Sengoku Basara: Samurai Legends, Omnibus 1

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Legends, Omnibus 1Creator: Yak Haibara
U.S. publisher: Udon Entertainment
ISBN: 9781926778334
Released: April 2012
Original release: 2007-2008

Sengoku Basara, an outrageous reimagining of the people and events of Japan’s Warring States period, is a franchise that started out as a series of video games but expanded to include manga, anime, and radio shows among other media. Although I have been aware of Sengoku Basara for quite some time, I’ve somewhat surprisingly never actually played any of the games. Instead, my first direct experience with the franchise was through Yak Haibara’s manga series known in English as Sengoku Basara: Samurai Legends, an adaptation of the second game, Sengoku Basara 2 (which is also the Japanese title of the manga). The first volume of Udon Entertainment’s Samurai Legends was released in 2012. It’s actually an omnibus collecting the first two volumes of the Japanese edition, published in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Normally, I tend to shy away from video game adaptations, often finding them to be less than satisfying, but I liked Haibara’s artwork and so made an exception for Samurai Legends. I’m glad that I did, because the manga is a tremendous amount of fun.

June 2, 1582. Akechi Mitsuhide leads a rebellion against Oda Nobunaga, setting fire to Honnou Temple and burning those inside alive. With Nobunaga dead, Japan’s temporary peace is disrupted as warlords once again battle to gain control over the country. The power vacuum is quickly filled by Hideyoshi Toyotomi with the aid of his impressively skilled strategist Hanbei Takenaka. Currently, they’re in the best position to seize complete control, but they aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the recent upheaval. In the east, the young and brash Masamune Date is itching to make his move, his chance encounter with Shingen Takeda’s protegé Yukimura Sanada spurring him on. Meanwhile, further to the west, Takeda is locked at an impasse with the “God of War” Kenshin Uesugi. While the balance of power is shifting swiftly and dramatically, the appearance of the vagabond Keiji Maeda on the field of war only seems to hasten events.

Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings, Volume 1, page 87The Sengoku or Warring States period was an extremely tumultuous time in Japan, lasting from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries. Conflict was nearly constant as alliances between military factions were repeatedly forged and broken, making for an exciting setting for a franchise like Sengoku Basara. While fairly loose with its interpretation of historical figures and events, one thing is for certain: the action and fighting in Samurai Legends is almost nonstop. It’s also ridiculously over-the-top and over-powered. Characters are incredibly strong and resilient. They each have their own style of fighting and distinctive weaponry that, frankly, are often absurd. I mean, Date fights with three swords in each hand and Takeda’s battle-axe is as big as a horse. And that’s only two examples. Samurai Legends includes anachronisms and is hardly realistic, but the manga’s badassery is bombastic, dynamic, and highly engaging as a result.

Surprisingly enough, there actually is some legitimate history mixed into the raucousness that is Samurai Legends, but the manga was never intended to be a primer or to be taken too seriously. Though I will admit, I do find it much easier to remember who was who historically having been exposed to their highly-fictionalized counterparts. The manga has a very large cast of important and memorable players. Though Date is arguably the lead in the series, every faction involved in the conflict has at least one moment in the series in which it takes precedence. Samurai Legends isn’t particularly subtle or nuanced with its story or characterizations—more often than not it’s just one spectacular fight scene after another—but the manga’s humor and intense drama, exciting action, and sheer audacity have their own charm and appeal. Honestly, I never expected that I would like series as much as I do, but I get a huge kick out of Samurai Legends and find it to to be extraordinarily entertaining.


Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.


Speak Your Mind