November is here and it’s time to get our picks on the table. For this month, we decided to go back in time and focus on the beautiful historical genre. As everyone knows, the genre is well-exploited by Asian dramas but it doesn’t get a broad base of audience. Through this article, we will try to present to you some good historical drama recommendations.
Elisabetta (Editor) recommends:
I started this drama because of my fondness towards Ueno Juri. The story dragged me so deep that I ended up watching it in a very unhealthy manner - 46 episodes in 3 days.
If you are looking for whimsical princesses in pretty dresses loved by dashing heroes fighting against all odds, then well, this is not a story for you. Although the dresses are certainly beautiful and views are stunning, this is no fairy tale. Aiming for historical authenticity this drama shows fortunes and misfortunes of 3 sisters entangled in the men’s world of the Sengoku period. It’s quite an interesting perspective; because women in that time and place in spite of having their own thoughts and feelings didn’t have that much to say about their fate. Even the men, restricted by power struggles and obligations of honor, often had to act against their own judgment and conscience.
Watching this, I have learned a lot about Japan's history and its twisted customs, many of which were shocking and hard to comprehend. However, the main virtue of this drama is how it brings to life legendary figures and makes them into real people with doubts and hopes.
If you’re up for an epic story with many Greek tragedy-worthy undertones, this is the right drama for you.
Geanina (Trailer Staff and Approval Moderator) recommends:
The first Korean drama I ever saw, back in 2009, was a sageuk: A Jewel in the Palace. So this genre does hold a special meaning to me. And I guess most of us, upon discovering them, find these historical series fascinating, exotic and colorful, with all those beautiful clothes, intricate stories and inspiring characters, offering that special insight into the history and culture of another country.
That being said, the drama that got me hooked the most lately was Empress Ki. A tale of Seung Nyang (Ha Ji Won), a woman from Goryeo, who is forcefully taken to China as a tribute, and ends up being the empress of Yuan. In her struggle to the top, she swears to avenge the wrongful deaths of her family and countrymen, fends off political enemies in the Yuan palace, and gets caught up in a love triangle between the king of Goryeo (Joo Jin Mo) and the emperor of Yuan (Ji Chang Wook).
I spent almost 6 months impatiently waiting for new episodes each week, wanting more and more of that complex world full of intrigue, sacrifice, romance and politics. I’ve read many bad reviews after I finished Empress Ki, but I continue to stand my ground. It is a highly entertaining and addictive sageuk, where you have action, comedy, melodrama, romance, politics, revenge, all in the right proportion to make a good watch for almost everyone. Admittedly there are several inconsistencies in storytelling and some illogical plot points, but what I found quite interesting was the blurring of lines between good and evil when it came to most characters (there are no pure saints, nor villains rotten to the core here, it is all a matter of perspective). Also what won me over was the fact that all supporting actors were nowhere beneath the main cast (special mentions go to Baek Jin Hee, Jo Jae Hyun, Kim Young Ho and Jin Yi Han - playing my favorite character in this drama, ♥ Tal Tal). The beautiful OST, especially really nice instrumental songs, and those exquisite costumes were also an important part of the long and memorable journey that watching Empress Ki for half a year turned out to be for me.
Cheer (Approval Moderator and Editor) recommends:
Being an avid history lover, I have had the chance to self-study Asian history way before I became an addict. This helped to track down useful dramas to reminisce on my historical knowledge. Korean saegeuk aren’t a reference to correct history by any means (except the longer ones that are hardly subtitled). Koreans seem to take all the freedom they want while doing a historical piece. Therefore, I grew tired of their constant ignorance of actual historical events. Even Hong Kong and Chinese historical dramas aren’t any different. I was going to give up searching for accurate dramatization of history until Taiga dramas stepped in. NHK produces yearlong dramas that take a certain character from Japanese history to tell his/her life from start to finish. It’s unbelievably accurate as if you’re watching what you read come to life.
Tenchijin was my first Taiga drama and my biggest breakthrough into this amazing world. The story is set in the Sengoku era – the most chaotic period of Japanese history. It tells the story of Kanetsugu, the chief advisor of the Uesgi clan during Kagekatsu’s ruling. Basing a whole Taiga drama on a non-famous general like Kanegatsu was odd; the warring states era had countless of amazing generals whose life can be perfectly dramatized. While watching this Taiga, I realized that the values Kanetsugu held were so precious to ignore. No wonder that many famous Daimyo (feudal lords) and generals respected him even if they disagreed with his opinions.
The drama was a good definition of how historical dramas should be made. Although the directing and action scenes may raise an issue, they weren’t that important in the flowing of events. It’s notable to mention that Taiga dramas are very informative even if you’re ignorant about history, their travelogue and introductions are a fine glimpse into the rich Japanese history. The acting department of this drama was absolutely wonderful; Tsumabuki Satoshi’s acting was well-suited for the character he played. Even his amazing co-stars didn’t fall behind; Abe Hiroshi, Oguri Shun, Kitamura Kazuki, Takako Tokiwa and Matsuda Ryuhei are only a few to mention.
Don't let the length scare you away, Tenchijin is definitely one of the better historical dramas out there. If you’re ever in the mood for a compelling historical telling then this Taiga is definitely for you.
The article has come to an end. We hope this quick edition managed to pick your interest in Historical dramas. Feel free to tell us your favourite historical dramas below.
If you missed our previous editions, here’s where to find them: