My slow pace is certainly not through lack of excitement, as the star is Sarutobi Sasuke this time and Sasuke is awesome. If you happen to be a fan, the new cover artwork, exclusive Mame Sengoku Basara rubber strap and feature articles should make this a very tempting issue.
Sengoku Basara Magazine vol. 9 was released on 29th June 2015, a month later than originally advertised. Priced at ¥2,500, it can be purchased from all good Japanese bookstores with international shipping including Amazon Japan, Yesasia, CD Japan and Manga Oh. There's an official preview article here if you want a look inside.
The new bonus CD is Showgeki Basara Talk! Sakon & Katsuie No Maki Vol. 1 with seiyuu Nakamura Yuuichi and Okamoto Nobuhiko. The CD was actually the very first thing I noticed since it's usually bundled with the magazine in a separate jewel case. This time, the CD has been packaged inside a cheap plastic sleeve tucked into the magazine itself. Fans have the option of downloading the CD jacket artwork and printing their own cover if they want their collection to match - it doesn't feel very luxurious. On the bright side, I guess it makes the magazine easier to ship and store.
Still, the most important thing is the content and the two voice actors have put together a good show for their listeners. Okamoto's naturally sweet personality is a funny contrast with his gloominess whenever he slips into character, and Nakamura has a cheeky attitude which plays off his co-presenter well.
The CD starts off with a candid talk segment where the two actors have to write Japanese kanji on sheets of paper then talk about how they relate to their characters in the game. Their illustrated papers are shown on the last page of the magazine, complete with silly doodles and autographs.
The second feature on the CD is the ever-popular 'Basara Challenge', which has Sakon and Katsuie working together at a family restaurant. They have to greet the customers and treat them with suitable hospitality. Sakon is excited about the activity but ends up spending most of his time trying to stop his partner from scaring the customers with his creepy greetings. He keeps trying to explain the purpose of a family restaurant (Katsuie doesn't even know the term), before eventually giving up and trying to turn the venue into a gambling hall instead. All of the customers leave and the challenge is a complete failure.
Finally, there's the fan mail segment which starts off with the two of them going back out of character and mostly talking about how awesome the various Sengoku Basara characters are, one by one. It's a friendly, informal chat.
Since they're still relatively new to the series and split their screen time with several other characters in the game, I found myself enjoying this rare opportunity to hear Sakon and Katsuie spending time together away from the battlefield. It allowed me to concentrate on their weird relationship without any other distractions, even if the setting was a ridiculous modern-day challenge story.
That's all I have to say about the CD for now, so it's time to move on to the content in the the magazine itself.
The first few pages are dedicated to a comprehensive recap of all of the Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi news to date. Unfortunately I've been following all the news rather closely so there wasn't really anything interesting to report back on. Series director Yamamoto Makoto (hereafter YamamotoD) had a few comments scattered throughout the feature as usual. Please note that there are some potential story spoilers in these bullet points and in all other Sumeragi-related articles.
- We've already seen the picture of Sabisuke being stabbed by Matsunaga Hisahide. YamamotoD commented that it wasn't the end of the story (of course) and after it happens, Rikyuu ends up serving Hisahide, even calling him 'master' in a new teacher-student relationship. Even though this makes it sound quite fun, it's a serious story!
- YamamotoD thinks that people will enjoy seeing Sakon reacting in a different way to usual when he crosses paths with Maria in her story.
- Ashikaga Yoshiteru is a key person for Shingen and Kenshin this time, in the sense of how the two of them view him and conversely how Yoshiteru views them. The distance between these three adults will feature in their stories.
- With regards to the promised showdown between Shingen and Kenshin, this time they've dispensed with the vagueness. Their battle will have a clear-cut ending.
- (Raindrops' note: I'm not sure whether this has been shown before or not any more but there's a picture from Shingen's drama route showing him holding a lifeless Kenshin and looking terribly sad. I know the picture of Kenshin looking down on a prone Shingen is already on the official website.)
- Kasuga's stories cover both extremes. Kenshin and Kasuga are together and full of happiness in her creation route but things become sad in her drama route. In Sengoku Basara 4, there was a battle against a frenzied Kasuga called Revenge: The Sword of the God of War and that situation has the same theme as the story in the new game.
- Toshiie is settling his past with the Oda army in order to save Shibata Katsuie. YamamotoD described Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi's Toshiie as a cool, rather dashing man.
- Matsu's stories are cooking-related and comical in nature. Whether she's in a cooking battle in front of the Emperor or getting Kobayakawa involved, they're simple, humorous tales. YamamotoD urged the readers to treat the 'usual Matsu-nee-chan' with warmth.
- In case anyone was worried, one of the screenshots of Rikyuu's moves shows Mitsunari in his Vergil costume alongside Masamune dressed as Dante. As previously stated the Sengoku Basara 4 tie-in costumes should still be usable, so long as you bought them and downloaded them again from PSN as instructed.
