Wednesday, 31 July 2013

News: Weekly Famitsu (1st August 2013) announces more Sengoku Basara 4 characters

This post has now been updated with all of the information from the magazine. If you're planning on buying it yourself, it's the issue dated 29th August 2013 but released on 1st August 2013 (magazine dates are always so confusing). The Sengoku Basara article is four pages long with no interview this time.

Firstly, the biggest news: Famitsu's article has confirmed Yamanaka Shikanosuke for Sengoku Basara 4 as a brand new playable character. Accompanying him will be returning Sengoku Basara 2 favourites Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Takenaka Hanbee.

An early scan of Shikanosuke has been posted on Twitter here (alternate angle).


Yamanaka Shikanosuke 山中鹿之介
Character image phrase: 明察麒麟 Meisatsu Kirin ('Insightful Kirin')
Seiyuu: Irino Miyu
Weapon: Renketsu konbou ('linked cudgels'). It's similar to a set of nunchaku, only crazier.
Playable: Yes
Description: A retainer of the Amago family. Shikanosuke is a boy who is travelling in search of Amago Haruhisa, Unfortunately, his detective skills haven't yet matured and he frequently leaps to the wrong conclusion. He's accompanied by a deer called 'Oyassan' (this is a Japanese way of addressing a middle-aged man).

Upon closer inspection of the additional piece of the magazine highlighting Shikanosuke's abilities, we can see him bowing deeply to Oyassan and riding on his back. Yet in other pictures, the deer is wearing Shikanosuke's armour and using techniques involving tossing him about like a weapon! The pair of them seem to have some more traditional combination attacks too. The Famitsu caption remarks that they seem to be bound by a deep master-student love, and adds that "together they have six legs which they can use to kick their enemies around"!

Shikanosuke's combat style is described as being based around normal attacks - which make full use of his linked cudgel weapons - combined with unique techniques involving Oyassan.

I took a peek back at Sengoku Basara 3 Utage to check Shikanosuke's bodyguard design. It wasn't anywhere near as worthwhile as looking back at Katsuie and Sakon, but I may as well include a picture.

Even as a simple bodyguard character his ties to Amago (and his sand theme) are clear. I noticed that the Sengoku Basara staff picked a different way to spell his name when they upgraded him to being a playable character - this is merely an interesting piece of trivia as there are numerous accepted kanji spellings for 'Shikanosuke'.

(Note: when his profile appeared on the website the quote was slightly different. So I have amended this post to include both.)

"Oyassan, I humbly don your antlers! The child prodigy pays a visit! Yamanaka Shikanosuke...tou~!"
"Oyassan, I humbly don your antlers! Yamanaka Shikanosuke, commencing the investigation!"

Unrelatedly, several Japanese fans are having fun at Shikanosuke's expense by comparing him to Sento-kun, the deer-themed mascot character of Nara.

--

Two more blurry pictures show the returning characters here and here (alternate, close up).


Toyotomi Hideyoshi 豊臣秀吉
Character image phrase: 裂界武帝 Rekkai Butei ('Military Emperor of a Torn World')
Seiyuu: Okiayu Ryoutarou
Weapon: None
Playable: Yes
Description: The supreme commander of the Toyotomi forces, throwing away the past for the sake of turning the turbulent land of Hinomoto into a mighty country. Able to sweep away a whole army with a single fist, he possesses overwhelming strength. Hideyoshi believes in power, and in that using that power to enrich the country.

"Whether it's in the past or in the future, there's nothing my fists can't take hold of and crush!"


Takenaka Hanbee 竹中半兵衛
Character image phrase: 蒼烈瞬躙 Souretsu Shunrin ('Blue Fury Darting Forwards')
Seiyuu: Ishida Akira
Weapon: Kansetsuken ('jointed sword'). It can be used as either a sword or a whip.
Playable: Yes
Description: Hanbee is the genius tactician who supports the Toyotomi army, and Hideyoshi's close friend. He hides his illness in order to help his friend turn the land of Hinomoto into a strong country during turbulent times - and for the sake of the future of the Toyotomi forces.

"Hah, my training is strict, you know? You'd better prepare yourself."

Hideyoshi and Hanbee are retaining their original fighting styles and voice actors (of course). I'm delighted beyond words to see that both will be playable characters.

This brings the total number of Sengoku Basara 4 characters to eight confirmed (with Kojuurou also announced, but not formally confirmed). And everyone except Yoshiteru is playable.


--

There are a few pieces of information about the battle system dotted around the magazine article which seem quite interesting. A new skill called a Giga Basara Waza ('Caricature Basara Technique') will be available when both characters have full gauges: the screen changes to monochrome, like an ink painting, and the number of hits greatly increases into uncharted territory. The range is said to be greater than that of a normal Basara technique. The magazine notes that using a Giga Basara Waza creates one of the magnificent Basara-e scenes I mentioned before and confirms that every warrior will have their own unique ink painting that can be used in the combinations. We can see Mitsunari's eagle, Masamune's dragon and what I assume is Kojuurou's moon at the end of the first gameplay trailer.

Indeed, one of the main themes of the article is working together with a comrade. There'll be a new system for fighting with your partner called stylish kyoutou ('team-up') action to let you direct them where to attack. Please note that this is not a confirmation of online play, so please don't think that it is - instead it's some kind of significant tactical enhancement for your bodyguard/ally, where you can direct them with a single button-press.

I mentioned the concept of ikkitousen ('one who can beat a thousand') before in the Dengeki Playstation article, and Famitsu takes it one step farther: "Rather than one who can beat a thousand, two who can beat a thousand!?".

The last piece of news is that Sengoku Basara has risen from 26th place in Famitsu's Most Wanted charts to 21st place. Hurrah!

--

Update 31/07/2013: KobaP has updated his blog to announce that this second batch of information will come out today (it's already 1st August in Japan) and that fans should check the official website soon. I'm assuming we should have the higher resolution pictures of the three new characters by the end of the week.
Update 01/08/2013: Managed to update earlier than expected.
Update 01/08/2013: Pictures from the magazine can now be viewed on Gamer, Dengeki and 4Gamer. And, as promised, on the official website. That was quick! I've decorated my post accordingly. The next official website update will be on 8th August when they open up the three new character pages.
Update 01/08/2013: A few people have spotted that the characters are fighting characters from Shimazu's forces in some of the screenshots, which bodes well for the return of Yoshihiro later on.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Manga review: Mame Sengoku Basara volume 2

Following straight on from where the first volume left off is the 126-page Mame Sengoku Basara 2 ('Bean Sengoku Basara 2'). This collection of the next ten chapters of Sumeragi's comical manga was released by ASCII Media Works back on 27th October 2012, priced at ¥780. It can be purchased from all good import book stores such as YesasiaAmazon Japan or CD Japan.

The ongoing plot about the Battle of Sekigahara takes a back seat in this volume as the focus drifts around Japan, with chapters devoted to seasonal staples such as hanami parties and the rainy season. We finally get to see what Mitsunari's western army has been up to as he and Yukimura go on several adventures together this time around, including a whole chapter devoted to their trip to meet Shimazu Yoshihiro.

With the series now up to twenty chapters in total, a few running gags have crept into the script like Ieyasu annoying his allies by spontaneously appearing and asking to stay at their castle. These moments poke fun at the characters' eccentric personalities, making the comedy much more charming.

It's not all completely light-hearted, however. In one story, Mame Sengoku Basara explains how the opening cinematic from Sengoku Basara 3 Utage might have happened - it turns out that Keiji arranged the whole thing to help Tsuruhime's sick friend Nagi enjoy a festival for the first time.

