Friday, 13 January 2017

Streaming: Winter 2017 anime first impressions

It feels so good to be back on schedule after a truly exhausting six months. This season was looking like a light one for a while, being comprised almost entirely of fluffy moe shows about giggly schoolgirls and a bunch of sequels. Somehow, though, I've ended up stuffing my schedule with a whole bunch of titles; it remains to be seen how many cling on for the whole season!

Now that Crunchyroll has devoured most of its competitors in the UK streaming scene, it looked as though they would be making a clean sweep of most of the worthwhile licenses this season - The Anime Network, Amazon Prime, Daisuki and Netflix have grabbed a few titles yet almost everything else is coming through Crunchyroll directly. The service really does represent incredible value for money for a fan in the UK these days.

Still, things are always unpredictable in the world of anime licensing. Right before I finished mopping up the last few first episodes to finish this post, Amazon announced that they would be entering the anime streaming business properly with a dedicated anime service named Anime Strike! At first glance it seemed like a pretty good deal; the Amazon exclusives each season are annoying, but for less than $5 fans could subscribe to have full access to the simulcasts and also the rest of Amazon's rather impressive digital anime catalogue. If anyone was going to rise up and become a true rival to Crunchyroll, perhaps Anime Strike would be the first to succeed!

Upon closer inspection, however, Anime Strike is a really, really bad deal. You have to pay $4.99 per month, which is comparable to Crunchyroll's subscription fee. And on top of that, you have to pay the $99 per year for an Amazon Prime account, making the true cost of Anime Strike more than $13 per month - around twice the price of a Crunchyroll subscription if you're signing up for anime alone and don't need the other Prime features. Meanwhile, Crunchyroll offers a free ad-supported service for those who can't afford to pay, along with more languages, more regions, scheduled simulcasts on a proper timetable and more content. The icing on the cake is that Amazon's Prime Video player is nowhere near as good as Crunchyroll's unless you're using it on Amazon hardware, while the market leader supports a huge range of devices to stream the anime you're paying for onto your consoles, phones and tablets. Paying twice as much for a tiny fraction of the content (Amazon Prime has two simulcasts compared to Crunchyroll's sixty this season) isn't appealing at all, and it feels as though doing so would send the message that Amazon's tactic of grabbing the worldwide streaming rights for new titles straight from Japan and releasing them only to a small subset of regions is acceptable. It's not acceptable. It encourages people to pirate anime.

Thankfully Anime Strike is US-exclusive at the moment (hello, region locking!) and if the online reactions are representative of Prime customers' feelings on the matter it doesn't look as though it's going to be a roaring success over there. Perhaps it will be rethought before daring to step outside its home turf to be steadfastly ignored by the rest of the anime-viewing world.


With my commentary on that brand new drama over, I'll move on to my first impressions! The ongoing titles I'm still following are ALL OUT!, March Comes In Like A Lion, Nobunaga No Shinobi and Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. Everything else is new.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Streaming: Autumn 2016 anime final impressions

I've been trying to take it easy this season since I came in so late that it was tough to get caught up on everything. Still, there were quite a few good shows which prevented me from watching as little as possible and easing myself in gently. It helped that I was able to watch absolutely everything I wanted on Crunchyroll alone (for once), avoiding the hassle of juggling half a dozen different streaming services with their own unique annoyances.


Although they started out reasonably strong I ended up dropping Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru and Magic-kyun! Renaissance due to time constraints; neither really succeeded in keeping my attention. And I wonder what happened to the promised Watashi Ga Motete Dousunda (Kiss Him, Not Me) simulcast? It never turned up. UK license-holders Anime Limited say the signed paperwork was turned over to Crunchyroll but the show remained region locked away from the UK right until the end. A pity.

It's difficult to rank individual shows for this post-season ranking. There were a lot of titles I enjoyed but my favourites changed week by week!

1. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
2. Yuuri!!! On Ice
3. Drifters

Yuuri!!! On Ice was amazing, a real surprise bursting with idealism and elegance. On the other hand, this year's long-running JoJo's Bizarre Adventure saga somehow kept things bonkers from start to finish and was like nothing else I've watched all year. Then there was Drifters, which I'd been looking forward to for ages and found even better than the manga. They're all completely different shows and incomparable, so the ranking is even more meaningless than usual.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Streaming: Autumn 2016 anime first impressions

I've finally caught up with the start of the current anime season, less than a month before it's scheduled to end. Taking back control of my life is a slow process! Everything changed once again this season, as Funimation have turned their new service into a dub-focused portal while letting Crunchyroll have the rights to their subtitled anime. It saves me some money as I no longer require two subscriptions. Meanwhile, however, The Anime Network has made another attempt to lock content to their own home-grown service to tempt people away from the market leaders, but it's a poor value proposition with only one exclusive show streaming to the UK. No thanks. I'll stick with Crunchyroll and pass on that one show. Animax UK have no acquisitions at all (hurrah!) but Daisuki and Amazon Prime have a couple. I've also had the good fortune to be able to see a few films in the cinema across the UK recently, including Your Name. (Kimi No Na Ha.), La Tortue Rouge and the first two parts of Kizumonogatari. All were great.

