Sunday, 30 June 2013

Streaming: Spring 2013 anime final impressions

I enjoyed having a breather this season with a streaming schedule more evenly spread throughout the week than it was back in the winter. It helped that I skipped most of Anime On Demand's offerings this time, sparing myself from spending time reloading their homepage and trying to work out when to expect the next episodes every week. They still hadn't finished broadcasting shows from last winter until halfway through June!

Only one of the series I had picked out in my previous post ended up being dropped: Zettai Boei Leviatan (Zettai Bouei Leviathan) never quite became as interesting as the first episode or two had promised. I should probably have dropped Oreimo season 2 as well, except that I was watching it with someone else so we persisted even after it was obvious that it was never going to regain its former glory. While last season's The Unlimited -Hyoubu Kyousuke- has been sorely missed, its influence has continued as I've been buying up the new CD releases and other goodies.

In assembling a shortlist of the series I enjoyed the most for spring 2013 it was difficult to choose which of the frontrunners was the best overall. Controversial mecha show Kakumeiki Valvrave won out in the end, producing a list which looked like this:

1. Valvrave The Liberator (Kakumeiki Valvrave)
2. Uta No Prince-sama: Maji Love 2000%
3. Attack On Titan (Shingeki No Kyojin)

The traditional post mortem of the season (or at least, the portion of it legally available in the UK) comes after the jump.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Manga review: Gakuen Basara 4

Gakuen Basara 4 was released on 8th November 2012. By this time the creators had given up on trying to theme it around any specific game so it's listed as simply covering the 'Sengoku Basara Series'. It's 164 pages again, with colour illustrations by Yukihiro Utako and Kyuugou and a beautiful wraparound cover by Nari.

Although there's no new game for the artists to draw from, the stories still manage to introduce some new characters to the roster in the form of the five regional warlords from Sengoku Basara 3, eternal optimist Naoe Kanetsugu and all three members of the Miyoshi Sanninshuu. Since these are all minor characters in the original games, their school outfits have been heavily customised to keep them recognisable - far more so than the costumes of the leads.

The colour art mostly focuses on the new characters, allowing for a very rare opportunity to see the non-playable characters drawn in an officially-sanctioned Capcom release. Mikami's rough sketches of the new characters' designs are included too, along with another set of comedic 'school reports' for some of the cast.

Here are some very brief summaries of the individual stories. Some of the titles contain puns relating to other series which I've tried to preserve when possible.

Sensational Beat Maniax
Toriumi Mihoko
A typically rowdy introductory chapter to kick things off. Nobunaga and his followers are back from the outset this time. There's no real plot in this story; it's simply an excuse to introduce all of the new characters and set up their relationships with the existing characters.

Ano Hito Tazunete Sanzenri (3,000 Leagues In Search Of That Person)
Hanbee and Hideyoshi make a rare appearance at the school. Mitsunari should be delighted - except that nothing seems to go his way and he keeps missing them. He becomes so desperate that he ends up taking advice (of a sort) from Tsuruhime. Will it help?

Friday, 28 June 2013

News roundup: More details of next week's Famitsu reveal

More details about next week's Famitsu article

This post directly references the previous one. Famitsu's website has now updated to reveal the full details about what the next issue will include in its Sengoku Basara 4 reveal. Since that link will be dead in a week, the important part for Sengoku Basara fans is here:

What it says is that there will be an interview with the game's director and producer (YamamotoD and KobaP), as well as information on four characters from the game, including the lead(s). There'll also be news about the 'boss' they'll be facing.

Just a few more days to wait until we know more!

Busho Matsuri information update

The tickets for Busho Matsuri seem to be destined to sell out; a tweet from the official account has announced that the Sunday performance is completely sold out and they recommend buying quickly if fans want Saturday tickets. To sweeten the deal they've also posted information about the first wave of exclusive merchandise which can be obtained at Busho Matsuri.

There are tote bags (red or blue) for ¥1,500 each, a beach towel for ¥3,000, a set of opera glasses for ¥1,500 and two character penlights (Masamune or Yukimura) for ¥2,000 each. The caricatures of the stage actors on the lights look hilarious. The previously-mentioned book should also be available.

[Updated] Sengoku Basara booth announced for September anime event

Capcom snuck another update onto their website just after I headed to work this morning. The Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair 2013 (Kyomaf) will take place at Miyako Messe from the 6th to the 8th September 2013, and Sengoku Basara will have its own booth! The post teases that more information about the booth's content will be revealed at a later date.

This is only the second year that the event has been running so it's difficult to say how significant it will be. Sengoku Basara headlined two booths at this year's Tokyo International Anime Fair back before the new game was announced, after all, but both were selling existing merchandise from the series rather than promoting anything new. Looking at the list of other exhibitors there are plenty of older anime titles on display which aren't likely to receive revivals in the near future. Capcom could simply be taking advantage of their proximity to Kyoto to sell merchandise or showcase the numerous Sengoku Basara manga projects.

