What if a bird don’t want to sing?
“Kill, it!”, said Nobunaga.
“Make it want to sing”, said Hideyoshi
“Wait”, said Ieyasu
Honestly the main reason I read Taiko in the first place was because I was so amused with the whole idea of Oda Nobunaga X Ranmaru Mori relationship. hehehe guilty as charged (I’ll tell you more about this later). As I was reading I begin to imagine the relationship of every slashable pair like Toyotomi Hideyoshi x Takenaka Hanbei.But my favorite in the book would still be Oda Nobunaga x Ranmaru Mori .Don’t get me wrong Taiko was not any sort of gay literature at all (I think), this is just a BL formatted review written by an avid fangirl with a BL Formated mind, don’t take it too seriously 😛 (or maybe you can take it seriously at your choice ;p)
To begin let me tell a little about what Taiko really is about. Taiko is a Historical Novel written by Eiji Yoshikawa (the creator of Musashi). It compiles a semi-fictional narration combined with real historical accounts of the life of the great Toyotomi Hideyoshi from his early childhood until he became a loyal general of Oda Nodunaga & shortly after Nobunaga’s death when he takes over his master place and fulfills the vision of Nobunaga to Unifies the whole lands of Japan. The main characters of the story were Toyotomi Hideyoshi himself, Oda Nobunaga, & Tokugawa Ieyasu, 3 of the acclaimed founding fathers of the united Japan from the end (matsugoro) of Sengoku Jidai with their 3 distinctive personalities. Mostly the story was about how Hideyoshi used his wits & ingenious diplomatic skills to conquer his enemy and manipulate his allies. Taiko is a very well narrated historical novel that can also be useful as an easy to comprehend handbook to know about a handful of Japans sengoku jidai historical icons and their accomplishment.
And now back to the whole Oda Nobunaga x Ranmaru Mori slashy thingy ^0^. Oda Nobunaga & Ranmaru Mori is one of the highly noticed pederastic couple of all time (you don’t trust me? Click on to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_pederastic_couples and look for their name on the list). Ranmaru Mori has always been famous for his beauty and his sole loyalty to Nobunaga. He was mythically so beautiful that his name resonates with Adonis & Narcissus in terms of legendary beautiful males. And I heard that Ranmaru was not the only one who got the looks, Nobunaga himself was supposedly a handsome yet fierce looking man. Both Ranmaru & Nobunaga remains as japan popular culture favorites characters today.
Although there is no available record of actual sexual accounts happened between them but considering Nanshoku (sex between men) & Shudou (pederasty) is a common practice of the time chances are presumably high for the fact that Ranmori Mori had always been the closest person to Oda Nobunaga troughout his short life & the only person watching (and assisting) Nobunaga’s Seppuku not to mention he also commit seppuku moments after Nobunaga’s death, but that was ofcourse the loyalty of a samurai (then again shudou was also a part of the way of the samurai). I do believe Nobunaga didn’t kept Ranmaru for himself just because he longs for a beloved son, since he already have some descendants of his own from his wife & mistresses. Oh and the fact that Nobunaga was indeed (also) attracted to women didn’t really count considering the time & place (yeah I’m being stubborn :P).
Oda Nobunaga & Ranmaru Mori as depicted in contemporer popular culture
But if they actually did have some sort of romantic/sexual involvements it can be quite sickening to remember that Ranmaru have been with Nobunaga since the tender age of 6 >_<; but then again it was the common practice of that era >o<;; .Records said that Nobunaga first meet Ranmaru, when his father Mori Yoshinari showed him around when he just joined the Oda clan, Nobunaga was instantly charmed by Ranmaru’s beauty & charisma (honestly what kind of charisma that a six years old had I wonder ?? :P) and wanted to keep him for himself so he appointed the boy to be his personal servant. Just so you know at those era a personal
servant or page boy could also served their master sexual interest according to the shudou practice (>0<;;). Then joyfully his own father literally gave Ranmaru away to Nobunaga to become his personal servant and Ranmaru had lived with Nobunaga ever since. (That’s almost sounds like the kinda’ story you would find on a BL manga today).
Ranmaru grows up to be the only person that really knows what Nobunaga want as he wanted, and served his master every daily need to the fullest. He was also known to be the only person who knows how to calm Nobunaga’s rage (and Nobunaga could be a really scary person when he was angry). He practically never left Nobunaga’s side. He was always with his master in every wars & every strategic meetings (in which usually an ordinary personal servant wouldn’t get invited). He was Nobunaga’s most favorite person. Even when he reached the suitable age of adulthood (of that time standard) when he was required to shave his forehead (as a part of seijinshiki tradition of entering adulthood), Nobunaga forbids him to do so and said the famous quote “don’t cut your maegami (forehead hair) I want you as my servant, no mather how old you are!” (this part was also included in Taiko’s novel), *gyaaaaaaa >o<* that was practically like saying I want you all to myself forever. For your information cutting ones maegami was not only a sign of adulthood, it was also acknowledged that cutting ones maegami could meant as a symbol of resignation to passive roles in shudou (in terms of sex ofcourse>o<). But yet it was also said that Nobunaga himself never cut his maegami troughout his life (he was known to be quite an eccentric and deviant person). Ranmaru willingly stayed at Nobunaga’s side as a humble servant, but with a reputation as high as one of Nobunaga’s general.
Ranmaru’s & his Master’s life ended on the incident of Akechi Mitsuhide betrayal ambush to Honnouji Temple. It was said that Akechi Mitsuhide betrayed Nobunaga because Ranmaru didn’t like him very much and Misuhide believed that Nobunaga will take over Mitsuhide’s land to give to his dear servant Ranmaru (since rumor said that Ranmaru wanted the land as a memento of his late father who died acclaiming the territory.). Although it were not necessary true that Ranmaru did actually wanted to steal away Mitsuhide’s land and that Nobunaga did actually wanted to give the land to Ranmaru (despite the fact that Nobunaga did favour his servant very much, he was actually a very just leader) but since that was the reason of Mitsuhide’s betrayal we can almost say that Ranmaru was the cause of Nobunaga perished (quite an irony).
In the book Taiko, we can read how Eiji Yoshikawa described the way Ranmaru lovingly watches as his master burns in flames after commiting seppuku (Nobunaga instructed Ranmaru to burns him so that the enemy can’t take his head), and then he takes his own life without hesitation to follow his beloved master to the grave. Ranmaru died at the blossoming age of 17 (I believe) & Nobunaga at his forties.
That was all of my rambling review, if that even counts as a review at all :p, that was more like an explanation of the whole NobunagaxRanmaru relationship. And what about Toyotomi Hideyoshi??, well I didn’t have the intention to write about him at all (haha :p), you can read about him in the book anyway.
Just go ahead and read the novel (not just for the slashy thingy, cause you won’t get enough of that there). It was actually a very interesting read (if you are interested with the whole historical novel, biography, art of war, rise and fall of a samurai clan, & bushido kinda’ things)