Gunshi Kanbei

Gunshi Kanbei (2014)

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Ratings: 8.7/10 from 75 users
Reviews: 3 users

July 1590, Odawara. Toyotomi Hideyoshi's army had surrounded the Odawara Castle for over 3 months, hoping to conquer this last obstacle to his dream of the country's unification. Standing at the gate of the castle, a lone man facing the menacing guards shouted out: "Do not throw your lives away. Treasure living!". Not long after, the castle gates opened and the reigning lord surrendered. The name of that man is Kuroda Kanbee. read moreAn excellent military strategist, he worked hand-in-hand with Hideyoshi to unify the country.

Kanbei's family had fled to Harima, and were relatively poor. As the protege of Kodera Masamoto, Kanbei was very much trusted and relied upon by his lord liege. Kanbei became the head of the Kuroda clan at 22 years of age. Masamoto was aging and he very much wanted someone to take over his responsibilities, and thus he decided to marry off his much-loved daughter, Teru, to Kanbei. They were blessed with a son, but since many years had passed and yet Teru couldn't seem to conceive a second child, Kanbei decided to adopt the young children of his vassals as his proteges who were known as "Kuroda's warriors".

When Kanbei turned 30, a revolutionary young lord was slowly laying siege to all the various shogunates, aiming for a unified Japan. Harima became the place where the clash between Oda and Mori Terumoto was set. Kanbei was very attracted to Oda's unification plans, and had gone to Gifu Castle to meet up with him. There, he became acquainted with Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and soon became Hideyoshi's right-hand man, marking the birth of Gunshi Kanbei.

  • Native title:

  • Also Known as:

    Gunshi Kanbee; Strategist Kanbe

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28 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Mar 27, 2015
  • Overall 9.0
  • Story 9.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 8.0
  • Rewatch Value 8.0
Despite the discouraging length, It’s never wrong to watch a taiga drama. Or at least that’s how I see it through my experience.

Kurode Kanbe is an acknowledged figure of the Sengoku period –the most chaotic era of Japanese history. He came from a humble clan in Himeji Castle but he distinguished himself through his impressing battle tactics. I will stop here to not spoil those who are unfamiliar with the history read more of the main character.

This taiga drama illustrated the life of the historically-famous strategist. It wasn’t only a numeric retell of his life story. On the contrary, Gunshi Kanbei was more focused on the emotional side more than anything. Which implores that you will get to know the story without the clinical heavy/slow pacing.

Sengoku Jidai is known for its numerous battles, renowned generals, political clashes, lots of betrayals and utter turmoil. This drama didn’t only illustrate Kanbe’s personal battles but it also included all of the major events that occurred during his lifetime. And since he was close to several main figures of the era, Kuroda Kanbei found himself entangled in all of those continued wars. He was forced to make critical decisions and became a key character in the unification of Japan.

That aside, Kanbe’s familial life was also put in the spotlight. His relationship with his vassals, his wife and his offspring was vastly explored and beautifully dramatized. But the over-idolizing was probably a bummer. Kuroda Kanbei wasn’t exactly a selfless man like the screenwriting pictured him to be. He was known to be quite ambitious. They didn’t focus much on that side except near the end. But again this isn’t a documentary and the main historical points were left untouched.

As usual in Taiga dramas, the cast was relatively loaded. Okada Juichi was marvelous as Kanbe. He’s definitely a rare Johnny’s –an idol of high caliber. I am so glad I got to first meet him through this. Other cast members were pretty fitting. But the ones who stood out the most were Egushi Yosuke’s Oda Nobunaga (one of the best portrayals of the legendary character), the penetrating performance of Takenaka Naoto as Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Nakatani as Kanbe’s wife, Tanihara Shosuke short yet amazing portrayal of Takenaka Hanbe and other remarkable talents like Tanaka, Kuroki, Uchida, Ikuta, Matsuzaka, Hamada, Tsurumi and Takahashi.