Still, part of me is hoping for a new anime adaptation to tie in with the brand new game and fuel another wave of merchandise and excitement. The news has been taken up by a number of major websites; Gamer's coverage gives the best background information about Kyomaf itself.

If anyone is in the area at the time, it's worth noting that foreigners can enter the event for free by presenting their passports!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

News roundup: Next week will bring new Sengoku Basara 4 information

Famitsu to include Sengoku Basara 4 content next week

This week's most thrilling news has come via weekly Famitsu magazine, which has allegedly promised a preview article about Sengoku Basara 4 in next week's issue. User BlackKite on the Koei Warriors forum kindly posted details here. It looks as though the article will include the first solid information about the main character(s) in the game.

The issue in question officially comes out on Thursday 4th July; as it's so popular people usually start to post news from it earlier than that so we can expect the first leaks on Tuesday/Wednesday depending on your time zone. I don't subscribe to Famitsu and even if I did shipping times would mean I wouldn't receive copies until the news is well out of date, so I'll be poring over their website and fan communities next week like everyone else.

To add even more excitement to the mix, the issue of Dengeki Playstation magazine due for release on 11th July is said to include a special feature about the new game and come complete with a Sengoku Basara 4 cover!

Release information for the Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory book

Promotion has finally begun for the Sengoku Basara Kagaku Kenkyuujo book I mentioned before, combining Yanagita Rikao's Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory posts which I once translated for this blog and some extra material produced especially for the physical edition. You can see a sample of the final version in this tweet.

The product listings have been updated to advise that it will include all eighteen blog posts, four additional posts and extra material from Yanagita's Kuusou Kagaku series (which has featured Sengoku Basara before). Two new 'versus' articles have the titles "Date Masamune VS Sanada Yukimura" and "Yousai Fugaku VS Teruhi No Ookagami", referring to Motochika's maritime fortress Fugaku squaring off against Motonari's 'Solar Nexus' mirror.

The full-colour book is due for release on 28th June 2013 priced at ¥1,155.  It should be fun.

More characters to debut in the Mame Sengoku Basara manga

Artist Sumeragi has tweeted a pair of sample pictures from the next chapter of the cute Mame Sengoku Basara manga, promising that tomorrow's issue of Dengeki Maou will include two stories: one about Sanada Yukimura encountering Satake Yoshishige, the other featuring Mouri Motonari facing Anegakouji Yoritsuna. I get irrationally excited whenever the non-playable regional warlords from Sengoku Basara 3 show up so I can't wait for the next graphic novel to hit bookstores.

Takarazuka musical Sengoku Basara -Sanada Yukimura-hen- DVD details

That was quick! The DVD edition of the recent Takarazuka musical based on Sengoku Basara has now been listed with a release date of 17th September 2013 and a price of ¥8,400. Takarazuka DVDs tend to be expensive... not that I'll let that discourage me from buying this unique take on the Sengoku Basara world!

Date Masamune triumphs in the Sengoku Basara Card Heroes Matsuri popularity poll

This is so unsurprising that it hardly qualifies as news at all and I forgot to report it for weeks. I mentioned that the Sengoku Basara Card Heroes Matsuri mobile game was running a character poll recently; the winning warrior was going to be announced as part of the game's anniversary event and feature on a unique new card. Well, in a development that nobody could have possibly seen coming, Date Masamune took the honour of being named the most popular character in the series once again. Congratulations, Masamune! Here's the illustration that was used on the special card.

Perhaps we'll be treated to a new character poll for the main game series once Sengoku Basara 4 comes out.

Today's acquisitions (26th June 2013)

Even though I have lots of minor news stories to report when I have time, there's no Sengoku Basara at all in my purchases today! Instead there's a heap of cuter items spanning two photographs. The first is more varied.

Both Rose of Versailles DVD sets arrived together after their long journey from the US. I already had the Italian DVDs but Nozomi's are much nicer and contain English subtitles. Below them are the two beautiful double-sided pencilboards that were given away to customers who purchased directly from TRSI. Rose of Versailles is one of my favourite anime series. It's so exciting to be able to own a decent copy after all this time.

Before I get carried away and start gushing, I'll describe the other precious treasures in the picture. In the top right is the first Japanese Blu-ray of the Karneval television series. Below it is the CD single for Lama's Spell, the opening theme song to the anime No. 6 which I reviewed a little while ago, and on top of the case is the free Kuroko No Basuke keychain I received from Yesasia as a bonus. This time it was Aomine; I'm still waiting for Kise...

The second picture is rather one-sided. I'm rapidly reaching the end of the Zettai Karen Children anime and the next step is naturally to begin reading the original manga. After getting it into my head that I'd be able to pick most of the series up as a bundle, I headed into central London last week to visit Adanami Shobou, a Japanese used bookstore which masquerades as a run-down laundry shop. Miraculously, they had a single bundle on sale containing the first 24 volumes of the series. Hurrah!

