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Musashi [武蔵]

Drama Details
Telecast:2003-01-05 to 2003-12-07
Season:Winter 2003

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TV Station:NHK
Duration:49 Episodes

Everyone in Japan knows the legend of Musashi, a warrior hero of the 17th century. Here his vibrant story is brought to life in this stunning epic drama with a star-studded cast. In retaliation to his abandonment by his overbearing father when he was a child, Musashi Miyamoto sets out to become a master swordsman. His real name is Takezo, but after fighting valiantly at the Battle of Sekigahara at the tender age of seventeen, he is bestowed the name "Musashi" and begins his search for the true way of the sword. Battling his way across the country, by the time he is 29 years old, he had fought and emerged undefeated in sixty battles. Although already unbeatable, Musashi continues his journey of combat toward the limits of his own ability. Many women are attracted to such a brash warrior, but truly a man of high standards, he settles only for his beloved Otsu, a childhood friend. They have a mutual understanding and respect for each other, which is the source of inspiration during Musashi's transitory journey. The only problem is that Otsu has been promised in marriage to someone else--Musashi's comrade, Matahachi. Determined to fight for the man she loves, Otsu flees her hometown and tries to follow Musashi across the country. However, several forces are working against them, maliciously conspiring to keep them apart. Can Musashi outwit his enemies, overcome double-crossing allies, and become recognized as the strongest warrior in the country? And will he ever be reunited with his true love, Otsu?

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Actor/Actress Cast (20)
Abe Hiroshi
Gion Touji
Ichikawa Shinnosuke
Miyamoto Musashi
Tsutsumi Shinichi
Honiden Matahachi
Yonekura Ryoko
Matsuoka Masahiro
Sasaki Kojiro
Miyazawa Rie
Nakai Kiichi
Yagyu Munenori
Uchiyama Rina
Bito Takeshi
Shinmen Munisai
Katase Rino
Nakama Yukie
Watase Tsunehiko
Takashima Masanobu
Yagyu Hyougonosuke
Terajima Shinobu
Takashima Masanobu
Yagyu Hyougonosuke
Kitamura Kazuo
Tokugawa Ieyasu
Fujita Makoto
Yagyu Sekishusai
Enoki Takaaki
Emori Toru
Akaneya Genzo
Kato Mitsuru

Drama Reviews (6)
The review section may contain spoilers! Please understand
that you may find out about this drama's endings and plots!

1. Simply incredible.. [Rating: 10/10]
I must say that although i've missed about 7 episodes of this taiga drama, shame on me :P, I can most definitely say how breathtaking it was. Each episode left me craving for more and I loved them all. The storyline, I thought, was really wonderful. I can't think of any flaw that this drama displayed at all. Of course, the actors get credit for their stupendous high quality performance. Each character was portrayed very well, in my opinion. I don't want to spoil anything else for anyone who hasn't seen it, but I must say that it left me a one angry spectator. I was evidently begging for more when it had come to an end. Overall, after smacking myself a few times, i've come to a conclusion that despite my childish self, I was pretty satisfied. It was kind of a tearjerker though because i've seen these actors on this show for what..almost 2 years and now they are finally gone. I thought this show was pretty educational since i've heard about Musashi in my 7th grade World History class and knew almost nothing about him except for the obvious fact that he was one of the greatest swordsmen that ever lived. A true legend. Now that i'm in the 8th, they don't mention that kind of stuff anymore, heh. Figures.

- Psychotic Bastard
Reviewed by Psychotic Bastard on 5 February 2004
2. Superior [Rating: 10/10]
Based on the popular novel, it just doesn't get much better than this. You can quibble about details (e.g., the real Musashi was painfully ugly, not a hunk as shown here), but this drama captures the time and characters vividly. The real Musashi may have been a relatively obscure person, but his tale feels spot-on.

