Rentaro version.
Another major disappointment was the absence of Saitou Hajime. In fact I think he’s suposed to be the character referred to as Kayama Goro as he’s mentioned after Okita, Yakamura Shinpachi (whom I suppose is Nagakura), Todo Heisuke, and Harada (A)Sanosuke the original Shieken members.
Todo is the only one mentoned as leaving with the Itou group and nothing is mentioned at all about there being a spy (Saitou) in their ranks. Kondou is shown as the one who corners Itou in a dark street and does him in.
Something else which I found interesting was the way Matsudaira responded when his aide brought him the application from Kondou, Serizawa & company asking to be put under the Aizu peace keeping forces. Matsudaira told the aide to go ahead and approved the sponsorship and that they’d treat them like a pack of “pet dogs”. While I doubt this was Matsudaira’s actual personal belief I imagine quite a few people considered the Shinsengumi no more than that. The Shogunate’s trained guard dogs.
(commentary by SecretaryToCapt3)
Toshiro Mifune’s portrayal was one of the few enjoyable elements of this film. Finally, we get to see a capable Kondou Isami who was also willing to defuse a situation at Shimabara with a sword dance.
The film also shows the Shinsengumi with a tan uniform rather than the typical light blue we are accustomed to seeing.
Okita was perhaps the most worst example of miscasting I have ever seen. Although, I understand that it is popular to portray the swordsman with a slight figure in anime and manga I didn’t imagine him to be huge. The actor seemed too old to be sporting the haircut associated with Okita.
Before Itou defected, Hijikata had a serious meeting with the scholar. In a brief moment Hijikata nods to a man sitting in the adjacent room. I believe that man was Saitou Hajime!
A detail I appreciated was the local farmers from Tama coming forth to greet their hometown boys and offering assistance. This is no exaggeration, Kondou Isami as well as Hijikata Toshizou had deep ties with the elite farmers.
Unlike other films, Band of Assasins also shows the hardship of people in Kyoto with the rioting and numerous fires as the political situation escalated.
While certainly, not the best portrayal of Shinsengumi the film did bring in detail other films have avoided.
(Commentary by Barbara Sheridan)
This is a well done, good looking but bizarre little movie that delves deeply into the Shinsengumi Keppuroku chapter “The Boy With Bangs”. Basically one of the Shinsengumi’s impressive new recruits is a very pretty young man named Kano Sozaburo. And I do mean pretty as you can see from the posters above. As one might imagine in a place where men are stuck with men pretty much 24/7, young Kano starts becoming the object of many men’s desires though he seems not to be interested.
CRUEL STORY at the END of the TOKUGAWA SHOGUNATE or Brutal Story at End of the Tokugawa Shogunate
This film features the murder of Serizawa Kamo and death of Yamanami Keisuke. Feature characters are Okita, Yamanami Keisuke and the elusive Yamazaki Susumu and some serious partying….
SHQ member Barbara Sheridan: Whoever titled this movie was dead on which you’ll see the moment they begin “testing” the new potential Shinsengumi recruits. This is a most interesting and most unflattering film portrayal of the Shinsengumi as a whole which leads me to believe that it may be a bit truer than we fans who tend to idolize the Miburo would like.
SHQ member Phil: Okay, my brain is totally fried — I’ve just finished watching this film and I am completely blown away by it. Whatever you have to do to see it, just do it!
Wonderful, gritty look at the internal world of the Shinsengumi from just after the Ikedaya Affair to just past the death of Yamanami. Fundoshi theft, homoerotic playfulness, guy talk about women & Shimabara (including Kondou’s 4 babes), a sweet love story, patrol changes, after-hours in the barracks, execution of law breakers, a samurai bacchanal, the clash of strong personalities, testing new recruits, man’s inhumanity to man, history, regrets, blood & gore, Saitou — it’s got a little of everything. The ending is just too amazing to even consider hinting at.
The flashback of Serizawa’s assassination is pure poetry and exactly as I read about it. I swear, the words came right to life before my eyes.
Every Shinsengumi fan should have a copy of it!!!
SHQ member Secretarytocapt3:
What concerns me is the back cover of the film
“This is another view of that group without the usual white washing of their character”
which means 2 things:
1) they tried their best to tell it like it was [or]
2) they went -overboard- in trying to dispel the “hero” image.
To me personally the movie was a ~bit~ more of #2. My impression is this movie is a skillful mix of parody and satire and 100% PURE TOP-NOTCH ENTERTAINMENT!!!!.
The movie tried to be a bit balanced with a scene in which a letter is read regarding ‘normal’ police work the Shinsengumi did—breaking up a gathering which could’ve escalated into a riot. But the screenwriter should’ve pulled just a bit more material from the historic battlefield records. I know the Shinsengumi weren’t practicing a “peace & love” approach to their work but really 3 fatalities during intake fighting on one day? I prefer the term intake fighting over “tryouts” because the latter conjures up cheerleader auditions
Now I totally love the “atmosphere” in the barracks…very realistic and exactly how I imagined it (we are talking about a bunch of guys)…being a member of the Shinsengumi is understandably a high risk job…but [so] is being a serving woman in the headquarters. I thought it was neat how the bookworm was shown amongst the guys…just shows the wide ranging demographics (wonder how did -this- guy past the tests!). I wonder if they harassed the Christians (there were 2-3 if I recall) or artist like Nakajima Nobori.
The movie is incredibly dense and excels in trying to capture group peer pressure or group psychology which must’ve existed.
I also found some of the sword school (martial linage) names were wrong or the screenwriter chose the lesser known possibilities…e.g. Okita Souji says a totally different school school than Tennen Rishin Ryu which was his dominant style (but like Saitou he seemed to have cross trained according to a Japanese site).
If you do want a “fast” and entertaining movie then this film is for you!