Welcome to the World of “Sanadamaru” the Hit NHK History Drama Series
Any story that depicts a weaker group who uses its skill and courage to the fullest to defeat a greater power is refreshing. The last courageous general of Japan’s Sengoku Period (Warring States Period) fought the famous Warring Period military commander Tokugawa Ieyasu twice undefeated and by the third time had him saying that “he will commit seppuku (suicide by disembowelment) because there’s no way of succeeding!”. This individual indeed is Sanada Nobushige (Yukimura) of NHK’s (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) historical drama series “Sanadamaru”.
The Sanada Family gained in popularity in the Edo Period (1603-1867). The “Sanada Ju Yu Shi (Sanada Ten Braves)” that is performed in the traditional Japanese performing art of kodan is a narrative about ninja. The Sengoku Period drama that features this Sanada Family is the “Sanadamaru” and within the drama there appear the origins of ninja. The positive reactions lead more and more people to start watching the drama series with many fans saying, “I can’t wait until Sunday when it airs!” “I watch it on the BS channel, the terrestrial broadcasting channel and the Saturday reruns” “I hate to think that Sanadamaru is going to end…”
It can be enjoyed without having any background knowledge or even with English subtitles. There are many scenes that are comical that the series is sometimes referred to as a “comedy history drama”. It’s a historical drama series that will have you hooked once you watch an episode!
Sanada Masayuki, the Head of the Sanada Family
The time is Sengoku Period. Sanada Masayuki had served Katsuyori, who succeeded the Takeda Family after the loss of Shinano and Shingen. In order to secure the survival of the Sanada Family line, he is forced to decide who to serve. The actor who plays the role of this Sanada Masayuki is Masao Kusakari. In a television drama series 30 years ago, “Sanada Taiheiki”, he had played the second son Yukimura (Nobushige). In Sanadamaru, there are some lines that refer to and pay homage to the “Sanada Taiheiki”.
Masayuki was so courageous as a general that he was selected by a fierce general who was part of the Takeda Nijuyonsho (24 elite generals of the Takeda Family). Masao Kusakari’s handsomeness and gentlemanly mannerism is perfect for this role.
Sanada Nobuyuki, Masayuki’s Heir
The role of Masayuki’s heir, Nobuyuki is played by Yo Oizumi. He is an actor who is good at playing funny and comical parts. However, in this current role the screenwriter Koki Mitani had specifically ordered him to “Not try to make it funny”. When the cast was announced, we were unsure if he was fit for the part, but you can see now that when a funny guy plays a serious and stiff part, it adds a lot of character!
Nobuyuki was the main character in “Sanada Taiheiki” and played by a big-name good-looking actor. There probably was a lot of pressure on Yo Oizumi, but he plays the part well. Nobuyuki defends the Sanada Family after the death of his father and brother, and helps to preserve the Sanada Family name to the present.
Sanada Nobushige (Yukimura), Second Son of Masayuki
The part of Sanada Masayuki’s second son, Nobushige is played by Masato Sakai. He is a famous actor for playing the main character in the drama “Hanzawa Naoki”, which got a 30% view rating on public television. For most of Nobushige’s life he was in captivity and living in seclusion. There are no documents that remain which tell details of his life. The moment that he shines in history is when he partakes in his death battle by using his resourcefulness in the Siege of Osaka. The man who was only known as “The son of Sanada Masayuki” became to be known as the “Hinomoto ichi no tsuwamono (The strongest warrior in the land of the rising sun)”. After the last battle of the Sengoku Period, Nobushige contributes to leaving the Sanada Family name etched in history.
These three individuals are the main characters of the Sanada Family, and are depicted in the Sanadamaru drama series. It is a drama series based on history but there are some parts where historical truth has been edited. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful story with laughs, tears, horror and mystery. The Japanese drama that expresses “Not the beauty of defeat but how they kept their hopes and fought until the end”, it’s a must watch!