This series patches in the sketchy details on Musashi's life the best it can, making for a drama that captures the main events of the time, and enlarges upon its bigger than life personalities.
Reviewed by jdoramadotcom on 22 April 2009
3. Best Taiga ever! [Rating: 10/10]
I could not have liked it more. My all time favorite Taiga drama. Everything worked acting, directing, story line, cinematography, sound... I can't imagine anything that they could do to improve it other than extending it out longer. The end comes quickly and leaves you wanting to see the later part of the life of Musashi which is not a bad thing. As they say always leave them asking for more. I highly suggest this Taiga drama to anyone that has a chance to see it.
Reviewed by MonsterZero-65 on 28 August 2006
4. Taiga Dorama...Excellent [Rating: 10/10]
Very interesting story, Great casting Ichikawa Shinnosuke, Tsustsumi Shinichi, Yonekura Ryoko, and of course Uchiyama Rina were all fantastic. The rest of the cast was also great. Combine the acting with the beautiful scenary and you can't ask for more than that.
Reviewed by Doramafan113 on 4 October 2004
5. Best Taiga ever. [Rating: 10/10]
They could not have picked a better cast to play in this drama. I enjoyed every single episode. Musashi is one of the true great swordsmen so it is fitting that in my opinion NHK's best work to date was based on his life.
Reviewed by MonsterZero65 on 16 August 2010
6. A great drama [Rating: 10/10]
An educational experience on the life of Miyamoto Musashi. Not only was it accurate the acting was superior.Ichikawa Shinnosuke fit the part perfectly.
Reviewed by Gao on 29 January 2006

Comments From Users (35)
This section may contain spoilers! Do not proceed if you
do not want to read about this drama's endings and plots!

1. Comments by occultangle [Rating: 8/10]
This being based on a novel leads to some interesting results. It makes for a more directed narrative story, which is overall very good, but on the other hand, it also comes off as clearly more fictional than a Taiga Drama should. This is very noticeable when watching the travelogues at the end, where everything they tell you about the real historical figure is completely unrelated to what you have been watching. It's rather weird, and it doesn't even feel like: so you saw this but it really happened like this, it's like there is two entirely different stories being told, about two totally different people.

When I think of Miyamoto Musashi, I think of the few things I knew about him; his duel with the Yoshioka school, and with Kojirou; and the general concepts of fighting with two swords, killing scores of people at the same time, bashing people's heads in with sticks, and just being an all around bad ass. And in these moments is where this drama is at it's best. Particularly at the beginning where the whole thing feels episodic, where it is like each episode is just another step in his journey and another master of martial arts has his head quickly bashed to death with a stick. The middle of the series is comparatively a bore. All this Matahachi trying to make money, Otsu trying to find Takezou, Musashi teaching kids to write(!?what?!). I usually have no interest in action, but when it comes to Miyamoto Musashi that's all there really should be. Though thankfully all the boringness pays off in the end with, let's call it, a "spiritually enlightened" bad ass, capable of calmly and confidently butchering people like flies. I just feel that overall it should have spent more of its time, in this very long series, showcasing the things it is best at.
2. Comments by minochi99 [Rating: 10/10]
An epic. Truly an epic. I loved every minute of Musashi. I ranked it one of the best Taiga doramas ever. Along with Mori Motonari and Toshiie to Matsu. The cast was wonderful. If you have the book Musashi from Yoshikawa, you'll be surprised at how faithful the drama stayed to the novel. The cast was superb and the ladies were beautiful. Ryoko Yonekura, Rina Uchiyama, and Nakama Yukie, sure made my viewing that much more enjoyable.

But the men really stoled the drama. I haven't seen Ichikawa Shinnosuke in any other dramas (heard he's a professional kabuki stage actor), but never a more passionate performance have I seen from an actor. He made Musashi memorable. From now on, when I think of Musashi, I will think of Shinnosuke. Tsutsumi Shinichi, one of my favorite characters, was hilarious as Matahachi. Here, the character strayed a little bit from the novel. But I still found him enjoyable. Like most great Taiga doramas, you need a ruthless tough guy, and it doesn't get badder than Masahiro as Sasaki Kojiro. He played the role to the tilt. Enjoyed his performance quite a bit.

Do I recommend this? Of course, but it's not for the faint hearted. I'm a big East Asian history fan, and Taiga doramas are usually 49-50 episodes. It got a little slow in the middle, but that's expected out of a drama so encompassing and vast. So, it takes a lot of investment in your time and commitment. Musashi is worth it. I guarantee you :-)
3. Comments by lockdown12 [Rating: 10/10]
The excellent Kyogen stage actor Ichikawa Shinnosuke stars as Miyamoto Musashi, arguably the most famous swordsman in Japanese history. Musashi was a ronin at a time of samurai elitism. He was a painter, author (Book of Five Rings), and is the named creator of the two sword style. Although the series romanticizes and twists plenty of unprovavble tales, the characters are mostly historically acurate.

