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~ The MDL Taiga Discussion Thread ~

Hi guys, let's use this thread to discuss absolutely everything about Taiga!

Taiga drama ( "Big River Drama") is the name NHK gives to the annual, year-long historical fiction television drama series it broadcasts in Japan. The 45-minute show  airs on the NHK General TV network every Sunday at 20:00, with rebroadcasts on Saturdays at 13:05.  NHK BS Premium and NHK World Premium broadcasts are also available. - wikipedia

59th (2020)
58th (2019)
57th (2018)
56th (2017)
55th (2016)
54th (2015)
53rd (2014)
52nd (2013)
51st (2012)
50th (2011)
49th (2010)
48th (2009)
47th (2008)
46th (2007)
45th (2006)
44th (2005)
43rd (2004)
42nd (2003)
41st (2002)
40th (2001)
39th (2000)
38th (1999)
37th (1998)
Mori Motonari 36th (1997)
35th (1996)
34th (1995)
Hana no Ran
 33rd (1996)
32nd (1993)
31st (1993)
30th (1992)
29th (1991)
Tobuga Gotoku 28th (1990)

Takeda Shingen
26th (1988)

Dokuganryu Masamune
25th (1987)

24th (1986)

Haru no Hatou

23rd (1986)

Sanga Moyu

22rd (1985)

Tokugawa Ieyasu

21st (1984)

Are there any Taiga dramas that you like?

Oh great, thanks for the thread!

So far I've only seen Tenchijin and Sanada Maru (and had a look at some parts of the 2017 one, but only for Takahashi's character, who seemed quite interesting). I'm not the kind to venture in too long dramas, but taigas are able to capture my attention. Well, by chance the two dramas I watched were covering the same period of history, so it helped to learn about this period (though watching the same character played by two very different actors can be confusing sometimes). 

I'm not feeling confident to start another one, but Gunshi Kanbei were highly praised when it aired, so I might watch it. The problem for me is to find the courage to start it.

I like the quality of these dramas (I still can't get over Sanada Maru and its stunning opening), and I enjoy watching many different well-known actors.

I think this thread is a super cool idea! Unfortunately I haven't really watched any yet. But I've started with Yae no Sakura and Ryomaden... 

Thanks so much for posting this. I love historical dramas and i have been meaning to try a long hjstorical drama from japan. 

I just realized that this thread is new...(confused with the other one with the long list of dramas....lol!) Anyway thanks for creating it.....it's great to have a dedicated place to discuss Taiga Drama...

Although wikipedia says taiga drama is an historical fiction...i guess it's worth to mention that while some or whole part of the writing might be fictional, it is always based on actual figures and/or events happened in japan history...

In other words, it's more like an historical documentary but with semi-fictional interpretation...additional fictional characters might also be added though depending on the creativity of the script but usually won't affect the important historical events....

I know my english might not good enough to explain it, but i hope you get the idea...

This is to differentiate with other historical dramas from HK, C, T or K...while there are dramas written based on classical novel such as Condor Hero or the 3 kingdoms, i noticed majority of the others (non novel based) are totally fictional in terms of characters and events...I think this is important so that new viewers know what to expect if they're about to pick a Taiga Drama...

So, What to Expect?

(....This is intended for anyone who's new to Taiga Drama and particularly to those who are not familiar with Jdrama....for seasoned viewers please skip this part...)

Firstly, there'll be no such thing as romance in the palace, servant girl fall in love with king/big-shot, or a village thief who's somehow got tangled with palace politics....the usual kind of plots you see in other historical dramas...(well, they probably might appear as minor subplot but not the main focus in Taiga Drama...)

Secondly, knowing some basic japanese classic social structure beforehand might be helpful....for those who are already used to see large palace in non japanese historical,  you will be frustrated because there will no such thing in Taiga Drama.....

This is mainly because most of the dramas are focusing on the samurai and from what i have watched only Taira no Kiyomori had featured emperor's palace....and even so it was not that "grand" as compared to chinese and korean....and even in reality, the Edo Castle which the emperor reside in the present day was originally a Tokugawa's castle...which was a samurai...

More about samurai

Talking about samurai, it's worth to know that this social status is a bit unique....i mean they have Shogun-->Deputy Shogun-->Daimyo-->Small Lords-->Castle lords-->Ji Zamurai which basically are all samurai in status....

The amazing thing is that, their maids, pages, bodyguards, retainers are also samurai in status....in some cases these pages, bodyguards, retainers might also have their own castle with their respective retainers which also samurais.....but of course the further down it goes the lower the rank of the samurai is....

Another amazing thing is that, all samurai's daughter are called princess regardless of the rank (i might be wrong with "regardless the rank" part)....so don't be surprise if you see a princess live in a small house-like castle...

