(Background Music playing: Ifuu Gaisen[The Wind That Returned with Triumph])
Title: The Arrival of The Black Ships!
Broadcast Date: January 11th, 2004
Ratings: 26.3%(Kanto area), 29%(Kansai area), 32.7%(highest rating at one moment)
The story starts with one of the most significant happening in Shinsengumi history which every Shinsengumi fans would know very well.
The Ikeda-ya Jihen. April 29th, 1864. The very first time Shinsengumi operates with their haori(uniform).
First one to show up is Toshizou Hijikata, the Vice Commander of Shinsengumi. With some other Shinsengumi members, he enters a small food shop. He tells the owner of the food shop to ask for the customers to leave the place, coz its going to be use as an emergency meeting for Shinsengumi members.
Next, we see Susumu Yamazaki(Shinsengumi's spy) and a young Shinsengumi member are spying on the Ikeda-ya inn, the place where Katsura Kogoro and other choushuu samurai will meet and plan a murder for bakufu masters. The young member said to Yamazaki that he has never seen Katsura before, so he's not familiar with Katsura's face. Then, Yamazaki explains Katsura's face briefly. A choushuu samurai enters the inn....but, it's not Katsura...
Back to the food shop. Isami Kondou(commander), Souji Okita(1st regime captain), Genzaburou Inoue(6th regime captain) and few other members arrive. Isami asks Katsura's whereabouts, but Hijikata said, there is no news yet from Yamazaki. Isami seems dissapointed, with a serious and kowai face, he sits on the middle. Another group has arrive, which consists Keisuke Yamanami(Shinsengumi's strategy planner), Shinpachi Nagakura(2nd regime captain), and Sanosuke Harada(10th regime captain), saying sumimasen they come late.
Then boxes which contents Shinsengumi new haori(uniforms) comes. Heisuke Toudou(8th regime captain) cannot find his haori and looking for it everywhere ^_^;
The meeting starts...lead by Hijikata. For some reasons, Isami is not speaking even a word, just keep closing his eyes & fold his arms in front of his chest, ever since he arrive at the shop and sit.
Yamanami informs that there is another exit besides the front door of the inn. So, Hijikata decided they have to be divided to 2 groups. "Kyokuchou, me, Okita and Genzaburou will lead half of the members to attack from the front door! Harada, Nagakura, Saitou, Toudou.....you guys lead the members at the other exit!".
Harada, Nagakura, and Toudou are answering, "Yosh!". Saitou wa? Since the meeting start, he just sit at the corner of the room, gazing and keep stroking his sword, without speaking a word. Hijikata look to his back, "Saitou! Kiite no ka?(are you listening?)". Saitou just give a glance and a smile, then he's back to his sword^^; "Yosh! Then all we have to do now, is to wait Yamazaki's news!" Hijikata said.
In the Ikeda-ya inn, at last, Katsura Kogoro enters the inn. The young Shinsengumi member notice, "Yamazaki-san! Is that Katsura Kogoro?". But when he turns his face, Yamazaki is already gone...
While waiting for the news from Yamazaki, Shinsengumi members are having a non-chalant time. The ones that looks serious are only Isami and Hijikata. Harada is just eating alot of foods. While, Okita is talking proudly to Genzaburou about a new way, to prevent their clothes being stained by blood when they attack people with swords, he just found. Hijikata scolds Okita telling him clothes doesn't matter, the most important thing is they get their jobs done. But that doesn't stop Okita from continue telling Genzaburou happily about the new way ^-^
Meanwhile, Toudou is still looking for his haori^^; Then, someone find them, being wear by another member. Toudou tells him politely, that it's his haori, he is wearing.
Suddenly, Yamazaki bursts in, "Katsura has entered the inn!!". Remotely, everyone turns their heads to Isami's direction. Isami open his eyes and give a nod.
