Wednesday 23 March 2016

News roundup: A brief history of Sanada Yukimura's life, and some Sengoku Basara updates

Well, I think we know why there was so little news at Basara Matsuri - there's not been all that much to report lately! That ought to change in a few weeks when the promised character details for Sengoku Basara: Yukimura-den finally appear in the gaming press. Until then, I'm scraping the bottom of the barrel for new gossip.

The latest Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den updates

I mentioned before that the official fan club newsletter had promised some content about the game, but after receiving my copy it became apparent that there really wasn't much worth mentioning. The interview mostly repeated content from previous articles.

Perhaps more interesting was a two-page timeline introducing fans to the major events in Yukimura's life as a primer for the game. It's a stretch, but maybe this will help narrow down which of the many accomplishments of the Sanada clan will be covered in Yukimura-den. Since it's commonplace historical information I can't imagine that anyone at Capcom will get mad if I translate the details.

1567: Sanada Yukimura was born to Sanada Masayuki and Yamanote-dono, and given the childhood name Benmaru. Not much is known about his place of birth, but as they served Takeda Shingen it's been theorised that Yukimura may have been born in Koufu. Incidentally, Date Masamune was born the same year.

1575: The Takeda army was defeated by the combined Oda-Tokugawa forces in the Battle of Nagashino. After Sanada Nobutsuna was killed in battle, Sanada Masayuki succeeded him as head of the Sanada clan.

1582: The Battle of Nagashino led to the decline of the Takeda clan and its eventual downfall. From that point on, the masterless Sanada clan experienced suffering on a daily basis. Masayuki went from serving the Oda clan to the Houjou, and then the Tokugawa, desperately trying to survive against the backdrop of the Sengoku period.

1584: Tokugawa Ieyasu stood against Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Ieyasu decided to make peace with the Houjou clan, and the territory of Numata was to act as a peace offering. However, Numata was an area which Sanada Masayuki had put a lot of effort into conquering and he wasn't willing to hand it over to Ieyasu. Masayuki declared that "Numata is a land we claimed with bows and arrows. It's not a land given to us by Tokugawa-dono." and refused to surrender the territory. Ieyasu was vying with Hideyoshi for control of the entire country and this act of defiance caused a rift between the Tokugawa and Sanada. In need of support, the Sanada clan became retainers to the Hideyoshi-backed Uesugi clan.

1585: The broken relationship between the Tokugawa and Sanada clans led to the Battle of Ueda, where the Tokugawa army attacked the still-unfinished Ueda Castle and the Sanada clan within it. The Tokugawa forces were able to approach the castle with very little resistance - but this was all part of Masayuki's plan. When the Tokugawa troops arrived at the area surrounding the castle, the buildings nearby were set alight. At the same moment, guns were fired from inside the castle and peasant soldiers attacked from all sides. The Tokugawa forces were completely overwhelmed. Having successfully repelled the great Tokugawa army, word of the Sanada clan's military prowess spread throughout the land.

1589: Houjou clan retainer Inomata Kuninori disregarded a ruling from the Toyotomi clan and attacked Nagurumi Castle in the west of the Numata region. When Masayuki brought the matter to Hideyoshi's attention, he was infuriated and declared war on the Houjou clan. Warlords from across the country were called into action and the Siege of Odawara began. Sanada Yukimura participated in the battle along with his father Masayuki and brother Nobuyuki; this was Yukimura's first campaign.

1598: Hideyoshi passed away, and the Sanada clan - now with the status of daimyou - were thrust right back into the heart of conflict once again.

1600: At last, Ieyasu made his move and the Battle of Sekigahara divided the nation. The members of the Sanada clan discussed the stances they would take; Yukimura and Masayuki sided with the Western Army but with his wife being the daughter of Honda Tadakatsu, Nobuyuki sided with the Eastern Army. Yukimura and his elder brother were therefore on different sides. This split wasn't due to a quarrel but a decision made with mutual respect for each man's position and viewpoint. Yukimura and Masayuki fought well together and accomplished much, yet in spite of this the Western Army was defeated. Thanks to Nobuyuki and Honda Tadakatsu the pair were spared death, instead being confined in Kudoyama at the base of Kii Province's Mount Kouya.

1611: Sanada Masayuki passed away in Kudoyama, aged 64.

