In praise of dances of defiance...
I've been watching Yoshitsune for a while. I've posted about it way back when I started it, but yes, I've been watching it on and off since. Mainly because while yes, the story is very cool (rebels! brothers fighting to the death! beautiful dancer devoted to the hero! Takizawa Hideaki shirtless and with long hair!), it's also a taiga drama, which means it's 49 episodes long, and has a lot (and I mean A LOT) men with odd hats and varying amounts of facial hair discussing the inns-and-outs of Japanese politics. That gets a bit tiring in too many doses.
But anyway, ostensibly Yoshitsune is a detailed retelling of the story of the famous warrior and hero who helped win the Genpei war and establish his older brother as the founder of the Kamakura shogunate. Unluckily for Yoshitsune, his older brother was not keen on having a famous, powerful, and idolized younger sibling, and ended up hunting Yoshitsune down. Pretty nifty story, right?
But I am afraid I am watching this drama for several very specific things only:
* Takizawa Hideaki with long hair, sword, armor, and angst (and he has plenty to angst about: his father figure killed his real father, his brother turns against him, the woman he loves gets kidnapped, all his friends and followers get killed, and oh yeah, he gets betrayed and defeated). Life sucks if you are Yoshitsune, but luckily for us, Takki angsts beautifully. I have always found him one of the most gorgeous jdrama guys, but here he is pretty smoking, especially when he angstily washes himself with greats gobs of water.
* Swordfights. They are pretty great.
* Yoshitsune and Shizuka's (his OTP) parting in the snow. There snow hats, burning stares, flute-sharing, and voiceover which informs those of us who are not already versed with the legend that this was their last meeting ever.
And this brings me to my favorite thing about Yoshitsune: Shizuka's dance. I knew of it (I read up on the history/legends beforehand) and I spent most of the drama waiting for it. Because this is basically the most badass heroine thing I have seen in a very very long time and it makes me glee and want to give her a medal. She is captured by Yoshitsune's evil (and unattractive) older brother, and after trying in vain to get her to reveal her lover's position with her all defiant, he finds out she is pregnant and orders the child to be killed if it's a boy, which it is. (For the rest of the drama, whenever he or his wife appeared on screen I was yelling 'Babykiller' at them, so it's a good thing nobody else was home). Then he decides to have a bit of entertainment. Since Shizuka was a famous temple dancer, why not have her perform for the entertainment of himself and his court. I mean, she can help him relax from the strenuous duties of killing her baby and hunting the man she loves.
Well, Shizuka does dance in front of the court, singing all about Yoshitsune's awesomeness. In your face, evil shogun! You go, awesome girl!
Yoshitsune angsts for lost Shizuka. As a sign of his angst he wears a weird rectangle on his head:
It's Shizuka's first time face-to-face with the Shogun:
She is totally fearless, yay!
Her baby gets stolen and killed and she wakes up to find it gone.
The narrator (who is way overpresent in this drama) has never met a dramatic moment he didn't want to make more dramatic as we cut from Shizuka to Yoshitsune who doesn't know about the baby...
After it all, she agrees to perform at a shrine dedication and her song is intercut with Yoshitsune fighting for his life. Yoshitsune is still wearing the hat of emo.
Mrs. BABY KILLER!!!!!!!!!!!!
Their true love is expressed in their matching awful taste in hats.
Yes. More defiance and some pretty heavy-handed symbolism with falling autumn leaves and those same leaves the only spots of color in Yoshitsune's fight scene.
In case we didn't get it:
Oh yeah, and in the end? She dies. This is a cheerful drama where every last character I like dies and the characters I loathe the most get a happy ending...
So yes, my main reason for watching (in addition to the above defiance stuff) is basically this:
I found a board where people were complaining about pretty pretty cast. Clearly, taiga lovers and I are very different demographics. Pretty pretty people were the only reason I picked something 49 episodes long and with funny hats. Otherwise, I'd just reread the translation of the Chronicle of Yoshitsune I bought some time ago. I am in this purely for the visuals, and I don't mean the court robes.
Unfortunately Yoshitsune never got quite to the below state of ogleable undress.
How very sad.