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.

--

Since Sakon is new to the series, the usual in-depth coverage is presented a little differently this time around. The magazine starts off by describing all three of his story routes from Sengoku Basara 4 in detail then introduces five characters he has strong ties to: Mitsunari, Katsuie, Yoshitsugu, Ieyasu and Hisahide. YamamotoD noted that they originally intended for Sakon to be cautious around Yoshitsugu but ended up changing this during production. He's satisfied with the way that they interact now.

All of the CG rendered artwork of Sakon is then presented in full together with a selection of design sketches, shots of his in-game model and storyboards for all three of his ending scenes from the game. I was surprised at how many CG artworks there have been since Sengoku Basara 4 was announced; I'd seen them all before but I would never have guessed there had been six already!

The silly Only YamamotoD Knows!? The Heroes' Inside Stories: Shima Sakon Edition comes next; an annotated picture of Sakon surrounded by lighthearted 'facts' about him written by YamamotoD.

Q. What kind of child was Sakon, back when he was a kid?

A real brat.

Q. What was his life like before the village he lived in burnt down?

It was a happy life, full of laughter.

Q. What is his favourite food?

If he was in the present, it would be fast food such as french fries.

Q. What kind of reaction do you think Sakon would have to Mitsunari praising him and saying he did a good job?

I think Sakon's eyes would almost pop right out of his head with surprise and he'd be unable to sleep that day. It would finally sink in the day after.

Q. What is he likely to do for Mitsunari's birthday?

A surprise party. With Gyoubu.

Q. Are the dice he uses his favourite ones? Does he keep plenty of spares at home?

They're his favourites.

Q. The Showgeki Basara Talk CD with Ieyasu and Mitsunari featured a sentai parody. What colour ranger would Sakon be, if he were in a sentai team?

Pink!

Q. If you made a list of ingredients for Sakon, what would the ratio be?

50% odds, 50% evens.

Q. What kind of schedule do you think Sakon has each day when he's not at war?

He just hangs out in town.

Q. There's a line where Sakon mentions that ghosts are scary. Is he afraid of ghosts?

I think he's scared of them! Maybe he'd run away howling "That's cheating!".

Q. What kind of occupation would suit Sakon in the modern world?

Perhaps an event host or DJ? With his flexibility, he'd be great at livening things up. A bit like Morita at a Basara Matsuri event!

(Raindrops' note: YamamotoD is referring to Morita Masakazu, Keiji's much-loved voice actor who usually takes on the role of announcer at Sengoku Basara events.)

Q. What's his least favourite 'type' of person?

Those who bully animals. Picking on the weak is despicable!

Q. What was Sakon thinking the moment he decided to call himself 'Sakon'?

It was completely reckless, but the words came straight from his heart.

Q. What kind of win ratio does Sakon have when he's gambling?

He tends to be on the losing side... He must be using up his luck somewhere else.

Q. Does Sakon's gambling give him trouble in his daily life?

He isn't the type to let gambling ruin his life.

Q. What's the most important thing to Sakon?

His meeting with Mitsunari, and his way of life from that moment onwards.

--

There's no point in them creating a 'Sakon Chronicle' article when he's only been in one game, so instead, this issue features a 'Toyotomi Chronicle' to talk about the history of the Toyotomi army throughout the series. YamamotoD spices things up with a brief Q&A session, the highlights of which follow.

Q. Why doesn't Hideyoshi use a weapon?

Because his own fists are the strongest weapon there is!

Q. If Hideyoshi was to acknowledge three men, who would they be?

Takenaka Hanbee, Ishida Mitsunari, Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Q. Will the powerful Japan which Hideyoshi creates be able to repel foreign invaders?

Of course! They can part the ocean, after all.

Q. Why does Hanbee wear a mask?

I don't know either; maybe it helps him to concentrate?

Q. Which types of people does Hanbee struggle to deal with?

Maeda Keiji (he can't stand him), Date Masamune (he's irritating) and Sanada Yukimura (Yukimura's innocence offends him).

Q. What kind of life does Mitsunari usually lead?

He doesn't eat.

Q. What was Mitsunari like before he met Hideyoshi?

He was lonely and unable to trust people. He viewed the whole world with suspicion. In some ways, I guess he was similar to the way Sakon was in the past.

Q. Why does Yoshitsugu float in the air?

Because he feels like it.

(Raindrops' note: YamamotoD also added a comment about the possibility of him being full of lots of tiny, microscopic Gyoubus but it was so weird that I have no idea how to phrase it sensibly in English.)

