Sengoku Basara

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mahius's avatar By on Feb 3, 2016

Sengoku Basara is a 12 episode historic action anime that is based not only upon a video game, but said video game is based upon actual Japanese history. However, don’t expect significant authenticity out of this, this anime exaggerates and dramatizes the history, adding modern day anime eccentricity to the history depicted. I only figured this out after I noticed a familiar name among the characters and my younger brother, who was watching this with me, mentioned that the other characters and things were actually real in Japanese history (do they teach Japanese history in schools these days or something?). Something to do with Daimyos and such, looks like I’ll have to read up for this review. If one goes in expecting authenticity, you’ll be disappointed. It’s very over-the-top and funny, enjoy it for what it is and not what you might want it to be.

Please note this review also covers the Sengoku Basara Special, an extra episode set before the 12th episode explaining the story.

Animation

The quality of the animation is pretty good overall. The visual fidelity is high as I was able to watch this in 1080p. It sure makes good use of the resolution. However, the anime falters a bit when it comes to motion in some cases. Especially with mouth movement during dialogue, it seems to just be the same looped ‘opening and closing’ animation that suits neither of the audio options. The fight scenes are a bit important and I feel like the ‘flashyness’ tended to mask some poor effort here. In particular, there was one part where I noticed the fight didn’t quite flow well. I realised that we don’t get to see too many fights in full fluid motion. This relates to the style of the animation.

Of course the character facial designs feel awfully common in some respects, but the overall design is more geared towards trying to nail that historic Japan look (particularly the Sengoku period). Despite this, some things are clearly out of place, such as a few designs of the extra characters (some looked like the trope delinquent/biker from anime set in modern day), the costume design of one female character (more on that in a bit) and of course the steed of one of the main characters. Though while the latter does break authenticity, it is a very unique design and must be commended for trying to make things interesting. What am I talking about? Masamune’s horse appears to have metal rods almost like the handlebars of a bike and also appears to have exhaust pipes attached to the stirrup. The result is that Masamune’s horse looks almost like a motorbike. There are also a good few other interesting designs and stylistic choices, but I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you. Since this anime is clearly not going for full authenticity, we can let the interesting designs slide, especially as they add a bit of flavour here.

Finally the regular section on fan-service/ecchi. Honestly, there really isn’t much here in that regard. With the exception of Kasuga, the female characters wear a style of clothing that is appropriate or authentic for the period. Kasuga is of course scantily-clad, impractical considering she is a ninja. Such that whenever she kneels to address someone in a formal way, her cleavage is fully visible. Thing is… that’s about it. There’s not many pervy camera angles or obvious fan-service shots here. It almost reminds me of that single episode in Kuroko no Basuke season 1 where there was also a similar lack of actual fan-service. The character of Kasuga is mostly just a sexy character and they don’t fall into the trap of overloading fan-service shots. That’s not to say they won’t in future seasons of this anime. If Kuroko no Basuke is anything to go by… I’d be very worried that they’d let the relative sensibilities of this anime fall. Otherwise, well done for not being obnoxious.

Sound

As soon as the intro played, I knew exactly which band was playing as I’d heard the song many times before (never being aware that it was associated with this anime). It happens to be a cut version (anime intro sequences need to be short) of JAP by Abingdon Boys School, who are among my most favourite J-rock bands. The outro was also pretty good and the music in the background of the anime itself was awesome too. And of course, it goes without saying that the background music in the anime is very suited to the action, it can be cheesy at times in a good way, it tends to hype up fights and the sound design is on point in that regard. I think it’s safe to say that I went and got the soundtrack for this series. Cue intro music...

This anime is available in both English and Japanese audio (once again Anime Planet hasn’t updated with English VAs on the character page). However the odd thing is that I could only find the 1080p version in one audio or the other, not both. My brother made the good point that this is an anime that would probably be much more suited to watching in Japanese with English subtitles due to the theme. Not having an option then, I decided to watch it in English anyway and… it isn’t too bad. While it does use a few high-profile voice actors (in the anime industry), their performance far outshone many of the other anime they’ve voiced in. I was having second thoughts as to whether Greg Ayres was voicing a character or not, his performance was that good/unique. I’m sure the Japanese is amazing (it would be a disaster if this anime had bad Japanese voicing), so feel free to watch it in either language.

