Toshiie to Matsu

Karasawa Toshiaki
Matsushima Nanako
Kagawa Teruyuki
Sakai Noriko
Yamaguchi Yuichiro
Amami Yuki
Matsudaira Ken
Sorimachi Takashi
Takenouchi Yutaka

Screenwriter: Takeyama You
Directors: Suzuki Kei, Inoue Go, Sato Mineyo, Iseda Masaya, Kobayashi Takeshi, Motoki Kazuhiro, Tamura Fumitaka, Kajihara Tojo, Tsuchiya Katsuhiro
Music: Watanabe Toshiyuki
Broadcast between January 6th 2002 to December 15th 2002

The 41st of NHK Taiga drama series, Toshiie to Matsu was set during the Sengoku Jidai (Warring States Era). It followed the life of Maeda Toshiie and his devoted wife, Matsu. The series covered a wide range of topics, from love, family values, loyalty, politics, and honor. The couple’s life intersected with the era when Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the early years of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s rule over Japan.

The story began in 1550 just before Toshiie met Matsu, and then it proceeded to him being employed by Oda Nobunaga. Nobunaga’s victory over Imagawa Yoshimoto in 1560 changed the course of Japan into Nobunaga’s favor. Toshiie then met and befriended Kinoshita Tokichiro who would later be known as Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Matsu, on the other hand, forged an eternal bond with O-Ne (Hideyoshi’s wife) and Haru (Sassa Narimasa’s wife). After his father’s death, Toshiie’s brother Toshihisa became the head of Maeda family, but later was forced by Nobunaga to be replaced by Toshiie.

Years passed, but Toshiie’s advancement has been very slow compared to his two other friends Hideyoshi and Narimasa. Only in 1575 Toshiie was finally made daimyo by Nobunaga. Meanwhile, Nobunaga’s power rose dramatically, but as we all know it, in a most upsetting event in history (at least that’s what I think), Akechi Mitsuhide betrayed Nobunaga, and this triggered the rise of Hideyoshi.

After a series of unfortunate events involving former Nobunaga’s vassals, Hideyoshi finally rule Japan. This, however, came at the price that Toshiie must see the fall of his friends like Shibata Katsuie and Sassa Narimasa. Tokugawa Ieyasu, in the meantime, remained waiting the chance to rise to power.

The series ended just after Hideyoshi’s death in 1598. By then, Maeda clan had became one powerful clan in Japan. Their only rival was only Tokugawa clan. After Toshiie’s death, Tokugawa Ieyasu seized his long-awaited opportunity and became shogun. Matsu died much, much later in 1614. Until the end, Matsu’s role in preserving the Maeda clan had been a remarkable one. If accurately portrayed by the series, I believe she was the most powerful woman that Japan ever had (but this is just my opinion).

From every angle, Toshiie and Matsu excelled by a wide margin against other Taiga dramas that I’ve ever seen, also against other TV series that I’ve ever seen. The story was great, successfully mixing history and drama with some political issues thrown in. Acting was also brilliant. So many emotionally touching scenes made this a powerful series. The details in production was also remarkable, making me felt like watching the real events. I also have the original soundtrack which, I believe, was also beautifully composed. Although I never take into account the music, Toshiie to Matsu’s music made those emotional scenes more powerful.

Casting was also great. Matsushima Nanako was exceptionally perfect in her portrayal of Matsu. Also, I like this series’ portrayal of Oda Nobunaga than the one at King of Zipangu. Sorimachi Takashi, in this series portrayed Nobunaga as a mix of harsh, decisive, yet charismatic character. Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s portrayal by Kagawa Teruyuki was also better in Toshiie to Matsu. Essentially, the overall cast was impressive.

Just like other Taiga drama series, at the end of each episode we are shown some historical places in Japan tied to the respective episode. Definitely a great way to promote tourism, I must say. I am mostly impressed by how Japan really preserving these historical sites.

Finally, I believe for all its worth, Toshiie to Matsu deserved a perfect 10.0. I’m not biased here, because it wasn’t the only Taiga drama that I’ve seen. Right now, I’m still watching other series like Atsu-Hime, Fuurin Kazan, Hojo Tokimune, and Yoshitsune, but at a glance, Toshiie to Matsu was better than the others.

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