Saturday, 24 August 2013

Manga review: Sengoku Basara Comic Anthology 'Takedagun Chronicle'

The 132-page Sengoku Basara Comic Anthology 'Takedagun Chronicle' was released by ASCII Media Works in the Dengeki Comics EX line on 31st July 2013. Priced at ¥850 (¥893 with taxes), it can be purchased from all good import book stores and manga specialists such as Yesasia, Amazon Japan or CD Japan.

Like the Dategun Chronicle anthology earlier in the year, this book is packed with light-hearted short stories themed around a particular faction from the Sengoku Basara series - in this case, the Takeda forces. Fans of Yukimura, Shingen or Sasuke are likely to be fully satisfied by the variety of content included. People who don't enjoy their antics should probably avoid this release...wait, do people who dislike the Takeda 'family' actually exist?

The list of contributors who worked on this anthology includes a mixture of Sengoku Basara veterans and doujinshi creators, meaning that there's a blend of different art styles on display. Satsuki You's striking red cover artwork paves the way for three more colour illustrations inside by artists Sasakura Kou, Hitaki and Yamada Uiro. A selection of short manga by the rest of the creators follow which I've summarised below. Samples of the chapters by Arai Karo, S. Kosugi, Akaboshi Tatsumi and Sorano were posted on the Dengeki Maoh website to demonstrate the variety on offer.

Shujuu No Kizuna ('The Bond Between A Master And Servant')
from Sengoku Basara 3 Utage
Arai Karo
Sasuke pops to Osaka Castle to pay the Western Army a visit now that Yukimura is considering joining them. When Yoshitsugu calls for help, Sasuke is surprised to find that Yukimura is already there at Mitsunari's side. Things go from bad to worse when his commander misreads the situation and thinks that his loyal ninja is an imposter sent by Ieyasu...

Taishou Fukkatsu!! ('The General, Revived!!')
from Sengoku Basara 3 Utage
S. Kosugi
Sasuke returns from a mission to find that Masamune has taken Ueda Castle. Yukimura needs a pep talk from the gravely-ill Oyakata-sama or all is lost - how will Sasuke handle this disastrous situation?

Danna To Tomodachi!! ('Friends With The Master!!')
from Sengoku Basara 2
Akaboshi Tatsumi
Yukimura is bitterly disappointed after going to fight Masamune and discovering he'd gone out fishing with Motochika instead. It's up to Sasuke to save the day (again) and mend his Danna's wounded feelings. The shots of the stupendously manly fishing trip happening elsewhere made me laugh helplessly.

Tashikana Kizuna ('Certain Bonds')
from Sengoku Basara 2
Asai Sai
A semi-heartwarming story about Sasuke reflecting on the bond between his masters and doing a little soul-searching. Of course, things don't stay serious for long.

Ima No Onore Ni Tarinumono ('That Which I Currently Lack')
from Sengoku Basara 3
Matsuba Hiro
As Yukimura devotes himself to training, he becomes dissatisfied with his progress and asks Sasuke to teach him one of his ninja techniques. When Sasuke respectfully declines the subject soon shifts to Yukimura learning a six-spear-style fighting technique instead.

Shingen, Hajimete Monogatari ('Shingen, The Very First Story')
from Sengoku Basara 3
Horiguchi Reo
Yukimura fusses over Shingen's illness, trying desperately to fall ill himself and ignoring all pleas to settle down. Unfortunately, it's said that a fool cannot catch a cold and he seems to be struggling. If that superstition is true there can only be one solution!

Kinsu No Susume ('Recommended Funds')
from Sengoku Basara 3
Nagao Uka
Yukimura needs to raise some money to win the Saika Shuu over to his side and unfortunately he's out of ideas. A quick tour of Japan is needed in order to find someone who can help.

Yamiagari No Tora ~Moutsui Ruuto~ ('Recuperating Tiger ~Hot Pursuit Route~')
from Sengoku Basara 3
Tane Jugou
Shingen suddenly feels better and follows Yukimura around protectively to make sure he's doing ok - ignoring Sasuke's mortification. His secret travels take him all the way to the Osaka sieges.

Oya Koukou ('Respect For A Parent')
from Sengoku Basara 2
Anzai Lennon
Oya Koukou refers to the deeply-ingrained tradition of making your parents proud by taking care of them and being an obedient, successful child. This story plays with the concept by introducing a slightly different version called 'Oyakata-sama Koukou'; in other words, being considerate towards Shingen rather than an actual parent. Yukimura decides to look after his beloved master, going so far as to personally cook him some of his favourite houtou to make him feel better.

Kaifuku No Tebiki ('A Guide To Recovery')
from Sengoku Basara Battle Heroes
Sanjou Kiiro
A truly bizarre story about Yukimura getting into a dreadful state and needing a full maintenance session from his troops (with some help from Date Masamune). Yukimura is 'censored' by pixels for most of the story so aside from his dialogue it hardly feels as though he's there.

Taichou To Yuku! ('Going With The Commander!')
from Sengoku Basara 2
Sorano
A collection of 4-koma gag strips about Sasuke fussing over Shingen and Yukimura and being fussed over in return.

Takeki Koto, Homura No Gotoku ('Ferocious, Like A Blaze')
from Sengoku Basara 3/Sengoku Basara 3 Utage
Hakyu Shou
More 4-koma comic strips, this time covering scenarios which appeared in the most recent games. Lots of characters appear - and nobody's dignity is spared.

Kage Ni Mimi Ari, Shinobi No Me Ari ('The Shadows Have Ears, The Eyes Of A Ninja')
from Sengoku Basara 3 Utage
Kohtake Hiroyoshi
The last of the three sets of 4-koma delivers another helping of observational Sengoku Basara 3 Utage comedy with a Sasuke theme.

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Overall, this book is a wonderful collection of silly, high-energy adventures. The quality of the work turned in by the various contributors was very high, making it a fitting tribute to the adorable Takeda dynamic.

Having said that, of the two books in the series so far I feel that the Dategun Chronicle was superior. Part of this was that it featured more of my favourite artists since I tend to follow fan art and doujinshi based on the Date army more closely. Here, a handful of stories were a little too silly and out of character for my taste. Another mark against the Takedagun Chronicle is that most of the stories are based on Sengoku Basara 3 and Sengoku Basara 3 Utage which means that Yukimura is often melancholy or vulnerable with the other warlords walking all over him. I preferred the way that the characters interacted in the earlier games, before Shingen fell ill and all but vanished from the storyline. It's unfair that the head of the Takeda forces misses out on most of the fights in a Takedagun-themed book.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed reading this anthology. The contributions from Arai, Akaboshi and the three sets of 4-koma strips were particularly enjoyable. Themed anthologies are an inspired way to avoid the problem of trying to cram too many characters into each book now that the cast has become so large - and while no further volumes have been announced for the series at the time of this review, I'm hoping we'll get to see a Toyotomigun Chronicle one day!

2 comments:

  1. I'm really tempted to buy this from hmv.co.jp now that I've read those summaries. XD I ended up buying a lot of the SenBasa manga a while back once I found out that I could get them shipped to the UK.

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    1. I find CD Japan can sometimes be cheaper for manga (depending on how much you plan on buying) since you can pick the best delivery method and they have quite a few available. I'm glad manga/books don't get hit by customs charges so it's easy to shop around. You should post a review if you decide to pick it up as well ^_^

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