--

The Toyotomi Chronicle eventually gives way to an interview with Sakon's seiyuu, Nakamura Yuuichi.
  • Nakamura's favourite Sakon storyline is his anime route from Sengoku Basara 4. He really got into his role for that part of the script and it burned a lot of calories!
  • He also mentioned that at first he didn't know anything about the historical Shima Sakon aside from his name. Since then, he's read about the real person and discovered that he was involved in a lot of cool events.
  • Nakamura would like to see Sakon interacting with more of the characters in future titles, not just Mitsunari and Katsuie. There's potential for him to have interesting conversations with many of the other characters.
  • For example, Sourin and Xavi! The interviewer said that Sakon would probably call Sourin a 'cheating jerk' and despise him. Nakamura agreed, but thought that he'd probably really enjoy Xavi Land.
  • The interviewer asked whether that meant Sourin and Xavi were Nakamura's favourite characters (other than Sakon). He quickly explained that he just thought they'd work well in a story together, especially with Sakon being so different to Muneshige.
  • His actual favourite character is Uesugi Kenshin. He's a fan of the historical Kenshin and while he'd like to see Sakon interact more with Sengoku Basara's version, he doesn't think they have much that would tie them together.
There were too many scheduling conflicts to be able to include Sakon's stage play actor in the interview this time. Instead, Katou Keisuke provides a short statement at the bottom of the page. He described the challenges in bringing Sakon's athletic fighting style to the live stage show and joked that he has had fun experiencing what it's like to have red hair for the first time in his life.

Next up is an interview with the four graduating actors from the Butai Sengoku Basara 4 stage play, Nakamura Seijirou (Ishida Mitsunari), Hirose Yuusuke (Tokugawa Ieyasu), Yoshida Tomokazu (Katakura Kojuurou) and Murata Youjirou (Sarutobi Sasuke).
  • As well as all of the new material, there are a number of homages to the first Butai Sengoku Basara in Butai Sengoku Basara 4's fight scenes. For example, Kojuurou fights Mitsuhide like he did right back at the start of the series.
  • Their graduation was a joint decision, to allow them to take the 'next step'.
  • Yoshida wondered about leaving back when Kubota Yuuki and Hosogai Kei graduated, but chose a different path.
  • The interviewer asked whether any of them would cry at the show's final performance when they officially graduate. Hirose said that Nakamura was certain to cry. At first Nakamura agreed, then said he wouldn't as it was cooler not to cry.
  • Murata said it was useless; Nakamura was definitely going to cry. Even he (Murata) felt tearful whenever he remembered that he was leaving the friends he'd been acting alongside since the very first Butai Sengoku Basara play. Yoshida supported Murata's words.
  • Yoshida talked about Kubota's wish for the Butai Sengoku Basara series to grow and travel overseas for live performances outside Japan. Nakamura talked about it being watched in places such as France, the UK and New York.
(Raindrops' note: Speaking of the stage play, if anyone out there isn't following Shibata Katsuie's stage actor Fujita Ray on Twitter yet, I strongly recommend it. He's been posting comical pictures of the actors in costume almost every day since the show began and they're amazing.)

--

Returning to the Shima Sakon theme, a pair of brand new tribute illustrations bring the actor interviews to an end. Sengoku Sniper artist Kugawara Kaduki has drawn Sakon and Katsuie, while Hayama provides a very stylised image of Sakon at Mitsunari's side, ready for action.

The next article asks series creator Kobayashi 'KobaP' Hiroyuki and series director Yamamoto 'YamamotoD' Makoto to answer 26 questions posed by fans who returned the magazine's survey cards, so it's quite interesting. Here's what they said - please note that I've paraphrased rather than writing out a lengthy literal translation of the whole four-page feature.

Topic: About the series.

Q1: What prompted you to create Sengoku Basara?

KobaP joked that he'd just made two games which hadn't sold well, so he wanted the next title he created to be a hit. YamamotoD added that since the Sengoku period is popular with the Japanese audience, they thought Capcom would be able to make a great Sengoku-themed action game and that led to Sengoku Basara.

Q2: When you're creating a character, how do you settle on their image?

Right at the start, they think about which historical figures to use. Being reasonably well-known is important, but they also have to focus on which part of Japan the warrior is from, in order to maintain a balance across the map. The next step is to design the character, keeping in mind what kind of character they'd be.

Q3: Which warriors were hardest to design?

YamamotoD answered that the series is full of characters which were tricky to design, but the ones which gave them the most problems were Masamune and Yukimura, right at the start. They weren't sure how far to take the designs back then.

Q4: How do you come up with the joke weapons?

Via 'internal audition' - in other words, the development team come up with a selection of ideas and then Capcom employees choose them. Lately, YamamotoD feels they need more material!

Q5: How do you go about selecting the seiyuu?

KobaP said that was done by internal auditions, too. It's a difficult decision without being familiar with the seiyuu and the two of them usually end up making the choice themselves. YamamotoD left a lot of the initial seiyuu choices to KobaP for the first game since he didn't know much about voice acting at the time; he's become more informed since then.

Q6: Will you ever release any more fighting games like Sengoku Basara X (Cross)?

YamamotoD would like to since that's his favourite gaming genre.

Q7: Will you ever release a Sengoku Basara dating sim?