Oh boy a big cast… Date Masamune is voiced by Robert McCollum, who also voiced Stiyl Magnus in A Certain Magical Index, Goten in Dragonball GT, Scar’s Brother in FMA: Brotherhood, Kouki Maeno in Mnemosyne, Curio in Romeo X Juliet, Mifune in Soul Eater, Uragon in Tower of Druaga and Yusuke Tozawa in Witchblade. Sanada Yukimura was instantly reocngised as being voiced by Johnny Yong Bosch, famed for his role as Lelouche Lamperouge in Code Geass and Itsuki Koizumi in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, his other roles include Renton Thurston in Eureka Seven, Ryuunosuke Uryuu in the Fate series, Michael in Gun X Sword, Rossiu Adai in Gurren Lagann, Daisuke Ono in Lucky Star (XD), Yu Narukami in Persona 4 and Haruto Sakaki in Witch Hunter Robin. Takeda Shingen is voiced by none other than Chris Ayres, having also voiced Yousuke in Another, Frieza in DBZ: Kai, Takahito Komagusu in Ghost Hound, Arthur in Tears to Tiara (I’m watching it right now) and Kiseru-Jii in Xam’d: Lost Memories. Uesugi Kenshin is voiced by Greg Ayres, he’s voiced Koichi Sakakibara in Another, Kouta Tsuchiya in Baka to Test, Youhei Sunohara in Clannad, Hiro Hirono in Ef: a Tale of…, Kensuke Aida in the Evangelion remake, Bido in Fullmetal Alchemist and Kaoru Yamazaki in Welcome to the NHK. Kojurou Katakura is voiced by Travis Willingham most known for Roy Mustang in Fullmetal Alchemist, also voiced Andreas Darlton in Code Geass, Amagiri in Darker than Black, Free in Soul Eater and Neeba in Tower of Druaga. Ieyasu Tokugawa is voiced by Liam O’Brien, who was Vincent Law in Ergo Proxy and Lloyd Asplund in Code Geass. Oda Nobunaga is voiced by John Swasey, known for voicing Gendo Ikari in Evangelion and Van Hohenheim in Fullmetal Alchemist. Akechi Mitsuhide was recognised as Vic Mignogna, known for voicing Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist and Fay D. Flourite in Tsubasa Chronicle. Keiji Maeda is voiced by Eric Vale, the voice of Trunks in Dragonball Z and Solf J. Kimblee in Fullmetal Alchemist. Kasuga is voiced by Stephanie Sheh, she voices Mikuru Asahina in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Illyasviel von Einzbern in the Fate series. Sarutobi Sasuke is voiced by Michael Sinterniklaas. Ichi is voiced by Laura Bailey, who was Lust in Fullmetal Alchemist and Maka Albarn in Soul Eater.

Characters

Most of these characters are based on actual historic individuals, all adults so no trope high-schoolers here. These characters are rather engaing and are what made this anime enjoyable for me. I had fun reading up about them, so prepare for a history lesson!

The main character here is the legendary one-eyed tactician and warrior Masamune Date (pronounced だて Daa-tei), AKA the One-eyed Dragon (Dokuganryu 独眼竜). It is said that because of his missing eye, his mother deemed him unworthy to lead the clan and favoured his younger brother as heir. Despite this, he was one of the most powerful Daimyo and was known by his iconic crescent-moon-bearing helmet, the man eventually founded the city of Sendai (仙台市). A ruthless and lone-wolf warrior, he would listen to few including his right hand man Kojurou Katakawa. In this anime, Masamune is perhaps the most powerful swordsman in the land, capable of wielding 6 swords at once in a move known as the dragon-claw. Masamune falls into the lone-wolf badass trope, not wanting to ally with any other clan and fusing brute force to solve his problems. One interesting thing to note is that he is referred to as ‘Big Boss’ by his men, a nod and a reference to Big Boss of the Metal Gear Solid games. He similarly has an eyepatch and a loyal second in command.

The other lead role is the samurai warrior Yukimura Sanada, a man so great that among his various unofficial titles was ‘number one warrior in Japan.’ He fought alongside the Sanada clan who had a rivalry with the Ieyasu clan, due to potential spoilers the history lesson ends here. In the anime, Yukimura wields two spears and is an expert at using them. He ends up becoming the arch-rival of Masamune Date, after an intense first battle. He often question’s the orders given by Shingen Takeda, and often gets a beating. But he always gets back up afterwards and is loyal to Shingen, not even thinking of succeeding him. Sasuke Sarutobi is his ally, a scout/ninja under Shingen’s orders. He’s young and enthusiastic, and often provides comedy.

