Finally! I’ve been waiting and waiting for some teaser photos from the new Ôoku TV series (Ôoku Tanjô, Oct. 2012) and film (Ôoku Eien, Dec. 2012), and here they are! (Full index of posts on the series here.)
TBS Drama. Ôoku: Tanjô (Arikoto/Iemitsu) (『大奥：誕生』[［有功・家光篇]). Release date: Oct. 2012.
Let me talk about effective uses of visual media for marketing to potential viewers and to rabid fans. When you release the first promotional photos into the wild, you want your audience to have an immediate all-caps reaction Tumblr-style:
WHAT IS THAT I MUST SEE IT NOW
ALL THE FEELS
Instead, TBS presents non-emoting Tabe Mikako (多部未華子) and non-emoting Escher-girl-necked Sakai Masato (堺雅人). (Plus, they cut off the iconic design on his kataginu!) This doesn’t look like a drama featuring the best love story and treatise on gender in society since The Rose of Versailles (BeruBara), this looks like Yet Another Boring Period Drama Set in the Ôoku.
Let’s compare this promo to the ones from the first Ôoku (Mizuno/Yoshimune) movie.* Here we have the poster and DVD cover:
Even if they are still basically the main cast lined up, we get a much better sense of the characters. Yoshimune looks every bit a confident shogun; Mizuno looks tough but a bit apprehensive. Those two engage our vision and look straight at the viewer; they are the same size, but Yoshimune is placed higher to illustrate her power; Mizuno occupies the foreground to illustrate his role as protagonist. All the supporting characters, not just the women, are turned and looking in other directions, and we can see in just one photo a look into their personalities.
Along with posters, you need photos to provide a reason to go see the show/film. For the first Ôoku, this was one of the images that was featured in movie magazines like Cinekon and, to me, one of the most iconic visuals of the film.
As I flipped through the movie guide that came with my ticket to Inception, I screeched to a halt on this page. A heavenly choir sang out,「こちらが将軍」(“woman shogun”)! Every fiber of my gender-bending fangirl heart sang out “This is a movie just for you, dear! Because the universe loves you and wants you to be happy!”
I’m just not feeling it with this promotion for the TV series. It’s like TBS is saying “Oh, hey, Ôoku fans. Here’s a show you’re going to watch because you love the first movie and manga.” Impress me, TBS! I know you can do more dynamic work, like NHK did with Haken no Oscar. Just because you have an existing fan-base doesn’t mean you don’t get to put in effort!
This lackluster promo is all the more infuriating because Yoshinaga Fumi draws such exquisite facial expressions. Just look at the covers of vols. 2 and 3:
Look at those covers, especially back-to-back. The concept is simple, but it showcases very complex facial expressions–apprehension, doubt, pity, longing. Why not have them looking at each other or back to back or trying harder with establishing a connection between the two?
Hopefully there will be better pictures coming.
Film. Ôoku: Eien (Emonosuke/Tsunayoshi) (『大奥：永遠』[［右衛門佐･綱吉篇]). Release date: Dec. 22, 2012.
Luckily, where the TV promo falls flat, the promotional image for the film is excellent. Both Sakai and Kanno Miho are engaging the camera, and his serious look is much more suited to Emonosuke, whom I would describe as Arikoto’s doppelganger with chronic bitchface. I think Kanno, who was amazing as Matsukata in Hatarakiman, is going to be a perfect Tsunayoshi. I love the combination of playfulness and uncertainty in her expression here. The Pekinese is an excellent touch, given the plot line about Tsunayoshi’s policies protecting dogs.
On the bright side, director Kaneko Fuminori will be reprising his role as director of both the film and the drama, which gives me have faith in his bringing Yoshinaga’s vision to the screen. Also, Matsumura Takatsugu will be composing the music for the film, which means another spectacular score. I can’t wait. Here’s to hoping for something worthy of a Barrowman-style reaction!
UPDATE: Trailer for the film here!
Ôoku: Tanjô (Arikoto/Iemitsu)
MADENOKOJI Arikoto (万里小路有功) – SAKAI Masato (堺雅人)
TOKUGAWA Iemitsu/Chie (徳川家光 / 千恵) – TABE Mikako 多部未華子
GYOKUEI (玉栄) – TANAKA Kôki (田中聖)（member of KAT-TUN）
INABA Masakatsu (稲葉正勝) – HIRAYAMA Hiroyuki (平山浩行)
YUKI (雪) – MINAMISAWA Nao (南沢奈央)
MURASE Masuke (村瀬正資) – OMI Toshinori (尾美としのり)
Myôkei (明慧) – Suruga Tarô (駿河太郎)
MATSUDAIRA Tsubutsuna (平信綱) – TANDA Yasunori (段田安則)
SAWAMURA Denemon (澤村伝右衛門) – NAITÔ Takashi (内藤剛志)
KASUGA Tsubone (春日局) – ASÔ Yumi (麻生祐未)
Ôoku: Eien (Emonosuke/Tsunayoshi)
Emonosuke (右衛門佐) – SAKAI Masato (堺雅人)
TOKUGAWA Tsunayoshi/Tokuko (徳川綱吉 / 徳子) – KANNO Miho (菅野美穂)
YANAGISAWA Yoshiyasu (沢吉保) – ONO Michiko (尾野真千子)
AKIMOTO Sôjiro (秋本惣次郎) – EMOTO Tasuku (柄本佑)
Young Gyokuei (玉栄)- TANAKA Kôki (田中聖)（member of KAT-TUN）
KOTANI Denben (小谷伝兵衛) – KANAME Jun (要潤)
Ôtsuke (大典侍) – KIRIYAMA Ren (桐山漣)
Shinnaishi (新典侍) – RYUSEI Ryo (竜星涼)
Sanosuke (佐之助) – MITSUSHIMA Shinnosuke (満島真之介)
NAKAMURA (中村) – KAKU Tomohiro (郭智博)
SAITÔ (斉藤) – NAGAE Yûki (永江祐貴)
ASANUMA (浅沼) – MIURA Takahiro (三浦貴大)
MAKINO Narisada (牧野成貞) – ICHIGE Yoshie (市毛良枝)
ÔTO Aguri (阿久里) – ENOKI Takaaki (榎木孝明)
MINASEGAWA (水無瀬権中納言氏信) – YUKI Saori (由紀さおり)
Ryûkô (隆光) – SAKAI Masa-aki (堺正章)
TAKATSUKASA Nobuko (鷹司信平) – Kûdo Kankurô (宮藤官九郎)
Keishôin (桂昌院) – NISHIDA Toshiyuki (西田敏行)
*Why are all the male characters getting top billing on the arc titles? Mizuno x Yoshimune, Arikoto x Iemitsu, Emonosuke x Tsunayoshi. I guess for movie 1, we start out with Mizuno as the protagonist and see most of the film from his POV. But Iemitsu and Arikoto are more evenly divided, and Tsunayoshi is in the plot way longer than Emonosuke. If we’re going from a purely fanfic reading of the order of the pairing where you have top/bottom, I assure you that Yoshimune and Iemitsu belong in the front.
More articles on Ôoku.