Basilisk Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 13.95
  • Pages: 224
  • ISBN: 0-345-48270-0
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Basilisk

Basilisk Vol. #01

By Matthew Alexander     June 25, 2006
Release Date: May 12, 2005

Basilisk Vol.#01
© Del Rey

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Writer: Futaro Yamada / Artist: Masaki Segawa
Translated by:David Ury
Adapted by:

What They Say

The Iga clan and the Kouga clan have been sworn enemies for more than four hundred years. Only the Hanzo Hattori truce has kept the two families from all-out war. Now, under the order of Shogun Ieyasu Tokugawa, the truce has finally been dissolved. Ten ninja from each clan must fight to the death in order to determine who will be the next Tokugawa Shogun. The surviving clan will rule for the next thousand years.

But not all the clan members are in agreement. Oboro of the Iga clan and Gennosuke of the Kouga clan have fallen deeply in love. Now these star-crossed lovers have been pitted against each other. Can their romance conquer a centuries-old rivalry? Or is their love destined to end in death?

The Review
Basilisk has received a mature rating ('Mature Content' printed on the upper left coner of the front cover) and a larger size than the standard Del Rey manga release. The exterior is very attractive with the front cover depicting a black and white picture of a very angry ninja belonging to the Kouga clan named Gennosuke. The Basilisk title is written in a crimson red color and embossed. The spine is red with black text and the back cover is white with a synopsis written in black text and a picture of Oboro, of the Iga ninja, just barely on the edge of the cover. The book cover and spine are simple and attractive.

The printing is a little on the light side, especially noticeable on the pages with large areas of solid black tones. But, Del Rey does an interesting job in handling the color pages at the beginning of the story by not translating the Japanese text. The first page of the story is in color followed by a two-page picture of Gennosuke and Oboro standing in front of numerous ninjas from both the Iga and Kouga clans. Other extras in this volume consist of translator notes and a preview of volume two.

The character design does a good job of presenting the grittiness and hardness of life experienced by the various characters and the females are dangerously attractive. Many of the characters have a body shape that belies their particular mystical ninjitsu technique, which makes for some interesting guess work until the character busts out his skills in a battle. The artwork itself is good with well-executed shading and descriptive facial expressions. The panel layout is varied and interesting with mostly rectangular panels during slow portions and larger more irregular shaped panels during the action scenes.

With that being said, the backgrounds are going to be a drawback for some people. For the most part the backgrounds were not drawn by the artist, nor are they the standard landscapes sometimes drawn by assistants. Instead, they appear to be blurry photos with the characters overlain. On one hand this style forces attention on the characters, but it also gives an overall disjointed feeling to the artwork itself and sometimes impedes the flow of the story.

This story contains a lot of SFX, which is presented unmodified with smaller English translations positioned alongside and a few explanations of events written in the gutters between panels. Because so much of the story is straight fight scenes there isn't a whole lot of dialogue, so the translation reads well. There were no noticeable grammatical errors and the honorifics remain intact.

Contents: (Watch out, spoilers upcoming)
The Kouga and Iga ninja clans have been sworn enemies for over 400 years and only enjoying a recent truce because of the power wielded by the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. It has been a cautious peace but one that has lasted long enough to foster a genuine love between Gennosuke Kouga and Oboro Iga. Their courtship has even reached the point of being betrothed with a wedding soon approaching. But, after 400 years it's not surprising that the union of the two clans in hope of a permanent peace is frowned upon from the shadows of both clans.

But before the wedding vows can be taken, all hell breaks loose when the Shogun steps in and formally nullifies the peace treaty. The Shogun needs to decide which of his two sons will succeed him without causing too much damage to his properties and subjects. So he charges the leaders of both clans to choose ten ninjas to represent their respective clan in a battle royale to determine which clan will rule over the other for the next 1000 years, in turn this will also establish which son will succeed to the position of Shogun. Of course being ninjas means a fair amount of underhandedness and massive quantities of ass kicking is going to ensue. In Ninja Scroll fashion, mystical powers explode during battles and lead to the flinging of body parts and opponents in every direction.

The Iga ninja quickly take a distinct advantage when they intercept the Shoguns' directive meant for the Kouga clan. This advantage is multiplied when Gennosuke and Oboro are left uninformed of the newly proclaimed war and Gennosuke unwittingly enters the Iga clans' territory for an overnight stay. Can anyone get word to Gennosuke before the Iga ninjas can claim his life? Will Gennosuke and Oboro sacrifice their love for family and go to war with each other? Can the lovers talk any sense into their clansmen and bring about a permanent peace with their marriage?

Basilisk is one of those adult titles that successfully escaped a 'dumbing down' of mature content to appeal to a younger American audience and older ninja fans couldn't be happier. Badass ninjas, a relentless pacing, power struggles between and within opposing ninja clans and a love against all odds theme pretty much sums up the first volume of Basilisk. The ninjas of both the Kouga and Iga clans wield mystical powers ala Ninja Scroll and they're more than happy to fight to the death in order to gain an upper hand over the other. But stuck in the middle of all this are the forsaken lovers Gennosuke Kouga and Oboro Iga, whose marriage was supposed to bring an everlasting peace by joining the clans.

The underlying theme of lovers from opposing forces is certainly nothing new, but the chaos and blood letting that surrounds them is definitely entertaining. So far Gennosuke and Oboro are two of my favorite characters because of the mystery that surrounds them. How did two kids from opposite sides of the tracks meet and fall in love? Will one or both of them side with their families for the chance to rule for 1000 years? The Iga ninjas are wary of Gennosuke and he certainly looks like a badass, but what are his powers? On the other hand Oboro is clumsy and has no ninja skills whatsoever. But, what she does have is the power to nullify any ninjas power just by staring them in the eyes.

Anime fans in the U.S. are probably more aware of the impending release of the Basilisk TV series sometime in August. But with two more months to go I would recommend people purchase the manga to get a primer and make the wait for the TV series a little easier. If you are unfamiliar with Basilisk but you enjoyed Ninja Scroll or ninja stories in general than I would definitely recommend this title. Hopefully Basilisk will open the door for more mature titles from Del Rey and as everyone's favorite AoD yanki said, 'c'mon, don't deny it. Everyone wants to be a ninja' so pick up Basilisk volume one and 'feed that inner ninja'.


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