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Recently in Heian Era Category

Onmyoji 2

Genre: Quasi-historical Supernatural Drama

review in one breath

Abe no Seimei, Japan's greatest Yin Yang Master is back! And this time he must battle the evil reincarnation of one of Shinto's most primordial deities!



Onmyoji
[The Yin Yang Masters]

Genre: Quasi-historical Supernatural Drama

review in one breath

Set in Japan's Heian Period (794 to 1192 AD), Onmyoji draws a picturesque world straight out of the Genji Monogatari. In many ways, the Heian Period can be viewed as the cultural zenith of Japan, for during this time Japanese art and literature flourished. It is during this period that the samurai class is first established, that the Japanese writing style of Hiragana is developed, and higher Japanese culture distinguishes itself from that of monolithic China sitting just across the Japan Sea. The period is marked by the temporary movement of the capitol from Edo (Tokyo) to Heian-kyo, today's Kyoto. The most culturally significant piece of literature produced during this era was the Genji Monogatari, a story of dynastic succession and turmoil. The Genji Monogatari's value lies not only in its status as one of the earliest epics in Japanese literature (and as a cultural treasure due to the wonderful paintings contained in the scroll), but also for the unparalleled vivid description of life within Japan's High Court and Royal households.



Gojoe: Spirit War Chronicle
[Gojoe reisen-ki]

Genre: Quasi-historical Samurai par Excellence

review in one breath

I was trying to think of a comparable Western genre to that of Gojoe and realized that there really isn't one. On the one hand, Japanese samurai movies are alot like our "cowboy" films (and there has been alot of historical dependence of Western films on Japanese films in this regard). But there are very few (if any) good or convincing cowboy movies involving the ghostly or demonic. There are, however, many good examples of Japanese samurai movies involving the supernatural. Recent films like this would include Onmyoji and Red Shadow, and more historical examples include the classics Throne of Blood, Ugetsu Monogatari, and OniBaba.

Gojoe is an excellent example of this intertwining of historical piece, samurai action, and ghost story. It is not over-the-top and humorous like Red Shadow, and it is much more serious and realistic than Onmyoji. Unlike these two, the swordsmanship displayed in Gojoe is formidable, fearsome, and yes, exhilarating to watch.



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