Yesterday was a hot holiday Monday in London, so naturally I was standing in front of a galleon on the South Bank, talking about Chinese pirates. There’s a film crew in town making a documentary about Coxinga, the pirate king of Taiwan, who led the resistance against the Manchu occupation in the 1600s. The director wanted pictures of me doing quintessentially London things, so I suggested playing tinny music from my cellphone out loud on the train until someone punched me. Instead, he plumped for walking beside the Thames, until we were moved along by Tower of London security.
It’s been five years since my Coxinga book was published, and suddenly I’m dredging up the old stories again. His samurai mother’s heroic death, sword in hand, on the battlements of the family castle. His scoundrel father’s rise to fame as the richest pirate in the world. His formidable chief wife, and the fanatical concubines who whiled away their downtime putting together suits of armour for the soldiers. His army of freed African slaves, the Black Guard.
And then there are the mysteries. Who were the “frog men” who helped him smash through the Boiling River Dragon, a ten-mile chain of giant floating fortresses on the river Yangtze? Was his stepsister really part of the great Christian uprising in Japan? Is it true that the Iron Men, his suicidal frontline troops, were rogue samurai exiles?
We’re all off to Taiwan later in the year to film at Fort Zeelandia, where Coxinga and his army faced a multinational European force led by an embittered Swede. After Coxinga died, he was made a god. Twice. It’s true stories like this, from the real world, that make me so unimpressed when the best that certain new anime can manage is geek-gets-girls… again.
See for yourself: http://www.muramasaindustries.com/fact/pirateking/birthofcoxinga.html