Monday, July 24, 2006

Red Shadow

Here's some info on the movie "Red Shadow".

It is sort of a hybrid mix between "Samurai Fiction" and "Azumi" that takes place during the Sengoku period of Japanese history, sometime after the 1540s (because of guns and open trade with the west), and centers around ninja working for the "Togo" clan, which I suspect is a made up clan, although the Kyougoku and Rokkaku clans are probably based on the respective clans. The little ninja team consists of Takenaka Naoto who plays the head ninja - "Shirokage", then you have "Aokage", the goofy and slightly less intelligent ninja, "Akakage", the eventual leader of the ninja clan, and "star" of the movie, and "asuka" - the obligatory female ninja and love interest. Although one has to wonder why she didn't get a "shadow" name like the two guys... Different rules for female ninja, perhaps?

This isn't a "great" movie, but compared to a lot of the recent ninja movies and strange movies that try to be hip and cool (Like the absolutely horrible and painful to watch "Pistol Opera), this is actually pretty good. It has a better than average soundtrack, nutty slapstick humor, good action. Some minor drawbacks are no blood for all that hacking and slashing, and the tossed in romantic comedy aspects (which were actually "cute"), and misplaced drama - the comedy ebbs and flows - you go from brilliant scenese of slapstick comedy to relatively serious scenes, with the only transition being semi-comedic fight action. Overall, far better than averge, good cinematography, with just an overall cool style to it. It comes close to the style of "Samurai Fiction", but is no match. If you want a cool, stylistic movie with interesting characters and a great soundtrack, see "Samurai fiction". However, if you've already seen it, and want more, then try this one out. Hotei Tomoyasu unofficially reprises his role as the big bad ass samurai from "Samurai Fiction" in the first scene - the movie is worth a look for that scene and the "Ninja in the attic" scene alone.

Here are some other reasons you should go out and rent Red Shadow:

Ninja Babes!

Samurai Babes!

Slapstick comedy!

Historically accurate Ninja uniforms!

Hotei Tomoyasu!


Yes, Tanks!

Samurai Action!

Cool bad guys!

Takenaka Naoto!

More Ninja Babes!

Don't just take my word for it - I stumbled on this review, and took the liberty of posting an excerpt here:
If you’ve ever said to yourself, “Gosh, I wish they’d make a modern Ninja! movie with a kickass soundtrack, stylish directing, good-looking stars, lots of cool effects and scary villains to fight, and it should be the Japanese doing it since an American director would only fuck it up,” then Red Shadow is for you.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Some Samurai Movies

This is from a post I made at the Citadel - it seems a waste to let it fade into history, so I'm putting it here, because of how long it took to put together - the movie titles are linked to my reviews on, or the movie page on, or to some other related page. The "Trailer" links obviously go to the trailer:

Twilight Samurai - Trailer

One of those "instant classics" from a few years ago, available in the US with subtitles. Starring Sanada Hiroyuki, from The Last Samurai and "Ringu".

When the Last Sword is Drawn - Trailer

A few very minor plot quibbles aside, I think this was a very engaging story. Just recently released in the US, with subs, starring Nakai Kiichi.


Intentional or not, I thought it was a great homage to Akira Kurasawa's use of Toshiro Mifune, with a big insane battle at the end. Available in the US. I don't know who is in it, but one guy looks just like a Japanese Benicio Del Toro.

At a bar and brothel in Edo, many masterless samurai gather, somehow sensing that the end is near for their way of life. Spending their time drinking and cavorting with the prostitutes, the samurai have lost all purpose in their lives. However, when another group of renegade samurai that have turned to violence and pillaging enter the town, the listless samurai who frequent the bar see a chance to regain their lost honor.

Samurai Fiction - Trailer

This movie was hilarious, sort of a "modern" feel to the classic "samurai" movie. Starring Hotei Tomoyasu as the big bad ass Samurai. Available in the US. There aren't any subs on the trailer, but it should give you an idea of what it is all about.

Ganryujima - original movie page

A very original, re-concepted "Musashi" (as far as I know) with Musashi as a foulmouthed, insane and brutish bully, and Sasaki Kojiro as the upstanding hero - with a hilarious twist ending. I don't think this is available in the US yet. Staring Masahiro Motoki.

Zatoichi - Trailer

A new version of Zatoichi by Kitano "Beat" Takeshi. Entertaining, and with some very strange sequences. Available in the US. Starring Takeshi and Tadanobu Asano from Ichi the Killer.


Sort of a "brokeback mountain" with Samurai and no tender love scenes. Starring Beat Takeshi and Tadanobu Asano. Available in the US.

Azumi - Trailer

Uhhh... a video game / anime brought to life. Read my review and watch the trailer, that will explain it. Entertaining in a novel sort of way. Available in the US.


Friday, July 21, 2006

More New Articles

I'm still working on getting all of my backlogged articles online. Here are two more:

Militant Buddhists: A look at the Ikko-Ikki
From a lecture by Mike Maikeru Baker

The “Badass” Samurai in Japanese Pop Culture
By Nino Moscardi

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ancient Japan: Upcoming Posts

Ancient Japan: Upcoming Posts

'Prof Nagaeyari', a long time member of the various Samurai Archives forums and creator of the 'Ancient Japan' blog is currently in Japan on foreign exchange. We're all eagerly awaiting the presumably massive upload of pictures documenting the trip. I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Modernization and the Decline of the Samurai

I've been seriously slacking in uploading the updates to the page. I have a queue of about 5 files. Here is the first article - Modernization and the Decline of the Samurai, by Nino Moscardi.

On another front, I've been working on translating information on Hojo Soun, but burnout has stopped me in my tracks. I hope to start up again soon, but for now, I'll be taking a break. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

"Mr. Black" or "Wikipedia is crap"

Poking through the mess that is the articles related to Japanese history on Wikipedia, I came across Yasuke, the African slave taken into service by Oda Nobunaga. The article itself is full of false information and conjecture, going so far as to state that Yasuke was nicknamed Kuru-san. Unfortunately "Kuru-san" isn't even a word. The article claimed that "kuru" means "black" - it doesn't. That would be "Kuro". Also, the suffix ~san wasn't in use during that time in Japanese history. So I went ahead and added this:

Although popular unsubstantiated internet sources state that the nickname most commonly given to the African was "kuru-san" (erroneously explaining that "kuru" is Japanese for "black" and Kuru-san roughly translates as "Mr. Black-man"), This is most definately myth. The Japanese word for "black" is "kuro" rather than "kuru", and the suffix "~san" was not used during the sengoku period of Japanese history. The "~san" used in these internet sources were most likely made up, based either on modern Japanese, or from the erroneous use of "~san" in the very popular (and historically inaccurate) book "Shogun" by James Clavell.

We'll see how long it takes for the revisionist historians to remove that section.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Shogun no Yashiki

Welcome to the Shogun's mansion, the new and final home of the Samurai Archives blog. Keep an eye out for discussions, updates, and news.