The Shinsengumi troops starts to move to the Ikeda-ya inn, in the middle of the night, where the city is still very quiet and sleeping. Isami and Shinsengumi troops arrive at the front door of the inn and starts to attack the inn. A riot is happening. Women are screaming. But Shinsengumi's target is not the customers of the inn....just the choushuu samurai. They keep opening rooms one by one.
Meanwhile, a woman named Ikumatsu(introduced as Katsura Kogoro's girlfriend) is walking hurriedly in the corridor of the inn. But she do not look afraid, she has a calm face, also looks a bit angry. She open a room and yelled, "Shinsengumi ga...!!!!". Katsura Kogoro and the choushuu samurai starts to exits the room. Katsura and Ikumatsu are going to another direction.
Isami, Hijikata and Okita arrive at the room and starts to attack the choushuu samurai. They are having a fierce fight. Okita is fighting with a smiling face, and everytime he manage to kill someone, his smile will become even wider. And at one point, he suceed killing a samurai with his new technique....he looks really satisfied ^_^
Ikumatsu help Katsura escaping from a secret exit in one room, just right when Isami enters the room. Calmly, Ikumatsu pretend that she is just arranging the flowers into the pot, smiling and say, "Kore wa....kore wa.....Kondou-sensei....(so this is Kondou-sensei..)". Isami observe the whole room and find something suspicious, but suddenly a choushuu samurai attack him, so he has to fight the samurai, not having the chance to observe the room more.
Meanwhile, Nagakura, Saitou, Toudou and Harada with other Shinsengumi members intercept the choushuu samurai who are about to escape from the other exit. The choushuu samurai are surrounded by Shinsengumi. Before starting the fight, Saitou lick his sword and smiling.
Shinsengumi suceed big time! A lot of choushuu samurai are captured. However, the fact that Katsura has escaped quite piss them off. Only in a night, the Shinsengumi's victory news is spread all over the city.
Miyuki Dayuu, a geisha dancer, receive the news from her other geisha friend, "Matta....Shinsengumi ga....choushuu no samurai to....(Shinsengumi confronts the choushuu samurai again...)". Miyuki is startled, but before she say anything, her friend already said while smiling gleefully, "But it seems it ends with Kondou-sensei's victory...". Then, Miyuki gladly smile.....
At the Matsudaira household, a person walks into a capacious room. He informs Katamori Matsudaira(the Kyoto Shugoshoku, an Aizu warlord who has appointed Shinsengumi as Kyoto's guards in the first place) about Shinsengumi's victory.
Then, at last, at Sakamoto Ryuuma's house. His girlfriend, Oryou and an old lady are talking about Shinsengumi's victory, Sakamoto is also in the room, lying on the floor. Oryou said, "Ryuuma-san, you know Isami Kondou, right?". The old lady looks surprised, "Eeeeeh?! Ryuuma-san?? Your friend? Unbelievable...". "Yes, Ryuuma-san seems to know Isami Kondou very well since a long time ago," Oryou confirms. Oryou asks Sakamoto, "Ryuuma-san, what is Isami Kondou like? Is he really a kowai(frightening) man? I heard, he has a #1 swordskill in Japan, is that true?". The old lady also ask, "I've also heard, that he can put his whole palm into his mouth! Have you ever seen that?!?". Sakamoto bursts into laughter....but not answering, then just gazing at the dark sky, "Sou ya nya........".
(author's note: i think sou ya nya is pretty much the same with sou desu ne...just a different dialect^^)
Then, the plot goes backwards to 10 years ago.... The year is 1854. A 21 years old Isami Kondou is talking to a pretty young lady at a food shop. The pretty lady looks really angry. While, Isami is trying to explain something as nice as he can. Apparently they are talking about Isami's very bestfriend, Hijikata. Isami said, "He is always like that, please forgive him, he is not ready to build a close relationship with a woman.....".
In another scene, it is showed that Hijikata is standing on a bridge....a pretty woman passing by and he smile at her....the woman smiled back at him......
Back to Isami's scene, the young lady is very angry and very sad, asking why isnt he come by himself......Isami said, that is all he can say and is about to leave her, when suddenly the lady stop him.
lady: Wait!! I have something to ask you......please......let me.....slap....