1614: Having seized the country, Ieyasu's final concern was the Toyotomi clan. In order to destroy them he gave orders to attack Osaka in the campaign known as the Osaka Winter Siege. The Toyotomi clan called upon the Sanada clan to assist them at Osaka Castle, and thus Sanada Yukimura finally left Kudoyama. Although the Toyotomi were at a disadvantage, Sanada Yukimura's squad was their sole glimmer of hope. Yukimura identified a weak spot on the south side of Osaka Castle and constructed a fort to reinforce that location; this fort would later be known as the Sanadamaru. When the Eastern Army attacked the Sanadamaru, they were repelled by Yukimura's shrewd orders and expert command of his gunners. Ieyasu came up with a different plan upon seeing that brute force wasn't going to bring him victory. The Osaka Winter Siege came to an end with a declaration of peace between the Toyotomi and Tokugawa clans.

1615: Ieyasu pressed Yukimura to switch sides, but Yukimura paid him no attention and dismissed the 100,000 koku territory comprising the land of Shinshuu he was offered as a reward. His determination would have evoked memories of his father, Masayuki. Meanwhile, the Toyotomi clan feared another clash would be unavoidable and began stocking up on battle provisions and ammunition, secretly preparing for war. Word of this soon reached the Tokugawa clan, who were already looking for an excuse for a rematch. Ieyasu demanded that Hideyori demonstrate his allegiance by requesting to be relocated from Osaka Castle and banishing the gathered ronin. Of course, there was no way that the Toyotomi could accept this. The bonds between the East and West were severed once again and the Osaka Summer Siege began. Yukimura set his sights on Ieyasu and the Sanada troops united for an assault. They overwhelmed their enemies and eventually reached Ieyasu's hatamoto; so fierce was the Sanada charge that Ieyasu steeled himself for death. However, as the power of the Sanada forces gradually started to wane they were unable to take Ieyasu's head, and the Eastern Army regained their momentum. The exhausted Yukimura sat down to rest in the grounds of Yasui Shrine, where a thrust from Nishio Munetsugu's spear brought his life to an end.

There was one interesting comment in the official Q&A corner too. It's not specific to Yukimura-den but this question comes up a lot, so it's nice to seeing it getting a response from the staff even if it's not definitive.

Q. Is there a chance we'll see the characters' sons or daughters in the future?
A. Maybe if the series continues long enough...?


Setting the new game aside, here are the usual news updates and announcements from elsewhere in the Sengoku Basara world.

The new Sengoku Basara art book is proving unexpectedly popular

One of the most (unintentionally) exciting happenings lately has been the struggle of trying to purchase next month's new Sengoku Basara Motoki Yoshihara Illustrations art book. It's been really tough! The book is only available through three retailers at the moment: e-Capcom, Dengeki-ya and Amazon Japan. You have to be careful placing your order, however, as the book keeps selling out of its preorder allocations and causing the listings to close (at the time of writing the Amazon Japan listing only displays third party resellers who are overcharging significantly). To make matters worse, the first two stores only ship within Japan and it's classified under 'hobbies' on Amazon Japan - which means that most buyers from overseas will have trouble importing it that way too. I hope the book receives a general release soon so that all of the Yoshihara fans outside Japan can support this talented artist...

Ashigaru-kun is the star of an official Basara Matsuri event report

Bizarre series mascot character Ashigaru-kun has kindly prepared a photo report for those of us unable to attend the Sengoku Basara 10th Anniversary Matsuri ~Feast of Ten Years, Ten Shades~ event earlier this month. It's not the greatest, but Ashigaru-kun's team are allowed to take pictures in all of the places normal attendees cannot which makes it fun to read.

Ichiban Kuji partners with Sengoku Basara again for an unnecessarily complicated event

It's not another full Ichiban Kuji lottery (sadly) but there's going to be a smaller campaign called Print Charamide Sengoku Basara ~Jindori Gassen!~ ('Base-grabbing Battle!') running from 1st April until 10th April 2016. It's extremely similar to the previous campaigns of this type. Fans can visit participating 7-Eleven stores and pay ¥150 for the privilege of printing a special Sengoku Basara 'charamide' photo from the multifunction copying machine.

The available images are actually rather cool as there's a choice of 66 designs covering 13 different 'armies', which are grouped together in silly, not-entirely-canonical ways as the Oushuus, Manly Men, Conqueror Kings, Bonds, Loves, Demon Lords, Setouchis, Emperors, Kyuushuus, Regional Lords, Three 'Bee's, Tiger-users and Sengoku Gourmet Association. You can see the designs by clicking on the black banner halfway down the page with a red 'Click' label. Each image has its own reservation code which fans can take to the store and key into the copier.

(Why does Hirotsuna, of all people, get two designs?)

