ANIME & MANGA - Review
10:03 - 12th December 2013, by Matthew Edwards

Sengoku Basara Samurai Kings

When Capcom released the first Sengoku Basara game back in 2005, it didn't seem the likeliest source for an anime adaptation. The story was set during the infamous Warring States era of feudal Japan and the action amounted to little more than a Dynasty Warriors knockoff. Even so, Capcom persevered with the franchise and it eventually spawned two short anime series. These starred the brash Sanada Yukimura and the roguish Date Masamune as they battled the titular devil king, Oda Nobunaga, before switching their sights to the similarly formidable Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the second series.

The Last Party picks up immediately after the events of the second series. Ishida Mitsunari, one of Hideoyoshi's former generals, is hell bent on repaying Masamune for killing his beloved master. He challenges Masamune to a duel, and uses his lightning quick swordsmanship to force his adversary into drawing all six of his swords. But even with all his blades at the ready, Masamune barely manages to escape with his life. Ishida then spearheads a campaign to disrupt the peace talks between the other generals, and just when it seems like all-out war is inevitable, the real villain takes to the stage.

True to the series that came before it, The Last Party is low on complex story lines and high on extreme fight scenes. It's not quite Dragon Ball Z with katanas and throwing stars, but you can expect to see explosive weapon clashes that break through the clouds and even a horse that has stirrups and reigns in the shape of a motorcycle's exhaust and handlebars. The quality of the animation and the sophistication of the battle sequences aren't quite up to the standard of Samurai Champloo or Ninja Scroll: The Series, but it still offers a reasonably fitting conclusion to the Sengoku saga.
Our main problem with The Last Party is that it barely tries to be anything more than an extended episode. It's all flash and little substance as each character's ideological resolve is put to the test in a very one-dimensional way, and even when the shonen clichés finally stop yapping and wager the mettle of their metal, nothing really jumps out of the ensuing melee and makes you go, "damn, that was pretty sick." That's exactly the kind of thing that a film like this should be doing. It's just not fleshed out enough to make a strong impression in any other area.

This is more disappointing when you consider that Yasuyuki Muto, the man who wrote the screenplays for Afro Samurai and Basilisk, is responsible for both the Sengoku Basara series and The Last Party. It's not a car crash by any means, but we expected more from someone with such a proven history. However, it could just be that videogames aren't always the best basis for an anime, because for every Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie and Persona 4: The Animation, there's a less inspired effort like Sengoku Basara Samurai Kings: The Last Party.

Sengoku fans will get a kick out of seeing Mōri Motonari and Chōsokabe Motochika trading blows with their respective ring blade and anchor spear, but unless you've invested the time with these characters in either the games or anime series, this film finale will likely come off as hollow. It just isn't sharp enough to standout in any particular area.
SCORE: 3/5
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