Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings Season 1
by Ruben R. Rosario
Available on February 7th in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack from Funimation.
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Full of blades, banners and a whole lot of bad asses, Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings is a show any action junkie should not want to miss. Based off of the hit Capcom beat’em up games, the show is set in a fictional version of Warring States period in Japan. Various warlords like Masamune Date, Yukimura Sanada and others fight across Japan for power and glory. When an evil lord, Oda Nobunaga decides to take over all of the land, by any means necessary, all of the warlords decide to team up to him down. This first season was directed by Itsuro Kawasaki, famous for other shows like Legend of the Legendary Heroes and L/R: Licensed by Royalty and produced by Production I.G. While the series definitely takes some liberties to Japanese history, in terms aesthetics and design, Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings is a great action show and some of the most fun I’ve had in a while.
The first two episodes alone were enough to have me hooked, in terms of the quality and content within. Production I.G does an amazing job to illustrate the intensity and scope of the series with the meeting of Masamune Date and Yukimura Sanada. They cause giant waves of energy to bounce off of one another and even a massive mushroom cloud explosion to show off their manliness and fierce fighting spirit. It is the equivalent to a summer Hollywood blockbuster film and I was just grinning from ear to ear as various battles played out for 13 episodes. While most shows based off of video game properties usually tend to go through the motions and be very bland, this never came off that way. This series is really impressive in the way that it is able to emulate the sheer insanity and chaos of the game and is able to focus that into a clear and concise narrative. From the very designs of the characters, (Masamune Date’s horse has handle bars and exhausts pipe, like a motorcycle) to their attitudes, Sengoku Basara has an edge that other shows severely lack and makes you look forward to the action and thrills contained within. If there was a single issue that I’d have with the show is that it might be hard for people to keep up with all of the characters included. There’s no real background story to any of the warlords and its pretty helpful if you’re already familiar with the Warring States era of Japan. If not, you might get confused as to who these characters are and their alliances to one another.
The video on the Blu-Ray discs of Sengoku Basara are encoded in a 1080p, AVC transfer with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Production I.G has a rich history of superb animation, with films like End of Evangelion and Eden of the East as part of their resume. The HD transfer of Sengoku Basara places the studio’s efforts at the forefront and it passes with flying colors. The color palette is rich and the level of clarity is astounding and all of these details give way to the natural beauty, grand castles and epic battlefields that ancient Japan had to offer. The DVD’s that are included look great as well, they’re just presented in standard definition.
The audio comes in two versions, the English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel and the Japanese Dolby True HD 2.0. The mix of the 5.1 track is extremely impressive with the use of incredible panning and its ability to draw one into the large battle sequences. The 2.0 track was the one I stuck mostly, due to the fact that since the show takes place in ancient Japan, it seemed much more suitable that way.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an anime period piece that delivered as much as Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings. It’s well animated, action packed and delivers an interesting twist into the wars and battles that have created Japan. I think its one of the bes new offerings that Funimation has to offer and kudos to them for bringing it out here. Highly Recommended!
Ruben R. Rosario is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He’s an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
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