Later, in another chapter, there's a glimpse of how Ieyasu and Mitsunari both served together under Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Mitsunari's dismissiveness towards Ieyasu is funny to watch, especially when he's desperately trying to please Hanbee at the same time.

Sumeragi's impossibly-cute adaptation of the Sengoku Basara series shows no sign of losing its spark with this volume and I look forward to reviewing the next one as soon as possible. If I were to voice one very minor complaint it would be that a few characters such as Yoshiaki haven't had a proper chance to appear yet - I'd like to see him star in a story of his own soon to make up for his absence. Flashbacks to a time when Nobunaga's forces were still alive would also be greatly appreciated.

Given how many characters there are in the game series, there's definitely plenty of mileage left in the Mame Sengoku Basara formula. May it continue running for many years to come.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Thoughts on why we're probably not getting an English version of Sengoku Basara 4

"I can't wait until it comes out in English!"
"I hope this comes out in the US!"
"I'm gonna get this game as soon as it comes out here!"

Comments like these seem to crop up wherever the new Sengoku Basara 4 trailer is shown. Every time, someone has to break it to the eager fan that the game probably won't be coming to the west, and every time there's surprise and disappointment in their response. It's heartbreaking.

It often feels as though the English-speaking Sengoku Basara community is its own worst enemy. It's necessary to click the following link to read the rest of this post since it's not something everyone wants to hear.

News roundup: Sengoku Basara Magazine issue 2 finally available for preorder

Capcom celebrates three years of Sengoku Basara 3

There have been a lot of anniversaries lately, and indeed today marks the third anniversary since Sengoku Basara 3 was originally released in Japan. Capcom has produced commemorative wallpapers of Ieyasu and Mitsunari to celebrate this milestone, reminding fans that the Sengoku Basara 3 world continues to expand through the stage plays, manga adaptations and novels.


Sengoku Basara Magazine issue 2 can now be preordered

At last! Preorders for Sengoku Basara Magazine issue 2 opened late last week so I've been able to stop visiting shopping websites every day to check. So far, the most foreigner-friendly sources seem to be Amazon Japan and Manga Oh; the magazine should appear on more sites in the next week. The first issue sold out quite quickly so please don't hesitate if you want to reserve a copy of your own.

Preview of the new Sengoku Basara Comic Anthology 'Takedagun Chronicle'

Dengeki have posted some last details about the newest Sengoku Basara manga anthology which went on sale in Japan this week, including previews of Shujuu No Kizuna ('The Bond Between A Master And Servant') by Arai Karo, Taishou Fukkatsu!! ('The General's Revival!!') by S. Kosugi, Danna To Tomodachi!! ('Master And Friends!!') by Akaboshi Tatsumi and Taichou To Yuku! ('Follow The Commander!') by Sorano. A sample of two chapters will be published in the September issue of Dengeki Maoh.

The full list of contributing artists in the order they'll appear is Satsuki Yuu, Sasakura Kou, Hitaki, Yamada Uiro, Arai Karo, S. Kosugi, Akaboshi Tatsumi, Asaisai, Matsuba Hiro, Horiguchi Leo, Nagao Uka, Tane Jugou, Anzai Lennon, Sanjou Kiiro, Sorano, Hakyu Shou and Kohtake Hiroyoshi - I've tried to use their preferred romanisation where possible. The roster is packed with artists who have contributed to previous Sengoku Basara anthologies or worked on doujinshi for the series.

Details of a special compilation album to celebrate Capcom's 30th anniversary

Capcom celebrated their 30th anniversary back on 11th June this year and now the official e-Capcom shop has listed a Capcom 30th Anniversary Music Best: Original & Arrange album for release on 25th September 2013. It will be priced at ¥3,000 and include a 16-page booklet.

The album is split across two CDs, the first of which is an 'original' disc featuring forty popular tracks from Vulgus, Makaimura (Ghosts'n Goblins), Rockman (Megaman), Street Fighter II, Rockman X (Megaman X), Gyakuten Saiban (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney), Monster Hunter, Sengoku Basara, Okami and Dragon's Dogma.

The second 'arrange' disc will be the more interesting, giving ten popular artists a chance to rearrange famous Capcom songs in their own styles. The contributors are going to be DJ KN, ARM (IOSYS), Tetsu x Neko, REDALiCE, Deadball-P, OSTER project, sasakure.UK, SOUND HOLIC, Sakamoto Kyouju and SWING HOLIC. Details of which tracks they're going to be working on will be announced at a later date.

I hope the album receives a wider release so that I can check it out this September!

Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage Two official tour announced

There was a short news bulletin this morning to confirm that JTB are going to host their usual official tour for the next Sengoku Basara stage play this autumn incorporating hotel accommodation, tickets to the play and 'special perks'. Full details will be available on Friday 2nd August 2013.

Sengoku Basara -The Last Party- is coming to the UK

I completely forgot to mention this at the time, but Manga UK recently announced that the Sengoku Basara -The Last Party- movie will be getting a UK home video release next year to complete the series. I imagine that most fans have already imported their copy from the US (especially after the second season of the anime was only released on DVD and with missing content in this country). However, it's a fun movie and I'm sure new fans will have life-altering experiences watching it for years to come. Preorder listings are available on Amazon UK for the Blu-ray and DVD. Both versions are scheduled for release on 4th November 2013.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Event report: Hyper Japan 2013

Yesterday, I popped into London to spend a few hours at this year's Hyper Japan exhibition. The event is being held between 26th and 28th July this year to celebrate the usual blend of Japanese traditions and pop culture.

My group had purchased 'fast track' tickets in advance this time, which gave us the right to join a much smaller queue and enter as soon as the doors opened at 9:30 on Saturday morning. Separate queues had already formed for general entry and for last minute customers who wanted to buy tickets on the day.

I cannot praise the organisers highly enough for how well they managed the entry system. Unlike with MCM Expo events, where buying an early ticket means you'll probably be trapped in an airless hall for an eternity waiting to be allowed in, Hyper Japan started precisely on time and we were through the doors within minutes. They even had large posters on display showing the timing for the various stage events that were running throughout the weekend, making it easy to plan activities without having to ask the staff what was going on.

The venue for Hyper Japan has moved around the corner to the large Earls Court Two building. The event actually felt slightly smaller than last year's Christmas show in spite of the bigger hall; there seemed to be fewer exhibitors and celebrities overall. Still, the large hall meant there was plenty of space around the stages. Walking around the booths was pleasantly cool in comparison to the heatwave outside.

Earls Court Two in late July
The first order of business was to enjoy a light brunch before the food court became too busy later on. My friends all went with various types of donburi; I chose a tasty pumpkin croquette set. Other options included takoyaki, taiyaki, okonomiyaki, ramen, yakisoba, sushi, dorayaki, ice cream and shaved ice (kakigoori). The venue's cafes were also selling the usual sandwiches and coffees for the benefit of visitors who weren't interested in Japanese food.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

News roundup: KobaP at Capcom's Summer Festival, new release dates and more

Though there's nothing new about Sengoku Basara 4 to report, in other areas this has been one of the busiest weeks in recent memory when it comes to news updates! I'll try to summarise everything I've heard over the last few days.

KobaP to appear at Capcom's Summer Festival

It was quietly announced this morning that Sengoku Basara producer Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki will be appearing at Capcom's Summer Festival in Huis Ten Bosch event on 4th August 2013. Huis Ten Bosch is a resort near Nagasaki known for its unique anime and game attractions; it's been known for a while that they'd be hosting the Capcom event but up until now there was no Sengoku Basara presence to report on. KobaP will be presenting a talk show and signing mini Sengoku Basara 4 posters for the fifty lucky fans who win the chance to attend via lottery.

