Monday 29 December 2014

Streaming: Autumn 2014 anime final impressions

I guess it's over! This season was much less intense than the last one; something I was extremely grateful for given how busy I've been with work lately.

After complaining that we had too many streaming services over here last time, this season was strangely uncomplicated. A couple of titles I wanted to see went to the region locking villains at FUNimation, but for the most part Crunchyroll had the UK covered. Wakanim, Daisuki and Animax had no new exclusive content worth talking about, and Nico Nico just stuck with Sailor Moon Crystal. Viewster had a few interesting pickups and continued to build on their back catalogue - it's amazing to see Golgo 13 available for streaming in the UK! I just wish they could be more transparent about which titles are available in which regions on their main site, as I often click on links and end up disappointed right at the last minute.

There were no big surprises in the ranking of my favourite autumn simulcasts:

1. Mushi-shi
2. Ookami Shoujo To Kuro Ouji
3. Akatsuki No Yona

It was almost exactly as I had anticipated at the start of the season! Mushi-shi was easily the highest quality show of the lot but the other two were highly addictive even though I'd be the first to admit they had a number of flaws.

Sunday 21 December 2014

News roundup: Sengoku Basara updates from the second day of Jump Festa 2015

The Jump Festa presentations finished several hours ago and, as feared, nothing much was announced after all despite KobaP's hint about 'the week after next' a fortnight ago. Mercifully Gamer sent a reporter along to provide a full breakdown of Saturday's panel so I don't have to scavenge the details from various Twitter accounts this time.

The reporter noted that the presentation managed to attract a large number of fans in spite of it being a year since Sengoku Basara 4 was released. After series producer Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki came on stage and introduced the game with one of its promotional videos, they held one of the usual challenges where players from the audience had to compete to try to defeat the most enemies within three minutes at Sekigahara. The reporter seemed thoroughly impressed with Katsuie, and remarked that the crowd cheered with amazement when someone picked Sourin.

Once all of the fighting was over, KobaP began his news updates by telling the crowd about the upcoming Tales of Zestiria collaboration. It apparently drew a positive reaction from the crowd which the reporter put down to the similarities between the audiences for both games; the Tales series, like Sengoku Basara, seems to attract a lot of female gamers.

There was also mention of a 'Sengoku Basara 4 x Capcom Challenge Park' event involving the Date Cavalry in Aichi's Aeon Mall Okazaki. This will be held between 7th January and 30th April 2015 but there wasn't much more information in the report.

Next came the first information about the activities that are planned for Basara Matsuri. There will be the usual Sengoku Drama Emaki (live dialogue performances by the seiyuu), a seiyuu talk corner, KobaP's latest announcements, a 'variety' corner (this is usually something comical featuring both the seiyuu and the stage play actors) and a mini live concert from T.M. Revolution. Previous news reports have suggested that T.M. Revolution will be performing the Sengoku Basara 4 opening theme Count ZERO for the first time at a Basara Matsuri event as part of the setlist.

In addition, visitors to February's Basara Matsuri event will have the opportunity to buy randomly-packed 'initial charms' for ¥500. These depict popular warriors in their alternate outfits from Sengoku Basara 4 along with a character from their name. Each charm is made from acrylic and approximately 5cm long. There are two different sets available:

Sengoku Basara 4 Trading Kanji Initial Charm ~Stylish~

Sengoku Basara 4 Trading Kanji Initial Charm ~Supreme~

The presentation closed with KobaP telling the crowd that he's been promoting Sengoku Basara 4 all year long now since its release back in January. He urged people to wait until next year for more about the series' tenth anniversary and the next title, and joked that he wasn't able to say anything at the moment. And that was all.


Well, it's nowhere near as exciting as a game (or guest) announcement would have been, but at least the new charms look cool. I can't believe that Basara Matsuri is taking place in less than six weeks!

Saturday 20 December 2014

News roundup: Sengoku Basara updates from the first day of Jump Festa 2015

Today is the first day of the major Jump Festa 2015 event in Japan and, as promised, Capcom have been in attendance with updates for their loyal Sengoku Basara fans. The silence on Twitter during KobaP's presentation was almost unbearable, however, and it seems that nothing noteworthy was announced this time.

Perhaps they're saving more announcements for tomorrow's presentation? They specifically said they were announcing new Basara Matsuri information and all that seems to have been revealed was that attendees will be able to get randomly-packed initial keychain charms for the characters as merchandise there.

I guess that means I have to get up at 4am again tomorrow...

It's a shame there is no live stream available for the Capcom presentations.

More details of February's Ichiban Kuji lottery, with pictures of the new figures

The biggest merchandise reveal has been the formal announcement of the next Ichiban Kuji lottery event to be held in Japan next year. We've known it was coming since late October but Ichiban Kuji Sengoku Basara ~Sengoku Sousei~ is now definitely on the way starting from 21st February 2015. People on Twitter have been posting plenty of photographs of the sample prizes on display:

A rank prize: Date Masamune 'real' figure (alternate photo)
B rank prize: Date Masamune 'Kyun-Chara' figure (alternate photo)
C rank prize: Ishida Mitsunari 'Kyun-Chara' figure (alternate photo)
D rank prize: Shima Sakon 'Kyun-Chara' figure (alternate photo)
E rank prize: Shibata Katsuie 'Kyun-Chara' figure (alternate photo)
F rank prize: Hand towel (four different designs)
G rank prize: Notelets (four different designs)
H rank prize: 'Stylish' rubber strap (seven different designs)
I rank prize: 'Extreme' rubber strap (seven different designs)
Last One prize: Date Masamune 'real' figure (Last One version) (alternate photo)

There are also plenty of group shots and close-ups of the Matabee and Yoshiteru straps. I'm happy to see that the female Sengoku Basara 4 characters are getting some decent representation this time.

Vote on which Capcom designs will be turned into...aprons?!

A trio of Sengoku Basara designs is being included in a limited edition range of maekake aprons designs created in conjunction with the haraKIRI brand. To make things interesting, Capcom is asking MyCapcom users to vote between 18th December 2014 and 19th January 2015 to decide which of the designs will be used. To participate in the voting, just pick the big blue button at the bottom of the page and log in using your MyCapcom account.