This fit in perfectly with my existing CD Japan order for the limited editions of volumes 26 (containing a drama CD) and 28 (containing a Hyoubu Kyousuke 'figure' strap). The latter of the two fetches a vastly inflated price on Amazon Japan by now.

The strap is right at the bottom of the picture resting on its box. The limited edition set also included a foldable diorama so you can dangle Hyoubu in front of his P.A.N.D.R.A. allies. A matching 'The Unlimited' version of the strap is coming out soon for double the fun.

Last but not least is a compilation book, Zettai Karen Children: The Unlimited -Hyoubu Kyousuke- Best Selection. It's a mini 'phone book' manga which collects stories about Hyoubu Kyousuke along with a small double-sided poster. Though there's very little (if any) new content inside this volume, it's handy to have if you ever need an intensive dose of the series' best character without rummaging through the rest of the manga.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Manga review: Gakuen Basara 3

Gakuen Basara 3 came out in April 2012 and covers Sengoku Basara 3 Utage. It's more of the same, in other words, only this time Matsunaga Hisahide makes his long-awaited appearance as an extremely creepy vice principal.

The cover is by Nari as usual and inside there are colour pages by Waganeya Takumi and Yukihiro Utako. Rough sketches by Arai Karo showing how the characters were redesigned are included between chapters along with a handful of humorous school report cards. There are 164 pages in total.

The overall theme of each story is usually Hisahide annoying someone in his unbearably self-serving way. Here are some very brief summaries of the individual stories.

Basara Gakuen ~ Utage~ Kaien (Basara Gakuen ~Utage~ Opening Ceremony)
Arai Karo
Hisahide is introduced, and it isn't long before he's forcing everyone to reflect upon (and squabble about) their personal treasures in a madcap opening chapter. The first chapter's purpose is to introduce the cast, so a large number of characters appear.

Nekketsu!! Sanada-ryuu Yowamushi Kokufuku Doujou (Hot Blooded!! Sanada-style 'Overcoming Wimpiness' Dojo)
Yanagi Batoshirou
Kingo appears before Yukimura, begging him to give him the courage to be less of a wimpy crybaby. Yukimura attempts to comply (with some help from Sasuke and some of the other pupils). Even with everyone helping, it may be impossible.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Manga review: Gakuen Basara 2

The 160-page Gakuen Basara 2 manga spin-off came out in December 2010 and ties in with Sengoku Basara 3, reimagining all of the characters from the new game in an 'alternate universe' school setting. A few of the new characters appear on the beautiful wraparound cover artwork drawn by Nari. There's still no colour art inside the book, though there are rough character sketches in between chapters by Sanorin, Yanagi Batoshirou, Matsuura Hako and Koutake Hiroyoshi.

Here are brief summaries of the ten individual stories in the form of a chapter list.

Basara Gakuen Returns
The first chapter is a chaotic jumble to introduce the Gakuen Basara 2 scenario. The theme of this volume is a student election so Ieyasu is facing off against Mitsunari in a parody of the game's lead up to the battle of Sekigahara. All of the Sengoku Basara 3 characters are squeezed into the story.

Keiji: Koi No Chuukan Tesuto (Keiji: Midterm Test Of Love)
The second chapter provides a change of pace, focusing on Keiji's one-sided love for Magoichi. Tired of being followed around, she forces Keiji to agree to improve his exam scores overnight. In his desperation he turns to the other students for help...

Bunkasai No Tatakai: Bouryaku (Battle Of The School Culture Festival: Conspiracy)
Matsuura Hako
Everyone is looking forward to the traditional culture festival at school. However, some students have a dark plan to sabotage the event and further their own agenda.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Anime review: Psychic Squad (Zettai Karen Children) collection 3

I quickly blazed through the addictive third DVD collection of Zettai Karen Children collection (US title: Psychic Squad) just days after finishing the last batch of episodes. Released back in September 2012, Psychic Squad collection 3 includes episodes 27 to 39 in a double-disc DVD collection priced at $49.98. As with the previous two sets, the extras are sponsor bumpers, clean OP/ED videos and trailers for other Sentai Filmworks titles. Zettai Karen Children has no English dub so the only language option is Japanese audio with (optional) English subtitles.

With the first two sets having introduced us to the main characters, the series is now free to explore the main storyline in more detail. This often boils down to Minamoto worrying about the grim vision of the future he was shown by psychic dolphin Ikyuugo at the end of the the second DVD collection. Although there are just as many episodic hijinks as ever, the knowledge of what might come to pass if Ikyuugo's prediction is correct gives the story a much darker feel.