New Sengoku Basara 3 novel to be released at the end of the month

Artist Tsutsumi Yoshisada confirmed this week that the new Sengoku Basara 3 x Kodansha BOX novel will be penned by Kagami Seiji. It's planned for release on 30th July 2013, and as previously advertised the title will be Sengoku Basara 3: Mouri Motonari No Shou ('Mouri Motonari Chapter'). This will be the second book in the current 'season' of the novel adaptations, and the sixth overall created for the Kodansha BOX project.


Next Sengoku Basara stage play to include Hanbee, Ujimasa and Itsuki

The official website for Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage Two (Kyouou Tanjou x Shinen No Utage) has been updated today to announce three new cast members. Joining the roster from my previous post will be Takenaka Hanbee (Kawasumi Bishin), Houjou Ujimasa (Yamamoto Kenji) and Itsuki (Sakai Ran). Hanbee has been recast with a brand new actor while Ujimasa and Itsuki have never appeared in the stage play series before. It's a relief to see that Hideyoshi isn't being separated from his loyal companion after all; I'd been starting to worry!

Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage stage play DVD to be released earlier than planned

Although I previously reported the news that the DVD recording of Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage would be available in late September 2013, the official website has now announced that the release date has changed to 31st August 2013. That's a whole month earlier than expected!

The special edition has long been sold out in Japan leaving only the ¥6,000 standard edition available directly from the Dais Shop. The listings have also gone up on more foreigner-friendly websites this week: although Amiami is sold out of the special edition, Yesasia still seem to think they can get hold of it.

Second chance to buy rare Busho Matsuri merchandise

Fans of new Sengoku Basara 4 characters Shima Sakon and Shibata Katsuie might be pleased to learn that e-Capcom is now selling the set of special stick posters released at the Butai Sengoku Basara Bushou Matsuri event. There will be a limited number of sets available so eager fans are advised to place their orders quickly.


Takarazuka Revue's Sengoku Basara -Sanada Yukimura-hen- soundtrack is available on iTunes

The whole album can be purchased on iTunes for a bargain price of ¥1,500. I'm going to resist until I can see the show for myself; hopefully a CD will be announced by then as a physical copy would be even better.

Inside Games reviews Sengoku Basara Tougun BEST/Seigun BEST CDs

Remember the Sengoku Basara Tougun BEST (Sengoku Basara Eastern Army BEST) and Sengoku Basara Seigun BEST (Sengoku Basara Western Army BEST) soundtrack CDs which came out back in April? Japanese website Inside Games suddenly decided to post a review of them both this week. If you've never played any of the Sengoku Basara mobile games, the sample pictures might be of interest - and the CDs are good too, of course.

Mame Sengoku Basara at Animate Ikebukuro

Between 26th July and 31st August, the main Animate store in Ikebukuro is hosting a special Sengoku Basara merchandise area to promote the new Mame Sengoku Basara goods (decorative card jackets, mugs, bookmarks and mouse pads). Customers who spend over ¥1,000 on Sengoku Basara items during the promotion period will receive an exclusive Mame Sengoku Basara card with their purchase. There are four randomly-selected cards to collect.


(Old news) Butai Sengoku Basara actors on Sengoku Nabe TV

Although Sengoku Nabe TV did once feature at Basara Matsuri, this next story has very little to do with Sengoku Basara itself; it's probably only of interest to fans of the stage play actors. It seems that actors Yoshida Tomokazu (Katakura Kojuurou) and Nakamura Seijirou (Ishida Mitsunari) once appeared in the historically-themed variety show's recurring Osaka Highschool: Koukou Yotarou Bakushin Road skit. The skit reimagined the famous historical Osaka campaigns as battles between a bunch of stereotypical high school thugs. Yoshida played Oono Harunaga while Nakamura had the coveted role of Sanada Yukimura.


The reason that this has come up is that the episodes in question are being re-broadcast at the moment in Japan and of course, the actors are now much more well-known amongst Sengoku Basara fans than they were at the time. I'd seen some of the skits myself without ever making the connection!

While I'm on the subject of the stage play actors appearing in unexpected places, the last piece of news for today is that the stage play's original Date Masamune, Kubota Yuuki, will have a major role in the new Kamen Rider Gaim tokusatsu series. There's going to be a samurai theme to the show so Twitter is ablaze with remarks about the auspicious casting decision. 

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Manga review: Mame Sengoku Basara volume 1

The first 119-page volume of the Mame Sengoku Basara ('Bean Sengoku Basara') manga was released by ASCII Media Works back on 27th June 2012. Priced at ¥780, it can be purchased from all good import book stores such as YesasiaAmazon Japan or CD Japan.

The super deformed Mini Sengoku Basara Two manga series ended its run back in 2011 after two volumes and the team behind it started work on a brand new title, Mame Sengoku Basara. With composition by Katou Youichi and editorial supervision by Capcom, artist Sumeragi redesigned the characters  to be even cuter than before in the new 'mame' style.

Sumeragi's illustrations have proven very popular; they've been used to promote the official fan club in Japan as well as earning their own special lines of merchandise. The main Mame Sengoku Basara series is serialised monthly in Dengeki Maoh magazine (and occasionally in Capcom's own anthology Capbon). In addition, spin-off stories (shucchouban) are published seasonally as part of Sengoku Basara Magazine. Samples of the very first chapter of the manga can be viewed on Dengeki's website so that fans can see how the returning characters look with the new designs.

Although Mame Sengoku Basara started running immediately after Mini Sengoku Basara Two finished there is no link between the two series. The only similarity between this and the creator's previous work is the extremely cute presentation; Mini Sengoku Basara Two was based on the anime continuity while Mame Sengoku Basara draws its setting straight from the Sengoku Basara 3 (Sengoku Basara Samurai Heroes) and Sengoku Basara 3 Utage games. Consequently there are a number of contradictions to be found if you compare the series to its predecessor - but that doesn't matter too much. The ongoing plot isn't the main attraction in Mame Sengoku Basara.

Ten chapters are included in this first volume, telling a simplified version of the events from Sengoku Basara 3 starting with Hideyoshi's defeat. Ieyasu and Mitsunari spend most of these chapters rushing around Japan to form alliances and prepare their respective armies for the future Battle Of Sekigahara.

Along the way, we get to see the other characters getting caught up in all kinds of adventures. Sourin steals the show most of the time, nearly getting away with baptising Kojuurou 'Vegetable Katakura' and later trying to set up a boy band fronted by 'Lovers Naoe' to help him preach his faith. Watching Sourin ordering Hisahide around without any concern for what might happen had me in stitches.

An impressive number of cameos are included, giving almost every warrior who appeared in Sengoku Basara 3 a chance to appear. Perhaps the older characters will be able to have their time in the spotlight as well later on.

Mame Sengoku Basara is a great title for foreign fans of the series. Its adorable artwork means that even people who can't understand the dialogue will be able to enjoy seeing their favourite characters reimagined in a different style, and the simple plot coupled with generous use of furigana makes it ideal for language students wanting to dabble in a raw Japanese manga. The series continues to run monthly in Dengeki Maoh with three collected volumes having been published to date, so we'll continue to see more Mame Sengoku Basara for some time to come.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

DVD review: Sengoku Basara FES. 2010 (Ao No Jin/Aka No Jin)

Today is a very special day, making the eighth anniversary of the very first Sengoku Basara game's release back on 21st July 2005. It seems like a good excuse to post a new review!