That seems to be all we're getting today! There are also samples of some of the mini finger puppets which were announced last week.

Friday 19 December 2014

Today's acquisitions (19th December 2014)

It's been ages since I posted some pictures of things I've bought so perhaps it's a good way to kill some time before getting disappointed when I discover that there's no new game announced at Jump Festa in a few hours.

The first item is this magnificent specimen: Doki! A Microfiber Towel Loaded With Mikorin. I bought it from the Dogakobo online shop to cheer myself up after the Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun anime came to an end. It's completely impractical as a towel, but there's so much Mikorin all over it that I can't complain.

Of course, they've just announced a Hori-senpai version. I wish I was going to Comiket this winter...

Moving on, I also received the final Diabolik Lovers Dark Fate CD along with Stellaworth's bromide, pamphlet and short story booklet. The collectible magazine which was sent to people who purchased both Jooubachi No Oubou games and completed the surveys inside is titled Sequential and positioned at the back of the picture. Then there's the special edition of Butai Sengoku Basara 3: Togakuruwashi Kizuna, the last Sengoku Basara stage play I need to watch.

Unfortunately, there's been some kind of production problem with the credits on the stage play DVD and replacement discs have been shipped out to all buyers. My replacement won't arrive until January so I won't be able to watch the play for a few more weeks. I hope it's worth the wait!

Thursday 18 December 2014

News roundup: Okamoto Nobuhiko will join KobaP at Jump Festa this weekend

There will be a special guest at one of this weekend's Jump Festa presentations

It's almost time for the promised Sengoku Basara presentations at Jump Festa this weekend!

Capcom posted an update last night to advise that the start time will now be 13:30 - ten minutes earlier than previously stated. The presentations are still scheduled to last just half an hour each.

In addition, there's been a last minute announcement which confirms that seiyuu Okamoto Nobuhiko (Shibata Katsuie) will be joining KobaP on stage for the Sunday show. This is also being reported all over the gaming press and on the Basara Matsuri website so I hope that KobaP has some interesting news to share with us all.

(If his hinted game announcement ends up being the upcoming Tales of Zestiria collaboration we already know about, I will cry.)

A preview image arrives for the final Judge End keychain

I'm not sure why it took VAP so long to add the sample picture to their site this time, but they've finally revealed how the bonus keychain from the first press version of the final DVD/Blu-ray volume of Sengoku Basara Judge End will look.

Gyoubu looks more intimidating (and cute) when he's small, doesn't he?


Edit (18:00): Speculation time!

I'm not feeling well at the moment so some delirium may be contributing to this post, but what if KobaP really is announcing the next game this weekend? And what if the reason Katsuie's seiyuu is accompanying him on Sunday is because there will be an Oda theme to the game?

What if that means they're going back to their roots as part of the tenth anniversary celebrations, and bringing back Nouhime and Ranmaru (and dare I hope, giving the classic characters who were only partially finished in Sengoku Basara 3 Utage proper upgrades and stories of their own)?

Well, it could easily just be that Okamoto was the only one of the more popular seiyuu who happened to be free that weekend - they used Kojuurou's seiyuu to announce a few things at Kyomaf last year even though he's not all that significant in Sengoku Basara 4. The staff have said before that Sakon is popular all by himself whereas Katsuie needs more support.

Still, I want to believe in my wild theory!

Wednesday 17 December 2014

News roundup: A couple of new Sengoku Basara 4 collaborations are planned for early next year

Visit Japanese arcades next year for a chance to win Sengoku Basara finger puppets

I guess the recent prize campaigns have been successful as Capcom have announced that there will be yet another range of adorable Sengoku Basara goodies next year!

The prizes this time will be two sets of seven 'kyun-gurumi' mini puppets, which will appear in Banpresto amusement arcades across Japan from late April 2015. The first set includes Kojuurou, Yukimura, Sasuke, Katsuie, Matabee and two versions of Masamune, while the second set, which arrives one week later, includes Sakon, Ieyasu, Keiji, Motochika, Motonari and two versions of Mitsunari.

I think Yukimura's facial expression is my favourite, though some of the others come close. It's a shame that game centre prizes can be rather difficult for foreign fans to obtain.

Rumour: Sengoku Basara 4 content will appear in Tales of Zestiria

According to some detailed leaks from the next issue of Weekly Famitsu magazine, upcoming PS3 title Tales of Zestiria will offer DLC swimsuits, character costumes from earlier Tales games, costumes from the Ao No Exorcist (Blue Exorcist) series and 'attachments' from Sengoku Basara 4. The leaks seem reliable and one specifically mentions Masamune, Katsuie, Yukimura, Mitsunari, Sakon and Ieyasu as the Sengoku Basara 4 characters who will feature in the campaign.

For the benefit of those who don't play the Tales games, 'attachments' are in-game decorations which can be equipped by the characters. I'm looking forward to seeing how they'll look!

Update (16:25): Well, I didn't have to wait long to find out. Nanahashi kindly directed me to Twitter user @yinyi982 who has posted a picture showing the attachments. They're even cuter than expected!

Saturday 13 December 2014

News roundup: A few light updates ahead of next weekend's stage presentations

The cover artwork is revealed for the next volume of the Sengoku Basara 4 manga

We already knew that the second collected volume of Yoshihara Motoki's Sengoku Basara 4 manga adaptation was scheduled for release in late December 2014 for ¥616 but now we have the cover artwork to enjoy.

It's a great picture of Mitsunari and matches Masamune on the first book. I wonder how long the manga will run, and how many different characters they'll showcase on the different covers.

Catching up with the latest Sengoku Basara merchandise

There's a large amount of new Capcom merchandise coming out early next year and of course, this includes a few Sengoku Basara items.

The first new item is a pair of embroidery bracelets (friendship bracelets) with a choice of Masamune or Mitsunari designs. They're priced at ¥1,100 each and they'll be released in late February 2015.

The bracelets can be preordered worldwide at Ami Ami (Masamune, Mitsunari), CD Japan (Masamune, Mitsunari), Otaku Republic (Masamune, Mitsunari) as well as other import stores.

Those who prefer their merchandise to be practical may find this special Sengoku Basara masking tape more appealing. The packs will each contain two rolls of tape for ¥600 when they go on sale in late February 2015.

