Wednesday, 1 July 2015

News roundup: A new video, a mini review and some miscellaneous Kenshin trivia

I suspect that I will be posting twice today as there will be even more news from Weekly Famitsu in the evening.

(Approximately) 10-second Theatre: The Twin Dragons' Differences

Another new Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi video has been posted on the official website. It shows a short excerpt from a tense-looking confrontation between Masamune and Kojuurou.


The next video clip will be posted on Friday. I won't be around a computer that day so I'll catch up at the weekend!

Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi will feature on today's Capcom TV #24

Today's episode of Capcom TV is scheduled to include a segment with Gatchman - the young man who was demonstrating the title at the Nico Nico Choukaigi 2015 event. There will be content about the game's system and characters and it's very likely that there will be some live gameplay. The show begins at 20:00 Japan time so if you happen to be around, I recommend checking it out! If you miss it, don't worry - the video will probably be posted on the Capcom YouTube channel later on.

Capcom TV can be watched live on YouTube, Twitch or Nico Nico.

Want to exchange letters with other international Sengoku Basara fans?

Tumblr user amazingferret is arranging a letter exchange called the Starlight Starbright Post 2015 to help connect Sengoku Basara fans as part of the series' unofficial anniversary celebrations. I think it's a fun idea, so don't be shy and go check it out if you'd like to spread your love of the series further (and possibly, make some new friends).

Mini review of The Sengoku Basara Qualification: Official Exam Questions

My copy of Sengoku Basara Kentei: Koushiki Mondaishuu ('The Sengoku Basara Qualification: Official Exam Questions') arrived lightning fast and since I already read it, I may as well write a short review. I don't think it will have wide appeal so it's not really worth making a full-length post about it.

This 127-page book is a tie-in for the upcoming Sengoku Basara qualification, a gimmicky formal national examination taking place later this year for hardcore fans. It includes 306 sample questions to help people study (or fool around with their friends). There's also a marking system so you can see how well you did; you have to get every single question correct to be able to call yourself a true 'Basaramono'!

The first section introduces all of the characters, though Rikyuu and the absent veterans from the older games (including Ujimasa) only have tiny pictures without full profiles. The rest of the book is divided into chapters for every game in the series, other than Sengoku Basara X (Cross), arranged in chronological order of release. Finally, the complete list of answers is printed at the back. The answers obligingly include full explanations so you can see where you made a mistake.

The main problem with this book is that I was expecting some seriously difficult questions - and to be honest they're all rather easy. They test on all aspects of the series, from obscure kanji readings to game mechanics, but I can't imagine that any hardcore fans will have trouble scoring reasonably high, especially if they study. I wanted to find questions so tough I'd have to look things up, like some of YamamotoD's weird references in official interviews...

The other problem is that I bought it hoping for some interesting Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi trivia yet it only covers information from the official website and press releases - how mean! That's my fault for being overly optimistic, admittedly.

If you want to test your Sengoku Basara knowledge, the book was released on 25th June 2015 priced at ¥1,000 before tax. It can be purchased from all good import book stores such as Amazon Japan, CD Japan and Yesasia. Please note that the book is entirely written in Japanese and the pictures are quite small, so it's not really worth picking up if you don't speak the language. There are better guidebooks out there for people looking for a more visual experience.

Bonus: Another of Yamamoto Makoto's BASARA Sengoku HERO columns

My ongoing quest continues. It's interesting to get series director YamamotoD's comments about the characters so I've tracked down a few more of the extra articles from Dengeki Maoh to gradually summarise and release.

