[SP] Byakkotai

[Moved from my old blog.]

Why am I so free to the point I am writing hundreds of words long reviews? - Ending Details.

Starring: Tomohisa Yamashita, Koki Tanaka, Hiroko Yakushimaru (also the Narrator)....

Yamapi overload. xD Violent movie, lots of bloodshed. It is a movie set in 19th Century Japan, expect lots of cutting stomachs and stuff.

However, this is one of the few dramas/movies that I did not fast forward while watching, this is because it is based on history. It is so interesting I had to watch it until 6 a.m. this morning. I want to watch it again later.

The Byakkotai or White Tiger Brigade was a group of 16-17 year olds (By Japanese age, which I learned, needs to be subtracted by 1 or 2 years to match the real age.) who performed seppuku to follow their lords after they have fought to defend Aizu. They thought their lord was dead so they followed him. But their lord was actually alive back then. (Sneaky fellow)

Seppuku is a ritual suicide, performed by Samurais to regain their lost honour or to follow their lords in life and in death. What happened in those rituals is that they cut their stomachs open with their own knife. Imagine it, slicing your abdomen open, watch the intestines fall out from your body, organs, and then die.

Performing the Hara-kiri.
Women slitting their throats in the name of honour.

Mineji... T_T is so... worthy of sympathy. It seems that not only in Japan or wherever, boys grew up to be tough, reliable men faster in older times. 15 year olds are men who could hold a sword/gun and fight so that their family can be safe. Nowadays, 20 year olds are boys who watch "Naruto", play "DotA".

Of course the women are not much better. But it is not my fault that more is expected out of men since... FOREVER. xD


The two part movie starts with Shintaro Sakai sitting on an overhead bridge, looking gangster-ish with a girlfriend who was described by Shin's granny as 'whore-ish' looking. As they were sitting there, with an attitude, Shin was spotted by his very traditional granny.

Granny Sakai followed Shin home and discovered that his grandson is rude and does whatever he likes while disregarding others' feelings. Granny lectured Shin's parents on their parenting skills and went on and on about 'How could the descendants of the Byakkotai, the Aizu Clan warriors be so irresponsible, without honour and yada yada,'
Look out, he has an attitude...

She had decided to stay for three days to lecture them about their family's history with the Byakkotai. This was when Yuusuke Shinoda, Shin's friend dropped by, only to be caught by Granny Sakai and she was planning on including him in the lecture as Yuusuke is also a descendant of a Byakkotai warrior.

Shin and Yuusuke quickly escaped to Aizu, where they thought was the place where Granny Sakai cannot find them. Thinking that they have escaped all the Byakkotai-ness at home, they went to Shin's granddad's home only to find themselves being dragged to the Byakkotai museum by him. When they reached the museum the found two paintings of two of the Byakkotai warriors hanging on the wall. The paintings looked eerily like themselves and that was when some sort of awareness hit them.

The scene then traveled back in time to the time shortly before the Japanese Civil War. Minenji Sakai and Gisaburo Shinoda was preparing for their first day of the Nisshinkan, which I think is some sort of high school for Bushido ways. Where they teach you to cut your own stomachs and stuff.

In olden Japan, there was a power struggle where clans fought to get to the Emperor. So the men in the Aizu Clan were all summoned to Kyoto (which was the capital of Japan before Tokyo was) to protect the Emperor. But the Choushuu clan were pissed off because of that. Then stuff happened. Aizu then became the trusted clan of the Emperor until the Emperor mangkat (is there a word for a royal death in English? I am not sure.) This was when the Saitama clan, which used to be allied with Aizu betrayed them and joined forces with Choushuu.

Mineji Sakai was brought up by a mother who appears to be cold to him, even kinda mean. But it was explained later that the mother wanted to toughen him up, so that he can fight without a care. That is because, only when one has nothing to live for that they can fight loyally and wholeheartedly for their lord. Or at least that was what his mother thought.

Going to school.

It was so sad, his seemingly unreturned affection for his mother. One winter, he went to the mountains to find herbs for his sickly mother, he almost fell into the cliff for it. When he got home, all his mother had to say was that if he died that way, he would have wasted his life for a meaningless cause. I was like "Oh, you poor Yamapi!" I know its Mineji and not Yamapi, but still~~

Risking his life looking for herbs for mommy.

