Conflicted About “47 Ronin”

Related Post: Attack on Titan: Analogy to World War II.

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From Left to Right: Rinko Kikuchi, Tadanobu Asano, Hiroyuki Sanada, Keanu Reeves, and Kou Shibasaki.
Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

I am very conflicted about going to see 47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves in theaters December 25th.

On one hand, the film seems to have little to do with Chūshingura (忠臣蔵), the original kabuki (歌舞伎) play I read in the “Traditional Japanese Literature” class I took at Sophia University (上智大学) in Tokyo. Moreover, the film has reportedly not done well with Japanese audiences.

BUT, on the other hand, I really want to support the amazing selection of Japanese actors cast in the film. And, for that reason, I’ve devised the following list…

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Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

Hiroyuki Sanada (真田広之)

  • Best known for in the U.S.: Dogen on Lost (Season 6).
  • Notable Accolades: He performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and received an honorary MBE award.
  • Why is he awesome?: While filming The Last Samurai (2003), he almost cut off Tom Cruise’s head (“Cruise has brush with death”).
  • Film Recommendations: Sanada-san stars in my favorite samurai film The Twilight Samurai (2002). This film has only two fight scenes (one short and one long), but they are both jaw-dropping in their seemingly effortless choreography and will have you on the edge of your seat!

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Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

Kou Shibasaki (柴咲コウ)

  • Best known for in the U.S.: Mitsuko Souma in Battle Royale (2000); she was slated to play Gogo Yubari’s twin sister Yuki in Kill Bill, but dropped out due to other commitments.
  • Notable Accolades: She won a Japanese Academy Award for her performance in Go (2001).
  • Why is she awesome?: She starred in the first Japanese television drama I ever watched called Orange Days (2004) in which she played a deaf character, performing all her lines in Japanese sign language.  Plus, she’s an adorable pop singer (“KISS Shite” by KOH+).
  • Film Recommendations: Shibasaki-san stars alongside Joe Odagiri in one of my favorite Japanese films called La Maison de Himiko (2005) about a young woman who is asked by her dying father’s young male lover to work in her father’s nursing home for gay men.

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Rinko-Kikuchi-2

Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

Rinko Kikuchi (菊地凛子)

  • Best known for in the U.S.: Mako Mori in Pacific Rim (2013).
  • Notable Accolades: She was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in Babel (2006).
  • Wh is she awesome?: She’s the first Japanese actress in 50 years to be nominated for an Oscar! Plus, she’s appeared in a number of films with Tadanobu Asano (see below) including his directorial debut Tori (2003).
  • Film Recommendations: I absolutely adore The Brothers Bloom (2009), starring Rachel Weisz, Adrien Brody, Mark Ruffalo, and (of course) Rinko Kikuchi!! :) Kikuchi-san silently pantomimes throughout this film and is an absolute delight to watch.

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AsanoTadanobu2008Uniqlo6

Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

Tadanobu Asano (浅野忠信)

ONE OF MY ALL-TIME FAVORITE ACTORS!

Some of these film recommendations might be hard to find outside of Japan. If you’re having trouble finding a title and really want to watch it, message me at gegallas@hotmail.com and I’ll see if I can help! :)

Also, for those of you who go see 47 Ronin, leave a comment here and let me know what you think!

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Copyright 2013 by G. E. Gallas

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About gegallas

G. E. Gallas is a screenwriter and graphic novelist (writer/illustrator) best known for "The Poet and the Flea," a fantastical reimagining of the life of the poet-painter William Blake. Originally from Washington D.C., she spent her year abroad in Tokyo, Japan and graduated from New York University: Gallatin School of Individualzed Study with a major involving cross-cultural storytelling. Spring 2013, she attended the Cannes International Film Festival and spoke upon invitation to The Blake Society, London. February 2014, her illustrations will be featured in the young adult title "Scared Stiff: Everything You Need To Know About 50 Famous Phobias." View all posts by gegallas

8 responses to “Conflicted About “47 Ronin”

  • Justin

    I see the trailer and I’m like “Wow. This looks beautiful and amazing.” and then Keanu appears and I’m like “Meh… Way to ruin a good thing.”

  • ThroughTheLookingGlassAndDownTheRabbitHole

    I’m glad you wrote this post! I’m having trouble deciding whether to go and watch it or not… I LOVE Hiroyuki Sanada, which makes me want to see it, and Shibasaki Kou is fabulous as well, but I haven’t decided if I should yet, ha ha. The Japanese cast would certainly convince me to see it :)

  • khakiout

    Wow, this is very informative! I am in doubt whether I’ll watch 47 Ronin or not. I got interested with the other movies you mentioned in this post. I will try to watch a couple of them sometime :)

  • wanderingmyra

    When I first heard this movie was coming out, I was so very excited…I know the original story and have seen a portion of the kabuki play performed here in Tokyo. Then I saw the preview and was so disappointed. I decided not to see it in theaters but I will probably watch it once it comes out on DVD though I will most likely try to think of it as a completely different story from the one I know. Did you decide to go see it? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it if you did.

    And thank you so much for sharing your movie recommendations! I am looking forward to checking out some of these myself. :)

    • gegallas

      Thanks for your input — very much appreciated!! :) I haven’t seen the film yet, and will probably do the same as you — get the DVD on Netflix. Let me know what you think if you get a chance to see any of my recommendations! Best regards, G. E.

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