The excellent JoJo's Bizarre Adventure was my only ongoing commitment so I would normally have avoided picking up too much this season, except that a whole bunch of titles I was previously following have returned with sequels. So there hasn't been all that much room for completely new shows in my weekly schedule.


So without further ado - I need to start work on my final impressions post soon - here's the current rundown of UK simulcasts!

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Streaming: Summer 2016 anime final impressions

Did the season end already?! Between my packed schedule, real life stresses (I'm never moving house again) and keeping a close eye on Sengoku Basara news (which I badly need to write up into a news post), I feel as though it only just began. It doesn't help that I've been forced offline for a very long time due to problems with my Internet connection. I even ended up dropping Love Live! Sunshine two thirds of the way through simply because I was getting too backlogged - it was too much like the previous series only with less likeable girls and I wasn't enjoying it. Without my sudden and inexplicable addiction to Mystic Messenger the last couple of months would have been rather dull.

Real world politics are depressing right now so here's Arslan

Thankfully, Funimation Now and Crunchyroll made catching up relatively easy since both services have schedules and episode tracking, features which I've asked for countless times on lesser streaming sites without any success. I closed my Funimation Now account at the end of the season since they're switching to focusing on dubs and the site isn't really functional for me without a quality selection option or an app for any of my devices, but it was still a better experience than Animax or Viewster.

First and foremost, the post-season ranking.

1. Arslan Senki
2. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure
3. Binan Koukou Chikyuu Boueibu Love! Love!

My prediction wasn't too far out except that the sequel to Binan Koukou was even better than its first season and I'd apparently underestimated quite how much I loved Arslan Senki. Danganronpa 3 was good fun too, but the annoyance of Funimation's new website made it a nuisance to watch. I'll give it another spin on Blu-ray in future to accompany the next game release.

As I want to get caught up on the already-half-finished autumn season straight away, my comments may be shorter than usual.

Monday, 22 August 2016

News roundup: Release week has arrived, and with it come lots of new videos

More Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den videos appear as release day approaches

We're being treated to a steady flow of new updates now, with even more on the way. The most interesting so far has been this Game Maniacs broadcast with KobaP since it isn't shy about revealing a few previously-unseen interface elements. Thanks go to OneSanitarium for flagging it up this morning.


Then there's the T.M.Revolution version of the second promotional video, which technically isn't new. Still, I'm not going to pass up an excuse to embed some T.M.Revolution on my blog.


Other recent Sanada Yukimura-den news

For the benefit of those not on Twitter, I've been keeping my Reference Materials post relatively up to date with new information from the trophy list to the menu interfaces. Please check there if you have any questions about the game as I think everything I know is included in that post. I'll be updating several times after the game's release so hopefully there won't be long to wait before everything important is translated. Here's the game's main menu composited from a few different screenshots (thank you again to OneSanitarium for helping with one picture I was missing!)


We heard a few days ago that there would be a pair of broadcasts on Nico Nico Live on 23rd and 30th August 2016 at 19:00 Japan time, hosted by Nico Nico personalities Edosan" and Fumiichi, and Furukawa Mirin of DEMPAGUMI.inc. The links for both broadcasts are now live so the timeshifts can be reserved if you have a Nico Nico account. I don't expect any new information to be revealed at this point other than a mission here and there, but it's always possible.

The Twitter reveal of the sixth special weapon based on a regional food speciality came along as expected, showing off Masayuki's special weapon Zeppin Kougyo which is a fancy arrangement of ayu (sweetfish). I wonder how these food-themed weapons are obtained?


Other updates have included formal confirmation of free mode once you've cleared the game's main story stages and a bunch of screenshots from the opening sequence which have been released to the Japanese gaming press. There's also one last(?) major Twitter campaign which is offering merchandise for participating in social media activities.

Speaking of the opening, it's a little unusual that we haven't heard anything about an ending theme at this point. Could it be an instrumental, or a remix of the opening song?

In Japan and not sure about whether to buy Yukimura-den? Visit a game store!

Games shops across Japan will also be running a series of in-store demo events next weekend. Those who try the game out will receive a special Sengoku Basara clear file as a memento.


The fourth (and final) Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den study video

Capcom TV's silly series of clips showing Gor☆geous learning about the new game from NonakaP is now officially over with the release of the fourth video:


More promotional activities take place in conjunction with Sanada Juuyuushi

Here's a short message from actor Nakamura Kankuro VI to promote the tie-in with the upcoming Sanada Juuyuushi ('Sanada Ten Braves') movie. The collaboration also featured in the news today thanks to a joint press conference about the game and movie.


The Sengoku Basara DOKUGAN manga will be released in collected form soon

The first volume of the manga is scheduled for release on 20th October 2016 under the Young Champion Comics label. The price is officially ¥562 before tax, and it should start appearing on other import sites very soon.

More Sengoku Basara exploration with a special one-day tour

A special Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den Release Date Memorial 'Sanada Pilgrimage Day Trip Tour' will take place on 15th October 2016, taking fans around the Ueda area and ending with a presentation by series producer Kobayashi Hiroyuki. Some special illustrations have been revealed showing Yukimura and Sasuke enjoying konetsuke mochi and hot springs; these pictures will appear on keychains, stickers, badges and other goodies available to those on the tour. Cute!

