Saturday 29 March 2014

News roundup: A quiet week in Sengoku Basara fandom

The unofficial Sengoku Basara international fan survey has been going really well so far: we're at around 300 responses from many countries all around the world! That's about a hundred times more people than I first thought were going to participate, and what makes it even better is that everyone is putting a lot of thought into their answers. There are so many detailed responses that it's going to take a long time sorting everything out into a worthy report.

I want to thank those who have been helping spread the word, and also those people who persevered and completed the survey in English even though they said that it was a challenge to write answers in this language. The Sengoku Basara fan community is full of determined people. I'll leave the survey open a little longer to see how many more people it can attract, but I'm thinking of closing it on Friday (4th April 2014) so that I can organise the data over the weekend.

If you haven't completed the survey yet, it would be wonderful if you could join in and share your thoughts. Every vote counts!

In the meantime, what's been going on in Japan recently?

The official Sengoku Basara fan meetings continue

One of the reasons that there hasn't been much news lately is that the staff have been busy running a bunch of 'fan meetings' in Japan with the cast of the series and small groups of fan club members. Obviously I can't attend these meetings myself, and there isn't much news to report from the handful of people who have reported their experiences on Twitter and their blogs. The final event will be held on Saturday next week (5th April 2014).

Even though there's not much to say about the actual events from afar, there are a few exclusive pieces of merchandise that the lucky fans with tickets have been able to buy at the venues.

An enamel bag (¥3,000) measuring 30cm x 36cm.

An 'I ♡ Heroes' t-shirt (¥3,500) available in S, M and L sizes.

A Basara Club blanket-towel (¥4,000) measuring 100cm x 50cm.

Butai Sengoku Basara stage play updates

As well as the fan meetings, the staff in Japan have been promoting the upcoming stage play quite heavily over the last few days. It's just a few weeks now until the Butai Sengoku Basara 3: Togakuruwashi Kizuna show will commence on 25th April. Between this and Sengoku Basara; Judge End, it really feels as though Sengoku Basara 3 is having a revival recently!

One of the big announcements has been that there will be some short talk shows after five of the performances where the actors will come on stage and fool around out of character. They've also clarified which shows will feature actor Yoshioka Yuu in the role of Yukimura and which will have newcomer Matsumura Ryuunosuke. Matsumura isn't being used very much - I hope we'll at least get to see a little footage from his performances on the DVD one day.

There will also be a traditional 'live viewing' for the final day of the show, where fans across Japan can visit selected cinemas to watch a special broadcast of the play for ¥3,600. Fan club members can apply for tickets from today; everyone else will have to wait a little longer.

Early details for the next upcoming Sengoku Basara manga releases appear online

Satta Naoto's Sengoku Basara ~Soul revolution~ manga is to be released as a compiled manga volume on 27th May 2014 under ASCII Media Works' Dengeki Comics Next label. Now fans who missed out on Sengoku Basara Magazine will be able to read this short series without paying a small fortune for the back issues.

There will also be a 132-page Sengoku Basara 4 Dengeki Comic Anthology published on 25th April 2014 in the Dengeki Comics EX line. Contributors listed so far include Ashika Nozomu, Satsuki Yuu and Ayamura Kirihito. This will be the first Sengoku Basara 4 manga published outside of magazine serialisations so it should present some interesting interpretations of the new characters.

Today's acquisitions (29th March 2014)

I feel like a troll posting this kind of thing when I know most visitors are here to read Sengoku Basara news. There hasn't been much to report lately and my roundup will have to wait a little longer.

So instead, here's my latest stuff.

Utada Hikaru's monstrously large 15th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of First Love takes up a huge amount of space. It's full of a wonderful collection of goodies for long time Hikki fans (my favourite content is the disc of rare demo tracks). The box is both enormous and heavy, so it's going to be difficult to find somewhere to store it tidily. I was worried I wouldn't be able to own this at first after shops sold out of the first allocation within a short period of preorders opening up - thank heavens they increased the quantities!

Just below it is Jooubachi No Oubou: Menou-hen, one of my extremely infrequent PC game purchases. It came with a store-exclusive tokuten CD. I chose Ruby's courtesy of Animate because he's wonderful. The game's sister title (literally) Jooubachi No Oubou: Kaguya-hen will be on its way to me very soon so I'd better hurry up and finish collecting all of the endings before it arrives.