Sengoku Basara FES. 2010 was held on 21st February 2010 at the Yokohama Pacifico convention centre. According to the official website, the venue has a maximum seating capacity of 5,002 and tickets for the event sold out in advance. Sengoku Basara FES was unusual in that it was based on the anime series rather than the original games; as a result, it was covered by a much wider variety of news outlets than the usual Basara Matsuri gatherings. I recommend the reports from ZakzakAnimeAnimeFamitsuGame Watch and Animate if you're looking for photographs.

A ¥6,800 double-disc DVD set was given a limited release on 28th May 2010 for the benefit of all of the fans who couldn't make it to the event in person. It's still available directly from Pony Canyon, though foreign buyers might find it easier to look for used copies at specialist retailers or through Amazon Japan marketplace sellers. The event was split across two separate performances: an afternoon show themed around Sanada Yukimura titled Aka No Jin "Tenha Zessou!" and an evening show for Date Masamune called Ao No Jin "'Let's Party!". The official trailer for the DVD can be watched at this link.

The DVD package is barebones for a Japanese release. There's no printed chapter guide, just some small pictures from the event on the back cover of the case and a tiny list of the guests. To make up for the lack of a proper insert the first press edition came with a pair of photographs showing all of the seiyuu who appeared at each performance. Although the packaging feels cheap, the amount of content on the discs makes this DVD set a bargain for its price.

The event itself had strange timing; Sengoku Basara 3 and the second season of the anime had both been announced the year before but neither was due for release until the summer, so fans were patiently waiting for these two huge projects to come to fruition. Basara Matsuri 2010 ~Haru No Jin~ would take place a few months later, so Sengoku Basara FES. 2010 mostly ignored the game series and side projects in favour of being a party for the fans of the anime adaptation. The result was a unique event which gave more attention to the seiyuu guests.

The full list of seiyuu at the event was as follows:

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Streaming: Summer 2013 anime first impressions

The spring 2013 anime season was a pleasant one, and as we head into summer it's hard not to notice that my schedule is beginning to look rather cramped. This is despite the US streaming companies having locked away several titles I'd have liked to have access to from the UK, too.

Crunchyroll have even gone the extra mile and picked up Kaiji for their catalogue, a series fans have been demanding for years. In stark contrast, Anime On Demand haven't said a word since the beginning of the year and their spring shows still hadn't ended at the time of making this post. The only other service with a UK presence this time is Daisuki and they caught my attention by making the second season of NisiOisiN's Monogatari series their first simulcast.

This post is a little later than I'd have liked, and it's not entirely because my blog has been inundated with Sengoku Basara 4 news recently. After enduring some painful technical problems with certain episodes on Crunchyroll (apparently caused by some changes behind the scenes at their end), I also fell victim to a problem where Daisuki's geolocation service suddenly decided that I was based in another country, blocking me from all of the Aniplex streams on the site. The Daisuki problem still hasn't been resolved at the time of typing and I've consequently been unable to keep up with their new content. I eventually decided that I should post my first impressions without them instead of continuing to wait.

It's a credit to the customer service teams behind Daisuki and Crunchyroll that both responded quickly to the issues I reported. Compared to those two companies, Anime On Demand's lack of engagement is an unprofessional embarrassment.

Anyway, here's an outline of what I think about the season's anime offerings so far.

One of many classic moments from FREE!

Friday, 19 July 2013

News roundup: First Sengoku Basara 4 gameplay video now available

Capcom updates the Sengoku Basara 4 website

Just as promised, Capcom updated the official Sengoku Basara 4 website today with voice samples for Shima Sakon (Nakamura Yuuichi) and Shibata Katsuie (Okamoto Nobuhiko). They sound very close to the way I'd imagined based on the information we had so far; Katsuie's voice is pretty sinister!

Accompanying the voice samples is the brand new Sengoku Basara 4 preview video (direct YouTube link) which was shown for the first time on Saturday at the Busho Matsuri live event. A lot of the content is covered in my previous post thanks to reports from the fans who were able to attend the event in person but that doesn't compare with the experience of being able to see the game running for the first time.


If I was excited about the game before, it pales in comparison to my joy at seeing the characters fighting and speaking together like this.

Famitsu has posted a character summary today to round up some of the details we have so far.

This should be the last of the updates for these characters for the time being, meaning that we may start getting hints about the next round of character announcements soon. While I'd like to see Kojuurou and Hideyoshi have their roles confirmed to make it less confusing, worried fans are understandably praying for Yukimura, Ieyasu and Nagamasa to appear soon. The two missing fan favourites and a proper announcement for Hideyoshi would probably be a good solution for now. If Nagamasa returns, he deserves to headline an announcement so he isn't lost in the commotion which follows the more popular characters.

Edit 20/07/2013: The promotional video is now available with unofficial English and German subtitles. The Captions feature lets you add white subtitles if the default ones are too dark.

A look back at Shima Sakon and Shibata Katsuie back in Sengoku Basara 3

This isn't actually news; to celebrate the new video I decided to take a look at how Sakon and Katsuie appeared back in the Sengoku Basara 3 era. Obviously, their designs were as simple as all of the other minor enemy commanders but as soon as I first saw Sakon's knee guards I remembered his kabuto from the previous game and wanted to see it again. Reading YamamotoD's comment about the knee guards this week made it seem like a good excuse to pick up my copy of Utage again for a quick run through Osaka Castle!

Of course, both characters are available as non-playable bodyguards (or allies, if you prefer) in the game, so there's no need to go and find them in battle. It was hard enough taking pictures using a mobile phone so I settled for the bodyguard versions. First are their portraits and shots of Sakon showing off that magnificent kabuto helmet. He wears Mitsunari's family crest on his back.


Here is Katsuie, front and back. His kabuto looks very similar to the way it does in Sengoku Basara 4 though his kamon decoration is arranged differently.


Even though they're not that unique, I enjoy the little details that Capcom took the time to add to the non-playable allies throughout the history of the series. It makes them a little more memorable than simple enemy grunts.

New Sengoku Basara travel CD to be released in September

It's been a very long time since the last Sengoku Basara CD that wasn't a soundtrack or compilation - if you don't count bonus CDs packed in with other items, I think the last was a radio digest CD back in March 2012. That's soon set to change with Frontier Works' brand new release of Burari, Bushou Futaritabi ~Kyouto-hen~ ('Two Warriors Travel Together, Casually ~Kyoto Edition~') which will be released on 25th September 2013 for a pricey ¥2,625.

The CD content is said to be a guide to the local area ('gotouchi annai'), involving Morita Masakazu (Maeda Keiji) and Morikawa Toshiyuki (Katakura Kojuurou) guiding the listener around the famous sights of Kyoto. There will be a special pre-release event at the Sengoku Basara booth at Kyomaf on the 7th September and further details will be announced at a later date.

I'm surprised that this CD is so expensive (the previous series of four travel CDs was priced very low at ¥2,100 per disc). The Amazon listing suggests that this is still just one disc, so perhaps there'll be a more luxurious booklet to go with it than usual? It sounds as though it will be the first volume in a new series of tourism CDs if all goes well. Morita is a natural choice for a disc covering the Kyoto area given Keiji's links to the area in the games, and even though the Kojuurou link is less obvious it makes sense when you consider how well Morita and Morikawa worked together as a team on the old Sengoku Basara radio shows. The Kyomaf event is looking more and more interesting.

