Anime Review: Sengoku Basara – Season 1

Posted: February 3, 2013 in Series
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Based on the Capcom video game series of the same name, Sengoku Basara aims to bring the large-scale battles that made the games so popular, to the small screens.

Loosely based on historical facts about Japan during the Sengoku period when political upheaval was at its most heated. During this period Warlords from all of Japan fought for each of the separate regions of the country. Many clans were involved in the conflict and most are featured in the series (especially the last few episodes) although the three biggest clans at the time, the ‘Date’, ‘the ‘Takeda’ and the ‘Oda’ are the main three that are focused upon in the anime.

The anime focuses on Sanada Yukimura and Date Masamune (known in real life as the one-eyed demon due to his lack of an eye), two young warlords who after becoming heated rivals, have to join forces to take down the Devil King, Oda Nobunaga (although to my knowledge no historical texts ever called him the Devil King). Throughout the series we get little historical facts from the narrator and some things, such as Oda’s over reliance on western weaponry are portrayed well (all be them over exaggerated.)

At its heart the series is an action series that uses the historical background to lead the characters from one battle to the next. That is not to say all of the battles are large-scale warfare. most focus on a few characters battling with strength that causes massive coloured auras to emanate from both their weapons and themselves. (it’s the classic anime technique to show power. Made famous by ‘Dragon Ball Z’) Part of me was hoping for more historically accurate battles and battles of a far larger scale but you can’t have everything. what we do have is very well animated one on one battles with lots of shouting about how powerful each person is.

When I started watching the anime I wasn’t entirely sure I liked the tone as it was far more jovial than I expected, but as with most anime, get past the third episode and you can see how the tone will be the rest of the series. (another great example of this is ‘Trigun’ which changes tone dramatically after the third episode.) Although still heavily corny and cheesy the tone settles down making the characters much more likable and making the series all the better for it. Some comedy continues during the series but never really interrupts the quite dark tone the series eventually gets to. (except of one moment in the 11th episode with a handglider.)

The series also never aims to be taken too seriously bearing in mind that Date Masamune’s horse has handle bars and motorcycle exhausted attached to it. There is also a samurai mech with a jet back featured in the early episodes. (a lot of this stupidity is lost with the comedy after the third episode but it is still worth being prepared for.)

This is also one of the few series that I actually prefer the English dub to the original Japanese track, mainly due to the fact that the corny English voices kind of go with the over the top action and kind of harks back to old martial arts films of the past. The music and the visuals are both of the highest quality and you can see that a lot of time and money has gone into the series to make it look and sound as good as it can (I’d even argue the action looks better in this animated form then in the games)

I will say that I kinda wanted more to series in terms of the final battle which I found at only one proper episode a bit rushed. (the 13th episode is actually set during the 11th episode from some of the other clans point of views.) But to be fair for what is essentially a 12 episode series, they cram a lot in and tell a pretty good story.

I’d say for any of those who like semi-historical samurai anime like ‘Kai Doh Maru’ and ‘Rurouni Kenshin’ who can accept some humour in the vein of ‘Naruto’, give it a go. As I’ve said, give it at least up to the end of episode 4 before you truly make up your mind (I will say that the final few episodes are pretty amazing and were kind of what I was hoping for all along) 7.5/10

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