I was lucky enough to be able to secure fan club tickets for both dates of the event, flying out to Japan to attend. My desperate hope was that a new game would finally be announced, even though I kept telling myself that I shouldn't expect anything more than a pleasant weekend of live performances and candid seiyuu discussion.
There was one Basara Matsuri show per day, commencing at 18:00 on Saturday 30th March 2013 and 17:00 on Sunday 31st March 2013. I'm not sure exactly how many people attended the event in total; the venue has a capacity of 13,000 but they'd had to transform a portion of the seating area into the huge, multi-levelled stage (the sumo hall's usual stage is a tiny square in the centre of the stadium, unsuitable for an event of Basara Matsuri's magnitude). I'd estimate that there were around 5,000 people in the audience for each of the two performances. Almost every single person there was female, ranging from young teenagers to middle-aged women, while there were probably less than fifty male spectators in total (maybe less than twenty). At one point the guests asked asked the boys in the audience to call out to them. They took the opportunity to compensate for their small numbers with some terrifically enthusiastic yelling.
Taking pictures inside the event hall was strictly forbidden so please refer to these official reports from Japanese gaming websites to see what went on inside the venue: 4Gamer, Inside Games (2), Dengeki, Famitsu. My post will only contain photographs I took outside the sumo hall.
The full guest list was a long one. The following seiyuu attended on both days:
Morikawa Toshiyuki (Katakura Kojuurou)
Morita Masakazu (Maeda Keiji)
Hoshi Souichirou (Sanada Yukimura)
Okiayu Ryoutarou (Toyotomi Hideyoshi)
Ishino Ryuuzou (Chousokabe Motochika)
On the Saturday, there were three special guests:
Wakamoto Norio (Oda Nobunaga)
Nakahara Shigeru (Mouri Motonari)
Sugiyama Noriaki (Ootomo Sourin)
Sunday's special guests were:
Fujiwara Keiji (Matsunaga Hisahide)
Ookawa Tooru (Tokugawa Ieyasu)
Seki Tomokazu (Ishida Mitsunari)
The stage play cast members were out in force as well, with all of these actors from Butai Sengoku Basara 3 ~Setouchi Kyouran~ present on both days:
Kotani Yoshikazu (Mouri Motonari)
Hirose Yuusuke (Tokugawa Ieyasu)
Kubota Yuuki (Date Masamune)
Hosogai Kei (Sanada Yukimura)
Yoshida Tomokazu (Katakura Kojuurou)
Murata Youjirou (Sarutobi Sasuke)
Yashiro Minase (Saika Magoichi)
Kawamura Yukie (Tsuruhime)
Taniguchi Masashi (Tenkai)
Miyashita Yuuya (Kobayakawa Hideaki)
Nitta Kenta (Ootani Yoshitsugu)
Katou Yasuhisa (Tachibana Muneshige)
Asakura Yuuta (Ootomo Sourin)
T.M. Revolution's Nishikawa Takanori and series producer Kobayashi Hiroyuki (KobaP) completed the list of official guests. Members of the press and Capcom representatives were present in the background.
Since the event was being held at the famous sumo hall, there was a light-hearted sumo theme throughout and Morita made many of his announcements in the style of a dramatic ringside announcer. It was difficult to forget the significance of the venue when huge portraits of sumo wrestlers were hung all around the seating area, staring down at everyone as they cheered and clapped.
I'm going to describe everything that I remember. Sunday's show was very similar to Saturday's.
Basara Matsuri 2013 ~Haru No Jin~ (Saturday)
A stall was selling Basara Matsuri goods at the venue from noon onwards even though the event wasn't scheduled to begin until 18:00. As well as the exclusive merchandise I described in this previous post, fans had the opportunity to buy the IC card stickers and pass cases which don't go on general sale until late April. The queue for merchandise this time was immense, eventually completely filling the width of the stairs at the sumo hall and snaking all the way around the second floor. I arrived an hour before the goods went on sale and ended up having to queue for three hours before I could buy anything, simply because there were so many people lined up already.
|The merchandise queue on the stairs, seven hours before the event started|
All four different festival happi coats sold out long before most of the fans who turned up early had a chance to buy one. By the second day almost everything had gone. The event goods aren't cheap and the weather was bitterly cold; so much so that most of the buyers were wearing their towels and blankets as extra layers while they waited for their friends.
