Posted on 24 December 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews, Sengoku Basara

Okay, it may seem like a strange idea to watch and review the Sengoku Basara movie of all things on Christmas Eve, but I really have to say: if you finished watching the first two series: just watch this movie and enjoy the fireworks. It’s one hell of an enjoyable way to spend an evening.

You can definitely see that the creators wanted Sengoku Basara to end with a giant bang. Everything here is just completely over the top. Every single voice actor is having the time of his life, hamming up his role. And it actually works with such a series that’s so full of manliness. The first two series already developed the characters, and this movie realizes that it only needs to work a bit on the new ones. The result is that a far bigger portion of this series is devoted to the action than the second season, and the action is far better and over the top than in the first.

The downside is that this movie throws away all pretense. While the first two seasons had interesting storylines, this one has just has one goal: being over the top. We’re done with the complex plot lines, here is just an over the top and emotional epic ride. So yeah, when you boil down the storyline they used for this movie, it’s full of cliches and overdone tropes, packed together in a very simple premise. It may not seem so at first, but yeah. At a certain point, you’ll understand why.

And yeah, this movie is pretty much fanservice. I don’t mean that it suddenly grew boobs or that the characters suddenly start stripping for no reason, but I mean this in that this movie is entirely dedicated to pleasing the fans. Because of that it’s in no way accessible to those who haven’t watched the other Sengoku Basara-series, but this movie took the things that stood out the most in the TV-series, and built a movie around them.

At this point, I had been exactly waiting for this series to go all out, which is why I’m very pleased with this movie. It definitely washed away the disappointment of the ending of both TV-series, because they just weren’t epic enough for what this show promised. This movie finally delivered on that promise. I just can’t take this franchise serious anymore after this, though. Especially after the ED, which was all kinds of awesome, but just doesn’t belong in a series that expects you to take it seriously. Merry Christmas everyone, by the way.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Completely over the top and it works.
Characters: 8/10 – Makes good use of the fact that it already fleshed out its characters.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Solid as usual.
Setting: 7/10 – Please don’t believe that Sengoku Basara is an accurate portrayal of the Sengoku Era…

Suggestions:
Space Battleship Yamato Resurrection
Tailenders
Shin Mazinger Shougeki Z-Hen

Posted on 26 September 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Sengoku Basara




This season’s prime time series was Sengoku Basara’s second season. And… it’s quite an interesting action series.

At the start, I suspected that this series would consist out of a string of action-oriented episodes. Instead, this series has only four or five episodes that are really focused on action. The rest of the episodes all put their priorities on dialogue and build up. Instead of containing a long string of epic action-scenes, this series aims to only contain a select few of them, and attempts to make those as epic as possible.

And partially, this worked. Episode six contains without a doubt the single best action I have seen during the past three months. The rest of the action episodes are also completely over the top, but a lot of fun to watch due to their contrast with the more quiet but very manly build-up episodes. This balance is far from perfect, though, because especially the second half spends too much time building up and too little on the actual substance, and the build-up itself also isn’t perfect. In the end, the action itself isn’t worth it to sit through so much build-up and this series could easily have been cut down to ten episodes in length.

However, this sequel is a much needed improvement after the rather lackluster first season. Events are a lot more interesting to watch, and the action scenes themselves are much better portrayed now. The story this time is a lot more focused, and there are a lot less annoying characters. It also helps that the characters made good use of 24 episodes in order to flesh themselves out, and so even the rest of the cast is a lot more interesting to watch. It’s still a series that’s completely over the top, but that has really become part of its charm without ending up cheesy.

It remains a really well produced series: the animation is consistently smooth and detailed for a television-series, especially with Production IG’s trademark style of character-designs. Albeit unbalanced, the dialogue itself is very well written, the music can be really awesome when it wants to. It’s not the next Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto, but nevertheless I really enjoyed this series.