KobaP laughed and said that frankly, if they went ahead and did this, a lot of people would probably be outraged. So they won't. The interviewer then revealed that this was the most-asked question out of all of the reader postcards (!) which made YamamotoD laugh and say he specialised in action games. He didn't think he'd be capable of creating a romance title. KobaP suggested that they could make a Sengoku Basara romance anime instead, set in an ordinary high school.

Q8: Will you ever release character songs?

Probably not. KobaP has nothing against character songs, but he prefers to keep the seiyuu performing the characters' voices separate from the dedicated musical performers. They made an exception for Sengoku Basara 2 Eiyuu Gaiden (HEROES) when they had Noto Mamiko sing 'Oichi's song', acting as one of the musical performers for the game.

Topic: About the two of them.

Q9: Why do you like noodles so much?

KobaP gets asked this a lot! He became hooked on soba noodles after he passed the age of 30 and started avoiding oily foods. Although he used to enjoy ramen and yakiniku, nowadays he likes soba and pasta.

(Raindrops' note: KobaP is infamous for posting pictures of noodles - and occasionally pasta - on his Twitter account every time he goes to a restaurant, which makes his fans wonder why he always picks the same type of dish. He seems especially fond of zarusoba.)

Q10: Which character do you both like most?

KobaP liked Ieyasu most in Sengoku Basara 3 and Katsuie in Sengoku Basara 4. He wants to root for the characters whose appeal is harder to understand. YamamotoD finds it tough to pick just one character since he remembers creating each one of them and the ones which gave him the most trouble left the strongest impressions. He cited Yumekichi and Mitsunari in particular.

The interviewer remembered that they mentioned Mitsunari as the character they most wanted to push back in an article before Sengoku Basara 3 was released. YamamotoD suggested that they support Kanbee and Matabee for Sengoku Basara 4, since they also hailed from Himeji in real life.

Q11: Will the two of you feature on one of the Sengoku Basara Magazine CDs?

KobaP said he'd appear if he was offered the chance! YamamotoD joked that he wouldn't.

Topic: About the anime.

Q12: Why was Judge End based on Sengoku Basara 3, and not Sengoku Basara 4?

Because KobaP wanted to base it on Sengoku Basara 3. The previous depiction of Sekigahara in Sengoku Basara -The Last Party- was an original story which followed on from the first two seasons of Production I.G.'s anime adaptation. Having Masamune defeat Hideyoshi was completely different to what happened in the game series. He wanted to show what led to Sekigahara in the actual games.

Q13: What will be the next anime, after Judge End?

In all honesty, they still haven't decided on another anime. However, since KobaP personally enjoys anime he'd like to create more one day.

Q14: Will Judge End's Sakai Tadatsugu appear in the next game?

Sakai Tadatsugu was an original character created by Telecom Animation Film, so KobaP doesn't think he'll cross back over into the game series. Even though Masamune's famous horse with motorbike exhaust mufflers from the previous anime left a strong impression on people, it was thought up by Production I.G. and they didn't use it in the games.

Q15: Will the Gakuen Basara series ever be made into an anime?

KobaP has no idea. YamamotoD thinks that it will, one day - or perhaps it could be adapted into a stage play. It's unique with a different kind of appeal to Sengoku Basara, but he'd like to see its lively comedy spreading beyond the manga format.

(Raindrops' note: I'm not sure about Judge End but I know that the first Sengoku Basara anime was created when Production I.G. contacted Capcom and suggested the collaboration, not the other way around - so an anime company might have to want to create a Gakuen Basara adaptation first before a project can commence. That's probably why KobaP says he doesn't know.)

Topic: About the characters and story.

Q16: How can the Setouchi duo get along with one another better?

Both creators said that they won't, and laughed. Even though they were on the same side in Sengoku Basara 3 and Sengoku Basara Judge End, the two of them still didn't get along. They'll have a poor relationship with one another in the future, too.

Q17: Are there any plans to bring Xavi back in future?

KobaP protested that Xavi does appear! In the background...

YamamotoD said that he wants to include all the characters; it's just a matter of development resources.

Q18: Please bring back Nouhime!

This time KobaP said that she appears already in Sengoku Basara 4! At the end of Katsuie's anime route...

YamamotoD explained that Nouhime and Ranmaru are missing during Sengoku Basara 4 but there's 'no way' that they're dead. They still haven't had the resources to bring them back as playable characters but he's increasingly eager to do so. He said it was the same with Xavi, Musashi and Itsuki; they're all still out there, living somewhere in the Sengoku Basara world.

Q19: Please tell us how old all of the characters are.

This question is asked a lot, but that information is private. They don't actually create the characters with a fixed age in mind; instead, they think about their approximate age. When they're writing the dialogue, the same character can seem more or less mature depending on the game.

Q20: I want to know about each character's childhood.