Thursday, 18 August 2016

News roundup: The final Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den live broadcast

Recap from the fourth Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den live stream

I took the day off work today to watch the stream on time for once, so without further preamble here's what I noticed after watching it twice in a row.

After speeding through the usual introductions and greetings, they played a short video message from Nishikawa Takanori (T.M.Revolution) then launched straight into a recap of the game information.


They made a big deal of the ability to replay the audio from the story in the game's gallery, which is admittedly a very cool feature.


Ayana's cool Yukimura t-shirt did not go unnoticed.


The first gameplay demonstration was from chapter eight of the game's story mode (Edit: Oops, fixed a typo - thanks AZ Shibakusa!). You start out playing as Yukimura but can use Sanada Blood (L2) to control the Sanadamaru fortress at any time. You hold L2 down to aim to Sanadamaru then release the button to fire the cannons. Cancelling by pressing L2 again is possible up until the weapon fires. A blue gauge around the Sanadamaru's portrait helps judge its current status; as with smaller cannons in the series, if you fire too often the weapon will overheat and need to cool down.


The first objective is to destroy four cannons, then it changes to having to destroy all eleven of the cannons.


The first boss is Gotou Matabee. In the stream, he showed up partway through the mission to destroy all the cannons and it seems that he can be ignored at this point. This is totally not simply an excuse to post a picture of Matabee.


Once the cannons are down, Sasuke appears and Yukimura launches him into the air for the minigame where he flies around destroying supply crates.


It doesn't look as hectic as it sounded from the early descriptions. KobaP called an end to the demonstration before the minigame finished so what happens afterwards will remain a surprise.


Ayana expressed her initial worries about whether Sasuke was even going to appear in the game, saying that the Sasuke fans were really concerned for a while! It seems that she's a genuine fan.

Next, they took a break from the gameplay and recapped the DLC oni costumes which were revealed earlier today along with some of the other past DLC announcements. Ayana picked up the controller for the next gameplay demonstration, and while she was very nervous she took control of Yukimura in his oni costume for a run through the Tenmokuzan stage. It was her very first time playing the game - let alone live on camera - but she did a decent job. It's sort of fun that you can give all of the characters coordinating outfits for the cutscenes.


Since they've demonstrated that stage several times before there wasn't much that I noticed to comment on. The next demonstration was with Benmaru on the very first chapter of the game. Both of the kids were in their mascot DLC outfits so it was hard to see what was going on around their portly bodies. They showed a fairly generous portion of the stage. The interface indicated that Benmaru's Yukimura-kun DLC costume was his third outfit so it doesn't look as though he has any more alternate costumes as part of the base game.


The first announcement in the news bulletin segment was that their LINE followers would be sent another new smartphone wallpaper illustration drawn by mangaka Itou Ryuu. It's a fun one, showing Keiji and Yoshiteru dressed up to party at a festival.


The next new reveal (I'm skipping the new items we already know) was about a collaboration with Kiwa Corporation restaurants in Japan. Over a hundred branches will be offering a themed Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den menu from 1st September through to 31st October 2016. Choose from a selection of four different set meals based on Yukimura, Masamune, Nobuyuki and Masayuki, and receive ramen, fried rice, a Sengoku Basara coaster, a bottle of Japanese-style 'cider' with a Sengoku Basara label and a fortune cookie, all for ¥1,380 before tax. You will also receive a fortune cookie if you present your LINE account in the restaurant to show them that you're following the official Sengoku Basara account there.


Fancy-looking Sengoku Basara masu boxes will be available from Urakita on 18th August 2016. A single box will cost ¥1,650 before tax with mini boxes available for just ¥850 before tax. There's a very wide selection of character designs on offer.


In addition, a range of designer Sengoku Basara x Laundry t-shirts is coming next week, priced at ¥4,200 before tax per shirt.


And Sweet Workshop Priroll will be adding printed Sengoku Basara macarons (¥1,852) and cupcakes (¥2,000) to their range of character-themed desserts from 18th August 2016. The treats come with stickers.


Some samples of the cakes and macarons were available in the studio. Yummy.


There will be a pair of broadcasts on Nico Nico Live on 23rd August/30th August 2016 at 19:00 Japan time. The shows will be hosted by Nico Nico personalities Edosan" and Fumiichi, and Furukawa Mirin of DEMPAGUMI.inc. All of the presenters have helped promote Sengoku Basara previously.


They showed a video clip of the Yukimura-den trains currently running in Japan as part of the news bulletins. Ayana sounded tremendously excited when Sasuke's picture passed by the camera.

The final part of the broadcast was a live quiz for the viewers, with signed posters and merchandise from the Chara Pop stores on offer. They asked for the name of the fortress at Osaka Castle (Sanadamaru) and laughed at some of the joke answers people made (Mori Ranmaru?!), then they asked for the name of the new game. Again, there were some silly answers (Akechi Mitsuhide-den, Musou-den, Ninja Guy-den, Mori Ranmaru-den... what's with all of the Ranmaru gags?)

