Put your guns on!
A review copy was provided by FUNimation Entertainment.
Evening ladies and gentlemen, the Inverseman here with the anime adaptation for Capcom’s hit game series, Sengoku Basara. Historical accuracy is out and manliness is in! But how manly is it? Let’s find out!
Sengoku Basara is Capcom’s own take on hack n’ slash games. During the feudal era of Japan, historical figures from the history books clash with fervor but with a twist, everything is taken up to 11. When you wield six swords that shoot lightning, your horse has handlebars and chrome exhaust pipes, and all your men have pompadours, you know anachronism is not nearly as much a concern as how cool your game is. Sadly though, the games have a checkered history in the US, they’re worth a look if you can find them on PS3 or Wii.
The anime has all the ridiculousness of the games incarnate. Every character that isn’t named “Soldier A” performs feats impossible by human bodies, physics, and reasonable logic. Even the battle cries of a minor character sends enemy foot soldiers flying with an expulsion of force. Generals climb castle walls by riding their horses straight up them while standing upon them as if gravity had no effect. And our heroes can stop moving mechanical fortresses and mecha (yes, one of the characters is a giant robot) with their bare hands. I love how clear the spirit of the games is in the anime and the very nice animation and fight choreography do it good justice.
The story is very straightforward and not particularly A+, Oda Nobunaga tries to take over Japan by warrior rule and his evil ‘stache and in season 2, Toyotomi Hideyoshi wants a land of the strong misguided he is. Don’t expect much from the anime for a hack n’ slash video game. Also the last scene of the story might feel odd because it does introduce characters from the third game who will be eventually featured in the movie, so some “pointless” additions might not be so if you’re in the loop. The strong part of the anime comes from the character interactions, such as between Date Masamune and Katakura Kojurou or the student-master relation between Sanada Yukimura and Takeda Shingen. At the centerpiece though is Yukimura and Masamune’s rivalry, one very admirably portrayed and will set any fangirl’s heart aflutter. The character interactions are indeed another high point of the series and the actors’ performance are no slouch either.
Now there are two hinges to this anime. The first is the number of side stories and developments between various clans and factions, though not a War and Peace number of characters, they’re not that bad if you’re familiar with the characters to some degree, but keeping track can be a push. So some characters may not seem to have as much development if you’re not at least tangentially knowledgeable about the games, but it’s not too much of a deal-breaker.
Part of this reason could also be because it plays on one’s knowledge of Japanese history too, that’s a contextual issue that some people might miss out on or scratch their heads about. The other caveat is the viewer’s suspension of disbelief. An emotional scene with an A+ soundtrack could be hard to watch if you’re one who has to take things seriously or if you can’t get behind the inherent absurdity of the series. Like watch Maeda Keiji sorrowfully argue with his uncle Toshiie and aunt Matsu, and how you accept Toshiie’s giganto pitcfork strapped to his shirtless rugged farmer back or Keiji’s literally wild getup will determine how you take the show. If it adds to your enjoyment either in seriousness or in jest, then no problems.
The DVD set came with bonus features like the Chibi-Sengoku Basara shorts and a commentary or two. It’s nice to see a couple commentaries as well. The dub job is very solid as Funimation tried to get as much of the game cast into the studio as possible. It’s a very solid dub; Masamune’s lines are very modern and boss-ish, Kenshin is poetic and proper, and everyone just is who they are. Overall, while not pushing any barriers anytime soon, Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings is great for fans invested into the characters, Japanese history buffs who want to turn off their brains for 22 minutes, or people that might feel like checking out an over-the-top action series. I give this series a solid score 3.5 out of 5! Join me next time for the Takeda Clan Manstravaganza .
– Stays close to the spirit of the source material
– Well animated and zany style
– Great soundtrack and acting and a solid dub too
– May feel a little arcane to non-Japanese history types while the story isn’t much to help it
– May be harder to engage with the characters if unfamiliar with their quirks
Studio: Production I.G
Director: Itsuro Kawasaki
Writer: Yasuyuki Muto
Character design: Tooru Ookubo
Music: Yuko Sakurai and Hiroyuki Sawano
Original creator: Based off video game series
Original run: April 2, 2009 – June 18, 2009
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