You can preorder the tape at at Ami Ami (Masamune/Yukimura, Ieyasu/Mitsunari), CD Japan (Masamune/Yukimura, Ieyasu/Mitsunari), Otaku Republic (Masamune/Yukimura, Ieyasu/Mitsunari) and other import stores.

Dengeki Online posts a preview of the new Sengoku Basara Judge End illustration book

If you wanted to know what to expect from the Television Anime Sengoku Basara Judge End: Official Illustration & Genga Collection art book which was released last week, the folks at Dengeki have put together an article (and a series of Twitter posts) with sample pictures showing its contents. It's probably not an essential purchase for the majority of fans but if you liked the art style of Judge End and want a definitive collection of its production materials, it looks like a decent compilation.

Two new Capcom shops will open in Japan - for a limited time

The old 'e-Capcom: Capcom Official Shop' in Odaiba may have closed down earlier this year, but those who want to buy Sengoku Basara and Monster Hunter merchandise straight from the source will be happy to learn that a pair of temporary Capcom stores will be open for business in Tokyo and Fukushima this winter.

The Tokyo store is called 'Capcom Shop: e-Capcom Tokyo Dome City Branch' and it will be trading between 12th December 2014 and 15th March 2015 in the Tokyo Dome City Plaza #1 area. Its opening hours are 10:30-19:00 on weekdays and 10:00-19:00 at weekends and bank holidays and it boasts some unique Monster Hunter attractions.

The Fukushima branch is a little more exclusive. The 'Capcom Shop in Kooriyama MOLTI' will only be open between 20th December 2014 and 4th January 2015 (excluding New Year's Day). Its opening hours are 10:00-20:00 with early closure on New Year's Eve and 4th January. To make up for its short lifespan, the pop-up shop will be offering plenty of goodies and giveaways along with unique Monster Hunter and Gyakuten Saiban (Ace Attorney) displays.

Both stores promise to stock various rare merchandise from a wide range of Capcom titles, and shoppers who spend more than ¥1,000 will receive a special coaster sticker while stocks last.

Thursday 4 December 2014

News roundup: Cover artwork for Sengoku Basara Judge End volume 4 on DVD/Bluray

The cover art is revealed for the final volume of Sengoku Basara Judge End

I have very mixed feelings about the illustration.

On one hand, I like Masamune and Yukimura and it's a cool picture. On the other, what a missed opportunity to showcase more characters from Sengoku Basara Judge End! Masamune and Yukimura already had their chance to be on the covers of earlier volumes so I was hoping to see Magoichi and Keiji, or something like that...

More Judge End merchandise appears on the horizon

The official merchandise page also added a handful of new items recently.

A mini Sengoku Basara Judge End 'artket' (decorative blanket) with its own case. It will be priced at ¥3,500 and released on 19th February 2015. AmiAmi is already listing it so it should appear on other import sites soon.

Next, there's a set of 66 different trading cards including 'SP' (special) rare cards, 'SP' (special) cards, story cards, character cards, mini character cards and more. Each pack of 9 cards will cost ¥500, or you can buy a box containing 8 packs for ¥4,000. They'll go on sale in late February 2015.

There will also be a Sengoku Basara Judge End A4 storage folder priced at ¥1,200, due for release on 31st January 2015. AmiAmi, Otaku Republic and CD Japan already have their preorder listings ready.

I know this looks very similar to the Sengoku Basara Judge End photo folder from the other day, but it's a different item, I promise!

Wednesday 3 December 2014

News: KobaP teases everyone with vague comments at a PlayStation event

Sengoku Basara producer Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki got people excited earlier today when he appeared as one of a number of industry guests on a joint broadcast by Dengeki and Famitsu to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the original PlayStation. If you have a Nico Nico account you can watch the time-shifted version for a limited time here, or alternatively it's on YouTube here. KobaP's segment can be found at the 33:10 mark on the Nico Nico version and at 1:03:30 on YouTube.

Most of the discussion was centred around KobaP reminiscing about creating various games for the PlayStation, but at one point the hosts tried to coax some new information out of him. In response, he talked about how the current Butai Sengoku Basara 4 stage play was in Nagoya approaching the end of its run, then brought up next year's Basara Matsuri, inviting the hosts along and promising that it was going to be really fun. He went on to suggest that since they were holding that big event in February 2015, wouldn't you expect something there?

Before anyone could press him further, he went back to describing the cool things that happen at Basara Matsuri events and moved the conversation along.

A little later on, host Dogma Kazami was asking some general questions about KobaP's planned lineup and received the answer that something would be announced the week after next. He refused to say more on the subject other than that things will start moving along soon, and that there are a few things for next year (this line trailed off).

It's worth mentioning that the upcoming announcement could easily relate to Biohazard, Dragon's Dogma or one of the other series he works on (heck, it could even be more Gaist Crusher given how much time KobaP seems to spend promoting that series). We can probably safely assume that it's for a PlayStation platform, at least, otherwise it would be rather cruel to mention it at a PlayStation-themed event!

However, KobaP's brief Sengoku Basara stage presentation at Jump Festa is on 20th December. That qualifies as 'the week after next', right? He could have meant that he'll be announcing something there then we'll get more details at Basara Matsuri, or just that he'll be announcing more Basara Matsuri details there as they've already confirmed...

Sunday 30 November 2014

Magazine review: Sengoku Basara Magazine issue 7

Autumn's issue of Sengoku Basara Magazine was released a few days ago with Sengoku Basara 4 newcomer Shima Sakon taking the honour of appearing on the cover and on the cute Mame Sengoku Basara rubber strap. For Sakon fans, this book is likely to be indispensible; it's the first time since his debut that he's been the star of an entire publication.

Sengoku Basara Magazine vol. 7 went on sale on 27th November 2014 priced at ¥2,500. It can be purchased from most Japanese bookstores which offer international shipping, such as Amazon Japan, HMV, Yesasia, CD Japan and Manga Oh. Prices will rise once stock starts to become scarce and the last issue is already out of print; given that this particular issue seems to be quite popular thanks to character designer Ookubo Tooru's anime-style cover illustration, it may sell out more quickly than usual.

