Wednesday 26 February 2014

News roundup: A new PS3 Sengoku Basara 4 custom theme and yet more merchandise announcements

There haven't been any leaks (that I've noticed) yet from tomorrow's Sengoku Basara Magazine vol. 4, which either means that the publisher has done a great job keeping things a surprise or, as I suspect, there isn't actually going to be much new information after all this time. Mitsunari receiving a brand new CG illustration for the front cover was a pleasant surprise.

I suppose it's possible to analyse the blurb on the cover more with desperation while waiting for my copy to ship: it uses the same wording as before in specifically describing the new anime adaptation as a new 'Sengoku Basara' TV series, so it can't be an adaptation of Gakuen Basara or Mame Sengoku Basara, right? It has to be a new season of the regular anime, right?!

Anyway! Before I drive myself crazy with anticipation, here are the latest wallet-busting headlines from the Sengoku Basara world.

Tomorrow's bonus DLC is going to be a special PS3 custom theme

The Sengoku Basara 4 DLC scheduled to arrive on PSN tomorrow (27th February 2014) is the batch of previously-store-exclusive character costumes we heard about previously along with Muneshige's Jumbo Xavi-kun.

I mentioned before that there was going to be a bonus for fans who purchased all of the available DLC costumes and it was unveiled at a press event held at the Capcom Bar earlier today. As anticipated, it's nothing groundbreaking: a new custom theme for fans to install on their PS3s. However, the sample screenshots look great. If I wasn't already planning to buy all of the outfits anyway, it would be kind of tempting...

There are twelve different pictures included in the theme, one for each month of the year.

While I'm on the subject of DLC, if anyone managed to buy the game without receiving the Date Masamune (hakama/wooden sword version) outfit, please drop me a message over Twitter (or by email if you can figure out my address). I have one spare PSN code available which could save someone ¥300.

A new official video shows off more gameplay combos

I'm sure this will be included in tomorrow's official website update, but in the meantime members of the gaming press have been circulating it themselves. A third dose of exciting gameplay can be enjoyed in the newest demonstration video, Sengoku Basara 4: Deeper Basara Action.

Jacket artwork is revealed for the two upcoming CDs

I reported the release details for these two new CDs just two weeks ago and now we already have the jacket illustrations to enjoy. Manga artist Ashika Nozomu has drawn Masamune, Yukimura, Mitsunari and Ieyasu for the Sengoku Basara Mini Drama Best!! compilation CD.

To go alongside it, Mame Sengoku Basara's Sumeragi has contributed a much less serious-looking picture for the Sengoku Basara Magazine CD: Showgeki Basara Talk! Vol. 2: Yukimura & Sasuke No Maki Special-ban disc. I think it matches the first volume nicely even if the sample image is rather small at the moment.

New merchandise is revealed to celebrate the Game No Dengeki Kanshasai 2014 event

A range of gorgeous new merchandise items has appeared over at the Dengeki Maoh blog, cruelly taunting those who can't make it to the industry event that will be held in mid-March.

Sengoku Basara 4 A4 clear file (¥350).

Sengoku Basara Magazine A4 clear file (¥350).

Sengoku Basara 4 B2 wallscroll (¥3,000).

Sengoku Basara Magazine B2 wallscroll (¥3,000).

Mame hanging scrolls for Masamune and Mitsunari (¥1,500 each).

Mame Sengoku Basara acrylic straps with earphone jacks. Eight different designs (¥600 each).

The goods will also be available for order in April via the Dengekiya online shop. The prices above are for the event and they may change before the items go on sale online.

Capcom launches another campaign promoting vehicle crime prevention in Japan

I took a long time to write this news roundup so the Sengoku Basara fans over at Anime News Network have already posted a proper article about this. It seems silly to duplicate their effort so I'll link to theirs. Now that Masamune has successfully warned the citizens of Osaka to be more careful with their cars, it's Yukimura, Keiji and Kanbee who are trying to spread awareness in the Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo areas. Kanbee has become much more popular since the Gunshi Kanbee drama began, hasn't he?

Edit: VegaManX4 kindly pointed out that the news was also reported on the official Capcom Investor Relations website with a full English article.

As a bonus, here's a picture of one of the Masamune posters from the previous campaign. It was still being displayed when I visited Osaka last month.