The area where the goods were being sold was decorated lavishly with flags so it was very easy to spot. The cold wind no longer mattered as soon as I could hear abingdon boys school's Sengoku Basara themes blaring out from the tents ahead.
|Entering the sales area at last!|
One of the items on sale was a Japanese-style zabuton cushion for sitting on. A unique privilege of holding an event at the sumo hall is that half of the attendees have to watch from the masuseki, special box seats where you sit on the hard floor with a group of three friends (or in my case, three strangers). There's no room to stretch or move about, so by the end of the two-and-a-half hour show it can get quite painful. I was sitting in the masuseki area on the first day and the cushion was worth its weight in gold when it came to making the experience more comfortable. If they'd had someone walking around selling cushions during the show, they could have charged almost any price and people would have paid it.
After taking refuge somewhere warmer for a couple of hours, I headed back to the sumo hall to join the line waiting to enter for the show, where I was interviewed by the staff who'd noticed that I was a westerner. They asked me all sorts of questions about what I liked about Sengoku Basara and who my favourite warrior was, and sadly it all happened so quickly that my answers were rather weak. I really hope it's not included on the DVD.
The doors opened on time a full hour before the event began, which ended up being very important as it was difficult to understand the seating locations in the masuseki area. One lady was very confused when she saw me in what she thought was her seat, only to find that there were two identically-numbered boxes on each side of the hall. I have to say that my seat's location wasn't particularly great - the venue's design didn't offer as many excellent viewing opportunities as last year's Makuhari Event Hall.
|The sakura outside made it feel like spring|
I discovered that the girl I was sitting next to was the biggest Mouri Motonari fan around once the event began in style with a picture of him appearing on the screen and his seiyuu Nakahara Shigeru ordering us all to obey the venue's rules or face the consequences. He wasn't quite himself though; much to my neighbour's joy, Motonari started to sing one of Sourin's 'Zabii' songs and it became apparent that he was in full Sunday Mouri mode. Sourin then joined his 'Tactician' in the announcement, bemused by Motonari's ability to command the attention of the audience so effectively and wondering whether that power could be used to recruit more worshippers to the church. Motonari soon snapped out of the brainwashing and bid a hasty retreat.
The crowd's laughter didn't last long as the spotlights immediately came on for the opening act, a live performance from the Butai Sengoku Basara 3 ~Setouchi Kyouran~ stage play. Not all of the actors could be present so they put together a medley of battle scenes which went down very well; my particular favourites live on stage were Muneshige, Kingo, Magoichi and surprisingly Tenkai, whose vicious fighting style looks better in person than it does on the DVD recording. Everything went smoothly, even Motonari's scene where he tosses his weapon high above the stage dangerously mid-battle. Watching from the safety of my seat all the way across the hall, the acting gave me goosebumps.
The pace changed for the next act as the seiyuu came out in groups of two and three to perform some intense dialogues on stage. One of the last of these involved Keiji confronting Sourin, who was accompanied by Inada Tetsu as Muneshige! Inada's presence hadn't been announced in advance; it turned out that he was Saturday's surprise guest. Another particularly well-received dialogue featured Nobunaga and Hideyoshi, with Wakamoto at his dramatic best. Most of the drama performances this time came from Sengoku Basara 3 Utage or the stage play script. Hearing them spoken by the original seiyuu rather than the Butai Sengoku Basara actors gave the dialogues a new twist. There were also several Matsuri-exclusive scripted dramas dotted throughout the weekend.