With this being an odd-numbered issue it means that there's a new pair of characters featured on the CD. Showgeki Basara Talk! Motochika & Motonari No Maki Vol. 1 features two of the most beloved seiyuu of the series, Ishino Ryuuzou and Nakahara Shigeru. They're both lovely and tend to work as a natural comedy duo even during the unscripted parts of the show.

Their 'Basara Challenge' skit requires that Motochika and Motonari try to look after some children, which ends up being Motochika looking after the children while trying to prevent Motonari treating them as pawns in his army. The whole thing is greatly enhanced with childish background music and prerecorded sound effects of the children cheering at comical moments. No matter how much fun Aniki has trying to instil his values in his young charges, Motonari is always ready with a joyless insult of some kind to darken the mood.

The other special activity on the disc is a quiz where both seiyuu talked about their characters' more challenging lines. Overall, it's a pretty good Basara Talk CD.

My usual run-through of the rest of the magazine's contents follows.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

News: Capcom will host a Sengoku Basara 4 stage presentation at Jump Festa '15

Jump Festa '15 is the latest in Shounen Jump's annual series of manga and gaming conventions, scheduled to be held at Makuhari Messe on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st December 2014. Naturally, there's often a Capcom booth at the event to promote their newest games.

The official Sengoku Basara news portal suddenly updated this morning to announce that there will be a Sengoku Basara 4 presentation at the Capcom booth this year as well! Last year's Jump Festa event revealed a lot of new information about the then-unreleased Sengoku Basara 4.

So what can we expect this time? Right now, not much is known. Capcom's Jump Festa '15 microsite contains the same information as the news portal, reporting that attendees will be able to play Sengoku Basara 4 on stage to try to win prizes. Series producer Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki will also be making announcements relating to February's Basara Matsuri event - and more.

The Sengoku Basara 4 stage events will be held between 13:40 and 14:10 (Japan time) on both days of Jump Festa '15. It's a short timeslot so there's a chance all they'll be doing is promoting Sengoku Basara 4 and announcing the next batch of guests for Basara Matsuri, but it's also possible there'll be more information closer to the time. The Butai Sengoku Basara 4 stage play will finish its run two weeks before the event takes place so it will be the perfect opportunity to begin dropping hints about the next big project.

I'm definitely curious!

Friday 21 November 2014

News roundup: merchandise, wallpapers and a request for help from a fellow fan

A roundup of the newest Sengoku Basara merchandise

Four new Mame Sengoku Basara 4 acrylic straps are due for release in late January 2015. Priced at ¥648 each, there will be designs for Date Masamune, Ishida Mitsunari, Shibata Katsuie and Shima Sakon.

In addition, AmiAmi have added details of four Sengoku Basara Magazine cushions for release in late January 2015. They're priced at ¥3,240 each and come in a choice of Date Masamune, Ishida Mitsunari, Chousokabe Motochika and Mouri Motonari designs.

The cover artwork is released for the upcoming Judge End art book

The Television Anime Sengoku Basara Judge End: Official Illustration & Genga Collection will now be released on 9th December 2014 and a sample of the front cover has been released:

Masamune seems to be casually reclining and with his weapons. Presumably Yukimura is on the back cover - I wonder whether he'll look as relaxed as his rival?

Having trouble buying Sengoku Basara Magazine?

In response to a request (and because I still haven't figured out how to respond to comments on Tumblr), some people are having trouble finding ways to preorder the upcoming Sengoku Basara Magazine vol. 7 outside Japan. It seems that most import stores still haven't posted their listings, but if you're worried about missing out and don't mind the more expensive shipping, Amazon Japan and HMV will both ship the magazine overseas and accept foreign credit cards.

I'd expect stores such as CD Japan to list the magazine too eventually. It might be worth contacting your favourite websites with a link to the Amazon page to ask when they'll be adding their listings!

After the last batch of information was released with the cover illustration, the magazine shot up to first place in Amazon's gaming magazine category and has been in the top ten ever since. It's possible that it will sell out quite quickly after release.

Free Sengoku Basara wallpapers are available from Enterrise

Enterrise, the company behind this year's Pachislot Sengoku Basara 3 slot machine game, have posted a generous batch of wallpapers on their website which highlight several characters from Sengoku Basara 3. There are some older Pachislot Sengoku Basara 2 pictures available too if you prefer Tsuchibayashi Makoto's character artwork to the CG renders.

Help required: Seeking a translator for Sengoku Basara 4 cutscene videos

This last section isn't news but a request for help from a fellow Sengoku Basara fan! Matsunaga Hisahide recently got in touch with me to ask whether I knew anyone who would be interested in teaming up with him to translate the cutscenes from Sengoku Basara 4 into English. Fans may already be familiar with his work from the subtitled promotional videos he shared leading up to the game's release as 'PSandNintendFreak' on YouTube, as well as content from previous titles.

Those videos were a collaboration with longtime series fan Nine Demons Yoshitaka, but due to real life commitments Hisahide is currently looking for more helpers to provide translated scripts for the dialogue so he can match it up to video footage and help fans who don't speak Japanese to get more out of the game. He's completely flexible about who shares the videos and full credit will be given; he just wants to get the content out there!

If you're interested and have enough free time to assist, you can contact Hisahide directly through Koei Warriors or YouTube - or send me a message and I'll provide more details and help you make contact.

Friday 14 November 2014

News roundup: Prerelease information for the next volume of Sengoku Basara Magazine

Release information for Sengoku Basara Magazine vol. 7

E-Capcom updated today to show off the cover artwork for the next volume of Sengoku Basara Magazine, scheduled for release on 27th November 2014. Surprisingly, they've used a new anime-style image of Sakon for the placeholder artwork.

The illustration has been provided by character designer Ookubo Tooru to go with the 26 pages of Shima Sakon coverage within the magazine (which includes an interview with seiyuu Nakamura Yuuichi and tribute illustrations by Kugawara Kazuki and Hayama). There's also a sample of the exclusive rubber strap:

The listing notes that the next issue will feature the first part of an official 'scenario novel', a serialised story by the game's scenario writer Matsuno Izuru titled Sengoku Basara 4: Sanbee Souran ~Oushuu Ni Teru Hikari~ Zenpen ('Three '-bee' Mayhem ~The Future Which Shines On Oushuu~ Part 1'). The story will involve Hanbee, Kanbee and Matabee clashing with Masamune, from the sound of things. Yokota Mamoru will be providing illustrations and the 'scenario novel' format is supposedly more dynamic and easy to read than a normal story. Interesting!