After a few 'final' messages the conversation shifted to how the game is being released in Chinese as well for the very first time. NonakaP described the trouble that fans in countries such as Taiwan have experienced, playing the games entirely in Japanese even though they had an official release over there. They mentioned that as well as the launch events in Tokyo (attended by KobaP) and Osaka (attended by NonakaP), there was actually going to be a third event on release day. Series director YamamotoD will be travelling to Taipei to meet the Taiwanese fans!


With a final cryptic hint from KobaP that there'd be more to reveal right up to the game's release next week, the show wrapped up. Fans speculated whether the opening might be revealed online, whether there'd be another episode of the live stream, or whether it might be something completely different.

Personally I think the most disappointing (and therefore most likely) answer is that it will be the promotional video KobaP mentioned before, showcasing the six food-themed weapons they've been teasing at events week by week.

That's all from the live stream, but I've been thinking back on what we know about the game and I'm now even more convinced that Free Mode is hidden somewhere. The shot of Keiji on Masamune's stage in one of the promotional videos doesn't match up to anything else we've seen, and the simplest explanation is that once you've played through the main story or completed some other task, you can swap out the characters you control on story stages thereafter. One other possible hint is that the Tegata Missions are always worded in a general way - instructions like 'defeat Hideyoshi' or 'defend the gate' - which means there won't be any gameplay problems with slotting other characters into the free mode stages, with the exception of the character-specific minigames like Sasuke's aerial sabotage mission. The mid-stage dialogue would obviously need addressing but given how little work would be needed to allow free character selection on story stages I'm almost entirely convinced that we'll get it. Let's see.

Notes from this morning's official website update

The new information collected the new details revealed in Weekly Famitsu, with the advantage of much better pictures. I've made a small amendment to my previous post as the confusing magazine layout led to a mistake in the stage descriptions.

We also got a brand new promotional video showing the game's paid DLC costumes in action. The voiceover confirms that the removable heads for the Bontenmaru/Benmaru outfits are for cutscenes (there won't be any in-game headless mascot action). The oni costumes are loosely connected to the idea of the underworld; it's already been announced that the hardest difficulty level is named after the Sanzu River so there's an existing connection there.


Here's a gratuitous picture of the (non-DLC) alternate costumes too, just because a picture was available:


The last update was another tweak to The Action Of Sanada Yukimura-den 'making of' video section, with two new clips and interviews featuring director Tanaka Toshihiro and Sonomura Kensuke.

The third part focuses on the fastidious details in the action scenes. Yukimura's new Heavenly Wings mode gave the team some interesting challenges:


The fourth clip is similar, except it concentrates on the story scenes:


Japanese search engine 'goo' helps advertise the new game

goo is a popular Japanese search engine and to promote the new game's release next week, it's currently displaying a Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den theme on its front page.


As well as the visuals, there's a large box on the front page which collects interviews, videos and articles about the game to help visitors learn more. It's an interesting way to spread awareness about Yukimura-den.

Ashigaru-kun visits the Rokumonsen Cafe

The latest in Ashigaru-kun's series of photo reports has been posted on the Tokusei Kawaraban site and it's all about a visit to the new Rokumonsen Cafe in Akihabara.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

News roundup: Weekly Famitsu article summary and a few more Sengoku Basara updates

As promised, here's the second half of the day's news!

A summary of the latest Weekly Famitsu article

Today's Weekly Famitsu feature is much longer than usual, with a recap of all of the previous news and only a few new details scattered throughout.

Costumes
  • The oni costumes we saw yesterday are confirmed to be paid DLC for the Sanada clan members: Sanada Yukimura (Red Oni Ver.), Sanada Masayuki (Green Oni Ver.) and Sanada Nobuyuki (Blue Oni Ver.). They're supposed to give the characters a mystical feel, and the weapon graphics change along with the costumes.
  • All of the playable characters have alternate outfits (as well as the story outfits we've seen so far). They're all recolours rather than true second costumes, but they're reasonably fun.
  • Yukimura's alternate outfit is a camouflage-coloured version of his classic outfit, Sasuke-style.
  • Masayuki has a white costume with a bright red rose.
  • Nobuyuki's is dark grey/black with some red trim. It looks good.
  • Masamune has a black and crimson version of his new white costume with gold trim.
  • Benmaru is dressed in yellow with red/blue details, a little like his father's standard outfit.
  • Bontenmaru is wearing a crazy blue/white/pink marbled recolour of his standard costume.
Story (this section obviously contains mild spoilers)
  • Chapter 9 is titled Osaka Summer Siege: Azure-Crimson Chance Encounter, and it's the duo's fated battle in their classic outfits.
  • Chapter 10 is simply called Osaka Summer Siege: Sanada Yukimura, and it seems that Tokugawa Ieyasu is the final boss. Yukimura is wearing his Phoenix costume.
  • The Setting Sail From Setouchi 'Secret Backstory' stage was also featured for the first time. It's set between chapter 8 and chapter 9 as I guessed, and the player takes control of Yukimura for an intrusion in a fight between Motonari and Motochika. It looks like a proper stage with objectives (Akatsukimaru even shows up) rather than a simple duel. (Edit: My mistake, these shots are from chapter 9. The side story is a fight with Motochika).
  • They're still keeping a few of the Secret Backstories hidden even though some were visible in a screenshot already.
Other observations
  • It seems extremely likely that each of the four adult characters only has one (R2?) special move in this game, since the text makes a big deal out of Yukimura earning his Fuurinkazan move over the course of the story and explicitly omits the two child characters when describing the new specials. Oh well.
  • The text also implies that Monsen Coins are only used for levelling up and buying Styles.
  • There's an interview with Nishikawa Takanori (T.M.Revolution) in which he makes song recommendations from the DLC music packs you can buy for the game. He suggested Madan ~Der Freischütz~ for playing a character with a gun like Magoichi, but wasn't so sure about HOT LIMIT or HIGH PRESSURE.

