Sunday, 4 August 2013

Manga review: Sengoku Basara 2 Burning Soul

Original edition
It's time for a blast from the past!

Sengoku Basara 2 Burning Soul was a short manga which was originally serialised in Capcom's Basara Style fanbooks. Created by Akutagawa Akira, the complete series of five chapters was compiled into a single 160-page book along with two bonus stories. This was published under the Capcom Comics label on 3rd July 2008, priced at ¥735.

A smaller bunkoban edition (pictured below) was released on 28th January 2010 costing ¥500. This version seems to be out of print now - however, the original edition is still available from import stores such as Yesasia or Amazon Japan.

My copy of the manga is the original edition so this is what my review is based upon.

As the title and cover artwork suggest, Sengoku Basara 2 Burning Soul is one of the rare Sengoku Basara manga which features Sanada Yukimura as the main character. The plot is simple, starting off with one of the usual inconclusive clashes between the Takeda and Uesugi forces. There's an interlude where Keiji pays a visit to Kai and comes face to face with the 'young tiger' in an explosive fight, then the focus shifts back to Kawanakajima once again.

This time, the Oda army shows up to disrupt the long-awaited decisive battle. Both Kenshin and Shingen are injured as a result of Nobunaga's intervention and Yukimura takes it upon himself to confront their attackers at Honnouji.

Sengoku Basara 2 Burning Soul portrays Yukimura as a mighty warrior who has earned Shingen's trust, commanding his own squad on the battlefield and devoting all of his free time to training. His naïveté in other areas is still in evidence, especially when he's talking to Keiji or failing to recognise a disguised Oyakata-sama. The manga incorporates all of the typically hot-blooded Basara charm, best exemplified by the moment Yukimura decides to jump off a galloping horse because running will be faster.

Although I adore Date Masamune, one of the strengths of this book is that the creator doesn't try to appeal to his fans by forcing him into the Takeda-themed story. Masamune, Kojuurou, Hisahide and 'Chou Hyokkoto Kamen' appear in the first of the two bonus stories, while the other is all about Sasuke and Kasuga spying on Ujimasa - and running into Kotarou. The ninja-style combat scenes are fantastic.

Bunkoban cover
Akutagawa Akira's artwork can best be described as 'dynamic'; there's a sense of motion in every single panel, from galloping horses to characters striking dramatic poses. Even the facial expressions are heavily exaggerated. This art style suits Yukimura's enthusiastic attitude perfectly.

Another hallmark of Sengoku Basara 2 Burning Soul is its liberal use of black ink. There's very little subtlety about the thick lines and heavy shading: everything has a rough, masculine feel as the hero hurtles across Japan. Backgrounds are simple - when they're drawn at all. Any available space tends to be filled with speed lines and twirling weapons.

I felt that the structure of the plot played out similarly to one of the paths in the Sengoku Basara games rather than telling a complex story of its own; it's as though you're battling through story mode one stage at a time. The dialogue is often very close to the character interactions shown in Sengoku Basara 2 as well.

Overall, Sengoku Basara 2 Burning Soul is an enjoyable read. It doesn't do much to expand the characters' backgrounds; instead providing an exciting look into Yukimura's world with an intensity not unlike that of Hirano Kouta's Drifters. This manga contains everything I love about the Takeda forces; it's classic Sengoku Basara 2.

5 comments:

  1. Unsurprisingly, this is one of my favorites... XD;; Oh Yukimura, only you can mix being cool and stupidly adorable like that.

    By the way, have you read any of the tie-in novels? (I looked through the tags and didn't see any, sorry if I missed them!) If yes, what do you think about them? I'm tentatively thinking about perhaps buying one, but I'm still not sure if they're worth it. I know I shouldn't expect anything great, but the thought of the novels having some fun character interaction I may miss elsewhere is tempting.

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    1. On the novels, I have only read the short sample of the first one (Cool & The Gang) which came in one of the Visual & Sound Books. The eventual plan is to get all of the Kodansha BOX books, but whenever I'm shopping they end up being skipped due to the plots sounding so similar to the routes in Sengoku Basara 3. Of course, they're long enough that there must be plenty of interesting descriptive content and dialogue there too...

      If you decide to pick them up and have any comments, it would be great to hear! Otherwise, I'll probably get them later on and devote a few weeks to reading the lot. I know that I won't be able to resist the Kojuurou book, even if it's just a couple of hundred pages of him telling Masamune off.

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    2. Thanks! It's weird that I haven't heard of anybody who has read them, I guess even in Japan most people think "whatever, I get more out of fanfics and doujinshi"... ^^;; The Amazon ratings are generally less than positive, too. Maybe I'll just pick one up at random and see how it is.

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    3. Thanks! It's weird that I haven't talked to anyone who actually read any of them... well, the ratings on Amazon aren't very encouraging. ^^;; Oh well - I think perhaps I'll just pick one up and see how it is. (Or wait for your reviews!)

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    4. Sorry about that, for some reason Blogger keeps thinking your comments are spam and hiding them. Nooo, I love receiving comments ヽ(;´д`)ノ

      I'll finish my weird Sengoku Basara archaeology project on the manga eventually and move on to the books!

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