Sunday 30 December 2012

DVD review: Butai Sengoku Basara 3

Limited edition packaging
This was actually the first of the Butai Sengoku Basara DVDs I watched; since I reviewed all of the others, I'm adding a quick post about it now to fill in the gap. Butai Sengoku Basara 3 was originally performed between 14th and 16th October 2011 in Osaka's Ion Cosmetics Theatre Brava, followed by a run in Tokyo Dome City's Theatre G-Rosso between 23rd and 30th October 2011.

The DVD recording was released on 23rd February 2012 in the usual standard and special editions. The special edition sold out quickly and fetches absolutely ridiculous prices on the used market, far in excess of the ¥6,500 it cost. The only benefits to the special edition are better packaging and a photo book, so I grudgingly settled for the ¥6,000 standard edition after missing the chance to preorder the better version in time. The standard edition is extremely barebones; its more like a US anime DVD release with a plain box and no inserts or artwork.

Despite missing out on the far-cooler packaging shown at the top of this blog post, Butai Sengoku Basara 3 was the one which finally sparked my interest in the SenBasa stage plays in the first place. Full of vibrant colour and an expanded cast, it blended comedy with action to provide 162 minutes of pure entertainment.

The cast for this stage play was as follows:

Hirose Yuusuke (Tokugawa Ieyasu)
Nakamura Seijirou (Ishida Mitsunari)
Kubota Yuuki (Date Masamune)
Hosogai Kei (Sanada Yukimura)
Totani Kimito (Chousokabe Motochika)
Kotani Yoshikazu (Mouri Motonari)
Shirakawa Yuujirou (Kuroda Kanbee)
Miyashita Yuuya (Kobayakawa Hideaki)
Murata Masakazu (Ootani Yoshitsugu)
Yoshida Tomokazu (Katakura Kojuurou)
Murata Youjirou (Sarutobi Sasuke)
Taniguchi Masashi (Tenkai)
Yamasaki Mami (Saika Magoichi)
Kawamura Yukie (Tsuruhime)

Standard edition packaging
Things have come a long way since the first Butai Sengoku Basara. The costumes have been greatly improved, but more noticeably than that it's as though every actor has had a large increase in their confidence. The result of this is that every minute of the stage play is charged with electric excitement. After having inserted the DVD with the intention of watching the first half, I couldn't stop until I'd reached the end. My eyes were pinned to the television screen, lapping up the spectacle of it all.

The main characters are back from the first stage play in better form than ever, and they're joined by a huge number of newcomers to bring variety to the fights and dialogue. Most memorable was Kingo, whose constant panicking added a much-needed touch of comedy to the story. Kuroda's appearances were similar in nature with some deliberately-clumsy combat mixed in too.

The new leads were well cast. Hirose looks uncannily similar to Tokugawa when in costume, despite having the most challenging character to match since Ieyasu doesn't wear anything on his face to make him recognisable. In addition, he's very well-muscled (and brave to constantly show off this fact with the cropped top he has to wear). Taking on the role of his ill-fated rival, Nakamura's Ishida is prickly, boyish and full of wrath. The two have superb chemistry with one another on stage.

I also appreciate how perfect Kotani is in the role of Mouri. He has a slightly crazy, stern look in his eyes when in character which fits the antisocial tactician in a way I'd never have thought possible.

Saika and Chousokabe were played by new actors in the recent Butai Sengoku Basara 3 ~Setouchi Kyouran~ so this DVD is the only chance to see Totani Kimito and Yamasaki Mami in the stage play cast. I felt that both were good yet unremarkable, so I'm looking forward to comparing their performances with their replacements once the next DVD comes out.

Butai Sengoku Basara 3 makes an excellent starting point for people wanting to give the SenBasa stage plays a try. It's packed with familiar characters from the one game which made it to the west relatively unscathed, and it includes comedy, action and drama in equal measure. Music and fight scene take the spotlight more than dialogue; consequently of all of the stage plays I've seen it's the one that I think would have most appeal to people with less confidence watching a performance in raw Japanese. Thoroughly recommended.

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