Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan (2021) s01e03 Episode Script

The Demon King

1 [suspenseful music playing.]
[horse neighs.]
- [arquebus fires.]
- [men shouting.]
[opening theme plays.]
Fueled by a ruthless and maniacal ambition to conquer Central Japan, Nobunaga has destroyed many enemies who have underestimated him.
His vicious military campaigns to weaken the powerful Buddhist institutions have turned large swathes of the population against him.
Even some of his own generals question their loyalty to Nobunaga.
Undeterred, Nobunaga now targets a group of mountain rebels from the province of Iga, who refuse to accept his feudal rule.
[ominous music plays.]
[wind whistling.]
[Darren Ashmore.]
For 150 years, the so-called "rebels of Iga" had governed themselves, keeping out any and all intruders into their domain.
These people were a mixture of lumberers and farmers, fishermen and other rugged individuals who had chosen to eke out an existence on the mountainous coasts of Iga.
They carved their lives out of the very living rock and were built from the bones of the land on which they lived.
They knew the landscape better than anyone there and could wage what we now call guerrilla warfare against anyone who dared step foot in their domain.
[Stephen Turnbull.]
They were so good at these techniques of irregular warfare, which, after all, were the only things at their disposal, that this is what gave rise to the legends of the ninja of Iga.
The word "ninja," which is so familiar to us nowadays, is essentially a modern reading of a Japanese expression that implies secrecy.
And it's pronounced shinobi.
A good shinobi can turn their hand to most anything.
Espionage… any form of intelligence gathering… [muffled grunt.]
…and assassins.
Training would have begun from a very early age.
But in addition to the normal martial arts, this would also have included the techniques of preparing explosives and even, in some cases, poison.
Many women also trained as shinobi.
In other words, they were trained to be spies, assassins, gatherers of information.
They could infiltrate the target's household.
They could hide in plain sight.
They were trained to be able to fit into society, but to do so as shinobi operatives.
There was a female shinobi named Mochizuki Chiyome, and she was trained in the mountainside.
She approached men and then gathered information… and, if necessary, they sleep with them.
Sometimes, they even kill the people after getting the information.
So, they were trained to be an assassin as well.
Whatever you like to call them, shinobi or ninja or rebels, these people had developed their arts in their mountainous home of Iga for centuries.
Hard times and hard stones breed hard men and women.
These assassins, spies and agents were not to be trifled with, because they could, for a few coins, do more than an entire army could.
[people talking indistinctly.]
And to add insult to injury, the Iga warriors continued to carry out their raids into Oda territory.
They proved to be a thorn in Oda Nobunaga's side, and one he was determined to eradicate.
[Nobunaga in Japanese.]
Kill each and every one of them! [yells in frustration.]
Those little maggots! How dare they.
[yells in frustration.]
Bring me sake! Not only were they raiding his lines of communication, their little province was immediately adjacent to the territory of Nobunaga's son, Oda Nobukatsu.
[in Japanese.]
Sake! Bring me sake! [in English.]
 Oda Nobukatsu decided to destroy them on his father's behalf.
[David Eason.]
Nobukatsu, of course, was in many ways overshadowed by his older brothers.
Nobukatsu may have seen this as an opportunity to prove his value to his father, Nobunaga.
[wind whistling, crow cawing.]
[horse neighs.]
Oda Nobukatsu's plan was quite simple.
He was going to enter Iga by three separate mountain passes, combine his forces and destroy these peasants.
[horse neighs.]
The more conventional Nobukatsu marched into Iga, thinking of these people as nothing more than backwoodsmen.
[armor clanking.]
[horse neighs.]
The men of Iga knew exactly where they would be and where the best places were for them to be attacked.
As masters of guerrilla warfare, they were determined to turn the mountains of Iga into a weapon.
When the fighting started, Nobukatsu's forces tried to form into their blocks to return fire… [in Japanese.]
Attack! …but they didn't know who they were shooting.
All the while, the Iga continually flowing backwards and forwards like a tide.