The directing was noticeably improved from previous taigas but it’s nowhere near perfect. The cinematography was catching. The sceneries and outfits were as usual historically accurate despite some insignificant flaws.

The smooth flowing of events in Gunshi Kanbei proves that this is an impeccable example of how taiga dramas are supposed to be.
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11 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Apr 3, 2015
  • Overall 9.5
  • Story 9.0
  • Acting/Cast 10
  • Music 8.5
  • Rewatch Value 7.0
What a ride that was! Being my first taiga, I loved and enjoyed every moment of it. This drama made me want to learn more, watch more, research more, love Japan more, love history more. It made me understand things that I had a hard time digesting before. Fifty episodes went by pretty fast and the episodes were pretty short.

This drama is the dramatization of the life of Kuroda Kanbei (Okada read more Junichi), a daimyo during the Sengoku period, known to be the chief strategist and an adviser to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. As a history drama, many of the events were described accurately and at the right timeline. As for the characterization of those historical personalities, it most definitely is bias. Except for the last 3 episodes, Kanbei was always shows as this angel with saint-like qualities. The same can be said about some personalities who were know to be on his side. You can conclude that the drama was made based on Kanbei's point of you on those people. However this doesn't come in the way of learning about history and appreciating those personalities.

As I said, don't let the number of episodes scare you. The episodes are short enough and the events that are being covered can cover four times this amount of time. I found the drama well paced, and keeps you hooked throughout the whole time of his running. Every couple of intense episodes, we get a breather that is both relaxing to watch, and fun to experience the way of life of that era. The graphics and effects were alright, the drama overall is nothing fancy, but good enough to convince you of it's timing and era. Some places I loved most are the tea places. If I were to compare it to another taiga I started recently, Tenchijin, I'd say this one looks much better, but that is only because Tenchijin looks 10 years older than it really is (but once I gave it a chance I still fell in love with it XP). As for the music, that is one soundtrack I really enjoy. It has a very calming side to it that is used during the travelogue.

Despite being a political drama, what makes this drama shine most is the human relationship seen here, mainly between lord and retainer, but also between husband and wife, parent and child, and those are what bring out the emotions out of you. The performances that emphasize on those relationship is what makes me want to keep watcing. Starting with Okada Junichi, don't let his background as a JE idol fool you, he did an excellent job portraying Kanbei throughout his life, from 16 years or to the end of his life. Then there's the lovely Nakatani Miki playing his wife Teru. I just love seeing those two together, even when they got to old age. They definitely had the chemistry, and the looks they give to each other makes it feel like they're looking into each other's souls not selves. Matsuzaka Tori playing his son Nagamasa also did a great job. I did feel he needed a little time to get used to his character, but that may be because he was playing a young inexperience teenager. We later see his growth and the different phases of his relationship with his father.

Then there is the retainers. This drama has succeeded in finally making me understand the relationship between the lord and his retainers. It definitely is not an equal relationship, but it is more of an equivalent exchange, and the basis of that exchange is loyalty, and that goes both ways. Seeing Kanbei's retainer's growth was one of the highlights of this drama. Takahashi Issei, playing Inoue Kuroemon, was by far my favourite. He was a natural. Seeing his reaction always told me if I need to worry about what is going on. Hamada Gaku and Hayami Mokomichi playing Zensuke and Tahe, took a little while to get into character, but when they finally did, they became perfect for their roles.

Other than the Kuroda household, there were many great personalities of the era in this drama. Oda Nobunaga ovliously tops the list, where Eguchi Yosuke's performance was unbeatable. Period. I had a hard time digesting Takenaka Naoto but later I grew fond of it. The character is pretty unconventional which is weird considering the era and people, however it seemed true to his character, and his background as a farmer. The taiga was as much about kanbei as it was Tomoyomi's rise to power. Anothers really interesting personality is Tanaka Tetsushi as Araki Murashige. His character went through the most phases, and at each phase, he shows a different face. Seeing him going from a man with ambitions to a person who has lost his mind. There are many others, many interesting women of the era, but this taiga concentrate mostly what these men go through with each battle they fight and what motivates them to go to war.