--

By the way, the reason that I haven't been talking about the game's placement in the usual Weekly Famitsu ranking of upcoming games all this time is that it hasn't been appearing, so I'm not expecting it to sell spectacularly well. Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den is very much a spin-off rather than part of the main series, after all.

Report from Capcom TV episode #49

There's not much to say about today's Capcom TV, as expected. They kindly put the Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den segment near the start this time so producer NonakaP appeared with Ashigaru-kun early in the show.


To demonstrate the game they started from the very first chapter so we got to see the stage playing out. It has already been described several times and shown in clips so there weren't any surprises, but I confirmed a few of the mission objectives for my Reference Materials master post. They also showed off the Secret Backstory: Bontenmaru's Daily Life mission which is a straightforward duel against Kojuurou.

Finally, NonakaP took Yukimura through a few of the Sanada Trials and showed us the Style selection screen long enough for me to note down some more stats from some of the Styles available. I believe I now have most of the details of every basic Style in the game - it looks as though each character has 15: 13 basic, one elemental, and one personal Style. I'll update my Reference Materials later with the full chart (which is actually going to have to be two separate charts as the amount of data is a little overwhelming).

Today's smartphone wallpaper giveaway on LINE used the keyword 観てね! which unlocks this fetching CG artwork of Yukimura against the sky.


More behind-the-scenes clips from Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den

Going back to catching up on news from the past few days, the official website updated with a new section for another entry in The Action Of Sanada Yukimura-den behind-the-scenes documentary series. The second tab on the page focuses on story cutscenes from the game, and features a pair of video clips showing the game's rarely-seen director Tanaka Toshihiro talking to Sonomura Kensuke, who directs the cutscenes.

The first clip is mostly a straightforward interview, introducing their roles and how the cutscenes transition from paper to CG. The problems of dealing with the series' outlandish weapons when real actors are involved were mentioned once more.


The second clip is a little more playful, focusing on the video storyboards and motion capture process. The staff act out the scenes from the game for the camera which is cute. My favourite part was the scene with Katsuie and Toshiie...


Travel around real-life Sanada territory to earn Sengoku Basara goodies

A Shinshuu Ueda x Sengoku Basara tourism tie-in event will be held from 20th August to 4th December 2016. The free Shinshuu Ueda: Sanada Historical Pilgrimage ~Sengoku Basara Stamp-Gathering Journey~ campaign will encourage visitors to the Nagano region to pick up a stamp card and collect stamps at various tourist attractions, then complete a questionnaire. Naturally, there are some special rewards available to entice fans of the series.

Six different exclusive battle flags:


An exclusive clear file:


Six different 'ema' cards:


The official website for the new campaign is here. If you're in the Shinshuu Ueda area, it sounds like a fun activity!

News roundup: The first of two big updates today, featuring oni costumes, video links and more

What to expect in the week before the release of Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den

With the new game coming out in just over one week, we're going to be on the receiving end of a lot of news updates for the next few days. Here's what we have to look forward to at the moment. I'll post again once Weekly Famitsu has been released later in the early hours of Thursday morning, and hopefully at some point the Japanese version of the game will finally appear for preorder on the PlayStation store.

Wednesday 17th August: The latest episode (#49) of Capcom TV will air at 20:00 on YouTube, Nico Nico and Twitch, and they've promised to include a summary of the game's features and story. The game's producer, Nonaka Daizou, is scheduled to appear as well. Since this is the last episode before the game is released, Capcom TV will also be releasing their final Sanada Yukimura-den tie-in wallpaper for the LINE messaging service during the show.

Thursday 18th August: Weekly Famitsu magazine will publish a special feature on the new game to celebrate its upcoming release, revealing details from the game's climactic ninth and tenth story chapters. The latest preview article also promises plenty of brand new information, including an interview with musician T.M.Revolution and details of some new (oni-style?) DLC costumes:


Thursday 18th August: The game's official website will update. Going by the usual pattern it will include some of the reveals from Weekly Famitsu, a few hours after the magazine goes on sale. We can also expect updates from the various Japanese gaming websites over the course of the day, and a video of Masayuki's (R2?) special move will appear on the official Twitter account as part of a retweet campaign.