There will also be a report from the upcoming Butai Sengoku Basara 4 stage play with an interview from the four graduating cast members (Nakamura Seijirou, Hirose Yuusuke, Yoshida Tomokazu and Murata Youjirou), a look back at Judge End, an article where series creators KobaP and YamamotoD answer 26 questions asked by fans, a vote on a new blanket design to be released in late February 2015 and more.

The Showgeki Basara Talk! Motochika & Motonari No Maki Vol. 1 CD will feature seiyuu Nakahara Shigeru (Mouri Motonari) and Ishino Ryuuzou (Chousokabe Motochika). One of the special challenge skits will feature the two of them taking care of children this time.

The serialised manga will include the same three titles again: Sumeragi's Mame Sengoku Basara 4 (Shucchouban), Yoshihara Motoki's Sengoku Basara 4: Bontenmaru-hen and Tane Jugou's Wan-Nyan Sengoku Basara.

The cover illustration for the next novel is now available

The cover artwork has been revealed for the second Sengoku Basara 4 novel, Sengoku Basara 4: Saikyou-Chouhan-hen ('Western Misfortune/Cho-han Arc'). Takase Mie is credited as the writer and Haibara Yak will be providing illustrations when the book goes on sale on 11th December 2014.

Sample images for the newest Sengoku Basara merchandise

We can now finally see full-sized pictures of the upcoming Mame Sengoku Basara goodies which will be released at the end of November 2014. There will be wooden straps (¥600) and chirimen crepe mirrors (¥800) featuring a choice of Masamune, Mitsunari, Yukimura, Ieyasu, Keiji, Sakon, Katsuie, Shikanosuke and Matabee illustrations.

In addition, the new CG illustrations from Sengoku Basara Magazine are going to feature on acrylic pass cases with Masamune, Mitsunari, Motochika and Motonari designs (¥1,200).

Finally, there will be a Sengoku Basara Judge End photo album for storing your favourite bromides (including, perhaps, the bromides which will be offered as prizes in the upcoming Ichiban Kuji lottery?). It will be released on 29th January 2015 for ¥1,000.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Manga review: Sengoku Basara Comic Anthology 'Setouchi Chronicle'

Sengoku Basara Comic Anthology 'Setouchi Chronicle' was released by ASCII Media Works in the Dengeki Comics EX line on 21st December 2013 after a month's delay. Priced at ¥850 before taxes, this 116-page manga can still be purchased from all good import book stores and specialists such as Yesasia, Amazon Japan or CD Japan.

Setouchi Chronicle is the third (and presumably, final) book in this particular series of manga anthologies, following on from Dategun Chronicle and Takedagun Chronicle released the same year. Each volume focuses on a particular army, making them a real treat if you happen to be a fan of the characters being highlighted. I'm still amazed that there was no Toyotomigun Chronicle given the faction's popularity - perhaps Sengoku Basara 4 will provide more spin-off opportunities later on.

Setouchi Chronicle is based on the Setouchi region, so naturally most of its content revolves around the eternal struggle between Mouri Motonari and Chousokabe Motochika. In that respect it's a little different from the previous volumes; the heroes are bitter enemies this time rather than allies working alongside one another. Fans of other characters with links to the Setouchi region will also find a few stories which might satisfy them - Tsuruhime guest stars in several of the strips - but Motonari and Motochika get the lion's share of the pages all to themselves. The stories are mostly comedic in nature.

Regular Sengoku Basara manga readers may notice a number of familiar names in the list of contributors, ranging from regular manga artists to doujinshi creators. There are a few samples on Dengeki's online reader website here.

Cover artist Ashika Nozomu has captured both of the characters' personalities on the eye-catching pink/green dust jacket. Inside, the first two pages are full-colour illustrations: Sasakura Kou has drawn
Motochika and Ieyasu back-to-back while Mizuno Sao chose to depict Motochika and Motonari clashing in battle. Both pieces of art are superb.

The rest of the book is made up of black and white manga as usual. Many of the titles are puns based on songs or popular culture, and the Sengoku Basara 3 storyline seems to be popular - most likely because it offers a rare chance to show both characters working together without having to establish some reason for them to cooperate within the limits of a short story.

Gassantodajou De Himatsubushi ('Killing Time At Gassantoda Castle')
from Sengoku Basara 3
Arai Karo
Motochika brings Motonari along to Gassantoda Castle as his ally (i.e. his bodyguard, for players of Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes). He is forced to endure an endless stream of abuse and heckling as he tries to keep his attention on the fight with Amago Haruhisa. There are numerous references to the original game in this very funny story.

Monday 10 November 2014

Event report: Animate Girls Festival 2014

This weekend, the Animate Girls Festival 2014 (AGF) event was held in Ikebukuro's Sunshine City entertainment complex. AGF is a gaming convention solely targeted towards female fans - in other words, it's a feast of otome games and bishounen-filled anime which don't have to share billing with the big-budget mainstream games aimed at a male audience.

There are a few big brands in the otome gaming world which tend to dominate (e.g. Uta No Prince-sama, Hakuouki, Diabolik Lovers and Starry Sky) but one of the best things about female-orientated gaming is that it tends to be full of obscure titles which don't need huge budgets to generate a loyal fan base. To an outsider, the booths were probably full of similar-looking male hosts sporting colourful hair, ridiculous costumes and sexy poses, but to a fan this was as diverse a concentration of female-orientated content as you could possibly get.

The festival was split into two separate events on the 8th and 9th November 2014, each of which had a staggering amount of special merchandise, stage events and light hearted attractions on offer. With this being the event's fifth year everything was run in a professional way without too much queueing once the early morning crowd began to clear.

Saturday 8 November 2014

News roundup: The latest Sengoku Basara merchandise updates

Cover art is revealed for the third volume of Sengoku Basara Judge End

Motochika and Motonari take the honour of being on the cover for the third DVD/Blu-ray volume of the most recent anime! With just one cover left, I wonder who will be featured? It seems unlikely that any of the retainers will make it now; perhaps it will be Magoichi and Keiji?

