Ryoma den is a well made TV drama (48 episodes) that shows the life of samurai Sakamoto Ryoma (1835 – 1867) and Iwasaki Yataro (1835 – 1885). As a great fan of Korean historical dramas, it took me time to find a Japanese historical drama of a similar standard. When I found Ryoma den, I was immediately caught.
Sakamoto was a charismatic leader in the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa shogunate, eventually bringing about the Meiji Restoration that changed the traditional Japanese society completely. It is mind-blowing to witness the critical period of Japanese history when in a short span of 10 years, following after Commodore Perry first sailed to the port of Tokyo and forced for centuries isolated Japan to open to the worlds, Japanese society and class system dissolved and the country became quickly industrialised and westernised.
Sakomoto was a visionary, leader, peace-maker and also an excellent swordsman. What he has achieved during 30+ years of his life was amazing. I liked the acting and sometimes unconventional shaky camera that made the story dynamic and flowing.
The other character, Iwasaki Yataro, was born the same year and village as Sakamoto to a very poor samurai family. As the Meiji Restoration period began , he become influential businessman and founder of Mitsubishi. He was, in many aspects, the opposite of free-minded, good-looking, always cheerful and optimistic Sakamoto. His relationship to Sakamoto is very complicated and always oscillating between hatred and friendship. In spite of his shortcomings, Iwasaki became another important figure of the dawn of Meiji Restoration.
This historical drama definitely belongs among my favourites. Don’t miss it…