Friday, September 26, 2008
Kage No Gundan 2: Episode 6
Episode 06: THE WOMAN WHO VANISHED INTO THE SPIRIT WORLD (MAKAI NI KIETA ONNA) ***1/2
Directed by Kuroda Yoshiyuki
A procession of Shogun Ieshige's followers headed by overseer of the ladies in waiting, Kasugai is attacked by some of O'oka's men. Uta, Koroku and Tsuruzo save them. The Shadow Warriors discuss this new situation involving the O'oku, the Shogun's harem. They assume a strong possibility that O'oka Tadamitsu may be involved, "Control the O'oku and you control the land". Having hired killers to assassinate Kasugai, Lady Yamanobe (one of the 26) returns to deliver the bad news to O'oka.
Oine, a member of the O'oku within Chiyoda Castle, comes to visit her brother, Unokichi. Shinpachi shows her around town while she details her life inside the citadel. The O'oku of Chiyoda Castle is broken up into separate palaces and chambers with the various women all vying for a chance to be the wife of the Shogun. The frail minded Shogun, Ieshige had a wife named Masuko. Guarded over by Kasugai, they await an imperial envoy who will arrive in three days time. Masuko must deliver to him the 'Kokoroba', an illustrious crown presented to Ieshige by his in-laws. For over 130 years, the Chief overseer of the O'oku has safe guarded this crown.
Summoning a meeting with O'oka, Kasugai asks him why he told Ieshige that the O'oku had planned a revolt against the Shogun. Kasugai asks that he concern himself with affairs of the people and support Ieshige. Insulted by Kasugai, O'oka demands Yamanobe is successful in killing her this time. With the help of the evil doctor Ryoan and another female accomplice, Segawa, a plan is hatched to take over the O'oku. However, the plot requires the murder of one of the harem girls. A plan is also set in motion to steal the valuable Kokoroba.
Oine is the unlucky victim. She is framed for breaking a valuable vase belonging to Lady Yamanobe. For her punishment, she is asked to spend the night in the storeroom. That night, Lady Yamanobe and others enter tying Oine's hands and hanging her making the scene appear to be a suicide. Later, Lady Kasugai now realizes there is a plan to ruin her reputation. Back at Yamabiko, Shinpachi decides he will break into the O'oku to learn of Oine's death. However, for the past 200 years, no man has ever entered the harem chambers.
The Iga chief sneaks in and seeks audience with Kasugai. He learns nothing from the visit and is attacked by the Shiina upon exiting the castle. Meanwhile, Gennai attends Oine's wake. Before being forced to leave, the good doctor notices markings on her hands revealing it wasn't suicide, but murder. It is also surmised that the crown was sneaked out inside of Oine's stomach; the operation performed by the vile Shogunate physician, Ryoan. The Shadow Warriors head for Kamiyoji Temple--the extraction point to remove the crown as well as the meeting place of the murderers. The Iga confront the villains and recover the crown returning it to Lady Kasugai.
Episode six returns to the seriousness of the earlier shows. Director Kuroda handles the material well in keeping with the formula sitcom style the show has become accustomed to. Particularly of interest is Shinpachi's appearance at the end inside the temple. Some subtle use of Iga magic takes place when his form supplants that of a Buddhist statue as smoke engulfs the image. Orin she spends her screen time jealously chasing after Shinpachi sensing he is enamored with the young Oine. Although Orin is around to supply comic relief, it's very low key.
Also, Shota, the little boy from episode four, returns briefly near the beginning and the end of this episode. From the dialog, two years time has passed since Shota's first appearance. An alternate version of the closing song is played over the end credits. Not quite as talky as the previous show, episode 6 has some very nasty villains. Although they don't offer much competition for the Shadow Warriors, you want to see them suffer for their earlier crimes. Another solid episode with just a little bit more action than the previous one. Episode six nonetheless features all the ingredients for compelling dramatic television and fans of the KAGE NO GUNDAN series.
Continued in Episode Seven: ATTACK OF THE SCORPION!!!