I said that everyone had been introduced, but that's not quite true; these episodes also mark the debut of one more major character: Tsubomi Fujiko. Tsubomi is the impulsive founder of the organisation The Children and Minamoto work for - and she happens to have a complicated history with their enemy, Hyoubu Kyousuke. Tsubomi is also voluptuous and self-confident; at once a powerful esper and a dreadful tease. Whenever she joins in, she provides B.A.B.E.L. with a much-needed offensive edge in battle.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

News roundup: Sengoku Basara noren curtains

Sengoku Basara noren to go on sale

Whenever it seems that Capcom has run out of strange things to brand with the Sengoku Basara characters, a new listing appears online to prove that there are always more merchandise opportunities out there. The latest preorder pages I've found are for four different traditional cotton noren curtains to brighten up homes across Japan. For ¥2,800 fans can choose between Masamune/Kojuurou, Yukimura/Sasuke, Motochika/Motonari or Ieyasu/Mitsunari designs.

Noren are actually surprisingly common when it comes to historically-themed merchandise. I remember that the souvenir shop at Shiroishi Castle had a wide range on offer decorated with Sengoku-era kamon crests and the livery associated with the Date family. You never know; loyal Sengoku Basara fans might have been waiting for these for a long time!

Anime News Network reviews Sengoku Basara -The Last Party-

While it's not as lengthy and difficult-to-read as my own article, Anime News Network has just posted an excellent review of the US Blu-ray/DVD release of Sengoku Basara -The Last Party-, the movie which ended the Sengoku Basara anime series. I recommend taking a look if you haven't tried the anime yet, especially as most western DVD reviews seem to miss the point of the Sengoku Basara world by a long way and end up moaning about the very things which make the series so great. Kudos to ANN for using a reviewer who understood what the anime was trying to do!

Sengoku Basara anime to be released on home video in Germany

It's been a while but it seems that Germany is finally going to get a localised home video release for the Sengoku Basara anime! I'm delighted for them; my own fandom today owes a lot to the German anime industry so it has a special place in my heart. Strangely, the cover artwork for the first season features Hanbee, who doesn't appear at all in those episodes. It would have been a more appropriate cover for season two.

Fans in Deutschland can preorder the DVD or Blu-ray editions now for €38.99 apiece. Both versions include a German dub and the Japanese language track with German subtitles. The anime has already been released in full in France (and partially in the UK) so I hope that the German release sells well and helps convince Production I.G. to animate more Sengoku Basara one day. This may be wishful thinking...

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

News: Basara Matsuri 2013 ~Haru No Jin~ DVD release details

I was surprised by a bulletin from the Sengoku Basara fan club this morning advising that the DVD version of March's event was now ready for preorder at the Basaraya shop. It's being made available to fan club members and eCapcom customers first of all; people who make their reservations between now and next Thursday can expect the DVD to be delivered on 10th July 2013. A second wave of preorders will then be delivered on 27th July 2013. 

The limited general DVD release will follow on 4th September 2013 from the usual Japanese hobby stores. Amiami have already created a discounted listing with impressive speed; Yesasia don't always stock the event DVDs so I recommend placing an order elsewhere to avoid disappointment. Fans who can't wait until September can use a proxy service to buy through eCapcom.

The full preorder announcement shows that the set's retail price is ¥5,800 and it will include the usual colour booklet. The show will be split across two discs, one for the Saturday event and the other for Sunday, along with some backstage footage. As usual, T.M. Revolution's live performance will not be included. I can't wait to relive the announcement of Sengoku Basara 4 with a better view of the stage..!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Today's acquisitions (17th June 2013)

I received some new shiny things in the post. There aren't many new Sengoku Basara items to buy at the moment so the blog is gradually becoming less biased...

This week all that arrived were two slightly older Miike Romuko doujinshi; one's a gorgeous illustration collection dedicated to Kojuurou with some bonus items.

Next to the doujinshi is a free Kuroko No Basuke charm from Yesasia. I had been hoping for Kise. Better luck next time?

Volume five of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure on Blu-ray joins the live action Rurouni Kenshin film in the middle row. Between them is the bonus THE UNLIMITED -The Memories Hyoubu Kyousuke- disc which accompanied volume 34 of the Zettai Karen Children manga; the manga itself is packed in an attractive special edition slipcase to hold both the book and the thinpak case.

Two CDs finish off the haul this week. The first is the Kakumeiki Valvrave opening song, Preserved Roses, featuring T.M.Revolution and Mizuki Nana's collaboration. I chose the CD+DVD edition which came with a thin bonus booklet.

The second CD is Hyoubu Kyousuke's old character CD single from Zettai Karen Children which I seriously overpaid to obtain. I'm sure it will be worth every penny!

