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fiction : ShinsengumiHQ

Falling Through Glass by Barbara Sheridan

September 29, 2009 · Filed Under fiction, makoto · Comments Off 
Available at Liquid Silver Books

Available at Liquid Silver Books

A time travel to Bakumatsu Japan…

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Buy the e-book here

READ THE EXCERPT:

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?

“What?”

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.

The mirror!

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.

Mibu gishi Den (2003)

January 1, 2009 · Filed Under fiction · Comment 

IMDB
ENTRY


Screencaps
are from the Region 2 dvd you can purchase here
we encourage all fans to purchase the official copy and support
quality film making. Everything is the
property of Shochiku.


We also
recommend the OST
by Hisaishi Jo (best known for his work in Princess Mononoke)

Mibugishiden
was originally a novel by Asada
Jiro
, TV series starring Watanabe
Ken
as Yoshimura and Naoto
Takenaka
as Saito and finally major motion picture.

TRIVIA

Sakai
Masato
, Okita in Mibugishiden was Yamanami
Keisuke
in NHK’s
Taiga SHINSENGUMI.

Sato
Koichi
, Saito, was Serizawa
Kamo
in NHK’s Taiga SHINSENGUMI.

Nakai
Kiichi
, Yoshimura was the voice
of Hijikata Toshizo
in Kon
Ichikawa
‘s animated feature SHINSENGUMI
(2000)

 

Screencap1 Screencap2 Screencap3 Screencap4
Screencap5 Screencap6 Screencap7 Screencap8
Screencap9 Screencap10
Behind the scenes1 Behind the scenes2
Behind the scenes3 Behind the scenes4
Behind the scenes5 Behind the scenes6
Behind the scenes7

Barbara
Sheridan
:


This was
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
see.


Secretarytocapt3:

Mibugishiden
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
the actor

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
DID employ

*showing Saito taking out the trash existing in the Shinsengumi

*demonic Okita

*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
perhaps?)



[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
the accountant



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
weapons.



3) Okita action scene…Saitou at Toba Fushimi running into
a building with the enemy following…he kills all of them in
the building



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.

Byakkotai (1984)

November 2, 2008 · Filed Under fiction · Comment 
review by SHQ member Tama
(Note the images are screencaps from an unsubtitled copy of this 1984 TBS series . Hopefully this film will be made available to the audience here in the USA someday! )
I watched this TV film for the first time when it was aired a long long time ago, and what I can remember now about it is this film made me cry and cry.
I re-watched this one few days ago and it still made me cry, seeing those young boys committing suicide, the tragedy of Aizu people so proud and
loyal.As mentioned in the comment about this film in the filmography. This film has two parts.The first part shows well the complicated situation of Aizu.
There are some samurai of the domain like chief retainer Saigo Tanomo, who opposed Matsudaira Katamori receiving the office of Protector of Kyoto,
because they thought that would involve Aizu too much in political conflict.
They show also the tragic destiny of Jinbo Shuri (husband of Jinbo Yukiko) who must commit seppuku
after the defeat of Toba-Fushimi, as the one responsible of Katamori’s abandon.
Shinsengumi makes an appearance indeed, but they show only Kondo, Hijikata and Okita as main characters. There is no Saitou, nor other principal members.Nevertheless, Ikedaya Raid scene is awesome one. I especially like Okita portrayed by Katsuhiko Nakagawa in this film. Kondo and Hijikata are also good,but perhaps I’m now too captivated by NHK Shinsengumi! Hijikata.
The second part entirely focuses on Aizu War with many details. It’s really painful to see how Byakkotai boys decided to kill themselves,
suicide of Tanomo Saigo’s family including little girls and servants, extermination of Nihonmatsu Shounentai ( a unit formed by little boys younger than Byakkotai), etc…
There is also,mortal combat of female unit Joushitai with heroic death of
Takeko Nakano, gun fighting of brave Yaeko Yamamoto [also mentions here], Battle of Bonari Toge (They show only Hijikata,
however we can imagine at that time Saitou strayed from Shinsengumi for a while) .The actors and actress are most prestigious whom you can see in many other films like Hisaya Morishige (Okazumi Inoue), Koutaro Satomi(Yorimo Saigo),
Morio Kazama (Matsudaira Katamori), Yumi Takigawa (Princesse Teru of Aizu or Teruhime),Masaomi Kondo(Hijikata) etc…
Although many of us might regret the absence of Saitou or Tokio in this film,
watching this one makes us imagine his or her presence, and have an idea about what happened during the siege of Aizu.

I have to mention brief appearence of Tokio’s brother Takagi Morinosuke as a messenger.
Although Tokio’s cousin Takamine Hideo is not portrayed, the movie did show Matsudaira Katamori’s page in both Kyoto and Aizu (Hideo was the daimyo’s page from April 1868 until he was seperated from the Matsudaira family).