Tuesday 25 February 2014

Event report: Sengoku Basara 4 x Oedo Onsen Monogatari ~The Advance On Oedo Onsen Monogatari!~

Sengoku Basara 4 x Oedo Onsen Monogatari ~The Advance On Oedo Onsen Monogatari!~ was the second collaboration between Capcom and the Oedo Onsen Monogatari spa in Odaiba, intended to promote Sengoku Basara 4 in a lighthearted way. The event ran between Saturday 18th January and Tuesday 11th February 2014.

Due to other commitments, I visited Oedo Onsen Monogatari late in the evening during the latter part of my holiday. This had advantages and disadvantages: the crowds were mostly gone and the ticket price was discounted for customers who arrived later in the day (I had a discount coupon from Basara Matsuri, too, so I made a significant saving). However, I hadn't realised that the Sengoku Basara 4 stamp rally game was only open during the daytime. It closed just as we arrived.

The other disadvantage was that it was very difficult to take good pictures in the poor lighting, so please forgive the quality of this photo report!

Since Oedo Onsen Monogatari isn't all that well known in the west, I'll describe the entire visit. The venue is accessed via Telecom Center station on the scenic Yurikamome line, a stone's throw from central Tokyo. The only thing that you need to bring with you is a credit card or a large amount of cash; everything else is provided when you arrive. Passing through the entrance is like stepping into another world.

The only other people at the park so late in the evening were various pairs of girls delighted by the Sengoku Basara 4 tie-in, and an enormous group of Chinese tourists who had apparently come to enjoy the spa facilities.

Traditional Edo-style bathing is the theme and the park uses a stylised version of the Tokugawa clan's crest as its logo. You stow your outdoor shoes in lockers after passing through the door and then check in at the front desk, where you're issued with a special wristband. This band is very important - it's used as proof that you checked in, it unlocks your (huge) assigned locker in the changing rooms and it pays for any food or activities you want to enjoy during your visit. The code printed on it tells you where to find your locker once you're inside the changing rooms.

Thoughts about Diabolik Lovers

The text below contains spoilers for the Diabolik Lovers anime and the first game in the series.

Friday 21 February 2014

News roundup: Weekly Famitsu is running a Sengoku Basara 4 character survey!

Vote for your favourite Sengoku Basara 4 character with Weekly Famitsu magazine

I was a little disappointed that Capcom didn't include another big BSR48 popularity poll with Sengoku Basara 4 to gauge the current state of the series' fandom. Weekly Famitsu has just stepped up to the plate with an alternative, though, and I thought it might be fun to draw a little attention to it so that foreign fans can participate too. Please be careful not to spam the form since they might block entries from overseas if anyone tries to cheat.

The voting is open until noon on 24th February 2014 and the results will be printed as part of a Sengoku Basara 4 feature in the 27th March 2014 issue of Weekly Famitsu magazine, which goes on sale on 13th March 2014. I'll post the results when the time comes.

Each question has a space at the bottom for the voter to give a good reason for their choice. The best answers will be printed in the magazine - if you can't give a reason in Japanese, I'd recommend sticking with single word answers in English to avoid traumatising the Weekly Famitsu staff too much and having them invalidate your vote. Unless, of course, you picked Masamune or Sourin/Xavi, in which case answering in incomprehensible English is completely appropriate.

Here's a simple translation of the questions on the survey page. Since there are so many characters, I'd recommend finding the name of your favourite using the fan wiki (or this list).

Q1. Which of the playable characters in Sengoku Basara 4 do you like the most? Please tell us the reason you like them, too!

Q2. Which of the non-playable characters in Sengoku Basara 4 left the greatest impression on you? Again, please provide a reason.

(The final option is 'Other' with space for a name, so all of those Kanetsugu fans can still participate...)

Q3. Which military commander would you like to see playable other than those included in Sengoku Basara 4? It can be one of the non-playable characters, a character from an earlier game or a Sengoku-era warrior who hasn't yet appeared in the Sengoku Basara series. Once again, please provide a reason.

◎ Please provide your gender and age. This will be used for statistical purposes.

(Pick the top button for male or the bottom one for female. The dropdown is just for an age range; the only part that might be hard to understand is that you can pick early or late 20s/30s/40s but it's in a logical order.)

Once you're done, click the button at the bottom and wait for the results in a few weeks!

Designs for more new Gakuen Basara merchandise are revealed

They're gorgeous! As far as I know, these goods are limited to Animate stores and they'll be coming out in late March 2014. Details of the pass case, pin badges and 'second buttons' can be found in my earlier post.