Friday, 14 June 2013

News roundup: Takarazuka's Sengoku Basara begins, as does the countdown to Busho Matsuri

Takarazuka's Sengoku Basara musical begins its run

The brand new Sengoku Basara -Sanada Yukimura-hen- Takarazuka musical seems to have attracted the attention of some stars. There are often messages from anison singers at Sengoku Basara events and sure enough, Mizuki 'Aniki' Ichirou popped by for the final dress rehearsal today so he could tweet a picture of himself at the venue (prompting singer Kurosaki Maon to reply that she was jealous). Other celebrities who went to see the preview included Usami YuukiKaneda Shinichi and Kyan 'Kyan-Chi' Chiaki. Loyal Sengoku Basara fan and seiyuu Furukawa Toshio was back again with a mini-review; he mentioned seeing Han Megumi and a number of the seiyuu from the game series in attendance.

Those of us who aren't lucky enough to be Japanese celebrities on Capcom's special guest list can console ourselves with the first photographs from the performance. I've seen picture reports on the FamitsuMantan Web and Crank-In websites; Famitsu's coverage seems the best so far.

Update 16/06/2013: There are now more photo reports up at MyNavi, 4Gamer, Living, OtakumaGamer, TV Life and Takarazuka Journal. Some of those shots show that the story is going to be interesting!

Busho Matsuri details

With less than a month to go until our next scheduled Sengoku Basara 4 update, Capcom recently made a big update to the Busho Matsuri website to keep attendees informed. I'm going to take this opportunity to summarise everything we know about the event so far.

Event name: Butai Sengoku Basara Busho Matsuri 2013
Dates: Saturday 13th July 2013 (12:30, 18:00) and Sunday 14th July 2013 (12:30).
Venue: Ariake Coliseum, Tokyo
Stage play guests: Kubota Yuuki, Hosogai Kei, Hirose Yuusuke, Nakamura Seijirou, Yoshida Tomokazu, Murata Youjirou, Sakimoto Hiromi, Odai Ryouhei, Nakamura Kazuto, AKIRA, Chinen Sayaka, Masao, Beppu Ayumi, Shirakawa Yuujirou, Kotani Yoshikazu, Nitta Kenta, Katou Yasuhisa, Asakura Yuuta, Kawamura Yukie, Yashiro Minase, Taniguchi Masashi, Imai Yasuhiko, Takahashi Hikaru, Tsukamoto Takuya, Sakurada Kousei, Kubodera Akira and Tamaki Nami. Isaka Tatsuya will also appear for the Sunday show.
Seiyuu guests (Saturday 12:30 show): Ikeda Shuuichi (?)
Seiyuu guests (Saturday 18:00 show): Okiayu Ryoutarou (Toyotomi Hideyoshi), Seki Tomokazu (Ishida Mitsunari)
Other guests: Nishida Daisuke (stage play production), Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki (Sengoku Basara series producer)

Event schedule (subject to change):

Opening act
All of the stage play actors will participate in a thrilling opening act, just like those from Butai Sengoku Basara!

Daienkai corner
There will be a feast of party tricks from the stage play along with some brand new stunts.

Sengoku Basara 4 latest information corner
An introduction to the newest game featuring special seiyuu guests.

Special talk show 'Hinadan Basara'
All of the stage play warriors will be assembled as though on a hinadan (this is the special platform used to display dolls for Hinamatsuri in Japan).

Requested combat
A feature where the actors will perform fights on stage according to requests from fans. There should be some unusual character match-ups.

Autumn stage play information corner
Details will be announced for the next stage play run due for autumn 2013.

An 'ending party' with the 'magnificent' actors.

Naturally, each show will be different as most of the stage events are going to be relatively unscripted. Please also note that the word 'corner' doesn't mean a physical part of the event hall; it will be a stage presentation as usual.

We can expect the gaming press to be present at Busho Matsuri to report on the Sengoku Basara 4 announcements, which will probably include more clues about Ikeda Shuuichi's role in the game (or better yet, the name of the character he will play). Footage has been mentioned too, so perhaps we'll get a new teaser trailer on the official website the following Monday?

Fans are understandably eager to know why Mitsunari and Hideyoshi have been chosen as the seiyuu guests for the second performance so it's possible that there'll be a second wave of news later on Saturday evening. There are no guests at all listed for the Sengoku Basara 4 presentation on Sunday. It might be a simple recap of the details from the day before, or it could mean that there might be a surprise guest or two.

As exciting as Sengoku Basara 4 is, the new stage play information is likely to get a lot of attention in the press as well, particularly if they unveil the new actors for Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura. It's even possible that the replacement actors will be attending the event as surprise guests alongside Kubota Yuuki and Hosogai Kei.

There was another update on the Sengoku Basara website this week to reveal one of the items which attendees will be able to purchase at Busho Matsuri: Butai Sengoku Basara Photographs, a book collecting pictures from the history of the stage plays. I hope it will be made available at a later date for people who can't go to the event; it looks like a lovely memento and this is the first book of its kind for the series.

Capcom and Zoff team up for a new range of eyewear

Glasses company Zoff are collaborating with Sengoku Basara series once again, this time as part of Capcom's 30th anniversary celebration. A series of 'pixel art' style glasses are planned for release in the autumn featuring a number of Capcom titles, including Gyakuten Saiban, Sengoku Basara, Devil May Cry, Makaimura (Ghosts'n Goblins), Biohazard (Resident Evil) and Rockman (Megaman).

