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Basilisk – The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 27, 2009 by  



Action-packed, well-written and overall a well-rounded anime on Blu-ray release!  A truly captivating, adrenaline pumping, action-packed anime series based on the award winning novel by Futaro Yamada and manga series by Masaki Segawa.  Definitely a title worth having in your anime on Blu-ray collection!

Images courtesy of © 2005 Futaro Yamada-Masaki Segawa-Kodansha/Gonzo. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Basilisk – The Complete Series

 

DURATION: 24 Episodes (600 Minutes)

 

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 16×9, Dolby True HD English 5.1 and Japanese  Dolby Digital 2.0, Subtitles: English

 

RATED: TV MA

 

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: December 15, 2009

 

Originally Created by Futaroh Yamada

Directed by Fumitomo Kizaki

Scenario/Script: Yasuyuki Muto

Music by Kou Nakagawa

Character Design and Animation directed by Michinori Chiba

Sound Director by Yoku Shioya

Director of Photography: Kenji Fujita

Executive Producer: Koji Kajita

Producer: Hidemasa Arai, Hideyuki Nanba

Assistant Director: Yukio Nishimoto

Assisant Producer: Misato Kaneko

Anime Production by GONZO

 

 

Featuring the voices of:

Kousuke Toriumi/Troy Baker as Kouga Gennosuke

Nana Mizuki/Laura Bailey as Iga Oboro

Atsushi Imaruoka/Eric Vale as Jimushi Jyubei

Katsuhiro Kitagawa/Christopher R. Sabat as Kasumi Gyoubu

Katsui Taira/Jeremy Inman as Udono Josuke

Ken Uo/J. Paul Slavens as Amayo Jingoro

Kenji Utsumi/Jim Johnson as Nenki Mino

Misa Watanabe/Jennifer Seman as Akeginu

Ryuusaku Chidiwa/Chris Cason as Kazamachi Shogen

Sho Hayami/Mark Stoddard as Yakushiji Tenzen

Takeshi Aono/R. Bruce Elliot as Azuki Rousai

Wataru Hatano/John Burgmeier as Chikuma Koshirou

Yasushi Miyabayashi as Muroga Hyouma

Youji Ueda as Kisaragi Saemon

Feudal Japan is set to bear witness to the bloody clash of titans as two fearsome ninja tribes are unleashed, one upon the other. For wretched within the Edo Castle loyalties have been severed into warring factions, as two sons struggle to inherit the title of Shogun. If this rupture goes unresolved, the Tokugawa kingdom will be torn apart. A solution must be found, one befitting a samurai family.

The Kouga and the Iga, two ninja clans with four hundred years of hostilities between them, meet at the request of Lord Ieyasu. There they learn that the peace forced upon them is to be broken by the whim of royalty, and that the outcome of this battle will determine the next Shogun. The passions of the past quickly reignite as two scrolls are sent out into the night.

Ill-fated is this event indeed, for lovers stand with hands entwined as travesty approaches on the wings of a hawk. Reared from birth as sworn enemies, Gennosuke and Oboro, each the heir of these rival clans, seek lasting peace between their peoples. But the terms have been set, and two lists seal their destinies. Two lists from which a name can only be crossed out in blood.

No mercy will be spared to the enemy.

 

The popular 1958 novel “The Kouga Ninja Scrolls” by Futaro Yamada was adapted into a manga series titled “Bajirisuku ~Kōga Ninpō Chō~” (Basilisk: The Koga Ninja Scrolls) in 2004-2005 by Masaki Segawa and winning the 2004 Kodansha Manga Award.

The anime series adaptation was then produced by Gonzo Studios in 2005 and is now the complete series is now available on Blu-ray courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.

“Basilisk” is about two ninja clans at war, the Kouga and the Iga clan who have fought each other for four hundred years but a “no hostilities” pact is made to prevent the two from going into war.

We are given a glimpse of the past when the Iga clan’s Princess Ogen and the Kouga clan’s leader Danjou.  Two people from opposing clans who were planning to get married.  With the two clans living in peace, it looked as if marriage was possible until fighting began in the Iga village and survivors from the village were killed by the Kouga clan.

Needless to say, the two lovers became hated enemies but due to a “no hostilities” pact, there would be no fighting between the two clans.

Fast forward many decades later and now Ogen is the elder of the Iga Clan and Danjou of the Kouga clan.  With the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu now retiring, their is a dispute of who will be taking over as the Third Tokugawa Shogun.  So, in order to decide, Tokugawa lifts the pact and the rules are each clan can select 10 of their best ninjas.  Whoever is the last one standing and has complete control of the scroll will be the rightful heir.

As Ogen and Danjou have been waiting for this moment, their own offspring are in a similar predicament that they were in when they were younger.  Princess Oboro of the Iga clan and Gennosuke, leader of the Kouga clan are planning to get married.  With peace in their land, the two feel that their marriage can hopefully end all hostilities.

