Sekigahara (film)

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Sekigahara
Directed by Masato Harada
Based on Sekigahara
by Ryōtarō Shiba
Starring
Narrated by Katsumi Kiba
Distributed by Toho, Asmik Ace
Release date
  • August 26, 2017 (2017-08-26)
Running time
150 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Box office ¥2.4 billion[1]

Sekigahara (関ヶ原) is a 2017 jidaigeki Japanese film directed by Masato Harada starring Junichi Okada as Ishida Mitsunari.[2] The film recounts the Battle of Sekigahara, a six-hour battle in 1600 that brought an end to the Warring States era in Japanese history, as well as the political struggles that led up to it.[3] It is an adaptation of the 1966 novel Sekigahara by Ryōtarō Shiba.

Plot[edit]

After brief flash-forwards both to the morning of the battle as well as to the present day, Toyotomi Hideyoshi meets a young temple acolyte, "Sakichi", and recruits him into his service after being impressed with him. Sakichi, who is Ishida Mitsunari, gains wealth and prestige in his new master's service, and eventually is granted a large domain. Hideyoshi unifies most of Japan and takes the title of taikō, but also grows erratic in his old age. He orders a series of expensive invasions of Korea, bankrupting the nobles, and also orders the execution of his heir, the regent, as well as the entire family of his heir, including their women and children. Dismayed at this unjust act, Mitsunari pleads for mercy, but fails to move Hideyoshi's heart. After the maids of the to-be-executed Princess who had been engaged to marry the heir fight back, Mitsunari spares them; admiring their spirit, he recruits one of them, a ninja known as Hatsume, into his service. Mitsunari discusses the matter with his friend Ōtani Yoshitsugu, and also meets the respected samurai Shima Sakon and his wife Hanano. He recruits Sakon into his service as his chief adviser by promising to rule with justice once Hideyoshi passes away.

Intrigues continue at court. Mitsunari offends the wily and powerful lord Tokugawa Ieyasu at a temple. Hideyoshi criticizes the conduct of young warrior Kobayakawa Hideaki in Korea; Tokugawa convinces him afterward that Mitsunari was turning Hideyoshi against him. Tokugawa also recruits a group of hot-headed warriors to his side. Hatsume, by direct spying as well as bribes, keeps Mitsunari informed of Tokugawa's actions; meanwhile, Tokugawa directs his chief spy, "Lady Aacha" / White Snake, to eliminate the spies and ninjas that are keeping Mitsunari informed of his activities. The taikō eventually perishes; Mitsunari orders that the death be covered up while arrangements are made and troops recalled from Korea. Hideyoshi's will complicates matters, as the new heir, a young child, must be moved from Kyoto to Osaka Castle - letting Tokugawa rule over Kyoto uncontested, without the rest of the court there to support the heir. Tokugawa seeks to discredit Mitsunari as a rebel and traitor before moving directly against him; the two prepare dueling complaints to be brought before the Council of Regents over the conduct of close allies. Violence is avoided for the time being by the influence of respected neutral Maeda Toshiie.

The situation worsens after Maeda dies. Mitsunari is forced into retreat; he also confesses his love to Hatsume, despite already having a wife and children. Hatsume promises to meet up with him after a mission, but White Snake, who has already ferreted out several traitors, has her forces ambush Hatsume. She is captured and sold into slavery, and never makes it to Mitsunari's new headquarters. Mitsunari, a nearly blind Ōtani Yoshitsugu, and Shima Sakon work to build an alliance against Tokugawa and in favor of their young heir; Tokugawa builds up his own forces. Tokugawa has the edge, however, of functionally holding the families of various potential Toyotomi-loyalist factions hostage by dint of his control of the capital. Mitsunari hopes for the support of two particularly powerful allies: the Uesugi clan, who can strike the Tokugawa from the North and force them to split their forces, as well as the Mōri clan, powerful Southern lords. However, Tokugawa's allied Iga ninjas makes communication and coordination with the Uesugis difficult, and Mōri Terumoto chooses to remain entrenched in his castle, to the frustration of Mitsunari. He notes that if Tokugawa wins, the Mori lands will likely be reduced anyway as the only reward available for Eastern lords.

Before the battle, Mitsunari declines to take advantage of various tactics he considers as possibly blackening the name of his movement, such as captured of enemy families for hostages, night attacks, or simply remaining entrenched in castles and letting Tokugawa come to him. Various lords on both sides elect to merely observe and wait as the armies, equipped with matchlock rifles and cannon, attack each other at the Sekigahara crossroads. Shima Sakon is shot, and retreats to the battlefield clinic which Hanao, his wife, runs. One of Mitsunari's allied ninjas attempts to assassinate Tokugawa directly, but is stopped by White Snake, and both of them die. As the battle is in the balance, Kobayakawa Hideaki's aides, many of whom actually work for Tokugawa, manipulate his army to support Tokugawa instead; his anguished cries cannot stop his army from helping swing the tide in Tokugawa's favor. Ōtani Yoshitsugu, who was commanding the section where Hideaki attacked, is slain. Mitsunari declines to commit suicide, and instead flees after ensuring that Hanano and other wounded have escaped. Captured, Mitsunari encourages a distraught and sorrowful Kobayakawa Hideaki. He also sees that Hatsume has survived and escaped to see him one final time.

Cast[edit]

The Western Army
The Eastern Army
Others

Reception[edit]

Mark Schilling of The Japan Times awarded the film three stars out of five, finding it alternately exhilarating and confusing. Of the early parts of the film, he wrote "the film buries the uninitiated in a blizzard of information about the era’s politics and personalities, cutting rapidly from scene to scene at a pace meant to be dazzling, but often ends up dizzying" and found the battle sequence "no doubt faithful to the real thing, but somewhat baffling to watch."[4]

The film made ¥2.4 billion (approximately 21.7 million US dollars) in the 2017 Japanese box office.[1]

Awards[edit]

Award ceremony Category Nominee Result
42nd Hochi Film Award Best Supporting Actor Kōji Yakusho Won
30th Nikkan Sports Film Award Best Supporting Actor Won
41st Japan Academy Prize Picture of the Year Sekigahara Nominated
Director of the Year Masato Harada Nominated
Best Film Editing Nominated
Best Actor Junichi Okada Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Kōji Yakusho Nominated
Best Music Harumi Fūki Nominated
Best Cinematography Takahide Shibanushi Won
Best Lighting Direction Takaaki Miyanishi Won
Best Art Direction Tetsuo Harada Nominated
Best Sound Recording Masato Yano Won

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b http://www.eiren.org/toukei/img/eiren_kosyu/data_2017.pdf
  2. ^ "関ヶ原". eiga.com. Retrieved September 12, 2016.
  3. ^ http://www.atimes.com/article/japan-cinema-now-new-spin-epic-battle-japans-future/
  4. ^ "'Sekigahara': A bold attempt to portray one of Japan's most decisive battles". Japan Times.

External links[edit]