Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Basilisk

Original Run: April 12, 2005 - September 20, 2005 
Number of Episodes: 24 
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Historical, Romance 
Based on the Series Created By: Masaki Segawa

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Basilisk. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

In the late 16th century of Feudal Japan, two rival clans of shinobi find themselves in a deadly feud which has lasted for centuries. On one side are the Iga Tsubagakure and on the other the Kouga Manjidani. While the two despise each other, a tentative cease-fire has been in effect for some time.

It is the year 1614 and a succession dispute erupts within the Tokugawa Shogunate. To settle the issue, and without risking the lives of the Tokugawa, it is decided that the two ninja clans will determine who the new successor will be. To do this, the Iga and Kouga will have ten of their strongest fighters engage in a blood-battle.

While many on both sides are thrilled to start the fighting once again, two have been trying to peacefully end the long-lasting feud and have the groups become one. Gennosuke Kouga (voiced by Kosuke Toriumi) and Oboro Iga (voiced by Nana Mizuki) have been courting each other for some time, with the pair soon to be married.

Sadly, the two are forced to decide whether they can stay together or if they must kill the other.

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Series Positives

This show was cool, I mean really cool.

This was one of those series where you tell yourself that you’re only going to watch one more episode and then go to sleep. Suddenly you have watched five, it’s two in the morning, and you need to get up in a few hours.

Yeah, this one of those shows.

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The Story

The basic premise of the story was solid.

Feuding clans made up of highly skilled, highly powerful warriors trying to eliminate each other. What wasn’t to like?

There was no mistaking it, these people despise one another. Nearly every shinobi had been waiting for the day when the cease-fire would finally be over. Once they got that, all hell broke loose and they wasted no time making up for years of the unwanted peace. To put it in perspective, the whole series took place within the span of ten days.

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The Fights

These characters were killers with superpowers.

There were shinobi who could stretch their limbs, control their hair like extra hands, and shoot web like bindings from their mouth. Others were masters of stealth, while another could hide within surfaces. There were ninja that used seduction, magic, and trickery.

Most battles were varied and you often didn’t see the same two fighters face each other more than once. Because of the diversity of skills, one Iga was better suited to a certain Kouga and vice versa. On paper, both clans were evenly matched.

All that being said, the fights bring with them a glaring flaw with the overall show. I will touch on this later.

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The Dojutsu

All of the shinobi had their own fighting styles that made them extremely dangerous and they were all interesting. But none of them held a candle to Gennosuke’s Dojutsu.

Because of this move alone, Gennosuke was the most dangerous person in the series.

The Dojutsu was a hypnosis technique. If anyone looked into Gennosuke’s eyes while fighting him, the battle was already over. This move alone provides some of the biggest Holy S@#% moments in the entire show.

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The Soundtrack

If I was limited to only giving you one reason why Basilisk was great, it would be the music. This series sounds amazing. Take away all the character’s voices and all the other sound effects, you would still know exactly what was with the soundtrack alone.

Every emotion you might experience while watching can be attributed to the music.

The best example of Basilisk‘s soundtrack was the moment when the nullification of the cease-fire was finally known by all the players. Once that music hits, there was no turning back.

On a side note, that was the same scene where you first see the Dojutsu. Coincidence, I think not.

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Series Negatives

So what was wrong with Basilisk you ask?

A few things actually.

The Beginning

I have already said that the story was good. I did not say that it was perfect. The first few episodes felt very lopsided.

This was because only one clan, the Iga, knew what was going on. Naturally, they took this advantage to eliminate as many Kouga as possible. Nothing wrong with that and it made sense.

So what was the problem?

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The problem was how the two clans were described to us. They were built up as being two very dangerous groups that were a real threat to each other. However, the Kouga in the first few episodes didn’t match up to that benchmark.

Yes, the Iga had the element of surprise and yes, as a result, the Kouga would lose a couple members rather early. But the Kouga came off as pushovers and each time one was taken out, it seemed too easy.

Luckily this is all resolved when the Kouga final piece together the truth. It then becomes clear that they are in fact on par with the Iga.

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Cheap Shots

The fights were cool and they happen often. However, there was a surprising lack of death. Most of the characters were taken out because of a cheap shot instead of by skill. I can only recall three fights resulting in death, and one of them was because it was one against four.

The series did point out that we were dealing with ninja and not samurai. While the clans did have a strong sense of honor, no one had any qualms about stabbing someone in the back.

These dirty tactics usually happen after a fight. One person did all the work, but someone else would take the glory.

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Character Development

The show did have character development, but it was done in such a haphazard way that it was useless.

The two most developed characters were, by no surprise, Gennosuke and Oboro.

So what of the others? When everyone was introduced, they were introduced as killers, nothing more. But then this show did something weird. It tried to humanize them.

Wait, why is that a bad thing?

It was bad because, by the time the series got around to it, most members of both clans were already dead. If Basilisk was trying to make each death mean something, it was impossible when you have seen a character already die as a killer.

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Final Thoughts

If you like sword fighting, if you like super powered beings, if you like a good romance, you will like Basilisk.

This was a show you will find hard to stop watching until it is over. When it does end you feel satisfied and thoroughly entertained. With a strong story and a great cast of characters, there was plenty to love and enjoy. Also, this series has some of the best music in any anime.

I highly recommend that you check this Basilisk out. Go and have a great time.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Basilisk? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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