The samurai Kojurou Katakawa is Masamune Date’s retainer, i.e. his right hand man. His loyalty to the Date clan dates back to when he was a junior page under Date’s father and he was known as one of the ‘Three Great Men of the Date Clan.’ One of few men trusted highly by Masamune, he once even saved Masamune’s life in battle. He fought alongside Masamune in most of his battles and his loyalty so strong, that that he declined land reward from Totoyomi Hideyoshi, that would’ve make him a Daimyo, an equal to Masamune. His son Shigenaga fought under Masamune when he was unable and earned the nickname of Oni Kojurou (ogre/demon Kojurou). In this anime, Kojurou is often advising Masamune the safe, sensible options, which are often declined to due Masamune’s desire to fight. He’s the sensible type, the sort who’d facepalm after his best friend Masamune does something dumb. He is to Masamune, what Kazuhira Miller is to Big Boss.

The Daimyo Shingen Takeda, AKA the Tiger of Kai was a man of exceptional charisma and military prestige. He wore a distinct armour with a horned helmet and a big white plume. His arch rival was Kenshin Uesugi and the two are said to have even fought in one-on-one combat. He fought with a sword and eventually went on to challenge Oda Nobunaga, who was allied with Ieyasu Tokugawa at the time. In this anime, Shingen is a jovial big man, who talks to Yukimura as if he was his son. The two often have friendly brawls during heated discussions and his strength over Yukimura is often shown. He also employs the ninja Sasuke Sarutobi, as a scout. Sasuke is not a real historical figure, but rather a popular fictional one. In this anime, he is engaged to Kasuga who is a (scantily-clad) ninja scout under Kenshin Uesugi, who appears to not like him and prefers Kenshin over the man to which she is betrothed.

Kenshin Uesugi AKA the Dragon of Echigo was one of the most powerful Daimyo lords of the Sengoku period who ruled over the Echigo province. Famed for his honourable conduct, military expertise and rivalry with Takeda Shingen, his followers believed him to be an avatar of a Buddhist god, thus he was also known as ‘The God of War’ (not to be mistaken with Kratos, God of War). Kenshin wore a distinct white monk cloak, as his rival had his distinct armour. His rivalry with Shingen was legendary, their skirmishes ramping to the point where their last battle was most ferocious. The two exchanged gifts and Shingen instructed his son to ally with Kenshin after he passed, who wept for Shingen and claimed he was a worthy and honourable adversary. He is very similar in this anime, yet he makes use of the ninja Kasuga (not a real historical figure), who has an infatuation with him, referring to her as ‘beautiful blade of mine’.

Perhaps the most important of the secondary characters is Ieyasu Tokugawa, the founder and first Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate which ruled Japan until the Meiji period. He was actually born a bastard to young parents who never got to be with each other, as a result he had many half-siblings. He had an early alliance with Oda Nobunaga and had a tough relationship against Shingen Takeda. In this anime Ieyasu is a pleasant and honourable warrior, who vows never to break a pact or promise, even when it looks like he must. He is best buddies with the mighty warrior Tadakatsu Honda, a man so huge he is a giant mech compared to Takasu. The funny thing is, he essentially is like a mech, since he has rockets on his back and his armour like that of a tank. Also a historical figure, but not so important here.

One of the more interesting characters is Keiji Maeda, a renowned samurai of the Sengoku period. His family served Oda Nobunaga, which he was not particularly fond of, thus he found his way into the favour of the Uesugi clan, who he fought alongside against Nobunaga. Legends depict one of his feats in battle as breaking through enemy lines with just 8 riders, his trusty steed Matsukaze was also famed. His armour remains intact to this day and can be seen at the Miyasaka museum. In this anime, Keiji is depicted as a freelance vagabond, desiring peace for the land and for the removal of Oda, his ambition and plan is to unite all the other Daimyo against Oda and take down the evil king. He is a positive and free spirited individual, even treating enemies with care and only resorting to violence if all else fails.

