Kamakuradono no 13-nin” (The Kamakuradono no 13-nin): “Zenji’s Last Scene,” considered one of Zen Kajiwara’s masterpieces.
On August 28, episode 33 “Shuzenji” of the NHK historical drama “Kamakuradono no 13-nin” starring actor Shun Oguri went on air. The shocking final scene, in which the second shogun, Minamoto no Yorike, and the assassin, Zenji, cross swords, was the number one trending topic on Twitter, and even a week later, the excitement is still lingering.
The protagonist of this year’s drama is the second regent of the Kamakura Shogunate, Hojo Yoshitoki (Oguri). Yoshitoki, who learned everything he knows from Yoritomo (Yo Oizumi), the first shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate, and who has made the samurai world a solid foundation, is at the center of a fierce power game among Yoritomo’s 13 vassals.
Yoshitoki unleashes an assassin, Zenji (Kajiwara Zen), who approaches Yoriya (Kaneko Daichi), who bows to the Kamakura shogunate, but Yoriya’s blade pierces Zenji when he is blinded by the word “Ippan” written on a piece of paper. However, Zenji’s disciple To (Chihiro Yamamoto) stabs him from behind, and Yorike dies. A moment later, Zenji’s disciple, To, says to Yorike, “I have been waiting for this moment for a long time.
I have been waiting for this moment for a long time.
Avenge my father!
and then he stabs Zenji to death.
The death of Zenji, who had buried Yoshitoki’s elder brother Muneji (Kataoka Ainosuke), Yoritomo and Yae’s son Chizurumaru (Yui Aragaki), and Yoritomo’s younger brother Noriyori (Sakoda Takaya) in darkness, caused a stir every time his name appeared in the next preview or the opening credits, and was met with such comments as “Zenji’s death is more sad than Yorike’s” and “He was never a good person. Zenji’s death has caused a stir every time his name is mentioned in the previews and opening credits.
Zenji is a fictional character who does not exist in history. His creator, screenwriter Mitani Koki, was not a fan of the character.
I don’t know if he is loved or hated, but I never thought he would grow into such a memorable character.
He then prefaces his speech with the following words.
Of course, it was all the work of Mr. Zen Kajiwara, but it was also my imagination that led me to think of what I could make Zenji do,” he
He continues, “Of course, Zenji was a great help to Mr. Kajiwara. It is clear that Zenji has developed into a character far beyond Mitani’s imagination.
Zenji, who had never shown any emotion before, began to show glimpses of his “humanity” when he met his apprentice To and Yorike’s son, Kazuhata.
In episode 29, she is urged by Zenji, who calls her “master,” to show off her impressive swordsmanship in front of Yoshitoki, which astonished the viewers.
After Yoritomo’s death, Kamakuradono no 13-nin’s power game is no longer a power game, but a death game. There must have been a hair-raising assassination drama that was not written down in Azuma-kan.
The more dramatically these assassination plays are depicted, the more the assassins stand out. Mr. Mitani may have fully understood this and entrusted the role of Zenji to his close friend, Yoshiyoshi Kajiwara.
Actor Yoshiyoshi Kajiwara met Koki Mitani through an introduction by actor Yutaka Matsushige, with whom he had a part-time job at the Chinese restaurant “Sumin Tei” in Shimokitazawa, and participated in a performance by the Tokyo Sunshine Boys, the theater troupe that Mitani presided over. He continued to play the roles of a train conductor and a lunch box vendor in the drama series “Furuhata Nosaburo.
In “The King’s Restaurant” (both on Fuji TV), he played a confectioner; in the film “The Utopia Hotel,” he played a valet for an enka singer; and in “The Sezu Conference,” he played Hideyoshi’s younger brother, Koichiro.
The role of Zenji in this film, however, is more than just a supporting role. He plays an important role as a living witness to the truth of history.
Kajiwara says he received an e-mail after reading the first few episodes of the script. It contained a message from Mitani saying, ‘Please make this your masterpiece. At first, Kajiwara tilted his head and said, “This role? But now that he has finished the role, he says of his feelings about the role, “Zenji has truly become a masterpiece for me.
The 32nd episode, “Seeds of Woe,” which depicted “the parting of the ways with the young Ippan,” was a divine episode for Zenji.
When Yoshitoki visited Zenji and pressed him, saying, “You can’t let him live,” he shook his head and said, “I can’t.” When asked why, he said, “He likes me…” and his eyes welled up. Zenji, who had been doing his job without changing a single expression, was unable to move to approach Kazuhata with a small sword in his hand.
The sight of Zenji gazing at them with tears in his eyes, cutting the strings of the swing made by his own hands, and running after them with an expression of anguish brought a flood of comments from netizens that he was “crying the hardest ever” (production company director).
Zenji lost his life because he had human feelings. Is this also the fate of assassins? Kajiwara himself says, “I wanted to be a little more active in the dark.
I would have liked to have played a darker role. I wish I could have enjoyed the thrill of it.
I wish I could have enjoyed the thrill of it. However, the final scene of episode 33, “Shuzenji,” is worthy of being called “Zen Kajiwara’s masterpiece.
Text： Ukon Shima (Broadcaster, Video Producer)
He is involved in program production in a wide range of genres, including variety, news, and sports programs. He has also planned and published many books on female TV announcers, idols, and the TV industry. While working on documentary programs, he became interested in history and recently published "Ieyasu was dead in Sekigahara" (Takeshobo Shinsho). She is also publishing the e-book series "Ibun Chakurezuregusa.
PHOTO： Sota Shima