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Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga - Special Guest Edition: Basara


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willag
Crazy FangirlCrazy Fangirl


Joined: 21 Apr 2010
Posts: 2349

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:10 am Reply with quote
YAY, Basara! I've been waiting for this one. Thank you for the review, Shaenon, it was quite good.

I only first became aware of this series a little over two years ago. My library has all the volumes so I checked them all out (all at once). I divebombed into that series and it was so hard to pull my eyes away to go to bed each night.

Sarasa is one of my favorite leads. I like how she grows into her role as a passionate, confident leader who really loves her country and wants the best for her people. But I also like her sappy, sentimental side who is quick and unashamed to cry - her crying never bothered me, even when it happened often (it was her apathy later on after a certain event that irked me more).

I like how she made several mistakes during the course of the series and was eventually able to overcome them. That's probably one of my favorite characteristics in characters I admire - the tenacity and strength to overcome their issues, especially the ones they created.

Of course, Sarasa didn't overcome her issues by herself - it was through the love and support of her friends and family that she was able to grow so strong. And I love how everyone becomes interconnected and like an extended family. I like how Sarasa grows to trust them implicitly, and how they become such a well-oiled machine.

And even with such a large cast, Tamura was still able to make each character distinct and unique. I loved the varied backgrounds and opinions of each character, even those from the opposing side. I like how there was truly no "evil" characters - just flawed, opinionated ones.

But perhaps one of my favorite things about the series is how actions have consequences - and with such a large scope, the freedom of Japan with a large cast of characters, the consequences can be steep or have long-running implications. From the Red King's raid on Byakko Village, to spoiler[Shido's] unfortunate end, to Sarasa's mother's treatment at the hands of the Red King's general, to the attack on the waterways of the Red King's city, etc. All factions in the fight for Japan have chances to make mistakes and deal with the consequences. Some people become stronger for it, others weaker.

I personally really enjoyed the Abashiri prison arc. I think Tamura effectively captured how isolated it feels and how creepy the entire situation was. Yes, it does feel a bit separated from the rest of the story at times, but nothing drastic. And we're treated to a lot of Ageha. Very Happy

Speaking of Ageha, spoiler[OMG, his death. *tears* I got choked up. Even though his prophecy foretold his death in saving the woman he loved, I was still crying "NOOOO" when it came. On the other hand, I'm happy he lived life the way he wanted and died for a cause he felt was noble. He was able to come and go as a free spirit.]

As for couples, I became really enamored with Kikune and Ichimatsu. They don't show up until the second half and they don't get as much screen time as others, but what I saw I really loved. I wish that they had had their own side story at the end - the only thing we ever saw was Ichimatsu's proposal to Kikune.

Of course, there's Sarasa and Shuri. Smile Not much to say since they had great development as the main couple.

But one fan-couple I really wanted to see that never occurred was Nachi and Hijiri. If the series was more popular, I'm sure the fujyoshi would be all over them. As it was, everyone in the series stayed heterosexual (I'm pretty certain it was mentioned somewhere in Basara by one of the two that if one of them was a girl they would have been married). Ergh, my BL-goggles aren't normally turned up high, but the force with these two were strong. I have ultimately decided to ignore the after-story ending and pretend the two hooked up afterwards.

Anyways, I ended up loving this series so much that I purchased it, even with the expensive prices of certain volumes (I paid around $50 each for volumes 19 and 20, and $30 for another volume). I proudly display them on my shelves along with my complete Please Save My Earth.
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yamata no orochi



Joined: 23 Jan 2009
Posts: 137

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:47 am Reply with quote
Basara is awesome. Whenever I hear people complain about how shoujo manga is dominated by wishy-washy heroines or ridiculous flowery aesthetic or boring and predictable romance, I always go "yeah, but have you read Basara?" I mean, pretty much every character is just as amazing or badass (or even more so) than just about any character in a shonen manga, and they often receive more character development to boot!

It was basically this and Revolutionary Girl Utena that convinced me to give shoujo manga/anime a try. I'm glad that they did.

(Also, in case people aren't aware, Shaenon Garrity previously wrote about Basara and other awesome overlooked manga in Overlooked Manga Festival:

http://shaenon.livejournal.com/​60625.​html

If you're looking for something new to read than this is a pretty good place to start!)
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Sepherest



Joined: 06 May 2007
Posts: 553
Location: The Labyrinth of Amala

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:57 am Reply with quote
Quote:
The characters get more complex and the plot delves into the intricacies of politics and battle strategy, but Tamura has too much of a sense of humor to let things get too dry or too dark; among other things, she's one of a handful of manga artists whose bonus four-panel gag strips are actually funny.


