This article contains spoilers through Shogun episode 6.

Halfway through its 10-episode run, FX’s Shōgun was not hurting for compelling antagonists. From the fierce Ishido Kazunari (Takehiro Hira) and his council regents to the scheming Kashigi Yabushige (Tadanobu Asano) to even the god damned Portuguese, there are no shortage of threats to our heroes’ safety.

At the end of episode 5, however, Shōgun properly introduced the individual who might be the real big bad in all of this: Lady Ochiba (Fumi Nikaido). The mother of the late Taikō’s only heir (himself too young to rule), Lady Ochiba has been mentioned several times throughout Shōgun‘s first half. As an honored guest (re: hostage) in Edo, Ochiba ensured that that Lord Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) would be safe in the lion’s den that is Osaka. But now both Toranaga and Ochiba are back where they belong and Ochiba is ready to lead the campaign against the former.

Lady Ochiba screams onto the scene with fire and fury in episode 6. She quickly bends Ishido to her will, inspires the murder of fellow regent Lord Sugiyama, and generally puts things in place to rule Osaka on behalf of her son. Oh, and she also attends a fun little play about her betrothal to the Taikō. All in all, it’s a real busy episode for our girl.

Unfortunately, introducing this towering a figure this late in the game runs the risk of confusing many Western Shōgun-watchers (who, let’s be honest: are already grappling with many new vocabulary words and concepts already). With that in mind, let’s take a moment to take stock of what we know about the woman they call Lady Ochiba.

Note: The vast majority of this information comes from Shōgun itself. But another helpful source is the official Shōgun companion podcast. This week’s episode in particular has a lot to say about Lady Ochiba and we’ve included some of it in the sections to fellow.

Lady Ochiba’s History With Mariko

To know who Lady Ochiba is, we need to get a better sense of where she comes from. As we first witness via a “22 Years Ago” flashback at the beginning of episode 6 “Ladies of the Willow World,” Mariko and Ochiba both grew up as young royals in Azuchi Castle, though Ochiba was known by her birth name of “Ruri” at the time.

Ruri’s father Lord Kuroda was a powerful but despotic ruler. Mariko’s father Akechi Jinsai was originally one of Lord Kuroda’s vassals. This is why Ruri and Mariko grew up together in Ruri’s father’s castle. Eventually, however, Jinsai married Mariko off to the terrible Buntaro so that Mariko would be far away during what he had to do next: overthrow Kuroda.

Jinsai was successful in killing Kuroda but he was ultimately hanged by the following regime for his perceived treachery and betrayal in killing a royal. Jinsai is basically an even more extreme version of Ser Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones. Just as Mariko’s life was upended by the death of her father, so too was Ruri’s upended by the death of hers. She was kept around court as a concubine for the new ruling Taikō and eventually ascended to a higher status once she became the only woman to successfully bear the Taikō a son.

Mariko and Ochiba are somewhat mirror images of each other. Both grew up in the same castle, received the same training, ate the same meals, and shared the same concerns. But only Mariko’s father was wise enough to find a way to get her away from him before the violence started. Poor Ochiba had to endure the full crucible.

Who Is Lady Ochiba Based On?

While Lady Ochiba’s father is based on a couple of real life figures (Azai Nagamasa and Oda Nobunaga), she herself is based on just one woman: Azai Chacha, daughter of Azai Nagamasa. Just as Ruri came to be known as Ochiba-no-kata, Chacha came to be known as “Yodo-no-kata.” Chacha’s story is similar to Ruri’s in many respects but the Shōgun podcast goes into even more detail about how turbulent her young life was. Shōgun writer and podcast host Emily Yoshida explains:

“At just four years old she would become caught in a violent three-year war between her father and forces led by Oda Nobunaga. When her father finally found himself without the hope of a victory, he committed seppuku. Ultimately this led to Chacha’s placement under the protection of Nobunaga, the very man who had defeated her father. But Nobunaga himself was killed just a few years later by Akechi Mitsuhide, who is the real life inspiration for Mariko’s father. And after that, both Chacha and her mother were married into the family of yet another nobleman. And when that nobleman clashed with the Taiko a.k.a. the most powerful man in Japan at the time, Chacha became one of his concubines, the only one who was able to give him a son and heir.”

Shōgun was probably wise to condense Ochiba’s father Nagamasa and the man he initially supported, Nobunaga, into one figure given how much Ochiba has to endure after.

What Does “Ochiba-no-kata” Mean?

At this point you may be a little confused as to how a girl named “Ruri” becomes a woman named “Ochiba.” Thankfully, the aforementioned Shōgun podcast has a succinct answer for us on that front as well. Historian Frederik Cryns explains that, in the Sengoku period, it was considered impolite to use high-ranking women’s given names. You would have to find another way to refer to them. More often than not, that involved adopting a euphemism for the woman that incorporated where she resided.

In the case of “Ochiba-no-kata,” the “Ochiba” portion means “fallen leaves” while “no-kata” indicates a particular direction. Taken together, the full term means something akin to “the lady who lives in the room of the fallen leaves.” Ochiba’s historical inspiration Yodo-no-kata was so-known because she had been granted Yodo Castle by her lord i.e. “The lady from Yodo Castle.”

What Does Lady Ochiba Want?

Lady Ochiba is not particularly pleased about the fact that Mariko’s father killed her father. Interestingly enough though, most of her anger appears to be targeted towards Toranaga instead. She tells Ishido that Jinsai may have been the one who took her father’s life but Toranaga is surely the one who planned it. She’s not a fan of Toranaga’s calculated, plotting nature.

Perhaps Ochiba’s inclination to snatch her own destiny is at odds with Toranaga’s preference lay in wait. Outside of that, it does seem as though there’s a part of this story that we’re missing and indeed the podcast briefly alludes to that fact. Lady Ochiba has been through a lot and it only makes sense that we should want a level of security and stability for her son that she herself was never afforded.

Or maybe it’s all just as simple as Mariko says. “A man may go to war for many reasons. Conquest, pride, power … But a woman is simply at war.”

Six episodes of Shōgun are available to stream on Hulu now. New episodes premiere Tuesdays on Hulu and Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on FX.

The post Shogun Episode 6 Explained: Who is Lady Ochiba? appeared first on Den of Geek.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.