Once you've collected your printed charamide you can use the unique code printed on the bottom to enter a mobile lottery on the website before 1st May 2016. Group shots of the two most popular armies will each be featured on prizes for 50 lucky winners. Fans can track the popularity of each army by checking the green banner underneath the designs on 5th April 2016, and the final results will be posted under the red banner on 12th April 2016.

That's not all, however! There will be a follow-up event in early July 2016 called Ichiban Kuji MINI Sengoku Basara ~Hisshou Kigan!~ ('Inevitable Victory Prayer!'). The results from the April event will be used to decide which of the 'armies' feature on a variety of omamori mascot charms and ema mascot charms which can be obtained in a ¥500 lottery.

(Personally, I suspect that the 'Conqueror Kings' may live up to their name. I sort of want the 'Regional Lords' to win though, just because it would be weird and confusing. Ieyasu's army is probably going to have a hard time. It's neat that they've mixed popular and unpopular characters on most of the teams. It means that fans who like the unpopular characters have a better chance to get some new merchandise of their favourites, even though it's going to be difficult to obtain.)

The results of the third (and final?) official online Basa-ranking survey

The results from the third online Basa-Ranking survey were tallied at the end of February and the details were posted on the website as usual.

The survey asked fans which game's story interested them the most.

1. Sengoku Basara 2
2. Sengoku Basara 3
3. Sengoku Basara 2 Eiyuu Gaiden (HEROES)
4. Sengoku Basara 4
5. Sengoku Basara 3 Utage
6. Sengoku Basara
7. Sengoku Basara HD Collection
8. Sengoku Basara Battle Heroes
9. Sengoku Basara Chronicle Heroes
10. Sengoku Basara X (Cross)

The prize for the winning game are the usual smartphone lock screen images, which can be accessed here. Keiji finally gets to appear on one of the pictures!

Details of the next ranking have still not been posted so it looks as though this might be the last one, even though the website encourages fans to look forward to the next ranking.

Committed RED will feature on T.M.Revolution's new anniversary album

If you prefer albums to singles but still want to own the latest Sengoku Basara: Yukimura-den game's theme song, you'll be pleased to hear that it's going to be included on T.M.Revolution's new 2020 -T.M.Revolution ALL TIME BEST- album when it launches on 11th May 2016. The album celebrates Nishikawa's 20th anniversary since his debut as T.M.R.

A generous number of Sengoku Basara tracks can be found in the 3 CD set, which has been remastered in New York. The first press limited edition also includes a slipcase and a DVD with video footage covering the last twenty years 'in 2020 seconds'. The limited edition costs ¥4,920 (a pun which sounds like 'yoro(shiku) 20(th anniversary)' while the standard edition will be ¥3,920 - also a pun, this time of 'thank you 20(th anniversary)'. Special bundles for both versions and a muffler towel will be available through Loppi and HMV.

Speaking of the song, there's a short preview available on YouTube in an unofficial capacity for those of us who can't look forward to the radio previews available to fans in Japan.

Monday 14 March 2016

The first gameplay video for Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den

I have a few more minor updates to write about but first and foremost, here's the new gameplay video from Basara Matsuri! They promise to reveal more about the new move sets in due course.

Monday 7 March 2016

Rumours and gossip from Sengoku Basara 10th Anniversary Matsuri ~Feast of Ten Years, Ten Shades~

It's taken me longer than I'd like to post this due to real life commitments, but here's a round-up of what I've seen fans who were lucky enough to be able to attend the event talking about on social media this weekend. My current sources are fan reports and the media articles from 4Gamer, Famitsu, Gamer, Dengeki and WWS Channel.

There aren't many pictures available yet, though I enjoyed this blog entry from singer Akita Chisato which shows her posing with some of the other performers (and KobaP) wearing a stage outfit which resembles Maria's clothing. Akita sings the vocal version of Maria's theme.

Anyway, I should focus on the news - not there's very much.

First and foremost, it's been officially confirmed that the next major announcement about the new characters for Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den will take place in April 2016. Several of the attendees speculated about whether there were going to be more newcomers than the already-announced Sanada Masayuki and Sanada Nobuyuki, Yukimura's father and elder brother. Personally, if there are additional characters I strongly suspect they'll be unplayable for now to keep the focus on the Sanada family.

Speaking of the mysterious newcomers, several people were excited to hear Yukimura calling his father 'oyaji-sama' and his brother 'aniue' (a somewhat formal way to say 'older brother'). A lot of people were surprised about the first of those word choices. One fan theorised that Nobuyuki might use 'chichiue' (a more formal way to say 'father') to address Masayuki, though this nothing more than speculation at the moment. In any case, the Yukimura fans were going crazy about this tiny scrap of new information.