Storytelling: 8/10 – When it wants to be, the action really is epic and really well delivered. There’s too much build-up though.
Characters: 8/10 – Much better compared to the first season; the entire cast consists out of bulky and manly men, but they’re used well within the action and dialogue.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Especially the money shots are a sight to behold with great poses and combat animation. Consistently smooth and detailed graphics overall.
Setting: 7/10 – Makes absolutely no physical or historical sense. Even though it’s “loosely” based on the sengoku era, it could have used this better.

Suggestions:
Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto
Seirei no Moribito
Jubei-chan’s Second Season

Posted on with categories: Sengoku Basara




Ah, the episode of today that I was looking forward to the most: the conclusion to Sengoku Basara. For a moment after learning about the upcoming movie, I was afraid that it would end with a huge cliff-hanger, but no worries: this episode resolves all of the conflicts built up to. Overall, it wasn’t as good as I hoped, but I still was pumped from start to finish.

My main issue was that this episode wasn’t as good as episode six, it could have been a bit more creative, and especially the way in which Toyotomi went down: he was dominating through the entire fight, Date was beaten to a pulp and afterwards he just stands up and gives Toyotomi one good whack, completely immobilizing him. With all of the build-up going into this episode, it’s this point where I expected more. Not to mention that the creators didn’t bother to animate the battle with the pirates.

Apart from that, though: this episode was awesome. Yukimura bringing down that entire fortress was definitely not a bad way to close off this series with, and on the opposite scale, Kojuuro’s battle also was very satisfying.

Ultimately though, the huge amount of build up of the rest of the series just wasn’t worth it. The creators could have easily cut one or two episodes out, and this series would have been much better. Still, I consider the second season to be a big improvement over the first at least: the action that was there really worked, and it didn’t drag itself out. This is also why I’m curious for the upcoming movie, because there the creators aren’t bound by time as much, and instead can use it much better to blend build-up with action.

Overall, you could really see that the change of directors worked for this series: I’m enjoying Kazuya Nomura‘s work a lot more. Unfortunately, it also shows that Yasuyuki Muto is still behind the series composition. Both seasons feel like they didn’t make good use of their time, and you can also see that very much with his work on Persona – Trinity Soul (though this wasn’t the case with Chevalier). This guy really should have played around more with the progression throughout the series.

Still, it’s interesting: this is the first time the prime time slot has showcased a series of only thirteen episodes, and overall this was a pretty nice way to fill up the time until Star Driver. Ever since Gundam Seed, the timeslot has been in the hands of the three big ones: Sunrise, Bones and Production IG (with one exception), and while the former two always try to show their best and most epic side (aside from Ayakashi Ayashi, which really unfortunately was cancelled), Production IG instead does not focus at all on what it’s best at and instead tried out a few new stuff. With Blood+, it had its plot that was heavily based around character-development, while this can best be called an experiment in marketing: could they in their own way make an over the top and brainless action series? Considering the viewer ratings, it worked surprisingly well.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 19 September 2010 with categories: Sengoku Basara



I still like what this series is trying to do here: action series often consist out of long strings of long action scenes, which may get boring if they go on for too long. This series however intends to make its action count by keeping it short and sweet.

Of course, whether that’s going to work is will depend entirely on that final episode!!

I mean, talk about putting your stakes here. This isn’t the case in which a series is badly paced so far: the past few episodes have built up enough for that and there is no worry for a rushed ending at this point. This is nothing like series as Sora no Oto, which tried to cram way too much into its final episode. Instead, the final episode has about five major battles scheduled. With an average of four minutes each, making everything as epic as possible, the creators will be forced to make every battle here short, but sweet. And god dammit I can’t wait until next week to see whether they can actually pull it off!

As for this episode, especially standalone I have no complaints about it whatsoever. It did its job perfectly of building up, while containing enough action to remain exciting from beginning to end. This really was that perfect balance between short action scenes, plot and dialogue that I would have preferred to see in the rest of the series. Everything flowed really well into each other, and even though this isn’t that final episode yet, you can really see the build-up pay off here, even though this episode also spent just about all of its time building up as well.

Also, the ninjas busting Katakura out of jail while taking advantage of the fact that Toyotomi’s army is gone. I like that. I was thinking that the creators were perhaps setting up some kind of battle between him and Date, involving some cheap “you betrayed me”-drama, but instead it was all meant to build up for a battle between him and Takenaka.