Sengoku Basara 4 debuts in Famitsu's Most Wanted charts

This week, Sengoku Basara 4 appeared in 26th position in Famitsu's regular list of the most-anticipated new gaming titles. Hopefully we'll see it climb the rankings as interest in the game increases.

Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory book sells out within a month of release

The print collection of the Sengoku Basara Kagaku Kenkyuujo ('Sengoku Basara Science Laboratory') articles has sold out online just a few weeks after it was released back in June. I'm guessing it had a very small print run; hopefully there'll be a second batch produced soon!

Sengoku Basara 2 and Sengoku Basara 2 Eiyuu Gaiden (Heroes) now on PSN

It seems that Capcom has recently made two older games in the series available on PS3 for Playstation Network customers in Japan (or those of us based overseas who don't mind being a little sneaky). It's an odd move; both were rereleased in the Sengoku Basara HD Collection pack last year with various extras and improvements. I suppose if your Blu-ray drive is broken or you don't want the additional features, this is a handy way to gain access to the most beloved of the older games for a reasonable price. Perhaps some PS3 owners who don't venture into game shops often will discover the series for the first time?

Kubota Yuuki reminisces over Butai Sengoku Basara

Now that he's graduated from his role as Date Masamune in Butai Sengoku Basara, actor Kubota Yuuki has taken the time to post a blog entry giving an overview of his experiences since he joined the original stage play. It's a nice way to sum up the last few years.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Today's acquisitions (17th July 2013)

It's nice when a lot of orders come through the letterbox around the same time.

My copy of Dengeki Playstation finally arrived, so I'll be updating my post about it properly overnight to confirm the rumours that the Japanese fans posted. Even though there wasn't much in there that hadn't already been reported, I'm happy to have the issue with Sengoku Basara 4 on the cover as a memento!


That's not all. The early release of the Basara Matsuri 2013 ~Haru No Jin~ DVD was delivered from the fan club shop, accompanied by a free randomly-packed Kaikatsu Club clear file as part of their giveaway campaign. I was absolutely thrilled to discovered that it was the Masamune/Kojuurou one this time! I only need one more to complete the set (Motonari/Motochika) - it seems unlikely that this will happen with the fan club shop closing down soon. They must have seriously overproduced the files if they're still giving them away. Anyway, I'm just happy to have a larger version of that lovely illustration of Kojuurou.

The double-disc soundtrack to The Unlimited -Hyoubu Kyousuke- joins the Sengoku Basara items along with the second LE Blu-ray disc, which comes with Magi's character single as a bonus item. It's going in my CD drive the moment I finish typing up this blog post.

Also pictured are some doujinshi and the terrifyingly pink Nyanko-sensei charm which Yesasia threw in with my The Unlimited discs.

I suppose I'd better finish revising that Dengeki Playstation post now!

Monday, 15 July 2013

News roundup: Busho Matsuri 2013 goods on sale, voting results revealed

Now that the Butai Sengoku Basara Bushou Matsuri 2013 stage event has finished there are a few remaining pieces of information to report on.

Voting results for the stage play's 'requested combat' event

One of the attractions at Busho Matsuri was a series of 'requested combat' battles decided by fan voting - attendees at the last stage play, Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage, were given the chance to nominate their favourite match-ups to see them performed on stage. The full results of the vote have now been posted online so we can see what other possibilities there were; it seems that battles which have never happened in the stage play are popular along with a few classics. Characters played by actors not scheduled to appear at the event would not have qualified.

The numbers in brackets are the total number of votes received for that combination.

1. Masamune vs Yukimura (838)
2. Masamune vs Kojuurou (746)
3. Ieyasu vs Mitsunari (652)
4. Yukimura vs Sasuke (565)
5. Tenkai vs Akechi Mitsuhide (512) - eh, this one is impossible!
6. Kojuurou vs Sasuke (414)
7. Hanbee vs Motonari (371)
8. Masamune vs Mitsunari (366)
9. Mitsunari vs Hanbee (293)
10. Keiji vs Magoichi (276)
11. Mitsunari vs Hideyoshi (257)
12. Hanbee vs Kanbee (209)
13. Masamune vs Sasuke (191)
14. Ieyasu vs Hideyoshi (175)
15. Sasuke vs Kotarou (174)
16. Hideyoshi vs Nobunaga (148)
17. Motonari vs Sourin (147)
18. Mitsunari vs Yoshitsugu (144)
19. Yukimura vs Mitsunari (133)
20. Nobunaga vs Oichi (127)
21. Tsuruhime vs Kotarou (120)
22. Mitsunari vs Kotarou (103)

I've put the ones which were performed at the weekend's event in bold. Perhaps some of the others will be incorporated into the next stage play's plot?

Busho Matsuri merchandise now on sale

The Dais Shop updated today with some of the merchandise from the Busho Matsuri 2013 event. Of particular note is the DVD preorder listing scheduled for November 2013 as previously reported. The 'Butai Sengoku Basara Bushou Matsuri 2013 DVD' will cost ¥6,000. The remaining event goods seem to be selling out briskly, though the lovely new photograph book is still available at the time of posting.

--

The next major update, unless this week's magazines have some information, will be via the official Sengoku Basara 4 website, scheduled for this Friday (19th July 2013). We should expect to see the promotional video shown at Busho Matsuri as well as voice samples for Shibata Katsuie and Shima Sakon.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Rumours and misunderstandings: Sengoku Basara 4

As I travel around the Internet I've seen a few signs that fans are setting themselves up for potential disappointments when assumptions that have been taken as fact aren't met when the game is released. It's certainly possible the rumours are true, but until an official source confirms them as fact they should never be treated as anything other than fan gossip - and I mean an official Japanese source. Many of the big English-language gaming websites have been posting fan gossip and mistranslations as fact without making corrections when notified.

I don't want Capcom to be blamed later on for not fulfilling expectations that fans inadvertently made up themselves, so this post is to collect and debunk those rumours. Let's ensure that we keep our expectations in check!

Rumours are in bold.

The game is set during the Muromachi period (or otherwise before the Sengoku period).

This is how the early news releases have been incorrectly translated by a lot of gaming websites. It is simply untrue: even the game's producer KobaP has gone out of his way to clearly, unambiguously confirm that the game starts at the end of the Muromachi period and covers the Sengoku period. This is still Sengoku Basara.

The game is a prequel.

It's an alternate retelling, starting from the beginning. This doesn't mean we'll see earlier versions of all the characters, and nor does it mean we will/won't see any particular characters based on the years they were historically active in the real world. The parallel universe explanation means that the game is free to cover events from all across the Sengoku period.

Sengoku Basara 4 has a confirmed release date.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Rumours from the Busho Matsuri 2013 event

The first of the three Butai Sengoku Basara Bushou Matsuri 2013 performances finished a short while ago, and as people come flooding out of the venue some are taking the time to update Twitter and 2ch with the news that was revealed for the benefit of those who couldn't be there. The event's name is officially abbreviated to Busho Matsuri in English so I'll be doing the same.

Everything in this post is an unsubstantiated rumour until Capcom updates their website or the press publish their event reports - probably tomorrow. I'm going to collect the rumours which are appearing most frequently as they're most likely to be true.

(Update: The final performance has now taken place, so the only further additions I'll make to this post will be to add more press reports as they appear online. We should get more information in the next few days when Capcom updates.)