Honestly if Yumi Tamura ever released a book collection only consisting of her little "Tam-Tam-Times" at the end of each manga volume I'd buy all of them. Her rambling about things like vacations and hair dryers or meeting her favorite voice actors are incredibly entertaining. I usually skip over other mangaka's extra blurb panels but hers are really fun to look at.

Basara was a wonderful series. I came across it at a used book store that happened to have the first twenty or so volumes, and someone else there suggested for me try out the first book. The art looked kind of strange, but for $4 why not? Pretty much love at first read. One thing I liked about it the most was how endearing all the characters are, even ones with limited appearances (like Kazan and many of the Northern characters). It was also nice of her to make the last two volumes an epilogue of sorts that cleared up a lot of things before and after the main story. spoiler[Though I wish Ichimatsu and Kikune actually got married! Anime smile + sweatdrop]

I also bought the two art books that were released in Japan and they're filled with a lot of information and comments about the plot and characters (specifically the second book, which is more text-heavy, the first is pretty much all artwork). Plus loads more of Tamura's little doodles and 4komas.

It'd be really cool if 7Seeds could get licensed over here, because I can't decide which series is my favorite between it and Basara. It's amazing how the mangaka's been able to create so many interesting characters and stories...and yet is still so unknown outside of Japan.
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classicalzawa
Space CowboySpace Cowboy


Joined: 19 Jan 2008
Posts: 4852

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 12:00 pm Reply with quote
Gah, this is my number one series that is in my "desperately want to read" list. Seriously Viz, why do you put junk into omnibus format but not this?! And now you're pushing shojo and more adult oriented stuff and you totally ignore your back library! The other two titles that seem to come up when people say "publish this again!" are Banana Fish and Please Save My Earth, both of which I have read and are on my shelf.
But hey, maybe we'll have to hope that Vertical can license rescue this if Viz no longer has the rights or something. Worked for Adolf!
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Tamaria
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Joined: 21 Oct 2007
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Location: De Achterhoek

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 12:19 pm Reply with quote
Hey, I started rereading Basara a few days ago! Very Happy

Reason: there was this discussion about that 'Girl RPG' from Level 5. I wondered why they couldn't make a RPG like Basara. Or make Basara into a RPG. Basara reads like a good Suikoden game! (But predates the Genso Suikoden series, hmmm...) I even posted a link to OMF to prove it.

Before I knew it I got so enthusiastic that I just had to read Basara again.
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Wiesteria



Joined: 25 May 2007
Posts: 103

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 12:40 pm Reply with quote
YES! I was waiting for Basara to come up in this column. It would be my favorite manga of all time, but that spot is reserved for Tamura's current title, 7 Seeds. It's hard to believe, but her writing and artwork got even better over time. As epic as Basara is, 7 Seeds is even more so. What makes these series endearing is the scope of the storyline and the intricate plotting, but also the unforgettable characters. None of Tamura's characters are perfect and character growth is greatly emphasized. There are characters that I absolutely hated (spoiler[Asagi]), but then grew to like simply because they are not static annoyances, but are dynamic, albeit flawed, people.

It's a shame that Basara does not have as big of a fan following as it should have. It doesn't help that some of its volumes are out of print and are incredibly difficult to find (for a decent price). VIZ! You've left this series in the back burner for too long! Bring it back, por favor! And license 7 Seeds. I'll give you my undying customer devotion if you do.
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Sepherest



Joined: 06 May 2007
Posts: 553
Location: The Labyrinth of Amala

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 12:48 pm Reply with quote
Tamaria wrote:

Reason: there was this discussion about that 'Girl RPG' from Level 5. I wondered why they couldn't make a RPG like Basara. Or make Basara into a RPG. Basara reads like a good Suikoden game! (But predates the Genso Suikoden series, hmmm...) I even posted a link to OMF to prove it.


Yumi Tamura worked on one of the scenarios in the J-RPG Live-A-Live, it was the outer space episode with the little robot. I'm not sure if she also wrote the storyline for it but it's pretty unique.