I’m also curious what the creators have in store for Ichi. Really, I nearly forgot about her, but it’s interesting that the creators really found that her time as a character was over, and she’s more like a weapon in this sequel, and she indeed did seem pretty much like a life-less ghost than the annoyance she was in the first season. Speaking of weapons: they even got a freaking death ray?! I mean, in terms of physics it makes no bloody sense whatsoever, but I love the idea, and it’s just something this series might pull.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 13 September 2010 with categories: Sengoku Basara



Now this is more like it. This episode was entirely building up to that finale again, but it also packed a punch when it comes to action. This really shows a number of things about this series:

– This series keeps its action scenes short and sweet: it wisely chose not to drag out the action for too long.
– This series knows that an action series isn’t just about action, but also creating a good setting and characters to carry this action are just as important.
– This series has huge balls and guts to let everything depend on the final two episodes.

I mean, I’ve said this before: this really is the school example of a series you can only judge after it fully ends. Out of all the series this season, this one really lets the most depend on its finale, even more than Occult Academy. And unlike Occult Academy, I still have full confidence that the creators know what they’re doing. All they need to do is give everything they’ve got, like what they did with the sixth episode, and that will make the entire series worth it.

In the meantime, I enjoyed the action of this episode a lot. It was well directed, and a pretty nice taste of what’s to come. I especially loved the parts in which Date Masamune was so cool that he could have entire conversations on his horse while in the air, in the middle of explosives. I also loved the rest of that explosive horse scene. The entire episode was just a ploy of Toyotomi and his allies to slow down his enemies enough for his main force, and I liked how all those plans seemed to be working.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 5 September 2010 with categories: Sengoku Basara



Boy, Production IG, you sure are planning to make a lot depend on that ending of yours, with yet another episode without much fighting. This episode again continued to build up, it continued to set the stakes higher (Toshiie Maeda now also turns out to have regrouped and will be part of the final battle as well). Most of this episode was focused on tactical plans, rather than actual fighting (which had little tactical purpose). And that with three episodes left.

One criticism to all this build up is that the creators could have told us more about the different characters, like give them more background, show them as they were younger, that kind of stuff. The characters all have their issues here, but I feel like the creators could have made more use of that if they were going to spend a lot of time building up anyway. Still, I admit that the creators did well in fleshing out their characters. While not the best, this show did put in some effort to show different sides of them, another one of the points at which I feel this series is superior to the first season, even though the first season had much more action.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 29 August 2010 with categories: Sengoku Basara



As much as I like the soundtrack of Shiki, I do not consider it to be the best of the Summer Season. The soundtrack for Sengoku Basara is just epic, especially after this episode showed that it can also hold its ground in the quiet and subtle scenes. I’m also not sure who that singer was who popped up in the middle, but she has a great voice.

Also, colour me surprised here. At the start of this series, I really thought that this was going to be an action series. As in: we get a bunch of exciting battles every episodes. As it turns out though, I was wrong: this series tries to be much more than just brainless action. This was the second episode in a row that didn’t spend any attention on any kind of action scenes, and instead it again focused on its character background and building up. The side characters may not have developed much, but there is actually quite a bit of character development amongst the main ones, especially Date Masamune and Yukimura, but also Toyotomi changed compared to the flashbacks we see him in in this episode.

The first season tried this too, but the key mistake it made was that it didn’t feel like it was building up to anything. The arcs were all seemingly unrelated, and not really that interesting. But yeah, at the same time I do have to agree: it did lay out the foundation for this second season to work with. Without that first season, this second season would not be as solid as it is now. I still blame it for being boring, though.

In any case, with so much build up, that final quarter had better be awesome. This series may not be the next Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto, but I’m still enjoying it a lot. I expected to get bored when I realized that this episode again wouldn’t involve fighting, but this didn’t turn out to be the case.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 22 August 2010 with categories: Sengoku Basara



Well, I think that this is the curse of this series: build up. This was another episode with just four minute of fighting, with the rest of the airtime devoted to building up. We know at this point that this has awesome results: just look at the previous episode. Unlike the first season, the build up here actually gets realized, and is more than worth it. But yeah, this episode wasn’t much special.