Firstly, stage play information (that's the main focus of Busho Matsuri, after all). This is all now confirmed with the launch of the official website.
  • The next stage play will be Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage Two. A sequel to the last one! 
  • The stage play is a double feature: Kyouou Tanjou x Shinen No Utage ('The Birth Of The Dark King x Feast Of The Abyss'). The website went live immediately after the first performance.
  • It will run from the 1st November 2013 in Tokyo (Tokyo Dome City Hall), Nagoya (Chuunichi Theatre) and Osaka (Mielparque Osaka). 
  • There will be a total of 21 performances and tickets will cost ¥7,200. Fan club members will be able to buy tickets from 22nd July while general sales will begin on 22nd September.
  • The main cast will include Ishida Mitsunari (Nakamura Seijirou), Katakura Kojuurou (Yoshida Tomokazu) and Sarutobi Sasuke (Murata Youjirou). 
  • Date Masamune will now be played by Takigawa Eiji (replacing Kubota Yuuki), while the new Sanada Yukimura will be Yoshioka Yuu (replacing Hosogai Kei). This event gave Kubota and Hosogai a final chance to say goodbye (again).
  • The Miyoshi Sanninshuu will appear for the first time. Kaneda Shinichi will play the eldest brother, while Endou Makoto and Shirasaki Seiya will be the second and third brothers respectively.
  • Other characters include Toyotomi Hideyoshi (Odai Ryouhei), Uesugi Kenshin (AKIRA), Ootani Yoshitsugu (Nitta Kenta), Mouri Motonari (Kotani Yoshikazu), Saika Magoichi (Yashiro Minase), Kasuga (Chinen Sayaka), Fuuma Kotarou (Takahashi Hikaru) and Kuroda Kanbee (Shirakawa Yuujirou). The returning characters will be played by the same actors as before.
  • Hanbee has not been confirmed for the new stage play, even though he's in the background of the promotional artwork above.
Other notes on the stage play content.
  • The 'requested combat' battles at the event are different for all three performances (it sounds as though they'll be covering a lot of requested match-ups!).
  • Requested match-ups in the first show with their ranks in the poll were Kojuurou vs Sasuke (6th place), Hanbee vs Motonari (7th place) and Nobunaga vs Oichi (special). Series director YamamotoD made a request too: Hyottoko Kamen (Shingen) and Tenko Kamen (Sasuke) vs the Young Tiger (Yukimura).
  • The afternoon had a different selection. Masamune vs Ieyasu (special), Tsuruhime vs Kotarou (21st place) and Mitsunari vs Hideyoshi (11th place). Finally, KobaP's request was for Kasuga/Kenshin vs Oichi/Mitsuhide.
  • The third show featured Masamune vs Yukimura (1st place), Magoichi vs Keiji (10th place) and Toshiie vs Nagamasa (special). The special request came from Kubota and Hosogai: a four-way Masamune/Yukimura vs Mitsunari/Ieyasu battle.
  • Some random pictures from Twitter: Motonari and Hanbee, event poster (with the Toyotomi army positioned together!), Yumekichi flower arrangementthe ladies of the stage plays.
Next come rumours from the Sengoku Basara 4 news segment.
  • There was a lot of cheering when Sakon said "Mitsunari-sama!". Guest Ikeda Shuuichi remarked it must be difficult for Sakon visiting a beauty salon all of the time...and that the Toyotomi army must have an amazing hairdresser (due to Sakon and Mitsunari).
  • Ashikaga Yoshiteru's palace was shown with gambling-related motifs such as roulette. There will be parts which spin around and trap-like elements. A single picture is now available at the 4Gamer link below.
  • The footage also showed Kojuurou (without confirming whether he will be playable).
  • As mentioned in my Dengeki magazine rumours (I still don't have the magazine to confirm things!), Kojuurou's first meeting with Bontenmaru (the younger Masamune) will be shown in Sengoku Basara 4. This came up right at the end of the trailer; there was a line from Kojuurou about giving him a sword. 
  • It seems that Kojuurou addressed Bontenmaru without the usual -sama honorific, something that has caused a great deal of excitement.
  • Of course, the voice actors for the younger versions of Masamune and Kojuurou are still Nakai Kazuya and Morikawa Toshiyuki. It seems that Kojuurou is still quite similar in the flashback whereas Masamune sounds younger.
  • A popular gag character from the stage play (an old Date army soldier or 'rouhei' with wild hair who provides comic relief) will occasionally appear in Sengoku Basara 4 as a background soldier in the Date forces. Nice reference, I hope he sings! Famitsu posted a picture of him and his fans should certainly see the resemblance.
  • Hideyoshi still hasn't been formally confirmed for the game, however the seiyuu present at the Saturday evening show, Seki Tomokazu (Mitsunari) and Okiayu Ryoutarou (Hideyoshi), performed a dialogue together which was 'from Sengoku Basara 4'. Whether he'll be playable is anyone's guess but at least we can be sure that Hideyoshi will be appearing in some form!
  • A Capcom employee later tweeted that Hideyoshi was definitely in the game (i.e. not a cutscene-only character) so he'll either be playable or a boss NPC like Yoshiteru.
  • The last of the three Busho Matsuri performances included seiyuu Okamoto Nobuhiko as a secret guest, performing some of Katsuie's lines live on stage. Katsuie was said to come across as "exceptionally gloomy" and "super negative" with very challenging dialogue. His scenes were full of lots of "..." moments. 
  • Fans were also given the chance to hear what he sounded like before his spirit was broken by the rebellion attempt which failed. There was quite a substantial difference; his laughter had a "Huhahahaha!" sound when he was up to no good.
  • By the way, Katsuie's unofficial nickname amongst Japanese fans is okappa because he has a kappa-style haircut. He's gone down very well with the fans who saw Okamoto performing today; perhaps his popularity will soon increase to match Sakon?
There will be a DVD released with footage from the event in November 2013, imaginatively titled 'Butai Sengoku Basara Bushou Matsuri 2013 DVD'. It will cost ¥6,000.

Press reports and pictures:
Gamer
Famitsu (stage play coverage)
Famitsu (event coverage)
Mantanweb
Game Watch
Dengeki
Inside Games (part 1)
Inside Games (part 2)
Inside Games (photo report)
4Gamer

The Capcom website has been scheduled for its next update on 19th July (Friday) and that's now been confirmed as the date that the new footage will be released online too, so we'll probably have to wait until then for more details unless there's something in this week's magazines.

With the news about the stage play now having broken, Sengoku Basara 4 should be the focus of the rumours going forwards.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Manga review: Sengoku Basara Comic Anthology 'Dategun Chronicle'

The 126-page Sengoku Basara Comic Anthology 'Dategun Chronicle' was released by ASCII Media Works in the Dengeki Comics EX line on 27th March 2013. Priced at ¥850 (¥893 with taxes), it can be purchased from all good import book stores and manga specialists such as YesasiaAmazon Japan or CD Japan.

As the title implies, Dategun Chronicle is the first of the many Sengoku Basara manga anthologies to be themed around the Date army. That doesn't mean that other characters don't show up - it's just that when they do, it's usually during one of the scenes from Masamune or Kojuurou's storylines in the games. Each strip tends to have a humorous atmosphere loaded with in-jokes. Because I already follow most of the artists in the doujinshi world, the entire book feels like a fan doujinshi anthology; it's incredible that it's an official release.

The cover art was contributed by artist Ashika Nozomu and the same picture is included inside as well without the text covering it. Sazanami Ichiya and Tsutsumi Yoshisada provide additional colour illustrations at the front of the book.

The rest of the anthology is composed of standalone manga stories, each just a few pages long in order to cram a huge number of contributing artists into this slim book. I've summarised the contents below.