Thursday 18th August: The fourth (and final) Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den live broadcast will air on Nico Nico Live at 20:00 Japan time, with Saaya acting as host. She'll be accompanied by series producer Kobayashi Hiroyuki (KobaP), the game's producer Nonaka Daizou and an actress named Ayana. The description promises the latest information plus extra-special prizes in the live quiz segment. The link to watch (or timeshift) the stream is here.

Friday 19th August: The final Capcom TV spin-off 'study' video with Gor☆geous and NonakaP will be posted online, and the final video in the current retweet campaign will show off Nobuyuki's (R2?) special move on Twitter.

Saturday 20th August: There will be an in-store presentation event with KobaP at the main EDION store in Hiroshima. It's likely that another new special weapon will be revealed - presumably Masayuki's - and then posted on the official Twitter account one day later. There's one more of these events to come two days after the game's release, but there are unlikely to be any more new announcements at that time.

Another two special (joke?) weapons are posted on Twitter

Keeping up with the established pattern, the series' official Twitter account shared pictures of two new weapons after recent in-store events. There's apparently some kind of special promotional video featuring all of these weapons which was shown to attendees and has yet to appear online.

Yukimura's special weapon is Octopus Campaign, a pair of oversized takoyaki (balls made from octopus and batter). It's a regional speciality which represents the Osaka region, and as they're usually served piping hot they make an appropriate weapon for a person like Yukimura in more than one way.


Bontenmaru's special weapon is Zunda, a gigantic zundamochi. This is a sweet snack made from a rice cake smothered in a tasty mashed soybean topping, and its association with Masamune's real-life homeland is famous across Japan. A very appropriate weapon, especially since you can buy all manner of zunda-flavoured Sengoku Basara merchandise...


The next episodes in Capcom TV's Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura miniseries

Capcom TV's space pirate Gor☆geous returned as promised with the second and third episodes of his miniseries, showing him learning about Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den along with his viewers. Episode two featured NonakaP coaching Gor☆geous in the game's story mode, introducing the game mechanics for Yukimura, Masayuki and Nobuyuki and explaining each of the characters.


Episode 3 showed off the game's third chapter which we haven't seen so much in the past, and NonakaP tried to explain how the game's characters and situations take inspiration from real Japanese history. After starting off with the now-familiar Sanada clan members, Gor☆geous was also introduced to Date Masamune and the Sanadamaru fortress. After they saw Yukimura firing himself out of a gigantic cannon a message flashed up on screen reminding viewers that the game's version of the Sanadamaru wasn't entirely realistic.


There's only one more episode left in the series and it comes out this week. Will Gor☆geous be able to prove to NonakaP that he's been paying attention to his lessons?

Some more upcoming Japanese events have been announced

Since Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den is coming out so soon, initial details have been revealed about release day events to be held at 10:00 on 25th August 2016 in the TSUTAYA (Shibuya, Tokyo), and Joshin Denki Disc Pier (Nipponbashi branch, Osaka). KobaP will attend the event in Tokyo while NonakaP will be present in Osaka. Customers who bring their preorder receipts can enter a prize draw to win goods such as scripts and autograph boards signed by the series' voice actors. For those who can't be at the event in person, games retailer WonderGOO is also running a prize draw for its customers via Twitter.

Later on in the year, there will be a pair of fan club gatherings in Tokyo and Osaka. The Basara Club Fan Meeting 2016 Winter events will be held at Tokyo's Nissho Hall on Sunday 27th November 2016, and then the Osaka Business Park Enkei Hall on Saturday 10th December 2016. All tickets cost ¥5,000 and they'll be offered to fan club members via lottery. Naturally, a few special guests have been announced.

Tokyo afternoon show (14:00): Hoshi Souichirou (Sanada Yukimura's voice actor), Irino Miyu (Yamanaka Shikanosuke's voice actor), Shiramata Atsushi (Chousokabe Motochika in the stage play), Kotani Yoshikazu (Mouri Motonari in the stage play), Kobayashi Hiroyuki (series producer)

Tokyo evening show (18:00): Koyama Rikiya (Kuroda Kanbee's voice actor), Miki Shinichirou (Gotou Matabee's voice actor), Shiina Taizou (Sarutobi Sasuke/Mori Ranmaru in the stage play), Karahashi Mitsuru (Oda Nobunaga in the stage play), Kobayashi Hiroyuki (series producer)

Osaka afternoon show (14:00): Ishino Ryuuzou (Chousokabe Motochika's voice actor), Nakahara Shigeru (Mouri Motonari's voice actor), Matsumura Ryuunosuke (Sanada Yukimura in the stage play), Sakurada Kousei (Azai Nagamasa in the stage play), Kobayashi Hiroyuki (series producer)

Osaka evening show (18:00): Morita Masakazu (Maeda Keiji's voice actor), Hayami Shou (Akechi Mitsuhide/Tenkai's voice actor), Saitou Shuusuke (Shima Sakon in the stage play), Shiozaki 'IRE' Airu (Gotou Matabee in the stage play), Kobayashi Hiroyuki (series producer)

A few updates about the next Sengoku Basara stage play

There still hasn't been much news since Zangeki Sengoku Basara: The Battle Of Sekigahara was officially announced, but we do know a few more details now. There will be four leads this time: Ieyasu, Mitsunari, Masamune and Yukimura, and they're using the artwork from Sengoku Basara 3 as the official illustration on the website. Further cast information will be revealed in late August when the first tickets are scheduled to go on sale. The play will run from 3rd February to 12th February 2017 in Tokyo then move to Osaka for the shows from 17th February to 19th February 2017.