- It was the tiniest screenshot imaginable but one picture (sort of) showed how the PlayStation 3 to PlayStation 4 transfer will work. There's a screen called 'Save Data Convert' which offers you the option of converting your existing Sengoku Basara 4 save to work with Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi. It restated the previous warning that you will need your original Sengoku Basara 4 disc so I'm not sure how the screen is accessed; perhaps you download an update from PSN and open it using the old game in order to convert the file? I'm sure that the picture will appear on the official website very soon along with a more detailed explanation about the process.
- When he heard that he would be playing Rikyuu, Sakurai felt grateful but also bewildered. His image of the real-life Rikyuu was based on an old man. Since they were offering the role to Sakurai, he assumed that this wasn't going to be the case but he still had absolutely no idea what kind of character he'd end up playing. When the staff showed him what Rikyuu looked like there was a surprising gap between what he was imagining and the reality. His immediate reaction was "a macho blond!".
- Rikyuu's story is tightly packed with negative feelings such as bitterness, suffering and loneliness. If Sakurai was to describe the content in a single word, it would be 'painful' - emotionally, rather than physically. Even as an actor, it made him feel down.
- Although they're separate personalities, Wabisuke and Sabisuke are ultimately joined as two parts of the same whole. Both of them are united in their denial, yet they can't keep denying it right to the end. Ultimtely, for them to deny their other personality is the same as denying themselves, and that pain torments them.
- Of the two personalities, Sakurai is probably most similar to the 'well-behaved' Wabisuke deep down. He cracked a silly joke about the risk of developing two personalities over the course of his career.
- On the topic of his appearance at Basara Matsuri earlier this year, Sakurai explained that as he was a surprise guest it was very important that nobody found out he was there. He had to arrange his headwear to hide his face and sneak out from the taxi into the venue before anyone could recognise him. Once he'd made his appearance on stage, the fans gave off such a welcoming atmosphere that he felt relaxed.
- One of the major themes in Sengoku Basara 4 and Sumeragi is gambling. The interviewer asked what Sakurai considered the biggest gamble he'd made in his life. His answer was simple: aiming to become a seiyuu. It sent his whole family into a panic when he first told them it was what he wanted to do.
- Sakurai is interested in the Sengoku period. He used to support Shima Sakon but since watching Kusakari Masao playing Yukimura in the drama Sanada Taiheiki, he's become a Yukimura fan. He's looking forward to next year's Sanadamaru Taiga drama.
- When it comes to Sengoku Basara, his favourite character (besides Rikyuu) is Date Masamune. His six swords are cool, and he thinks he's a good fit for the historical Masamune. It has been said that the real Masamune could have seized the entire country if he had been born earlier in the period, and the game's version retains that sense of him being a reformist. Sakurai enjoys the way that the series 'rearranges' actual history in a fun way.
- With the game's release date approaching, the first topic of discussion was the six 'startling' major tie-in DLC outfits which a lot of fans had been asking about. KobaP remarked that they'd had an especially large fan response to Ieyasu's T.M.Revolution costume and chuckled.
- The collaboration announcements had a second purpose behind them; they were designed to reintroduce some of the returning characters like Masamune and Mitsunari.
- KobaP likes Hisahide's Biohazard (Resident Evil) costume the most. It's Hisahide dressed up yet he looks just like the real thing. Next is Ieyasu's Street Fighter IV costume; he's connected to Ryuu through his fists and closely resembles him.
- YamamotoD thinks that Matabee's Monster Hunter costume is amazing. Everyone else is wearing armour, then you have Matabee simply being a Velocidrome.
- The interviewer asked how the collaboration with T.M.Revolution originally came about. It turns out that KobaP personally asked Nishikawa Takanori (T.M.Revolution) whether it would be ok. Nishikawa has been saying that he wants to appear in the series for a long time now; he voiced Sakai Tadatsugu in Sengoku Basara Judge End and this time they wanted to have him appear as a costume. Nishikawa said "Sure!" and immediately gave his permission.
- YamamotoD added that they wanted the costume to stay with the Tokugawa army for the game (it was worn by Sakai Tadatsugu in the anime). That's why it went to Ieyasu this time. He also thinks it suits Ieyasu's muscular aesthetic.
- The interviewer said they were surprised when it was announced that Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi would contain all of the stories from Sengoku Basara 4. Are the staff concerned that people who purchased the previous game might feel they lost out?
- KobaP explained that it's the reason they've worked so hard to add 32 brand new stories this time. They felt that creating just 5 or 10 new stories wouldn't be enough, while with 32 most people should be satisfied. Given that there were 67 stories in Sengoku Basara 4, 32 more is really a lot of new content.
- They had to include the stories from Sengoku Basara 4 though, because some of them are closely connected to the ones in the new game. For example, they've added anime routes for Masamune and Yukimura which are directly linked to their stories from the previous game.
