「 都落ち」 (Miyako Ochi)
“Leaving the Capital”

The Taira scrape a final spoonful out of their now almost finished bowl of victories at Sunomatagawa. Much to Yoritomo’s dismay, the Minamoto’s stealthy trip across the river to ambush the Taira ends in a soakingly wet defeat. They turned Yoritomo into a spineless fellow reluctant to take action on his own and controlled by the strong wills of others. I find this infuriating, because the dude established the bakufu-that takes a mind and backbone of steel.

I suspect that they are setting up Yoritomo’s cousin, Yoshinaka as the “hero” and Yoritomo is just his foil. Right from the start, they emphasize Yoshinaka’s animal-like strength with his huge, gorilla-like frame leaping among the trees. This whole wild-man image is something from the anime-in the book he is portrayed as a military commander more than a caricatured yahoo.

The contrast between the two cousins couldn’t be more clear. Yoshinaka means business, taking over region after region faster than Yoritomo can catch up. Yoshinaka is not just strong, but clever too- using an optical illusion of flags to make the Minamoto forces appear larger and ambushing the Taira with a group of fire-bearing cows in Kurikara Pass. It is unfortunate that they breezed past this scene, using it to illustrate his wild-man nature (they even have him riding a cow) rather than his military prowess. The competition between the cousins is about to get fiercer with both equally strong contenders for domination of the court (although the anime emphasizes Yoshinaka).

One of Yoshinaka’s companions is the female warrior, Gozen Tomoe. One of the reasons I liked Tomoe in the book was how she embodied both elegance and fierceness. The adaptation strips that away in her country bumpkin portrayal, reducing her to mere fierceness. It is intriguing to compare her to Tokuko. The anime elevated Tokuko (whose appearance is not described in the book) to the embodiment of feminine virtues and refinement. Meanwhile Tomoe, who the book mentions specifically as enchanting, is stripped of that elegance


What goes around comes around-just as the Taira burned offending temples to the ground, the Taira must now burn down their own properties lest the Minamoto get their hands on them. The tides of fate turning against the Taira are about to reach their crescendo, symbolized by Sukenaga Jo’s end. Sukenaga was Taira Munemori’s chosen governor for Echigo. A timely intervention from the gods prevented his assassination attempt on Yoshinaka, leaving Munemori with an empty post and a fearsome Yoshinaka on the loose.

While the fortunes of the Taira are changing, the clan members are not. You’d think that the two-pronged threat of Yoshinaka and Yoritomo would sober Munemori up and turn the heat on him, but no-he continues gallivanting about at merrymaking. The business of defending continues to be left to the sensitive Shigehira. I feel that the anime is reducing all of these characters to a single dimension. Munemori is the foolish pleasure-seeker, Shigehira the tragic figure cast into an ill-suited role, Tokuko the holy woman, Yoshinaka the beast, and Yoritomo the puppet. It doesn’t add any depth or conflict of emotions to these characters-it just continues plodding them down the one-track course set out for them. It is a disservice to them, literarily and historically.


  1. I hoped whoever behind (the production team of this anime) never touch or make another historical setting based anime like this and pretend it as a direct and faithful adaptation of said material. I rather watch Hyouge no Mono. It is impressive that someone can turn the cool and bad ass Heike Monogatari into something like Sissy Genji Monogatari.

    I know that Masako is cool and all (like Empress Luu Zhi from Western Han but without her uneccessary cruelty), but ge-ez , no need to show that she is the one wearing pants here. Did they forgot someone like Houjou Tokimasa exist? making Yoritomo bumbling idiot to foreshadow his death was also unnecessary man… He is the master of yabusame, he also personally led his troops wearing his pa’s Kabuto
    during the early part of Genpei , he had no qualm to be as Sinister and be as ingrate as Han Gaozu and they portray him as man with no back Bone??? Btw, why she looks fat and less attractive than Taira’s women? I seems to remember Masako was quite a looker in her younger age.