[horse whinnies.]
[men yelling.]
The scene was one of utter confusion.
This battle wasn't a battle.
It was a rout.
- [arquebus fires.]
- Without order, without a goal.
During the attack… [arquebus fires.]
…one of Nobukatsu's senior generals was killed.
[speaking Japanese.]
[men shouting, groaning.]
It was utter humiliation for Oda Nobukatsu, so he ordered an immediate retreat.
And on their way back into Ise, they were harassed for every inch of the way by the local people, who seized sticks and stones if they had no weapons and inflicted them upon the desperate retreating soldiers.
The survivors' army retreating headlong with no idea as to who or what was fighting them.
[wind whistling.]
[in Japanese.]
How were you beaten by peasants? You are a disgrace to the Oda name.
[in English.]
The campaign had been an unprecedented disaster.
[in Japanese.]
That's enough.
Get out.
If this defeat had gone unpunished, it may very well have led to greater rebellions against him.
And we know, certainly, that Nobunaga was angry enough to even considering executing Nobukatsu.
[in Japanese.]
I want you to kill them all.
[in English.]
 Instead, however, his plan was to simply wipe Iga off the face of the map.
In 1581, Nobunaga chose five of his most experienced generals for a massive invasion of Iga from five different directions.
[thunder rumbling.]
[horse neighs.]
Inhabitants of Iga were as defiant as they could be.
[horse whinnies.]
However, the men of Iga were unable to do what they had done when Nobukatsu attacked.
They hadn't the resources to ambush five separate armies.
Nobunaga's army advanced, burning every village, every house that they came across.
And killing anyone who took refuge.
This was, indeed, a David-and-Goliath situation, but this time, Goliath was going to win.
Man, woman and child was put to the sword or the torch.
It is even said that, rather than allow loved ones to fall into enemy hands, Iga soldiers would cull their own before killing themselves.
Not just to protect the honor of their family, but to keep their secrets.
This was genocide, the deliberate and systematic destruction of all life in Iga.
Nobunaga had been humiliated beyond his ability to bear, and the entirety of the province would pay for it with their lives.
Having successfully pacified Iga… Oda Nobunaga had reached, I think, the zenith of his power and authority.
[suspenseful music playing.]
He was within an ace of unifying the entire country of Japan.
[blade slashes.]
Not only had he defeated some of the greatest names in Japanese history, he had also asserted his power by building the greatest fortress that Japan had ever seen.
This was the castle of Azuchi.
The seven-story keep of the castle was decorated in a way that was radically new.
Each floor of the keep had a different set of allusions to gods or animals or powerful men.
So, as you went up in the keep, you had higher and higher level beings, so to speak.
But at the very top, which was Nobunaga's own private room, there was nothing… except a mirror, where he could look at his own countenance.
[dramatic music playing.]
Much like Alexander the Great had himself deified in the deserts of Egypt, there was belief that because Nobunaga had installed just this mirror, which was the traditional sign of the gods in Japan, that he thought of himself as a god.
He had become a bloody judge, scything through all classes and regions in Japan, carving out his own power… and following all his bloody slaughters, a number of individuals in Kyoto gave to him the name of the Demon King of the Six Heavens.
You reach a point where you have to either step away from the power or keep on killing.
Nobunaga chose the latter.
[dramatic music playing.]
The so-called Demon King continues his ruthless plan of expansion and sets his sights on a new target, the powerful Mori family, who rule large territories in the west.
He orders his long serving and trusted general, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, to attack their main castle stronghold.
It is a move that will have a profound effect on the future of both men.
[birds and insects chirping.]
Hideyoshi is one of Nobunaga's top field generals, and he is entrusted with a campaign to fight the Mori family of Western Japan, one of the most powerful daimyo families.
Hideyoshi besieged one of the Mori castles, Takamatsu Castle.
The castle was garrisoned by approximately 5,000 troops, which Hideyoshi surrounded with his 30,000 soldiers.
However, he received reports that the Mori were coming with an army of over 40,000.
