「都遷り」 (Miyako Utsuri)
While watching the OP, it occurred to me that this version of Heike Monogatari focuses on the little things- the interactions between characters that made them people more than their roles as giants of history. I still don’t and probably won’t ever agree with the direction this adaption has taken, but understanding why it pulls the focus where it does gives some appreciation for their attempt.
While scenes like Kiyotsune and his brothers enjoying the sand and surf and Retired Emperor Takakura and Tokuko’s sickbed conversation were non-canonical, they do provide glimpses on what the anime writers imagine them to have been like as people. The young Tairas, all ranking officials, playing on the beach gave the impression of normal people letting loose after a brutal work week. When I think of Heike Monogatari, or even history in general, I rarely think of individuals as individuals with their own moments of joy. I think of them in context of the grander scheme of history that they helped drive. Which upon closer reflection, may be unfair. While their attributes combined with being in the right place at the right time catapulted them to fame, they were still people with daily lives. While I would have preferred the focus to be on the grander historical events, I do appreciate how this adaptations view provides some pause for thought.
I find it interesting how they portrayed the feelings in Takakura and Tokuko’s relationship as mutual. Their conversation about how the emperor admired and was grateful to Tokuko sounds very sweet, like a conversation one might hear in the modern day between a married couple. However, it rings a bit false given that Takakura is ill due to love-sickness after Kiyomori banishes his lover (not Tokuko) to nunhood. They are trying to slant this whole relationship towards a bittersweet, ill-fated romance between the Emperor and Empress by completely removing the lover from the picture (this lover, Aoi, is different from the previous lover he had in a past episode). Perhaps they are trying to emphasize the good-naturedness of Retired Emperor Takakura that Tokuko fell in love with in a prior episode with the leaf-burning scene. Mind you, Tokuko was not even featured prominently in the book-just a name and a few mentions here and there.
Someone who was featured prominently in the book and is introduced to us this week is Minamoto Yoritomo-who if you don’t already know from history, should pay close attention to him from here on out. The monk who convinced the exiled Yoritomo to rebel was Mongaku-a pretty weird dude. He was so dedicated to achieving enlightenment, he performed death defying acts. He was so determined to rebuild a temple that he sent a donation to request to the retired emperor Go-Shirakawa in person, leading to his arrest after some unruly behavior. He even got a pardon for Yoritomo, who was exiled for rebellion. You get the picture-someone who does not take no for an answer. While I am sad they cut out some of the tales of his eccentricity, they do get a sense of his pushiness in his conversation with Yoritomo.
The Taira who boast of being so powerful are in a sorry state indeed. While awaiting battle with the Minamoto, a flock of birds startle them so much, they run for the hills before the first arrows are even fired. I find it ironic that talking up the Minamoto’s strength was meant to spur their men on, when it seemed to do just the opposite- putting them on edge. I have to wonder if they would have been scared so much by the birds if they hadn’t talked about the Minamoto just prior to that. The commanders chalk it up to Shigehira’s inexperience, but one has to question the state of the Taira if they allow themselves to be frightened off so easily. Not all of those warriors were first-timers.
Just in time for Halloween, Kiyomori sees apparitions of skulls (which are apparently called mekurabe, although they weren’t given that name until the Edo era). I quite liked the image of Kiyomori having a staring contest with a bunch of phantasmagorical skulls. For the first time in this anime adaptation, it made me like Kiyomori because of that unmatched fierceness. I certainly wouldn’t be able to stare down a mound of skulls-I’d be running in the opposite direction. It is no coincidence that he is haunted by a multitude of skulls, for all of the people who he has taken in battle or otherwise ruined (like Shunkan). What goes around comes around and for Kiyomori, this is in a most horrifying manner, which becomes more poignant the further the story gets.