Kind of surprised she's never done any guest character designs for anything else, she's such a big fan of video games.
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Tamaria
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Joined: 21 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:08 pm Reply with quote
Cool, despite having played Live-a-Live, I didn't know that! Smile

Speaking of shoujo mangaka and RPGs, Saki Hiwatari is a HUGE Suikoden fangirl, Yuki Kaori loves MegaTen games (and Angel Sanctuary kind of starts out like one...) and while not a fan, Moto Hagio did some character designs for Illusion of Gaia/Time.
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Snomaster1



Joined: 31 Aug 2011
Posts: 953

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 1:49 pm Reply with quote
I must confess,I've never heard of this manga until now. I haven't read it so I can't comment on it.
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JesuOtaku



Joined: 15 Jan 2008
Posts: 2687
Location: SoCal

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 2:59 pm Reply with quote
One of my present roomies was ranting and raving about this manga to me, so we decided to watch the brief anime adaptation, and it left me kinda cold after two episodes...yet to finish it.

Looks like the manga is much better, if this is any indication. Anime smile I should check it out.
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Wiesteria



Joined: 25 May 2007
Posts: 103

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 5:05 pm Reply with quote
JesuOtaku wrote:
One of my present roomies was ranting and raving about this manga to me, so we decided to watch the brief anime adaptation, and it left me kinda cold after two episodes...yet to finish it.

Looks like the manga is much better, if this is any indication. Anime smile I should check it out.


Yeah, this is definitely a manga that should not be judged by its anime equivalent. To be honest, as much as I love it, I didn't really get into it until volume 3. Maybe it's because I heard so many good things about it. I liked the first two volumes, but I also thought that the series was a bit too overhyped. But then I read volume 3 and 4 and all bets were off. The world stilled and I realized that--damn--this series was really something special.

The same can also be said about 7 Seeds. I think Tamura's works overall move a little slowly at the beginning (because she needs to do some world-building), but once they take off, you can't tear yourself away.
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Etrien



Joined: 27 Mar 2009
Posts: 481
Location: Tokyo, Japan

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 5:08 pm Reply with quote
Can't second the recommendations enough.
I actually only read up through maybe volume 15 or so before unexpected life issues made me stop, but even by that point it was absolutely amazing.

It rivals, and might actually even exceed, Utena as the most impressive shoujo story I've encountered. The art requires some getting used to, but the story and characters were incredible. I also second the notion that it reads a lot like a grand sweeping RPG, though more in the vein of a Matsuno game than a standard JRPG.

I really need to finally finish it...!
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Graceful Nanami



Joined: 24 Aug 2011
Posts: 191
Location: Virginia, USA

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:29 pm Reply with quote
Basara is the best manga ever written. Period. Yumi Tamura is a GENIUS in almost every regard. Her characters are amazing to say the least. Her artowkr is unique and absolutely GORGEOUS. The two Basara artbooks are two of my most prized possesions. Basara made me actually start crying on more than one ocassion. Stunning masterpiece that every single manga fan needs to read at least once. Or anyone who is a fan of fiction, really.

SOMEONE needs to pick up 7SEEDs. It's a crime that it's stayed in Japan. But all people want over here are manga that are the complete opposite of what Tamura's work is, so yeah. Sigh.
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Sepherest



Joined: 06 May 2007
Posts: 553
Location: The Labyrinth of Amala

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:40 pm Reply with quote
JesuOtaku wrote:
One of my present roomies was ranting and raving about this manga to me, so we decided to watch the brief anime adaptation, and it left me kinda cold after two episodes...yet to finish it.


The anime was canceled pretty shortly, it aired very late at night and didn't have much of an audience. It ended around the end of volume 5. Made it even worse that the ED featured artwork of characters that didn't even have a chance to show up in it.

Though one highlight of the anime was that it did have a good cast of seiyuu, in particular having Kaneto Shiozawa as Ageha.

Tamaria wrote:

Yuki Kaori loves MegaTen games (and Angel Sanctuary kind of starts out like one...)

I didn't know that! Angel Sanctuary's plot is a lot like the Digital Devil Story games.
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wandering-dreamer



Joined: 21 Jan 2008
Posts: 1711

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:20 pm Reply with quote
Kept confusing this title with Sengoku Basara so it wasn't on my radar before but now I really want to try it out, I love epic shojo and can't get enough of it these days. It's also another title where I wonder why Viz doesn't simply put it up in digital form on their website, then they wouldn't need to re-print it and fans of the series who don't own it (aren't some of the volumes really hard to find?) can buy it that way.
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