|Taira no Kiyomori|
2012 NHK Taiga Drama Series 50 Episodes
Please Note: The English subtitles and translation may be poor
Directed By: Shibata Takeshi
Cast: Matsuyama Kenichi, Tamaki Hiroshi, Matsuda Shota, Fujiki Naohito
The 51st NHK Taiga drama recounts the life of Taira no Kiyomori (1118-1181), a general of the Heian period, who established the first samurai-based government in Japan.
During the late Heian era, a youth who did not know his birth parents was raised by the Heike (also known as the Taira), a samurai clan of emerging influence. Taira no Kiyomori (Matsuyama Kenichi) was in truth the illegitimate son of Emperor Shirakawa. With his adoptive father, Tadamori (Nakai Kiichi), he got rid of the pirates in the Seto Insland Sea, and was trained to be a samurai. In a period where the samurai were being discriminated by the aristocrats of the upper echelons of society, Kiyomori, who was adept at winning hearts and minds, controlled the pirates. He worked to reform the aristocracy, persisted with the way of life of the samurai and built up the mighty Taira clan (Nakamura Baijaku, Kamikawa Takaya, Fujimoto Takahiro, Daito Shunsuke). Before long, he rose from a senior courtier of the third rank to become the chief minister and the ruler of Japan.
The Tale of the Heike (平家物語, Heike Monogatari) is an epic account of the struggle between the Taira and Minamoto clans for control of Japan at the end of the 12th century in the Genpei War (1180-1185). Heike (平家) refers to the Taira (平) clan; "hei" being an alternate reading of the kanji (character) for Taira. In terms of the title of the Genpei War, "hei" can be alternatively read as "pei" again and the "gen" (源) is the same kanji used in the Minamoto (also known as Genji) clan's name.
The story of the Heike was compiled from a collection of oral stories recited by traveling monks who chanted to the accompaniment of the biwa, an instrument reminiscent of the lute. The most widely read version of the Heike monogatari was compiled by a blind monk named Kakuichi in 1371.
NOTE: The English subtitles are OK not great but this is the only available version so far.
2012 Color Widescreen 4 Discs Box Set
Japanese with optional English and Chinese Subtitles.