Isami: slap?....ahh, then, I'll tell him...
lady: no!!! dont! I cant slap him! I can never slap that beautiful face.................so....(the woman is gazing at Isami)
Isami: (confused a bit, but then realize..) WATASHI DESU KA?!?(me?!?)
lady: please....If i cannot slap someone, i wont leave here....
Isami: (hesitate for a moment, but then...).....hai.....doozo!(go ahead!)"
Then the lady slap Isami ^_^;; Isami looks really in painful^^
Next scene is Hijikata laughing at Isami, knowing that he actually accept the slap. Isami said, its because he's worried about him. Isami advising Hijikata not to waste his time and his life with unimportant things. Hijikata asking, "What about yourself?". "Me? I have the dojo! Althou it is such a small and poor dojo for now, but I will make it as a famous and number one dojo someday! You'll see...!". Hijikata with a 'yeah, right' looks on his face said, "Haha...yeah, would really like to see that,". Then Isami said he is going back. "What? You're going back already? So fast?" Hijikata stop him. "Not like you, I dont have much free time," Isami answers.
Isami and Hijikata decided to have lunch at a food shop first. Hijikata keep calling Isami with Kat-chan(Isami's former name is Katsugoro Miyagawa). "Stop calling me Kat-chan!". "Ah, sou...what is it? I forgot..hehe...". "Its Isami Kondou!". "Why are you willing to change your name, anyway?". "I've decided.". "Yeah, but why Isami? Dont sound good....kakko warui yo!(bad name!)". "Because I care about what father's think,".
Suddenly, a voice is heard from their back, "Yappari!(I knew it!) Your voice is so familiar!". A man show up and move to their table.....its Katsura Kogoro. Isami then introduce Katsura to Hijikata. Katsura insist that he will pay for Isami and Hijikata's foods. Isami said there's no need to do that, even though they are poor people but they still can pay the foods. Then, Katsura saying things which hurts Isami and Hijikata about them being poor people.
Isami & Hijikata aftering Katsura outside and is giving his money back. But, Katsura do not want to take it back, he said if they dont want the money so much just throw it to the river right there. Isami then challenge him a wrestling duel. But, Katsura just stand still. Coincidentally, Sakamoto Ryuuma, Katsura's friend, is nearby. Katsura introduce Isami to Sakamoto with an underestimating tone, "This is Isami Kondou, the heir of a poor dojo who use Tennen Ran Ryuu style....". Angrily, Isami yelled correcting him, "TENNEN RISHIN RYUU da!!!" ^_^; Katsura puts on a 'whatever' looks on his face^^ Sakamoto is the one who accept the wrestling challenge instead. Then, uninterested, Katsura just leave them. Isami and Sakamoto stop the wrestle....Isami throw the money to Katsura's direction and Hijikata said, "Itsuka korosu!!!(someday we'll kill him!)". Sakamoto then make friends with Isami and Hijikata. He suggests Isami and Hijikata to go to Uraga to see US Commodore Perry's "Kurofune" or black ships. Sakamoto give Isami the picture of the ship.
Isami is back to his dojo, Shieikan. He peeks inside the training room...his foster father, Shusuke Kondou, is leading the training. Suddenly, someone hit Isami's head with a stick, Isami looks back, "Soujirou!!!". Isami chase the 12 yrs old boy who is named Soujirou Okita(later become just 'Souji'), one of the dojo's disciple, the youngest disciple, in fact.
Then, Okita's older sister is coming, named Mitsu(same age with Isami). Shusuke tells Mitsu that tomorrow Okita who will lead in the training hall, bcoz Isami is leaving the dojo tomorrow for one day. Mitsu is surprised, she thinks Okita is not even 13 yet, the other disciples wont listen to him. But, Shusuke said it would be okay, Okita has such a high talent. Okita smiles proudly. Mitsu hit Okita's head a lot, not allowing him to speak ^-^ Then, Mitsu ask Shusuke where is Isami now....he said perhaps in his room. Mitsu looks happy and excuse herself out, going to Isami's room.
