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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Movie Review: Ooku: Eien Emonnosuke Tsunayoshi-hen


"Ooku: Eien Emonnosuke Tsunayoshi-hen" ("The Castle of Crossed Destinies") - released Dec. 22, 2012

The second movie continues to where the tv series left off.  Tsunayoshi Tokugawa is now grown up and the current ruler of Japan. She's the daughter of first woman shogun, Iemetsu. And in keeping up with the tradition she has an ooku to ensure the succession and the future of the kingdom. The people have now accepted their different roles in the society. The government is run by women while men are treated like commodities. The shogun and the men of ooku have also accepted their duties faithfully without question. And to play their designated roles the politics inside the ooku has been cunning more than ever. For MATURE audience only.

 First a little...okay a long backstory. I was flipping through channels and for a split second an image flashed and I had this feeling that it was a scene from Ooku. And when I switched it back, it really was! But it was about 20 minutes away to the end. So I just watched  the dramatic ending without knowing what transpired on almost the entire movie. I checked the schedule for Screen Red Asia and guess what it won’t be airing again for the entire December. I’ve been looking for the subs for years! I mentally noted myself to check again on January and thank Kamisama it will be shown thrice! So I marked the calendar and waited for the fateful day. It was Sunday and the last day before the start of the classes from the holiday. I had to bring my sons to the barber shop for haircut. But the queue was long, I guess everybody had the same idea as me to had their sons get their haircut on the last day of the vacation. They've just sat on the chairs by the time the movie started so I had to call my eldest son to record the movie. I think I missed the first 20 minutes.  I feel so frustrated that I’ve watched the ending first, then the middle part after several weeks and the opening scene last. 

When I watched the ending I thought it was Arikoto of the TV series. I thought it was disturbing that he fell in love with Iemetsu's daughter. I only found out that it was a different character when I've watched the second time. I should have figured it out earlier since Keishoin was really old. Arikoto should have looked way older than him. I wonder if Arikoto and Emonnosuke really looked the same in the manga. I also wonder if the manga also left out the present shogun from the first movie. Not to confuse the timelines, watch the Ooku movie, then the TV drama,  Ooku ~Tanjou~Arikoto Iemitsu Hen and then this movie. If you have seen the TV series the tragic element shouldn't come as a surprise. But this is me now saying this after forgetting and then reliving the tragedy. Check out the Ooku tags for my other reviews.   

I'm not sure how historically accurate the costumes are but all through out the franchise, the elaborate design which affects how they walked fascinated me. The kicking of the shogun’s robes so as not to stumble and the sharp shoulder and uber long pants for the men which makes me wonder how they can walk on that.  It forces them to walk elegantly and look stupid at the same time. But they have all the time in the world to make themselves beautiful and to take their time savoring each step. After all, it’s a never-ending walk of pageantry of consort, candidates, and concubines. It’s a neverending walk inside there own prison-like existence. I can’t imagine a life being kept in the confines. They’re all prisoners of their destinies that they can’t get out of.

This is reverse harem in a literal and truest essence. Harem is a forbidden place for men and where all the wives and concubines are housed. With the reversal of the genders, the lady shogun has a place locked up with thousand men for her beck and call. This is not the cute or romantic reverse harem stories that we're used to. It's harsh and if not for the beautiful writing it would have been simply smut. What’s more awkward was that the opening scene had a chamber scene and it was my son recording that scene for me. I love the direction and the atmosphere. The characters are wearing in masks inside their own flamboyant world.    

I already mentioned this before but the lead actor and actress dated after the filming and eventually registered for marriage. The movie also reunited Sakai Masato and Jun Kaname of reverse harem jdrama, Himitsu Hanazono. Jun Kaname also starred in another reverse harem drama, Atashinchi no Danshi

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