Volume 1 - Scrolls of Blood

Starring (voice): Kousuke Toriumi, Nana Mizuki, Atsushi Imaruoka and Katsuhiro Kitagawa
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 12
Available 18 June 2007

The year is 1614 AD. Two warring ninja clans, each supporting a son of Hidetada Tokugawa as the next shogun, send ten representatives each to fight to the death for the possession of a scroll. The prize: the annihilation of the other and the staunch support of the Tokugawa government for the winning clan for the next thousand years...

Basilisk tells a story of star-crossed love set against the backdrop of a bloody conflict between two rival ninja clans. Based on the popular manga by Masaki Segawa, itself an adaptation of best-selling author Futaro Yamada's 1958 historical novel The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, and produced by Studio Gonzo (Speed Grapher; Samurai 7; Gantz; Burst Angel), Basilisk is a character-driven period piece packed with super-ninja combat action and plenty of graphic bloodshed.

Japan, 1614 A.D. Unable to decide which of his grandsons should rise to power when their father steps down, powerful Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu terminates a long-standing but tenuous non-aggression pact between the rival Iga and Kouga ninja clans. His plan is to assign one clan to represent each grandson and call upon the ten deadliest ninjas from each to take part in a battle to the death with the winners determining which grandson will be the next Shogun. These skilful warriors and assassins, having existed in an uneasy state of truce for so long, eagerly embark upon their mission with fierce and gleeful abandon. Inextricably tied up in the slaughter and chaos are the clans' heirs - Gennosuke of the Kouga and Oboro from the Iga - two lovers whose planned union held the potential to end centuries of hatred and mistrust by permanently uniting the clans in peace. Turned against each other by circumstance, Gennosuke and Oboro must confront their conflicting loyalties and meet on the field of battle. But can their love possibly survive in a society where honour means nothing and power is everything?

Episodes on Volume 1 include:

Destiny: Lord Ieyasu calls Ogen and Danjo - leaders of the Iga and Kouga ninja clan - to demonstrate their elite ninja's fighting abilities. Impressed, Ieyasu declares the battle against the clans to determine the next Shogun.

Last Rendezvous: After the death of both Ogen and Danjo, Gennosuke and Oboro are in the midst of planning their wedding - a wedding that could unite and bring peace to the clans. The two lovers are unaware that Ogen and Danjo are dead and that the Iga clan is gearing up for a bloody war against the Kouga clan after receiving a scroll that lists the ten ninjas it needs to assassinate.

The Onslaught of War: The Iga clan sets out to hunt down and kill Kazamachi, who has the second scroll. With Tenzen leading, some members of the Iga clan plan to make sure no news of the start of war spreads to the Kouga.

The Horned Owl: Thinking peace will soon come, Gennosuke and Udono celebrate with Oboro and the Igas. However the Iga clan plans to assassinate Gennosuke and Udono during the feast.

Extras on this collection include History of the Ninja (text based featurette); Character Cast Auditions (23 min audio featurette that sees the show's American dialogue director, Tyler Walker, run us through the main characters and let us listen to some of the actors' auditions); audio commentary on one episode with Walker and Mark Stoddard (who plays Yakushiji Tenzen in the American dubbed version); textless songs; and trailers.

This is one of the more visual pleasing animes to be released in recent years. Certainly worth checking out.

Nick Smithson

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