Basilisk Vol. #4 (also w/limited edition) - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
  • MSRP: 29.98/34.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Basilisk

Basilisk Vol. #4 (also w/limited edition)

By Chris Beveridge     January 05, 2007
Release Date: January 02, 2007


Basilisk Vol. #4 (also w/limited edition)
© FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.


What They Say
The clans follow separate paths to Sunpu Castle, as Gennosuke seeks the solution to the riddle of this costly ninja war. But treachery and death follow hard at their heels, as those blinded by hatred long harbored seek to shorten the lists.

Oboro, convinced death shall be delivered by love's own hands, has become a prisoner within her own clan. The past weighs far too heavily on the present, and the path to carnage is one that cannot be escaped once begun. No mercy will be spared to the enemy.

Contains episodes 13-16:
A Swarm of Butterflies
Fallen Flower
Reckoning
First Impressions

The Review!
Two routes with the same goal in mind, the Iga and Kouga continue to spar with each other with deadly results.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The included stereo mix is pretty solid with a fair amount of directionality across the forward soundstage both in action effects and dialogue as there is a lot of movement by the characters all over the screen. The mix deals with the content well and between that and the opening and closing songs it's pretty strong. The English mix is done both in stereo and a 5.1 mix which manages to provide a touch more clarity and oomph to things overall. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback on either language track.

Video:
Originally airing in 2005, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Being of such a recent vintage and filled with a lot of lush colors and plenty of dark sequences, I had good hopes for this release but found a lot of key scenes to be pretty disappointing. Several of the episodes feature a black and white sequence that highlights some of the past involved with the show and ends with a mixture of blood red in it and these scenes are blocky and filled with movement when there should be none. This also happens during a number of dark blue sky sequences and some of the foggier scenes have less than a smooth feeling to them because of the blocking. In general, the colors look good and some of the vibrant pieces are gorgeous and some of the blacks hold up well and the scenes with elements such as the water are gorgeous, but some parts of the blocking seem to mingle into a lot of it. Characters tend to look good though and maintain a mostly solid feel but there's a touch of mosquito noise to a lot of it. Bringing the resolution down to 480p reduced the blocking throughout the show but not by a lot, leaving it very noticeable and distracting.

Packaging:
We went with the regular release for this volume which is in a standard keepcase. The cover art for it is once more just great looking. With the main background image being of Tenzen while Akeginu is in the foreground, this cover is lighter than some of the earlier ones but no less detailed or attractive. There's some great detail here and it shines through even as murky as some of the cover gets. The back cover is more traditional with a strip of shots down a scroll design on the left while to the right is a brief summary of what to expect along with episode numbers and titles and the discs extras. The squished technical grid covers the basics of the features and is above the small print production info. No insert is included with this release.

Menu:
The menu layout for the release is very slick as it incorporates a lot of good looking traditional artwork into it in a banded fashion, almost like faux letterboxing, with lots of dark reds in the flowers and designs. The menu for this volume has a solid shot of Tenzen from the while the selections are lined along the left of him while a brief bit of instrumental music plays along to it. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is very easy to navigate and in-theme. The disc didn't read our players' language presets though which seems to be a norm for FUNimation discs, in that they can't handle some very basic DVD authoring tricks, and defaulted to English with sign/song subtitles.

Extras:
The extras continue to be pretty good here, as the Behind the Scenes of Basilisk section features a pair of the "First Press" extras from Japan that deal with the cast talking about the show in their over the top exuberant voices. The first one runs about thirty minutes while the second runs just about thirty three minutes. Unfortunately, just like the previous disc bad authoring comes in to play again and you can't skip through it or even skip to the end of it. You either have to menu out or fast forward. Also included once again to my delight is the clean opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Moving past the halfway mark in the series, Basilisk has firmly settled into the kind of show it wants to be and has made sure that it has plenty of bodies to keep the blood flowing with. Though a bit slower in some parts, this set of episodes works out well by eliminating one of my most hated of cast members as well as providing a bit more background on our leads.

Though the plot is still essentially having two sides killing each other until there is a victor, it does have a bit of a change to it as both sides are racing towards Sunpu Castle. Of course, the Iga are heading there in order to head off the Kouga and kill them along the way, but the result is the same. With the two sides split fairly well here, one going by land and the other by sea, we get a decent storyline as some of those who are doing the attacks get to play while the rest focus on the journey. It's a rather Iga centric set of episodes as they take the brunt of the impact but it makes up for earlier volumes where the Kouga got blindsided by the entire event and lost a few of their valuable ten.

What amused me the most is that Tenzen opts for the quickest way to get ahead of Gennosuke and that means taking the boat to Miya Port. Naturally, Jingoro doesn't care for this in the slightest since a salt sea is like a giant death sentence to him so he's completely paranoid about the trip and almost useless to everyone. With Oboro under their protection though, he along with Tenzen, Akeginu and Koshiro are a fun if motley group to watch during this. The down time on the ship provides them a chance to deal with some of the lingering issues as well as just taking a rest from the journey and the bloodshed so far. The bonds that tie this group together are more evident now, particularly between Akeginu and Koshiro in regards to Oboro.

Where they seem a tad weak, or maybe more focused on a different aspect of Oboro's life, is with Tenzen. He's much more intent on making sure that she will not waver when it comes to dealing with Gennosuke. She's made it plainly clear to him that she will allow Gennosuke to slay her before her eyes open again for a multitude of reasons but this just drives to the heart of Tenzen and he cannot allow it. His service to the Iga clan as a whole is something that he feels is larger than Oboro, even if she is the leader of the clan now. The route he takes isn't all that surprising but it doesn't blunt the scene at all as he puts her to the test about what she must do.

Throughout all of this there's plenty of action mixed in which deals several characters their death sentences. Saema in particular turns into a rather deadly character as his ability to change who he looks like allows him deep into enemy territory and quite close as well. Some of the best moments come from the actions he takes during here, generally because they're not quite so obvious with the use of his skills compared to someone like the spider-like character or Josuke with his ability to turn into a giant ball. Though Saema's skills are above and beyond, they fit in more with what you'd expect out of a traditional ninja.

The only area I actually began to dread with this installment was the last episode, which looked like it was potentially going to be a recap episode or something that dealt with a side story from the past. Bringing back the dead for another tale isn't a surprise in a show like this though and they worked it rather well to show a few of the evolutionary steps of the Iga/Kouga relationship from when Gennosuke and Oboro were small and met for the first time as children. From early on it was quite visible that Oboro has some very bewitching eyes but it's expanded upon nicely as she gets older and the two come into contact again. Though a break from the main continuity, much of what comes here helps to flesh out the past but also gives hint to some of the strengths of the future.

In Summary:
Basilisk still hasn't quite turned me from my initial disappointment with it but it is progressing fairly well. This set of episodes flowed pretty well since the cast has gotten smaller and smaller along the way and become more manageable because of it. Some of the sillier characters with their powers have fallen to the wayside and we're left with a group that's more interesting and not quite so colorful in a bad way. The visual quality of the show seems to be getting a bit better along the way as well, but more and more it's easier to just leave it at 480p and deal with the softness from there. Basilisk has left me unsure if I really want to enjoy it or not but it slowly seems to be leaning more that way.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language
English 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Textless Songs,Behind the Scenes of Basilisk Part 7 and Part 8

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player via HDMI -> DVI with upconversion set to 1080i, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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