POP/COOL Gakuen Basara book covers with mini bookmarks (¥400 each)

POP/COOL Gakuen Basara clear plastic bookmarks (¥500 each)

Pair/Group Gakuen Basara B5 shitajiki (¥300 each)

Pair/Group Gakuen Basara A4 clear files (¥350 each)

A pack of ten Gakuen Basara badges (¥190 each)

Thursday 20 February 2014

News roundup: More Sengoku Basara 4 DLC is on the way!

There hasn't been much to report in the past few days, but the newest update to the official Sengoku Basara 4 website has finally confirmed that the preorder DLC costumes will be made available to everyone next week for ¥300 apiece.

NameDescriptionTypeReleasedCost (JP¥)
伊達政宗 特別衣装 袴&木刀Ver.Date Masamune (hakama/wooden sword version)Costume27/02/2014300
徳川家康 特別衣装 学園バサラ Ver.Tokugawa Ieyasu (Gakuen Basara version)Costume27/02/2014300
井伊直虎 特別衣装 ウエディングVer.Ii Naotora (wedding version)Costume27/02/2014300
島左近 特別衣装 双刀功夫Ver.Shima Sakon (twin sword kung fu version)Costume27/02/2014300
真田幸村 特別衣装 蒼竜Ver.Sanada Yukimura (azure dragon version)Costume27/02/2014300
柴田勝家 特別衣装 絶対正義Ver.Shibata Katsuie (absolute justice version)Costume27/02/2014300
石田三成 特別衣装 DMCバージルVer.Ishida Mitsunari (DMC Vergil version)Costume27/02/2014300
立花宗茂 特別衣装 ジャンボザビーくんVer.Tachibana Muneshige (Jumbo Xavi-kun version)Costume27/02/2014Free
武将追加衣装 7武将セットSet of 7 'former preorder DLC' costumesCostume27/02/20141,500

The pack of 7 costumes only includes the preorder DLC costumes, i.e. Masamune, Ieyasu, Naotora, Sakon, Yukimura, Katsuie and Mitsunari. You will have to download Muneshige (Jumbo Xavi-kun version) and Masamune (DMC Dante version) separately if you want those too.

There's a note that customers who buy all of the available DLC costumes will unlock some kind of downloadable bonus. I'm guessing that this will be a pointless gimmick like a dynamic PS3 theme - we'll find out next week.

The other updates on the official website were to add a pair of new videos: another nice character gameplay clip titled 'limitless Basara action' and a letter of challenge from the footsoldiers (part one), which seems to be a series demonstrating how to achieve various gameplay feats. This part is about slaying 500 enemies in Sekigahara within 5 minutes.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Today's acquisitions (18th February 2014)

Whoa, it's been ages since I posted pictures of the latest arrivals in my collection. Today's batch is rather attractive, making me feel like taking a photograph for the first time in a while.

First up, two long-awaited CDs: the Sengoku Basara 4 Original Soundtrack and Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: The 20th Anniversary Memorial Tribute. The first needs no introduction but the second is wonderful trip back in time to my youth with modern anison performers such as Yakushimaru Etsuko and Momoi Haruko covering classic Sailor Moon theme songs. I really got a kick out of this CD even though not all of the reimagined songs work as well as the originals.

The third CD ties into the next photograph. My keen interest in Diabolik Lovers has continued to spiral out of control, so here are the first three Japanese special edition DVD sets complete with the first of Animate's bonus CDs (I have to buy the next three volumes too to get the other bonus).

There isn't much video content in each set with just two 14-minute episodes per volume. The sparse footage is complemented by a ton of extra content though, with audio dramas, video clips, gorgeous artwork and a few physical bonus items - so as long as I don't think about how much they cost, these sets were a great deal! The audio dramas have the characters discussing the events which took place in the anime, and the new song is gorgeous too. It's interesting to hear it performed by a different brother for each volume.

Thursday 13 February 2014

News roundup: After a storm comes a calm

I suppose this is an insensitive title for a post given how many wild storms are raging around the planet at the moment. It's rather nice having so little to blog about lately after the intensity of last year! I have a bunch of posts in the pipeline but I'm taking my time finishing them in between catching up on missed anime and playing a weird mixture of Sengoku Basara 4 and Diabolik Lovers ~Haunted Dark Bridal~.

Still, I guess I'd better keep up on the news in preparation for Capcom to unleash the next wave of hype as the announcement about the upcoming anime is getting closer. This post is mostly about new Sengoku Basara 4 merchandise.

Decorate your home with Sengoku Basara 4 silhouette wall stickers

A set of quirky Sengoku Basara 4 wall stickers are to be released on 27th March 2014 for ¥1,000 each. There will be three different packs to collect: Date Masamune Cavalry, Ishida Mitsunari & Shima Sakon: Battle Comrades and Footsoldier Formation.