There's a new promotional video for the game, though it's not yet available online. A few jumbled comments about it reveal that:
  • This video highlights the new gameplay.
  • Both Masamune and Yukimura are shown.
  • In one of the scenes, Yukimura calls out to his father and brother.
  • There's still no sign of Shingen or Sasuke.
  • One fan said that Masamune's gameplay in the new video clip reminded them of Dante and the Rainstorm (from the Devil May Cry series).
I can attest to how difficult it is to enjoy a new video and simultaneously remember all of my observations for several hours at a boisterous event, so it's not surprising that the fan reports aren't very detailed. Hopefully it won't be too long before the video is available from the official website so we can check it out properly.

The last piece of news about the new game is that the theme song for Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den is to be COMMITTED RED by T.M.Revolution. The lyrics of the song are said to be themed around Yukimura this time.

A double a-side single will be released with both COMMITTED RED and the Kidou Senshi Gundam EXTREME VS-FORCE theme song Inherit the Force. The release date is 6th April 2016, even though the game isn't being released until summer. The first press CD+DVD version (ESCL-4611~4612) will cost ¥1,667 before tax and contain both songs along with their music videos.

The standard CD version (ESCL-4613) will cost ¥1,111 before tax and contain both songs along with their 'Re:boot' versions. I love that both cover designs have a different theme inspired by the two games.

The fan reports mostly focus on the emotional impact of the seiyuu performances - it's important to remember that the main purpose of this event was the series' tenth anniversary celebration. The usual Sengoku Drama Emaki dialogue readings featured many popular scenes from Sengoku Basara 2 and Sengoku Basara 2 Eiyuu Gaiden (HEROES) as a treat for long time fans, and many of the talk segments had the actors and performers looking back over the past ten years. Genda Tesshou (Takeda Shingen) reportedly complained that he wanted to be able to speak English like Masamune in the series. He wanted to be able to say things like "I'll be back!" - apparently imagining Oyakata-sama acting like this made Morita Masakazu (Maeda Keiji) very excited.

In more amusing news, it seems that seiyuu Nakai Kazuya (Date Masamune) was having an exceptionally busy day. After participating in a broadcast earlier in the day, he attended a Gintama Matsuri event elsewhere in Tokyo then rushed to Basara Matsuri. But then he had to return to the other venue in the centre of town for a second Gintama Matsuri event! I'm curious about how much of the performance he was actually present for in the end; many fans have commented with sympathy after learning about his tough schedule.


Although the information about the game was disappointingly scarce, I'm even more surprised at the lack of any big merchandise announcements or crazy tie-ins aside from the song. That's very unusual for a Basara Matsuri and I wonder what KobaP actually talked about during his news bulletin segment since the media reports confirm that there were no big reveals.

The next possibility for some updates is the Basara Club newsletter which is supposed to include an interview with the staff, so I'm looking forward to receiving that soon. Even if they're holding the character information back until April, there's a chance that they'll reveal some more details about the gameplay when that newsletter arrives, right?


Update: The DVD recording of the event is already available for preorder through the Ace Shop along with a few leftover items from the merchandise booth. It's priced at ¥8,000 (plus ¥600 postage) and is tentatively scheduled for release in late June 2016.

The two-disc DVD set will contain the live vocal performances this time with the sole exception of T.M.Revolution's mini-concert. It's expected to include 140 minutes of footage from each of the two performances. Bonus content has yet to be confirmed.

Are all Sengoku Basara discs going to be released through that shop from now on? It's terribly inconvenient for people outside Japan. Of course I'm going to buy it regardless...

Saturday 5 March 2016

News roundup: Basara Matsuri starts in just a few hours, plus regional events and more on the upcoming stage play

It's almost time for Basara Matsuri!

We have all been waiting patiently for the latest news about Sengoku Basara: Sanada Yukimura-den, and finally that waiting should pay off this weekend during the Sengoku Basara 10th Anniversary Matsuri ~Feast of Ten Years, Ten Shades~. Personally, I'm expecting the usual excited-but-jumbled fan reports on Saturday and Sunday, followed by media reports on Sunday evening once the second show has finished and they're allowed to reveal the news. If a new promotional video debuts at the event - and one probably will - we should see it appearing on the official website on either Monday or Thursday next week, though there have been occasions where the media have included the new footage in their articles straight away.

The results of the last Basa-ranking are also due to be released soon. I wonder whether they'll reveal the winner at the event or save it until next week?

Of course, it wouldn't be a Basara Matsuri without exclusive merchandise for the attendees and the official website lists a number of items. Here's the selection that will be on offer this weekend.