But it is too late.  For Ogen and Danjou, they know that their offspring will now face what they faced but this time, the two clans will go to war.  With Ogen and Danjou part of their clan’s top 10 ninja, the two fight each other and are the first to go down.  The Iga clan are the first to learn about the pact being lifted and while Oboro invites Gennosuke to her village, unbeknown to him is that the Iga clan are waiting to kill him.

The war begins as now Gennosuke and Oboro, two lovers are now in opposing sides of the war.  Their job is to lead their clan to annihilate the other but with the two deeply in love, which is stronger…their love for each other or their clan’s 400-year hatred for each other.

The main characters of “Basilisk – The Complete Series” are:

The Kouga Clan

  • Kouga Danjou – The grandfather of Gennosuke and the leader of the Kouga clan.  His ability to create poison needles that come from his mouth.  Once engaged to the Iga chieftess Ogen.
  • Kouga Gennosuke – The leader of the Kouga clan and adopted heir of Kouga Danjou.  In love and engaged to Iga clan’s Oboru.  He looks at the rivalry between the two clans as past and he and Oboro hope for a peaceful existence.  Gennosuke has the Doujutsu ability to look at people and make them kill themselves.
  • Kagerou – A warrior who is known for being attractive but her sexual arousal is her biggest weapon as she can turn poisonous.  She has feelings for Gennosuke.
  • Kisaragi Saemon – Older brother of Okoi and a specialist in stealth operations.  Saemon can take on the identity of anyone and is literally a maser of disguise.
  • Kasumi Gyoubu – Tall, strong and has the ability to merge to a solid surface and become one with it.  Specializes in stealth operations.
  • Okoi – The younger sister of Kisaraki Saemon.  Known to be a tomboy and is quite busty, she has the ability to absorb a person’s blood if her skin touches theirs.  The more skin she touches, the quicker she can sap them of their blood.
  • Udono Jousuke – The overweight and not-so-smart member of the Kouga clan.  Very agile and his ability is his body turning to rubber.
  • Jimusha Jubei – A torso of a man (no arms, hands, legs or feet) who can slither like a snake. Uses his tongue to hold a sword.
  • Kazamachi Shogen – A person that a body that is malformed and has an appearance of a spider.  He can excrete a sticky substance which he can use as a weapon.
  • Muroga Hyouma – Has the Doujutsu technique that Gennosuke has but is not able to control it and thus, he must have his eyes closed permanently.  He is known for teaching Gennosuke his kindness to people including his rivals.

The Iga Clan

  • Ogen – The adopted chieftess of the Iga clan who was once engaged to the Kouga clan’s Danjou.  When raising Oboru, she never told Oboru about the rivalry between the Iga clan and the Kouga clan.
  • Oboro – The princess of the Iga clan engaged to Gennosuke of the Kouga clan.  Because of the way she was raised away from negativity, she was never told why her clan and the Kouga clan never got along.  Her special ability is the ability to neutralize anyone with abilities by looking at them.  She assumes leadership of the clan after her grandmother’s death.
  • Yakushiji Tenzen – The second-in-command of the Iga clan.  Has the ability to come back to life after death.  Is interested in making sure the Iga clan is at war with the Kouga clan.
  • Akeginu – The bodyguard of Oboro and known to be seductive but uses her power to secrete blood from her body and use it as a weapon.
  • Chikuma Koshirou – Tenzen’s apprentice and has the ability to create whirlwinds with his breath and shred people up with it.
  • Amaya Jingoro – An assassin that can turn to liquid and is very dependent on water but his weakness is salt water.
  • Hotarubi – The girlfriend of Yashamaru who has the ability to call upon her pink butterflies to use as weapons or as a defensive measure.
  • Mino Nenki – An assassin that has a lot of hair on him which he can control and extend.  He also can also make them become like spikes or as an extra appendage to grasp or swing on trees.
  • Azuki Rousai – The second oldest of the Iga clan known for his over-sized head.  Has the ability to stretch and kill his enemies through his powerful hits or kicks.
  • Yashamaru – The boyfriend of Hotarubi.  Very cocky and has the ability to create wires and control them to slice people up.

