14 November 2006 | poikkeus
Epic saga on early Japan
This series aired on Japanese TV in 2005, and set high marks for production design and its captivating story of a failed warrior. While certainly a broad dramatic treatment of actual events, Yoshitshune tells of two brothers separated in wars and feuding, who find that their reconciliation is being used as a political tool.
The supporting roles are what make Yoshitsune work, and given the long list of said roles, this serial is continually fascinating. Watch for pop stars Aya Ueto and Goto Maki in prominent spots, as well as a laundry list of Japanese TV and movie favorites. Mikijiro Hira is wonderfully comical and sinister as the emperor who schemes to use Yoshitsune to further his own taltering grip on power. This serial has been shown to be consistently intriguing - even those who don't feel they'd have much interest in this kind of saga. The battle scenes have been presented with particular care, since the historical Yoshitsune was a master at winning "impossible" battles.
At times, the title character seems almost impossibly virtuous, so it would have been preferable to give the hero subtler shadings of good and evil. Despite this, Yoshitsune refuses to let go of your attention, and nearly every episode has something that gives you a palpable feeling of a Japan long-gone.
With some research, subtitled versions of this drama can be located; it would be worth your time.