It looks as though it would be quite easy to make silhouettes like this at home using black paper, so I'm not sure how well they will sell...

A second batch of Sengoku Basara 4 clear files arrives

Fans of characters other than the four main 'poster boys' of the latest game can finally organise their paperwork with some new faces on 24th April 2014. The files cost ¥350 each and will be available in four different designs: Sanada Yukimura, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Chousokabe Motochika and Mouri Motonari.

If those four characters aren't your favourites, there's another set of sixteen smaller A5 files on the way too with the Sengoku Basara 4 Bushou Clear File Collection Box being released on 27th March 2014 for ¥3,200.

I have no idea what the secret file design will be this time - a group picture?

The second standalone Showgeki Basara Talk! CD is revealed

We can also look forward to the upcoming Sengoku Basara Magazine CD: Showgeki Basara Talk! Vol. 2: Yukimura & Sasuke No Maki Special-ban CD, now dated for 20th March 2014. It will collect content from the two CDs packed with Sengoku Basara Magazine issues three and four as well as brand new material. The Basara Challenge skits that Yukimura and Sasuke will perform are hide-and-seek, a crane game and a new 'hot-blooded tenacious sporting drama', which sounds suitably exciting.

As an additional bonus, special guest Okamoto Nobuhiko (Shibata Katsuie) will be joining fellow seiyuu Hoshi Souichirou (Sanada Yukimura) and Koyasu Takehito (Sarutobi Sasuke) for some of the content. The cover artwork is a temporary placeholder; expect a brand new picture for the real cover to go with the content on the disc.

In addition to the new CD, the original Sengoku Basara Magazine CD: Showgeki Basara Talk! Vol. 1: Masamune & Kojuurou No Maki Special-ban CD from September 2013 will be receiving yet another print run to meet demand.

The CDs are both priced at ¥2,625 each.

Sengoku Basara Mini Drama Best!! compilation CD announced

Fans who missed the bonus CDs which came with the various Visual & Sound Book volumes released for Sengoku Basara 2 and Sengoku Basara 3 can now order a special compilation CD including all four audio drama tracks and one of the cast talks with Ookawa Tooru (Tokugawa Ieyasu) and Seki Tomokazu (Ishida Mitsunari). It will be priced at ¥2,625 and the release date is 20th March 2014, though visitors to the Game No Dengeki Kanshasai 2014 & Dengeki Bunko Haru No Saiten 2014 event on 16th March will be able to pick up their copies early. The cover artwork is just a placeholder image at the moment.

I already have all of the performances on this CD but I know I'll end up buying it again like a fool...

If you're curious about the content, my old reviews for the books mention the CDs as well. A large number of characters appear over the course of the tracks so most fans should be reasonably satisfied!

Cover artwork for Sengoku Basara 3 Bloody Angel volume 7

Mitsunari fans might enjoy the newest cover artwork for Itou Ryuu's ongoing manga series. I think it's the best one yet.

The manga will be released on 7th March 2014 as previously planned.

Capcom posts two new Sengoku Basara 4 videos on their YouTube channel

Those still unsure how the gameplay actually works in Sengoku Basara 4 can check out the new video highlighting battle comrade combinations and showing off how intense the game's action can be if you're a better player than I am.

Shima Sakon fans have also been treated to a video showing footage from Sengoku Creation mode to go with the previous Naotora and Masamune clips.

Thursday 6 February 2014

News roundup: A brand new Sengoku Basara stage play - and the final Sengoku Basara 4 live broadcast

I reshuffled my work day today in order to be around for these two special broadcasts. So, in order of importance...

A new Butai Sengoku Basara stage play is announced

Today's special video broadcast announced the next Butai Sengoku Basara stage play project: Butai Sengoku Basara 3: Togakuruwashi Kizuna ('Bonds Wrongly Gone Awry'). I apologise for the inelegant translation of the title; it's obviously meant to refer to the relationship between Mitsunari and Ieyasu which falls apart so catastrophically in Sengoku Basara 3.

