Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings

TV (12 eps)
3.67 out of 5 from 6,420 votes
Rank #3,362

The time is centuries ago, during the Sengoku period; the place is feudal Japan. Political ambitions and bloodshed run rampant as rival warlords battle it out in an attempt to rule the nation. Some seek to spread their noble ideals, some seek to protect justice and yet others seek destruction. Date Masamune, Sanada Yukimumra and a variety of other warriors will fight it out time and time again; their actions helping to ultimately decide the fight of Japan.

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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)


After a friend told me about this anime I just had to watch it. This show takes some memorable characters and events in history and changes them giving them a new feeling of life. This show has some incredible action sequences and beautiful animation makes Sengoku Basara a show worth watching if you like action and good plot. The story is about war in Old Japan, but in a different scene. You notice this early on with names that have wrought through the history books of Japan. Despite the fact that many of the actual events weren't portrayed in this story, it still held true to the context of war, alliances and the will to thwart evil when it rears its ugly head. I didn't find any real boring points within the story, although I did find that there could have been more originality put into the story itself. I also did get a sense of a slight tear jerker if you pay close attention to the story between the characters. Which by the way, I'll touch on last since it's what really sells this anime. The animation was done very well, although there were moments during fight scenes that seemed recycled from various other works from the leading company Production I.G. Overall though, it was pretty well thought out and planned nicely, no thanks in part to Capcom's character design team.The sounds are actually extremely awesome, with an in your face soundtrack and of course an awesome voice acting team. I was oddly surprised that even the English dub voice actors didn't put me to sleep, or sound like they were just merely reading off the script out of sheer boredom. It was refreshing to hear genuine voice acting on both ends. And finally the bread and butter to Sengoku Basara, the characters. The main cast themselves and even the supporting cast really sold this anime in a big way. Each with a uniquely great storyline filled with a vim and vigor that even those who never heard of this show will grow to love. From masters and their vassels to rivalries that surpass the test of time. The funniest is of course between Takeda and Sanada, with almost every episode filling out a hilarious moment that will be remembered for those that have watched this and to those that will eventually watch it. "Master!" Sanada. "Sanada!" Takada. The back and forth antics are just to funny not to love.  Even the love between Kasuga for her master Uesegi is one that gives a sense of joy an pleasure, but not in a perverted way. Lastly the rivalry between Date Masamune and Yukimaru Sanada was one that leads into friendship in the heat of battle but turned back to rivalry as they take down Nobunaga. There are various other instances that you'll quickly notice as well when you watch this anime with other supporting cast member the chemistry and bonds between each story was very nicely done. Overall Sengoku Basara gets a 8/10 and here's why. Again the characters and sound really sold this anime, the story could have been longer than 12 episodes, which by the way really made me feel that the guys at Production I.G. didn't think that this anime was going to be a success, or maybe some other alterer motive. The other reason was because of the story, it felt more or less unoriginal (despite it is an historical anime) I guess I might have been looking for something more. I was leaning towards a 9.5/10 but felt that was way too strong. I know there is a season 2 which I intend on watching sometime this week or next depending on my schedule. Well that's it, your moment of Zen wrapped up pretty nicely. I highly recommend this anime to anyone who's into history, laced with action, samuria and of course an anime that brings a great deal of comedy, even in the smallest of forms.

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