Zoff previously made the Sengoku Basara-inspired 'Datemegane' glasses themed around individual warriors from the series.

Sengoku Basara 3 Bloody Angel

We now have a cover for volume 5 of the Sengoku Basara 3 Bloody Angel manga I mentioned the other day. Itou Ryuu has produced another Mitsunari illustration to match the previous four books in the series. The listing on the e-Capcom store confirms the release date will be on 9th July 2013 and the price will be ¥580. Nothing has yet been announced about the other new Sengoku Basara books that have been silently listed for July.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Anime review: Psychic Squad (Zettai Karen Children) collection 2

I decided to watch the second Zettai Karen Children collection (retitled to Psychic Squad in the US) and ended up marathoning the entire set over the course of a weekend. This July 2012 release collects episodes 14 to 26 in a double-disc DVD collection for $49.98, though it can usually be found much more cheaply online. Extras are sponsor bumpers, creditless opening/ending videos and trailers for other Sentai Filmworks titles. The episodes here feature a brand new ending sequence. As before, the show is presented in the original Japanese with English subtitles; no American dub has been produced for Zettai Karen Children to date.

It's been a while since my review of the first collection. I mentioned the similarities to classic American titles like the X-Men before, and they're still present here. One of the most addictive aspects of Zettai Karen Children is that it recaptures the exact same excitement I felt reading those classic comics back in my early teens, without relying on the newer trends which have ended up ruining the big superhero stories for me. It's also much more consistent thanks to having just one creator instead of the rotating stable of writers and artists that the western comic industry uses on their mainstream titles. I've been waiting for a series like this for a long time.

With the introduction to the main cast more or less out of the way, this batch of episodes introduces a varied bunch of new characters. The majority of these form part of Hyoubu Kyousuke's organisation made up of renegade espers, P.A.N.D.R.A.

Fans of The Unlimited will be pleased to see some familiar faces as well as extra backstory for the characters who have already been introduced. One thing that the new espers seem to have in common is a more varied set of powers than those we'd seen previously. Magi's ability to use his hair as both wings and a weapon is awesome, as are the animal-inspired shapeshifting powers wielded by Inugami.

There has been an marked increase in the amount of 'equal opportunity' fan service since the series began. Along with the usual short skirts and skimpy tops sported by the female characters, the male leads get plenty of time to show off their flesh whenever possible too. This is sometimes done in parody - for example, any time the macho Muscle Ookama is on screen - but more often it seems to be aimed straight at the series' mixed audience. I'm not complaining, especially when Hyoubu is such a fantastic character.

My reviews are getting more fujoshi-centric...

Monday, 10 June 2013

News roundup: Information about the Takarazuka Revue's Sengoku Basara musical

KobaP is over in the US at the moment for the E3 event, making it unlikely we're going to get much Sengoku Basara news from Japan for the rest of the week (unless he announces something very surprising there for the western audience, which is doubtful).

Fortunately the fans back in Japan have something else to look forward to in the Takarazuka Revue's upcoming musical, finally due to debut on Saturday to a sellout audience. It's being staged by the Takarazuka's Hanagumi troupe between 15th June 2013 until 1st July 2013 at Shibuya's Tokyu Theatre Orb.

I realised that the reason I haven't seen much information about it is that the updates have been circulating in Takarazuka fan channels rather than Sengoku Basara ones, so I've done some digging and put together a full spread of what we know so far.

As a reminder, the official title of the musical is Sengoku Basara -Sanada Yukimura-hen-. Script and direction duties are being handled by Suzuki Kei (under the supervision of Capcom) and we now have a full cast list. Fans of the games might be surprised at the list of named characters - I've translated it all after the jump!

Anime review: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure volume 4

After the excitement of the third volume of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, I couldn't wait to watch the next one as soon as I took delivery of the Japanese Blu-ray edition. Volume four contains episodes ten to twelve, the start of the second major arc of the JoJo saga.

The Battle Tendency or Sentou Chouryuu arc shifts the story from 19th century Great Britain to the prewar USA. The Phantom Blood arc's Jonathan Joestar has now been replaced by his grandson Joseph, a feisty young man with a talent for attracting trouble and striking stylish poses for no reason. He also has a habit of performing mid-fight commentary to confuse his opponents.

Joseph's considerable charm is enhanced by the inspired decision to cast Sugita Tomokazu as his seiyuu. Sugita reels off the ridiculous dialogue with the perfect cocky self-confidence needed to make Joseph a memorable lead right from the outset; even though I've developed a strong resistance to wisecracking American youths over the years, it's hard not to root for the guy when he's so gung-ho! Joseph seems quite different to Jonathan, sharing only a similar fighting style and sense of personal honour. His grandfather's naïveté is nowhere to be found.