Uesugi Kenshin's column is from the most recent Dengeki Maoh #8 2015. Please note that the final bullet point contains a story spoiler for Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi; YamamotoD seems to be getting increasingly relaxed about giving hints about the game's stories as we get closer to the release date.
  • The first thing the interviewer wanted to know about was how the team first came up with their version of Kenshin, since he's appeared in every game to date. YamamotoD explained that since they were making a Sengoku-themed game, he believed that including Kenshin and Shingen was an absolute necessity.
  • He started researching the real-life Kenshin by reading numerous historical records, in order to be able to bring the character to life.
  • YamamotoD knew about the hypothesis that Kenshin might actually have been a woman, and that's the reason why the Sengoku Basara version of Kenshin ended up being androgynous.
  • The interviewer joked that it was a huge leap to go from the 'Kenshin was a woman' theory to a Takarazuka theme. YamamotoD acted surprised, explaining that he grew up in Hyougo and when he went to college he lived in the Takarazuka area. The Takarazuka Revue was a familiar presence in his life.
  • When it comes to 'androgyny', you think about the Takarazuka Revue. And when you think about Takarazuka, the famous series The Rose Of Versailles is what comes to mind. So that's how Kenshin came to life, surrounded by fluttering rose petals. (Raindrops' note: For those who don't follow anime, manga or theatre, The Rose Of Versailles is about a beautiful woman who has been raised as a dashing man.)
  • One of YamamotoD's favourite anecdotes about the real Uesugi Kenshin is how he sent salt to his rival Takeda Shingen for the sake of the common people when the Imagawa clan blocked the supply routes. It's the source of a Japanese proverb which is still used today to remind people to play fair: "Send your enemy salt".
  • He also finds it deeply interesting that Kenshin went back to Kyoto to have an audience with Ashikaga Yoshiteru, and that they hit it off well enough that Yoshiteru later offered Kenshin a character from his name. Kenshin is part of the Ashikaga faction in Sengoku Basara 4 because the two of them had such a friendly relationship in real life.
  • In the game, Kenshin considers Yoshiteru to be almost perfect with just one thing missing: knowing what it's like to be a regular human being.
  • He thinks that the world would be fine under Yoshiteru if he's able to come to understand this, so Kenshin strives to give him a chance to become that 'perfect being'. That's where the encounter with Keiji (mentioned in his story summary) fits in.
  • The interviewer observed that Kenshin often seems to interact with Keiji. In Sengoku Basara 2 Eiyuu Gaiden (Heroes), Keiji wandered by idly and then got talking to Kenshin. In Sengoku Basara 3, Keiji was freeloading in the Uesugi Army. The reason is that the real-life Keiji eventually served the Uesugi clan; this led to them including various encounters between the characters in the game series too.
  • Speaking of Kenshin's connections, there's also Kasuga to consider. She's obviously deeply in love with Kenshin so the interviewer was curious about the way Kenshin viewed her.
  • YamamotoD answered that Kenshin addresses Kasuga as his 'beautiful blade'. When he calls her 'beautiful', Kenshin isn't speaking as though they're in a relationship. It signifies that he's viewing Kasuga from another perspective - well in any case, part of this is deliberately kept vague. After all, we don't know whether Kenshin is even a man or a woman. (Raindrops' note: YamamotoD chuckled at this, after having dodged the original question with his rambling.)
  • Moving on, YamamotoD said that although Kenshin and Shingen are rivals they mutually recognise one another as daimyo, as warriors and as individuals. Each of them is the only opponent who can match the other in every respect.
  • With the exception of Ashikaga Yoshiteru, Kenshin and Shingen are high ranking warriors who stand out in the world of Sengoku Basara. Even Nobunaga and Hideyoshi fall short in comparison. That's why these two people, who acknowledge one another, are finally going to settle things in Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi.
  • There will be an outright winner in their showdown but the outcome will differ depending on the route; we'll see both sides of the story.
  • It's a little sad to imagine one of them losing the other when they're the only people who truly acknowledge one another. However, because they're both adults they're unable to share the same kind of relationship as Masamune and Yukimura, and that's why they end up having to settle things.
  • In Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi, Kenshin's drama route is fully devoted to his relationship with Shingen while his creation route is a story with Ashikaga Yoshiteru.
  • Describing it as a 'massive spoiler' (so please skip past this line if you don't want to read it), YamamotoD mentioned that in the ending of the route "Kenshin ceases to be Kenshin". He urged fans to check it out if they want to know what he means by that hint.

7 comments:

  1. Great, with that tense clip, Date army fans might potentionally join the club of being heartbroken over videogame characters too.

    Kenshin stuff:
    - God I wonder what Kenshin will turn into. War god?
    - So it's basically kind of not really confirmed what s/he is now? Woman raised as a man?
    - "Even Nobunaga and Hideyoshi fall short in comparison." That's not really the impression the main stories give imo. *images Oyakata-sama/Hideyoshi punching duel*

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    1. Perhaps Oyakata-sama has been holding back all this time and hiding his true might! It is a ridiculous image, though I think he's at least considerably more cunning than Hideyoshi :D

      YamamotoD will probably go to his grave never having revealed the truth about Kenshin's gender. I suppose it's been a while since he teased everyone about it last.

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  2. Oh my God so Kenshin IS almost literally Sengoku Lady Oscar. That's too good. Lady Oscar evidently self-identifies genderfluid according to wikipedia, so perhaps Kenshin is genderfluid?

    I'm glad that I've had my suspicions confirmed about Kenshin truly being concerned about the common people- I can't really see why else Yamamoto would bring up that particular anecdote if not. I guess it is extremely popular though.

    "They're not in a relationship" he says. After how doting and protective Kenshin is of Kasuga? Okay yeah sure Yamamoto. Sure they're not. ;)

    Though actually giving it some thought, it sounds like he might not have been denying Kenshin's in love with her, just that they're not officially a couple. Nice. Keeps the ace/aro Kenshin, KenshinXKasuga AND the ShingenXKenshin fans happy, hehe. I guess dropping that Kenshin's gender is unknown in that particular instance could be an indication that he feels if Kenshin is a woman, then she and Kasuga could not be together... which would be kind of odd in my opinion, but, eh.

