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.