Quietly, she opens the door and hit Isami's head from the back with a stick full-forcely^^;; Isami yelled, "Itta'!!" and collapse ^_^;
A bump grow on Isami's head and Mitsu applied a compress to his head. She said the bump looks interesting and she keeps touching it. Isami forbid her to touch it!^^ Mitsu is asking Isami about the Kurofune ship.
The next day, Isami and Hijikata goes to Sakamoto's place as promised. Then, they disguise as the attendants of Shozan Sakuma, politician and specialist on naval and coastal defense issues, to head for Uraga. They see the ships and they are overwhelmed with the size of the ships......
As this is the very first episode, I would like to start with the opening sequence. Dissapointing! I was expecting beautiful sceneries just like in Toshiie to Matsu(NHK 2002 taiga dorama)'s opening sequence. But in Shinsengumi's opening sequence, there are only blue sky with the white clouds, green leaves and there are some use of animated pics...I dislike the animated pics x) And also images of men in Shinsengumi's uniforms running. Quite dissapointing for me. But the instrumental music theme is EXCELLENT!! Love it very much! It is very well-composed, and has the grandeur, colossal feeling....also really fit in well with the heroic theme. It is an NHK tradition, its taiga dramas always use only instrumental music for its dramas' themesong. Too bad....coz I really think it would really fit in to insert JRock songs for Shinsengumi's ending themesong =P Certain JRock songs would be appropriate for the samurai spirit theme of the story and it'll fit in the kakkoi-ness of Shinsengumi!^-^
The opening scene, the Ikeda-ya Jihen incident, is simply what made this episode is gonna be one of my favorite episode!^^ Its just soo cool! I love the way how the camera moves to introduce each significant Shinsengumi characters, it moves like a jet plane...haha, hard to explain....something you have to see for yourself....its a cool effect!
The fights? Hmm....weird enough, I enjoyed it very much!! Althou, it cannot be compared with Hongkong or Mainland fighting choreography...I mean, Japan have its own different swordfighting style, so really cant be compared with Chinese style of swordfighting. The bottom line is, that weird enough, I enjoyed the fights scenes...its weird, coz I've always thought Japan fighting way of moves is kinda stiff, not flowing like kungfu. But somehow I like the fightings in this episode! Its just cool, intense, exciting and REAL!^.^ Most probably bcoz it supported by the superb actors' expressions. Just love it......I dunno, maybe its subjective =P Oh, special mention to Joe Odagiri, the actor who acted as Saitou Hajime(3rd regime captain), I think he has done the fights scenes best! His moves are so fast like a real swordfighter^^
The most hillarious scene, is the scene where Isami got slapped by Hijikata's female friend ^_^ I laughed really hard! Not bcoz the scene is THAT funny.....but more of, to imagine...in a samurai era like this.....there's a thing where a friend would ask his friend to break up with his girlfriend, thus the friend gets the slap?!?!?*LOL*LOL* I've seen this in many modern dramas, but definitely NOT in samurai dramas!!!^o^
I also like the lines that Shozan Sakuma has said to Isami and Hijikata when they were taking a rest before reaching Uraga, "Your first ten years since birth, think about yourself. The next ten years of your life, think about your family. In 20 years old, think about your hometown. 30 years old is the age to start thinking about Japan. And 40 years old, think about the world.....". Then, he said, since Isami is 21 years old now, all he has to think about is his hometown, Tama ^_^
Overall, its a very good episode. Definitely, gonna be one of my favorite episode!!^.^ And the overall impression I got about this taiga drama, is like what my good friend said. I'm just gonna quote her lines, since I cannot say it better than this myself ^-^
Despite it being a edo drama, it is not done with the same heavy handedness commonly associated with edo drama production. Watching it is like watching a fuji terebi modern drama. The story is easy to follow and the lines are easy to understand as well as there is an overall modern touch in everything from the actor's body language, the sets and the lines constructions.