I mean, seriously: it’s obvious right now that the creators are preparing themselves for the showdown between Toyotomi, Masamune and Yukimura. At this point it’s really making sure that these guys have enough to show in that final episodes. Those are two episodes that I’m really looking forward to. At the same time, what could have made this series even better was if the creators would have found a way to make these kinds of episodes exciting as well. That is what really would have made this into an awesome action series.

I’m not sure what to think of that guy with the really weird haircut. At this point, I’ve seen too little of him, though the fight against him was a bit disappointing. As an ally against Toyotomi though, he might prove to be interesting.

Oh, and there’s a new ED. It’s a shame that the singer has this really cheesy voice because I like the visuals. They fit the series well, and it captures the different subplots of the second season very nicely.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 16 August 2010 with categories: Sengoku Basara




This episode was crazy. It was just a complete madness, that’s how over the top it went with its action. I mean, the things that Toyotomi pulls here are really unbelievably badass. By far the best episode of the second season so far. This is exactly what I’ve been hoping for when I picked up this series. The pirate, for a guy who has had such little airtime before, he really showed the best of himself in this episode. I mean, talk about awesome action here.

The great thing is also that the action of this series knows when not to drag on. The previous episode was a bit boring with its build-up, but it did what it was supposed to do. The battle between Toyotomi and the pirates really lasted one episode here, and didn’t try to be too long, nor too short, so Toyotomi still had plenty of time to blow up the ocean (no, really) and completely decimate the huge pirate ship just by himself. Just compare that to what the demon king in the first season did: sit on his chair for nearly the entire series.

I think that that’s also a major improvement over the first season: this series is always moving and developing. It’s dynamic, rather than the first series which IMO wasted too much time repeating itself, or repeating the same plot threads over and over (most notably the one with Nobunaga’s sister). Every episode of the second season so far has been different, with a different focus and mood. It actually forms a great contrast.

At this point, I really have no clue on how much of the story of the games the anime has been following, but this is just one episode that I just can’t ever see in game format. Just, no way. At this point I can only imagine the liberties that Production IG have taken with this adaptation, but their input has worked really well.

The big danger right now is God-moding Toyotomi. I mean, over the top is one thing, and it’s very cool right now, but it becomes a bit of a problem when the bugger is supposed to get defeated. For the final battle, I really want to ask this series to really make it exciting, over the top, yet plausible, and not suddenly hand Toyotomi an idiot ball, or decrease his power level, or something similar that shows like this often tend to pull…
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 8 August 2010 with categories: Sengoku Basara



This was a bit of the problem with the first season: it spent so much time on building up that it forgot to actually deliver. This episode was bugged by a bit of a problem: there were no fights at all. There was just one point where Masamune and Uesugi crossed blades, but that was more as a sign of friendship than anything else. Oh, and there were some cannons who destroyed a bunch of ships, but that too was just build-up for the next episode.

The build-up is nice and all but this is supposed to be a hot blooded action series that really needs its time of 12 episodes. I know that Sengoku Basara in total has 25 episodes, but it’s still a bit different compared to your regular 26-episoded anime. I really hope that the creators know what they’re doing here.

Either way, another reason why the first season was so boring was because the battles that it did feature were rather boring. I think the biggest offender here was the battle around Tokugawa. I mean, here the creators had the founder of modern Japan, but the huge fight around him never really was interesting. With all of the battles that this episode has been building up for, the next episode seems like the perfect place to make up for it.

And it’s not like this episode was boring in the way that the first season was. It’s just that we hardly learned any new information here: everything that happened here was just meant to flesh out the different subplots: rather than getting from A to B, this episode described the road between A and B. It’s cool, but the creators really have to use it in the rest of the series. The part I liked best probably was that scene in which we saw Masaune’s men take care of their own injuries and see then recovering. Now THAT’s more than just build up.
Rating: (Enjoyable)

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