Hi all, thought I'd make some history-related comments in response to some of the questions raised on this thread. This drama was okay, but to be frank, I was somewhat disappointed in it. One of the things that disappointed me was that as far as the women went, they felt the need to create fake characters (with the exception of Yamamoto Yaeko) rather than use real historical figures (Nakano Takeko, Hirata Kocho, Jinbo Yukiko). Some good things: Higashiyama Noriyuki as Matsudaira Katamori, though to be honest, during the segment that depicted the Kyoto years, he should have been looking a lot more sick. Katamori was so sick during his time in Kyoto that there were times when people thought he was dead. But of course, he lived, and died in 1893. Another good job was Matsushige Yutaka as Yamamoto Kakuma, and Matsuo Toshinobu as Yamakawa Hiroshi. (I think it would've been a nice touch to include Hiroshi's brother Kenjiro, who later became President of Tokyo University) But anyway...
*"Aizu, the Bakufu, and the North against modernization" is a misconception. Matsudaira Katamori employed the services of the Prussian gun runner Henry Schnell. Aizu reorganized its military along Western lines in early 1868. In 1865, Aizu was using the services of another Prussian, Karl Lehman of the Lehman-Hartmann Company, to modernize its mining industry and trade networks. Yamamoto Kakuma, who was depicted in "Byakkotai," was the Aizu samurai who negotiated with Lehman. For more, see "Remembering Aizu," by Shiba Goro (available in English), as well as Hoshi Ryoichi's "Bakumatsu no Aizu-han".
*The Northern Alliance and the survivors of the Tokugawa army (***AFTER the fall of the Shogunate and the defeat at Toba-Fushimi***) fought side-by-side ("the enemy of my enemy is my friend" and all), but to call the Northern Alliance "pro-Tokugawa" is also a misconception. The Alliance was made up of clans that were nearly all "tozama" ("outside" lords), the biggest of which was the Date clan of Sendai. Satsuma and Choshu are also tozama. Why would tozama be pro-Tokugawa? When the war went badly for the Alliance, the Tokugawa forces abandoned the Alliance and escaped to Hokkaido. Yes, some survivors of the Alliance joined the men going to Hokkaido, but they were few in number. Again, for more information (for those of you who can read Japanese), see Hoshi Ryoichi's "Ouetsu reppandomei," and Onodera Eiko's "Boshin nanboku senso to Tohoku seiken."
That's about it. I'm really really hoping for Aizu and/or Matsudaira Katamori to appear later on in the "Atsuhime" taiga, but considering that it took them three quarters of the year to get to 1860, I'm losing that hope.[/spoiler]