Komyo Ga Tsuji <功名が辻>

The 45th NHK taiga drama tells the story of Chiyo, the wife of Yamauchi Kazutoyo, a general from the Sengoku period who served under Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and later Tokugawa Ieyasu. As one of the generals that survived the turbulent era, Kazutoyo later became the Lord of Tosa (Tosa-no-kami) on the island of Shikoku, replacing its previous lord, Chosokabe Motochika. As Kazutoyo’s wife, Chiyo supported his husband’s rise from a mere soldier to a lord of a castle and later the ruler of Tosa.

Although not as famous as Maeda Toshiie and his wife Matsu (see also the NHK series Toshiie to Matsu), the rise of Kazutoyo was described as full of hardship, starting his rise with merely two loyal vassals: Goto Kichibei (Takeda Tetsuya) and Sofue Shinemon (Maeda Gin). In the movie, Kazutoyo believed that he owed his success to his loyal wife, Chiyo. To have her on his side unlocked his fortune and brought him luck and successes.

Described as lively and intelligent, Chiyo was told in the series to have influenced most of Kazutoyo’s key decisions throughout his carreer. One of them was his decision to side with Tokugawa Ieyasu at the Battle of Sekigahara. Her intelligence impressed both Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and later Tokugawa Ieyasu. Of course, all these might not necessarily historically accurate, but at least that is what the series implied.

Cast as Chiyo is Nakama Yukie. She played as both Yae and Koto in NHK’s other taiga series Musashi, and most recently, her role as Yamaguchi Kumiko in Gokusen. Kamikawa Takaya played as Yamauchi Kazutoyo, while Kagawa Teruyuki played as Rokuheita, a shinobi loyal to Chiyo. Teruyuki played as Toyotomi Hideyoshi in Toshiie to Matsu and Ukita Hideie in Aoi Tokugawa Sandai. Veteran actor Tsugawa Masahiko filled the role as Chiyo’s uncle Fuwa Ichinojo. Masahiko was the lead actor in Aoi Tokugawa Sandai, playing as Tokugawa Ieyasu. From the same Aoi series, Nishida Toshiyuki played as Tokugawa Ieyasu. Reprising his role in Toshiie to Matsu as Maeda Toshiie, Karasawa Toshiaki appeared in several late episodes of Komyo ga Tsuji. Other notable casts are Emoto Akira (Toyotomi Hideyoshi), Asano Yuko (Nene/One), and Hasegawa Kyoko as Hosokawa Tama or Gracia.

Despite a solid cast, the story was less interesting when compared to Toshiie to Matsu’s, probably the result of being heavily focusing on the relationship between Chiyo and Kazutoyo throughout most of the series. The emotional side was also easily beaten out by the one seen on Atsu-Hime. Regardless of the weakness in the storyline, the performances from the cast were enough to balance it out, making it enjoyable to watch, especially Nakama Yukie who was well chosen as Chiyo, as perfect as Matsushima Nanako was chosen as Matsu.

As a whole, I give the series an 8.5 out of 10 after weighing other factors such as the set and the music.

Directed by Ozaki Mitsunobu
Based on the original writing Komyo ga Tsuji by Shiba Ryotaro
Starring: Nakama Yukie, Kamikawa Takaya, Takeda Tetsuya, Maeda Gin, Hamada Manabu, Kagawa Teruyuki, Hasegawa Kyoko, Emoto Akira, Asano Yuko, Tachi Hiroshi, Tsutsui Michitaka, Nishida Toshiyuki.
Broadcast period: January 8th 2006 – December 10th 2006.
IMDB Rating: 8.6

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