Sunday, 30 September 2012

Taira no Kiyomori 37-38: Enters Yoshitsune!

Arrgghh! What would I give to have the sudden ability to completely understand Japanese now? Or at least, to be able to watch the English subbed of Taira no Kiyomori from the San Francisco-based Tokyo TV? Click here, by the way, for you lucky souls who can watch TNK in San Francisco and adjacent regions. Click here to watch Ep 37 raw (without Eng sub). Click here to watch Ep 38 without English sub.

For someone like me who has very little understanding of Japanese (getting better with an excessive dosage of J-doramas these days, but still), I just have to guess what has transpired in Taira no Kiyomori eps 37 and 38. I do have Auberginefleur’s site to help my understanding, but it’s not enough, for it mostly covers what happens with the Heike.

Anyway, recapping episodes 37 (last Sunday) and 38 (this Sunday) of Taira no Kiyomori: it has been very interesting episodes for me, despite my mediocre understanding of Japanese. Now, before I summarise what happened to the Genji, I’ll give a Heike-Genji 101 about the names of Genji and Heike. Apparently, Heike is another way of reading the Kanji of ‘Taira’. Genji is another way of reading the Kanji of ‘Minamoto’. So when people say the Heike, they are referring to the clan/house that was ruled by the Taira. The Genji was then the clan that was ruled by the Minamoto.

So, in episode 37, Minamoto no Yoritomo (Okada Masaki) and his aide Morinaga ‘To Kuro’ Adachi (Tsukamoto Takashi) came to Hojo Tokimasa’s place. There, Tokimasa et al. were talking about the Genji versus the Heike. Not sure what they said, but I think they were talking about how the Taira were getting out of hand with their regime, and the Genji were the only one to stop them. Knowing how sensitive that topic was to his lord, To Kuro offered to take Yoritomo home. Yet, Yoritomo stayed. Everyone was surprised when Yoritomo suddenly shed tears as he said that the Genji clan has perished. Hojo Masako (Tokimasa’s 12 years old daughter who was interested in Yoritomo) wasn’t doing anything but listening to the conversation. Again, what would I give to be able to read the English sub here...(see my latest note below*).

In episode 38 (1171 CE), Tokimasa explained to Masako what actually happened to the Genji. He explained from the time Taira no Kiyomori and Minamoto no Yoshitomo (Yoritomo’s father) were friends, up till when Yoshitomo was betrayed by Kiyomori and the three Minamoto sons were exiled. Tokimasa then flashed back to when Yoritomo started dating the local beauty Yae-hime, only to have their baby murdered by Yae’s father. Then Tokimasa said something to Masako, in which she replied with ‘I don’t believe it’. Not sure what Tokimasa said and, consequently, what Masako disbelieved. But perhaps something along the line of ‘the Genji is no more’. No new scene of Yoritomo in this episode, only flash backs. But according to Auberginefleur’s TNK episode schedule, Masako and Yoritomo will start seeing each other in episode 40. Yay!

But then, something else interesting happened in episode 38. In a place in Kyoto, a young boy (about 19 years old) was told to meet a Buddhist monk on Gojo-oohashi Bridge. The Buddhist monk challenged the young boy and, in episode 39, the boy would defeat the monk. The boy’s name was Shanaou or Ushiwakamaru (Kamiki Ryunosuke). The Buddhist monk’s name was Onikawa (Aoki Munetaka), later known as Benkei. Ushiwakamaru would later be known as Minamoto no Yoshitsune (1159-1189); Benkei would be his trusted aide. Yoshitsune was one of the two remaining younger half-brothers of Yoritomo. Yoshitsune would later defeat the Heike in the fateful Battle of Dan-no-ura (1185). Episode 39 will cover, among others, Yoshitsune’s legendary fight with Benkei. 

Yet, at the aftermath of the Battle of Dan-no-ura, regretful rifts would appear between the two Minamoto brothers, that led to Yoritomo ordering the murder of Yoshitsune (check ‘Yoshitsune’, the 2005 NHK Taiga Drama for his story). 

Yes, my dear friends, it breaks my heart to learn that eventually, Yoritomo did what other dictators did before him: killing his own siblings to maintain his status. Sob-sob-sob, Yoritomo, why??? I was just starting to admire you!

I cannot only blame him though; I think Emperor Go-Shirakawa was just the two-face type of a person that the Heike and the Taira should have never dealt with since the beginning of the conflict. But that is what happened in ancient history, and what is happening now in the modern politics as well. Sad...such is the power of ... well, power and status to change someone.