There were many other things which YamamotoD still wanted to depict so he seldom gets around to showing childhood scenes. He'd like to leave that kind of thing for manga adaptations and drama CDs. The Takarazuka musical showed Yukimura's childhood and even though the show's main plot diverged from canon, the young boy named Kosuke who idolised Yukimura in the story is based on Anayama Kosuke of the Sanada Ten Braves (YamamotoD apologised for drifting off topic after mentioning this).

Q21: How do you travel to the world of Sengoku Basara?

YamamotoD was thoroughly confused by this question. KobaP said you had to gently close your eyes, then continued to say that he thinks you enter the world of the series when you play the games - but if you want to see it, he recommends watching the stage plays.

Topic: About future developments.

Q22: Will you ever release a title for PlayStation Vita?

KobaP has considered making a game for mobile phones. They are aware that some people had their first experience playing Sengoku Basara due to the PSP spin-offs so he'd be interested in releasing something for PS Vita, but each time they investigated further they've concluded that it's unlikely to be very profitable for them.

Q23: When will the next character ranking be held?

BSR48 was really hard work to run; not only did they create posters for every single character in the series, they even went as far as making election promises and videos for each of them. Then they created a special video for the winner and produced a drama CD. It took a lot of energy! However, they did refer to it as the 'first' BSR48 election at the time so it's not as though they haven't considered another...

Q24: What kind of story, or theme, are you considering next?

There's something YamamotoD wants to try - and it's still a secret.

Q25: I'm interested in what the next project will be since next year is the tenth anniversary of Sengoku Basara.

KobaP said that the real tenth anniversary will be in July 2015 when ten years will have passed since the original Sengoku Basara game was released. There are a lot of things he's not able to reveal yet, but he suggests that people look forward to Basara Matsuri in February. The interviewer asked whether that meant that there would be a big announcement at Basara Matsuri, to which KobaP responded "That's a secret." before going on to explain that they're currently working as hard as they can on something.

Q26: Please do your best from now on too!

They're both delighted that people are still cheering them on. They hope the fans will keep on supporting the series and enjoy the new ideas they come up with in the future.

--

Next comes a feature about Sengoku Basara Judge End, covering the final four episodes, then there's the BasaRanking article with a detailed look at the responses to last issue's reader survey. Since they asked about Motonari and Motochika at the same time, there are more lists than usual!

I'm not sure whether the points represent individual votes or they've been translated into a simple scoring system. I'll include them anyway since they're handy for comparison.

Which entry in the Sengoku Basara series is your favourite with regards to Motochika?

1. Sengoku Basara 3 (162 points)
2. Sengoku Basara 2 (72 points)
3. Sengoku Basara 4 (63 points)
4. Sengoku Basara 2 Eiyuu Gaiden (HEROES) (18 points)
5. Sengoku Basara Battle Heroes (9 points)
6. TV anime Sengoku Basara II (8 points)
7. TV anime Sengoku Basara (7 points)
8. Movie Sengoku Basara -The Last Party- (4 points)
9. Sengoku Basara (3 points)
10. Sengoku Basara Chronicle Heroes (2 points)

Which entry in the Sengoku Basara series is your favourite with regards to Motonari?

1. Sengoku Basara 3 (189 points)
2. Sengoku Basara 4 (82 points)
3. Sengoku Basara 2 (20 points)
4. Sengoku Basara 3 Utage (11 points)
5. TV anime Sengoku Basara II (9 points)
6. Sengoku Basara (6 points)
7. Sengoku Basara Battle Heroes (5 points)
7. TV anime Sengoku Basara (5 points)
9. Movie Sengoku Basara -The Last Party- (4 points)
10. Sengoku Basara Chronicle Heroes (2 points)

The magazine staff commented that Sengoku Basara 3 Utage placed surprisingly high for Motonari considering that he didn't have his own story in that game. It's all thanks to his appearance as 'Tactician' in Sourin's storyline!

What's your favourite Motochika scene?

1. His entire green route from Sengoku Basara 3 (45 points)
2. His interactions with Mitsunari in Sengoku Basara 4 (23 points)
3. His ending from Sengoku Basara 2 (20 points)
3. When Magoichi hits him in Sengoku Basara 3 (20 points)
5. When he goes back to being friends with Ieyasu in Sengoku Basara 3 (18 points)
6. All of his scenes with Ieyasu in Sengoku Basara 2 Eiyuu Gaiden (HEROES) (16 points)
7. His battle with Masamune from the anime Sengoku Basara II (15 points)
8. His battle with Hideyoshi from the anime Sengoku Basara II (11 points)
9. The opening from Sengoku Basara 2 (9 points)
10. His interactions with Ieyasu in Sengoku Basara 4 (7 points)

What's your favourite Motonari scene?