This put Hideyoshi in a dangerous position.
If this Mori relief army arrived, he would be caught between the castle's defenders and their walls, and the relieving Mori force.
[horse neighs.]
Hideyoshi sent a message back to Oda Nobunaga, detailing the situation and requesting that Nobunaga come with the bulk of his forces to meet the oncoming Mori relief.
[Nobunaga in Japanese.]
Mitsuhide… send troops to Hideyoshi.
I will follow soon.
[soldier grunts in understanding.]
Realizing the urgency of the situation, Nobunaga gave orders to Mitsuhide to move west as soon as possible.
Nobunaga made ready to follow with his own army.
Akechi Mitsuhide had an unusual background.
He'd entered Nobunaga's service as a ronin.
In other words, a samurai whose previous master had been killed in battle.
Most lords would pick from families who had been close allies for centuries for their senior commanders.
Nobunaga is willing to take this wanderer, who has no connection to the Oda family, and make him a senior leader.
Mitsuhide was a fervent Buddhist and had been deeply disturbed by the Buddhist massacre on Mount Hiei.
[woman in Japanese.]
Please, stop! - [crying.]
- [Nobunaga grunts.]
[sword slashes.]
And we do know that, on occasions, Nobunaga insulted him in public, and even humiliated him.
[sobbing, speaks in Japanese.]
Please, stop! [Michael Wert.]
Among Nobunaga's many offenses against Mitsuhide, it is said that during a military campaign, Nobunaga's viciousness was even responsible for Mitsuhide's mother's death.
[crow caws.]
These resentments… These, uh… These ill treatments, these ill usage, piles up in his heart.
That seems to be what pushed him over the edge.
[in Japanese.]
It's time.
We go to war.
Yes, sir! [Turnbull.]
Instead of marching to assist Hideyoshi, Mitsuhide ordered his men to march on Kyoto.
And it was only at the very last minute that he shared with his generals his plan, which was to murder Nobunaga and take over Japan for himself.
[crickets chirping.]
Nobunaga rested that night in a small temple in Kyoto called Honnō-ji.
Nobunaga will keep a small group of pages and bodyguards to serve as his own private force.
This is a moment where he is vulnerable.
This is a chance that might not ever come again, and it seems Mitsuhide saw it that way.
[dramatic music playing.]
[soldiers marching.]
Mitsuhide marched his army right into the heart of Kyoto and launched a furious attack on the temple of Honnō-ji.
[soldiers battling.]
Nobunaga was taken completely by surprise.
When he realized what was happening… [both grunting.]
…he fought bravely to the last.
Oda Nobunaga had soon appreciated that all was lost.
However, he was unable to escape… and he retired into one of the back rooms of the temple.
[dramatic music playing.]
It really looks, for all the world, like Nobunaga's ascent is unstoppable.
He has gone, in about 20 years, from ruling one part of a minor province to ruling a third of the country.
And now, in the course of a single day, the world's been turned upside down.
This was an utterly shocking episode for which nobody was prepared.
Certainly not Nobunaga's heir, his eldest son Nobutada, who was currently in the castle of Azuchi, about 20 miles to the east.
The next thing that Mitsuhide did was to march his army to Azuchi and murder Nobutada.
[dramatic music playing.]
By killing Nobunaga and his heir, Akechi Mitsuhide had created a power vacuum in Japan, and it was a vacuum that he himself was determined to fill.
Nobunaga's death at the hands of Akechi Mitsuhide is shocking.
The great warlord has now been laid low, and the political pattern that everyone thought was going to be installed is now completely up for grabs.
It's now a race to see who can seize power in Kyoto the quickest.
There are three contenders.
There's Akechi Mitsuhide, there's Tokugawa Ieyasu, who is out in the east, and then there's Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
While this is happening, Hideyoshi is off in Western Japan fighting the Mori.
He's waiting for news of reinforcements from the Oda heartlands with great anxiety.
When a messenger finally does arrive, what he says to Hideyoshi is going to change the course of Japanese history.