Anyway, it’s a good thing that I’m watching only a historical drama. Okada Masaki still wins me with his portrayal as Yoritomo, albeit still a depressed Yoritomo. The pain etched on Yoritomo’s face as he said that the Genji has perished was so clear. So painful. Can’t blame Masako for falling head over heels and trying to protect and give him happiness later. Again, will be interesting to see how Masako helped Yoritomo transformed himself. 

It got me thinking... The producers of Taira no Kiyomori chose Okada Masaki to play Yoritomo to give the character 'a fresh air to the drama'. I don't think they meant only a fresh baby-face look... But perhaps more of how Yoritomo was (or could have been) before he was attracted to unlimited power (and ordered the demise of Yoshitsune). If I had watched the 2005 NHK Yoshitsune drama, I would not believe that this Masaki-Yoritomo was plausible. But now... why not? Why couldn't Yoritomo, before getting scared that his lil bro would steal his 'throne', be a gentle person who played Shō (free reed aerophone), gently courted a village maiden and had a terrible broken heart? Still, I still can’t face it that my dear sweetheart Masaki plays as the first Shogun who would eventually betray his own brother. I hope this drama ends before that horrid episode.

But the hottie Matsuda Shota also plays the two-face Go-Shirakawa; that doesn’t mean that Shota is evil! I do have to add that – if the real Go-Shirakawa was half as charming as Shota – with such a handsome face, I can understand how Go-Shirakawa always won the heart of powerful men and women in his era.

More of Taira no Kiyomori in two weeks!

Pic 1: Minamoto no Yoshitsune (Kamiki Ryunosuke), NHK

Pic 2: Screen cap of Yoritomo (Okada Masaki) losing hope over the fate of the Genji, NHK

Pic 3: Benkei (Aoki Munetaka) vs Yoshitsune, NHK

Pic 4: Benkei (Aoki Munetaka) , NHK

Pic 5: the hottie Matsuda Shota as Cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa, NHK

*Update 1 Oct 2012 5:30 pm: 

I consulted this Japanese site for what happened in ep 37, and this is what they said:
Ippō, Izude wa aikawarazu Minamoto no Yoritomo (Okada Masaki) ga mui no hibi o okutte ita. Tō kurō (Tsukamoto Takashi) ga yatto no koto de Hōjō Tokimasa (Endō Ken'ichi) no yakata no utage ni tsuredasu mono no, sake no sekide wa heike ga ōkō suru wadai kara Heike hihan, hiite wa Genji no shittsui o maneita Minamoto no Yoshitomo (Tamaki Hiroshi) no hinan ga okoru. Sore made oshidamatte ita Yoritomo wa, hisshi no omoi de genji wa horobinaito mune ni nemuru omoi o furishibotta.

Below is my careful translation of the info. I have reconstructed the paragraph word by word based on Google Translation, but I don't follow GTrans' illogical syntax. In the (highly) likelihood that I made a mistake, I hope any Japanese speakers will correct me. Onegaishimasu!

Meanwhile in Izu, Minamoto no Yoritomo (Okada Masaki) is still spending days in idleness as usual. With difficulty, To Kuro (Tsukamoto Takashi) took him to Hojo Tokimasa’s mansion for a banquet. Over drinks, they started to criticise the Heike in full swing. They started to blame the Heike for the fall of Minamoto no Yoshitomo (Tamaki Hiroshi). In desperation, Yoritomo – who had kept silent so far – started expressing what had been kept in his heart, that the Genji shall not perish.
So, I am confused. Did Yoritomo say that Genji has perished, or did he say that Genji - despite the destruction - shall not perish?


Gail said...

I'm glad I found your blog. I am leaving town and will miss the English subtitled Episodes 37 and 38 of Kiyomori. I watch it on TV Japan, and the English subtitled episodes are about 6 weeks or so behind the broadcast on NHK in Japan. My Japanese is still mediocre, so I miss a lot when I watch without subtitles. I'm glad I won't miss the bit where Yoshitomo wakes up to the existence of the tomboy.

Icha said...

Hi Gail, thanks a lot for the comment! So do you watch TV Japan in the San Francisco /west coast area in the US? Lucky you. I struggle every week to understand what transpires in TNK... but the series is too interesting for me to abandon!

By the way, I think you won't miss many of Yoritomo in ep 37 and 38. You will find more of him in ep 40 onwards. Do let me know later if my interpretations here are somewhat accurate; I am very open to suggestions.