Basilisk Vol. #4 (of 6) (Mania.com)

By:Bryan Morton
Review Date: Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Release Date: Monday, December 03, 2007



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.

Episodes Comprise
13 – A Swarm of Butterflies
14 – Fallen Flower
15 – Reckoning
16 – First Impressions

The Review!
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, they say. Not so in Basilisk, where Oboro sees Gennosuke’s absence as a countdown to her own death at his hands – assuming one of her own clan don’t kill her first. Isn’t there enough bloodshed in this series without getting into infighting..?

Audio:
Audio is provided in English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 versions - I listened to the Japanese track for this review. It’s a decent stereo mix, with good use made of the available channels to properly place dialogue and effects - particularly useful as there’s usually quite a bit going on on-screen. There were no obvious problems.

Video:
Presented in its original 1.78:1 widescreen aspect, the picture quality on this release is pretty good. There’s heavy use made of dark colours, with a lot of the scenes being set at night or in darkened forests, but it’s still usually quite easy to pick out the detail in the scenes. Daytime scenes are bright and colourful. There’s some visible banding on colour gradients in places (usually during the darker sequences), but that’s about all that can be criticised.

Packaging:
No packaging was provided with our review copy.

Menu:
In keeping with MVM’s usual style nowadays, the menu is a simple affair, providing direct access to the episodes from the main screen with submenus for language selection and extras. Tenzen features on the main screen, standing off to one side and looking suitably threatening, while a piece of the show’s background music plays. There are no transition animations, so it’s all quick and easy to use.

Extras:
Along with the usual creditless opening & closing sequences, this disc features another two half-hour long “Behind the Scenes” segments, looking at the production of the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Despite having lost the use of his eyes, Gennosuke is determined to travel to Sunpu Castle and see what he can do to bring an end to the hostilities between the clans - although he's well aware that there'll be more bloodshed along the way. While he makes preparations for his departure, Saemon assumes the appearance Nenki and catches up with Hotarubi, hoping to mislead her into believing that Gennosuke has been killed and that there's no longer any need for the Iga to pursue him - but when Hotarubi sees through his disguise, he's forced to take more drastic measures. Meanwhile, Oboro and her clansmen begin their own journey to Sunpu. Their plan is to travel by sea, hoping to beat the Kouga to arrive first, but while her clansmen are still planning the final defeat of the Kouga, Oboro's main concern is in finding a way to patch things up with Gennosuke – and it’s that concern about the man who is meant to be her mortal enemy that prompts Tenzen to resort to drastic measures in an effort to get her back on-side…

The body-count continues to rise, and if you’re watching Basilisk for the action scenes, then episodes 13 & 15 are the ones you’re looking for, with 15 in particular being little more than a face-off between two of the more difficult-to-kill members of the clans. I almost skimmed over that episode, as there’s probably more talking & posing than fighting while the characters concerned aren’t exactly my favourites (in a series full of warriors with special abilities, it’s the ones who seem impossible to kill that annoy me the most. Just die, already). Fortunately, the rest of the disc – and especially the more character-based scenes that make up episodes 14 & 16 – more than make up for that.

Gennosuke and the Kouga almost take a back seat this time out, as the main focus is most definitely on the Iga – on Oboro, her continuing feelings for Gennosuke, and how this affects her relationship with some of her clansfolk. There are a lot of emotionally-heavy scenes around this, with rape and other unpleasantries also on the agenda, so all told this disc probably isn’t for the squeamish – but there’s a purpose served by all of this, showing that love can overcome tradition, both between and within the clans. Tenzen’s actions only paint him as being even more of a nasty piece of work than we already knew he was. With him proving as difficult to kill as Full Metal Panic’s Gauron (that is, impossible), he’s going to be annoying me for a while longer, it seems.

The final episode here takes a break from the main story and goes back to earlier and happier times, when Oboro and Gennosuke were both children, to show us the beginnings of their friendship. The story works really well on two levels – first, getting to see the history of the current generation and a little about what the two clans thought of their coming-together at the time, and also by giving us a chance to see again the characters who have been killed so far. Away from the fighting, Basilisk has had some great characters who have suffered by not being around long enough to really grow – that flaw is corrected here and, even though you know it’s flashback, it’s good to see them in action again.

Underneath all this, though, is the current that’s really pulling both clans towards their doom. At the end of the disc, both the Kouga and the Iga are down to 4 members each – that’s 12 warriors who have already bitten the dust, with the resulting bad blood that’s created only aggravating the traditional rivalry. There’s really very little sign that this is going to be able to end happily for the lovestruck ones.

In summary:
I’m still no fan of the fighting side of Basilisk, but the more I see of it the more it grows on me on the back of the characters themselves, with the scenes that build & develop them really being the ones that make the series for me. There’s been a lot of hype around this series and to be honest I don’t think it really lives up to it, but given a chance there is something here for most people to enjoy. Well worth a look.

Features
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles, “Behind the Scenes” Feature,Textless Songs

Review Equipment
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A-
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
MSRP: 19.99
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Basilisk