This led into the first of the discussions, 'Nishikawa Takanori No Shironomi!!' (the name parodies Nishikawa's 'Ienomi' talk show). Three guests were brought on stage and each given something to drink for a chat with Nishikawa about some dramatic statements they'd made. The guests on Saturday were Wakamoto, Morikawa and Hoshi. The most memorable topic was Hoshi talking about how it felt to have his (Yukimura's) popularity stolen by a cool new warrior; Hoshi wasn't at all shy about his disappointment in Mitsunari having taken Yukimura's place as the second most popular character in the BSR48 poll. It was very cute to see his loyalty to his own character. They all agreed that trying to snatch first place away from Masamune was probably impossible, so second place was a more reasonable target.
The next corner was based on this hanami flower-viewing survey with Okiayu Ryoutarou taking charge. The seiyuu guests who hadn't participated in Nishikawa's segment sat down with the host to go through the survey results and discuss how they would have answered. After an initial chat, they were shown a selection of warriors who had received votes to help narrow things down, then the host would go through the top three (with occasional reference to the positions of characters who hadn't received as many votes, where appropriate). The three questions they covered on Saturday were as follows.
Q. Which warlord is 'hana yori dango'? (It means preferring style over substance - food, rather than flowers. In this case they'd literally be eating the picnic rather than watching the blossoms.)
Nakahara kept insisting that Kingo would walk away with this title (except he kept calling him 'kabutomushi' or 'rhinoceros beetle' derisively instead of saying his name). However, it was Yukimura who took first place in the voting. His love of dango seems to have united most respondents! The results that Okiayu mentioned were:
1. Sanada Yukimura
2. Kobayakawa Hideaki
3. Maeda Keiji
4. Maeda Toshiie
5. Mouri Motonari
Some of the voters' justifications were also read out, and they were usually quite funny. Nakahara commented that it might make sense that Kingo placed second if he wanted to eat the flowers more than he wanted to eat the dango.
Q. Which warlord would be a bad drunk?
These caused a lot of laughs, especially Masamune when they started imagining him getting rowdy and shouting in English even more than usual. When Motochika was revealed in the list it was noted that he seemed to act like a bad drunk quite a lot of the time already, so perhaps he'd be less rough when intoxicated. Everyone was startled by Motonari's position until it was explained that the voters were fascinated by how differently he might act when inebriated. When the grid of characters was first shown it included Kanetsugu in the top fifteen. I wonder where he placed in the final results?
1. Ishida Mitsunari
2. Chousokabe Motochika
3. Mouri Motonari
4. Date Masamune
5. Kuroda Kanbee
Q. Which warlord is likely to go early in the morning to save a spot?
This is generally seen as an undesirable task involving a lot of waiting and trouble. Keiji's love of festivals and socialising won out in the end though; people thought he'd be happy to lounge around with Yumekichi to make things more enjoyable for others (the justification for Aniki's position was similar). There was a discussion about the two ninja as well and how they'd use their techniques to secure and hold a good area for their party.
1. Maeda Keiji
2. Sarutobi Sasuke
3. Fuuma Kotarou
4. Katakura Kojuurou
5. Chousokabe Motochika
The seiyuu were all very interested in the votes, in particular when it came to their own characters.
|Most goods sold out within a few hours|
The rules of the game were very simple; the teams would send members to stand in the arena between the rows of seats, and they'd throw zabuton cushions to one another from the back of the hall to the stage. Each cushion could only be thrown a certain distance at a time, and the team leaders on stage had to draw a card with a special rule on it between each throw. Whichever team got their cushion from the back of the arena to the stage first would be the winner. Morita shyly asked the audience whether it was ok if they were hit by cushions thrown by the guests. Needless to say, nobody minded.
The game then began. The team captains on stage read out their cards in their most flamboyant voices, with Wakamoto and Ishino making mundane instructions sound far more important than they actually were. Yoshida was made to deliver his cushion by hand instead of throwing it, by skipping through the excited crowd. When he was told to miss a turn, Kubota sat down next to some of the girls in the audience defiantly. Stray cushions went spinning out of control and fans held their breath in concern when Taniguchi had to walk to the next marker with the cushion balanced on top of his head. Eventually the Date room won the gigantic Basara Matsuri trophy.
