As as sad as I am to admit it, but the Sengoku Basara film, subtitled The Last Party, is a missed opportunity and one of the lesser things that has come from Production I.G.. The film takes place after the events of season two and showcases a major event in Japanese history, the Battle of Sekegihara. After the defeat of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, two of his former generals are placed in a major position to change the course of Japan’s history. Matsunari Ishida, wishes for revenge against those that have disposed of his former master and further the chaos of the Warring States. Ieyasu Tokugawa decides to align his beliefs towards unifying the nation under one ruler, much like Toyotomi, but under much more peaceful circumstances. Their ideals come face to face in a major battle, along side with Date Masamune, Yukimura Sanada and all of the other familiar faces, that make Sengoku Basara: The Last Party feel like an exercise in redundancy.
One of the things that I love about the original series was its ability to be over the top and stay there for the duration. The Last Party never fully does this and merely treads the same ground that the show already has in its 26 episodes, for another hour and a half. Even between the two seasons of the TV series, each of the show’s antagonists presented a very different approach towards their goals of dominating Japan. Nobunaga presented a clear cut villain and Toyotomi wanted to unify Japan through his own might and power. In the film, it simply retreads the notions of Toyotomi desires through Ishida and takes that a step further by making the end villain a resurrected Nobunaga, where all of our heroes must band together to stop him. The stakes for this should have been much higher and the fact that this film backtracks entirely.
Another major letdown for this film was the production quality from Production I.G.. While never as bad as the work of Shinya Ohira (I love the guy’s animation, but his style looks like chicken scratch), the film lacks the level of fluidity that a Production I.G. film should have. The first things that I think of when their studio comes to mind is Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell or Kenji Kamiyama’s Eden of the East and the level of excellent quality that comes with their name and stature. While The Last Party has plenty of gloss and glamour, it lacks the some of the fluidity in its fight scenes and uses plenty of repeated scenarios that we’ve seen, that never makes The Last Party feel as ambitious as a feature length film sequel.
Funimation has released the film in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack, that houses two discs for the DVD’s and one single Blu-Ray. The video on the Blu-Ray is presented in an AVC encoded 1080p HD track, with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The films visuals certainly pop in the excellent transfer and looks just as good as the original series. While I may have complained about the level of animation in the movie, the clarity and the quality of the details placed in to both the film and the transfer of it are really nice. The audio is presented in two Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mixes, one in the native Japanese and the other in the adapted English track. Both tracks offer a great mixes and fidelity for the film, that is really apparent during the few battle sequences. The extras included on the set are fantastic, which include a behind the scenes video with Production I.G., a chibi comic called Four Panel Theatre: Another Last Party, textless intros and outros, commercials and trailers for other upcoming Funimation properties. The behind the scenes goes very in depth with the production and shows many people’s opinions and thoughts behind some of the changes that went into shifting the property into a feature film. The chibi segments are reminiscent of the previous segments found on the TV sets and provide some good laughs at various situations with the characters in the film.
Funimation has done an amazing job at putting together a great presentation for Sengoku Basara: The Last Party, but Production I.G. has blundered an opportunity to present an interesting take on a major battle of Japan’s history within an amazing series. If you really enjoyed the series, as much as I did, you may find yourself wanting more out of The Last Party.