Jidai Geki is a genre of Period Piece
found in Japanese Media
These works are set before (or around the beginning of) the Meiji Restoration
when the Shogunate
was deposed. The time subdivisions most often found in Japanese media include the Sengoku Period
(or "Warring States", an era of civil war from about 1467-1573), the Edo Period
(after Japan was united under the Tokugawa shogunate, 1603-1868)note
, and the Bakumatsu/early Meiji Period
Jidai Geki, like the American Western
, can be idealized or realistic, soapy drama
or hardass action, and feature a rich cast of character tropes
. Jidai Geki that emphasize swordplay are often referred to as chanbara
, especially the live-action movies, and counted on for lots of hot Samurai
, and Yakuza
are also frequent players). Given the fact that there are plenty of Edo-era buildings in Japan still standing, and that Edo-era costumes are dime-a-dozen, that period appeals a lot to Japanese TV producers
. Compare and contrast the sheer amount of BBC costume dramas set in the Victorian age, or the innumerable Chinese films and series set in the Qing dynasty.
Though it may seem American and European directors have been
borrowing these conventions — sometimes whole plots
— for years, Jidai Geki pieces have long borrowed in equal measure from Westerns
and Film Noir
. Kurosawa himself was known to be a fan of director John Ford
. George Lucas
took some inspiration from this cross-pollination while writing Star Wars
— guess where he got the word "Jedi".
For Western depictions of Japanese history, see Hollywood Medieval Japan
. See also Wutai
for Fantasy Counterpart Cultures
that are based upon Japan.
Some notable historical names that have been originating from this era includes:
- Heian Periodnote
- Abe no Seimei
- Minamoto no Yorimitsu
- Taira no Masakado
- Genpei War:note
- Minamoto no Yoritomo
- Minamoto no Yoshitsune
- Saito no Musashibo Benkei
- Taira no Kiyomori
- Taira no Kagekiyo
- Tomoe Gozen
- Sengoku Period:
- Edo Period:
- Bakumatsu Period:
Examples of shows taking place in this era:
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Anime and Manga
- Mononoke skips around madly between the Sengoku and post-Meiji eras thanks to its immortal protagonist. None of said eras are particularly well-defined or historically accurate, though.
- Shura No Toki (mostly) self-contained story arcs is set in multiple periods, except Azuchi-Momoyama (yes, none of the Mutsu encountered Oda Nobunaga or his contemporaries). Well, except for one arc set in American frontier.
- Made explicit in Millennium Actress, which recounts the story of Chiyoko's life largely in the form of scenes inspired by her films. So the setting follows Japanese history from the Heian era all the way through to the modern world and even beyond into science fiction with callbacks to earlier eras embedded in some of the later ones. Lampshaded when a supporting character asks another "Aren't you dressed for the wrong era?" after a particularly abrupt transition.
- In universe example for Kamen Rider Double has Shotaro and Akiko become fans of a Jidai Geki series, including a themed dream sequence.
- Although set in the modern day, Kamen Rider Gaim seems to be taking influence from the genre: the Transformation Trinkets are called "Sengoku Drivers" in reference to the time period, and the Rider vs. Rider rivalries are directly compared to the time's civil wars, with one of the characters even pointing out how it's developing into a modern day Sengoku War. As the episodes go on, the tone begins to shift and the Sengoku War feel fades away. It doesn't go into obscurity, as the main character retains this feel with his Super Modes giving him a general motif.
- The backstories for Juzo and Daiyu in Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. The series as a whole uses tropes and conventions of the genre despite being set in the modern day.
- Ikki, an early Sunsoft game set during some farmer's rebellion.
- Kenseiden in which Benkei shows up as a boss and the final boss is an indeterminate individual named "Yonensai".
- Ōkami: Sure it's an alternate world, but the setting clearly takes inspiration from Heian and Sengoku stories, events and characters.
- Deae Tonosama Appare Ichiban includes a rather insane mishmash of Japanese historical figures.
- Toukiden has "Ages" loosely corresponding to periods of Japanese history.
Heian Period (late 8th century to 12th century)
Genpei War ( 1180 to 1185)
Sengoku Period (15th to 17th centuries)
Anime and Manga
- The Summer arc of AIR
- One of the mods that came bundled with Civilization III's second expansion pack, Conquests, is called "Sengoku: Sword of the Shogun," and is more or less Exactly What It Says on the Tin: A Daimyo Is You. Unite Japan and become Shogun.
- A popular Game Mod for Europa Universalis III features a series of scripted events designed to simulate the politics of Japan in this era.
- Guwange is only specified as being in the late Muromachi Period, but that overlaps with the Sengoku Period.
- Half-Minute Hero: The Second Coming is set in a fantastic world, but its "Sengoku 30" DLC scenario is, as the name would suggest, based on this era. Taking place on the continent of "Zapan", it has the hero aid Commander Tokuga in fighting off the evil Warlord Hideo.
- Nobunaga's Ambition
- The Onimusha series, which showcases several historical figures and events from the period amidst a larger storyline involving a war between two demon clans.
- Samurai Warriors, effectively a version of Dynasty Warriors set in the Sengoku era instead of Imperial China.
- Sengoku, a real-time-with-pause strategy game focused on the plots and intrigues of the era.
- The Sengoku Basara series... theoretically, at least.
- Sengoku Rance... also theoretically.
- Shogun: Total War and its sequel.
- Sword Of The Samurai
- Way of the Samurai 3, which puts it before the creation of the "Way of the Samurai" (now known as bushido) in the title.
- The short Australian CGI spoof Samurice.
- The MSF High Forum has recently had a theme day, that replicates this era.
Edo Period ( 1603 to 1868)
Bakumatsu/Early Meiji (1853-late 19th century)