Cover art for the final Kodansha BOX novel rerelease

The fourth and final Kodansha BOX two-in-one edition, Sengoku Basara 3: Ishida Mitsunari No Shou/Tokugawa Ieyasu No Shou ('Ishida Mitsunari Chapter/Tokugawa Ieyasu Chapter'), has now been released, and consequently the new cover artwork is available. I wonder whether there will be any more new novels in future?


Post your letters in style this summer with Sengoku Basara stamps

If you happen to be in Japan at the moment, the Japan Post online shop and selected post offices in the Shin-Etsu and Kinki regions are now selling sheets of Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den postage stamps. 3,000 of the ¥1,500 stamp sheets will be made available in total, and each sheet contains ten individual ¥82 stamps. The offer closes at the end of March 2017. More information can be found on the official Japan Post press release.


Sengoku Basara and Sanada Juuyuushi team up to create the Rokumonsen Cafe

More details of the promotional tie-in between the Sanada Juuyuushi ('Sanada Ten Braves') movie and Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den have now been released as promised.


The Pasela Resorts entertainment chain opened a pair of special 'Rokumonsen Cafes' in its Akihabara Denkimachi (Tokyo) and Tennouji (Osaka) branches on 15th August 2016. The cafes will only be open until 30th September 2016, but in that time they'll be offering a generous selection of food and drink themed around Sanada Yukimura.



Since two different series are involved, some of the dishes are based on the Sengoku Basara version of Yukimura and others focus on the film. There's something for everyone - so long as they like the Sanada clan, I guess. Ordering from the Sanada Juuyuushi menu will get you a postcard with a promotional shot from the film, while the Sengoku Basara rewards one of six randomly-allocated postcards featuring one of the game's main characters.


Fans are encouraged to follow the official accounts for both series on Twitter and tweet their impressions of the food with the #六文銭茶屋 hashtag during their visit. Doing so will earn them the reward of a randomly-chosen badge.


If you'd rather go to a Pasela venue for some karaoke with friends, there's also a themed menu available in eight branches (almost all of which are in Tokyo). You can request food and drink such as these luxurious ¥1,280 honey toast desserts:


If you order from the menu, you'll be given a commemorative postcard!


Last but not least, visiting the Pasela-run Capcom Bar in Shinjuku is also rewarding Yukimura fans, with special badges on offer for those who order from the Sanada Yukimura-den menu before 30th September.


The menu itself is interesting, of course. The meat dishes below are themed on the Odawara Campaign and Tenmokuzan stages respectively, while the drinks represent Masayuki and Nobuyuki.


On the subject of food, national grilled meat chain Jonetsu Horumon is running a 'Summer Siege' campaign until 20th September 2016. Four special themed dishes will be offered which each come with Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den flags.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

A few new Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den videos appear

The official website has now updated but they haven't yet added the information I needed to complete my previous post (namely higher resolution pictures of the game's menus). Instead, there's a short new video showing the comical store-exclusive costumes for Benmaru (Yukimura-kun) and Bontenmaru (Masamune-kun). These will be available as paid DLC at a later date.


There are also three new videos which complete YamamotoD's The Action Of Sanada Yukimura-den behind-the-scenes documentary series. The first shows Sanada Nobuyuki:


The second focuses on Sanada Masayuki:


And last but not least, there's a video about Benmaru and Bontenmaru:


You can read about these documentaries in this post from earlier in the week.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

News roundup: Details about Sanada Yukimura-den modes, story and music DLC from the latest Weekly Famitsu

Translated Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den details from Weekly Famitsu

The new issue of Weekly Famitsu is now out in Japan so here's the usual summary of what it contains. We can expect a big official website update in a few hours with more content - and hopefully larger pictures.

The main image shows the Sanadamaru, which was a fortification built to defend the south side of Osaka Castle against the Tokugawa forces. In chapter eight of the main Sanada Yukimura's Life Story mode, Yukimura is using the Sanadamaru to protect Osaka Castle with his life, if necessary. This chapter is based on events associated with the Osaka Winter Siege.

The Tegata mission for the first part of this chapter requests that the player destroys four Tokugawa gun batteries at Sasayama. The Sanada Blood panel shows that you can switch between controlling Yukimura himself and manning the Sanadamaru. To raise your Bushin level quickly, you'll want to lure the Tokugawa soldiers into the red areas and then bombard them using the fortress cannon.

Then there's another section to the stage, which involves controlling Sasuke as he flies through the sky, racing the clock to intercept thirty batches of enemy supplies being dropped from above. There are also bombs and aerial enemies which Sasuke has to avoid, and he has to control his height as well as his position. It looks... challenging.

