0 Items | £0.00


Musashi: Dream of the Last Samurai

Friday 1st July 2011

Jonathan Clements digs beneath the surface of Mizuho Nishikubo’s Musashi.

Musashi: Dream of the Last SamuraiMusashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai is an anime like no other – a mixture of animated combat, live-action footage of ancient battle sites, and computer-graphic hypertexts telling the history of mounted knights across Eurasia. Beyond that, it zooms in on the life and legend of Miyamoto Musashi (1584-1645), author of the military manual The Book of Five Rings, who took part in the last battles of Japan’s civil war era and lived out his days as a duellist and hermit.

Director Mizuho Nishikubo throws in graphic demonstrations of sword techniques and notes on the history of the samurai, from the brawlers of the middle ages to the military ideals of the 20th century. The script is by Mamoru Oshii, the director of Sky Crawlers, a sometime martial artist himself, now also revealed as an exceptionally well-read armchair Musashi: Dream of the Last Samuraihistorian. The film’s narrator looks suspiciously like a cartoon version of its celebrity screenwriter – aided at times by his hapless doll-like assistant and, for reasons that defy explanation, an incontinent robot pig. His story comes accompanied by a whirl of musical styles, including old-school Japanese songs that relate the deeds of Musashi in a clash of samisen and electric guitar.

For Oshii, it’s all about the money, which makes all noblemen worth more alive for the ransom, and the geography, which makes Chinese weapons and tactics practically useless in mountainous Japan. These factors combine to create the unique appearance of Japan’s own mounted warriors: a class to which, according to Oshii, Musashi aspired in vain.

Musashi: Dream of the Last SamuraiOshii’s vision is deeply personal – a class-based, left-wing approach to samurai history that glares unswervingly at issues of wealth and power in medieval Japan. For Oshii, Musashi was haunted all his life by a thwarted desire to become one of the horsemen he so admired. Born as Japan’s violent centuries of civil war came to a close, but still too early to take advantage of the peaceful samurai life of the Tokugawa period, Oshii’s Musashi is caught between the careers of a thug and artist. According to Oshii, Musashi developed his famous two-sword technique in imitation of the way he would fight if he ever had a horse, discovering in the process that it worked well against unmounted opponents.

Oshii delves impressively deep into matters of historiography – the history of history itself. The two-sword technique never really caught on (although there is a story that one of the last pupils of Musashi’s school was the “pirate king” Coxinga) despite Musashi’s own attempts to highlight its value. Oshii puzzles over why Musashi himself never bragged about the battle that made him most famous, and offers a scathing analysis of the uses of samurai legends for state propaganda in the 20th century.

Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai is released by Manga Entertainment on UK Blu-ray and DVD on 4th July.


Musashi: The Dream Of The Last Samurai

was £19.99
Miyamoto Musashi is an instantly familiar name to any Japanese citizen, a legendary swordsman who has become part historical figure and part romanticised hero of myth. In addition to writing one of the key texts on Japanese samurai tactics and philosophy – The Book of Five Rings – he is also famous for inventing the Ni-Ten Ichi Ryu style of fighting with two swords, perhaps the most obvious, internationally recognized visual trademark of the samurai.

But even with so much academic study dedicated to Musashi's life, so many books written on him and an almost infinite number of movies, anime and manga stories inspired by his legendary exploits and teachings, still questions remain unanswered. Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai attempts to answer one of these in particular – what motivated the great warrior to adopt and perfect his dual bladed style?



New Ghibli Film Announced

Suzuki’s swansong will be the ultimate in exclusivity
Rough artwork has been leaked of Studio Ghibi’s next film, announced as the ultimate in collectibles: a film released in a single print, with a guarantee of no DVD or Blu-ray release. Slated for release in one year’s time, Gertie the Dinosaur began with the most unlikely of inspirations for a much-loved children’s studio.

Tajomaru: Avenging Blade

Jonathan Clements goes in search of groove in a grove
Tajomaru: Avenging Blade is part of a trend in filmmaking that has seen a number of Japanese classics approached from new angles. In Hollywood, we have the Satsuma Rebellion retooled in The Last Samurai, and Keanu Reeves already at work on the forthcoming Forty-seven Ronin. Within Japan, Sogo Ishii’s Gojoe (2000) replayed a famous samurai legend with a gritty, glossy, pop sensibility. Shinji Higuchi’s Hidden Fortress: The Last Princess (2008) re-appraised a Kurosawa classic through the priorities and influences of George Lucas’s Star Wars. Kazuaki Kiriya’s Goemon (2009) retold an old kabuki tale, re-imagined with the weight of a century of potboiler novels and schlocky ninja movies.

The History of Evangelion

Andrew Osmond on the prelude to the First Impact
Evangelion started as Neon Genesis Evangelion, a 26-part TV serial in 1995. It used a familiar Japanese plot template: the teenage boy who drives a giant robot (or in Eva’s case, cyborg), using the huge and frightening body to fight monsters and save Earth. The lyrics of the TV song express the myth. “Like an angel without a sense of mercy / Rise young boy to the heavens as a legend!”
Check in for details on our replacement scheme for the faulty Naruto Shippuden Box Set 21.

Time Travel in Anime

Paul Browne rewinds from Naruto Shippuden: The Lost Tower into the past
In the latest Naruto film The Lost Tower, the title character and his comrades embark on a mission to capture Mukade – a missing ninja who has the ability to travel through time. Mukade’s plan is to travel into the past and take control of the Five Great Shinobi Countries. During the battle with Mukade, Naruto and Yamato find themselves hurled back twenty years in time. Will Naruto and his friends be able to return to his own time? And will their actions in the past save the future?
We'd like to thank those of you who came over to say hello, joined in with the karaoke, and made our weekend so awesome! Check out our photos from the weekend!
Contact Us   |   Refund Policy   |   Delivery Times   |   Privacy statement   |   Terms & Conditions
Please note your card statement will show billing by MVM. Musashi: Dream of the Last Samurai from the UK's best Anime Blog.