Sengoku Basara: anime review – Demon King vs. War addicts

Review: Sengoku Basara is obviously and purely a manly anime. There are countless spectacular battle sequences and surreal fight scenes. The good news is that these scenes are very well animated. But the bad news is that the anime fails in most of other areas and, worse, shamelessly betrays itself in the end.

As if there wasn’t enough anime focusing in this period of history, Sengoku Basara sets itself in the warring states of feudal Japan. Multiple lords and factions are struggling for power over the lands. The situation takes a sharp turn when Oda Nobunaga (the Dark Lord) appears and is about to turn Japan into a burnt waste land. Sanada Yukimura and Date Masamune are famous warriors from two rival factions. Under the new threat of Nobunaga, they are forced to work together and form a new alliance to bring down the Dark Lord.

The plot is really this simple and predictably very predictable from beginning to the end. But that is not the point for anime of this genre which aims for pure adrenaline rush. What matters the most is the execution and details which, if done right, will give the show depth and emotions. Sengoku Basara fails in this department, though I cannot say that the creators didn’t give it a try. Sengoku Basara is nothing but loud noises and flashy colors. The characters are all hastily introduced and are quickly rushed into series of mind-numbing actions. Apparently, all the anime wants us to know about each character are their appearances and weapon of choice. Few awkward insertions of drama subplots are half-heartedly made but with far from solid characterization, these scenes seem rather too forceful. Despite all the said flaws, I do admire this anime for certain small details like the occasional use of outlandish English by Masamune and how he accessorizes his steed.

Obviously, the strongest quality of Sengoku Basara lies in the production with its stunning action sequence, fluid character movement, perfect background art and lots of beautiful landscape shots. The original score is charged with energy and the feeling of grandiose.

As for the ending, I personally do not approve of it. As thin as the story maybe, Sengoku Basara has always been about good guys getting together to defeat bad guys in hope of keeping peace and building the land of their dreams. But at the end, after the bad guys are eliminated, the good guys literally turn against each other battling and fighting again. What irritates me the most is how happy they look when the land is finally at peace and they have a chance to start a war again. So much for the talk of peace and ideals, these people are no different from the bad guys they has just defeat. Despite all their preaching and big manly talks, they are all blood seekers, war addicts that enjoy and cherish fighting. I was utterly disgusted.

Conclusion: Sengoku basara, despite its first class production, is shallow, one dimensional and worst of all, it betrays its own ideal at the end. Watch it only for the sight and sound.

Rating: C


Title: Sengoku Basara
Genre: action, fantasy
Release date: April 1, 2009 – June 17, 2009
Episode: 13
Director: Itsuro Kawasaki
Animated by: Production I.G

ps. Sengoku Basara season 2 will be released this upcoming season. Yes, that’s why I am reviewing the first season now and no, I will probably not going to watch it.

18 responses to “Sengoku Basara: anime review – Demon King vs. War addicts

  1. Sengoku Basara is OK. Some of the characters may be annoying, the level of violence isn’t all it could be, character development isn’t great, and the final confrontation is arguably a letdown, but ultimately, but it was kinda entertaining. In general, if you think a guy wielding six swords at the same time (only two hands…) is just plain awesome, you might wanna give this one a try. thats my view XD

  2. But, Yukimura and Date’s fighting isn’t based in territorial warring, they just want to fight strong opponents in personal battles XD

    The characterization is pretty light, but I thought that was ok considering the pace and action focuses. :)

  3. Despite all their preaching and big manly talks, they are all blood seekers, war addicts that enjoy and cherish fighting.

    That’s why it’s good! (and by “good” I mean okay….it got a bit boring to be honest).

    • You know what. I just realized that I could say that I love the show for this very same thing that makes me dislike it. Maybe there’s some thing wrong with me. I’m blaming my RL stress for all this paradox ;)

  4. Well, “Good” means they will wage war to win, and not just kill everyone…

    .. in other words, “WE” are good and “THEY” are evil.

    Also, I have an idea. We’ll take the drama sequences from another anime, use photoshop to paste the faces from that anime onto the characters’ in this anime in the battle sequences.. and all will be joyous!!

  5. I haven’t seen this series but I’ve occasionally seen figures for this series pop up here and there. I’m not really all that curious about it.

  6. Mmm, manly, manly, beefcake, yes, yes…
    No matter what angle I’m presented, Basara still has a certain homoerotic undertone that nags away at me.
    C, though? I think it was harmless and spectacular enough to warrant a bit higher… But maybe that’s exactly why it deserves a C.
    Well, this is already a much more chivalrous depiction of the warring states era. At least they smiled at peace and stood as good guys united for a brief moment at all, right? As a standalone series the plot is substantially weak, but part of Basara’s appeal to me was how they depicted the legendary figures in the period. As ridiculous the characters looked, they really were creative with the designs. Masamune and Motochika in particular.

    • Background knowledge about the warring era and its important figures maybe exactly what I lacked. Thus I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should. Yeah, it was colorful and occasionally imaginative but I guess I weighted other factors more and ended up giving it a mediocre rating. Not that I didn’t enjoy it at all, to be honest :)

  7. Ending was epic fail. isn’t there gonna b a season 2 this year?

    At least the fight sequences were pretty cool.

  8. InstantNoodles

    Well the whole point of the warring states era is that there are no good guys. Every pack is fighting to become the top dog of Japan.

    Alliances are fleeting, peace is temporary, and even loyalty from retainer to their lords are questionable. It would make no sense for a show set in the Sengoku era, no matter how outlandish, to end up on a peaceful and happy note. The “Hero” Engrish Motorhorse rider Date had attacked allies and slaughtered towns historically. The presentation of him here is cheerful and kind by comparison.

  9. Pingback: For the Battle, But Not the War: A Soldier’s Romance | Major Arcana

  10. I’m not sure if you realize this, but Sengoku Basara is a series of games much like Dynasty Warriors, except in Japan. Then they made anime version of it.

    Video game turned anime may explain some of the lackluster.

    • I knew that but I never experienced this show in any other form so I did not mention it. Umm, video-game turned anime didn’t really sound promising, I must admit -_-

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