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Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings – Season One (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 12, 2012 by  



Plenty of action, characters galore…for those who loved the “Sengoku Basara” video games will definitely enjoy this action-driven storyline of warring clans!

Image courtesy of © CAPCOM/TEAM BASARA. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings – Season One

DURATION: Episodes 1-13 (325 Minutes)

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English 5.1, Japanese 5.1, Subtitles: English

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED 14+

Release Date: February 7, 2012

 

Directed by Itsuro Kawasaki

Screenplay by Yasuyuki Muto

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano

Original Character Design by Makoto Tsuchibayashi (CAPCOM)

Character Design by Tooru Ookubo

Art Director: Shunichiro Yoshihara

Chief Animation Director: Tooru Ookubo

Anime Production by Studio I.G.

Featuring the following voice talent:

Kazuya Nakai/Robert McCollum as Date Masamune

Norio Wakamoto/John Swasey as Oda Nobunaga

Souichiro Hoshi/Johnny Yong Bosch as Sanada Yukimura

Hiroki Shimowada/Maxey Whitehead as Ranmaru Mori

Kouji Tsujitani/Christopher Bevins as Nagamasa Asai

Mamiko Noto/Laura Bailey as Oichi

Natsuko Kuwatani/Stephanie Sheh as Kasuga

Romi Park/Greg Ayres as Uesugi Kenshin

Sho Hayami/Vic Mignogna as Akechi Mitsuhide

Takehito Koyasu/Michael Sinterniklaas as Sarutobi Sasauke

Tessho Genda/Chris Ayres as Takeda Shingen

Toshiyuki Morikawa/Travis Willingham as Katakura Kojuro

Sengoku Basara drops you directly into the burning battlefields of feudal Japan, where rival warlords hack and slash their way to total domination. Each conqueror wields a special attack that boosts their powers of devastation, and each commands a horde of relentless warriors. But when a supreme evil – the Demon Lord – threatens the land, these fierce generals launch a co-op campaign of annihilation and build an army of armies to obliterate their common foe.

As the front line grows crowded with gun-toting, mechanized samurai and mystical ninja, some will say that war is hell – but Sengoku Basara proves it can also be kick ass.

When it comes to video games that feature samurai’s and a general taking on hoards of enemies, in the US, “Samurai Warriors” (similar to Dynasty Warriors) from KOEI is well-known. But in Japan, CAPCOM began their own series known as “Sengoku Basara” (Devil Kings) which takes place during the Sengoku period and a similar concept as their rivals and has also earned its strong fan following.

In 2005, the first game was released for the Sony Playstation 2 and was released in the U.S. (as “Devil Kings”) but unfortunately, CAPCOM tried to change the whole story of the Sengoku period by trying to connect it to their “Devil May Cry” series in order to attract players but because of the changes and the localization crew feeling they needed to make it more difficult in America, needless to say, it was a failure. People wanted the same game that was in Japan and within the last six years, there have been four video game releases and now CAPCOM has released “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes” for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable and the Nintendo Wii in the US in October 2010.

In Japan, two seasons of “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings” aired.  And in 2010, to coincide with this videogame release, FUNimation Entertainment released the first season of the anime series “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings” on Blu-ray and DVD (including the first 12 TV episodes + Blu-ray/DVD only 13th episode).

On Feb. 2012, with the release of the second season on Blu-ray and DVD, FUNimation Entertainment will be re-releasing the first season of “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings” via a Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack.

The anime series is produced by Production I.G. and is directed by Itsuro Kawasaki (“Arc the Lad”, “Rental Magica”, “Yumedamaya Kidan”), screenplay by Yasuyuki Muto (“Afro Samurai: Resurrection”, “Basilisk”, “Mobil Suit Gundam UC”), character designs by Tooru Ookubo, art direction by Shunichiro Yoshihara (“Gurren Lagann”, “Cromartie High School”, “Slayers”) and music by Hiroyuki Sawano (“Soul Link”, “Mobil Suit Gundam UC”).

The anime series takes place during the Sengoku Period. Various generals and their warriors are fighting each other. For the Takeda clan led by Lord Takeda Shingen, his young hot-headed warrior Sanada Yukimura has a rivalry with the cocky warlord Date Masamune. Both are hot-headed that they fight against each other but they also value their battles with one another because they are equally matched.