To conclude, it is a very well paced drama, with many interesting events, during a very interesting time in Japan's history, that honours many historical figures with excellent performances, and heartwarming interaction. I think it is a drama that can be appreciated by anyone if given the chance. Once you're done with it, I'm pretty sure it'll wake up the history lover in you.
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Both set in the end of the warring era, but each represents the opposing view to the other. It is great to watch the different point of view and understand that era better. Justice vs Survival & strength!
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Comments (12)

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  • Reply
    bossmama Jan 12, 2016 - edited

    A sweeping and epic tale about survival, honor, and power struggle. What amazes me was how it didn't shy away from the complications and 'dumb'ness of history and the people who built it, resulting authentic stories and authentic characters.

    Unfortunately there're some deliberate overacting here and there, glaring over-idolization of Kanbee, also I can't sit well with the depiction of several antagonists as despicable trash just to make blood boils. And it has some awkward dragging dramatic scenes (which gladly disappear in the last 15 eps or so).

    Anyway, Kuroemooon <3

    • Reply
      BrightestStar Mar 28, 2016

      Lol I think we all fell in love with Kuroemon XD

      What do you mean by "didn't shy away from the complications and 'dumb'ness of history" ? Just curious.

      I agree with your criticism but I still love it up until now. Except about the draginess, I never found it draggy :P

    • Reply
      bossmama Mar 28, 2016

      haha I guess I meant the tradition/values, moral standard, the thoughts of what normal and what's not at the time, that becomes the driving force or restraining factor of characters' decision. If we compared it with modern values they would seem ineffective(like seppuku, marrying daughters for alliances/as hostages only to have war in the end anyway, ruthless daimyo), but at the same time the way these stuffs presented are so sincere in a way that makes me think 'ah that's how they live and that's what they believe at the time. At the same time there're historical dramas that injected modern values to the story or characters (like female empowerment, it's all good but seem very unlikely at the time) hence makes them feel less authentic.

    • Reply
      BrightestStar Mar 28, 2016

      Totally agree with you on that point. Kanbei was my first historical drama so many events really shoked me at first. Now at my 3rd Taiga, I have finally come to understand and accept them as way of life. I also really respect authenticity as well, as unnerving as the role and life of a woman may be, I would like to understand their suffering. The first half of Gou leaving me wanting, but the second half really new gives you a good portrayal of a woman's fate.

      The thing about historical dramas overstating a woman's role is that they really let go of authenticity for the sake of pleasing people, however I think there's always a way to show a woman's strength without changing history. I mean I believe women had inner strength all along, and showing the strength it takes a woman to be able to cope with her era and live through it is something that should be the focus, however it is mostly taken for granted.

      Then there's also eras where women were surprisingly empowered, like in Korean history the kingdom os Silla. According to wiki in that kingdom a woman being the head of the household or inheriting the kingdom was seen natural at that time.

      Lol I can be so passionate about those subjects :P

    • Reply
      bossmama Mar 28, 2016 - edited

      Actually I get you lol
      Hee so that's why I saw more female warriors/merchats' bosses in Silla and Goryeo sageuks than in Joseon sageuks XD.
      Also, about the draggy scene, tbh I was kinda biased since I read some articles that mentioned producers of GK tried to follow kdramas' style before I watch it, and one thing that I could never come to term with kdramas is how dramatic their portrayal of emotional scenes is, so whenever it came to dramatic/emotional scenes I became sensitive(-ly prejudiced) lol

    • Reply
      hikali May 24, 2016

      I really agree. And funnily, I found Gunshi Kanbei's female cast very empowering in their own way. They all had their strengths and weaknesses, and the show was good about giving them spotlight even if they're less important to the main historical events. I really love that. In a way that's more respectful to them than adding some token "empowered" modern woman who feels out of place. I love that authenticity that we have there (also One is the best :P)