The play will run in three cities with 26 shows in total:

Tokyo's EX Theatre Roppongi (25th April - 6th May 2014)
Nagoya's Chuunichi Theatre (10th May - 11th May 2014)
Osaka's Theatre Brava! (15th May - 18th May 2014)

Ticket reservations will open on 8th February. The cast contains an amazing 22 stars:

Hirose Yuusuke (Tokugawa Ieyasu)
Nakamura Seijirou (Ishida Mitsunari)
Takigawa Eiji (Date Masamune)
Yoshioka Yuu (Sanada Yukimura)
Matsumura Ryuunosuke (Sanada Yukimura)
Yoshida Tomokazu (Katakura Kojuurou)
Murata Youjirou (Sarutobi Sasuke)
Yagami Ren (Chousokabe Motochika)
Kotani Yoshikazu (Mouri Motonari)
Yokoyama Masafumi (Kuroda Kanbee)
Taniguchi Masashi (Tenkai)
Miyashita Yuuya (Kobayakawa Hideaki)
Takahashi Hikaru (Fuuma Kotarou)
Nitta Kenta (Ootani Yoshitsugu)
Yashiro Minase (Saika Magoichi)
Kawamura Yukie (Tsuruhime)
Kaneda Shinichi (Miyoshi Sanninshuu: eldest brother)
Endou Makoto (Miyoshi Sanninshuu: second brother)
Shirasaki Seiya (Miyoshi Sanninshuu: third brother)
Isaka Tatsuya (Maeda Keiji)
Masao (Maeda Toshiie)
Beppu Ayumi (Matsu)

Two different Yukimuras have been cast to cover the performances in different regions. This will be Matsumura's first time in the role; I hope the eventual DVD release includes footage of both as it will be very interesting to compare him to Yoshioka. The other newcomers are Yokoyama Masafumi (Kanbee) and Yagami Ren (Motochika) - he'll be the third person to play Motochika in the series to date.

Most of all, I'm very excited to see Keiji is returning to the play series; Isaka's performance was amazing back in Butai Sengoku Basara 2.

You can watch the full video with Hirose Yuusuke (Tokugawa Ieyasu), Nakamura Seijirou (Ishida Mitsunari), stage play maestro Nishida Daisuke and Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki on the Dais YouTube channel or below.

Notes on the final Sengoku Basara 4 Nico Nico live broadcast

Shortly before the broadcast began it was announced that series director YamamotoD and producer KobaP would be joining in as special guests today, and they joined hosts Kanada Satoshi and Nakada Kurumi in the studio right at the beginning.

After the hosts all watched and commentated on the game's opening video together, seiyuu guest Nakamura Yuuichi (Shima Sakon) arrived to perform some lines in character and demonstrate the game.

Since Nakamura had been too ill to appear at Basara Matsuri back in January, this was my first time seeing him playing Sakon. His gameplay demonstration on the Shizugatake: Advance of the Oda Vanguard stage, soon showed that Nakamura wasn't all that great at the game as he blundered around into the enemy forces. Still, he tried his best.

Dogma Kazami and Aoki Shiki (Maou) took over once Nakamura was done. Both KobaP and YamamotoD joined them for the challenge session. This time their goal was 'really easy' according to KobaP: win within 15 minutes on the Hard difficulty, and with a 1,000 hit combo.

I was immediately confused when Maou agreed to play as Katsuie for the first time then chose him with the Nagamasa DLC costume, which I'd temporarily forgotten existed (despite having translated news about it a bunch of times). Finally noticing that he wasn't, in fact, Nagamasa, I settled down to watch Maou's attempt at Kenshin's Kawanakajima stage with Oichi as her tag partner. She had a better idea of what was going on than Nakamura had so she managed to clear KobaP's challenge without any major problems. It was quite funny towards the end; Matabee caused a panic by suddenly interrupted the boss fight when she was planning her grand finish.

The second half of the challenge required Dogma Kazami playing as Ieyasu and Tadakatsu on the Kaga Onsen stage. He almost failed during the first boss fight when Tsuruhime defeated Ieyasu and despite recovering, he timed out right at the end of the final battle. He was told to apologise and perform a formal bow.

Back to the main studio, KobaP and YamamotoD summarised the latest Sengoku Basara news and then Kanada announced the final keyword for the golden skull competition - which revealed that today was actually his birthday. Aww...

A final video with KobaP coaching the Basara-bu Otomegumi girls closed the show.

Some trivia from the Sengoku Basara 4 Bushou Hiden No Sho book

Sengoku Basara 4 Bushou Hiden No Sho was one of the two books which came inside the Hyakka Ryouran Tamatebako version of the game. It's a lovely hardback full of character information and design illustrations; the limited edition was well worth the extra cost for this alone.

