A Conversation for Miyamoto Musashi and Tomoe Gozen - Samurai Warriors
Musashi on TV end elsewhere
Tatsuya Started conversation Mar 30, 2002
Musashi has been selected as the subject of next year's (2003) NHK 'Taiga Drama' (roman fleuve).
Each year NHK (the Japanese state broadcaster) produces a massive-budget period drama series of 50 45-minute episodes, filmed in HDTV (in fact now filmed in Stereo HDTV, in case they ever get around to inventing 3D TV sets, I'm told), with lavish costumes and sets produced by traditional methods (they send the costumes on tours of museums when they've finished). These dramas pull off average viewing figures of 20 to 30% depending on the year.
Last year we had the life of Hojo Tokimune, who fought off Ghengis Khan's attempts to invade Japan [for conspiracy theorists: a state broadcaster's timely brainwashing of the Japanese public into believing the importance of being well re-armed]. This year we have the soggy love story of Toshiie and Matsu; Maeda Toshiie was the right-hand man of Oda Nobunaga [and Matsu was his right-hand woman, is the proposition]. (see A663059 for more on both Hojo and Nobunaga). You can a really brief idea of what these productions are like from http://www.nhk.or.jp/taiga/ykkrm/index.html where there is a 20s RealMedia trailer posted each week.
But next year we have Musashi. As usual though, the drama is going to be based on the ficticious biography by Yoshikawa Eiji, which is a pity, since NHK might just have had the budget and the clout to set the record straight if they'd tried. Anyway, there's a picture of the actor (and a press release in Japanese) at http://www.nhk.or.jp/drama/news/news0201a.html#musashi ; looks like he can do 'unkempt' well enough for the part.
NHK also do a daily 15 minute 'TV serialised novel' shown in the mornings. Its a kind of soap opera, but it only lasts six months. The lead part is always a heroine. And from October 2000 to March 2001 the topic was ... the life of a film/TV clapper-girl-becoming-actress-becoming-director who takes part in several productions of ... Musashi (and the trials and tribulations of selecting the best actor for the part of Musashi, and who should play Kojiro, and whether she should sleep with Musashi or Kojiro or the clapper boy or the producer or all four etc.).
Which I hope helps to illustrate that the guy really is all-pervasive in Japan. Although sadly its always Musashi as invented by Yoshikawa. In fact, I've met many Japanese who have forgotten Musashi wrote the Book of Five Rings and think he is an entirely fictional character. Musashi is not alone in suffering from the Yoshikawa treatment mind you; this will be the fifth Taiga Drama to have been based on his work.
Yoshikawa's work has also been turned into a comic many times, but there is a particularly good work in progress at present, 'Vagabond', which is available in English too! So for more on Musashi, try http://www.viz.com/products/series/vagabond/index.html
And who knows, by 2003, maybe NHK will be delivering not just the trailer but the whole programme as streaming media over the web with English subtitles. Oh look, a flying pig.
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