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Japan, July 1853. Scores of people lined the beaches at Uraga Harbor near the Shogunate Capitol of Edo. They came to get a glimpse of the American Fleet of Commodore Perry's infamous Black Ships that arrived on Japan's shores to deliver an ultimatum to open the country from 250 years of Isolation. Among them a is an impressionable low ranking Samurai & fencing instructor named Kondo Isami (Katori Shingo) and another low ranking Samurai turned Medicine peddler & playboy Hijikata Toshizou (Yamamoto Koji) who were both frightened and awed by the sight of such military might that has sent the country into crisis. Together, they will join with the young sword progeny Okita Soji (Fujiwara Tatsuya) who will join a group of ronin that will head to the Imperial Capitol in Kyoto to help preserve order for the Shogun. Betrayed by their initial leader in Kyoto, factions of ronin form and alliances are forged into what became the Shinsengumi; The Special Elite Corps. Under the auspicious of the ...Written by
Louis E. Rosas
I have to watch "Shinsengumi" in a Japanese-language course I'm taking right now. And what a horrifically made series is this.
First of all, that music is so ridiculous-- it's even more out of place than the head-scratching ragtime score to Woody Allen's dismal "Sleeper." Then, you have "introductory captions"-- little messages that pop up on the screen to tell you who's who. Unfortunately, if you're watching this subtitled in English, you're just plum out of luck if you can't read kanji. Third, the performances are frightful, lacking the marks of any direction or useful information whatsoever!
But fourth, the most ridiculous thing about this series is the footage used for the "Black Ships" scenes where Kondo Isami and the others are looking on the decks of the American ships. They're all in black and white, except for the American flag, and look like they've been pulled from some abominable silent comedy.
There's really nothing to enjoy about "Shinsengumi!" except for the period details (the hair, the costumes, etc.). But for a Japanese history lesson, pull out a textbook before resorting to a humiliating mess like this.
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