Finally, on the right side of the picture are six volumes of the various Diabolik Lovers anthology manga. The advertising for the recent anime isn't very subtle when I line them all up.

Sunday 16 March 2014

An unofficial Sengoku Basara fan survey

Following on from the discussions about the Weekly Famitsu poll results the other day and some friendly hinting from fellow fans, I tried making an English-language survey for international Sengoku Basara fans. It's not perfect, but I think it might still be interesting to pool the results.

Please share your thoughts about the series at this link.

You can share the link anywhere you like. The more fans who participate, the better!

If it manages to get a significant number of responses from unique voters I'll follow up with a summary of the results a few weeks from now.

Update: Wow, there have been lots of responses after just a few hours! Thank you to everyone who has participated so far and given such detailed, interesting answers!

Details revealed for the new Sengoku Basara anime: Sengoku Basara Judge End

I picked a terrible day to sleep in! After sorting through all of the alerts in my inbox this morning, it seems that today's Basara Club fan meetings in Tokyo coincided with the formal announcement of more details for the upcoming anime adaptation!

The title for the 'third season' of the Sengoku Basara anime has been confirmed as Sengoku Basara: Judge End, with a single piece of artwork revealed so far:

The new series will be broadcast on Nippon TV in 2014 and the animation studio has been switched from Production I.G. to Telecom Animation Film. The first four cast announcements include Date Masamune (Nakai Kazuya), Sanada Yukimura (Hoshi Souichirou), Tokugawa Ieyasu (Ookawa Tooru) and Ishida Mitsunari (Seki Tomokazu), and the story will be based on the Battle of Sekigahara from the Sengoku Basara 3 game.

It looks as though there could be be more information on Saturday 22nd March as seiyuu Nakai Kazuya is set to appear at the Anime Japan event during a Nippon TV presentation at 12:20 local time. The Twitter account for the new anime has confirmed that there will be Sengoku Basara: Judge End mugs available for attendees to purchase for ¥1,200.


Well, even though I was half expecting today's events to reveal something, I'm so glad we have a piece of artwork already! I'm anxious about the change from Production I.G. (especially after they used them so recently for the cutscenes in Sengoku Basara 4) but things look pretty good at the moment.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

News roundup: Results of the Sengoku Basara 4 survey in Weekly Famitsu magazine

Tomorrow's Weekly Famitsu magazine reports the results of its character ranking survey

Just as promised back in late February, the 27th March 2014 issue of Weekly Famitsu magazine (released 13th March) has published the results of the character ranking survey it ran on its website as part of a feature about Sengoku Basara 4. It was a simple survey with just three questions and the voting was only open for a few days, but it shows some interesting results since it was asking the Weekly Famitsu audience rather than limiting the respondents to buyers of the game.

A total of 'more than 1,200' votes were tallied from a mostly female audience and every participant had to provide reasons for their choices in order to have them counted (a selection of the best were published). In that respect, I suppose it makes sense that it is being treated more like 1,200 fan letters than a small selection of votes - four full pages of the magazine were dedicated to the article. Here are the results.

Q1. Which of the playable characters in Sengoku Basara 4 do you like the most?

1. Ishida Mitsunari (147 votes)
"His earnest, straightforward appearance is cool." (female, early 20s)
"I'm so happy to see him appearing together with Hideyoshi and Hanbee!" (female, late 20s)
"His drama route made me cry." (male, late teens)
"His numerous high-speed moves are thrilling." (female, early 30s)
"His fighting style is pretty cool; playing as him feels exhilarating. And the sexiness of his second costume is nice as well!" (male, early 20s)

2. Date Masamune (121 votes)
"With Sengoku Basara 4, I was moved by how much he had matured since the earlier games." (female, late 20s)
"His six-sword style feels especially exhilarating!" (male, early 20s)
"Whether it's his looks or his voice, everything about him is cool." (male, early 20s)

3. Tokugawa Ieyasu (96 votes)
"Watching him suffer even as he's striving to bring peace to the land makes me want to cheer him on." (female, early 20s)
"His nimble footwork is great." (male, early 30s)
"As an invigorating, sporty type of guy, he has a fresh charm I haven't seen from anyone else." (female, late 20s)
"The tanuki from his Giga Basara technique is cute." (female, early 40s)

