Like many of us, I am Very Disappointed in what comes out of Hollywood these days. So instead of turning on the TV I poke through YouTube for subtitled foreign shows with settings of interest and languages I’m trying to pick up bits of; generally Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. Which is how I stumbled onto a neat show from 1978, “The Yoshimune Chronicle: Abarenbo Shogun”.
I can only find two eps on YouTube, drat. The show itself ran for about thirty years. The first ep is a good show, though you can definitely tell it’s from the 70s by the music and shot style, not to mention the general lack of blood shown. This is not a bad thing.
But what’s really interesting is that it’s one of an entire genre I’d never heard of before.
“Like many other jidaigeki, it falls in the category of kanzen-chōaku, loosely, “rewarding good and punishing evil”.”
Think of that. A whole category of filmmaking devoted to upholding the basic foundations of a civilized society: do what is morally right and just, even when it’s hard, and it will help you. Do what is evil, and you will get consequences. Death, disgrace, your sword before you to commit seppuku if you still have any honor.
I’m trying to think of recent movies out of Tinseltown that send that message; the newest one I recall that comes close is The Meg. I’ve also seen this message in some of the better alien romance novels I’ve read recently. But too many new fantasy books lean more toward utterly crushing the main character at the start, and then having them grow in power and crush their enemies in turn. Goodness has nothing to do with it.
If modern Western filmmaking isn’t cutting it, we need to go back to basics. Look to the past, see what worked, and try to bring those elements into new stories.
This is not the same as remakes.
(A fact that escapes most of Hollywood, unfortunately.)
Being good is hard. Stories should include that, because it’s real. Actively trying to do the right thing is usually hard work, and often hazardous. But if we want a critical mass of people to keep our culture going and love reading our stories, we need to show that being good does get you somewhere. And that being evil is a dead end. Emphasis on “dead”.
Make stories with Good Samaritans, sure. But even more I think we need stories with like-minded people finding each other by trying to do the right thing, and building a community together.
…And if part of that community is a shogun in disguise as an Average Guy out saving people and having drinks with the local firefighters, even better!
The Yoshimune Cronicle: Abarenbo Shogun (Episode 1)