ANNOUNCEMENTS


Currently watching: Bloody Monday

ON-HOLD: The Secret Message - due to lack of subtitles

Cypsis Blog has an official Facebook page too! Click here and hit the like button to receive review announcements, everydayish talk and more on Facebook!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Byakkotai (2007)


Country: Japan
Format: movie in 2 episodes
Genre: historical
Cast: Yamashita Tomohisa, Tanaka Koki, Fujigaya Taisuke, Kuroki Meisa, Higashiyama Noriyuki, Kobayashi Nenji, Yakushimaru Hiroko, Nogiwa Yoko, Takashima Masanobu, Ito Shiro, Ito Kazue, Matsuo Toshinobu, Takuma Takayuki, Nishihara Aki, Ishiguro Hideo, Saito Shota, Sakimoto Hiromi, Tomita Sho, Hashizume Ryo, Matsushige Yutaka, Masu Takeshi, Kikawada Masaya, Tsutsui Mariko, Iida Kisuke, Yamada Meikyo, Hirooka Yuriko, Kanno Rio, Matoba Koji, Nakagoshi Noriko, Ida Kunihiko, Namiki Shiro, Okayama Hajime, Sakai Toshiya, Ishimaru Kenjiro, Bengal, Asano Yuko, Musaka Naomasa, Watanabe Ikkei, Kataoka Tsurutaro, Wakamura Mayumi, Wakui Emi,
Synopsis: Sakai Shintaro and Shinoda Yusuke are descendants of Byakkotai samurais. In order to escape from Shintaro's grandmother, they go to Aizu where grandfather sends them into Byakkotai Memorial Hall. In their mind they travel back to years 1868 to 1869 when Japan had Boshin war - war were special force of 340 boys of 16-17 years old fought for their lives.
Rating: 3/5
It is a re-make of 1986 movie - so I think it looks exactly the same. Most of the things that happen in the movie are based on true life events.


Yamashita Tomohisa plays the lead role of Sakai Shintaro and Sakai Mineji. Shintaro is like most of
the problematic teenagers nowadays - skipping school, being arrogant, smoking. That all is the reason why his grandmother is very disappointed in him and his parents. Sakai Mineji is (if I did the calculations right)  Shintaro's grandfather's grandfather - have no idea why his grandmother was so hyped up about it. Mineji has grown up with the knowing that he is going to sacrifice his life to protect Aizu and the daimyo, which in a matter of fact is due his sick mother who repeatedly tells him to go die with dignity. I do feel that they have made a big mistake with Mineji's age, because during the war he is said to be 16-17, but if we do calculations they mention in the movie, then he should have been 12-13 when he brought his mother up to the mountains!
Well, I doubt that any boy at that age would be so strong. I always thought that the movie takes place within few years, so that he is already in the start of the movie 15-16, but no - and fortunately/unfortunately Yamashita Tomohisa at age 22 (as he was when it was filmed) is not able to play 10 years younger! Of course, it is explainable when we think that almost the whole story was recreation in Shintaro's and Yusuke's mind, where they changed themselves with their descendants. Mineji reminds me of a puppy who desperately still loves his owner no matter how cold the owner is - that is exactly what describes his feelings to his mother.

I cried my eyes out for Tanaka Koki roles. In 21st century his character is Yusuke, who is rather carefree and lazy, but in history he plays Shinoda Gisaburo. I read about the Aizu war before watching it so I was a bit frightened and curious if they are going to follow it all the way. But in the movie, Gisaburo was my favorite character. He has one of a kind mother who was not afraid to tell her real thoughts and show how much she loves him. He also has a side story with Sayoko - niece of artillery teacher. One of the rules boys had to follow was not to speak outside with a woman who is not their mother or sister. The bright outlook of the movie comes when seeing the boys developing feelings and curiosity for girls and those single times they are acting like teenagers. I had all my body crossed wishing to see Gisaburo and Sayoko together.

Fujigaya Taisuke plays the role of Ito Matahachi - a friend of Mineji and Gisaburo. I admit that for a
minute I already forgot what happened to him in the end, but right before hitting "call to Yanne", I remembered. Matahachi was almost as just an extra friend to bring out most of Mineji's thoughts when they all were together - believe me, there is a lot that Mineji would be unable to say without him. Sadly he does not play a bigger part, because he is left to be side character.

Sayoko represents the female force who fought in order to protect Aizu in the last hope. Sayoko was better at gunnery than most of Byakkotai members. Compared to most of women, the female force consisted of physically and mentally strong women, who cared less about the common rules that boys had to follow. Sayoko's character is really refreshing in the movie, because she really likes to tease boys - have you ever heard that if you get bitten by a dog, you must suck out the POISON from the wound? I do understand when we are dealing with a poisonous snake, but no - it's a freaking dog bite. I was surprised that they did not bring in Yamamoto Yaeko or Yamakawa Futaba who both fought in Aizu war, but Sayoko's story did remind a bit Nanako Takeko who in Aizu war was shoot with a bullet and asked her sister to cut off her head and save it from the enemy.

Mineji's mother is one character who I did dislike. She was so damn annoying with giving the cold
shoulder all the time that it made me furious. What kind of mother asks her son to go to the certain death? I understand that it was the different way of thinking then, but I think that compared to other mothers she was already crossing the line.

Last character who is worth explaining is daimyo Matsudaira Katamori. He has to make the most important decisions in the war. He tries his best to avoid the physical conflict with enemy, but it is difficult when allies suddenly point their guns at them. He has many advisers, but most of them are concerned about daimyo's honor, which at that time was the most important to them. The sad fact is that he understand that his adviser Tanomo was actually right really late. Matsudaira Katamori is played by Higashiyama Noriyuki and he reminded me that I seriously should learn all older Johnny's faces and names by heart. If you do not know then he is from Shounentai.     

I was amazed how they almost made it look like a documentary film. Of course there is no written
evidence (on internet) of everyday life and feelings of Byakkotai solders (about Sakai Mineji and Shinoda Gisaburo lives), because there are a lot of things film-makers usually add to make it more appealing to wider audience, but the actual course of war is well conveyed. I think it is the biggest amount of seppuku's in one movie that I have seen.. okey maybe "47 Ronin" had just as much.
It is a great movie for people who are also interested in Japanese history, because most of the action is about war. But I should inform you to turn off the speakers in the end of the episodes, because "You raise me up" in English is not suitable song to end movie about Boshin war. It was the second biggest mistake after the age stuff. 

No comments:

Post a Comment