- The bomb soldier, Akatsukimaru and Naoe Kanetsugu are confirmed to be the only transformations in Battle Roulette.
- Each of them has several moves. For example, the bomb soldier fights with a bomb as a weapon. The player can throw the bomb with Triangle, bury bombs in the ground by holding down Square, scatter bombs around by pressing Square mid-dash and spin with R1.
- Kanetsugu has a lot of skills; he's close to being a full playable character in terms of his move set. Even though he disappears after being hit once, they wanted to make the roulette system fun enough that the player would keep wanting to play more.
- KobaP recommends Kasuga's 'sexy' glasses as a Tenka Medal reward.
- YamamotoD chose Fuuma Kotarou's wasp-themed Medal costume for his recommendation (it hasn't been shown properly yet). He also likes Tenkai's Mitsuhide costume; the mask reminds him of the way Mitsuhide looked in his opening movie from Sengoku Basara 2.
- They have added a new input for skill revisions; they will be activated with L1 + Square. As for the skills themselves, it's not a matter of them being weak or extra-strong abilities so much as opening up new gameplay possibilities for the characters.
- YamamotoD had some examples to share. Kotarou can warp into the air at any time with his skill revision. Previously, people who were skilled with Kotarou were able to fight in mid-air by maintaining the right tempo. With the skill revision, less proficient players will have an easier time pulling it off.
- Masamune's skill revision draws the surrounding enemies in and launches them into the air. Since they've given Masamune more aerial moves this time, the skill revision can be used to start an exhilarating mid-air battle. Skill revisions expand the existing gameplay.
- Shingen's punch using the 'Oyakata-sama Ga Koronda' statue looks fun even if you're just watching.
- All Tenka Medal rewards will be available for purchase from the start, without any unlocking required. They want the player to have plenty of choice and feel happy when they win a lot of medals in the roulette.
- The T.M.Revolution opening song DOUBLE-DEAL uses imagery from roulette and the two sides of a coin, fitting the overall theme of Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi, while the ending song Heavenly Blue was sung with Sen No Rikyuu in mind. A 'heavenly blue' is a type of morning glory, and the anecdote about the real-life Rikyuu decorating his tea room with a single morning glory flower is very famous.
- The Nishikawa/Ishikawa combination for the game's opening and ending themes was also used in Sengoku Basara 3. Ishikawa performed the ending for Sengoku Basara Judge End but they wanted SCANDAL's fresh, youthful sound in Sengoku Basara 4 to accompany the young warriors Sakon and Katsuie. Now, they're relying on Ishikawa once again.
- There are still more secrets to reveal in the last month before the game's release. The inclusion of Amago as an enemy surprised a lot of people, so please look forward to seeing 'that character' again in the roulette. (Raindrops' note: I'm so sorry! Because I am posting this so late this is already out of date; they're alluding to the big Musashi reveal with these comments.)
- In addition, they've refined the gameplay. Enemy behaviour has been altered and they will perform dash attacks towards the player.
- KobaP joked that it's also less likely that enemies will hit you from behind. They've made it easier for the enemies to go around in front rather than sneakily hitting from the rear. They haven't simply lowered the difficulty, though; they've added elements to make the game harder as well.
- The Sanbee Souran scenario novel which was published in issues 7 and 8 of Sengoku Basara Magazine was created based on content from Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi. So the game's version of the Hanbee/Kanbee/Matabee alliance will be similar to the story in the magazine. Since they're set in the same universe, YamamotoD thinks that there will be other opportunities to connect content from the scenario novels in future.
- In closing, they've packed the game with fun references and think that the game will be a must-have for existing fans of the Sengoku Basara series. There's not much longer to wait now!
- For people of YamamotoD's generation, the name Sarutobi Sasuke makes them think of a hot-blooded young man. However, with Shingen and Yukimura having that kind of feel already, they wanted to create a calm person. If they added any more unruly people the Takeda army wouldn't have a chance of staying together! So the Sengoku Basara Sasuke was different to that original mental image, with a cool, aloof personality which fit the role of the straight man and storyteller.
- There were many opportunities to have Sasuke and Kasuga teaming up together in Sengoku Basara 2 and Sengoku Basara 2 Eiyuu Gaiden (Heroes). Kasuga was completely in love with Kenshin and Sasuke cracked jokes without talking about his own true feelings. The pair's strange relationship continued to be fleshed out gradually in the subsequent games.
- The final boss of Sasuke's story in Sengoku Basara Battle Heroes was Matsunaga Hisahide. Matsunaga was a character who debuted in the previous game, Sengoku Basara 2 Eiyuu Gaiden (Heroes). He was entangled with Kojuurou there, so Sasuke's story came next. In Sasuke's story in Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi he will become involved with Matsunaga again for the first time in a while.
- A tiny glimpse of Sasuke's past was mentioned during Kojuurou's story in Sengoku Basara 3 Utage. Living as a ninja, the former Sasuke had lost his human emotions and regarded others as 'monkeys'. As Sasuke seldom speaks about his past, it could be an exceptionally rare scene about something even the man himself doesn't want to touch upon.