4. Sanada Yukimura (94 votes)
"I'm attached to him because I've used him ever since the very first game." (male, late 20s)
"I had a lot of fun seeing the Takeda army acting the way it used to in Sengoku Basara 4" (female, late 20s)
"I love Yukimura so much that I don't even know the reason any more!" (female, early 20s)

5. Gotou Matabee (83 votes)
"It's not just how great he is to control or the sensation of speed from his moves; he stands out and makes an impact!" (male, early 30s)
"In any case, he's unpleasant in a good way!" (female, late 20s)

6. Mouri Motonari (78 votes)
"I like Motonari-sama...both his funny side and his serious side." (female, late teens)

7. Shima Sakon (77 votes)
"It's fun to be able to switch between his kicks and his blades while playing." (female, late 20s)

8. Ootani Yoshitsugu (43 votes)
"I've been brought to tears countless times by the way he always seems to be putting Mitsunari first." (female, late teens)

9. Takenaka Hanbee (41 votes)
"I'm so pleased that he's been revived! His beauty, his strength and even the way it's easy to use him are his charms." (female, early 20s)

10. Azai Nagamasa (40 votes)
"His ultra-flashy actions are like a tokusatsu hero, and somehow refreshing!" (male, early 30s)

The most popular female character was Ii Naotora. She didn't make the top ten but it was noted that she had a lot of support from male fans.

Well, I'm probably not alone in thinking that it would have been difficult to predict this outcome. I feel bad for Masamune and Yukimura yet at the same time, very happy for Ieyasu after his dismal performance back in BSR48. And Matabee - what a dark horse! He's certainly popular online but I wouldn't have expected him to rank so highly in his debut title. He'll probably want to add two more names to his Matabee Enmachou hit list for holding him back from first place.

Q2. Which of the non-playable characters in Sengoku Basara 4 left the greatest impression on you?

1. Ashikaga Yoshiteru (605 votes)
"The feeling that he's an overwhelmingly powerful being. There's no other impression he could give." (male, late 20s)
"He's... strong! And there's the impact of his voice (lol)." (female, late 20s)

2. Kyougoku Maria (273 votes)
"Her interactions with Nagamasa and Oichi were really interesting." (female, early 20s)

3. Kasuga (103 votes)
"Her one-on-one stage was so full of sorrow that it made my heart ache." (female, late 20s)

4. Akechi Mitsuhide (55 votes)
"He was intense in Oda Nobunaga's drama route." (male, early 20s)

5. Takeda Shingen (43 votes)
"It's not Sengoku Basara without Oyakata-sama!" (female, late 20s)

A resounding victory for the shogun. The magazine commented that the newcomers had made a strong impression with Maria's sensual charms apparently captivating many male fans.

I think almost every Kasuga supporter must have said something similar to the woman whose comment they picked (I certainly did). In the end, though, it was probably Shingen's comment which left me feeling most inspired.

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.

1. Ashikaga Yoshiteru (120 votes)
"I want to use a shaku which can transform into various weapons to beat up the enemies." (male, late teens)
"I want to see Yoshiteru's story." (female, late 30s)

2. Nouhime (116 votes)
"The greatest female warrior in the series. I love her weapons and her moveset as well!" (male, early 20s)

3. Kyougoku Maria (79 votes)
"Her attack animations are interesting! And I'd like to use her as Nagamasa's battle comrade." (male, late teens)

4. Amago Haruhisa (54 votes)
"Now that Shikanosuke has arrived, I want Haru-sama to join the battle too!" (female, early 20s)

5. Itsuki (52 votes)
"She's been taking a break ever since Sengoku Basara 3 but I want to play as an improved Itsuki-chan with Sengoku Basara 4's system." (female, late 20s)

The article commented that there were a lot of voices clamouring for Nouhime's return to the series, and that the battle for fourth place would have been tight if Haruhisa hadn't taken the honours. It sounds as though there were several characters with around 50 votes.

I wish they'd published more of the results for this question in the article even if the number of votes per character might have been quite low. I guess we have to wait for a proper Capcom poll for that.

Cover artwork for Mame Sengoku Basara volume 5 and the next Gakuen Basara

As the release date for Mame Sengoku Basara volume 5 draws closer, a larger version of the cover artwork has appeared. Keiji is as cute as a button.

I believe that this will be the very last compiled volume of classic Mame Sengoku Basara before the transition to the new Mame Sengoku Basara 4 series.

