Historical Model:
Moronao served as a general during the period of the Northern and Southern Courts. At the onset of the struggle (kan-? no j?ran, 1350-2) between Ashikaga Takauji, who represented western samurai, and Ashikaga Tadayoshi, who represented traditional eastern power holders, Moronao sided with Takauji and distinguished himself as a general and an advisor of outstanding abilities. Moronao died in 1351, killed by enemies of Takauji while on his way to the capital. There is no historical evidence that supports the negative view of Moronao found in the Taiheiki and other literature throughout the Muromachi and Edo periods.

Within the context of Ch?shingura, Moronao is meant to represent Kira Yoshinaka, a high-level official of the shogun whose family had served as masters of ceremony and etiquette for generations. In the early spring of 1701, Kira was attacked from behind by Asano Naganori within the Shogun's palace just before a celebration that was to mark the end of an imperial delegation to Kamakura. Without attempting to defend himself, Kira fled from his attacker and managed to escape with only a superficial cut to his forehead. Later that day, whereas Asano was ordered to commit seppuku for the heinous crime of disturbing the peace in the palace, Kira was commended for his display of deference to the shogun by not drawing his sword. Less than two years later, in the winter of 1702, forty seven of Asano's former retainers avenged their lord's death by storming Kira's house and killing him.

After the public sensationalized the r?nin's attack on Kira, he came to be almost universally despised as a greedy and cowardly man that represented all that a samurai was not supposed to be. Similar to the portrayal of Moronao, this is little, if any, unproblematic evidence that corroborates this view.

Taiheiki Model:
Within the Taiheiki, Moronao is depicted as a headstrong individual that looks down on religion and imperial authority. One passage describes his burning of a shrine dedicated to Hachiman - it is more than mere coincidence that Kanadehon Ch?shingura begins at a Hachiman shrine - and another describes how he razed an imperial villa. The Taiheiki also presents Moronao as being uncontrollably lascivious, a quality that eventually leads to his pursuit of Enya's wife, which, in turn, precipitates Enya's death. It is interesting to note that, while Moronao does spread slanderous rumors about Enya, he has no direct interaction with him otherwise.

In the world of Puppet Theater, villains are meant to be unquestionably villainous and heroes are meant to be unquestionably heroic; consequently, Moronao, as the villain of Ch?shingura, bears absolutely no redeeming qualities, is completely one-sided as a character and lacks any sort of psychology or conflict. His greedy, licentious, cowardly nature is meant to act as a stark contrast to the loyalty, determination and virtue of ?boshi Yuranosuke, who is a paradigmatic hero within Edo drama. Moronao is all that Kuranosuke is not, and that is all that he is meant to be. In fact, the latter is wholly contingent upon the former: Yuranosuke and the plotting r?nin, with their goal of blood and violence, can only be seen as good to the extent their enemy is understood as evil. Were Moronao depicted with more subtle shades of gray, the actions of the forty seven r?nin would have been unable to completely escape the moral and ethical criticism that the historical event itself spurred within public debate for many years.