1. His ending from Sengoku Basara 2 (39 points)
2. The end of Sourin's route from Sengoku Basara 3 Utage (37 points)
3. When he dances with Sourin in Xaviland in Sengoku Basara 4 (18 points)
4. His exchanges with Yoshitsugu in Sengoku Basara 3 (17 points)
5. When he tramples on Kingo in Sengoku Basara 3 (15 points)
5. The end of his red route from Sengoku Basara 3 (15 points)
7. His interactions with Sourin in Sengoku Basara 4 (13 points)
8. The end of his blue route from Sengoku Basara 3 (12 points)
9. The Sekigahara intrusion scene in the Sengoku Basara -The Last Party- movie (8 points)
10. When he says "Teratama, Rin!" during the Itsukushima stage in Sengoku Basara 4 (5 points)

The staff were impressed at how many of Motochika's scenes were from the same route in Sengoku Basara 3. His bond with Ieyasu is very popular. For Motonari, they picked up on how he saw right through Gyoubu in Sengoku Basara 3 - and how popular Sunday Mouri seems to be.

Which other character do you want to see involved in Motochika's stories?

1. Date Masamune (72 points)
2. Mouri Motonari (54 points)
3. Shima Sakon (34 points)
4. Ishida Mitsunari (21 points)
4. Tokugawa Ieyasu (21 points)
6. Sanada Yukimura (18 points)
7. Maeda Keiji (15 points)
8. Gotou Matabee (14 points)
9. Saika Magoichi (12 points)
10. Tsuruhime (10 points)

Which other character do you want to see involved in Motonari's stories?

1. Chousokabe Motochika (51 points)
2. Sanada Yukimura (39 points)
3. Ootani Yoshitsugu (38 points)
4. Ootomo Sourin (26 points)
5. Shibata Katsuie (21 points)
6. Tsuruhime (20 points)
7. Amago Haruhisa (13 points)
8. Kyougoku Maria (10 points)
8. Kobayakawa Hideaki (10 points)
10. Takenaka Hanbee (8 points)

Motochika's obvious similarities with Masamune led to memorable scenes in Sengoku Basara 2 and the anime, so the staff joked that people should also pick up the spin-off novel Sengoku Basara 2: Cool & The Gang to see more of that relationship. They were surprised that Sakon made it to third place in the rankings and hoped people were looking forward to seeing them interacting more in future titles.

For Motonari, they wondered whether the pair's confrontation in the second season of the anime had been a factor in the surprising number of votes for the Motonari/Yukimura combination. It's an extremely varied list!

Which of Motochika's lines is your favourite?

1. "Let's go, Yarou-domo!" (52 points)
2. "Yarou-domo, say the Demon's name!" (24 points)
3. "Believe in me, and come!" (14 points)
4. "I'll show you what a pirate is made of." (11 points)
5. "You'll wallow in tearful regret, in the depths of eternal loneliness!" (10 points)
6. "Fear not. If I die, I'll drift along with the sea..." (9 points)
7. "Will you boast that you crossed me when you're in the next world?" (8 points)
8. "It tore the damn core of my heart right out." (7 points)
9. "That isolation will last forever!" (6 points)
9. "I'm the one they call the Demon of the Western Sea!" (6 points)

Which of Motonari's lines is your favourite?

1. "Burn!" (35 points)
2. "Those such as soldiers are sacrificial pawns, after all." (29 points)
3. "Bring light, Sun!" (19 points)
4. "My name is Sunday Mouri." (14 points)
5. "I am Mouri Motonari! Child of the Sun!" (9 points)
6. "It was a pity, Ootani." (8 points)
7. "Ultimately, I, too, am a single pawn..." (7 points)
7. "A detestable man... right to the end." (7 points)
9. "It's fine if the only person in the world capable of understanding me is myself." (5 points)
9. "Nichiri~n~ Mo~tonari~♪" (5 points)

The staff wondered whether the top rankings in Motochika's list were affected by the extreme popularity of seiyuu Ishino Ryuuzou's 'call and response' segments at live events, where he shouts at the crowd in character so that they can yell "Aniki!" back at him. His interactions with his crew and his harsh words towards Motonari dominate the list.

They also observed that many of Motonari's are classics from early on in the series, though the line in third place is new. Those who have played Sengoku Basara 4 will recognise it as the "Teratama, Rin!" line Motonari keeps uttering during his argument with Tsuruhime. The staff explain that the incantation is an abbreviation of "Terashitamae, Nichirin yo!" - so I've translated it that way above.

(Raindrops' note: If you read through the list of quotes and pretend that you don't know the characters, Motonari sounds completely insane.)

The next survey asks fans to answer the same questions about Shima Sakon (without the first one, as he's only been in one game so far). I like that they've turned the surveys into detailed examinations of the character who featured in the previous issue. It's a good way for fans to provide feedback, and people who picked up the issue with their favourite character on the front are more likely to have strong opinions about their responses.

The merchandise news isn't terribly interesting, since all of it had already been discovered prior to the magazine's release. Fortunately it's only a couple of pages long before it gives way to the usual gallery stuffed full of artwork submitted by readers. Although there's a noticeable Motonari bias, the fans have produced pictures of less popular characters like Matsu, Itsuki and Amago Haruhisa, and there are even two colour drawings of Sakai Tadatsugu! Between this and the questions from earlier in the magazine I think it's clear that some people want to see the Tokugawa army expanded in future. Let's hope they get their wish.