Modes

They're starting to show off some (tiny) pictures from the game's menu now. I can see the following:

Secret Backstories
Sanada Trials
Gallery
Manual
Settings

There's one panel I can't read because it's too small, but it's probably Sanada Yukimura's Life Story mode as it would be weird not to have that. Unless there are other unlockable modes I'm guessing this is the full list.

As well as being able to play the Secret Backstory chapters as stages in their own right, you can go into the Gallery and read the script with the voices playing alongside it - in case you miss anything in the heat of battle. The screenshot of this menu implies that there are a total of 15 Secret Backstories to unlock. Three of the previously-shown ones are given introductions, then the last three are new reveals with nothing but titles to work with (and I'm afraid the picture is too small to fully confirm these until the website updates). The final Secret Backstory still hasn't been shown at all.

Secret Backstories

Secret Backstory: Kanbee-san And Matabee
Characters: Gotou Matabee
Description: Matabee harbours a deep grudge against anyone who wounds his pride. After being humiliated by his loss to Date Masamune in the Odawara Campaign, the shock causes him to lose himself. Then when his lord, Kuroda Kanbee, attempts to console him, Matabee simply leaves. Matabee's defeat affects his master too, and the fact that he also abandoned Kanbee becomes impossible to forget...
Objectives: Keep on tearing through the meddlesome Kuroda army!

(Raindrops' note: I already know the Tegata Mission objective for this one since it was shown in a screenshot elsewhere.)

Secret Backstory: To The Heavens, Cuckoo...
Characters: Tokugawa Ieyasu
Description: While close to unifying the country, Oda Nobunaga departed this world in the Incident at Honnouji, brought about by Akechi Mitsuhide. After Nobunaga's death, Toyotomi Hideyoshi acomplished his goal of unifying the land in the name of strength. However, there was someone flying a flag of revolution, who wanted to create an era of bonds. That man's name was Tokugawa Ieyasu! The two men's fists are now certain to clash.

In short, it sounds like a one-on-one deathmatch between Hideyoshi and Ieyasu.

Secret Backstory: The Night Before Sekigahara
Characters: Ishida Mitsunari
Description: The Eastern Army helmed by Tokugawa Ieyasu would heroically clash with Ishida Mitsunari's Western Army in the Battle of Sekigahara. The night before that fight, somewhere between dreams and reality, Ieyasu and Mitsunari talk things over with fists and blade. The two used to be companions but now they walked opposing paths. What kind of secret backstory will this tale reveal!?

Again, another one-on-one deathmatch which has been long requested by fans.

Secret Backstory: Kudoyama Punishment
Description: The script shows that this is an encounter between Ieyasu and Nobuyuki at Ieyasu's castle. They are apparently discussing Nobuyuki's father and brother, and what to do about them after they stood in opposition to Ieyasu's army...

Secret Backstory: The Sanadamaru ___
(Raindrops' note: Sorry, text too small.)

Secret Backstory: Setting Sail From Setouchi

DLC Information

There will be some T.M.Revolution music packs available as paid DLC when Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den is released.

The first features seven tracks from T.M.Revolution's recent 2020-T.M.Revolution ALL TIME BEST compilation album. It will include HIGH PRESSURE, Aoi Hekireki ~JOG edit~, Burnin' X'mas, Madan ~Der Freischütz~, WHITE BREATH, HOT LIMIT and WILD RUSH.

The second pack will feature eight themes from the series, namely crosswise, SWORD SUMMIT, The party must go on, Count ZERO, Naked arms, FLAGS, UTAGE and DOUBLE-DEAL.

(Raindrops' note: Ok, I'm totally up for playing the game with Madan ~Der Freischütz~ blaring in the background. It had one of the best music videos ever.)

The only information about DLC costumes was a half-page section confirming that the Masamune-kun and Yukimura-kun costumes for Bontenmaru and Benmaru will be available later as paid DLC if people miss out on the store-exclusive preorder versions. We've known that for ages!

Weekly Famitsu promises a big round-up of all of the Sanada Yukimura-den news in the next issue, which will be timed a week before the game's release (and on the same day as the next Capcom broadcast). It should be good.

Capcom TV shows off the new Sanada Blood mechanic and some gameplay with Katsuie

Today's episode of Capcom TV (#48) wasn't the most exciting, mostly because they were showing content that has already been revealed. NonakaP was unavailable again so mascot Ashigaru-kun explained the Sanada Blood character swapping mechanic then gave a short demonstration.


There was plenty of time to see how Sanada Blood works on this stage; Nobuyuki guards the east of the castle and Masayuki the west, and you simply swap between them to ensure that the enemy attackers can't do enough damage to release the bridges. After that, they showed Katsuie's secret backstory stage (again) and ran through some of the Sanada Trials as Tadakatsu and Magoichi.

The LINE keyword for this episode was 水曜20時 which unlocks a wallpaper of Yukimura and Sasuke.


Unrelatedly, the official Sengoku Basara Twitter account posted a timely design sketch showing how Bontenmaru's scarf works. I never even realised it had three 'ends' until the interview a few days ago, and now it seems it's even more complicated than I thought!