Sunday, 4 November 2012

Taira no Kiyomori ep 43: Shanaō became Yoshitsune



Shanaō (Kamiki Ryunosuke) became Yoshitsune, ep 43

TNK ep 43 opened this week with Narichika asking Shigemori to beg Kiyomori to spare his life in the aftermath of the Shishigatani Incident last week. We also have Lady Tokiwa for the first time after more than 10 episodes, as well as Shanaō and Benkei, plus Yoritomo and Masako (of course!). Regulars like Kiyomori himself and the two-faced Go-Shirakawa were always there. Someone got sick, and someone would die in ep 44. Below is the NHK summary:

Narichika, who has been exiled by Kiyomori, dies from starvation. Shigemori becomes worn down by the passing of his brother-in-law and from the considerations shown for the cloistered Emperor Go-Shirakawa. Around the same time, Kiyomori learns of Tokuko’s pregnancy and prays for the safe delivery of the baby. Tokuko finally gives birth to a boy, the son of Emperor Takakura, who later becomes known as Emperor Antoku. In izu, Yoritomo and Masako are trying to get permission for their marriage from Masako's father Tokimasa.

By the way, I made a mistake in ep 42 last week. I said that Narichika was beaten several times by Kiyomori. Well, I was so wrong. Narichika was arrested and exiled (because of Shigemori’s plea), while the monk Kiyomori beaten to his death was Saiko. I’ve fixed ep 42 with this new info. So in ep 43, since Shigemori failed to bail out Narichika, the latter somehow died in exile due to starvation. It was a sorry scene which I chose to ignore (and browsed the net instead), for it was rather gruesome. 



Yoritomo finally received Tokimasa's blessings in marrying Masako

After some Heike scenes (involving Go-Shirakawa shouting and crying), I perked up again when the scene switched to the Genji. Hōjō Masako (Watanabe Anne) returned to the Hōjō residence, where her anxious father Hōjō Tokimasa (Endo Kenichi) asked where the hell she had been. Casually, Masako smiled and stated that she would not marry Yamaki Kanetaka. She would marry Minamoto no Yoritomo instead. At that time, Yoritomo (Okada Masaki) and Tō Kuro (Tsukamoto Takashi) entered the yard. Yoritomo kneeled in a charming position (at least to me, hehe) and proposed to marry Masako. Of course Tokimasa objected, at least at first. He said something about Yae-hime, Yoritomo's starcrossed lover (perhaps along the line of what if Masako end up having Yae-hime's fate?). But with the persistence of Masako, Yoritomo’s insurance that he needed Masako in his life, and also Tō Kuro’s help (the loyal aide said something with the help of a watermelon (??), Tokimasa’s heart melted at last. He cried as he grabbed Yoritomo’s hands and granted his proposal. Yoritomo smiled big time and exchanged look with the equally excited Masako.

Yoritomo (Okada Masaki) smiling after his marriage proposal was granted, ep 43
The scene changed to Shanaō (Ushiwakamaru or Yoshitsune). There is a reason why I don’t call him Yoshitsune yet this time. I realised that the real name of Yoritomo’s half brother was Ushiwakamaru (see also Yoshikawa Eiji’s ‘Minamoto no Yoritomo). Shanaō was his name when he joined the Kurama Temple. However, Shanaō did not want to become a monk. After meeting Benkei and learning about his true nature (that he was the son of Minamoto no Yoshitomo etc), Shanaō made up his mind to quit the monastery. 

Lady Tokiwa could not accept her son's decision to fight the Heike


In this scene, Shanaō met his mother Lady Tokiwa and told her his intention of leaving the monastery and fighting against Kiyomori. Tokiwa couldn’t allow this to happen and tried to reason with the boy. I guess she used the fact that she surrendered herself to Kiyomori in order to spare Ushiwaka/ Shanaō a gruesome death. Yet, young Shanaō was not deterred. It was during this conversation that Benkei arrived on the scene. The warrior monk was surprised and happy to see Shanaō meeting his mother; clearly Benkei often visited Lady Tokiwa. Shanaō told Benkei what he had told his mother. After realising that he wouldn’t be able to win his mother’s support, Shanaō/Ushiwakamaru took his leave and left the premise. Benkei left Lady Tokiwa as well after stating that it was Shanaō’s destiny (‘sadame’) to raise arms against the Heike. Lady Tokiwa better not stop the boy.

Afterwards, Shanaō (Kamiki Ryunosuke) asked Benkei (Aoki Munetaka) to help him with his own kanmuri (coming-of-age ceremony – see also my review of Yoshikawa Eiji’s book). Shanaō cut his own hair before Benkei tied the rest of his hair inside an eboshi hat he placed on the young man’s head. Then the warrior monk showed Shanaō a piece of paper which had two characters. It seemed that the characters read ‘Yoshitsune’. It was the name Lady Tokiwa had chosen for his son whenever he decided to take his kanmuri. From thereon, Shanaō becomes Yoshitsune. This scene is a very important moment (judging from the sentimental music) for Ushiwaka/ Shanaō /Yoshitsune. The same music was displayed during the moments of Masako and Yoritomo in ep 42. 

I think, after the kanmuri, Yoshitsune went to Oshu with Benkei to the house of Fujiwara Hidehira. He was to perfect his martial art and the art of war with Benkei there.

Meanwhile, at the Court front, Lady Gion (Matsuda Seiko) was ill (due to old age, perhaps) and was visited by Go-Shirakawa (Matsuda Shota). Kiyomori had his grandson born of his second daughter Taira no Tokuko (wife of Norihito). This baby boy would become Child Emperor Antoku, who, during the fall of Heike in the Battle of Dan-no-ura (1885) in Shimonoseki, would die by having his grandmother clasped him in her embrace and jumped into the turbulent water. Kiyomori was super happy about it. However, he would later have an assembly with his clan where the crying Shigemori openly criticised his policy. Father and son were involved in a yelling and crying argument until both gave up on each other.

Ep 44 next week will treat us with Yoritomo’s and Masako’s first daughter called O-hime. When the Genji was bestowed with this happiness, the Heike suffered from a loss due to the death of Taira no Shigemori. It was such a sad event, for Shigemori was a compassionate person who could have prevented bloodshed had he lived to manage the Heike. In addition, at least according to Yoshikawa Eiji’s version, Shigemori was vital in saving both Yoritomo’s and Yoshitsune’s lives when they were arrested by the Heike in the aftermath of the Heiji Rebellion. What a waste. I shall mourn this pacifying figure next week...

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