The latest Sengoku Basara 4 merchandise appears in online stores

The following new items are due for release on 29th January 2015. CD Japan, Ami Ami and other specialist retailers are already taking preorders.

A set of four 'Giga Basara' Japanese tea cups for ¥1,296 each:

Four different A4 clear files for ¥378 each:

Four oversized badges for ¥486 each:

And finally, four 'wall decoration' sticker sets for ¥1,404 each:

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Event report: Butai Sengoku Basara 4

As luck would have it, I ended up visiting Japan at the same time that the new Butai Sengoku Basara 4 stage play was running in Tokyo. This is the first time in the five years of the stage play series that I have managed to accidentally time one of my trips to coincide with the plays and I wasn't about to miss this chance, so yesterday evening I found myself excitedly approaching the Tokyo Dome City Hall along with a couple of thousand of other eager fans to see how well the Sengoku Basara 4 storyline made the transition to live action.

I'd had no idea that I would be able to see this stage play until a few weeks ago so I didn't purchase my tickets as early as usual. It was incredible, then, that I managed to get a really good seat right at the front of the first floor of the balcony despite the show being almost sold out. I could see absolutely everything, right down to the actors' finely chiselled physiques.

Those of us who weren't seated in the arena below missed out on the fun of having the actors running into the aisles during the performance (Yukimura even apologised to several audience members as part of the act!), but with a perfect view of all of the action there was no reason to be disappointed. I am forever grateful that Lawson's online ticketing system accepts foreign credit cards, making reserving last minute tickets much less stressful than it might have been otherwise.

I'll summarise the overall details first. The play's run began in Tokyo on 31st October 2014 and it will end in Nagoya on 7th December 2014 after 27 performances.

The full cast list is as follows (newcomers are in bold):

Nakamura Seijirou (Ishida Mitsunari)
Hirose Yuusuke (Tokugawa Ieyasu)
Katou Keisuke (Shima Sakon)
Fujita Ray (Shibata Katsuie)
Yamaguchi Daichi (Date Masamune)
Matsumura Ryuunosuke (Sanada Yukimura)
Yoshida Tomokazu (Katakura Kojuurou)
Murata Youjirou (Sarutobi Sasuke)
Nitta Kenta (Ootani Yoshitsugu)
Takahashi Hikaru (Fuuma Kotarou)
Kubodera Akira (Oda Nobunaga)
Taniguchi Masashi (Akechi Mitsuhide)
Sakurada Kousei (Azai Nagamasa)
Tamaki Nami (Oichi)
Amano Kousei (Ashikaga Yoshiteru)

There's also the usual extended cast of nameless background soldiers and the whole thing has been put together by maestro Nishida Daisuke and the original creators at Capcom. Fans may notice that there are fewer named characters than last time; presumably Nishida chose to keep things simple so that they could introduce the new setting without too much mayhem. The result is a very tight story which leads up to a struggle between four factions (yes, just four!) before a satisfying climax.

From here on, I'll be talking about the content of the play so please stop reading if you don't want any spoilers. There will be rambling, too.

Saturday 1 November 2014

DVD review: Butai Sengoku Basara Bushou Matsuri 2013

This review has been a long time coming, but with Butai Sengoku Basara 4 starting its run in Japan I felt it was about time I finished watching the last event DVD in my collection!

Butai Sengoku Basara Bushou Matsuri 2013 (hereafter referred to by its official romanised title of Busho Matsuri) was a major fan event held on Saturday 13th July 2013 (with two performances at 12:30 and 18:00 respectively) and Sunday 14th July 2013 (with just one performance at 12:30).

The venue was the enormous Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo, and the purpose of the event was to celebrate the Butai Sengoku Basara stage play series. By 2013, the regular Basara Matsuri events had become so crowded with fans of both the games and the stage plays that it was becoming tremendously difficult to cater for everyone properly, so the decision was made to split the next two events into a huge party for the stage play fans and a smaller, low-key Basara Matsuri for the original games six months later.

What nobody released at the time Busho Matsuri was first announced was that this would also be a farewell party, of sorts, for the stage play series' two iconic leads. Kubota Yuuki and Hosogai Kei had become enormously popular over the years and there was a great deal of shock when it was announced that they would be graduating from the series after Butai Sengoku Basara 3 Utage finished its run.

With this being a large-scale event, the guest list was amazing.

Friday 31 October 2014

Today's acquisitions (31st October 2014)

My updates might be sporadic for a little while so here are the things which arrived in the last week or so - it's been difficult to keep up with blogging during this busy period at work!

First up, it's Anime Limited's Gurren Lagann: Ultimate Edition Blu-ray box set. This is the first time I have bought a local BD release that was region locked, so I had to pick up a cheap BD drive at the same time to be able to play it. This is how it looks when it's all packed up in its outer sleeve (an o-card). It's nice that Anime Limited have started doing this so that they can conform to the legal requirement to show the BBFC age rating and marketing information without ruining the packaging inside, much like the obi slips commonly used for Japanese releases.

The next picture shows how it looks without the sleeve. There's a chipboard art box with a wraparound illustration (left), the Digipak with the actual Blu-ray discs (centre) and a hardback art book (right). Not bad!

There are three video glitches in the set from the masters Anime Limited were sent (thanks, Aniplex), but given how much cheaper this is than buying the Japanese set it suits me fine. I paid £80, which isn't a bad price for the entire series, the movies and the Parallel Works extras.

Next is the New Directors From Japan Blu-ray/DVD set. It was a Kickstarter project which managed to meet its goal and deliver the finished discs without any drama at all, making it the most no-nonsense Kickstarter effort I have ever contributed to. I hope that Third Window Films will consider launching more niche projects this way; it's a fantastic opportunity to get region-free Blu-ray produced for films which would otherwise never see release in the west. I'm looking forward to watching them shortly.

My backlog of Japanese books suddenly increased when this old batch of preorders from Honto arrived. The first picture includes all five existing volumes of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun - a must-buy after the fantastic anime adaptation. They're accompanied by the Diabolik Lovers: More, Blood Sakamaki-hen Prequel manga and both halves of the ridiculous-looking Mahou Shoujo Ore. I don't know how I'm ever going to find the time to read all of these books...