[Note from secretarytocapt3] Yamakawa Hiroshi (learn more here and here) was a key figure in the lives of both Saitou and Tokio as their matchmaker. One of my favorite parts is when Hijikata and the Shinsengumi run in and assist Sagawa “the Oni” Kanbei (of Aizu). Sagawa was just a blur on the battlefield and Hijikata sort of says “whoa who is that wild guy!”.

The Byakkotai were in awe of the Shinsengumi as they arrived in Aizu and they, like rockstar groupies, waited for their hero. Overall, this film is epic in scope and does not take the easy way out in appealing to the audience with its portrayal of Matsudaira Katamori’s key decisions. The audience is not forced to see the revolutionaries as “bad guys” either—there are fascinating and sympathetic figures amongst the Ishin Shishi as well. One such historical figure witnessed the various tragedies in Aizu and later wrote about them. Although lengthy and detailed the film is careful to exploit action scenes like Ikedaya which was well directed however they should have used dim/dark lighting as seen in Mifune’s BAnd of Assasins. All the key characters were well acted, especially Matsudaira Katamori (a tragic figure, stubborn leader who admits to his own mistakes).

Saigo Tanomo, is presented by a skilled actor who is the “Cassandra” of the narrative, equipped with wisdom, foresight and undying loyalty. The Byakkotai themselves won me over with their energy and youthful optimism. The director was clever to make sure that the viewer got as close as possible to the battlefield and the scenes shot in the forests were memorable and realistic. I hope that this film will be subbed and made available for all Shinsengumi fans.

A translation of the 8/18/63 scene (aka the Kinmon Incident) from “Byakkotai” from 0:50:55 to the 0:59:19 mark by Hirotada Tokugawa (Shimazu Masayoshi)
*footsteps*Katamori: “It’s time?”Katamori: “Hear me! From here on we will take command of the Nine Gates, and bring reassurance to the heart of the Emperor! No one except Aizu, Satsuma, and Yodo may pass!”Narrator: This incident of 8/18, later known as the Kinmon Incident, was this.Guards: “What domain are you? Stop!”*Shinsengumi flag appears*

Nomura: “I am liaison officer Nomura.”

Kondou: “We are Shinsengumi, under the patronage of Aizu-han. By order of the Liaison Office, we will take up security at the South Gate.”

Narrator: This was the first time that Shinsengumi officially took to the field under the patronage of Aizu.

*cut to Choshu-han residence*

(sign: “Choshu-han Kyoto Residence”)

Katsura: What?! Aizu-han soldiers at the Palace?!

Choshu officer: It’s not just Aizu-han….Satsuma and Yodo are there in droves! Their numbers must be above two thousand!

Katsura: No word from Prince Sanjo yet?!

Choshu officer: None yet.

Katsura: Come on, we need to get going! Hurry!

Narrator: By the time Choshu-han realized what had happened, the three clans had set up a solid defense, and it was the dawn of 8/18.

*cut to Kakuma’s position*

Yamamoto Saburo: “Brother, fire the signal shot.”

Kakuma: Right.

*Kakuma hesitates*

Saburo: Brother!

Kakuma: I can’t see….everything’s going dark and I can’t see! Saburo!

*cannon shot*

*cut to Choshu forces*

caption reads “Choshu retainer Masuda Uemonnosuke”

Masuda: What was that? Damn Aizu….come on, let’s keep going!

*caption: Sakai-machi Gate*

Masuda: Are you out of your minds? Sakai-machi Gate is under the supervision of Choshu!

caption: A Satsuma retainer

Satsuma retainer: (in thick Satsuma accent) What’re you sayin’? Under tha orders of the Emperor, this here gate’s under Satsuma control from today on! Git outta here!

Voice heard. “Withdraw! Withdraw! Your side must withdraw!”

Masuda: Who the hell are you?!

Akizuki: I am Aizu liaison officer Akizuki Teijiro! I will now read the Imperial decree! Pay heed with reverent ears! *everyone rises, and Akizuki reads the edict* The Imperial mind is troubled at recent events, and therefore this decree is issued. The Emperor’s rage knows no bounds. Therefore, Sanjo Chunagon and his faction are exiled. Choshu han is hereby removed from its duty at the Nine Gates!

Masuda: Stop talking shit! Men! Load the cannons!

*Shinoda Hyogo and Jinbo Shuri run up*

Shinoda: “Damn rebels! Go away! Get lost!”

Jinbo: “We’ve come all the way from Aizu just to get you! Get lost!”

*Satsuma retainer Takasaki Sataro appears*

Takasaki: “You men there! You would dare to raise a hand against the Emperor? If you want to fire, then go ahead and fire! You’ll be branded as rebels against the throne!”

Masuda: “Grrr…”

Tanaka Tosa: “Go home! The domains in charge of security are all under Aizu’s command now! Do you want Choshu to stand alone as a rebel? Go away!”