- The relationship between Sasuke and Kasuga is more like that of an older brother and younger sister than a man and a woman. His feelings are like those of a concerned older brother rather than romantic. Of course, because they're enemies there's also the matter of them killing one another.
- Sasuke has gained a dash attack in Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi. This makes him even faster in battle, and a move where he instantly moves behind his target by sinking into the shadows has been added as his skill revision. Please look forward to being able to fight in a more ninjalike way than ever before!
Q. What kind of place was the ninja village where Sasuke and Kasuga lived?
It's a hidden ninja village like a tiger's lair. It came up a little in Sengoku Basara 3 Utage (in an abstract sense). It's a place full of things ninja don't mention, and memories Sasuke doesn't want to talk about.
Q. Is the camouflage outfit Sasuke always wears handmade?
Of course! Because he's a ninja, the clothing he wears is full of secrets. And needlework is child's play for Sasuke.
Q. What were Sasuke's first impressions of Shingen and Yukimura the first time he met them?
For Yukimura, it was "Whoa, is he ok?" and for Shingen "An imposing man". That is, until he saw them both punching one another, when it became "Whoa, are they ok?"
Q. How is Sasuke regarded by his subordinates?
He's trustworthy but... he's really a scary person.
Q. What does he do on days when he's not working?
Sasuke effectively works all year round. He has to stay alert at all time since information is like a living thing. Even when it looks as though he's having an afternoon nap, he's really paying close attention. The only times when Sasuke is able to take a break from that are his interactions with Yukimura.
Q. In the comics we often see Sasuke deftly handling the Takeda army's housework. How did he hone those skills?
In the ninja village, naturally. Ninja are very versatile.
Q. What is Sasuke's cooking speciality?
I think he can do anything but he's actually the type who wants to prepare the soup stock and be the master of the hot pot, even though he complains at the same time.
Q. What is his favourite food?
Miso soup. Pickled vegetables. Simple!
Q. He's often mentioning the matter of wages. Is the Takeda army actually a 'black company' which doesn't pay well?
It's just a personal joke, but Sasuke also wants to make Yukimura aware that this is his job.
Q. If Sasuke was working somewhere other than the Takeda army, what kind of work would he do and for which arm?
Maybe the Saika-shuu? As an information gatherer!
Q. What kind of occupation would suit Sasuke in the modern world?
Pizza artisan (he can handle the pizzas like spinning shuriken) or newspaper reporter (demonstrating his information gathering skills)!
Q. Which opponent does Sasuke find hard to deal with?
It's definitely Matsunaga Hisahide! But then nobody's good at dealing with Matsunaga...
Q. Which type of person does Sasuke dislike?
Q. Which type of person does he like most?
Sanada Yukimura and Takeda Shingen!
Q. What is Sasuke thinking about when he watches Yukimura and Masamune fighting one-on-one?
He's smiling (and his heart is fluttering with anxiety).
Sasuke's voice actor Koyasu Takehito breaks his usual silence and provides a rare interview on the next four pages. He is rather candid and irreverent throughout the entire thing.
- Koyasu is absolutely astounded that it's already been ten years since he started playing Sasuke.
- When he first accepted the role, the mental image which drifted into his mind was that of a young monkey. People of his generation visualise Sarutobu Sasuke as a tiny hot-blooded guy; a boy who is like a little monkey. He was startled when he received his profile information and found that this Sasuke was a cool, easygoing character.
- The interviewer remarked that the fans seemed to accept the series' version of Sasuke. He was very popular even at the time of the very first game. Koyasu agreed, saying that he was always ranked fourth or fifth in popularity votes. It was as though there were a lot of people who would pick Masamune or Yukimura as their favourite with Sasuke as their second or third choice.
- He suggested that Sasuke's fans may like how he's so 'motherly'. From the very first time he played the role Koyasu privately thought "Sasuke's probably the mother figure of the Takeda army~". In contrast with the rowdy father (Shingen), Sasuke gently watches over everyone and doles out casual advice. How can you not love that about him?
- Personally speaking, Koyasu likes the way that Sasuke has two sides to his personality. One side has a natural cheerfulness, while the other is pragmatic about his work. He can be flippant and kind, yet he also has a lonely side living in solitude within the darkness. That duality gives him a twisted kind of coolness.
- If there's anything that has changed his impression of Sasuke over the last ten years it was in Sengoku Basara 3 Utage when he was acting like a proper ninja. It was fun but at the same time it was tough to balance his performance to avoid overdoing it and being unable to go back to the usual Sasuke.
- The interviewer observed that Kasuga is often interacting with Sasuke. Koyasu responded by saying that she shot him dead in Sengoku Basara. He remembers being angry at KobaP at the time and thinking "A bad ending after taking all that trouble to clear the game!".