“Basilisk – The Complete Series” features the following 24-episodes on 3 Blu-ray discs. Here is a spoilerless summary of each episode:

Disc 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – Destiny – The introduction of the story of Ogen and Danjou.
  • EPISODE 2 – Last Rendezvous – The lifting of the pact and the story of Gennosuke and Oboro.
  • EPISODE 3 – The Onslaught of War – The Iga clan are the first to make their strike against one of the members of the Kouga clan.
  • EPISODE 4 – The Horned Owl – Oboro suspects that her clan is trying to kill Gennosuke and Udono.
  • EPISODE 5 – The Surprise Attack – The Iga clan try to surprise the Kouga clan in their own home territory with a surprise attack.
  • EPISODE 6 – Longing in the Rain -The Kouga clan’s Saemon and Gyoubu take on the Iga clan’s Yashamaru.
  • EPISODE 7 – Blood-Sucking Seductress – Oiku of the Kouga clan is captured but she reveals her ability.
  • EPISODE 8 – Cage of Blood – With Oiku now at the mercy of the Iga clan, will her clan be able to rescue her in time?
  • EPISODE 9 – Farewell – Gennosuke finds out about the truth of the pact being lifted.
  • EPISODE 10 – Divine Mandate – A runthrough of what took place from episodes 1-9.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 11 – On Their Own – Hotarubi and Nenki of the Iga clan try to make a surprise attack against Gennosuke and the Kouga clan.
  • EPISODE 12 – Remembrance – Saemon takes on Hotarubi. Meanwhile, Koshirou tries to make himself useful.
  • EPISODE 13 – A Swarm of Butterflies – The final battle between Saemon and Hotarubi.
  • EPISODE 14 – Fallen Flower – Gyoubu takes on members of the Kouga clan and another member of the Iga clan is lost.
  • EPISODE 15 – Reckoning – Tenzen vs. Gyoubu.  Also, back story of why Gyoubu despites the Iga clan.
  • EPISODE 16 – First Impressions – An episode featuring a back story about Gennosuke relationship with Oboro.
  • EPISODE 17 – Wandering Hearts – Gennosuke takes on Tenzen.
  • EPISODE 18 – A Dawn Without Light – An episode about Tenzen’s past.
  • EPISODE 19 – Conspiracy – Koshirou takes on the the ninjas of the Kouga clan.  Meanwhile, Akeginu and Oboro join up with Lady Ofuku.
  • EPISODE 20 – River of Mercy – Akigenu takes on Kagerou.

DISC 3:

  • EPISODE 21 – With All Her Heart – Tenzen goes after Kagerou.
  • EPISODE 22 – The Haunted – Tenzen vs. Gennosuke.  The secret of Tenzen is revealed.
  • EPISODE 23 – Emancipation – The final battle between Gennosuke and Tenzen.
  • EPISODE 24 – Requiem – The final battle with the last two standing….Gennosuke vs. Oboro.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“Basilisk – The Complete Series” is featured in 1080p High Definition (16×9).  The character designs by Michinori Chiba is quite awesome.  I really like the character designs of each of the characters and how the characters blend into the actual painted backgrounds.   Part of the challenge that I’m sure Gonzo had to face is the number of characters featured in this series but for the most part, the animation was solid.

As for colors, colors are not as extremely vibrant compared to a series such as “Burst Angel – The Complete Series” on Blu-ray which utilize a lot of reds and oranges but its important to emphasize that “Basilisk – The Complete Series” is a TV series and not an OVA or film.  The series takes place tends to put more emphasis on the character designs rather than the surroundings (since mostly everything is either Japanese homes, walls or trees and lush green scenery).  Also, focusing on the action sequences and the characters abilities.

Not all is perfect with this upconvert though.  There are a few times that I’ve noticed compression artifacts and also some discoloration (nowhere near the amount of colorful globs that I spotted on the Blu-ray release of “Samurai Champloo” but you do see it during the dark sequences) which is probably due to the DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) filtering.

As for audio, the lossless audio soundtrack is primarily the English audio track which is presented in Dolby TrueHD English 5.1.  Also, included is a Dolby Digital English 2.0 (for the commentary track) and Japanese 2.0 soundtrack.  I was hoping for this anime series that the audio would include a Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack but it doesn’t.  Fortunately, the English dub was very good and was able to get into the dialogue.

The lossless soundtrack features clear dialogue coming from the center channel as the front channels features the music and sound effects.  The surround channels also feature the sound effects of swords clanging, abilities that are explosive, thunder and rainstorms, you name it…there is a good use of the surround channels in this series.  As well as the use of LFE through the subwoofer for large and short rumbles.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Basilisk – The Complete Series” comes with the following special features spread out onto three Blu-ray discs:

Disc 1:

  • “The Onslaught of War” Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR Director Tyler Walker, Mark Stoddard (voice actor of Tenzen) and discussion about Tenzen’s character.