Of course, I don't really care much about that. I just care that this is one of the best "taiga" dramas to come along in a while. The story centers mostly around Musashi's "journey," although this journey is defined through his personal relationships; the most important being that of him and his childhood friends, Otsu (Yonekura Ryoko) and Matahachi (Tsutsumi Shinichi). This series is a must see. Ichikawa is absolutely riveting as Musashi, and the supporting cast (led by Tsutsumi Shinichi as Matahachi) is fantastic. Entertainment at its finest.
4. Comments by Nermal [Rating: 9/10]
A very good Taiga drama with a cast of incredible actors.

Ichikawa Shinnosuke (Ichikawa Ebizo since 2004), well known Kabuki acotr in Japan, has proved that he could perform just as well in front of a camera than he can in a theatre. As a kabuki actor, he can show his emotions very well in his face making his performance breathtaking.

Supporting actors like Tsutsumi Shinichi, Abe Hiroshi, Yonekura Ryoko, Matsuoka Masahiro, Miyazawa Rie, Nakai Kiichi, Takashima Masanobu, Uchiyama Rina, Nakayama Yukie, Fujita Makoto and so on, made this a real pleasure to watch.

While the pace of this drama is very slow, it will make you think about different things in life. It was a very enjoyable drama and I recommend it to anyone who likes Taiga dramas.
5. Comments by yume [Rating: 8/10]
I, at first, thought it was a boring story, until I couldn't change the channel one day because I was glued to it! Even though you always think Musashi is going to win, you find you might be wrong. I really got emotional when someone close to him died! It made the story realistic, so I definitely enjoyed it more. Everyone did a great job, of course.
6. Comments by ahochaude [Rating: 10/10]
Still watching..........
.......Just watched.
A 10 without a doubt!!!!!!!! Incredible! Powerful! Captivating! Ichikawa Shinnosuke as Shinmen Takezo aka Miyamoto Musashi is untouchable in this drama. He pulls off such a great performance, that I felt as though I was actually watching the Great Miyamoto Musashi himself!
7. Comments by LuVinEm [Rating: 10/10]
one of my favo jdrama!!.. its just dat i like samurai movies :) ... didnt know he exist the legendary Miyamoto Musashi... very good movie!! like when they are fightin ^^' cast Ichikawa Shinnosuke, Tsutsumi Shinichi, Yonekura Ryoko, Uchiyama Rina and many more!! MUST SEE! if u love samurais and katana :P
8. Comments by darknitelight [Rating: 9/10]
They really have to translate the titles of each episode better. The show is interesting thus far, but the swordplay needs more to it. The actor for Takezo is not bad, completely insane looking...Lots of good looks at religion and how people needed to live in those times.
9. Comments by gaijinmark [Rating: 8/10]
It does run too long, but I really liked this taiga. Everybody talks about Ichikawa as Musashi, and while I thought he was okay, I really liked Tsutsumi Shinichi as Matahachi, he was outstanding!! As with most taigas, the rest of the supporting cast was excellent as well.
10. Comments by williu [Rating: 10/10]
This drama is just so good. I can't find any flaws in it - sure, a couple of the 49 episodes may be a bit slow, but the rest is just fantastic. Ichikawa really BECOMES Musashi in all ways. Musashi is filled with so many stories that it never becomes boring. A must-see!
11. Comments by ogonbato [Rating: 9/10]
a must watch for those who are miyamoto musashi fans, one of the best taiga dramas, it loses some points in my opinion after the last fight with ganryu sasaki kojiro, and i love matahachi great acting from Tsutsumi Shinichi very different from good luck!
12. Comments by groink [Rating: 10/10]
This is a excellent taiga drama! It's LONG, but it's a must-watch. I could give a damn about who's starring in the series -- the story and the historical significance is important for all Japanese culture fans to know about.
13. Comments by hikaruhana [Rating: 7/10]
Excellent account of the life of Japan's legendary swordsman. If you've seen the Mifune movies, this fleshes out the stories far more and gives you a deeper sense of what Musashi was all about.
14. Comments by hakaida [Rating: 10/10]
I don't usually watch Japanese drama, but this one caught my interest. I guess it was the intriguing storyline and also it's true life based on this extraordinary person.
15. Comments by jo [Rating: 5/10]
Musashi is okay, just don't like the lead actor. Love all the actresses, REI MIYAZAWA, NAKAMA YUKIE, YONEKURA RYOKO, and the cute and sexy UCHIYAMA RINA
16. Comments by harusamesarada [Rating: ?/10]
Only watch a few episodes but as far as I can say, good acting (Ichikawa is a Kabuki actor) and it's a good adaptation from the novel.
17. Comments by oldasianguy [Rating: 10/10]
Good show....a bit long but I did enjoy every minute of it....the cast was full of some of my favorite actors and actresses....
18. Comments by snow_san [Rating: 10/10]
NHK 49 Episodes. Ichikawa Shinnosuke was superb. His kabuki background shines clearly through his expressions. Excellent cast.
19. Comments by Ru-ku [Rating: 7/10]
I like the story of Musashi. But I think they could have made a better soundtrack. Scenechanges could be better too.
20. Comments by Geezer [Rating: 6/10]
Too long. I just didn't think there was enough story here for 49 episodes. Great supporting cast. Weak lead.
21. Comments by kitakaze [Rating: 8/10]
Great taiga-dorama. More of an adaptation of Eiji Yoshikawa's novel, but it does a fine job with that too.
22. Comments by dokodemodoa [Rating: 8/10]
I prefer the book. Excellent Matahachi, though i hate him in the book, i just couldn't hate him here
23. Comments by AsanoRin [Rating: 6/10]
I not interested in historical dramas but this one really got me into the stories background.
24. Comments by lovejdorama [Rating: ?/10]
Available for Trade, 17-DVD, Eng subbed
25. Comments by Wesu [Rating: 5/10]
It was good for a while but ARGH it's so damn long, I just can't take it anymore!!!!!
26. Comments by Gao [Rating: 10/10]
An educational drama about Miyamoto Musashi.I enjoyed this VERY much
27. Comments by Eyeyore [Rating: 7/10]
Giving this figure to Musashi, Matahachi and his mum.....
28. Comments by neon_dragon [Rating: 9/10]
Who wouldn't enjoy a story about Miyamoto Musashi?
29. Comments by biga816 [Rating: 7/10]
It was okay....not a big fan of Yonekura Ryoko.
30. Comments by Bud002 [Rating: 9/10]
Enjoyable Taiga drama - great cast.

