「平家流るる」 (Heike Nagaruru)
According to legend, Okata, a retainer of the Taira, claimed to be a descendent of a scary snake god and even fierce warriors didn’t question him. The heads of the Taira clan, however, do question his betrayal of them. It seems hypocritical for the Taira to cry over Okata’s breach of loyalty when they themselves are disloyal to Go-Shirakawa who gave them their power and positions in the first place. But, history and legend are made from breaches of conduct.
The crescendo of the falling Taira fortunes hits Kiyotsune the most visibly. As a wealthy, powerful Taira, he was raised in the luxury that disregarded the affairs of the poor. Now that he has to face the hardships of betrayal and fleeing for his life on foot through the mud like a commoner, he does not know how to cope. In a way, he symbolizes the nobility as a whole at the end of the golden age before the court and society as a whole descend into years of strife and warfare with the Sengoku Jidai (Warring States Period).
As Biwa noted, like Shigemori, Kiyotsune died before he could witness the final destruction of his beloved lifestyle. Unlike Shigemori who grieved his clan’s many sins and foresaw the turning of retribution’s wheels, Kiyotsune (at least in the anime), grieved the loss of his carefree life. I suppose this is a stage many people go through (but perhaps less drastically) of grieving the loss of childhood in the face of adult responsibilities.
While Kiyotsune grapples with and succumbs to the tragedies inherent to a greedy world, Tokuko continues to be the image of a perfect-or rather, 1D- being- never questioning the turn of events. Even in fleeing for one’s life on foot in the grimy mud to boot, she doesn’t complain. While her enlightenment in looking beyond the physical world fits with the tale’s Buddhist roots, her lack of personality in always showing one set of feelings does not make her compelling.
The Taira were known for their seafaring in establishing naval trade with China. It is interesting that with this history, they are now defeated by the Minamoto on the ocean at Mizushima. Unfortunately, they continue to drastically downplay Minamoto Yoshinaka’s intelligence, emphasizing his crudeness in demanding to be the commander and then burning things down while shaking hairy fists in the air. Sure, those things happened, but there was also a lot of calculation that went into those moves-calculation that is omitted here.
Another casualty of the script was the stirring scene between Yoshinaka and his retainer. His retainer pledged to protect Yoshinaka’s honor to his death, urging him to leave. When Yoshinaka finally leaves, his horse gets stuck in the mud and he is struck by a passing arrow. Skipping the meat of this scene in jumping right to his death totally misses the irony of Yoshinaka getting stuck in the mud and dying. Not to mention that they completely omitted the scene where Tomoe charges with elegant fierceness for one last battle, taking men’s heads with her as she goes. I loved how they described her as an elegant warrior in the novel-it isn’t often I read about female characters who possess both those qualities and so it was terribly disappointing that they missed the mark on that one in the anime.
They finally introduce Minamoto Yoshitsune who I feel is even more of a main character than Yoshinaka, not just the novel, but also in the history books. If you look at many of the books (at least the ones I’ve read), Yoshitsune is mentioned far more than Yoshinaka.
How could they skip past the charge down the Hiyodori Ravine?? Who in their right minds would do that-what on earth were they thinking? This is such a famous battle and highlights the military genius of Yoshitsune in forging a path down such a steep incline, determined to take the victory at all costs. And to only hint at what happened, then move right on to the aftermath. Unbelievable.
I get it, they are more interested in the personal dynamics than in the battles of Heike Monogatari. But if they were interested in personal dynamics, why choose to adapt Heike Monogatari where warfare is the backbone of the story? Why not adapt Genji Monogatari where there are no battles and personal dynamics are the main feature?
Another burning question was why is the only animated fight scene (probably the only animated one in the whole show) the one between Atsumori and his challenger? Atsumori is a legendary figure and the inner conflict of the challenger as he struggles with killing someone reminiscent of his son is heartrending. But of all the battles to animate, this wouldn’t be one of them-there are far more epic ones, like the Hiyodori Ravine, that could have been brought to life.