Although some other familiar faces soon appear to tie the new adventure in with the Phantom Blood arc, this is a different story and things swiftly move on to an all-new struggle.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

DVD review: Sengoku Basara 5-Shuunen ~Budoukan No Utage~

The fifth anniversary of Sengoku Basara was cause for considerable celebration; the landmark received a great deal of coverage even in the mainstream entertainment press. According to Capcom's press release at the time, Sengoku Basara 3 had sold more than 500,000 copies in Japan. Together with the warm reception to the anime and stage play spin-offs the series was showing no sign of losing its impetus.

Sengoku Basara Goshuunen ~Budoukan No Utage~ (Sengoku Basara Fifth Anniversary ~Budoukan Celebration~) was an event held at the famous Nippon Budoukan on Monday 3rd January 2011. Even with such a large venue there were two performances on that day, one in the afternoon and the other later in the evening. A rare post on the Capcom Europe blog mentioned that there were 16,000 attendees in total as well as reporters and officials. It's not surprising, then, that this has the most coverage online of all of the Sengoku Basara events. There's an excellent Livejournal post by user drkparadise which gives a summary of the event from the perspective of a member of the audience, and animercenary made a blog post with English translations for some of the content. Maybe this will mean my review will be more concise than usual.

The DVD version of the event was released on 5th August 2011 as a two-disc set costing ¥5,800. The first disc is filled with footage from the afternoon show and the second covers the evening; each disc has its own short compilation of backstage footage as well for a combined runtime of 246 minutes. As well as the two discs, the DVD case contains a 24-page colour booklet which is almost completely filled with photographs of the guests.

The list of seiyuu present for the celebration was generous:

News roundup: ANN podcast reveals the Sengoku Basara anime sold unspectacularly in the US, too

We should be getting some interesting news soon with the start of the Takarazuka Revue's musical run, but for now it's been rather quiet.

FUNimation talks about Sengoku Basara's DVD/Blu-ray sales in the US

In the interest of fairness, I am following up on my previous post about how poorly the Sengoku Basara anime performed in the UK with FUNimation's corresponding comments from the US courtesy of today's ANNCast interview. The question appears at around the 74:47 mark in the podcast and both representatives chipped in with the comments alternately.

"Basara did well for us I believe? We got the movie later on because the series did well enough. 

Basara has done fine, it hasn't blown the roof off the house...

Except for the movie!

The movie is good... I mean, it's an action show that is pretty warriors, fighting. So, is your target dudes? Not really! 

There's a lot of girl Basara fans out there. 

Oh yeah, have you seen the fanfic..? And the doujin for that stuff? You kinda know who your audience is. Dudes still like it but you know, there's the undertone of the ladies going 'oh yeah, fight, fight!'. 

I was under the impression that that was chiefly a fujoshi thing."

They then went on to say they initially thought that the Negima series was a bit hit with girls until they discovered that it only started performing well when they retargeted it towards male fans. Take that as you will. Oh well, at least there's no more anime for Sengoku Basara so its average sales can't harm the prospects of any future releases. They sounded a little disappointed that it hadn't taken off in a big way; I think it's sort of cool that the distributors take a personal interest in their shows (and apparently, in the fanfic those shows generate).

Press event at the Capcom Bar

Moving on, the menu at the Capcom Bar (as shown in my report here) is due for its latest renewal! I was a little sad to see the changes as it means I'll never be able to eat Kojuurou's delicious pasta again. A press event was held to announce the new dishes; full coverage (with photographs) is up on the GAME WatchFamitsu and 4Gamer websites.

The newest Sengoku Basara novel series arrives on shelves

The delayed new Kodansha BOX novel successfully met its new release date of 3rd June 2013. Sengoku Basara 3: Chousokabe Motochika No Shou ('Chousokabe Motochika Chapter') is the first in the 'second season' of the Sengoku Basara 3 novel adaptations and covers the story from the game.

Tatatsu Shinichi handles the writing while the illustrations are provided by Tsutsumi Yoshisada, the same team behind the earlier novel Sengoku Basara 3: Tokugawa Ieyasu No Shou. The book can be purchased from Amazon Japan and other major retailers for ¥1,575.

Separate volumes featuring Mouri Motonari, Sarutobi Sasuke and Katakura Kojuurou will be coming later.

More Sengoku Basara manga/books are on the way

The fifth compiled volume of Itou Ryuu's Sengoku Basara 3 Bloody Angel manga is coming up for release with a tentative date of July. No formal solicitation has been announced but listings have appeared on several online bookstores such as Honto and there have been some tweets advising fans to get ready to place their orders.

Skimming Amazon Japan, I noticed some other interesting listings had appeared. It looks as though the Sengoku Basara Comic Anthology 'Dategun Chronicle' manga from earlier this year is going to be joined by a Sengoku Basara Comic Anthology 'Takedagun Chronicle' compilation at the end of July priced at ¥893. With the second issue of Sengoku Basara Magazine having Yukimura on the cover, this summer is going to be great for fans of the Takeda army!