- In spite of the shooting, they fight side-by-side from Sengoku Basara 2 onwards and get along well. Koyasu would personally rather Sasuke got along better with the sexy Nouhime as he likes her more.
- He remembers the original Sengoku Basara and Sengoku Basara 2 most fondly as they were full of ridiculous things. The series has gradually become more serious yet it's the silly stuff that he enjoys, like the gigantic Nobunaga descending from the sky in the opening to Sengoku Basara Battle Heroes and Shingen riding up a wall on horseback in the animated Sengoku Basara adaptation.
- The most memorable thing that's happened to Sasuke so far is when he was made into a playable character again in Sengoku Basara 3 Utage. It made him so happy after he had been unplayable in Sengoku Basara 3. His combat style was made even stronger, too.
- Of course, Koyasu plays the games as they come out! If there are any parts he doesn't find interesting he complains bitterly to KobaP (lol).
- Since he doesn't really have any complaints about the gameplay, he makes lots of suggestions about things he'd like to try out in Sasuke's story. When asked to give an example he described an idea he had about the modern-style camouflage clothing Sasuke wears. What if Sasuke was actually a time traveller from the present day who worked for the Self-Defense Forces? Sasuke could be a survivor from when his unit is caught up in a time slip like the one in the movie Sengoku Jieitai.
- He laughed as he admitted that he gets ignored with a "Yeah, yeah" when he tells KobaP about his ideas.
- Another idea he's had for a while is about how 'Sarutobi Sasuke' wasn't actually a real person. What if Sasuke was the true identity of a famous Takeda army warrior who is still talked about today? This also gets ignored with a "Yeah, yeah".
- Koyasu chats with KobaP and YamamotoD whenever he's recording lines for the series. They actually spend more time talking than he does recording. He likes to share his opinions as a player of the games.
- He'd like to see Sasuke interacting more with Oda Nobunaga. He deeply admires the historical Nobunaga and the Sengoku Basara version played by Wakamoto Norio is seriously charismatic. Given how powerful he is - Hideyoshi and Ieyasu both served under the real Nobunaga - there might be some difficulties in having Sasuke interacting with Nobunaga. He'd probably be dismissed as a mere ninja the moment they met.
- The anime scene which left the biggest impression on Koyasu was the first meeting between Yukimura and Sasuke shown in Sengoku Basara Judge End.
- He doesn't find it difficult to play Sasuke; in fact, since it's been his role right from the beginning he's had no trouble interpreting his lines and personality. It's possible that he's even created facets of Sasuke himself. So as far as acting and tone of voice are concerned he's had hardly any problems.
- Koyasu counts Sasuke as one of the three characters he finds easiest to play; the others are Mu La Flaga (Mobile Suit Gundam SEED) and Jade Curtiss (Tales of the Abyss). He wonders whether the three of them were made with him in mind.
- By coincidence, all three roles came at around the same time. Perhaps that was Koyasu's image back then? There were times when he only seemed to be getting joke characters, or macho characters, so the roles he plays seem to lead to other similar ones. He recalls playing a lot of characters at the time who were cool and easygoing yet difficult to read at first glance, like Sasuke.
- The interviewer complimented Koyasu on his interview technique and suggested that he should appear at a future Basara Matsuri event to liven things up. Koyasu admitted that he finds it very hard to go out in front of people and he has to spend a lot of time preparing himself. He decided to stop doing that when he hit the age of 35 and now he just concentrates on his voice acting work. He confessed that he had gone into the interview telling himself "You can do it!" to psyche himself up.
- Koyasu never had the opportunity to watch the Butai Sengoku Basara stage plays. The interviewer asked why and was told that Koyasu hadn't gone because he felt professional envy when he heard about the popularity of Sasuke's stage actor, Murata Youjirou. When he learnt that Murata had graduated he regretted being so stubborn. Koyasu sent him a message congratulating him on doing a great job and thanking him from the bottom of his heart.
Fans who submitted the survey cards from the previous issue rated all kinds of things about Katsuie for this issue's BasaRanking.
Which of Katsuie's lines is your favourite?
1. "Even with nobody to confirm it, I'm Shibata Katsuie!!" (102 points)
2. "I...took my future into my hands..." (36 points)
3. "I am not Katsuie, I'm the Apparition King!" (34 points)
4. "The present, the future, please don't go... You were what I wanted. " (29 points)
5. "I no longer have any interest in pursuing them... All I want is hope for the future!" (23 points)
6. "I wanted to be a hero... That was all..." (15 points)
7. "Ka...Kamasu...?" (11 points)
8. "Heh... How about standing out, like a Mikoshi-Nyuudou?" (8 points)
9. "If...I could stand before that person just one more time... I wonder whether she'd meet my gaze even slightly?" (5 points)
9. "Today is your Hundredth Tale!" (5 points)
The editor commented on the fact that a lot of these lines are from Katsuie's drama route. The fans seem to like the way that Katsuie pulled himself out of his misery and gained a little confidence.
