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October 28, 2008 · Filed Under fiction 

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!
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.


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