The laughter gradually subsided, allowing KobaP to take to the stage for the first time to share the latest Sengoku Basara information. Up until then KobaP hadn't been visible this Basara Matsuri, to the extent that I was relieved to see he was actually there with some information to share with us! He went through the latest news, some of which was quite surprising (the Osaka police campaign in particular made everyone laugh, even though it's since made the news in Japan). When he announced the cover for the new Sengoku Basara Magazine, he listed the main features and looked evasive when he mentioned that it would have an interview with him included as well. Many of us were probably thinking the same thing: "Why have an interview with KobaP if there's no new game to talk about?".
The very last announcement came with little fanfare. The video started playing with every single person in the hall watching nervously. I kept telling myself that it was probably just some kind of spin-off for the mobile game as the increasingly-exciting words flashed up on the screen with fire all around them, and then it was confirmed. Sengoku Basara 4 was really coming for Playstation 3!
I was so excited, surrounded by screaming girls waving glow sticks furiously, that I could barely take in the two silhouettes which flashed up at the end of the trailer at all (I lay awake most of the night afterwards trying to remember them more clearly). KobaP watched the crowd with satisfaction and tried to go over the details in the trailer. It was impossible; everyone was too delighted to give him a chance to speak!
This was the last of KobaP's announcements so another round of scripted live dialogues from the seiyuu allowed us to gradually settle down (some crazy people completely left the hall and went home). The show was then closed by a kimono-clad T.M. Revolution (pictures) performing Naked Arms, Sword Summit and The Party Must Go On for us along with lasers, smoke and thrashing glow sticks.
After the guests all bid us farewell, we filed out past the merchandise tent (which still had a queue of customers lined up!) and the assembled fans headed home to think about the ramifications of the new game announcement. The two-and-a-half hours the celebration lasted had been packed with enough thrills to last for months!
Basara Matsuri 2013 ~Haru No Jin~ (Sunday)
With my merchandise purchases having been taken care of the day before and the big announcement already common knowledge, the Sunday show felt like a much more relaxed affair. Thankfully I had a much better seat this time around in the arena area below the stage and no interviewers descended on me so I could focus on the show. Having already heard all of the big reveals there was no press presence on the second day, only the official camera crew recording for the DVD. My main goals were to try to concentrate properly on the Sengoku Basara 4 trailer this time around, and to unreasonably pray that we'd be blessed with a surprise visit by the absent seiyuu Nakai Kazuya (Date Masamune). It seemed odd that we hadn't seen a video message from him the day before...
|The merchandise stall was still jam-packed|
Nakahara and Sugiyama weren't present on Sunday so the show kicked off with a picture of Mitsunari appearing on the screen, hurling threats at the crowd to force them to pay attention to the rules. Ieyasu soon turned up to 'help' him read out the instructions, except he was so perky that it seemed more like he was deliberately provoking his overly-serious companion. Seki and Ookawa play off one another very well at live events.
The live stage play came next as it had on Saturday, just as good as it was before. I forgot to mention that thanks to the big screen that made up part of the Matsuri stage, they played footage from one of T.M. Revolution's concerts during the main fight scene to make it extra dazzling, and gave Sourin's attacks a visual boost when he summoned a Zabii missile attack.
This led into the usual seiyuu dramas. The selection was quite different on the second day thanks to the addition of a different set of guests - and I was absolutely delighted to discover that my hopes hadn't been in vain, as Nakai Kazuya was revealed as the day's secret guest at the start of a dialogue between Masamune, Kojuurou and Yukimura!