*Katsura and Maki’s men run up*

Katsura: If we come to blows here it’ll be bad. We ought to withdraw and wait for the next move.

Maki: But Prince Sanjo is still a concern. Katsura-kun…

*Maki and Katsura run down the street*

Katsura: “It’s sealed! I’m going in!”

*Shinsengumi appears*

Hijikata: “What clan are you with? Name yourself!”

Maki: “I am Maki Izumi of Kurume. We’re here to take charge of Prince Sanjo’s security.”

Hijikata: “You there…you’re Katsura-dono of Choshu?”

Katsura: “Indeed, I am Katsura Kogoro of Choshu-han.”

Kondou: “Prince Sanjo has been banished, so we can’t let you in. We’ll have to ask you to leave.”

Katsura: “No matter what?”

Okita runs up.

Okita: “If you don’t back off, you’ll have to face me.”

Katsura: “You look familiar.”

Okita: “At the Chiba dojo in Edo.”

Katsura: “Your name?”

Okita: “Okita Soji.”

Katsura: “I say this as a swordsman of the same school. I have seen the end of the Tokugawa. Will you record your name in history as a bodyguard of Aizu? Your desire must be one and one only. If you have a heart of Imperial reverence, we will welcome you into our ranks at any time.”

Okita: “My home is Oshu-Shirakawa. It’s closer to Edo than Kyoto. That’s all I have to say.”

Katsura: *frowns* “Come on, let’s go.”

*cut to Sakai-machi Gate*

Narrator: “In the end, for almost two days, the allied Aizu-Satsuma force that had surrounded the palace faced off against Choshu. And on the second night….Kyoto fell into torrential rain.”

*cut to rainy view of the ‘Flight of the Seven Nobles’ ”

Narrator: Sanjo Sanetomi and the pro-Choshu nobles left the Palace and headed to Choshu that night. To this day, it is remembered as “The Flight of the Seven Nobles”.

*Katsura and Maki stare in shock*

Aizu samurai: “Ei! Ei! Oh!” (victory yell)

Sanjo Sanetomi turns.

Sanjo: Damn you, Aizu! I sear I’ll get my revenge!

*panning shot over to Nomura and the Shinsengumi*

Hijikata: “Aizu-han sure did well.”

Nomura: “This way the capital will finally be peaceful.”

Kondou: “I dunno about any of that. I’m kind of mad that we got stuck in a big laundry pail like this.” (commenting on the rain)

Hijikata: “Yeah, that’s a bother indeed.”

*everyone laughs*

*cut to celebration ceremony at Kurotani, with people singing*

Narrator: “In those days, a song was popular in Kyoto:

‘Aizu Higo-sama is Protector of Kyoto. The Palace is safe, the nobles are secure. Peace has returned to the world.’”

*shot of Katamori smiling*

Narrator: “Aizu Lord General Matsudaira Katamori’s joy was increased by the letter of thanks and the poem which he received from Emperor Komei. These letters, which Katamori to the end of his days would always carry close to him, were to have a great importance in Aizu’s destiny. And though it was only for a short time, Aizu was, without question, the Imperial Army.”

 

Okita Soji

October 28, 2008 · Filed Under fiction · Comment 

OKITA SOJI (1974)
imdb
alternate titles
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
depictions this film gives you a taste of fighting in the dark. The chase after Yamanami Keisuke has a unique twist. There was no Itou Affair to speak of—it was just another excuse for bloodshed for the filmakers.
There is a shift in tone when the film adopts an almost sarcastic/mocking tone with their take on Kondo Isami’s photograph and the last battles of the Shinsengumi.
If you can get past the 70s music, predictable love story, cliched metaphors, one nightmare sequence and shifting tone of the film you have atleast a decent film.

 

Shinsengumi

October 28, 2008 · Filed Under fiction · Comment 

imdb

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.

 

Gohatto

October 28, 2008 · Filed Under fiction · Comment 

imdb

(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.
I think my favorite part concerns poor, put-upon Inspector Yamazaki Susumu who is ordered by Hijikata to take the Kano kid to Shimabara and get him a woman since he can’t know what he’s missing if he hasn’t had it. It seems like a simple enough task…..^_^ and p.s.–do pay attention to the poor palanquin bearers when the less than rail thin Yamazaki and Kano become their passengers.


When murders of Kano’s admirers begins happening no one is quite sure who the culprit is, but Hijikata (terribly micast in my opinion) is determined to find out.

BAKUMATSU ZANKOKU MONOGATARI

October 28, 2008 · Filed Under fiction · Comment 

CRUEL STORY at the END of the TOKUGAWA SHOGUNATE or Brutal Story at End of the Tokugawa Shogunate

IMDB ENTRY

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!
final grade [A] even with all my gripes…this movie is a gem and deserves your time.
P.S. yet another movie which glosses over Saitou but portrays a pretty believable Okita.