Gakuen Basara volume 7 was originally listed as a 'tentative' title and it's now clear why; it's been renamed to Gakuen Basara: Gakuen Sousei-hen. I'm not sure what the reason is but it could be that the staff are worried that people will think it's an ongoing series and be afraid to pick up new volumes. Giving each book a unique title in future might encourage new readers to try the series out (in case the deer wearing a gakuran cap wasn't enough on its own).

The artists for this volume have been confirmed, too. Nari has drawn the cover as usual with Kyuugou and ENU providing special illustrations. The list of manga artists includes regulars Arai Karo, Sanjou Kiiro, Yanagi Batoshirou, Koutake Hiroyoshi, Mikami, Danbo, Sanorin, Maki and Rokuji along with newcomer Konko Yukime. I'm not familiar with Konko Yukime outside of her doujinshi work so it will be interesting to see her contribution as part of the Gakuen Basara team.

Hopefully Naotora, Yoshiteru and Maria will make it onto the back of the book!

New Sengoku Basara 4 videos are set to debut

It looks as though we can expect five new videos in the next week according to the Coming Soon notices on the official website. They're probably gameplay videos, though we might get some kind of promotional videos for the ongoing social networking campaign that they've been running once they're done (a highlights clip with the most stylish user-submitted gameplay videos would be nice once that contest finishes).

There was also a promotional video showing off Kanbee's Sengoku Creation mode last week which I never mentioned at the time. Poor Kanbee.

Sunday 9 March 2014

Today's acquisitions (9th March 2014)

I have had this stuff on order for a long, long time. Thanks to the production problems with FUNimation's limited edition box for the anime Psycho-Pass and a vague delay to Media Blasters' Koe de Oshigoto! DVD, it was beginning to feel as though I'd never see the rest of my order. I eventually asked United Publications to part-ship a bunch of older things and they kindly obliged.

The bulk of this delivery is anime. I'm not sure whether I'll like Di Gi Charat: Winter Garden yet and the official English title of smutty 90s classic Hot Space Cowboys (Aoki Ookamitachi No Densetsu) is so inelegant that it makes me cringe. It's notable that I chose the standard edition of Kamisama Kiss (Kamisama Hajimemashita). There's a lovely special edition box available, but it's targeted so strongly at a female audience that I felt there wasn't much point in me picking it up for bonus items I'd never use. I'll go into the other special editions in more detail below.

Living in a country deemed unworthy of any form of legal simulcast, I've been watching One Piece lately with my partner and we've just reached a run of several flashback episodes in a row. It looks as though we'll be needing the One Piece: Season Five Voyage Five and One Piece: Season Five Voyage Six discs sooner than anticipated!

There are only two volumes of manga this week and both of them are Hetalia: Axis Powers - the most recent print-on-demand issues. It's a relief that they have been able to continue publishing the series in English even with Tokyopop's closure.

The final item is the US release of Dangan Ronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. It doesn't work on the PlayStation Vita TV for some reason - even though the Japanese release did - so I can't play it yet. Oh well! I can't remember why I went for the US release over the UK version (habit?).

With the recent shift towards expensive, deluxe anime releases to compensate for the market rapidly shrinking, it's interesting to see how the different anime companies present their special editions.

Aniplex USA's Blu-ray box set for the Blue Exorcist (Ao No Exorcist) movie was a no-brainer. It's a beautiful set with plenty of on-disc bonus material and the physical bonus items are all covered in glorious artwork. I'm still annoyed that I bought the television series on DVD instead of waiting for the Blu-ray rerelease so I wasn't going to miss out on this gorgeous set.

I won't be tricked by any of Aniplex USA's DVD-only releases in future.

Viz Media don't usually dabble in special editions at all so I was very interested in their release of K. I watched the series when it streamed on the doomed UK simulcast service Anime On Demand and didn't want to buy a local version; I have no faith left in the UK anime industry and region A discs are more convenient for me than region B.

K came in a lovely thick chipboard box instead of the usual digipak to house the series on DVD and Blu-ray. There is also a special booklet inside the box, The Art of K, which includes character and series information. The show is definitely more appealing for the visuals than the intelligence of its plot so this set plays to its strengths nicely. It was difficult to capture how nice the box looks in a photograph, too; they've used a subtle pearlescent effect to brighten up the plain character artwork delightfully. This small touch makes the box look much more attractive in my collection.


