The drama tells the story of Yamaguchi Yoshiko, a Japanese woman born and raised in China during the Japanese occupation of Manchuria. She debuts as the Chinese singer and actress Li Xianglan (Ri Kouran in Japanese), in the hopes that her efforts will work towards the benefit of both Japan and China. Hiding her true nationality, however, she slowly discovers herself becoming a puppet of the Japanese military's propaganda efforts in Manchuria, starring in "national policy" films that humiliate the Chinese people. But billed as the "star of Greater East Asia," her popularity soars across borders to Japan, where she holds a concert that draws thousands to the Nihon Gekijou Theatre and leads to a riot that injures several people. Based on her autobiography, this is the story of her personal struggle amidst military strife between her two homelands. Source: Dramawiki Edit Translation
Cast & Credits
1) there's little - and often just nothing - heroic in war; war is bad, it takes out the worst from people, and that means cowardice, betrayal, lies, atrocities etc.
2) what passes for "history" in the mainstream is actually only the "winners' version";
3) the "losers' version" is often - if not always - at least a little more accurate and true to life; why? Simple: losers can't so easily cover their crimes and sugarcoat the truth as winners do.
All this premise so as to explain why I particularly like Japanese productions about WWII: they aren't propagandistic fairy tales, they show war for what it is, in all its absurdity. Just like this dorama does, all while portraying the real story of Ri Kouran / Li Xianglan / Yamaguchi Yoshiko, a Japanese singer and actress from Japanese-occupied Manchuria.
Commenting on another dorama ("Chanpon Tabetaka") I wrote that it felt "like an asadora's digest", but then I didn't mean it as a compliment; here instead it's really as if they had taken the best and most relevant scenes out of an asadora and managed to make a 4-hour movie out of them. Great job indeed! The script is very well done, the acting very good, Ueto Aya - wearing qipaos/cheongsams most of the time - is positively gorgeous and the historical settings, costumes etc. simply great. I also really appreciated the respect the production showed to realism, i.e. using Russian-speaking actors to portray the main character's friend Lyuba and her family (and adding those small touches that alone can give realism to a scene, like when they're all drinking tea at one point and Lyuba asks if they have any jam - 'cause she would want to drink tea "the Russian way", of course! Small detail, but it shows the authors did their homework, doesn't it?).
Last but not least, some lovely music makes this lil' gem of dorama shine even more. Perfect 10!