Monday, March 1, 2021

Age of Samurai - Battle For Japan

Any kind of interesting historical documentary is something that appeals to me especially when it seeks to educate me in a scholarly way about the Age of the Samurai in ancient Japan. The mid to late 1500s was a time of near constant civil wars as powerful warlords cut a bloody path through the countryside as clan fought clan until one would emerge supreme and unify the entire country of Japan. It's an amazing story that deserves to be told and in six parts Netflix has done that.

The show consists mostly of talking heads and experts of this period in Japanese history telling the story of the main players and the significant battles that lead to unification. The history lesson is accompanied by historical re-enactments that are sometimes repetitive but still compelling. This show is not designed to tell us a history of the Samurai only how they were used by powerful men to fight battles that left rivers of blood in their wake. 

That choice is deliberate and so in the style which shows ALOT of battlefield re-enactment combat with swords and horses and beheadings in misty forests by mostly stunt crews who seems to play many different dead soldiers in each battle. It saved a ton of money doing it this way but I can see where a six hour binge would get boring. I watched one of these a day and was totally immersed in the epic saga.

I also got to like each of the Historians who tell the story of the time with their own individual teaching flourishes. It really shows the power a good teacher has to spark the imagination by the story they can weave. My favorite old guy describes gruesome hand to hand killing zones and hills of heads with an almost morbid glee, but damn, he can teach me history any damn day of the week.

The actors playing the main warlords and significant players speak few lines and do a long of glowering and drinking and reading messages and of course killing their rivals in the most brutal ways possible. This time also introduced muskets to the battlefield along with the traditional Samurai weapons. The ones who embraced the future and could outthink their foes often won them the day. Fortune always favors the bold.

This one is like one of your favorite University courses where you had to show up to class everyday and pay attention and in the end get rewarded with information about a place and a time that is interesting and deserves it's story to be told.

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