I’ve never watched a Taiga drama before – a long, historical epic that lasts most of the year. But there aren't many new series that interest me at the moment, plus the presence of Ueno Juri has persuaded me to give it a go.
Previously, I’ve only taken a passing interest in Japanese history, so I was aware that as I watched it I felt a bit like a tourist. In those moments when the storyline rests and the director allows the camera to pan slowly across the landscape and costumes, it’s a bit like looking at a museum piece. I felt like I should have a leaflet with me, so I could pause the show, read it and think “Oh, that’s what that thing is.”
Using the same adult actors to play the (much) younger versions of themselves was an interesting choice, and for most of the time it works okay. It requires a bit of suspension of disbelief – especially since they make extremely tall children – but it could work in the long run. I think it’ll be easier to empathise with a character if they’re played by one actor, rather than two or three.
Also, it’s beautifully shot and it looks great. The acting is good too. In fact, the standards are high throughout as you’d expect from a taiga drama that’s expected to keep high ratings all year and bring in money through international sales.
Given that we’re only two episodes into a 48-episode marathon, trying to guess how the storyline will progress is impossible. But so far, so good.