Oushuu Udezumou Matsuri (The Oushuu Arm Wrestling Festival)
from Sengoku Basara 3 Utage
Sasakura Kou
There's trouble brewing amongst the soldiers which can only be solved by...an arm wrestling match. Things start to get silly when Masamune and Kojuurou join in and raise the stakes, and it's only a matter of time before their contest is interrupted by the arrival of Yukimura, Mitsunari and Ieyasu. It's wonderful to see Sasakura drawing Sengoku Basara again (she was the artist for one of the official manga adaptations and used to be very active in the series' doujinshi scene).

Thursday, 11 July 2013

News roundup: Official website updates with more Sengoku Basara 4 details

Websites update to bring another round of Sengoku Basara 4 pictures

We now have our update on Famitsu.com (also covered on 4Gamer) showing the pictures used in last week's magazine. I recommend taking a look and comparing to the content from the magazine summarised previously as some parts will make a lot more sense alongside proper pictures.


Once again there's no real new information in the content of the article, it's simply reproducing details that we already got to see in the physical magazine (though reading it drew my attention to the fact that I made a typo in Sakon's title before, oops).


The official Sengoku Basara 4 website has updated as well, opening up the character pages and showing off better pictures of each warrior and their moves. Most of the information was covered in Famitsu last week but there are a few tiny additional points about the younger newcomers.
  • It seems that Katsuie is quite easy to use, with a balanced moveset. His main feature is his ability to gradually increase his attack power and speed using his 'rotation' (as previously described in the Famitsu post). It will also increase his movement speed, and depending on the level of the boost it will affect both his normal attacks and special moves.
  • Meanwhile, Sakon's sword-based attacks will be multi-staged and more powerful than his kicks. His gameplay is said to be focused around switching between his two stances with a button press to continually change his attacks.
There are voice samples for Yoshiteru, Masamune and Mitsunari; fans of Sakon and Katsuie will have to wait until the 19th July update to be able to hear them speak for the very first time.


Sengoku Basara Magazine issue 2 has been delayed by a month

A news bulletin has been released to advise that the summer issue of Basara Magazine has been delayed by a month. Its new release date is 27th August 2013 and the contents are as previously advertised. I'm a little relieved, as the previous release date was swiftly approaching with no word at all from the publisher. The link also has a preview image of the Yukimura strap which will be included as a bonus item. Are they really going to use Yukimura's old Sengoku Basara 3 illustration for the cover instead of a new one?

New Mame Sengoku Basara goods are on the horizon

The Zext Works website is showing previews of some new Mame Sengoku Basara items which will be released in September 2013. Priced at ¥1,260 each, there'll be four sets of 'memo stand charms' for the four main pairs of characters who appear in the manga, designed to be carried around or displayed on a desk. Poor Sasuke has been dropped from the selection of characters and they spelt Masamune's name wrong on the shop's website at first (update: it was corrected within a couple of hours).


Capcom to release Capbon magazine volume 6

A listing has appeared for the sixth volume of Capbon, Capcom's jam-packed magazine which collects manga and articles about all of their most popular series. This issue will be themed around both Monster Hunter 4 and Capcom's 30th anniversary celebration. Capbon volume 6 will go on sale on 24th September 2013 for ¥1,800.

More details and cover art for the Takeda Chronicle anthology manga

E-Capcom has finally posted the cover art and release information for the Sengoku Basara Comic Anthology 'Takedagun Chronicle' manga. Similar to the 'Dategun Chronicle' which came out a few months ago, this one will be based around Yukimura, Sasuke and Shingen - if it's anything like its predecessor we can expect a multitude of short stories with a light-hearted theme. It's due for release on 31st July 2013 and priced at ¥893.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

News: Dengeki Playstation vol. 546 (11th July 2013) features a Sengoku Basara 4 cover

Tomorrow's issue of Dengeki Playstation magazine in Japan has been blessed with a Sengoku Basara 4 cover showing all four of the currently-revealed playable characters in action.

As the magazine is not technically available yet at the time of this post, this preliminary information comes straight from Twitter user mariko_zero.

Naturally, there's an article about the game inside the magazine billed as an introduction to the game system. Most of the information repeats what we were shown in last week's Famitsu but there are additional details in the form of an interview with series director Yamamoto Makoto (YamamotoD) and producer Kobayashi Hiroyuki (KobaP).

Again, please note that this is my preliminary interpretation of a summary written by someone else. Until the actual magazine arrives this summary should be viewed as incomplete.
  • Sakon has a youthful design which evokes frivolity (the word they use is charai which has various additional connotations). Since he has this frivolous image, his clothing exposes his skin. Please look out for the dice he carries too.
  • Katsuie's themes are his stiff, inflexible image and 'rotation'. The shape of his kabuto helmet resembles ears. He evokes a strong image of geometry, incorporating squares and Buddhist mandala designs. You'll be able to get a good look at his bobbed haircut in the story.
  • Sakon and Katsuie have a different relationship to Masamune and Yukimura, or Ieyasu and Mitsunari. While they're linked by being from a younger generation, there's a contrast between the cheerful guy and the dispirited one.
  • Playing Sengoku Basara 4 and making decisions will greatly affect the lives of the characters. For example, even Masamune has more than one (potential) future. There'll also be relationships like, say, both Masamune and Mitsunari respectively guiding the young pair. There are some futures you can lead them to and some you cannot.
  • They'll be taking a different approach to Sengoku Basara 3's Sengoku Emaki story mode. However, the story will unfold in various ways (this is implying that there will be multiple routes).
  • Since so much of Sengoku Basara 3 was 'lonely and harsh', in Sengoku Basara 4 they've included a lot of fun content.
  • There will be quite a few characters. These won't just be playable warriors; there'll be enemy NPCs as well. Of course, there'll even be characters who previously appeared in the series - but not all of them. Please keep watching to see who will join the crowd of people with new traits.
  • 'Assessing the situation' will be one of the themes of the action in Sengoku Basara 4. Players will want to make it their priority to assess the situation and make decisions. Those who have played the previous games will recognise some of the elements which have been incorporated.
  • YamamotoD mentioned that people can expect some content set in the past. The example he gave was a scene set back when Masamune was called Bontenmaru - he teased that it would include the voice of a younger Masamune(!).
  • YamamotoD wants to make another anime adaptation for the series. 
  • KobaP would like to make a live action movie. 
The pictures used inside the magazine are reportedly mostly the same as Famitsu's from last week.


My copy of the magazine will be arriving a little late so expect gradual updates to this post as I confirm more details.

The next details about the new game should start appearing over the weekend when the Butai Sengoku Basara Busho Matsuri 2013 stage event takes place. I'm also expecting preorders to open for the second issue of Basara Magazine very soon, along with a formal announcement of the next wave of new manga and goods (the new Takedagun Chronicle manga anthology is still technically unannounced even though it will ship in less than three weeks!).

