|Teaching the Japanese what they already would've known..|
|If all else fails...CHARGE!!!|
|Muskets and volley fire were long established|
Personally, I have often imagined what might have happened if Oda Nobunaga had not been assassinated, imagining Japan being united and modernizing earlier and sailing out into the northern Pacific to get in on the colonization of North America via Alaska and California, but that is getting off topic. The point is that no one in Japan would have considered firearms to be dishonorable or even “foreign” at all considering that they had been making and using such weapons for centuries to the point that their warfare was dominated by them long before Commodore Perry ever appeared on the horizon. This also highlights the way the film tries to simplify everything by having one side working with foreign powers and the other side shunning them (aside from Algren of course who adopts Japanese ways). The open to foreigners versus nativist dynamic was not the primary element of the Satsuma Rebellion but would have been more closely related to that of the previous Boshin War. However, even then, it was not so simple as both the shogunate and imperial forces had foreign powers they worked with against each other. As the historical case of Captain Brunet demonstrates, the forces loyal to the shogun had French backers whereas the imperial forces had British support.
Moreover, Saigo Takamori was no isolationist or backward-looking reactionary. He had supported the imperial party in the Meiji Restoration, he helped in the modernization and formation of the Imperial Japanese Army and advocated the conquest of Korea as a way to unite the country, gain foreign respect and provide the disgruntled samurai with an honorable death in battle. Far from shunning western technology, he established his own network of military academies throughout his prefecture and opened his own artillery school. Rebellion broke out when the imperial government tried to disarm these academies, fearing they could pose a threat and inadvertently provoking the very rebellion they had hoped to prevent. Saigo Takamori agreed to lead the rebellion that had already broken out, wearing his western-style army uniform at the head of a column of well-armed men who had raided government arsenals in order to do no more than demand reforms and the removal of corrupt officials and their replacement by men of more traditional Japanese morality.
|The Battle of Shiroyama|
His Majesty the Meiji Emperor did pardon Saigo Takamori posthumously but it is rather overstretching things to say, as the film does, that this gave Emperor Meiji the courage to slow down westernization and insist on Japanese traditions being retained. This was not something that the actual Meiji Emperor needed to learn. His father had been the most vociferous in rejecting any foreign contact with Japan at all and the Meiji Emperor was always cautious and rather suspect when it came to foreigners from the very beginning. He simply understood that isolation was no longer an option and if Japan was to avoid being dominated by foreigners, it would have to become as strong as the other foreign powers and this, during his reign, the Empire of Japan managed astoundingly well.
|Low ranking foreign devils meet the Emperor|