(Raindrops' note: Once again, apologies for my terrible dialogue translations. The untranslated words are the names of various traditional ghosts and youkai.)
What do you like most about Katsuie?
1. The way he tries to take hold of the future even in the midst of despair (55 points)
2. His kappa-style haircut (38 points)
3. His gloomy personality (33 points)
4. I like his appearance (30 points)
5. He loves youkai (28 points)
6. He's easy to use in the game (27 points)
7. He's cool (24 points)
8. He's someone you can't leave alone (23 points)
9. His earnest personality (18 points)
10. His pitiable side (16 points)
This question was added after a request by Katsuie's seiyuu, and naturally the responses are all over the place. I wonder what Okamoto thought when he saw the results?
Which other character do you want to see involved in Katsuie's stories?
1. Shima Sakon (190 points)
2. Date Masamune (157 points)
3. Katakura Kojuurou (99 points)
4. Mori Ranmaru (68 points)
5. Chousokabe Motochika (65 points)
5. Tokugawa Ieyasu (65 points)
7. Oichi (55 points)
8. Sanada Yukimura (51 points)
9. Akechi Mitsuhide (49 points)
10. Mouri Motonari (48 points)
Well done, Ranmaru! That's an amazing rank for a character who hasn't been around for such a long time.
The next survey will feature three questions about Sasuke. The second question has been swapped back to the usual one asking which of Sasuke's stories people like the most.
Like Katsuie, Sasuke's article only has one tribute illustration by a professional guest artist. Mikami Ritsuhiro (Worldend: Debugger, Complex-Complex) has drawn Sasuke and Kojuurou clashing in battle. Mikami has liked the series for some time and chose to draw a 'retainer showdown'. I think it's a great picture.
The second BASARA Production Notes article comes next. They went through the original design materials for Date Masamune in the previous issue, so this time they took a detailed look at how they refined the design for Oda Nobunaga. The article focused on the problems the team had getting Nobunaga's helmet and silhouette right.
1. Suggestions about the initial design's 'demonic silhouette'.
Two illustrations were created which served as their very first images of Oda Nobunaga. He wasn't wearing any headgear in either. One of the pictures had him holding a sabrelike sword, the other a small pistol. His familiar silver western-style armour had far fewer spikes than the final design - he almost seemed like a hero. The staff listened to all of the feedback and proposed some modifications to the concept created by character designer Tsuchibayashi Makoto.
Nobunaga seemed 'refined' when viewed from behind. It's quite different to the impression left by the present Nobunaga. One of the other points which came up from the feedback was that the silhouette needed adapting. The silhouettes of the Sengoku Basara designs are very important, whether it's Masamune with his six swords or Yukimura wielding two spears and a biker outfit.
One of the original production comments was included. "Please adjust the silhouette to be more extraordinary. The materials are fine as they are. Please give the helmet a demonic shape which cannot be confused with Shingen's."
2. Trial and error in pursuit of more 'impact'.
A picture of Nobunaga wearing armour with very high shoulders was annotated with a comment that they would rather use that silhouette idea for Mitsuhide. They even struggled with the shape of his holster, trying out a low-slung belt before abandoning it in favour of having the gun at his hip in the final design.
Tsuchibayashi also experimented with a helmet with bull horns, and the team gradually built up the spikes behind Nobunaga's soldier with each revision.
3. Major changes to the shape of the helmet!
Another staff memo shed further light on the problem. "The horns on his head have too strong an association with Shingen's image so I want to do without them. But having nothing there at all looks weak. We need a few decorations."
The team kept grappling with this problem and trying out different adornments for Nobunaga's head. The comparisons with Shingen kept coming up, though. Eventually they managed to settle on a 'devilishly spiky' feel which gave Nobunaga his own unique look.
(For some reason the article even pointed out that the overseas version of the game renamed Nobunaga to Devil King, eager to emphasise his demonic credentials.)
I love being able to gain all of this insight into the character design process. We know that Tsuchibayashi traditionally wove all of Yamamoto's ideas into the game's flashy designs, yet these articles take that a step further by highlighting areas they had to keep refining until they perfectly matched the creators' visions. Character design is hard work!
After three pages of merchandise announcements, there's an event report covering the evening show in Tokyo for the Basara Club Fan Meeting 2015 Spring event. It's written to make everything sound as exciting as possible and I'm very jealous of the people who were able to attend! The article describes the silly Xavist jokes since Sugiyama Noriaki (Sourin) and Inada Tetsu (Muneshige) were the seiyuu guests that night.
Two pages of gorgeous amateur artwork come straight after the report; Rikyuu, Sasuke and Motonari were popular choices but overall a broad selection of different characters were represented in the fans' choices.