--

Next, a two-page spread explains that readers can use the postcard included inside the magazine to vote for their favourite blanket design from a range of options. The design which ranks highest in the voting will be available for the four characters who have received brand new CG artwork in the magazine in the past (Masamune, Mitsunari, Motonari and Motochika). They're expected to cost ¥5,500 each when preorders open next month.


Readers can also place votes online via the magazine website, which will accept one vote per day from each visitor. The voting will be open until 16th December 2014. If you really want one of those blankets when they become available in February 2015, make sure that you support your favourite design! You just need to click the red button below the blanket style you like most, then click the red button on the next page to register your daily vote.

--

After the voting comes some lighter entertainment with Sengoku Basara 4: Sanbee Souran ~Oushuu Ni Teru Hikari~ Zenpen ('Three '-bee' Mayhem ~The Future Which Shines On Oushuu~ Part 1'). This official 'scenario novel' by the game's scenario writer Matsuno Izuru features the series' three '-bee's (Hanbee, Kanbee and Matabee). Although it's loosely referred to as a novel, it's formatted like a script with manga-style illustrations from Yokota Mamoru dotted throughout to help set the scene. Yokota's artwork is superb; I only wish he had been able to draw more pictures as there aren't enough!

The characters featured in this chapter are Masamune, Kojuurou, Hanbee, Kanbee and Matabee, along with a narrator and numerous low-ranking soldiers. The plot involves Kanbee invading Date territory in search of their delicious vegetables (Raindrops' note: I'm not kidding). Elsewhere, Matabee hatches a scheme to attack Masamune and cross his name off his Matabee Enmachou mark book at last. When Hanbee discovers what's going on, he comes along too - setting the scene for an alliance between the three '-bee's designed to take the self-proclaimed 'Dragon King' down, once and for all.

Fans may enjoy this glimpse of the first page. It's fun to be able to compare the finished art to the teasers which Yokota posted on Twitter a few days ago.

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Moving on, KobaP's Kobayashi HiroyukiP No Kyou Mo Basara Na Hi diary continues to tease readers by vaguely alluding to his plans for the series' tenth anniversary festivities next year while saying he still can't provide any specific details, and there are still more different kinds of Sengoku Basara projects he wants to try. He's been planning for the anniversary celebrations 'and beyond' for the whole of 2014 and thinks they'll be doing even more than they did for the fifth anniversary. It's pretty incredible how he can keep dragging the suspense out each time!

KobaP also took the opportunity to express his heartfelt gratitude to the fans for making everything possible.

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Chapter four of Yoshihara Motoki's Sengoku Basara 4: Bontenmaru-hen prequel kicks off the magazine's selection of serialised manga. I think this might be the best chapter yet; Kojuurou's motivations are explored and Masamune finally starts to show that there's more to him than his reputation as an unruly brat implies.

Manga artist Yoshihara Motoki has been teasing fans by posting rough versions of pages from the newest Sengoku Basara 4 and Bontenmaru-hen manga chapters to help promote them, along with lovely colour illustrations of Bontenmaru, Yukimura, Katsuie and Sakon.

Next comes Sumeragi's chapter of Mame Sengoku Basara 4 (Shucchouban) which stars Sakon and focuses on daily life in the Toyotomi army! @_sume and @hktk0226 both posted official previews. There's not much I can say about Sumeragi's story; I'm hopelessly biased towards the adorable Mame Sengoku Basara series and this feel-good story demonstrates why the Toyotomi-affiliated characters share such close bonds with one another.