    I guess I'm kind of disappointed as yeah, this means canonically they're not a couple, but again, he didn't deny any shared love. And I think it'd be hard to deny that Kenshin doesn't love Kasuga in some way or another, whether as a very close friend or as a potential lover, so, I'm fine. Perhaps it is worth asking Romi-san what she thinks of Kenshin and Kasuga's relationship then... I'm sure she doesn't trump Yamamoto in canonicity but it'd still be interesting since it's apparently an open read. I guess this also explains why Keiji is constantly wishing Kasuga luck with Kenshin.

    Ah, so Kenshin and Shingen are above even Nobunaga and Hideyoshi in power? That's good to know. I assumed as such but given what happened in the anime I didn't want to assume. And I figured that they'd do a "Shingen beats Kenshin in his route, Kenshin beats Shingen in their route" thing... unless they reverse those and it turns out that

    "Kenshin ceases to be Kenshin"... as Lumi suggested Kenshin becomes Bishamoten? Kenshin dies or goes crazy? Bwuh. It fills me with as much excitement as it does dread. I'm so worried about my Uesugi clan. ;;

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    1. Oscar is one of the greatest characters ever in any medium, so Kenshin's in good company! I had no idea that YamamotoD was such a Takarazuka fan.

      It's interesting that both Kenshin and Shingen have been shown or described as valuing regular human beings now, while Nobunaga and Hideyoshi have a very different outlook. Even Kenshin's concerns about Yoshiteru sound as though they're driven by wanting him to understand how things are for someone who isn't a superhuman ruler, which could conceivably be for similar reasons.

      With regards to the denial that they're a couple, the way he phrased it technically only denied that they were a traditional couple. Just because he isn't flattering her with loving words doesn't mean that the emotional connection isn't there, especially when Kenshin is such a closed book in some ways. I think it's a good idea to ask Romi-san!

      This is just my personal impression but I think that the Sengoku Basara Kenshin is on another level to everyone else, not in the sense of sheer grandness like Yoshiteru but he often seems to have an unearthly, avatar-like presence (more than a little like the actresses who play those dashing, larger-than-life Takarazuka heroes). I think that such a person would love in a very quiet, detached, dignified way - the complete opposite of Kasuga - but Kenshin definitely seems to be watching over her tenderly most of the time they're together.

      I thought you might explode when I got to the part about Kenshin ceasing to be Kenshin... hehe. One other really silly possibility could be that he renames himself as tribute to the anecdote about taking the character from Yoshiteru's name, even though it would be a colossal mess chronologically. He wouldn't technically be 'Kenshin' that way, right? Well, whatever happens I hope that the people of Echigo and Kasuga are ok with it!

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    2. I really need to watch or at least read the series it looks soooo good. ;_; I also need to really invest in seriously studying Japanese so I can more fully enjoy the things I, well, enjoy. I have a feeling I'd REALLY be into Takarazuka...

      Yeah, Kenshin and Shingen have always seemed really nice given their positions, and it's nice to see some of the more super-powered characters in a series akin to Basara (i.e., series with characters that fight a lot with superhuman abilities) be among the most benevolent. It tends to be that the most powerful characters are the biggest jerks outside of the inevitable main character's ascent to greatness, so even if Nobunaga and Hideyoshi are close, it's nice to know that Oyakata-sama and Kenshin are there to sort everyone out. Ashikaga too, if Keiji's ever able to truly connect to him.

      Oh thank you for clarifying! That certainly puts me a bit more at ease. I never really thought of them as a proper traditional couple anyway. Their relationship is certainly a unique one. And I definitely agree with your personal interpretation of Kenshin's character. I'm just a bit of a sap so I'd like to believe once things calm down Kenshin would be able to be more down-to-Earth with her, but that's something I don't think anyone could ever prove as long as the series is a thing, hah~! Wouldn't quite be Basara if things got calm.

      Hah, well, I can't blame you I am predictable in that regard. :P That's a silly but interesting idea, actually. It reminds me, anecdotally, of this time when I was doing a Sengoku era RP and I managed to get Kenshin adopted into the Ashikaga clan, due to the closeness of the Uesugi to the Ashikaga. Reaaallly messed up Nobunaga's plans, haha.

      So, while I am sure that KobaP and YamaD don't spend their free time reading unrelated to Basara English-language RPs... I suppose perhaps, it's not a stretch that they might follow the same reasoning, and Yoshiteru might end up handing over the reigns to Kenshin after he's beaten up everyone else or something. Kenshin without being the ever-present protector of Echigo and instead becoming a shogun would certainly "not be Kenshin". But that's wishful thinking hehe. I just hope it's for the best, whatever it is, yes!

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  3. "Kenshin ceases to be Kenshin"
    Am I the only one who was thinking Xavism at this point? Furosuto Uesugi seems like a good baptismal name doesn't it? ggs)))

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    1. ... well, that'd be hard given Kenshin has disdain for Xavi. He is on friendly terms with Sorin though, so maybe unlike Maria he could play along or something, haha.

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