--

Update 17/07/2013: My copy of Dengeki Playstation arrived! Here's a summary of some additional snippets of information I gleaned from the full article.
  • KobaP unambiguously stated that for Sengoku Basara 4, Masamune and Mitsunari are the main characters. 
  • However, the way they're both portrayed will be different to what we've seen of them up until now - though not to the extent that they'll seem like completely different characters.
  • The 'Sengoku Creation' theme means the game will be going right to the beginning of the Sengoku period and creating it all over again from start to finish. The scale will be much greater than it was in Sengoku Basara 3.
  • There'll be a lot of variety in the stories; some will be comical, some will be serious.
  • Outside of the main game series they've tried a lot of different things in the eight years since Sengoku Basara began, with manga adaptations, anime, stage plays, a television drama, a Takarazuka musical, tours, popularity votes etc. KobaP never thought that the series would reach the fourth game back at the start. To give some context for the earlier reports that they wanted to make another anime adaptation or live action movie, KobaP and YamamotoP were simply responding to a hypothetical question about what kind of project they'd personally like to try next.
  • The magazine speculated about the new enemy formations we've seen on the official website. It said that part of the charm of the Sengoku Basara series is the exhilaration of being one person versus countless others, or ikkitousen ('one who can beat a thousand'). This time, even the regular soldiers seem to be tougher, using all their power to block the player from reaching the centre of the castle. It looks as though strategy might be more important in Sengoku Basara 4.
Additional notes about the designs of the characters...
  • Ashikaga Yoshiteru's theme is 'the emperor of the Muromachi'; KobaP said that was the atmosphere back in those days. 
  • YamamotoD added that they wanted Yoshiteru to look visibly 'emperor-like'. He needed to have a hint of the Roman Empire about him, yet they also wanted it to be obvious at a glance that this was someone from the Muromachi era so they dressed him in ooyoroi armour. The idea was to make him seem different from the other warriors, like an emperor from an earlier age.
  • The interviewer asked if Yoshiteru will become playable if you meet certain requirements in the game. KobaP simply said no, he's an enemy warlord.
  • YamamotoD noted that Sakon is the only character to use kick techniques as a major part of his move set.
  • As a few people have noticed, Sakon's knee guards are based on the design of the historical Shima Sakon's kabuto. YamamotoD is particular about incorporating that kind of detail, so please take a good look.
  • KobaP thinks the Sengoku Basara version of Katsuie is pretty unique: normally when you hear Shibata Katsuie's name, you imagine a great swordsman with a beard. YamamotoD had the idea of making him a somewhat hopeless, despairing character after looking into his history.
  • Katsuie's skirt-like armour design is meant to be part of his 'rotation' theme.
  • The phonetic reading of Katsuie's technique which I've been translating as 'shear plane' has been confirmed as 'sessou', described as his unique 'battle system'. I'm going to call it sessou from now on as it's easier.
  • With the two new playable characters, KobaP wanted there to be a sense of young people experiencing the way the battlefield feels during their very first war.
  • KobaP thinks that the Masamune in Sengoku Basara 4 has become quite different from the one in the previous game, emerging from the past to cleave his way towards being named the Dragon King. 
  • YamamotoD confirmed there would be a scene from back when Masamune was known as Bontenmaru, as per the rumours above. He said that Sengoku Basara 4 would have a focus on the parts of the story which had never been told in the series so far (i.e. it's possible we could see stories from the pasts of other returning characters for the first time).
  • They wanted to portray Mitsunari back when he was playing an active part in the Toyotomi forces. Toyotomi Hideyoshi is still alive during Sengoku Basara 4, so KobaP begged fans to think of it as a completely different world to that of Sengoku Basara 3, where he was dead.
  • They've been able to include many additional elements as a result of the parallel world setting and Sakon not having been part of the Toyotomi forces back in Sengoku Basara 3. The staff think that this new Mitsunari is quite different to before. 
  • KobaP laughed and mused that with the flirty Sakon joining the serious Toyotomi group in Sengoku Basara 4, there might be a chance that Mitsunari will just kill that 'frivolous guy'!
We also got to see a colour preview image of the exclusive mame-style Yukimura rubber strap which will be included with next month's issue of Sengoku Basara Magazine.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

News roundup: Just a few days until more Sengoku Basara 4 details

A few more Sengoku Basara 4 pictures from Famitsu appear online

Famitsu has now posted some of the content from the 4th July 2013 article on their website, including pictures and text from the interview with YamamotoD and KobaP. I summarised the key points from the interview before, but this is the first time we've been able to see some of those images up close since they were too small or obscured by text in the magazine.

Limited edition Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage DVD sells out

It's not due for release until September, but within a month of preorders being open the Dais Shop had already sold out of its allocation of ¥6,500 first press limited edition DVDs for the most recent Butai Sengoku Basara stage play. The ¥6,000 standard edition without the bonus photo book is still available.

Mobile game Sengoku Basara Card Heroes Matsuri holds a Busho Matsuri campaign

The Gamer website is reporting that mobile game Sengoku Basara Card Heroes Matsuri will be running a special campaign to tie in with this weekend's Butai Sengoku Basara Busho Matsuri 2013 event. The rules are simple; starting on 8th July 2013, players who fulfil certain in-game requirements will be rewarded with special sets of items.


There's also a rare Matsunaga Hisahide card up for grabs since he was the star in the most recent stage play.


Timeline for the next Sengoku Basara 4 news updates

Finally, this is a reminder that this Thursday (11th July 2013) will see the release of the issue of Dengeki Playstation magazine which will be featuring Sengoku Basara 4 as its cover story. They might not have any more information than Weekly Famitsu posted a few days ago but it's possible there'll be some new hints. We should be treated to updates on the official website and Famitsu.com on the same day.

Afterwards the weekend will bring us the Busho Matsuri 2013 event where KobaP is presenting footage and information about the new game alongside the voice actors for Yoshiteru, Mitsunari and Hideyoshi. Hopes are high that this might be hinting that Hideyoshi will be announced for the game soon, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Speculation: Which characters are likely to appear in Sengoku Basara 4?

I thought it might be fun to record my personal hopes for Sengoku Basara 4 before we have more information about what the game will include. This way I can look back on it later and laugh at how optimistic I was during the early days.

Here's some wild speculation based on the little we know so far.

Prediction 1: Every character with a full move set and story from Sengoku Basara 3 or Sengoku Basara 3 Utage will be a playable character in Sengoku Basara 4. 

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Manga review: Gakuen Basara 5

The 164-page Sengoku Basara Series Official Anthology Comic: Gakuen Basara 5 was released on 28th March 2013 for ¥1,029. Like the earlier books in the series it can be purchased from all good import book stores and manga specialists. With the major characters already introduced and several old faces like Hideyoshi, Hanbee, Nagamasa and Musashi returning to the cast, this is the most crowded volume of Gakuen Basara yet!

The cover illustration by artist Nari wraps around to fit as many characters as possible on the front and back of the book. Inside is the textless version of the cover as well as a pair of new colour illustrations by Yukihiro Utako and Kyuugou, plus the usual manga chapters from the regular GakuBasa contributors and a few more 'report cards' to show how each characters fares in lessons. There's a proper theme this time as each story covers a different aspect of a typical Japanese school sports festival (undoukai).

Minna! Matomare!! Haran No Meeting (Everyone! Settle Down!! A Turbulent Meeting)
Mikami
It's the evening before the Gakuen Basara sports festival and team leaders are giving their classes pep talks to prepare for victory. Some of the students are noticeably better at fostering a sense of team spirit than others, and several of the groups just end up arguing or getting into trouble. I found this introductory chapter very helpful as it shows how the classes are split up; the artists have taken the opportunity to separate rivals and servants into different groups to force characters to interact with people they normally wouldn't. Even though this information is included in the character roster at the start of the book, it never seemed important in the earlier volumes.

Shouri Wo Kimi Ni ~Ichiyajou Sakuryakusen~ (Victory For You ~The One Night Castle Trick Battle~)
Minami Seira
The sports festival begins with a three-legged race. Some of the pairings seem poorly chosen: Ranmaru and Sourin cannot work together at all, and Kanetsugu's delusional personality was already driving Kasuga crazy in the previous chapter. Thanks to some cheating by the more tactically-minded participants, the race ends up full of surprises and upsets.