With the crowd buzzing from the arrival of the newcomer, Nishikawa's Shironomi talk show made its return, this time with Ishino, Nakai and Okiayu joining Nishikawa for a chat. I felt quite sorry for Nakai when he requested hot milk tea as his drink since the audience kept laughing and cheering at how cute he was whenever he tried to pick the teacup up or take a sip. Ishino coyly requested coffee, then slid a can of beer in front of it and declared that he'd be taking that, prompting cries of "Yebisu coffee?!". Okiayu dignifiedly selected acerola juice (a surprising choice for someone who usually appears so tough).
The four of them seemed to be in good spirits right from the outset so there was a lot of friendly squabbling. Nakai explained some details about the voice acting process (until Nishikawa interrupted him to complain that he was rambling), then Ishino described an incident at a previous Basara Matsuri where he felt as though he was in a trance and came out with no memory of what happened(!). Okiayu's topic was extremely simple: "Isn't the anime version of Kasuga a little too sexy?". They all nodded, conversing about how she seemed more voluptuous and outgoing in the anime than she is in the games.
Before Ishino managed to finish his beer, the talk show ended and the other seiyuu guests replaced the group on stage to reveal the other half of the hanami survey results. Morikawa was in charge this time. He went through things more quickly than Okiayu, announcing only the top three and any other positions relevant to the chat.
Q. Which warlord would you like to have for a teacher or boss?
1. Katakura Kojuurou
2. Chousokabe Motochika
3. Takeda Shingen
The justification for Kojuurou was that he was so good at nurturing his vegetables that he'd no doubt be similarly skilful when it came to looking after people. I think the results were quite good for this question. There were some entertaining reactions when Motonari was shown in the top fifteen choices.
Q. Which warlord would you like to have for a junior or subordinate?
1. Sanada Yukimura
2. Sarutobi Sasuke
3. Fuuma Kotarou
4. Ishida Mitsunari
The guests agreed that Yukimura was an 'eternal subordinate'; a born follower rather than a leader. Hoshi was very pleased to see his character top one of the rankings, even it was a funny one. If I recall correctly, the top fifteen showed Hirotsuna amongst the more well-known warriors.
Q. Which warlord would you like to have for a headmaster or company president?
1. Takeda Shingen
2. Oda Nobunaga
3. Date Masamune
4. Matsunaga Hisahide
Everyone cheered to see Oyakata-sama in first place. Meanwhile, the high rankings for Nobunaga and Hisahide caused the seiyuu visible confusion; they'd undoubtably make very successful companies, but at what cost to their employees? Fujiwara remarked that he didn't share the same taste as the respondents. They also thought about what kind of companies the various characters would lead (Hanbee would be the director of an I.T. corporation, apparently).
|A few of the items I picked up|
This led into Sunday's team games. The players were divided into four 'rooms' once again (some of the seiyuu guests had changed, requiring some shuffling of the teams). This time they were battling it out in a mini-tournament of three sumo-themed contests, starting with 'koyori sumo'. A representative was chosen from each team to quickly twist a tissue into a string then pull it against a rival's, like a tug-of-war. When one of the two tissue-strings snapped, the other person would be declared the victor.
Weirdly, the two female guests beat the guys effortlessly. Partly because Fujiwara naturally speaks in a voice that sounds a lot like Hisahide's, and partly because he always wears sunglasses indoors, he has a rather intimidating air; watching him being soundly thrashed at tissue-tug-of-war by Yashiro was very funny.
The second round was a quiz with a twist; the answer had to be performed on stage rather than spoken. Two people were selected from each team and the challenge was set: they had to show what the sumo term 'gasshou hineri' meant. The fact that hardly anyone knew the answer didn't stop them from trying!
The Date team had picked 'double Kojuurou' for their representatives (Morikawa and Yoshida, i.e. Kojuurou's seiyuu and his stage play actor). They calmly performed a sumo ritual as though they were about to start wrestling, then Morikawa started to play an imaginary pipe while Yoshida pranced around him in a serpentine dance. It was a truly bizarre sight.
The next team was represented by Nitta and Kotani (Gyoubu and Motonari from the stage play). Taking advantage of their athleticism, Kotani flipped Nitta onto his back in a sudden move, then knelt beside him and prayed as though he'd killed him. It's amazing that they could pull it off so smoothly without practicing (and it looked painful!).
