Wednesday, December 19, 2012

大河ドラマ American Mishima looks at Princess Go of the Warring States Period

When it comes to historical dramas, nobody compares to NHK Taiga Dramas. To sit through and watch some 46+ hours of drama takes time and alot of effort that we at American Mishima must make in order to write articles such as these to share with you the remarkable world of NHK Taiga Dramas. Thanks to our man Eddie over at JapaneseSamuraiDVD we were able to watch the 2011 50th NHK Taiga Drama Go: Hime-Tachi no Sengoku shown here as Princess Go. Go: Hime-Tachi no Sengoku (The Princess of the Warring States) tells the story of a most remarkable outspoken princess named Oeyo or Ogo who really lived during the height of the Sengoku Jidai – The Warring States Period of Japan from 1573 to September 1626. The series is narrated by Go-hime's mother Lady Ichi (Honami Suzuki) who was the sister of the powerful warlord Oda Nobunaga (Etsushi Toyokawa) who sent Lady Ichi to marry into the Azai Clan to marry Azai Nagamasa to serve as Oda Nobunaga's eyes and ears. 
But of course, just as our own everyday lives today in the Heisei Period, life then too had other plans. Lady Ichi and Nagamasa fall in love and have two daughters born Cha-Cha and Hatsu. But soon their idealyc life is disrupted by war. The Azai are drawn into obligation to support the Asakura Clan whom the Azai have had deep alliances with who are now at war with the powerful Oda Clan. Having chosen to honor the Asakura, Nagamasa finds himself under seige by the Oda's vassals the Toyotomi which during this time Lady Ichi gives birth to Princess Go.
Go is born into this world during the siege of Odami Castle. Her father Azai Nagamasa having defied Oda Nobunaga is defeated by Oda's trusted general Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Goro Kishitani) and sends Lady Ichi and her three daughters Cha-cha (Miyazawa Rie), Hatsu (Mizukawa Asami), & infant Go whose lives have been spared to go live with their uncle Oda Nobunaga. Princess Go (Juri Uneo) will grow to be an outspoken princess who unlike her older sisters bears no malice towards her uncle Oda Nobunaga who she grew to admire and it is her Uncle Nobunaga himself who gives her his advice “To only believe in yourself,” a motto she will grow to live by. 
Through her uncle Nobunaga, Go is given access to some of the most powerful warlords of the Warring States Period. But when her uncle Oda Nobunaga is betrayed by his vassal Akechi Mistuhide (Masachika Ichimura) during the Honno-ji Incident in 1582, Go's world is uprooted once again by the man Oda Nobunaga named “Saru” or monkey known as Toyotomi Hideyoshi because of his monkey like mannerisms.
Under the rule of the Toyotomi, Lady Ichi and her three daughters are sent away to marry Oda's trusted rough looking yet stout General Katsui “Oni” Shibata (played by Yasuo Daichi),” Life in Echigo is harsh in the cold winters of Kitanoshō castle but in the short time Go learns to accept her new step father.
 As soon life became bearable, the battle for who would succeed Oda Nobunaga places Shibata at war with “Saru” Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Once again Lady Ichi and her three daughters are trapped in a castle under siege by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the very man her uncle sent to destroy her father Nagamasa. And just like before, the call to spare Lady Ichi and her three daughters is given quarter. But having fallen in love with Shibata, Lady Ichi refuses to go and instead chooses to make her last stand with her second husband Shibata entrusting eldest daughter Cha-cha to take care of her siblings and for middle daughter Hatsu to bring Go and Cha-cha together. This was her final wish before Lady Ichi joined Shibata in the burning confines of their castle and perished together. 
The loss of Lady Ichi devastates the three sisters and disgusts them to be in “Saru's” care to whom knowing he had lusted after Lady Ichi and now turned that lust to her eldest daughter Cha-Cha to whom on her death Lady Ichi warns Saru not to lay his hands on her. Of course, Saru ignores their sufferings and tries to buy the three grieving sisters off with beautiful kimono and the luxuries only a precious few outside of Kyoto would know at that time. While sister Hatsu has easily accepted Saru's gifts of sweets and colorful new Kimono, Cha-Cha and Go resist. More so Go's anger is unleashed on Saru who see's in her the face of his angry Lord Nobunaga to whom he still feared even in death.
To rid himself of Nobunaga's ghost he sends Go who is still a teenager to marry Saji Kazunari but the marriage is short lived as Toyotomi changes his mind after 30 days ordering her divorced and back to Osaka Castle. 