Disc 3:

  • Behind the Scenes of Basilisk: Japanese Original First Press Extra Features #3 – (31:54) Featuring voice talents Kousuke Toriumi (Gennosuke), Risa Hayamizu (Kagero), Youji Ueda (Saemon) and Haruka Kimura (Okoi) discussing the figures that come with the special edition DVD releases in Japan, discussion about their characters, reading letters from fans and more.
  • Behind the Scenes of Basilisk: Japanese Original Extra Features #4 – (31:22) Featuring voice talents Kousuke Toriumi (Gennosuke), Risa Hayamizu (Kagero), Youji Ueda (Saemon) and Haruka Kimura (Okoi) discussing their favorite scenes in the episode of that DVD volume and reading letters from fans.
  • Behind the Scenes of Basilisk: Japanese Original Extra Features #5 – (31:22) Featuring voice talents Kousuke Toriumi (Gennosuke), Risa Hayamizu (Kagero), Tomokazu Sugita (Hattori Kyohachiro) and Fumihiko Tachiki (Hattori Hanzo) discussing their characters, the Hattori family, favorite scenes in the episode of that DVD volume and reading letters from fans.
  • Behind the Scenes of Basilisk: Japanese Original Extra Features #6 – (32:39) Featuring voice talents Kousuke Toriumi (Gennosuke), Risa Hayamizu (Kagero), Tomokazu Sugita (Hattori Kyohachiro) and Fumihiko Tachiki (Hattori Hanzo) discussing their favorite scenes in the episode of that DVD volume and reading letters from fans.
  • Behind the Scenes of Basilisk: Japanese Original Extra Features #7 – (33:07) Featuring voice talents Kousuke Toriumi (Gennosuke), Risa Hayamizu (Kagero), Naoki Yanagi (Yashamaru) and Miyuki Sawashiro (Hotarubi) discussing their characters, favorite scenes in the episode of that DVD volume and reading letters from fans.
  • Behind the Scenes of Basilisk: Japanese Original Extra Features #8 – (32:44) Featuring voice talents Kousuke Toriumi (Gennosuke), Risa Hayamizu (Kagero), Naoki Yanagi (Yashamaru) and Miyuki Sawashiro (Hotarubi) discussing their favorite scenes in the episode of that DVD volume and reading letters from fans.
  • Behind the Scenes of Basilisk: Japanese Original Extra Features #9 – (33:02) Featuring voice talents Kousuke Toriumi (Gennosuke), Risa Hayamizu (Kagero), Yasushi Miyabayashi (Hyoma) and Misa Watanabe (Akeginu) discussing their characters, favorite scenes in the episode of that DVD volume and reading letters from fans.
  • History of the Ninja – A text based info. on the history of ninja.  This may be hard to read for those viewing with smaller screens.
  • Cast Auditions – Audio featuring ADR director Tyler Walker who talks about the casting process and cast auditions with the American voice talent and what he was looking for.
  • Textless Songs – Featuring the textles opening theme “Kouga Ninpo Cho” and the two textless closing themes “Himemurasaki” and “WILD EYES”.
  • Trailers – Featuring FUNimation Entertainment trailers.

I was absolutely captivated by “Basilisk”.  Each episode had meaning… were action-packed, gripping and no filler episodes that was just making the series question myself of when certain situations were going to happen.  Each episode has its consequence and the fact that the series features so many characters with interesting capabilities, it definitely made my viewing of this series worthwhile.  I literally was watching each episode one after the other and enjoying it.

In the end, “Basilisk – The Complete Series” gets my pick for runner up for best anime TV series on Blu-ray for 2009 (behind “Fullmetal Panic! The Second Raid”).  Where “Basilisk – The Complete Series” comes up short is that the DNR filtering tends to add to the discoloration of the upconverted picture quality of the anime series and also the lack of the a lossless Japanese audio soundtrack was a bit of a bummer.  The problems that were quite evident on “Samurai Champloo” is quite visible in “Basilisk”, especially in disc 2 since most of the action take place during the night  and the color blobs become a bit more evident.

Aside from the PQ shortcoming, fortunately, the English dub was pretty solid.  For a period-based anime series, I was hoping for a lossless Japanese soundtrack but with a modern receiver, I suppose we can compensate by selecting audio on all channels.

But truthfully, the storyline of “Basilisk” is just too captivating to pass up on Blu-ray.  The original DVD’s didn’t have great picture quality to begin with, so things do look much better on Blu-ray.  I felt “Basilisk” had the best story plot-wise compared to the other anime TV series released on Blu-ray in 2009 thus far.  And for those who want more of Futaro Yamada’s “The Kouga Ninja Scrolls” can purchase the Blu-ray release of the live action film “Shinobi: Heart Under Blade” also available from FUNimation Entertainment.

For those wondering about the TV MA rating, the anime series is quite violent and there is quite a bit of blood and bod part dismemberment.  The violence is fitting for this anime series but if you are into violent anime, then “Basilisk – The Complete Series” may not be for you.

Overall, “Basilisk – The Complete Series” is a very good release with a few shortcomings.  Fans who have enjoyed anime series such as “Ninja Scroll” to action-based (and very bloody) ninja battles and many characters featured to watch and enjoy.  In the end, I feel that “Basilisk – The Complete Series” is just an enjoyable and a highly entertaining anime  that deserves being included in your anime on Blu-ray collection.






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