Next came the 'double Ieyasu' pair. They'd come up with a fan-pleasing routine where they acted out a cautious sumo match then suddenly joined together and fist-bumped with a cry of "Kizuna!" ('bonds'). The crowd loved it.
The 'double Yukimura' pair came last and stole the show completely when Hoshi jumped up into Hosogai's arms. The two of them spun around dangerously with Hoshi twisting around and attacking Hosogai. I was genuinely impressed that he could keep hold of him so well with his slender physique.
Morita asked the audience to clap for the team they thought was best. In fairness, the Yukimura duo's act was probably the closest of the four to the correct answer in the end but that wasn't the reason they won by such a large margin; it was the shock and entertainment value of seeing the two spinning around ridiculously which clinched the points! Morita quipped that the act might have to be censored for the DVD version of the show.
The third challenge was a 'giant paper sumo' confrontation. The guests had prepared large paper sumo dolls in advance, decorating them to look as threatening as possible. The Date team's had Masamune on one side and Kojuurou on the other. The Sanada team's sumo doll was strangely cute-looking with huge round eyes.
The sumo wrestlers were lifted up onto a table in pairs and the team members all gathered around to slap the table rapidly and send the wrestlers charging in to clash with their opponent. Whichever team's sumo was pushed from the table first was the loser.
The Matsunaga team were very sneaky, standing back with their arms folded to force the Toyotomi team to drive themselves off the table on their own. Morita stepped in and asked the crowd who deserved to win and our applause led to the elimination of Hisahide's sumo. The team members had all taken on the role of the villains for some reason and they shouted mock threats at the overjoyed fans. In the end, the Toyotomi team prevailed against the Sanada sumo as well and won the game.
When the points were allocated, the overall tournament winners turned out to be the Toyotomi group. Okiayu proudly accepted the huge trophy on behalf of his team, and that was the end of the last unique Sunday segment of the show.
|More of the items I bought. I spent a lot.|
KobaP appeared next to repeat his presentation from the day before (at the beginning, he jokingly asked the audience whether anyone had already heard the news from Saturday yet!). After the Sengoku Basara 4 trailer had finished he emphasised the Muromachi period link as well as the importance of the voiceover (now believed to have been performed by veteran actor Ikeda Shuuichi).
A final round of seiyuu drama performances followed, and then T.M. Revolution then came out to repeat his live set from Saturday. This time he got so fired up that he completely removed the top half of his outfit partway through instead of just pulling the first layer down. This was followed by the usual farewells, with the crowd making disappointed noises and breaking poor Morita's heart as he tried to coax people into allowing the event to end. Nishikawa had put part of his top back on for the ending ceremony and had to endure his bare arms being prodded repeatedly by the curious seiyuu (Nakai was especially interested in poking them even after being told off).
Once all of the goodbyes had been said, golden streamers were released over the audience sitting in front of the stage to close the show. Wanting to take one of the streamers home as a special memento, I waited for a chance to move closer to the stage and take one from the ground as other people got up to leave (they hadn't quite reached as far as my row near the back of the arena seating). I then had a first hand experience of how selfless the Sengoku Basara fandom can be; some girls saw the hulking foreigner waiting as they slowly moved towards the exit and went out of their way to give me one of their precious streamers so I didn't have to go home empty handed. They also shyly asked me about whether I was happy to see Nakai as the secret guest, and we had a little chat before parting ways. Their kindness was the perfect finishing touch to a wonderful Basara Matsuri weekend. I wish I could have thanked them properly, along with the seiyuu, staff, stage play actors and everyone else who made Basara Matsuri 2013 ~Haru No Jin~ so memorable.
|"The announcement of Sengoku Basara 4! |
Please look forward to the future of the Sengoku Basara series!"
Now all that's left is to look forward to hearing more about Sengoku Basara 4!