Introdution Twilight Samurai is a movie that revolves around the live of a samurai, years before the Meiji Restoration. The main issues that the movie looked at include stereotype of samurais, genders and social class differences. Unlike many typical samurai-themed movies which involve fighting, woman and pride, the director of Twilight Samurai focused on the everyday life and difficulties faced by the main protagonist, Iguchi Seibei. His story was told by her daughter, Ito who narrated the whole movie. Therefore, it can be said that this movie is based on the fond memories of her father.
She was still very young when these incidents happened which changed her father’s life irrevocably. Samurai Stereotype Unlike other samurais who were concerned about their clans, Iguchi was a man of few words and rushed home every evening to take care of her senile mother and 2 young daughters, Ito and Kayano, instead of joining his colleagues for entertainment or drinking. Thus he was nicknamed Twilight Samurai. After his wife died of consumption (tuberculosis), Iguchi worked hard to make ends meet and thus neglected his physical appearance and often looked unkempt, his kimono was often tattered and soiled.
This goes against the common perception of samurais who are often perceived to have their hair tied up neatly in a ponytail, clean-shaven, and donned in kimono. (Refer to appendix) When Iguchi was summoned by his clan to kill Zenemon Yogo, a clan rebel who refused to commit seppuku, he was not confident of doing the job and said that he had ‘lost the desire to wield a sword’ and it required ‘animal ferocity and calm disregard for one’s life’. This changes the common perception of samurais who are often considered ruthless but loyal, who will be more than willing to serve their clan and carry out any orders given by their leaders.
It is obvious that Iguchi is an outcast of the samurais, as he considered himself a “petty samurai” who do not care about the imminent war and his fulfillment in life was seeing his daughters grow up. This is vastly different from our stereotype of samurais who are power-hungry, and their sole purpose in life is to grow their clans by battling and eliminating other clans. Therefore, the way Iguchi live his life tells me that if he is given a choice, he would definitely choose not be born to be a samurai.
Although samurais are considered to be nobility, he would rather give up this prestigious title to be a humble farmer. This goes to show that he is a rather unambitious man, to the point of almost lackadaisical, leading a simple life of growing crops and seeing his precious daughters grow up. Whilst Iguchi was inside the house to fight Zenemon Yogo, Iguchi did not have the desire to fight and kill him. Instead, he sat down and chatted with Zenemon and told him that he could still run if he wants to. He was hesitant about fighting and even lied that his sword was a bamboo but a fight still ensued in the end.
This was different from the typical samurai who would begin fighting and slaying his enemies upon seeing them. When Tomoe brought Kayano and Ito to a festival which can only be attended by the peasants, she told them that had it not been for the peasants, there would not have samurais. Tomoe’s opinions are forward-thinking and do not think that samurais should be forbid from the festival. Gender Inequality In the movie, women are seen to be unimportant and should only be housewives. While Iguchi encouraged his daughters to study hard, their great uncle commented that girls do not need to study too much.
When Kayano told Iguchi that if she learn needlework, she could make kimonos someday but she does not know the importance of education. Iguchi answered that it gives her the power to think and it may even help her survive in the future. From here, it can be seen that Iguchi has a different mentality when it comes to education and he believed that boys and girls should have equal opportunities to study. When their great uncle came to visit them, he suggested that Iguchi re-marry to escape his poor situation but Iguchi was against the idea.
He thinks that it would be rude to the lady if he were to re-marry any women without having any feelings for her. It would be treating the lady like a cow who just needs to be healthy. In contrast with the men at that time who thinks that marrying is just for carrying of the family line, Iguchi thinks that developing feelings for each other are important and that women should be respected too. In addition, when Tomoe wanted to go and looked for Iguchi, her sister-in-law told her off and said it was not nice for a girl to be seen talking with a samurai in the streets.
Tomoe did not want to abide her sister-in-law and does not think that she did anything wrong. I think that Tomoe is different from the usual Japanese women who were very conservative and think that women are of lower gender status. Social Class Difference Another issue seen in the movie is the difference in social class. It can be seen that both Tomoe and Iguchi had feelings for each other as Tomoe frequent Iguchi’s home and taught Ito and Kayano calligraphy and how to sew and cook. Iguchi was also very shy when Tomoe was around and he finally expressed his love for her before going to the battle with Zenemon Yogo.
Despite having feelings for Tomoe since they were childhood friends, Iguchi felt that he was not good enough for her as he came from a 50-koku family whereas Tomoe came from a 400-koku family. Iguchi was not confident in giving Tomoe a good life if she married had him and he did not want her to suffer like his late wife did. The social class difference made Iguchi feel inferior and not good enough for her. When Iguchi was ordered to kill Zenemon Yogo, his clan promised him that life would be easier if he accomplished the mission.
His clan knew that he belonged to the lower social class and made him the offer so that he would think about the future of his family. It was obvious that the clan was exploiting his social class to force him to obey the clan’s orders. Besides working in the grain warehouse as a retainer to support his family, Iguchi and his daughters will also gather herbs by the river and make insect cages to earn extra income. In the movie, it was shown twice that there were bodies floating in the river.
This goes to show that life was not easy during that period of time and many people die without having proper burial or funeral. Conclusion This movie disregards many common perceptions of samurais and instead focused on an “outcast” of the samurai. The direction of the movie is more on how this outcast of a society lives his everyday life and how he solves some of the problems of being an “unwilling samurai”. The director brilliantly portrayed some of the stereotypes of a samurai by having us live and see through the eyes of Iguchi from a third-person perspective.
This direction is very interesting and made me eager to want know about samurais. Overall, Iguchi is a samurai whose thoughts are family-oriented, and being a mild samurai fan, I will not look him up as an idol because his actions do not reflect how “cool” a samurai can be. However, I agree and admire with his values in life as he had been a good father in providing for his family and he does not harbor any ill intentions towards the people around him. [pic][pic] Perspective of a samurai. Iguchi Seibei (left), an unkempt samurai.