The first of the magazine's regular serialised manga titles come next. This chapter of Sumeragi's Mame Sengoku Basara 4 (Shucchouban) starts off depicting a typical day in Sasuke's life - until Sasuke notices that there's something different about Yukimura. He's wide awake at the crack of dawn and needs far less help than usual. When Sasuke asks Yukimura about his newfound dependability, his master explains that he's taken Oyakata-sama's words to heart and wants to find the meaning behind his own 'Fuurinkazan'.
Yukimura's impassioned speech makes Sasuke think about his own true nature, recalling that previous conversation with Kojuurou where he alluded to a dark secret about his true nature. Sasuke isn't left dwelling on these thoughts for long. He's soon dragged from his reverie by one of Yukimura and Shingen's rowdy punching matches; a timely reminder that the person he's become sees the world differently to the way he did back then.
KobaP's brief Kobayashi HiroyukiP No Kyou Mo Basara Na Hi diary excerpt has a strong Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi focus this time since it's his last chance to publish a long message to the fans before its release. He's getting really excited at the prospect of everyone playing Sumeragi and sharing their thoughts about it; the thing he's most interested in seeing is how people feel about Rikyuu when they have the chance to get to know him as a character. Will they like his move set? His story? KobaP is looking forward to reading all of the reactions!
The diary entry also touched on the topic of the series' tenth anniversary celebrations, saying that KobaP personally finds it very frustrating when he wants to give everyone more details about the various projects he mentions but isn't allowed to say more.
(Raindrops' note: This is slightly off topic, but I was thinking that those us in the overseas Sengoku Basara fandom should try tweeting KobaP when we receive the game, so he can see our feedback and that foreigners are playing. Imagine how many tweets he would get if we all took a picture of our game boxes or TV screens showing the game and a short message like "Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi in (your country name)"? Well, it's just an idea. I'm going to do it.)
The first of the Sengoku Basara 4 'scenario novels' concluded last issue so we have a new one this time. Sengoku Basara 4: Aa, Natsukashii No Oda Mokkou ('Ah, The Good Old Oda Clan Crest') tells the full story of what happened behind the scenes in the game's story, linking events experienced by Nobunaga, Mitsuhide/Tenkai and Katsuie together. It also explains what happened to Ranmaru and Nouhime in more detail than the snippets of dialogue in the game provided. It's been a very long time since we've seen those characters interacting in canon like this - the novel was written by the game's scenario writer Matsuno Izuru. Artist Ashika Nozomu has created a lovely set of black and white illustrations to accompany the text.
I'll summarise the story very briefly. The commanders of the Oda army have been dealt a major blow by the loss of the Maeda forces, who have recently left their ranks. In the midst of the chaos, Mitsuhide manipulates Katsuie into missing his usual evening sparring session with Ranmaru and fights Ranmaru in his place. The 'training' ends with Ranmaru losing consciousness. When Nouhime appears and wants to know what's going on, Mitsuhide turns on her as well. The next thing that Ranmaru and Nouhime know is that they've been shackled and imprisoned deep in a fallen castle elsewhere, far away from prying eyes.
There are numerous flashbacks, mostly to a previous battle where Katsuie was still a valued member of the army. Mitsuhide clinched the victory by ordering Katsuie and Ranmaru to stake out a secret passageway through which the defeated enemies tried to escape. This flashback is important for several reasons; it shows Katsuie brimming with confidence before he fell from grace, and establishes his relationship with Ranmaru. The flashbacks also help spur an exhausted Ranmaru on to find a way out of captivity - it just so happens that the castle they attacked is the same place that Mitsuhide has imprisoned them.
Back in Azuchi Castle, Mitsuhide is pulling the strings as best he can to gain Nobunaga's favour. He's consequently somewhat taken aback when Nobunaga vanishes into the ground to look for his wife and loyal page in the underworld. When Nobunaga finally returns, Mitsuhide ends up heading west on a pretext, leading to his fateful meeting with a terrified Kobayakawa Hideaki.
Meanwhile, throughout her captivity Nouhime's faith in her husband is unshakeable, and she remains strong even as the days turn into months. She encourages Ranmaru not to give up and eventually the pair of them manage to escape. Needless to say, they're extremely angry about Mitsuhide's betrayal.
The script is quite short at 16 pages which leads me to think that it will be combined with another if it's ever adapted to a drama CD like the previous scenario novel. Of course, it could just be used as material for the next game instead; it's a good teaser to whet the appetites of those patiently waiting for the older characters to return. I'd love to see what happens next. Mitsuhide is overdue for some major punishment after the way he's treated his former allies.
YamamotoD's BASARA Sengoku HERO article takes a closer look at Sanada Yukimura this time since he's linked so closely to Sasuke, who has already been featured in a previous column.
- The staff had thought about having two main characters right from the planning stages of the first Sengoku Basara game, and Masamune and Yukimura were selected because they were both so well-known. Many Japanese people are familiar with the name 'Sanada Yukimura'.
- In fact, right after they announced the first game there were assumptions that Yukimura was the main character and Masamune was his rival. Main characters are often associated with the colour red while their rivals are blue, after all.