A 38-page A4 event programme for ¥2,500:

A tote bag for ¥2,500:

A muffler towel for ¥2,000:

A commemorative wristband for ¥500:

A pen light for ¥1,500 (there are eight colour options - green, blue, pink, orange, yellow, red, white and purple):

Two different luncheon mats for ¥1,000 each:

Sixteen different blind-boxed charms for ¥800 each:

Some fans have taken to social media to voice their (mild) concerns that Keiji has been deposed by Yumekichi on the illustration for the luncheon mat. Well, it's the year of the monkey so perhaps Keiji was happy to step aside for his friend...

Learn more about the Kofu and Kochi regions - with Sengoku Basara

The ongoing collaboration between the Kofu region and Sengoku Basara continues with a new campaign: 'Takeda Shingen Returns!'. It's a dedicated website which uses the Sengoku Basara versions of Shingen, Yukimura and Sasuke to highlight the historical tourist attractions in the area. Videos are planned for late March 2016, too. Amazingly, the page has Chinese, English and Bahasa Indonesia versions planned so foreign tourists are welcome to join in with the fun.

Shingen isn't the only Sengoku Basara character working hard to promote his namesake's home turf. Chousokabe Motochika has been selected to appear in ads for the 18th Kurofune Shou ('Black Ship Prize') event on behalf of Kochi Racecourse. The race will be held on 15th March 2016; fans who like horse racing and Sengoku Basara will probably get a kick out of the tie-in.

The campaign comes with a short promotional video to add to the fun:

A few more details about that new art book

There's an official announcement for the upcoming Sengoku Basara Motoki Yoshihara Illustrations book now, which gives its general release date as 10th April 2016. It's priced low at ¥1,500 and contains 64 full-colour pages comprising around 80 different illustrations. There's also a preview at the bottom showing the exclusive event bonus you will receive if you purchase the book at next week's Game No Dengeki Kanshamatsuri 2016, Dengeki Comic Matsuri 2016 and Dengeki Bunko Haru No Saiten 2016 events.

The full cast details for the next stage play

As promised, we now have the full cast and event information for this summer's Zangeki Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi: Honnouji No Hen ('Swordplay Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi: Incident At Honnouji') play.

The full cast list is as follows (newcomers are in bold):

Shiono Akihisa (Date Masamune)
Matsumura Ryuunosuke (Sanada Yukimura)
Inoue Masahiro (Katakura Kojuurou)
Shiina Taizou (Sarutobi Sasuke)
Isaka Tatsuya (Maeda Keiji)
Shiramata Atsushi (Chousokabe Motochika)
Taniguchi Masashi (Akechi Mitsuhide)
AKIRA (Uesugi Kenshin)
Mamoru Asana (Saika Magoichi)
Juri (Sen No Rikyuu)
Shiozaki 'IRE' Airu (Gotou Matabee)
Karahashi Mitsuru (Oda Nobunaga)

Most of the actors are returning from Butai Sengoku Basara 4 Sumeragi which brings some much-needed consistency to the lead roles. We also have Isaka, Taniguchi and AKIRA returning to the series which is good to hea as I like all three of them, even though it begs a few questions - Kenshin without Kasuga and Shingen? No Katsuie? No Nagamasa and Oichi? Ranma and Nouhime are absent for this version of the Honnouji storyline too; will they squeeze a Ranmaru reference in anyway since Shiina used to play that role in the past? It's almost comical how few Oda-related characters are in the list.

In addition, I'm a little sad to see Kubodera Akira replaced as Nobunaga as I thought he was magnificent as the Demon King. The only brand-new character this time is Matabee; a very interesting choice. Even setting the storyline options aside, a play with both Mitsuhide and Matabee present is certain to offer some brutal combat scenes.

The composition and directorial credits go to Yorikojun this time. The games' scenario writer Matsuno Izuru collaborated with the story and the Sengoku Basara creators KobaP and YamamotoD are credited with planning and supervision. I think we can expect a little more brand new content once again.

The new play will be performed eighteen times in total across two venues: at the Zepp Blue Theater Roppongi in Tokyo (1st July - 10th July 2016) and at the Umeda Arts Theater's Theater DramaCity hall in Osaka (16th July - 18th July 2016).

The official website now includes ticket information and it's worth reading through the options carefully; four performances have 'after talk' sessions with some of the actors while four others have farewells from actors in the lobby after the show. There's also a small flower party with the full cast on 7th July to mark Tanabata. Furthermore, picture tickets will be offered for those who order in advance through the official fan club, one of four different exclusive photographs are available for attendees, and customers who attend the opening night in Tokyo or the closing nights at either venue will be presented with a special commemorative picture at the venue.