    Yoshinaka is turned into bumbling easy going ossan who make decision on spur. And his motivation is less persuassive to be legitimate. I recall he resent the main Minamoto clan because his pa was killed by Yoritomo’s big bro that’s why he prefer the name ‘Kiso’ and used his Genji’s lineage as expedience to demand Seii Tai Shogun title. Calling it that “show the world genji have two great general” felt worse than romanticization of his real drive to join the war. Why would they wait until Kiyomori kick the bucket to raise rebellion banner, then? Kiso Yoshinaka was as scheming as any Genji General, this is the man who know lots of battlefield tactics. Just because he had the foresight of Xiang Yu, Luu Bu and Dashing King Li Zicheng (and maybe Marcus Antonius during Actium) doesn’t mean he is simple minded fool. And Tomoe, Goddamn it Tomoe why do you become a plain looking osananajimi who isn’t that attractive as any other Harem rom-com osananajimi who always cucked!? Just because you are good and wrestling and snapping neck as easy as plucking flower from branch doesn’t mean you have to look this boring. Where is the Grace and beauty that always stunned the battle field with your presence along with oversized sword and now you wield?

    Aaand they make Tokuko to be annoying. Btw who is that in last scene? Shizuka Gozen?

    1. Its really weird, yeah. Yoritomo is depicted as ruthless, calculating, and often short-tempered in sources (and a big lover of women – but also of entertainment befitting his status, be it hunting or poetry). But also as generous and magnanimous (as long as you don’t do something that undermines his authority). Simply said, he had all the qualities a very skilled politician. So, yeah, so not like this guy *laughs*

      I’ll take the Yoshinaka as this country bumpkin though, I mean, his defining characteristic in narratives is that he was a great general, but unrefined and didn’t understand court culture and politics (which made him very unpopular in Kyoto).

      But anyway, I have no idea why you mention some Minamoto lineage to have him demand the seii taishôgun title, since (1) it is commonly known that he was appointed seitô taishôgun, and (2) the whole relationship between the seii taishôgun title and Minamoto blood is a myth that emerged somewhere in the Muromachi period. The whole justitification for this narrative is Yoritomo’s ownership of the title, and the office having been transformed into the hereditary title of the Lord of Kamakura in subsequent generations.

      1. Agreed. It is acceptable because historical Kiso Yoshinaka is often noted as country bumpkin lacking in manners and even killing monk Myoun that kinda kick him in the butt latter. But he certainly didn’t join the war with that happy go lucky mindset the director/producer tried to shove it to our throats. At least that’s the impression i got from him in this anime.

        Eehhh, i’m not sure myself. But i seems to recall no chrysantemum throne or imperial court want to give any nobility title to some nobodies (especially when that Barbarian subduing general title were just Made up title to make Yoshinaka happy; there is no title like this prior) Heck that is why sometimes they needed to be adopted as by old Fujiwara regent clan or any distinguished old name as formality. By this time (after Heiji) , Minamoto was quite distinguished on its own… So i guess it is acceptable for them to reward Yoshinaka who is from Minamoto than Yoshinaka from Kiso.

        Kiyomori kinda broke this tradition post Heiji when he become Dainagon and put all his clan in all available position (bringing ire to Fujiwaras and Imperial clan) but still he needed to marry some of them to those old names even if they are poorer than their name actually worth. Yoritomo later broke all this boring things when he started feudal governing rule of samurai based class and reduced those old Heian nobility into ceremonial and formality position with no real significant power or authority. And then Genko started by Godaigo who want to be Absolute Rule like Chinese Emperor.

        ……Yeah, Yoritomo is generous and magnanimous. He certainly isn’t someone petty and narrow-minded like Han Gaozu.

    2. Yes, that is correct that his father was killed by Yoritomo’s brother, Minamoto Yoshihira. If I remember correctly, Yoshinaka preferred the name “Kiso” because he came from the Kiso mountains. I think the anime was trying to play up what a huge deal it was for the two warring cousins to team up together against the Taira, although their wording could have been chosen better.

      I think the girls in the last scene are non-canonical. Based on the lead-up they are giving to the reveal of Biwa’s mother as a shirabyoshi, I assume that those women are also dancers who (most probably) know Biwa’s mother.

      Princess Usagi
      1. Basically everything connected to Biwa is non-canonical – including her existence, as there were no female Biwa Houshi.

        The Yoritomo-Yoshimasa dynamic is very complicated both politically and personally, and covered in much detail in the original. If anyone is curious about the actual historical context there are plenty of good sources to learn more about it.

    1. I highly doubt this is the last we will see of Biwa. If anything, they are setting up a diversion from the actual story to focus on Biwa finding and reuniting with her mother. I have a strong suspicion that the girls who save her at the end of the episode will be a link to her mother.

      Princess Usagi

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