Nobunaga is dead.
[grunts in frustration.]
Hideyoshi is going to do what a loyal warrior should do and seek out revenge, showing his loyalty to Nobunaga from beyond the grave.
For 11 days, Mitsuhide remains unchallenged.
Hideyoshi must seek revenge for his fallen master, for fear that other warlords will rally to Mitsuhide's side.
Hideyoshi rushes towards Kyoto to confront Mitsuhide in battle to decide who will seize power over Central Japan.
[inhales sharply.]
Mitsuhide, at this point, was shocked that Hideyoshi was able to move so quickly to confront him.
He believed he had time to consolidate his position in Central Japan before he had to confront any possible threat.
[in Japanese.]
We'll move in this direction.
He understands that he has the inferior force, so he chooses a position at a place called Yamazaki.
The reason the battle took place at Yamazaki is because Akechi Mitsuhide's castle lay on this very narrow approach road covered by mountains on one side, and a river on the other.
It was an excellent place to make a stand.
If you don't control the terrain and pick it so as to prevent forces from getting around you when you're outnumbered, you're in an unwinnable position.
The classic example of this is the Battle of Thermopylae in Western history, the 300 Spartans who hold the pass against the Persians.
That's Mitsuhide's theory, that he can use that defensive advantage to his own benefit.
However, he's made a big mistake.
He doesn't station troops on the mountain, which is called Tennōzan.
Hideyoshi's forces get there first and seize the high ground.
[soldiers marching.]
[soldier shouts.]
[soldiers shouting.]
[horse neighs.]
- [arquebus fires.]
- [groans.]
Hideyoshi launches his right wing at the Akechi lines.
Once they're engaged, he then launches his left wing.
[soldiers shouting.]
And, so, he is crashing into the Akechi forces from both sides.
When the fighting then breaks out between the two sides, early on it looks like it might go Mitsuhide's way.
Yamazaki was a particularly fierce battle.
- [grunts.]
- [groans.]
The sounds of screaming men, blood pouring from wounds.
[soldier shouts.]
And particularly the concentrated fire from the arquebuses, which had now become the norm in samurai warfare.
So that the battle would begin to be obscured by clouds of smoke, and inside this dense fire you could see flashes of light from the guns, the sound of horses screaming, the sounds of swords cutting.
- [grunts.]
- [groans.]
[grunts loudly.]
[arquebuses firing.]
Akechi! [Ledbetter.]
The onslaught is just too much.
Mitsuhide is forced to run.
[soldiers clamoring.]
[speaking Japanese.]
This, Mitsuhide managed to do.
[horse neighs.]
He galloped away with only a handful of loyal followers and tried to hide in a nearby village.
[crow caws.]
He was spotted by some peasants.
Mitsuhide was surrounded… [blade slicing.]
…and stabbed to death.
Akechi Mitsuhide now lies dead, thirteen days after assassinating his master, Oda Nobunaga.
As such, he was known to later generations, somewhat mockingly, as "the 13-Day Shogun.
" [Auslin.]
By taking revenge for his master on the traitor, Akechi Mitsuhide, Hideyoshi is basically stepping into this political void that was created.
He had reacted the quickest of all the daimyo, he had utterly defeated Mitsuhide in battle just two weeks after the death of Nobunaga, and now he was putting Akechi Mitsuhide's head on a stake… which was essentially an announcement that Hideyoshi was planning to become the most powerful daimyo in the land.
[in Japanese.]
It served as a warning to others, stating that, if you rebel, you would end up like this.
At the same time, it also meant Hideyoshi was the one who killed the rebel.
It was his press release.
Hideyoshi was born without a surname, a commoner.
Some have even suggested he was born an outcast.
He rose by virtue of his extraordinary skill, intelligence, cunning.
Hideyoshi… His rise, I think, can best be described as meteoric.
Many members of the peasantry get involved in war during this period as foot soldiers, but making it beyond that, into what we could somewhat anachronistically call the officer class? That's very rare.