The upcoming Takarazuka musical will have a Yukimura theme as well, of course, and there's a new listing for a ¥1,000 mook titled Le Cinq Special Edition: Hanagumi Performance Sengoku Basara to go with it.

The last of the new listings I found is something I'd been wondering about for a while now! At the end of the Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory blog posts that I summarised on this blog last year, writer Yanagita Rikao mentioned that the series would be making the jump to print. Well, it looks as though the book is almost ready since a listing has appeared for Sengoku Basara Kagaku Kenkyuujo, dated to debut on 28th June 2013 at ¥1,155. It's described as having a few bonus chapters that weren't published on the Science Laboratory blog plus extra material (this is possibly the content from Kuusou Kagaku Dokuhon 11 where Sengoku Basara once appeared).

I'm hoping this means that Capcom is planning a big announcement soon to confirm all of the details and satisfy my hunger for more Sengoku Basara books.


To close the post, I want to draw attention to a fun new experiment by Japanese character goods shop Otaku Republic. They're bundling up items which have a similar theme at a reduced price - and they're taking suggestions on board! You can see their first few Sengoku Basara bundles at their Tumblr page here.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Blu-ray: Destroying the market for anime on home video

This entire post is a rant. Please skip to the next blog post if you don't like reading this kind of thing.

As the title is ambiguous I want to make it clear that this post is nothing to do with the way that splitting anime releases across two competing formats (DVD and Blu-ray) eats into anime sales. That's something the distributors have to deal with for themselves.

What I'm upset about is something completely avoidable which is killing my desire to buy new anime releases. As a collector, I find it disturbing to find myself skipping series I'd have collected a few years ago. It's not because of lack of interest on my part, nor is it due to streaming, piracy or cost. It's the fact that the anime industry as a whole has become so obsessed with controlling its audience that it's intent on making it as difficult as possible to support anime. The quirks of the Blu-ray format make it a powerful weapon in the anime home video industry's rush to self-destruction.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Today's acquisitions (5th June 2013)

I received a huge amount of new items this week after finally getting around to shipping my event purchases from May back to the UK. I've chosen the most innocuous picture first of all: my final order from the soon-to-be-closed Sengoku Basara fan club shop, Basaraya. I bought two sets of the Mame Sengoku Basara postcards and received a free clear file as a bonus (unfortunately, it's a duplicate of one I already had). The postcards are wonderful. Keiji looks the cutest so I'll probably pin him above my desk.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Nico Nico Douga: Attack On Basara

I've had this post sitting in my Drafts folder for a long time. There hasn't been much news to post recently and I've been too busy to finish off any of the reviews I've prepared, so it was convenient when I spotted that Nico Nico user Marimo had posted a splendid Miku Miku Dance remake of the Attack On Titan (Shingeki No Kyojin) opening video. Please enjoy watching Attack On Basara:

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Today's acquisitions (1st June 2013)

I'll slip a picture of my latest batch of shiny purchases in while there hasn't been much Sengoku Basara news to report recently. False rumours about an E3 appearance thanks to a French mistranslation of a Famitsu comment were the most exciting thing to surface since my last update.

Since that wouldn't make a very interesting post, here's what I have received recently instead.

The five doujinshi are heavy on comedy, just the way I like it.

I bought the two Crows Zero movies from MVM at last week's London Comic Con/MCM Expo event for £5 each on the assumption that you cannot go wrong with films about angry thugs. The Highschool Of The Dead OAV DVD 'Drifters Of The Dead' came from the same event; it's a pointless fan service episode with a weak PAL encode. It's still unavailable in the US so I decided it was worth the £5 Manga UK were asking at their stand. Fans who missed it at the event can still obtain it as part of the UK 2013 series sets (or separately from United Publications).

A shipment of US anime discs rounds off the pile of goodies. Aniplex Of America's Mikunopolis Blu-ray/CD set is gorgeous, as is Sentai's Dusk Maiden Of Amnesia (with two bonus CDs). The others have some flaws of varying severity which I should mention: Mysterious Girlfriend X is encoded with 1080i video, Natsuyuki Rendezvous is DVD-only, Colorful has a glitchy transfer and - far less severely - The Princess And The Pilot's otherwise-amazing box set has a noticeably pixellated picture on the disc itself.

It's not the end of the world - of all the places they had to screw up with a picture, the disc artwork is the most forgivable. I'm rather disappointed about the on-disc video problems with Colorful and Mysterious Girlfriend X, though. This is the true cost of cheap anime pricing in the western market.

Going back to The Princess And The Pilot, I hadn't noticed before how closely the designs resemble those in Evangelion. Matsubara Hidenori's work has flown under my radar for far too long; it was definitely a good move to go for the special edition release of this film.