Azai Nagamasa was another Daimyo of the Sengoku period, and the brother-in-law of Oda Nobunaga himself, having married Oda’s sister Oichi, thusly an ally. His family had been allied with the Asakura clan for generations and he held them in the highest esteem, but Nobunaga declared war on them. Many of his retainers wished to honour their age old alliance with Asakura and Azai himself wanted to remain neutral, to try and prevent any conflict from occurring. In the end, he went against Oda and defended the Asakura. Now enemies with Oda, he and the Asakura fought against the combined forces of Oda and Ieyasu Tokugawa. The situation remain similarly in this anime, Azai must decide whether to honour his age-old alliance with Asakura or let them fall to his brother-in-law Nobunaga. His wife Oichi is very weak-willed and apologetic, but her values her sincerely and trusts her completely. The love between them in this anime is strong.

Oda Nobunaga… perhaps one of the most well-known and ambitious of the Daimyo, he aimed to unite all of Japan under his rule. While this was a goal held by many Daimyo, it was closer to reality for Oda who held many lands and great power already. He married Nohime, daughter of Saito Dosan, unfortunately she was unable to grant him any heirs and as a result his children were born via his concubines. He was allied with Ieyasu Tokugawa and among his top generals were Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Akechi Mitsuhide, the latter of which eventually betrayed him. He actually succeeded in unifying Japan, but due to certain event’s he never saw to rule it like he desired. In this anime, he known as the Demon King Oda Nobunaga, his throne upon the skulls of his enemies and drinking sake from a skull too. He is ruthless and thinks nothing of attacking his own and former allies. He is the villain and along with his wife, a deadly gunslinger, he is the single most powerful of all the lords in this anime.

Might as well mention Mitsuhide Akechi, Nobunaga’s general who became jealous of his peer Hideyoshi who was highly favoured by Nobunaga. In history he was famed for his cunning and rather tragic betrayal of Oda, which led to his eventual demise when those loyal to Nobunaga declared war on him. In this anime, Mitsuhide is a sadistic man who wields two scythes and has extreme bloodlust. He wishes to kill for the thrill it gives him and acts as Oda’s incompetent underling.

Story

The story is by no means historically accurate, though much of it is closely matched to real history. That said, ignore what history has to say as Sengoku Basara is a fictional story in and of itself. Complete with crazy unrealistic fights where the combatants appear to have the ability to fly and a giant mech-like warrior. The story here is rather simple. Each of the clans is warring and wishes to conquer Japan. Of course, things are never so easy with multiple different factions vying for control and to top it all off… the threat of the Demon King Oda Nobunaga who would crush them all. Alliances are made and broken, allies and rivals gained and lost, this anime is as action-packed as they come.

However, it is not without its faults. Watching with subtitles, the titles of some episodes literally spoil what is to happen in that episode, one example is a character death. Certain aspects of this anime are predictable, despite some other occurrences which may come as a complete surprise. The partial historical authenticity means that viewers may have certain expectations, they may know which characters are to win battles and which are to die. The end of the entire season is as predictable as it gets, yet again despite some minor surprises though one made no sense.

Though there are plenty of deaths in this anime about war in Sengoku period Japan, there are a few plot-holes/unexplained/vague things and the vague smell of plot-armour. Sure there is some ridiculous luck involved, a lone man standing completely still against a hail of bullets only gets one minor shot wound, but it almost feels like plot armour to me. Another gets his chest pierced by an arrow and survives to continue godly feats. Some other characters are meant to be dead, yet they are seen at the end credits with living characters, with no indication as to whether they are ghosts or actually alive and well.

One plot point that is saved by the special/extra episode is the inclusion of certain characters in the last episode. If the special isn’t watched, then it makes no sense to the viewer how those characters come to join the story. The special episode is set before the last episode and explains how these characters come to join the main story and what happens to a few of the side characters. It’s done very well actually, some might say it’s the best episode of the season.

Conclusion

If you like mindless action, Samurai, over-the-top obviously anime fight scenes and a little bit of actual history, the Sengoku Basara is for you. Great for action fans and not a high school kid in sight (hooray!). But it's not for everyone. I wouldn’t recommend it to those who hold their history in high regard and to those too picky and cynical when it comes to plot. The action isn’t perfect and is a bit too flashy. That’s usually me complaining, but I accepted this anime for what it was at the very start and enjoyed it as a result of ignoring the obvious mishaps that come with this style of anime. At times it was so funny, that I laughed pretty hard, though I barely remember doing so now. Give the first episode a go, it’s fairly representative of the show, though potentially confusing only because it introduces many characters. Overall not too shabby.