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The final article from the creators is YamamotoD's BASARA Sengoku HERO column which looks at the characters from a historical perspective. This time, he's chosen Maeda Keiji.
  • Back when they made Sengoku Basara 2, deciding who the main character would be was a big concern. They considered using Katakura Kojuurou at first but wanted a historical figure whose name was more well-known, which made Maeda Keiji a candidate. Keiji was extremely famous thanks to Hara Tetsuo's manga Hana No Keiji (based on Ryuu Keiichirou's novel Ichimuan Fuuryuuki).
  • The interviewer remarked that incidentally, Sengoku Basara 3's Tokugawa Ieyasu was the star of another Hara Tetsuo manga Kagemusha Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Sengoku Basara 4's Shima Sakon featured in SAKON. They joked that perhaps the next main character will finally be a certain 'invincible' guy (Gifuu Doudou!! Naoe Kanetsugu is a newer Hara manga which recently received an anime adaptation). YamamotoD laughed it off as a complete coincidence.
  • At the time of its serialisation, Hana No Keiji was incredibly popular. YamamotoD thought that this might actually be a disadvantage, because it meant that people had a strong mental image of Hara's version of Keiji already.
  • The team spent a lot of time thinking hard about it, then a chance recollection of a quote from Oda Nobunaga about Nouhime prompted YamamotoD to come up with the theme of 'love'.
  • He realised that using this theme for Keiji would be a perfect fit, considering the way that the Maeda couple act.
  • After this breakthrough, all of the rest of the puzzle pieces began to quickly fall into place. His connection with Yumekichi, his past with Nene; it all came together and the Keiji everyone knows today was born.
  • As YamamotoD said before, he doesn't plan to advance the relationship between Keiji and Magoichi further. Magoichi has come to understand Keiji, and is aware of what he's like deep inside.
  • Yet when it comes to Keiji himself, he's harbouring lingering feelings for Nene even now. Keiji's gentle nature means he can't forget his first love. YamamotoD thinks Keiji still needs to find the right person.
  • Changing the subject, there was a slight change in Keiji's relationship with Hideyoshi in Sengoku Basara 4. It seemed as though he'd never be able to forgive Hideyoshi, but with them both being the leaders of their respective clans he understands Hideyoshi a little better now. To some extent, he'd avoided him in the past, and by Sengoku Basara 3 Hideyoshi was already dead.
  • They don't think in the same way, and they don't reconcile, but Keiji's feelings about Hideyoshi help him to understand Ashikaga Yoshiteru's loneliness and find a new friend.
  • Although YamamotoD understands that Keiji has a lot of passionately loyal fans, he wants to try to make it easier for people to see his good points so they can appreciate him more.
  • As for the future, YamamotoD pointed out that Keiji was the only person in Sengoku Basara 4 who managed to become friends with Yoshiteru so he's interested in where the two of them will go next. He'd like to show Keiji teaching Yoshiteru how to have fun.
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The third and final manga is Tane Jugou's Wan-Nyan Sengoku Basara. The main story is about the Maeda family - all of whom are cast as dogs - and ends with Keiji throwing a huge festival which attracts warriors from all across the country. As usual, a selection of 4-panel joke strips follow to give the characters who didn't appear much in the main comic a chance to fool around at the festival in animal form.

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And with that, the magazine wraps up with a selection of advertisements. The next issue (Sengoku Basara Magazine vol. 8: 2015 Winter) will go on sale on 27th February 2015 and feature Shibata Katsuie as the cover star and on the rubber strap. The second half of the scenario novel will be included along with the usual three serialised manga: Sumeragi's Mame Sengoku Basara 4 (Shucchouban), Yoshihara Motoki's Sengoku Basara 4: Bontenmaru-hen and Tane Jugou's Wan-Nyan Sengoku Basara. Naturally, Ishino Ryuuzou (Chousokabe Motochika) and Nakahara Shigeru (Mouri Motonari) will feature on the Showgeki Basara Talk! Motochika & Motonari No Maki Vol. 2 CD with a new 'Basara Challenge' theme of a critical 'investigation'.

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Like last time, this issue doesn't contain very much new information for fans who have been following the series closely, but with so much content I think it's still worth every penny of its cover price. Especially if you like Sakon. If you mainly follow the series for one of the characters without much coverage this time around, it's not an essential purchase.

Given that the next issue of Sengoku Basara Magazine is scheduled for late February, I'm expecting some big news over the winter. We have been promised news updates from KobaP at Jump Festa in late December then there's the enormous Basara Matsuri scheduled right at the beginning of February, so it definitely feels as though there are just two months left to wait until the next big announcement about the future of the series. I can't wait to find out more!

(Raindrops' note: I was very tired working on this article, so please accept my apologies for any mistakes!)

10 comments:

  1. Anyone could tell me where in the world Motonari says this "Nichiri~n~ Mo~tonari~♪"? XD I'd love to hear that, I completely don't remember this line!

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    1. This was bothering me too so I tracked it down after you mentioned it (lol). I've spent the last hour doing work with Sunday and his friends babbling in the background. It makes the time fly by :D

      The line is from one of his encounters with Sourin in Sengoku Basara 4. You can see it in this clip at 12:45 if you want to check (for best results, watch from 12:34): http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm22941866

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  2. Thanks a lot for the great review!!!! I'm so glad that the fan ask about nohime returns!!! I want to be in february already! I want to know the secret!

    I lol about the mask of hanbe , I always wondered.

    Love the setouchi team .

    would love to have more of basara manga in english.
    Thanks!

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    1. YamamotoD seemed to be in a very playful mood this time around. I couldn't believe how strange some of his responses were! I guess we'll have to wait until Hanbee wants to tell us himself :)

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  3. *forcibly feeds Mitsunari riceballs, worried mom-look on face*

    Yeah those pics on Fujita Ray’s twitter are great and weird. Like when they interact in normal/bizarre ways.
    https://twitter.com/Ray_FJT/status/538316591331430400
    Adds to making me want to watch the stage play.
    They want to perform a SB stageplay in a Western country someday? Wow I wonder how they would do that. Always glad when the creators shows signs of knowing that there are overseas fans.

