ANIME & MANGA - Review
15:28 - 13th March 2013, by Matt Kamen

Sengoku BASARA Samurai Kings

In the midst of feudal Japan's most violent period of history, two figures stand out amongst the endless armies vying for control of the country - Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura. Demons of the battlefield both, the pair find themselves reluctantly drawn together as an even greater threat emerges - Oda Nobunaga, the Devil King! Can two proud and equally powerful warriors put aside their own pride for the country's future?

Thankfully, the answer's not as predictable as you'd think - for one thing, there's no predictable sequence of meet, fight, then team up, as you might expect. Despite this absolutely being an action show, there's a fair bit of depth to both Date's and Sanada's personalities and motivations too, that influence how they react to each other. Over the course of the series, Date's character arc is concerned with tempering his vast arrogance and belief, and accepting that at times he needs help. Sanada, in turn, is loyal to his master to a comedic fault, frequently coming to blows with him over his own lack of independent will, and needing to step out on his own.

Frankly though, you'll be too busy picking your jaw off the floor at how good this show looks on Blu-ray to care too terribly much over the pair's inner turmoils. As a Production I.G. series, it was going to look amazing anyway - and the DVD edition is perfectly fine for those of you without high-def capabilities - but we're still impressed with just HOW good it looks, particularly for a 13-episode TV show. The one flaw on the visuals is that the character designs are relatively basic, and in several instances are outclassed by some staggeringly detailed and beautiful backgrounds. Some truly dynamic flair in the frequent battles rebalances the eyecandy scales though - we've not seen fights this hyperkinetic since the days of the original Macross series and its signature 'Itano Circus' displays of bullet hell.

It's probably worth noting that anyone expecting anything even close to historical accuracy from Sengoku Basara should forget that right now. To call the show anachronistic would be an understatement - not only did the two principal characters sadly lack anything close to super sword fighting powers in reality, we're also pretty sure Date wouldn't have been riding around spouting modern English slang in 16th century Japan. Any final pretence of sense dissipates entirely when Sanada finds himself up against a two-storey man-mountain samurai in what looks like Gundam armour, tank-tread roller blades on his feet, and a drill lance the size of a tree for a weapon. The whole series is gloriously and unapologetically over-the-top - it thoroughly embraces the extravagant onscreen carnage of its videogame inspirations, and you should too.

There is something of an odd episode split for the Blu-ray - 10 episodes on disc one, the final three and extra features on disc two. Given the capacity of BD media, it's not really a problem but it is a little unusual - we certainly didn't notice any picture degradation on the first disc at any rate.

Sengoku Basara is one of the better game-to-anime series that we've seen - loyal to its source material, fun, action packed, gorgeous to look at, and with much stronger character interactions than expected. Getting the complete series in one set is a great deal too - highly recommended!

Outlandish, awesome samurai action - Kurosawa would be appalled, but we can't get enough!
SCORE: 4/5
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