Things have been relatively quiet on the Sengoku Basara front this past week. I've tweeted about a few small updates but I'm looking forward to Wednesday evening when the Weekly Famitsu character poll results should be out. Assuming there's no big news before then, I'll save the next news roundup until I have the article ready to translate.

Wednesday 5 March 2014

Magazine review: Sengoku Basara Magazine issue 4

I don't think it's unfair to call this fourth issue the least interesting volume of Sengoku Basara Magazine so far, primarily because its release comes long after most readers will have picked up their copies of Sengoku Basara 4. There's very little new information left to reveal about the latest game that hasn't also appeared in Weekly Famitsu, Dengeki Playstation and the various books which have been published, and it's apparently still too early for Capcom to share any news about the upcoming stage play or anime adaptation too. I'm hoping that will change next month after the Anime Japan event takes place but there's no way to know for sure.

Anyway, the magazine was released on 27th February 2014 for the usual price of ¥2,400. At the time of this review it is still available for order internationally through Amazon Japan, Yesasia, CD Japan and Manga Oh. All of the previous issues sold out reasonably quickly (the prices for used copies of the first issue are ridiculous) so it's best to place an order swiftly if you plan on adding this to your collection someday.

Ishida Mitsunari is the fourth warrior to feature on the magazine's cover and Mame Sengoku Basara rubber strap. Like Masamune last year, he's received a new CG illustration - I hope that the other cast members (along with Yukimura and Ieyasu who missed out) will receive new artwork in the coming months now the game has been released!

The bonus talk CD is Showgeki Basara Talk! Yukimura & Sasuke No Maki Vol. 2 with seiyuu Hoshi Souichirou and Koyasu Takehito. I had a quick listen as I worked earlier and they were both adorable as they navigated topics about the Sengoku Basara 4 characters; Koyasu muttered that he liked Nouhime at one point and lamented her absence in the latest game. The popular 'Basara Challenge' segment involved Yukimura and Sasuke visiting an amusement arcade and trying out a crane game. Yukimura's tortured howls of disappointment made it very funny.

The first 28 pages of the magazine are devoted to tips and information about Sengoku Basara 4. Every single playable character gets some coverage, though since most of the space is devoted to the various story routes those with just one don't get as much attention as those with several. The gameplay tips don't include anything that hasn't already appeared in previous publications (we have to wait for the Complete Guide book for that). The article analyses each story (with occasional comments from the creators too) and small CG pictures of everyone posing in their alternate outfits provide a taster of the kind of content the Official Complete Works book will be presenting in the next few weeks.

Tuesday 4 March 2014

Today's acquisitions (4th March 2014)

There have been way too many goodies in my postal deliveries recently...

Today's batch contains the fourth DVD set for Diabolik Lovers anime with a bunch of Subaru-themed bonus items (and a bromide of Laito covered in blood). Subaru's version of Gin No Bara is included on the second soundtrack inside the DVD case and it's yet another lovely version of the song. I'm not a big Subaru fan, but every version of Gin No Bara has been amazing and his is a worthy addition to the set.

The DVD is complemented by the PSP version of Diabolik Lovers, More Blood, which arrived on the same day. I managed to buy one of the store-exclusive sets (Imagine still had a few in stock!) so I received all three bonus CDs; the two I really wanted with Laito, and a second copy of Odessa No Noroi ~Oitsumerareshi Vampire-tachi~. If anyone wants to provide a home for my spare copy please let me know.

The other CDs are Kikkawa Koji's Samurai Rock (used in the Gifuu Doudou!! Kanetsugu To Keiji anime), the Hyadain/Yoshiki Risa collaboration Shift To Jikyuu To, Tsuide Ni Ai Wo Torimodose!! (from DD Hokuto No Ken) and the Sengoku Basara 4 EP split single with the game's opening and ending theme songs. I liked Count ZERO from the start but I have to say that SCANDAL's Runners high has really grown on me too after playing the game.

Moving on to the books, I received the Sengoku Basara Comic Anthology 'Setouchi Chronicle' manga and the fourth issue of Sengoku Basara Magazine along with the Mame Sengoku Basara Mitsunari strap and Sasuke/Yukimura talk CD.

I'll try to get a review/summary of the magazine up tonight or tomorrow, depending on how much free time I have. I can confirm for now that there isn't much in the way of new information in the magazine for game or anime fans, sadly!