For those curious as to what kind of show Sengoku Basara is, one need only know that it is based on a video game. Any sort of transition from video game to other media has usually yielded less than savory results, and video game to anime adaptations are usually no different. Generally, the series tends to follow the nature of the game, in Sengoku Basara’s case, being less concerned with plot, and more absorbed in delivering eye popping visuals and action sequences. Even after having watched the first season and been introduced to the characters and their world, everything about the second season feels flat and unrefined.
Sengoku Basara’s very premise is simply a setup to satisfy its need to pump out arcade style fight choreography. The series follows a pair of samurai warriors whose allegiances lie on differing sides of the battlefield. While one fights to preserve the peace of the nation, the other simply craves a good opponent to test his skills. The pair make for natural opponents in the same vein as Goku and Vegeta of Dragon Ball fame. No longer simply content to focus on the dueling samurai, the producers chose to add an additional layer to plot this season that has the characters questioning what it means to be a samurai and ultimately what it is they are fighting for.
That is not to say the series altogether abandons its roots. The first season, while a bit dry in its plot, was remarkable n its recreation of stylized video game violence. While the series suffered from shortcuts, Production I.G. pumped out enough sleek battle scenes that appealed to anyone tantalized by the game or those similar to it.
Sadly, while this has proven to be the show’s greatest strength, it is also its greatest weakness. Even with its above average animation and colorful cast, Sengoku Basara is a show devoted entirely to style above substance. Though the first season helped in fleshing out the two main protagonists, every other member of the cast feels like a generic copy of some other shonen stereotype that has come before, and while that in itself is not enough to fully damn the series, it does keep it from achieving its full potential. This is a series that incorporates real historical figures with fantasy. All the right ingredients are there for a cinematic epic that explores the lives of these characters amidst a war torn country, rather than a backdrop to flashy fights.
Funimation’s release comes in a Blu-ray/DVD bundle housed in a sturdy box designed to hold both seasons. The bonus features are similar to those of the first season, with seven shorts that feature super deformed versions of the characters with exaggerated personalities and a much more comical flare. The majority of the episodes are genuinely funny, though viewers will find little reason to re-watch them. There are two commentaries included with the English cast that are fun but fail to go in depth behind the series’ production. Rounding out the set are text-less songs and Funimation’s usual assortment of promotional trailers.
For those who found Sengoku Basara’s first season enjoyable, there is no reason to pass on its follow-up. The second season is a well animated batch of episodes highlighted by sword-shattering action and impossible physical feats to appeal to any action fan. However those looking for something with a bit more characterization and emotion might be better suited hunkering down with other samurai themed anime.