Family-friendliness Rating: 3/5 A single scantily clad character (lower is better)

Overall Rating: 7/10 (higher is better)

6/10 story
6/10 animation
9/10 sound
10/10 characters
7/10 overall
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triplestrike's avatar By on Aug 26, 2012

This anime is very exaggerated and over the top in most ways. It is  still fairly entertaining but at times you may question why you are watching it or why these characters  are the way they are. Not much going on with the story, there is constant strife and everyone will be fighting pretty much at all times, that is also the good news, it looks good.

Overall it is okay.

7/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
7/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
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PsychoAce's avatar By on Jun 21, 2012

OK one thing before I start this review...I am a huge fan of the original Sengoku Basara game story.

Ah Sengoku Basara.....I love you...not the anime though....They completely..destroyed the story. I mean making Masamune and Yukimura the main characters...fine by me...but....THEY HAVE LIKE 99% OF THE SCREENTIME. They are not THAT important. I mean characters like Motochika and Motonari don't even get 5% of the screentime until the OVA.

Ok so going to the story...It is about the Sengoku period in japan...only like a million times more...wierd and kinda awesome. We have our 2 main characters.....*sigh* Date Masamune (the so called "One eyed dragon of Oshuu") and Sanada Genjiro Yukimura ("The young tiger of Kai"). One is a overconfident, english speaking, "american bad boy" wannabe and the other is a strange....little...thing guy who always talks about his burning soul...All shits aside though I actually like the two, Masamune's engrish is kinda funny and Yukimura's moron personality is kinda adorable. So...the first Season of this anime is really kinda boring in the beginning. I know we have the whole Nobunaga being awesome and the giant evil bad guy thingie going on but he...never really does much until the last episode. I mean you always see him in his chair drinking sake from skulls and just looking awesome...They seriously nerfed the story for the anime. Soooo many things were left out. One of my most favorite characters, Oichi, was....just....meeeeh in the anime. I know in the games she cries alot too and all...but in the anime she never does ANYTHING. I mean in the games she was still kinda creepy and actually pretty strong but....wow is she anything but in the anime. So yeah...masamune and yukimura are put in like every role from every storypath from the games. They are the ones who do like everything...which really pisses me of as a fan if you haven't already noticed.....they can fly too btw....never noticed?....BTW they don't fly in the games or anything....idk why they would put something like this in the anime but...it kinda works actually. The fight scenes are over the top and that's what makes them actually pretty good. Those whole other things in between though....kinda boring. Do not let this scare you away however....because trust me the second season is much better....so I'm not going to cover anymore of this...I'm just gonna say the first season is...OK..it's not great or bad it's just "ok". So it gets a 6.5/10

-Metaknight2395/PsychoAce

5/10 story
7/10 animation
8/10 sound
7/10 characters
6/10 overall
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cococrow's avatar By on Dec 16, 2011

This is bad. I'm sorry. I understand that it is supposed to be a parody of sorts, but there is

A. no plot that I could discern. 

B. sooo much yelling! I couldn't even hear myself think after sitting though it. 

C. The action moves so fast that I feel like I just fed a five year old six packets of pop rocks and three gallons of koolaid and unleashed them into Feudal Japan at a 10% the speed of light. I mean really! They move from frame to frame so fast you get whiplash just sitting in your comfy chair! 

D. Lastly, I couldn't tell character from character. There was the blue guy, the green guy, the red guy that got punched a lot... maybe there was two green guys... I don't know I couldn't tell you. 

The only thing that saves this nonsense is the animation is really well done. What astonishes me is that it has a fairly high rating! Well to each his own. All I can say is I can't believe I sat though the amount I did. 

1/10 story
9/10 animation
1/10 sound
1/10 characters
2/10 overall
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krupple's avatar By on Apr 15, 2011

The art is great, but the anime is loud and obnoxious. The characters yell 50% of the time even if they are just talking to each other. It's hard to imagine unless you see it.

It's hyper and constant. I think it would suit an 8 year old well.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
4/10 overall
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