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The Unfettered Shogun (暴れん坊将軍) (Abarenbō Shōgun) was a Japanese television program on the TV Asahi network. Set in the eighteenth century, it showed fictitious events in the life of Yoshimune, the eighth Tokugawa shōgun.

The program started in 1978 under the title Yoshimune Hyōbanki: Abarenbō Shōgun (Chronicle in Praise of Yoshimune: The Unfettered Shōgun) who went after rogue councilors and daimyō who were abusing their power. After a few seasons, they shortened the first two words and the show ran for two decades under the shorter title until the series ended in 2003; a two-hour special aired in 2004. The earliest scripts occasionally wove stories around historic events such as the establishment of firefighting companies of commoners in Edo, but eventually the series adopted a routine of strictly fiction.

Along with Zenigata Heiji and Mito Kōmon, it ranks among the longest-running series in the jidaigeki genre. Like many other jidaigeki, it falls in the category of kanzen-chōaku, loosely, “rewarding good and punishing evil”.

Tokugawa Yoshimune :
Disguised as Tokuda Shinnosuke—Shin-san to his friends—the third son of a hatamoto, the shogun roams freely about his capital, using the Megumi fire company as his base. The captain of the company knows his identity, but others are unaware that he is the shogun. Yoshimune-as-Shinnosuke is portrayed as the nearly invincible samurai warrior who seldom loses a fight no matter how many enemies opposing him there are.
Ōoka Echizen-no-Kami Tadasuke

Like Yoshimune, Tadasuke was a historical personage. Yoshimune appointed him to the position of Minami Machi Bugyō, one of the two chief administrators of Edo. In this office, he was mayor, police chief, judge and jury. He instituted and oversaw the operations of the commoners’ fire companies. He also oversaw the Koishikawa “City Hospital” (Koishikawa Yōjōsho, another Yoshimune innovation). He was aware of Yoshimune’s secret activities and originally did not approve, but grew to accept them as necessary and was a loyal accomplice. In the first episode, it was revealed that when he was Yamada Magistrate he had once reprimanded Yoshimune for illegal fishing when the shogun was younger, proving both his integrity and his devotion to the law.
Tadashi Yokouchi played Tadasuke for nearly twenty years; Ryō Tamura replaced him in the closing seasons.
Goyō toritsugi

The goyō toritsugi (御用取次) or soba yōnin (側用人) was the person who scheduled appointments for the Shogun. He is generally a man of advanced years. Yoshimune frequently referred to him informally as “jii” (“old man” or “gramps” [depending on the subtitle translation]) while in the castle while outside he would generally refer to him by the polite “oji-ue” (“uncle”) outside. In the first two casts, the character’s name was Kanō Gorozaemon (played by comic Ichirō Arishima). Next came Tanokura Magobei (Eiji Funakoshi), and a few followed in the cast changes of the last years of the show.

Megumi, Fire company on Abarenbō Shōgun
Fire captain

Tatsugoro, originally the boss of a construction gang, was the founder of the Megumi fire company and thus reported directly to Tadasuke. In the first episode, it was revealed that he was a former drinking and fighting companion of Yoshimune’s before the young lord’s elevation to the shogunate. Enka singer Saburō Kitajima played in the series from beginning to end. Although somewhat short-tempered and never one to shun a brawl for a righteous cause, this short, stocky character was altruistic to a fault, stubborn, and fiercely loyal to Yoshimune.
Kitajima also sang the closing theme songs for several years.
Later, Tatsugorō retired from the Megumi and assumed a different occupation; the writers of the series brought in Jōji Yamamoto, another singer (and a disciple of Kitajima) to play Chōjirō, the successor to Tatsugorō. In all, there were three captains during the series.
Women of Megumi

Three actresses played Osai, the feisty wife of Tatsugoro. Later, when Tatsugorō left the fire company, the new captain Chōjirō married Obun, the young fishmonger/beat cop. The third captain was unmarried; his widowed sister Okyō was the lady of the Megumi.
Firemen

The cast always included half a dozen firefighters (火消 Hikeshi). While the roles were minor, together they were a prominent presence in the series. Character actors and comics played these parts.
The fire companies were named with a single kana such as め followed by the word -gumi. The show featured the Me-gumi, whose auspicious name could also mean “blessing”; the squad was formed in the third episode “The First Fireman’s Banner”.
In the first several years, a retired sumo wrestler named Ryūko was a member of the cast. He played a retired sumo wrestler named Ryūko, who was initially a guest of the captain. He later became a bone-setting doctor, and finally joined the crew of the fire company. Long after leaving the series, he made an appearance as a guest star.
Oniwaban (ninja)

The show always had a male and a female oniwaban from the Iga Clan who acted as both spies and bodyguards for Yoshimune. A few of the actors and actresses have gone on to starring roles in other series. The original female, Osono, was played by Yōko Natsuki. Her successor, Asaka Mayumi, is currently active. In the third series, Reiko Sugano played Hayate; then Takashima Reiko, who has gone on to star in television and film, succeeded her, with the name Kozue. Mayuko Irie (Akane), Akiko Andō (Koyuki), Hitoe Ōtake (Ayame), Chika Kochihira (Satsuki), Kaori Yamaguchi (Nagisa), and Kaori Matsunaga (Azami) followed, with Miki Murai appearing in the final special as Kaede. The men include Yabuta Sukehachi (portrayed by Hiroshi Miyauchi, who was killed saving Yoshimune’s life in Season One Episode 87)[3] and Ōtsuki Hanzō (Shun’ya Wazaki, who was appointed Sukehachi’s replacement by Kanō Gorozaemon and made Oniwaban leader by Yoshimune in Episode 88)[4] opposite Osono, the first Saizō (Shigeru Araki, paired with Hayate), Sagenta (Kiyotaka Mitsugi) and the second Saizō (played by Takayuki Godai). Hayami Saheiji (Toshihide Wakamatsu), Jūmonji Hayato, and finally Gorōta followed.
Narrator

Genzō Wakayama narrated the show from the first episode to the last.

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Season 04
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Season 06
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Season 07
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Season 08
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Season 11
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