Shogun: Ladies of the Willow World   Show Only 
March 26, 2024 1:45 PM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Lady Ochiba returns to Osaka in order to accelerate the Regents' campaign against Toranaga. In Ajiro, Toranaga tests Mariko's loyalty to his cause.

"[...] a woman is simply at war."

While the men swear vengeance, seethe in their respective jealousies, and agree to brute force the final boss castle run, the women of Shōgun display a variety of softer powers; Mariko's naginata skills are onna-musha tier. Ruri counsels acceptance of fate before the bitter Lady Iyo (later Daiyoin) plants the suggestion of scratching its eyes out. Many a nuance can be lost in translation when desire is reduced to only words. The Lady Ochiba nōh's better and puppeteers the council of Regents. Madame Gin avoids spilling the tea over intense negotiations. Courtesan Kiku intuits what Blackthorne truly desires, eclipsing all else.

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The excellent podcast by Shōgun staff writer Emily Yoshida
posted by Molesome (12 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Check out that tick on Buntaro's face, the dude has zero poker face.

In reading up about onna-musha I found out about Akai Teruko, "The strongest woman in the Warring States Period", who was still kicking ass at the age of 76!
posted by Molesome at 1:49 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]

Lady Ochiba's manipulation of Ishido was very reminiscent of Lady Kaede's machinations in Kurosawa's Ran, complete with the man punching above his intellectual weight and utterly failing to realize it.
posted by thomas j wise at 4:27 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]

The deft staging/camera work in the scene where Kiku explains the Willow World to Blackthorne was superbly evocative.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:48 AM on March 27 [3 favorites]

Also, in the negotiation scene between Mariko and the madame, and the language of the teacups with the red slash art on them. The gradual reveal of the slash was so powerful. This episode was a great watch.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:54 AM on March 27 [2 favorites]

I've been listening to the podcast and they kept going on and on about what a master-level manipulator Toranaga is and I kept saying "I don't really see it."

After this episode, I absolutely see it.
posted by absalom at 8:34 AM on March 27 [4 favorites]

We got major Ran vibes off this ep. the subtlety of the writing and acting is superb. Ochiba's manipulations are master class.

but I love love love Daiyoin!!! such beauty and grace, an older woman depicted as completely in her power and owning it. I'm always interested in depictions of sex workers, particularly in historical contexts, and her character, along with Kiku's beautiful explanation of what the Willow World is, was fantastic.

It was great to see an episode that really showcased all of these strong capable women struggling to find power and self-determination in a very male-dominated world.
posted by supermedusa at 9:22 AM on March 27

You may be confusing Daiyion (former wife of the Taikō when she was known as the Lady Iyo) with the brothel madam Gin who drank the tea and negotiated the price for the evening with Blackthorne. Daiyion/Lady Iyo sat next to Lady Ochiba during the nōh play and suggested she was hitching her horse to the wrong wagon.

In the flashbacks, Lady Iyo tells young Ruri (before she is renamed Lady Ochiba upon becoming the Taikō's consort) that they are but pebbles caught in the flow of a stream and must bend to fate before suggesting there are ways of reclaiming what is lost. Twenty plus years later Ruri/Lady Ochiba tells Lord Ishido that this is what she is doing.
posted by Molesome at 9:49 AM on March 27

damn Molesome, right you are! I looked up the name on IMDB but got it wrong. the Madame, she was incredible!
posted by supermedusa at 10:09 AM on March 27

Can someone explain the teacups to me?
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 11:04 AM on March 28

Can someone explain the teacups to me?

Don't think there's any significance beyond "these cups are expensive", and Madame Gin complimenting them.

And then of course Lady Fuji flexing that unfortunately, these are their spare cups after all the good cups were lost in the earthquake.

Lotta gamesmanship back and forth in that scene. So fun!
posted by ishmael at 1:25 PM on March 29 [1 favorite]

Yeah, the teacups thing was a little confusing, because it seemed like the camera focus was on how much of the red design was showing. Perhaps there was some symbolism in Mariko's cup always showing only the unpainted side to the Madame, whereas the Madame, when she put her cup down, at first only showed a little of the design, but then put it down a second time, this time with the entire design showing towards Mariko? It was clearly part of the subtext of secrets etc. that they were discussing, but the exact significance was a bit opaque to me.
posted by Saxon Kane at 3:01 PM on March 30 [1 favorite]

Just to add: I'm also not sure how much of the teacup business was intentional signalling by the characters and how much was symbolic subtext.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:36 PM on March 31

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