I'm not going to translate the entire thing but I think it might be interesting to pick out the parts which explain some of the design decisions. Character designer Ookubo Tooru made plenty of notes on his influences when designing the alternate outfits and new characters, which might be important to fans who weren't able to pick up a copy of the book.
  • The status ranking in the Toyotomi army goes Hideyoshi/Hanbee >> Mitsunari/Yoshitsugi >>> Kanbee > Sakon.
  • Oyassan is actually female, but Shikanosuke doesn't realise and calls her this anyway (Oyassan is a way of addressing a middle-aged man in Japanese). She finds it a little annoying.
  • Matabee was designed to appear to be 'around 30' years old.
  • The inspirations behind Mitsunari's alternate outfit were visual kei, vampires and silver wolves.
  • Ieyasu's alternate costume was conceived after this chain of thoughts: the sun → full of energy → rice → planting rice.
  • Tadakatsu's alternate outfit is based on gogatsu ningyou, the traditional dolls displayed on Tango No Sekku (Children's Day).
  • Ookubo thought about putting a word or phrase on the back of Yukimura's outfit, but he wanted to avoid using a single kanji character as it would be too similar to Yoshihiro's concept. Some of the ideas he had were 'Sanada Yukimura', 'Great Victory', 'Daily Hard Work', 'Hot-Blooded Fool' and a custom-made four-character slogan (何是滾流, pronounced as 'what's this boiling?!'). The clothing is white to represent incandescence.
  • Hideaki's costume is themed like a traditional haniwa terracotta figure, like NHK's classic character in O~i! Hanimaru-kun.
  • Tenkai's alternate costume is based on a karasu tengu.
  • Muneshige's is, of course, the outfit of a namahage demon. Ookubo thought about incorporating a bucket in his left hand.
  • The inspiration behind Nagamasa's outfit is the legend of Momotarou.
  • Oichi's costume is inspired by tennyo (heavenly maidens) and mermaids.
  • Some are much simpler for western audiences to identify: Motonari's costume really is based on Halloween, Magoichi's theme is the Wild West and Tsuruhime's is a 'ranger girl'.
  • The pattern on Hisahide's clothing incorporates red spider lilies and Japanese fireworks to give an image of sparks flying.
  • Yoshihiro is supposed to resemble an old guy from a sake shop. He's even wearing the shop's apron.
The book also includes a set of very important pictures of Gotou Matabee without his helmet, proving that he has a proper sakayaki hairstyle. I'd been hoping for this ever since it was confirmed he had a chonmage samurai topknot; fan artists had been split on the matter but now there's evidence he really should have a shaved head. Hurrah.

An interview with both series director Yamamoto Makoto and character designer Ookubu Tooru had a few additional tidbits of information:
  • Yamamoto decided to try Ookubo Tooru's designs this time as one of the themes of Sengoku Basara 4 was to 'rush into a new chapter'. He wanted to breathe some fresh air into the series. He remembered working with Ookubo on the anime series and thought he would see if he was willing to take up on challenge.
  • Ookubo's knew that it would indeed be a challenge; when he did the designs for the anime he was basing his work on the existing visuals from the game series (the original designs were created by Tsuchibayashi Makoto). He originally thought that he was just going to create some background characters, so it was a big surprise to hear that Yamamoto meant the new leads.
  • Ookubo was anxious but decided to give it a try. He said that relied heavily on Yamamoto's guidance as they worked on the new designs together.
  • The characters began as simple lists of their key features which Ookubo turned into rough concept sketches. They would then refine the designs together over a long period.
  • Matabee was originally going to be like a skinny, bespectacled mad scientist. He was changed to have a bent spine when the 'dinosaur' idea was introduced. Both men laughed about how they added a guy with a traditional haircut for the first time even though he doesn't remove his helmet in the game.
The interview with the manga creators from CLAMP is quite funny too, however, I'm sure it will have been translated by the many CLAMP fans out there so I haven't touched it myself. I've seen that a lot of people have already been sharing the special illustrations they produced online so the information must be out there.

Streaming: Winter 2014 anime first impressions

Better late than never!

I was hoping to keep new shows to a minimum this season as I've been quite busy with a holiday, work and, of course, Sengoku Basara 4. Thankfully, the anime industry has shown its sympathy for my predicament by filling the Winter 2014 season with a bunch of new shows which don't appeal to me at all.