When you go to war in olden times, you must be prepared to die. They didn't have tanks or atomic bombs. It was hand-to-hand combat, or rifles, lousy ones, in the late 19th century. That is why in the movie, they keep training the boys to die without a care. Which I think is really depressing. Living to know that you would not live for long. Going to war knowing that you will die. But you'd live a better life, knowing that your time is limited, you will learn to treasure all that is around you.
The rest of the movie is set in olden times while only about the first 10 minutes or so are in modern times. I was almost reaching the end of the first movie, while it was still set in the olden times, suddenly, out of nowhere, 'You Raised Me Up' was played, sung by a woman. I was like... wow, that's suitable. xD

Then the scene came back to the present, for about 10 seconds you see Gangster Shintaro and Yuusuke again. Then it went back to the training of the Byakkotai, newly formed, eager to fight, not fearing the death that awaits them. (There is nothing more sad than Yamapi, looking all noble and prepared to die.) The song, though unsuitable, was moving.
Prepared for war.

The second part of the movie shows the young warriors going to war. Naive and inexperienced, a lot of them soon realized that war is not as they imagined. The group got split up and Gisaburou led his group back to the castle after their captain got lost while looking for food. Mineji found himself alone after he tried to tie his... sandal-laces. Desperate and alone, Mineji tried to die honorably by performing Seppuku. This was when a dog his mother let him keep came running and knocked his knife away. He decided to live and protect his nation.
He named his dog Kuma which means bear in Japanese. I planned to name my dog Duck, if I ever have one.The city burns.Preparing to slice their stomachs open.

On Gisaburou's side, the group reached a hill overlooking their city and saw it on fire. They thought their lord has passed, and so, 19 of them decided to perform Seppuku, and they did, then and there. 19 young boys either slit their throat or cut their stomaches open.
Looking all manly and hawt, you go, Mineji!

Mineji came back to the city and helped to defend the women and children against the Satsuma and Choushuu clan. They lost. The ALIVE and well lord of the Aizu people surrendered. The Aizu warriors, ashamed of their lost, cut a piece of red carpet and brought it around with them to remind themselves to never forget this incident.

Woo, he won't forget...

Scene races back to modern times, Shintaro and Yuusuke stared at the piece of red cloth in the museum, dumbfounded by the story of their predecessors. Shintaro returned to his house all determined to be a better person. He greeted his neighbors, the security guard, and thanked his mother for food.

Although he said "I don't know how long this sort of attitude would last though..."

Story ends.


I did a little research on the event just so I could understand the movie a little bit better. I refuse to watch something I don't understand.

What I find hilarious is that these boys in the Byakkotai were taught since young to NOT by all means speak to a woman/girl/female thing outside their families.

These boys were taught since they are 6 years old to listen to their elders, to bow to them, to not lie, to not behave in a bad way, to not pick on weaker people, to not eat anything outside (which means missing out on McD's, GASP the HORROR) and to not talk to women.
Gasp! He talked to a woman!!!

xD And then, and then, Koki Tanaka's character Gisaburo Shinoda talked to a lady during informal artillery training. When he confessed about it in class the reactions of his classmates was as if he committed adultery or something. Hilarious. I don't know if they fear women or spite them. The punishment was a slap on the hand. xD

Oah, angers me while merely thinking about it, though. T_T I thank God I am born in this era, where it is women like Paris Hilton who made headlines.

The bespectacled sidekick of Ryo in "A Litre of Tears" is also in this movie if you look carefully! Those extras are everywhere! They plague the JMovie industry!

Yamapi is extremely sexy in the costume. The costume worn by people back then, I think they call all clothes Kimono back then. And his hair looks funny, but, but, but... T_T

OMG! He looks so much better with black hair.

That girl in "Tada, Kimi wo Aishiteru", Meisa Kuroki (That angmo looking girl) was in there, she was the lady Gisaburo spoke to.

Since Gisaburou died, so did Sayoko, how did his descendants came about I wonder. I understand Shintaro, how about Yuusuke?

The actress who acted as the mother in "A Litre of Tears" was also in here, as Yamapi's mother, in both era. Mineji and Shintaro were both acted out by Yamapi.

Remember when I said something about any wimp can act? Well, that is one thing, but not any wimp can act convincingly. Yamapi can. In the past, I could not comprehend as to why he is so popular. I didn't understand to extent to which fangirls drool over him.

I don't drool over him, but his dramas are all pretty good. Very good, actually. His characters are hard to dislike. This guy is set to be the new Takuya Kimura. Can't sing for shit, but his acting is not bad. It is obvious that Johnny's is backing this guy as their future star. With the 3rd (Shuji to Akira - Seishun Amigo) and the 4th (Solo - Daite Senorita) best selling singles of 2006 and the BEST SELLING single of 2005, "Shuji to Akira - Seishun Amigo" (It sold most in 2005 and yet still made it to 3rd in 2006, imagine how great it is. Wow is the only thing I have to say about it.

0 Farted :: [SP] Byakkotai

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