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DVD Review

DVD cover

Sengoku Basara
Samurai Kings
The Complete First Season


Starring (voice): Kazuya Nakai, Norio Wakamoto and Souichiro Hoshi
Manga Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 15
Available 15 November 2010

In the chaos that was represented by the Sengoku (warring states) Period, Japanese societies authority from a central government broke down, leading to over one hundred and fifty years of constant fighting as the regional warlord rose up to fill the power vacuum. In this age of turmoil two young warriors from rival clans, Sanada Yukimura and Date Masamuna, find themselves in an unlikely alliance to stop the Demon Lord Oda Nobunaga...

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings is a, twelve episode, anime series based on a long running series of games. The show was directed by Itsuro Kawasaki, written by Yasuyuki Muto and animated by Production I.G.

The show plunges you straight into the action with a number of battles, which may leave those unaware of the period feeling a little confused, but by episode three things settle down into the main story, which is about the need for an alliance of the warring states to beat an even greater threat. The politics are simplified by having the show concentrate on the rivalry between Yukimura and Masamuna.

Given that it is based on a series of beat-um-ups I wasn’t really expecting a lot from the series. However, the show came as somewhat of a surprise. The first thing you notice is the filmic quality of the 1.78:1 anamorphic animation, which drips quality from every frame. The colours are bright and brash, which helps to accentuate the violence in the fight sequences, which are, themselves, well choreographed.

The story starts off following historical fact fairly well, but obviously the inclusion of a demon lord means that the tone and content of the story starts to diverge from being an historical re-enactment to a more run-of-the-mill anime story. This means the inclusion of anachronistic weapons, including a giant mechanical samurai with a powered jet pack and horses with motorbike handlebars instead of reins.

Character design of the Shoguns and Samurai are very individualised - Sanada’s master, Takeda Shingen, is a great beast of a man. Highly cultured, elegant and drawn effeminately Kenshin Uesugi, is guarded by the beautiful, but deadly, female ninja, Kasuga. Masamune Date’s look is individualised by his six sword which he carries into battle and, lastly, Ieyasu Tokugawa is a child fully clad in white armour.

Disc one hold the first seven episodes with the remainder, including episode thirteen which is only available on the DVD, appearing on the second disc. The picture quality is high and lacks any of the softness usually associated with anime transfers. Audio on both discs include either an English 5.1 track or the original Japanese 2.0 track, with subtitles. My preference was for the Japanese track as the language used on the English track was a little too Americanised for my taste, that said the 5.1 track does improve the presentation of the fights.

It would be fair to consider episode thirteen as an extra, but on top of that you also get a textless opening and closing sequence, a trailer for the computer game and a standalone simple animation, which lasts about twenty minutes.

If you can forgive the sudden decent into robot Samurai and demon lords the show has a lot to offer, with its nice balance of comedy and drama, as well as the impressive quality of its animation.


Charles Packer

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