A few great titles continue from Autumn 2013, namely Kuroko's Basketball, Nagi No Asukara, Kill la Kill, Magi and Samurai Flamenco. Unfortunately the eccentric simulcasting rules used by Animax forced me to drop Magi after my vacation as I'd have had to pay to watch the episodes I missed. I wasn't willing to do that - especially as they locked the first one away while still displaying it as a free simulcast for an additional day. It seems that Animax can be uncharacteristically swift when it comes to removing content! In comparison, has much friendlier restrictions on its tiny catalogue and Daisuki has continued to falter outside the US with just one new anime license. The unsustainable situation where each service has a small number of exclusive licenses continues, inconveniently splitting the tiny number of UK fans across several different sites. Since the high quality service provided by Crunchyroll continues to provide the best value with its features and catalogue, they're the only service I consider worth subscribing to at this time.

The new titles which will be joining the continuing series in my weekly schedule are listed below.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

News roundup: Don't forget to watch the two Sengoku Basara video broadcasts online tomorrow

There will be some big news about the Butai Sengoku Basara stage plays tomorrow

The Butai Sengoku Basara stage play series is making an important announcement on Thursday 6th February 2014 with a video that will air at 21:00 Japan time. Given that they've set up a special website area for it and circulated the news through the Japanese gaming press, I think it's extremely likely that the announcement will be for a new stage play. Hirose Yuusuke (Tokugawa Ieyasu), Nakamura Seijirou (Ishida Mitsunari), Nishida Daisuke and Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki will all be involved.

The big question is whether it will be Butai Sengoku Basara 4 or another Butai Sengoku Basara 3 spin-off; I'd say that a Toyotomi army theme is possible given the two stars they've chosen for the announcement but I'm not sure whether the last play already covered that period (I'm still waiting for the DVD release to finally watch it). Otherwise, Butai Sengoku Basara 4 certainly seems most likely. We'll find out soon!

The live Nico Nico Sengoku Basara 4 broadcasts end tomorrow

This is a reminder that the final episode of the fortnightly Sengoku Basara 4 broadcasts will take place tomorrow at 22:00 Japan time - straight after the Butai Sengoku Basara news has been made public. The seiyuu guest will be Nakamura Yuuichi (Shima Sakon). Don't forget to tune in!

Sengoku Basara 4 tips and comments from Weekly Famitsu

The Sengoku Basara 4 coverage continues in tomorrow's issue of Weekly Famitsu (dated 20th February 2014). Most of it isn't that interesting but I want to single out the part about Sengoku Basara 4's Takeda Otoko Dojo stage as a lot of people have asked about the way it works. By coincidence, Corey Patton kindly cleared this matter up just a couple of days ago with a comment on one of my older blog posts. I'll translate the tips from Famitsu for the benefit of anyone with any remaining questions about Takeda Shingen's manly dojo exams.

When you begin the Takeda Otoko Dojo stage, you're presented with a set of wooden plaques. These determine the difficulty of the challenges you'll face: White Belt (easiest), Black Belt (average) and Assistant Instructor (hardest - it's red). Once you've cleared the Assistant Instructor trial, you can also pick a fourth challenge: the Tiger Belt.

The Tiger Belt contains twenty battles with enemy commanders who appear in pairs. You'll begin with 500,000 ryou in cash which gradually decreases over the course of the challenge (Corey reported that it also builds back up when you kill an enemy). There are also bombs, poison mist and flames to deal with, and the finale is a fight with Shingen, Yukimura and Sasuke. Once you've won, you earn Shingen's respect, a bunch of bonus rank points and any money which remains on the timer.


Separately, Weekly Famitsu's reporters carried out a completely unscientific survey on a small group of Japanese gamers in this issue. They asked the group which Sengoku-era commander interested them and the ranking was as follows:

1. Date Masamune
2. Sanada Yukimura
3. Oda Nobunaga
3. Kuroda Kanbee
5. Uesugi Kenshin

Comments from the Date Masamune voters:
"He's the main reason that 'Let's Party!' spread throughout the world."
"I liked Oda Nobunaga, but since getting into Sengoku Basara I began to like Date Masamune."
"His image is so intense that I became interested in finding out what the real historical figure was like."

Comments from the Sanada Yukimura voters:
"It's not really apparent in textbooks, but he's often drawn to be really cool."
"He appears in many works and he's awesome in all of them."

...and the Oda Nobunaga voters:
"The way he's portrayed in games varies, so I want to know about the reality."
"It's strange when there are a lot of villains."

The other voters:
Kuroda Kanbee: "I knew him as a game he's become the lead in a Taiga drama."
Maeda Keiji: "I thought it was fascinating that there was nobody else like that back in those days."
Mouri Motonari: "Knowing his true personality from history, as I became a fan I came to appreciate the differences between the games and reality."
Imagawa Yoshimoto: "Because he was actually a really capable guy, I want him to play a larger part in the games."