- The interviewer asked whether Yukimura was made a hot-blooded man to go with the red imagery. YamamotoD explained that they had Masamune as a 'cool' character and wanted Yukimura's personality to be the exact opposite. By chance, this happened to match the colour of the red akazonae armour famously worn by the elite Takeda warriors (and Yukimura's unit when he fought at Osaka).
- The next question was about why Masamune and Yukimura viewed one another as rivals when their personalities were so different. The answer is simple: because they enjoy fighting. YamamotoD thinks that having a competitive opponent to fight against is fun whether it's a video game or a sport; their personalities might be different but when it comes to battle they both get just as worked up.
- Masamune is the more emotionally mature of the pair, yet as soon as he's in front of Yukimura even Masamune acts like a child who simply loves to fight.
- It felt as though there wasn't much interaction between Masamune and Yukimura in Sengoku Basara 4. Masamune showed a new side to himself as he guided others and acted as a ruler, while Yukimura went back to the roots of Sengoku Basara with his punching matches with Shingen and conversations with Sasuke. This meant that the two of them didn't have many opportunities to interact. On that note, please look forward to Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi! Yukimura has a new anime route, and the two characters meet in an amazing showdown there. YamamotoD wants the duo's fans to check it out.
- Responding to a prompt asking for more information about Sasuke's deep relationship with Yukimura, YamamotoD started off by saying that Yukimura is Sasuke's master. A ninja is supposed to be disposable, yet Yukimura isn't able to see it that way. Yukimura considers Sasuke a friend. There's even a sense that he's like an older brother to him.
- The real-life Yukimura went down in history for his actions during the Siege of Osaka campaigns. If the Sengoku Basara series ever covers those events, YamamotoD doesn't want to do it in a normal way. Sengoku Basara's version would have to be a surprising version of the Siege of Osaka showing Yukimura playing an active part. Since it would be the climax of the Sengoku period it would need to be done in an appropriately impressive way.
- He thinks they might depict the Siege of Osaka in the series one day.
- As for future content that YamamotoD would like to make featuring Yukimura, a follow-up to the Sengoku Basara 4: Bontenmaru-hen prequel manga titled Benmaru-hen was the first thing he listed. They have shown glimpses of Yukimura's childhood in Bontenmaru-hen and in the Takarazuka musical yet that's as far as they've gone so far. YamamotoD wants to show fans how the young Yukimura spent his time in the Takeda army.
Appropriately, chapter six of Yoshihara Motoki's Sengoku Basara 4: Bontenmaru-hen manga comes next. It definitely feels as though it's building to the story's main climax. Kojuurou's rough words have finally started to get through to Bontenmaru, but with Aoba Castle in flames thanks to a horrifying invader there's no time for the two men to settle things. Kojuurou sees his lord's desperation to protect his people and rushes off to face the enemy alone. How will the young Masamune react to his helplessness in the first true test of his worthiness as a leader?
It's apparent that the writers are drawing from the familiar Masamune/Kojuurou/Hisahide storyline we've seen play out several times now, and it works well with a young, unproven Bontenmaru in Masamune's role. I'm guessing that the story will wrap up in the next issue then we'll move on to another prequel manga (presumably Yukimura's, based on YamamotoD's hints) thereafter.
The final comic strip is Tane Jugou's Wan-Nyan Sengoku Basara and this time it's about the main players in the Battle of Sekigahara clashing in a comical way. The serious themes keep getting derailed by Kojuurou's negi weapon, which is unnecessarily overpowered when all of the combatants are cats and dogs (onions are toxic to both species). My favourite part was when Mitsunari angrily gave Ieyasu a rice ball to stop him from dying to poison before Mitsunari had a chance to kill him himself. He looked so annoyed.
The miscellaneous four-panel gag strips after the main story collect short anecdotes about Sasuke's day-to-day life as a ninja, along with a couple of bonus strips with the Maeda family and Kingo/Tenkai. It's all very cute.
The preview for the next issue of the magazine hasn't yet appeared on the official magazine website but the cover star is going to be Kojuurou and he'll feature on the Mame Sengoku Basara rubber strap. There will be a brand new 'scenario novel' designed to accompany the new game, tentatively titled Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi: Sen No Rikyuu-hen, with a script by the game's scenario writer Matsuno Izuru. The second Showgeki Basara Talk! Sakon & Katsuie No Maki talk CD will have the Basara Challenge where the two of them are working as lifeguards at a swimming pool. Issue 10 will go on sale on an unannounced date in the summer. The survey inside the magazine asked readers to name up to two characters they'd like to see featured in future issues so I guess they're picking the next cover stars in order of their popularity from now on.
There wasn't much new Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi news after all this time, though it was jam-packed with other features (and I certainly cannot complain at the pace of Sumeragi updates in recent weeks). I'm looking forward to seeing a new CG render for Kojuurou a few months from now!