And as a result, Hideyoshi is now in a position that I think, would really be unfathomable, usually, for a man of his social status.
He has tremendous power.
[dramatic music playing.]
Though Hideyoshi has become the most powerful daimyo in Japan and has gained legitimacy from avenging the death of his lord, he is still in great danger.
There are great daimyos in other parts of Japan, in the west and the east, and other daimyo that were vassals of Nobunaga, who would want to take power for themselves.
So, he's by no means out of the woods, but he is in, by far, the most advantageous position.
[thunder rumbles.]
Hideyoshi's wife was called Lady Nene, and she was absolutely crucial in his bid to take over from Nobunaga.
She was the most important person in Hideyoshi's life.
She was an incredible support to him.
She was his rock.
She was in charge, completely, of affairs at Osaka Castle.
So, she was in charge of maintaining order.
Basically, she was the daimyo whenever he was away.
When Hideyoshi was away for a military campaign, they exchanged letters.
Nene also has been advising Hideyoshi on what to do with his hostages, his alliance making, and also what kind of conditions that Hideyoshi has to give to other people.
Nene and Hideyoshi together started to see Japan as their own land.
They started to see this land as a divine realm that they could rule.
[dramatic music playing.]
For Hideyoshi, this was his moment of destiny.
He now had the chance to take over Nobunaga's territories for himself, but, first, he had to neutralize the remaining opposition from the rest of the Oda family.
After Mitsuhide's coup, two of Nobunaga's sons were left alive.
The older was Nobutaka, the younger, Nobukatsu.
Oda Nobukatsu's claim was quite simply that he was the true heir of Nobunaga, and Hideyoshi had performed an illegal coup.
Oda Nobutaka's immediate reaction was to seek allies to prevent the upstart Hideyoshi from usurping his position.
Oda Nobutaka found former generals of Oda Nobunaga.
One was a very important general called Shibata Katsuie.
Katsuie had fought alongside Nobunaga since the time of Okehazama and had also added to his battle honors the battles of Anegawa, Nagashino and the long campaign against the Ikkō-ikki.
[soldiers shouting.]
And he was still loyal to Nobunaga's memory, and so he was the natural ally for Oda Nobutaka to take.
He was a formidable foe.
And Shibata Katsuie thinks, "This is my moment.
This is my chance to take out Hideyoshi and really seal my own position as the first equal in the Oda clan.
" And that split sets up a conflict, a clash between Hideyoshi and Shibata.
The great disadvantage that Shibata Katsuie faced was that he could not take immediate military action against Hideyoshi, and that was simply because of the weather.
[wind whistling.]
It was now winter, and the mountains between his province and Kyoto were covered in snow.
He would have to wait till the spring in order to move, and that gave Hideyoshi a tremendous advantage.
During the winter months, Hideyoshi reinforces his three forts that guard the mountain pass in a bid to stall Katsuie's advance.
Hideyoshi then besieges nearby Gifu Castle, which is held by Katsuie's allies.
As the spring thaw arrives, Katsuie moves to seize the mountain forts.
If he succeeds, Hideyoshi's dream of ruling Japan will end as swiftly as it began.
[dramatic music playing.]
When the spring thaw came, Shibata Katsuie sent on a considerable force to secure the three border fortresses that Hideyoshi had established on the mountaintops.
That was the only way that the passage of his army could be safely guaranteed.
[soldiers grunting, yelling.]
At first, the plot succeeded.
[soldiers groaning, yelling.]
Katsuie's men totally overwhelmed the first two forts.
[soldiers yelling.]
The surviving defenders fled to the security of the third.
Its name was Shizugatake and it was the biggest of the three.
Shibata Katsuie regrouped his force to capture this final prize that would guarantee the advance against Hideyoshi.
If Shizugatake fell, Hideyoshi's reign would be at an end.
[dramatic music playing.]
[horse whinnies.]
The stakes could not have been higher for Hideyoshi.
The wheels were now set in motion for the most decisive struggle for power in the whole of Japanese history.
[closing theme plays.]

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