As the two occasionally battle one another, all warring clans are worried about Oda Nobunaga, the devil king. The ruthless king who wants to destroy everything in his path and his followers Akechi Mitsuhide, a sadistic psychopath and the weapons master Nohime (Nobunaga’s wife) intend to carryout his wishes by killing the leaders of the various clans.

The only way to stop Nobunaga is for each of the warring generals to work and team up together in order to stop him. But can these warriors all work together or will their ego and pride get in the way?

“Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings – The Complete 1st Season” features 13 episodes on two Blu-ray discs. Here is a brief summary of each episode:

DISC 1:

  • EPISODE 1 – “Azure and Crimson, A Fateful Encounter!” – Takeda Shingen plans to attack his rival Uesugi Kenshin. Meanwhile, the “One-Eyed Dragon” Date Masamune wants to go after Kenshin but Takeda sends his young warrior Yukimura to go after Masamune.
  • EPISODE 2 – “Horrific! Confrontation at Okehazama!” – Sanada Yukimura vs. Date Masamune.
  • EPISODE 3 – “Vagabond, Maeda Keiji!” – Maeda Keiji wants to build an alliance with the generals to defeat the demon king, Oda Nobunaga.
  • EPISODE 4 – “Waverling Scarlet Flower – Loyalty that Brings Sorrow!” – Azai Nagamasa knows his brother-in-law Oda Nobunaga is a tyrant and wants to stop him from going to war with Akasaka. But Oda uses his sister as a bargaining chip for Nagamasa to fight alongside with him.
  • EPISODE 5 – “Brutal! The Righteous Battle of Nagashino and Shitaragahara! – With the new alliance by the Takeda, Date and Uesegi clan, they try to recruit Tokugawa Ieasu but Tokugawa believes in his alliance with Nobunaga Meanwhile, Nagamasa is betrayed.
  • EPISODE 6 – Bonds Torn Asunder – Mortifying Retreat for Masamune! – Ieyasu discovers the true nature of Nobunaga, meanwhile Date is critically injured.
  • EPISODE 7 – Marauding Villain! Two Dragons Duel in Earnest Under the Moon! – Date Masamune is recovering from his near-death injuries but his men have been kidnapped by Matsunaga Hisahide who wants Masamune’s six swords and his armor. Date’s right eye protector Kojuro goes to rescue the three men with help from Sanada Yukimura.
  • EPISODE 8 – Great Temple of Carnage! Kojuro in Dire Straits! –Kojuro vs. Matsunaga Hisahide.
  • EPISODE 9 – The Tiger of Kai Dies at Midaigawa! – A thunderstorm threatens to flood Takeda Shingen’s village and others try to help him. But unbeknown to Takeda, the psychopath Akechi Mitsuhide is preparing to kill him.
  • EPISODE 10 – Yukimura Beyond Recovery?! The Date Army’s Tearful Disbandment! – With Takeda Shingen nearly killed, Date Masamune wants to take on Oda Nobunaga alone. Will Yukimura join him or stay by the side of his lord.

DISC 2:

  • EPISODE 11 – Mitsuhide’s Betrayal! Jonnoji Temple Goes Up in Flames! – The psychopath Akechi Mitsuhide reveals his true intention.
  • EPISODE 12 – Azuchi Castle Keep – A Fight to the Death for Tomorrow! – Sanada Yukimura and Date Masamune vs. Oda Nobunaga. Kojuro vs. Mitsuhide.
  • EPISODE 13 – Clash in the Inland Sea of Seto! Fugaku, the Great Fire-Belching Fortress of the Sea! – Maeda Keiji tries to use his wit to unite other generals.

VIDEO:

“Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings” is presented in 1080p High Definition and like most Production I.G. releases, they always provide excellent artistic backgrounds for their series. Mountains, rocks, trees, skies are very well painted and the animation is also nice and fluid. Colors are absolutely vibrant and bold. Also, very good lighting effects throughout the series. Personally, I expected nothing less from Production I.G., the series definitely looks absolutely awesome on Blu-ray! Also, I detected no banding, artifacting or anything negative about the picture quality of this anime series.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings” is presented in lossless English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD and lossless Japanese 2.0 Dolby TrueHD.