Back to Sengoku Basara 4, there's further analysis of the series' popularity in an article about the past week's game sales figures. The writer notes that the Sengoku Basara series is a little unusual amongst games for having a hardcore fanbase which supplements the sales of the main game with stage plays and other events.

I smiled a little at the summary of some recent Sengoku Basara 4 gatherings which once again mentioned the foreign fans who had attended the game's launch event as a sign of its impact: "Some of the fans had even come all the way from overseas! You could really feel the extent of Sengoku Basara's popularity!"

Japanese amusement arcades reveal more exclusive merchandise to attract fans

From 21st March 2014, fans in Japan can visit their local amusement arcades to win some cute 'Kyun-Chara Illustrations' keychain fobs. They're available in twelve different designs and the packaging can supposedly even be used as postcards.

Meanwhile, the previously-announced hooded towels are already available in game centres across the country, providing would-be cosplayers with the chance to pretend to be Masamune or Mitsunari with less effort than ever before.

Four Sengoku Basara characters make their formal debuts in another mobile game

4Gamer reports that the Street Fighter x All Capcom smartphone game has now properly introduced the first four characters from the Sengoku Basara series: Masamune, Yukimura, Ieyasu and Mitsunari. A Sekigahara-themed event is running within the game this month. I'm not going to pretend that I know anything more about Street Fighter x All Capcom than that, so let's just enjoy the cute character artwork!

Upcoming Sengoku Basara manga and book releases

There are so many books coming out over the next few weeks that I thought it would be helpful to make a summary. These are still being listed by many stores so keep checking your favourite import book website if you can't find them all. Please note that the release dates and titles are subject to change until Capcom formally announces all of the books with a press release.

22nd February 2014: Sengoku Basara 4: The Complete Guide (ASCII Media Works)
An alternative strategy guide with more information than the V-Jump book which came out a month earlier. It promises to include 4-panel Mame Sengoku Basara strips and information about what determines the order of stages in Sengoku Creation mode, so I guess I'll pick it up.

27th February 2014: Sengoku Basara Magazine volume 4
This issue will contain information about the anime, so it's a must-have! It's dedicated to Ishida Mitsunari and the rest of the contents are as I've described them previously.

7th March 2014: Sengoku Basara 3 Bloody Angel volume 7 (Itou Ryuu)
27th March 2014: Sengoku Basara 4 Official Complete Works (Capcom)

27th March 2014: Mame Sengoku Basara volume 5 (Sumeragi)
This is the final volume before the series transitions into Mame Sengoku Basara 4 in March. Sakon and Katsuie were shown from behind in 'Mame' form in the last serialised chapter to increase the anticipation.

29th March 2014: Sengoku Basara Series Official Anthology Comic: Gakuen Basara 7
Ami Ami have confirmed that the new Sengoku Basara 4 characters will make their Gakuen Basara debuts in this volume so we can expect to see Shima Sakon and Shibata Katsuie in school uniforms very soon. I wonder what kind of role Yoshiteru will play if he makes his debut too..? Some kind of crazy Minister of Education?


That's all for now; I expect I'll be adding another news post very soon once the announcements have been made tomorrow!

Tuesday 4 February 2014

Manga review: Sengoku Basara X (Cross) Official Anthology Comic

Today's manga review covers Sengoku Basara X (Cross) Official Anthology Comic, a manga anthology released way back on 13th September 2008. It's 112 pages long and priced at ¥950. Unlike most of the newer books, this one was published in-house by Capcom and is now long out of print. Used copies can be found cheaply at sites like Amazon Japan, and individual bookstores might still have old stock on their shelves.

With this being based on the PS2 beat 'em up game rather than the main series, the stories are arranged around one-on-one fights without any attempt to incorporate a coherent plot. Sadly, there are no extras or colour pages at all aside from the lovely cover drawn by Nari.

One thing that a collector will swiftly realise is that a great deal of the contributing artists are also regulars from the Gakuen Basara series. This means that as well as similarities in the artwork, the stories tend to be crazy too. I've written very brief summaries of each individual manga below.

Suriagehara [De Komando To] No Tatakai ('The Battle Of Suriagehara [With Button Commands]')
Yanagi Batoshirou
Masamune mocks Yukimura mercilessly as he struggles to learn how to use the new button inputs to perform moves in the game (Masamune's useless explanations are no help at all). Fortunately for Yukimura, it doesn't take long for Sasuke and Oyakata-sama to turn up and try to help him out.