The third BASARA CLUB Press newsletter arrived too, with a Halloween-themed cover drawn by Mikami.

Last but not least, Gekijouban Sengoku Basara -The Last Party- Official Illustration Collection II and the first volume of the Mame Sengoku Basara 4 manga by Sumeragi.

I'll talk about Mame Sengoku Basara 4 later in a proper review (spoilers: it's really cute!) but since I will probably never have time to post about each individual art book at my current pace, here's an overview of what to expect if you purchase Gekijouban Sengoku Basara -The Last Party- Official Illustration Collection II.

As the title implies, this book collects all of the leftover materials and illustrations which Production I.G. produced since the previous Sengoku Basara -The Last Party- art collection. There are some pictures which relate to the television series too, and others which have nothing to do with either the movie or television versions, such as the illustrations Ookubo Tooru produced to promote various regional festivals in the Touhoku area.

The first 47 pages are full colour illustrations from posters, merchandise, guide books and other sources, and if you love the anime art style these alone make the book worthwhile. A few design sketches from Mini Sengoku Basara break up the serious poses nicely.

The next feature is a long 'commentary' on Sengoku Basara -The Last Party- from director Nomura Kazuya, screenplay creator Mutou Yasuyuki and character designer Ookubu Tooru, which is a group interview where they go through all of the movie's key scenes and add their comments. This feature includes storyboards and script excerpts for a few scenes which never made it into the finished film. These were the climax of the fight between Kenshin and Shingen at Kawanakajima, the Maeda family sharing a meal with Keiji, Ieyasu and Motochika, and some expanded character development for Yukimura after he's forced to deal with his new responsibilities. All three would have been nice additions in the finished movie, especially the exposition at Kawanakajima. It's a shame that the storyboards were never animated in the end.

The final pages of the art book are dedicated to a more general interview with the three staff members.

Given how text-heavy it is, this book is probably for serious The Last Party fans or Japanese-speakers only, but if you want a decent collection of the rarer illustrations used for the anime box sets and you're crazy about Ookubo's art it's a good buy.

News roundup: Butai Sengoku Basara 4 begins its run today

The first pictures of the Butai Sengoku Basara 4 cast start to appear

The Butai Sengoku Basara 4 stage play will open for its first audiences later tonight in Japan, but since they held the final dress rehearsal yesterday we finally have an opportunity to get a sneak peak at the actors in their costumes! The celebrities and industry guests who were invited to the dress rehearsal seem to have enjoyed the experience.

I'm sure more pictures will appear in the morning but for now, here are some samplers courtesy of @shimazushintaro, @mihashireiko, @yanaikeiko and Conpetti. There are also some tiny pictures on the show's merchandise page now that it's been updated with more photographs.

It's difficult to judge how well the costumes work from still photographs - it's an extremely kinetic series - but I still enjoyed checking them out. Katsuie's armour looks great, especially in the shot on Conpetti. It looks as though they've actually made it look iridescent instead of compromising with dark green.

Edit: 4Gamer, Gamer and Famitsu have now posted full reports with galleries, and the Conpetti link above has added extra pictures. Fujita Ray posted a candid backstage shot of Sakon and Katsuie on Twitter, too.

A live viewing event will be held for the stage play's grand finale

The official Butai Sengoku Basara 4 website has confirmed that a live viewing will be taking place at 13:00 on 7th December 2014 to enable fans to watch the stage play's grand finale in 26 cinemas across Japan. The tickets for the finale have been sold out for a while, as have tickets for most other dates - the website hasn't updated to show the ticket availability recently but it's now impossible to purchase tickets for many of the shows. Thanks to the live viewing, people who can't travel to one of the four cities hosting Butai Sengoku Basara 4 can still see the stage play performed live without having to wait for the eventual DVD release. Basara Club members can purchase their tickets starting from today for ¥3,600; everyone else has to wait until general sales commence later on.

More guests are announced for next year's Basara Matsuri

The third group of stage play guests has now been announced for February's huge Basara Matsuri event:

Sakurada Kousei (Azai Nagamasa)
Tamaki Nami (Oichi)
Nitta Kenta (Ootani Yoshitsugu)

In addition, there are a couple of new seiyuu guests:

Ookawa Tooru (Tokugawa Ieyasu) will be at the afternoon performance only.
Nakai Kazuya (Date Masamune) will be at the evening performance only.

The website promises that there are still more announcements to come! I'm guessing we'll get the next update in the second half of November since they'll want to publicise the event again around the time that the general ticket sales are beginning.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

News roundup: Preorder details - and another lottery is coming next year

The Sengoku Basara series will feature in a new Ichiban Kuji prize draw next year

The smaller Ichiban Kuji V: Sengoku Basara Judge End ~The Battle of Sekigahara~ prize lottery isn't even going to begin for another couple of weeks, and already eagle-eyed Japanese fans have spotted something even more interesting scheduled for February next year.

The excitement began when it was discovered that the Kujimap website had posted details for an event titled Ichiban Kuji: Sengoku Basara Part 2. This hasn't been formally announced yet, but these early reveals tend to be accurate and there's already a detailed list of proposed prizes which has been updated over the course of the day.

A rank prize: Date Masamune 'real' figure
B rank prize: Date Masamune 'Kyun-Chara' figure
C rank prize: Ishida Mitsunari 'Kyun-Chara' figure
D rank prize: Shima Sakon 'Kyun-Chara' figure
E rank prize: Shibata Katsuie 'Kyun-Chara' figure
F rank prize: Hand towel (four different designs)
G rank prize: Notelets (four different designs)
H rank prize: 'Stylish' rubber strap (seven different designs)
I rank prize: 'Extreme' rubber strap (seven different designs)
Last One prize: Date Masamune 'real' figure (Last One version)

This could just be me reading too much into the timing and the choice to feature the Sengoku Basara 4 leads again, but the first Ichiban Kuji: Sengoku Basara lottery was held during January 2014 to coincide with the game's big release. This one is planned for late February 2015, and once again it seems game-related. Given that Basara Matsuri is going to be held at the beginning of February, could this be part of a media push to highlight a new game - perhaps the expansion to Sengoku Basara 4 that many of us have been hoping for?

If so, it's possible we'll be hearing the first news about a new game in the next couple of months so that Capcom can build up the hype ready to give the audience a preview at Basara Matsuri.