    Hmm what sort of ”resources” would they lack to bring back Nouhime and Ranmaru?
    I want to see how they interact with Katsuie! (other than the little flashback/hallucination)
    Hoping that the big annoucement will include moar games :)

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    1. Yesss, you should watch the latest stage play (゜∇゜)

      It took me a while to notice that Fujita Ray sometimes tweets in English too, spreading the news to his foreign fans. His English is rather good! I guess they could stage the play with 'subtitles' using the background screen if they ever felt like trying a performance for a foreign audience. Maybe I should start nagging them to add subtitles to the DVDs as a first step (lol).

      My impression was that the resources they were driving at were 'time' and 'money', but I hope they can find enough of both soon. The missing characters are long overdue for a glorious return and KobaP keeps saying he wants to support Katsuie; giving him more friends would be a good step towards that... :)

      Ranmaru's storylines could probably really benefit from him getting to interact positively with someone a little less openly evil than the usual company he keeps... and there's so much room for cute Nouhime scenes now that there's a member of the Oda army who is less self-assured than the others. They have to bring them back soon!

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    2. I really hope that they’re serious about the stage play thing and that it was not just a random thought!
      Hmm subs on screen, it would be like one of those Italian operas when they perform them in foreign countries. Classy entertainment ;)
      And yes why not, if they’re serious and understand that there is wider interest, why not put subs on the DVDs?

      It would probably be a huge relief for both Mitsuhide and Ranmaru if Katsuie could babysit the childsoldier instead. Have you played Battle Heroes? Ranmaru’s story is really funny.

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    3. A Katsuie/Ranmaru team-up storyline would be amazing. Mitsuhide must feel very stressed after each day he spends with his cheeky cohort but Katsuie would probably handle him completely differently. I wonder how Ranmaru would treat him (outside of the tiny, tiny glimpse we saw in 4)? With half of the Oda family having been missing for so long, it feels as though we're long overdue for some decent side stories about them all.

      (I still want to see an Oda Chronicle manga anthology one day...)

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  4. Very interesting all! I'll just comment on what I found most interesting, then, I guess.

    I'm glad they wanna bring back Nouhime, Ranmaru, Itsuki, Xavi, and Musashi. Hm, but no mention of Yoshimoto, Ujimasa or Kennyo, eh? Perhaps they're really gone for good. Truly a shame, but at least they're still keeping the other missing characters in mind.

    The section on Keiji sadly didn't reveal what I'd hope it would- that is, why Keiji has a connection to Hideyoshi and Nene. I suppose they could just be transferring Toshiie's fabled friendship/real camraderie with Hideyoshi to Keiji. Learning where these characters come from is always very interesting though. And Kanetsugu being the next posterboy huh? Even in jest, I'd be very happy about that, seeing what Sakon did for Hideyoshi and Hanbei... then again Oyakata-sama's still unplayable and Yukimura's been there a while, so...

    On a similar note, Yuuichi-san is also a Kenshin fan huh? Maybe I've been too hard on Sakon. Ahahaha. Seriously though it's good to know someone involved in the series shares my admiration of Kenshin from both a historical standpoint and Basara standpoint.

    As far as an interaction between Sakon and Kenshin, it'd require something very specific that I really couldn't see outside of a drama CD I think. Namely, well, Kenshin seems to get along best with Ashikaga outside of everyone except Maria and Keiji, and the historical Kenshin was noted as well cultured in the arts... so, having Kenshin show up to Sakon playing a gambling game in Kyoto and taking him on would be cool.

    If it was within feasible traveling distance (I'd be willing to take a train, as long as it would be a day trip there... or I could sleep on the train I guess...) I'd love to see one of the stage plays in the US.

    Finally, a speculation: I wonder if, as Yoshimoto seems to be gone, they'll treat the Ii as the "Imagawa" from now on, or they'll try to link Naotora with the Tokugawa some more. Having the Ii as standalone feels strange as they only were for like 5 years or so. Then again I guess the Kuroda never quite were anything more than vassals either...

    Also, yes, Fujita's pictures are hilarious. >w<

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    1. We'll probably see Yoshimoto, Ujimasa and Kennyo again one day... but they don't seem to be a very high priority. Since Ujimasa doesn't need so many updates he's probably first in line of the group for a return, at least!

      I think Ujimasa could well reappear in the next game, though the other two probably need more focus in the main story in order to successfully return without ending up at the bottom of the popularity list again. They both have a lot of potential (and Yoshimoto is just plain fun). I was really hopeful when they suddenly brought him back for the stage play series even though he disappeared again right after the show ended.

      If YamamotoD and the others can successfully update the less popular guys for the current system I'd like to see them reintroduced with full stories and additional new character relationships to give them more appeal. I imagine that Yoshimoto will really irritate Naotora so I'd like to see that one day if possible :D

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