Personally, I enjoyed the Japanese soundtrack because the generals sound much more menacing while I felt the English dub, as good as it is, sometimes I feel certain voice talent are overly used and they sound the same for no matter what characters they play. I enjoy Johnny Yong Bosch’s acting work when it comes to “Bleach” but his Yukimura (Sengoku Basara) sounds like an annoying version of Ichigo (Bleach). Also, I had to increase my center channel volume a bit more as well. But of course, when it comes to channel utilization, the English dubbed soundtrack is much more livelier because of its lossless 5.1 soundtrack.

Personally, I feel the Japanese soundtrack was my preference but it is all subjective to the listener and what language they typically prefer.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings – The Complete 1st Season” contains the following special features:

  • New Anime – Sengoku Basara Chosokabe Motochika-Kun and Mori-Kun – (43:02) Featuring seven episodes about two commanders who are not so happy that they don’t have a much bigger spot on the anime series. It’s important to note that the Blu-ray release has seven of these episodes while the DVD release has only three.
  • Textless Opening Song – Featuring the opening theme song “Jap” by Abingdon Boys School.
  • Textless Closing Song – Featuring the ending theme “Break&Peace” by Dustz.
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming FUNimation Entertainment releases.

I have to admit that I am quite biased towards “Sengoku Basara” because I am a fan of those type of video games and for me, it was quite interesting to see how the characters were integrated into the anime series and for the most part, they captured the action one hundred bodies flying all over the place type of mayhem which “Sengoku Basara” is known for.

But putting myself in the shoe for those who have never played the video game, I believe that one who watched it all the way through can appreciate it. But at the same time, I think that there are people who will watch the first few episodes and get confused by the many characters featured in the series and wondering how everyone fits in. Especially if they are not familiar with Japanese history and the “Sengoku Period”, one of the bloodies moments of Japanese history as various generals tried to conquer each other’s states for control of Japan. It’s also important to know that the creators of the series took liberties on Japanese history and included some wacky situations such as Date Masamune (who represents the element “lightning”) rides with a rag tag group of warriors that remind you of biker gangs with their hairstyle and their uncouth dialogue. In fact, Date tends to speak English at times.

Then the ninjas, as quick as they are, they are also quite interesting to watch as the female ninja Kasuga wears barely anything and she serves Uesugi Kenshin (who represents blue) and each time she is treated so nicely by him, she reacts with an unusual orgasmic reaction. Another character that is quite interesting to see is the huge giant robot samurai named Honda Tadakatsu (who represents lightning) and serves the young general Tokugawa Ieyasu. Tadakatsu has jet engines that make him fly and futuristic weaponry which makes him out of place with the other characters but I suppose in the context of the video game, it does work.

But possibly the most notable are Lord Takeda Shingen and Sanada Yukimura who represent “fire”. Yukimura is the young warlord trying to live up to Lord Shingen but sometimes he ends up questioning his Lord and ends up being pummeled. But somehow, the two get into this moment where they start yelling each other’s name very loudly, which is quite embarrassing but yet interesting to see.

So, each of these generals and warlords have a supernatural type of element that they use in battle. Yes, it’s crazy but this is what makes this series work is because the video game is so unbelievably wacky and cool, the anime pays homage to that. And some people may find it too ridiculous but others who are familiar with the game can just enjoy and see how much of those antics in the video game will make it into the anime series.

It’s important to note that there are differences with the video game and the anime series.  Mainly with the character of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who is much younger and very different from his video game counterpart.

As for the Blu-ray release of “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings”, the good news is that the picture quality is quite vibrant and looks very good on Blu-ray, audio I found it to be much more clearer and more balanced through the Japanese soundtrack but the English soundtrack is fine as well (despite having to increase the center channel volume). And also, you do get the mini-anime episode bonus features as well.

Overall, “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings” is an enjoyable anime series but it was more enjoyable for me because I enjoyed the video game and I enjoy those type of games. For me, I enjoyed how the series pays homage to the video games but at the same time, those not familiar with the video games may find “Sengoku Basara” to be much more action eye-candy than a samurai TV series that is plot driven ala “Basilisk” or “Samurai Seven”.

Also, just a reminder to those who purchased the 2010 Blu-ray version of the first season, this is the same release (despite the different cover art to match the second season’s cover art), so you don’t have to buy it again.  All you need is the second season.

With that being said, I’m quite sure the video game fans of the series will pick this Blu-ray up… but if you aren’t familiar with the series and are looking for an action-packed, feudal Japan with warring clans with characters with amazing special abilities, and yet a good amount of humor… then you will enjoy this anime TV series on Blu-ray. Definitely give “Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings” a try!

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