Having endured much at the hands of Saru, Go seeks the solace of the famed great tea master Rikyu a favorite of Oda Nobunaga who is now forced to make tea for Hideyoshi until death. 
But as Toyotomi's schemes become more despicable it becomes apparent to Go he has been getting help from his trusted Toyotomi Vassal Ishida Mitsunari (played by Masato Hagiwara) who plots against Rikyu who is later forced to commit seppeku. 
For this Go will never forgive Hideyoshi who plans to marry her off again to his nephew Toyotomi Hidekatsu who oddly enough is a match made in heaven. Anything to keep the ghost of Nobunaga at bay so Saru can get his monkey paws on Cha-cha right? 
Well after failing to attain the position of Shogun, Toyotomi goes for the position of Regent in a move to control Japan. Lustful intent for Cha-Cha and unlimited power corrupts Hideyoshi to wage war in Korea and once again sends Go's husband away causing her pain. 
Hidekatsu fights a dreadful war in Korea and dies in there shortly after Go gives birth to her daughter Sada. This is yet another instance that Go will hold Toyotomi Hideyoshi for. Meanwhile, Go's sister Hatsu has fallen in love but can not marry without Saru's permission. Hideyoshi's terms is to force Cha-Cha to become his concubine. 
Still like that Toyotomi Hideyoshi? This is yet another unforgivable attempt by Hideyoshi to destroy Go. Seeing Hatsu happy Cha-cha sacrifices herself to become Lady Yodo and doing what her mother Lady Ichi objected to. Go becomes even more infuriated with Hideyoshi who she still calls by her uncle Oda Nobunaga's demeaning moniker for Toyotomi Hideyoshi: Saru. 
No matter what Saru does, he can not get past Go's anger and the memory of his old Lord who he still see's in her eyes. In a move to rid himself of this problem, Hideyoshi arranges with Tokugawa Ieyasu for Go to marry his son Hidetada (played by Osamu Mukai) who is six years her junior and is heir to the Tokugawa family. An age difference that Hidetada is more than happy to remind her of. 
But before Go is to depart for Edo Mitsunari prompts Hideyoshi to order Go's daughter Sada to stay behind at Osaka Castle because she is a Toyotomi. This brings more hardship to Go at the hands of her parents harbinger of death Toyotomi Hideyoshi is is now old and eccentricly doting on his son with Lady Yodo Toyotomi Hideyori who Hideyoshi instills as Regent and himself as Grand Regent. Remember these events really did happen!
At this point you can't wait for Toyotomi Hideyoshi to kick the bucket and for his conniving henchmen and trusted Toyotomi Vassal Ishida Mitsunari to make a fatal mistake and get what was coming to him. But not so fast! Old Saru had much chaos to inflict upon Lady Ichi's daughters before he left his life which will carry on way past his death to the battle of Sekigahara and through to the Seige of Osaka Castle that will seal the fate of his heir Hideyori and his mother Go's sister Lady Yodo with the destruction of the Toyotomi Clan!
Honestly, I don't how Princess Go survived all this! The ladies of the Warring States Period had to have been some tough women as such indicated by the advice of their mother Lady Ichi when she said "Women must fight their own battles." Meanwhile in Edo Castle both Go and Hidetada face new challenges as they both rise to prominence to survive the political positioning between the powerful Regent Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the emerging power of Ieyasu Tokugawa (Kitaoji Kin'ya) which is solidified after Toyotomi Hideyoshi's death and culminated at the Battle of Sekigahara paving the way for Ieyasu to become the future Shogun in this 2011 50th NHK Taiga Drama brilliantly written by Tabuchi Kumiko who brought you Atsuhime.
Ok if you're not hooked by now there's nothing more I can do but say get your own copy and write your own review! Baka! - Just kidding. Of course we'd like to continue following American Mishima and continue to enjoy these riveting historical dramas from Japan. In America we like to say these aren't your grandma's soap operas but if you are lucky enough to have had an Obachan chances are these are just as good. As with all NHK Taiga Drama's you will be both educated as well as entertained. It may even change your veiw on a few historical figures as this has with us concerning Lord Oda Nobunaga. If you have never seen a Taiga Drama you will become addicted and want more. We can honestly say, Princess Go does not disappoint and has become one of our favorites which we believe will become yours too. Enjoy!
To get your own copy of Princess Go with English Subtitles 
Please visit - You'll be glad you did!

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