Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings Season One Review

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Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings Season One
Studio: Production I.G.
Publisher: FUNimation
Format: Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack
Release Date: February 7, 2012
Price: $49.98 – Available Here

Overview:
Now while most western movies that are created by using a video game as a source they usually end up turning out very bad and fans will tear the movie apart to anyone that they see. However there is an entirely different story to be told when it comes to anime created from video games. There have been various adaptations released in the past and now FUNimation has brought us one from a Capcom series.

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings Season One may have already been released in North America but now FUNimation is releasing the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack of season one just in time for the second season to be released to anime fans everywhere. However before one can jump to a second season, one must first know where the story begins. Does this action packed series take samurai fighting to the next level?

Story:
Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings Season One takes place during the Sengoku Era of Japanese history which is also known as the Warring States period where various generals and lords battle for power and control over the land around them in an effort to control as much land as possible and defeat anyone who stands in their way.

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings Season One drops us right in the middle of the Sengoku Era where the battles between generals rage constantly and some of the strongest fighters in the land look to take each other’s heads as a testament to their might and honor. At the start of the series we see our two main protagonists of the series, Date Masamune also known as the One Eyed Dragon and Sanada Yukimura who is unmatchable in his loyalty to Shingen Takada.

What starts out as a battle between these two men with Masamune looking to rule the land himself and Yukimura wishing to claim land for Takada we see a new force arise that threatens not only these two men and their forces but every single general in Japan. His name is Oda Nobunaga, the Devil King… a man who will stop at nothing to destroy everything around him and set the world aflame even if it means sacrificing his own generals and alliances just to see the world burn.

Once the threat of Nobunaga is realized, alliances quickly begin to form amongst the once warring generals and lords as they choose the best way to defeat such a devastating foe. However with weapons from the West at his disposal, various Lords who have sworn to obey Nobunaga without question and Nobunaga himself, whose heart is as black and empty as a black hole, can the these Samurai Kings stand up to such a horrific opponent?

For those who have never played the game before or have studied about the Sengoku Era a number of facts and characters will simply go over your heads, though in the end this isn’t too much of an issue as this is far from a historical documentary and various warriors will deal out devastating blows and wield superhuman-like abilities countless times in the same fight.

One issue that does arise however is that there are a lot of characters to follow once the story picks up and introduces everyone. The viewer will need to focus on keeping track of various characters and also understanding their various situations as the battles begin to heat up and alliances are formed and torn apart within the same episode. There are multiple plot-twists that are thrown the viewer’s way as well, some of which even require a minor explanation from a narrator to clear up any confusion.

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings Season One offers plenty of story for those interested but also offers so much action that there will be multiple fights between multiple characters nearly every single episode. These fights are barely ever realistic by any means, in fact at times it seems like the action is a combination between Dragon Ball Z and Samurai Champloo as various warriors fight each other with either exaggerated weapons, such as Masamune wielding six swords at once, or normal weapons able to perform amazing abilities.  As it stands however most battles are one on one affairs or at most three opponents battling at once and most action amongst normal soldiers involving them being blown away by special attacks, much like they would be in the video game.

The thirteen episode package of Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings Season One contains non-stop action as well as plenty of drama as betrayals and death are commonplace on any battlefield and will be seen much throughout this series. It is worth taking note however that the final episode, Episode 13 is a side-story OVA that actually takes place between Episode 11 and 12 meaning that the show itself is best seen as finished by episode 12. With a truly evil and manipulative villain and main characters providing an impressive show there is an impressive action anime here with a decent enough storyline to keep viewers interested between all the fighting.

Visuals:
The studio behind the production of Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings is Production I.G. and they have really outdone themselves as far as animation quality goes. There are plenty of details that are simply stunning with this show whether it is the consistency of the animation during the battles or the amazing backdrops we are treated too often whenever there is a break from the action. Not only are the backgrounds highly detailed but the main characters are as well, also there are plenty of nice little touches added into the battle scenes as well including sparks off of sword clashes and more.

The only complaint I have concerning the artistic quality of the series is that the background soldier characters suffer from repetitious designs, with multiple soldiers who look the exact same often on the screen at any given time. However this again is outweighed by the variety found in the main characters and even the little touches on them as well, such as Masamune’s forces appearing to be like a biking gang. His horse even has handlebars and what appear to be exhaust pipes…

Audio:
As far as the background music goes, the quality shifts from good to bad often. There are multiple times where the action is set to basic action music and is easily forgettable however there are a number of inserted tracks with Japanese vocals that really help accentuate the action occurring on screen at the time. The opening song for the series is “JAP” and was performed by the Abingdon Boys School and fits the theme of the show perfectly while the ending song is called “Break & Peace” by Dustz and is suitable enough.

As per usual with FUNimation, the release contains both the Japanese voice track as well as the English voice track. When it comes down to voice actor performance it is satisfactory at best and a bit disappointing at times with some of the minor characters and even a few of the main characters as well. This may be a release some viewers may prefer to listen to in Japanese and read the English subtitles, however the option is still there for those who enjoy the English dub as well.

Extras:
It is worth noting that this release takes advantage of FUNimation’s new box style which, for Blu-ray/DVD combo packs will feature a full DVD sized sleeve although the case itself will be that of a Blu-ray. The size difference between case and sleeve is adjusted by an empty inch at the bottom of the case being supported by two strips for support.  This however causes the soft spot at the bottom of the case to be extremely vulnerable to bending and holding the case at the bottom is not a wise choice for those who prefer to keep their anime cases looking the best.

Now on to the actual extras on the discs, Sengoku Basara Samurai Kings: Season One contains your standard inclusion of extras including a clean opening and ending as well as trailers for past and upcoming FUNimation releases. Besides the standard inclusions are 7 special mini episodes that feature Chosokabe-kun and Mori-kun, two generals given very little screen time in the main story. The extras are not given full animation and are animated with chibi style art. They are worth a few laughs but some may simply pass on watching these. It is also worth noting that those with DVD players only will not be able to watch all seven episodes as only the first 3 episodes are available to those without a Blu-ray player.

Overall:
If you’ve ever wanted a series that takes a look back at historical Japan and set it for a spin with over the top action and plenty of strange additions such as a giant, mecha type fighter than Sengoku Basara Samurai Kings Season One is right up your ally. There are a few things holding the series back from being exceptional however, such as less than stellar English dub and a story that those who know little about the Sengoku Era or the games may confuse. Still those negatives cannot hold back the level of action found in this series.

8-0-capsules-out-of-10

As a big fan of anime and games I'll be quick to cover anything that happens to be of interest.

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