Reviewby Theron Martin, May 9th 2007
Basilisk Limited Edition
Five ninja remain, but not for long. Tenzen, thought dead by the Kouga, reveals his virtual immortality by returning to deal with his imitator. Nothing the Kouga do to him seems able to permanently stop him, and his ruthlessness and sadism become evident in his dealings with Kagero and Oboro. How much does he actually have to do with the history of the Kouga-Iga feud, and what will it take to eliminate him? And what is to become of the lovers Gennosuke and Oboro, who ultimately find out that the conflict between their clans must, in the end, come down to them?
It has been difficult to resist the temptation to call Basilisk a ninja version of Romeo and Juliet, but regardless of how trite that may sound, the final volume proves indisputably that the series is a minor variation on the classic theme of star-crossed lovers who cannot find lasting peace with each other in life because of the burdens of family animosity. Japanese in setting and trappings it may be, and loaded with all sorts of super-powered (and non-super-powered) ninja action, but this is Shakespearean tragedy at its purest. For all its blood and gore – and those of you watching the series just for that will not be disappointed – the elegance of its genuinely emotional ending offers the strongest lasting impression. How the story gets there may offer some surprises, but it is the only ending the makes sense given the structure of the story and setting. If you're disappointed by it then you haven't been paying enough attention.
Five ninja remain at the beginning of the volume, but it wastes no time in getting down to business on killing one of its survivors. It then returns to its traditional Drag Mode as it sets up the final two non-Gennosuke/Oboro kills (come on, did you really think anyone but those two would be standing for the final confrontation?) over the next 2½ episodes. One can almost see the story being stretched out under the guise of further character development and careful pacing, and in truth the contents of these final four episodes probably could have been told in three. At least the writers did come up with an inventive and satisfying way to kill off Tenzen, who has to rate as one of the more despicable anime villains in recent memory, and kept everyone in character through to their ends. The ongoing presence of Lady Okufu serves as a reminder that, while these battles are between the Kouga and Iga clans, the ultimate stakes for those not directly involved are much greater indeed.
For all its graphic content and super-powered action, the core of Basilisk is its quality visuals, and that remains true through to the end. Gonzo sees no letdown here, finishing out the series with a volume that might be called beautiful if it wasn't so violent and blood-stained. All the thing the series has been praised for so far are still here: pleasing character designs, sharp use of color and color schemes, flashy effects, quality backgrounds, and animation that's smooth when it isn't using shortcuts. All-in-all, the look of the series has a richness to it that you just don't see in even most of the better-looking anime series. As with most previous volumes, the graphic content provides scenes which tantalize the viewer with the exposed flesh of its prettier female characters while going to almost absurd lengths to avoid showing actual nudity.
The opening and closing themes remain unchanged, although the final episode skips the prologue and adds on an epilogue. The soundtrack does its job well but does not especially stand out. The English VAs have mastered their roles by this point, providing a dub which satisfyingly portrays the emotions and pain of the characters without going overboard and hits the right tone in each case; Mark Stoddard and Stephanie Young prove to be particularly good fits as Tenzen and Kagero respectively, each closely mirroring the original performances. The English script, as always with FUNimation, is much more of an issue, as it goes as far as changing the meaning of some scenes in minor ways. If you can tolerate that, though, then you should find the dub for the final volume to be sufficient.
The on-disc extras include the final two editions of the First-Press Extras, this time featuring the seiyuu for Kagero, Gennosuke, and Oboro. As has been typical of their predecessors, they are fun views but not especially informative. Accompanying them are the standard company trailers and textless songs. Less typical in the Limited Edition version is the five panel double-sided fold-out booklet containing a staff round table discussion and character and background sketches. Also present are a random assortment of three image cards featuring characters from the series, some nice bonus artwork on the interior panels, and a slipcover with artwork identical to the DVD case.
The bloody and tragic tale of Basilisk comes to an end as, one way or another, each of the remaining ninja must confront their fates. The ultimate result shouldn't surprise, given how things have been set up to this point, but the entertainment is in seeing how it gets there and enjoying the fine visuals along the way.
Overall (dub) : B+
Overall (sub) : B+
Story : B+
Animation : B+
Art : A-
Music : B
+ Great artistry, proper conclusion.
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