It's nothing more than my gut feeling but I don't think that the series is popular enough right now to justify another countrywide lottery event without it being part of a bigger plan. With the curtain rising on the Butai Sengoku Basara 4 stage play this weekend, I'm going to be keeping my fingers crossed for new announcements soon.

And in the meantime, I'm going to be worrying about how to get my hands on those Sakon and Katsuie prize figures...

(If you want to know more about Japan's Ichiban Kuji draws, I once posted a short description here which explains how they work.)

Preorders open for the next issue of Sengoku Basara Magazine

The next volume of Sengoku Basara Magazine can now be preordered through Amazon Japan, so we can expect the listing to appear elsewhere very soon. Volume seven of the magazine will be released on 27th November 2014. Amazon currently has it mislabelled as volume six but the dates all match up to the next issue, which is supposed to be featuring Shima Sakon as its cover star.

Even more Mame Sengoku Basara goods will be released next month

According to Japanese fan @yukimurabo, this month's issue of Dengeki Maoh has confirmed that there will be more Mame Sengoku Basara and Sengoku Basara Magazine merchandise coming from Dengeki on 27th November 2014.

On the Mame Sengoku Basara side, there will be wooden straps (¥600) and chirimen crepe mirrors (¥800) featuring a choice of Masamune, Mitsunari, Yukimura, Ieyasu, Keiji, Sakon, Katsuie, Shikanosuke and Matabee illustrations. The new CG illustrations from Sengoku Basara Magazine are going to feature on acrylic pass cases with Masamune, Mitsunari, Motochika and Motonari designs (¥1,200).

More details appear for the next Sengoku Basara Judge End Blu-ray/DVD

The VAP website has updated to confirm more about the specifications of the Sengoku Basara Judge End discs. I'm going to take the opportunity to recap everything we know so far about the individual volumes since the information is spread out over so many different posts.

Sengoku Basara Judge End: I

Release date: 24th September 2014
Catalogue number: VPXY-71336 (Blu-ray) / VPBY-14329 (DVD)
Price: ¥5,800 (Blu-ray) / ¥4,800 (DVD)
Blu-ray specification: Colour, Stereo, Linear PCM 2.0, 16:9 1080p HD
DVD specification: Colour, Stereo, 16:9 LB, Dolby Digital 2.0ch
Run time: 70 minutes (not including extras)
Contents: Sengoku Basara Judge End episodes 1-3, textless opening/ending videos, and an audio commentary with Nakai Kazuya (Date Masamune), Hoshi Souichirou (Sanada Yukimura) and Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki.
First press bonuses: Exclusive Masamune/Kojuurou keychain and episodes 1-3 of Hoshi Souichirou and Seki Tomokazu's 'Sengoku Basara: Judge End' Radio show on CD, with a bonus episode featuring seiyuu Nakai Kazuya (Date Masamune).

Sengoku Basara Judge End: II

Release date: 22nd October 2014
Catalogue number: VPXY-71337 (Blu-ray) / VPBY-14330 (DVD)
Price: ¥5,800 (Blu-ray) / ¥4,800 (DVD)
Blu-ray specification: Colour, Stereo, Linear PCM 2.0, 16:9 1080p HD
DVD specification: Colour, Stereo, 16:9 LB, Dolby Digital 2.0ch
Run time: 70 minutes (not including extras)
Contents: Sengoku Basara Judge End episodes 4-6, and an audio commentary with Ishino Ryuuzou (Chousokabe Motochika), Nakahara Shigeru (Mouri Motonari) and animation producer Itou Kouhei.
First press bonuses: Exclusive Yukimura/Sasuke keychain and episodes 4-6 of Hoshi Souichirou and Seki Tomokazu's 'Sengoku Basara: Judge End' Radio show on CD, with a bonus episode featuring seiyuu Ookawa Tooru (Tokugawa Ieyasu).

Sengoku Basara Judge End: III

Release date: 26th November 2014
Catalogue number: VPXY-71338 (Blu-ray) / VPBY-14331 (DVD)
Price: ¥5,800 (Blu-ray) / ¥4,800 (DVD)
Blu-ray specification: Colour, Stereo, Linear PCM 2.0, 16:9 1080p HD
DVD specification: Colour, Stereo, 16:9 LB, Dolby Digital 2.0ch
Run time: 70 minutes (not including extras)
Contents: Sengoku Basara Judge End episodes 7-9, and an audio commentary with Morita Masakazu (Maeda Keiji), Hayami Shou (Tenkai) and sound director Iwanami Yoshikazu.
First press bonuses: Exclusive Ieyasu/Tadatsugu keychain and episodes 7-9 of Hoshi Souichirou and Seki Tomokazu's 'Sengoku Basara: Judge End' Radio show on CD, with a bonus episode featuring seiyuu Morita Masakazu (Maeda Keiji).

Sengoku Basara Judge End: IV

Release date: 24th December 2014
Catalogue number: VPXY-71339 (Blu-ray) / VPBY-14332 (DVD)
Price: ¥5,800 (Blu-ray) / ¥4,800 (DVD)
Blu-ray specification: Colour, Stereo, Linear PCM 2.0, 16:9 1080p HD
DVD specification: Colour, Stereo, 16:9 LB, Dolby Digital 2.0ch
Run time: 70 minutes (not including extras)
Contents: Sengoku Basara Judge End episodes 10-12, and an audio commentary with Seki Tomokazu (Ishida Mitsunari) and Ookawa Tooru (Tokugawa Ieyasu).
First press bonuses: Exclusive Mitsunari/Yoshitsugu keychain and episodes 10-12 of Hoshi Souichirou and Seki Tomokazu's 'Sengoku Basara: Judge End' Radio show on CD, with a bonus episode featuring seiyuu Nakahara Shigeru (Mouri Motonari).

Every volume will come packed in an illustrated Digipak with a booklet. Whether you loved Judge End or hated it, these discs are a great deal for seiyuu fans.

For those more interested in the visual side, there's also a preview of the exclusive keychain featuring Tokugawa Ieyasu and Sakai Tadatsugu. It will be included with the third volume as a first press bonus item.

Mini-Ieyasu's tiny eyebrows are the best!