  • Reply
    shinju Aug 6, 2015 - edited

    I can't describe this drama by words !!!!!!!!!!
    I'll just give it 1000000\1000000

    my first taiga drama and I loved it soooo much !!

    thinking about watching more taiga dramas from now on :>

    my favorite characters are :

    1. kuroda Kanbe
    2. one
    3. oda nobunaga
    4. nou
    5. kuriyama zensuke

    the most characters i hated :

    1. Toyotomi Hideyoshi
    2. ishida mitsunari
    3. kuroda nagamasa
    4. araki murashige
    5. kodera masamoto
    6. Kushihashi Sakyonoshin
    7. chacha

    • Reply
      BrightestStar Aug 20, 2015

      lol I understand how you feel, but you have to take into consideration that the presentation is bias.

      Oh and I actually really like Kuroda Nagamasa. I respect him for making the difficult decision despite how hateful he might appear.

  • Reply
    Ryu Mar 23, 2015 - edited

    i dont like Historical, War genres. is this worth to watch?

  • Reply
    Cinnamaroll Sep 7, 2014

    I watched earlier tonight while in Japan when it came on NHK. I desperately wanted siubs, lol. It looks good.

  • Reply
    umikichi Aug 10, 2014

    How could this air from 2014 to 2013? lol time travel

  • Reply
    Cheer Mar 18, 2014

    It's getting subbed even slowly; this makes me happy but I will wait until at least 20 episodes are subbed to start this. My patience level is too low to wait for a long time.

  • Reply
    louloudi Feb 13, 2014

    I have no idea about Japan 's history at this period so I will follow CHEERFUL SOUL advice and try not to read the whole article.I wish the same that some volunteers will sub it for us and also having as mother-country a country with big history I wish the writer and director do not mess up with the story.

  • Reply
    Cheer Jan 8, 2014

    I hope some cool subbers will pick this one up. I will be looking forward to it.

    On the other hand, those who plan to watch this and don't have an idea about the history shouldn't read the synopsis, it gives away about half of the plot or so. I am sure it will take them at least 20 episodes to reach the part where he becomes the awesome strategist Gunshi Kanbei.

    • Reply
      enixela Feb 9, 2014

      Indeed. I hope some group subs this. I mean, just look at all the powerful cast, it'll probably be enough to keep fans from tuning to the show I wonder why no Fansub group picked this.

    • Reply
      Cheer Feb 9, 2014

      It's a pity really, how much taiga dramas are being ignored :(

    • Reply
      enixela Feb 10, 2014

      Sad but true :(

    • Reply
      kura2ninja Mar 4, 2014

      The subtitle for episode 1 has just been released, guys. Check it out on d-addicts, in case you're interested.

    • Reply
      enixela Mar 5, 2014

      Thanks! :)

  • Reply
    Rian Jan 8, 2014

    Where I can see this? :)

  • Reply
    soumatra Jan 6, 2014

    Toyotomi Hideyoshi a real legend from peasant to regent of nippon, the unifier of japan

    • Reply
      Cheer Jan 8, 2014

      But this taiga drama isn't about the Monkey Hideyoshi; it's about his right hand Gunshi Kanbei who was also an awesome general who participated in Japan's unification.

    • Reply
      soumatra Jan 8, 2014

      yes I know but Hideyoshi is one of the major participant in this story
      I think he dead in 1598 or 97 mean he will be in the cast for at least 40 episodes
      In dorama "Gou", he was my favorite character

    • Reply
      Cheer Jan 8, 2014

      He's not only a favorite character in dramas; he's also one of my favorite Japanese generals alongside Oda Nobunaga of course.


  • Country:

  • Type:

  • Episodes:

  • Aired:

    Jan 5, 2014 to Dec 21, 2014
  • Aired On:

  • Network:

  • Duration:

    45 min.


  • Score:

    8.7 (scored by 75 users)
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