Read all 35 comments from users

Users who voted for this drama (22)
1. ahochaude
A very powerful drama about the life of Shinmen Takezo aka Miyamoto Musashi. Ichikawa Shinnosuke did an excellent job as Miyamoto Musashi. I can see why The Book of 5 Rings is like the "essential manual" for business men and entrepreneurs in Japan just by watching this show. After watching this show, I immediately bought the Book of 5 Rings. Excellent!
2. minochi99
An epic and my absolute favorite. For those fortunate to have seen this, it has all the ingredients. Awesom, realistic fighting scenes, beautiful people and love story, and great acting by everyone. I never get tired of re-watching this series even though it's 49 episodes long! Definitely recommended tho hard to find/purchase.
3. disenchanted
loved this. tsutsumi shinichi is a very talented actor and i loved his acting as matahachi in this. best comic relief and best supporting role ever

recommended for samurai history fans. truly epic
4. Ru-ku
I already read the book and I like the story. The story of Musashi is really good. In this drama are many known actors as well.
5. snow_san
NHK 49 Episodes. Ichikawa Shinnosuke was superb. His kabuki background shines clearly through his expressions. Excellent cast.
6. Betsy Hayashi
This series is fantastic. The story is fascinating and the cast is talented and charismatic. Loved it !!!!!!!
7. Itazura ichiban
Just enough chambara to make it interesting, characters you care about, and a plot you can't predict!
8. malo_st
A great movie, Ichikawa Ebizo is really convincing and emotional as Musashi.
9. Psychotic Bastard
Amazing plot. Great actors, and indeed educational. What more can you want?
10. MonsterZero65
This is the finest Taiga that I have seen. I could not get enough of it.
11. stvaldez
Loved it although the last ep was a little week
12. Mask Maker
Just like me!
13. margauxreizer
ryoko fan
14. AmarnaObsession
15. bmwracer
16. maycc
17. kitakaze
18. Hapa Japa
19. a-nesuto
20. lye
21. kaori-san
22. Panumas