While samurai status is second after the royals and nobles, it's not strict at all....technically anyone could be promoted to this status as in the case of Saito Dosan who was a merchant and Hideyoshi who was a farmer....and it's hereditary once you are a samurai.....so there's no such thing as an exam to become a samurai, unlike chinese system (and so the korean) where anyone who wants to enter administration must pass the exam...

Lastly almost in all Taiga drama, the main character will die at the end...either because he/she loses in battle or die due to old age....any character who is supposed to die earlier than him/her as written in history will also die in the drama....so to save yourself from a possible depression it is advised that you do some googling first in case you feel attached to certain characters in the drama....haha

Back to Main Topic

Okay now let's go back to the main topic and sorry for the long slightly off-topic comments above....

Here are what i have watched so far

  • Sanada Maru
  • Gunshi Kanbei
  • Taira no Kiyomori
  • Fuurin Kazan
  • Toshiie and Matsu
  • Aoi Tokugawa Sandai
  • Mori Motonari
  • Nobunaga 1992

I wanted to watch Musashi but the available video quality is killing me...lol

If you look at my list you'll see that most are between the era of early Sengoku to early Edo period except for Taira no Kiyomori.....although sengoku is one of the most discussed era (other than late Edo/pre Meiji) in japan pop culture, i still find it interesting...mainly because of the tricky diplomatic condition at that time between the lords...it's always nice to see how do these history big-shots choose their ally or enemy and how do they have to (reluctantly) trick others to survive....

Having watched several dramas from the same era might be helpful too...as you can compare the stories....for example in Sanada Maru, Tokugawa Ieyasu is viewed as canny, slick and evil old man.....but in Aoi Tokugawa Sandai you will learned his reasons for being like that...and how he's actually had offered an option for Toyotomi to survive under his rule (however Toyotomi under Lady Yodo's control chose the other way around)...

In Gunshi Kanbei you will see Tokugawa Ieyasu is still viewed as a slick old man but kind enough to kept the promise he made with Kanbei at the end of the series....so many interpretations and perspectives is what makes it interesting...

I must say my favourite among the above watched list is Aoi Tokugawa Sandai....not because of Tokugawa (which i'm not a fan of), but because of it's unique writing style....you will be surprised that this drama feels more "modern" than any other taiga dramas aired in several years after that...the downside is that it features slightly "senior" actors for the lead roles, which makes it harder to attract younger viewer (despite the strong acting)...

Again, sorry for the long post....

Your warning about characters dying had me laughing hahaha. It's so true though. I think it's all the more sad because you know these people truly existed and some of them did die in horrible circumstances. It's a bit different than regular characters deaths.

Anyway I really like Taiga Dramas, even though they're a huge and need a lot of commitment to finish (lol). Here's my personal watched list:


  • Ryomaden
  • Gunshi Kanbei

Have watched most of, but not completed yet for various reasons:

  • Hideyoshi
  • Shinsengumi!

Have watched a few episodes only:

  • Gou
  • Sanadamaru
  • Onna Joushu Naotora
  • Aoi Tokugawa Sandai

Currently watching:

  • Sego-don

Out of these, Gunshi Kanbei is my absolute favorite. Many characters were really likable, the casting was great (with a good mix of Taiga veterans and talented younger actors), the visuals and music were beautiful, the storytelling had a good balance of humor and seriousness, and each episode really kept me engaged.

I'm really enjoying Sego-don as well so far (only 16 eps in). Though I'm currently a bit sad cuz one of my favorite characters just died ;_;

I need to rewatch Ryomaden in HD, because I think I missed out a lot due to bad quality lol

Hideyoshi I think I got about two thirds in, but got busy and haven't really picked it up again yet. Shinsengumi I lost interest very near the end; should probably finish it at some point. Gou, Sanadamaru and Naotora I dropped in the first third because I wasn't invested enough to keep going, and Aoi Tokugawa Sandai I only watched the first ep to kill time one day, but haven't committed to it yet.

I must admit I'm having a little trouble getting into the older ones, because I prefer more recent styles of filming (and picture/audio quality!!). And, well, as already said, it's a huge time investment. I think I'll first focus on finishing up those I started, and then slowly make my way through others. Which ones not on my list would you recommend the most?

@hikali I understand why you stucked at episode 1 of Aoi Tokugawa. It was a bad pilot episode in my opinion because all of sudden everyone is talking about battle at sekigahara. This is bad if one doesn't familiar with this event and even if you do, you just can't concentrate and follow what's going on on that episode...LOL

But don't be deceived. That episode 1 is like a summary of what's gonna happen in the future episodes. Starting on episode 2, they will start the story over again from the death of Hideyoshi, and so on until you will go to sekigahara again in later episodes (don't remember the number but certainly far from 10).

About Segodon, I'm interested to see it but i don't like to wait for the sub so have to wait until it finished.

The upcoming Idaten is a must watch too as the preparation for the olympic and i'm looking forward for Kirin ga Kuru in 2020. This must be interesting since it's the story of Akechi Mitsuhide.