Shelf Life Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement
by Paul Jensen, James Beckett,
We've seen a lot of Gundam titles come out on disc in the US in recent years, from the classics to the more obscure stuff. That's cool, but I've spent most of that time wondering when we'd see a new release of Gundam Wing. After all, it was the first series in the franchise to air on American television, not to mention one of the shows that got me into anime back in my younger days. Now that we have confirmation that it's coming out this year, I have to admit I'm pretty excited. I'm not sure how well my personal nostalgia will hold up after so long, but there's only one way to find out. I mean, I suppose I could just stream it on Hulu right now, but what fun would that be? In any case, welcome to Shelf Life.
Jump to this week's review:
Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement
On Shelves This Week
Phantasy Star Online 2 - Complete Collection BD, DVD
Sentai - 300 min - Sub - MSRP $59.98|$49.98
Currently cheapest at: $36.29 Barnes and Noble|$34.99 Amazon
Synopsis: Students at the prestigious Seiga Academy begin playing a popular online game, only to discover that there's more to the game's world than meets the eye.
Extra: The first episode of this series didn't earn much praise in the Preview Guide, and our user ratings are also fairly low with an average of around 5.8 out of 10. You can stream it on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and The Anime Network.
Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi: The World's Greatest First Love - Complete Collection DVD
Funimation - 650 min - Sub - MSRP $59.98
Currently cheapest at: $39.31 Barnes and Noble
Synopsis: Ritsu Onodera starts a new job as a manga editor, only to find out that his boss is the upperclassman who once broke his heart.
Synopsis: Five aspiring idols are given a chance to pursue their dreams at a competitive musical academy.
Synopsis: As Guin Rhineford leads the Earth forces into space to end the conflict with the Moonrace, Loran Cehack continues piloting his Gundam despite having misgivings about its past.
Wanna Be the Strongest in the World! - Complete Collection [S.A.V.E.] BD+DVD
Funimation - 300 min - Hyb - MSRP $29.98
Currently cheapest at: $21.77 Barnes and Noble
Synopsis: When a fellow singer is injured by a professional wrestler, pop idol Sakura Hagiwara starts wrestling full time in order to seek revenge.
Synopsis: Yuya Sakaki and his friends continue to battle their way through fast-paced Action Duels in a variety of locations.
Extra: None of the retail sites can seem to agree on the publisher for this set, so I'm just going with the one I listed for part 1. The good news is that the show started streaming between the release of that set and now; you can watch it on Crunchyroll.
Yu-Gi-Oh! Arc V - Season 1 Complete Collection BD, DVD
Cinedigm - 1078 min - Dub - MSRP $69.99|$44.99
Currently cheapest at: $46.59 Barnes and Noble|$18.69 Amazon
Synopsis: After discovering a new way to summon monsters, Yuya Sakaki decides to follow in his father's footsteps and become a dueling entertainer.
Extra: Yep, that's the whole first season coming out at the same time as the second half. I guess that's either a good thing or a bad thing depending on whether or not you already bought the first half.
Shelf Life Reviews
Nothing this week.
Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement
Nothing this week.
James takes us back in time to a world of big swords and colorful outfits this week with a review of Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement.
I say this because I'm absolutely not part of the target demographic for this series, which is both a blessing and a curse. Obviously, on the one hand, there is a large audience of both Japanese and Western viewers who live and breathe this military history stuff, and the fact that I don't puts me in the dark regarding historical references, inside jokes, and the general backstories of the many individuals involved in Japan's many hundreds of feudal battles. On the other hand, that also means I'm going into a series like this fresh, and whether it succeeds or fails will be entirely on its merits as a single production.
I will say that End of Judgement knows exactly what kind of show it wants to be. It technically follows the exploits of Tokugawa Ieyasu and Ishida Mitsunari, former brothers in arms whose friendship was torn apart by betrayal and their dueling ambitions to unite Japan under a single rule. However, regardless of how their actual battles may have played out, I'm fairly sure none of them involved magical powers, portals into the underworld, ridiculously costumed histrionics, or leaping through the air with superhuman speed. Sengoku Basara isn't just campy; it's straight up ridiculous, as history by way of soap opera and professional wrestling, with a dash of pure anime silliness for good measure. I've played enough musou games to know that this is par for the course, but seeing it play out on screen makes it all seem goofier for some reason.
This isn't a bad thing. Sengoku Basara is confidently exuberant, loud, and filled with as much macho posturing and burly men (and women) in crazy costumes as humanly possible. For its twelve episode season, this series goes for broke, plunging into a convoluted web of wartime politics and betrayal with childlike abandon, confident in the fact that even if you have no clue who these people are, the action and tactical intrigue will be enough to keep you interested to the end. Even if you can't remember anyone's names or backstories or motivations (I certainly struggled at times), you can at least tell them apart based on their elaborate headgear and giant weapons.
I'd be lying if I said this show totally worked for me. I wasn't ever bored, per se – the action and spectacle was well-animated and directed enough to hold my attention, though I wouldn't call it particularly great or anything. What didn't click for me more than the action was the character work and storytelling, which fell into cliché too often for my liking, with far too many characters in play for any of them to be given much development over the course of this dozen episodes. Obviously, artful drama isn't necessarily what Sengoku Basara is going for, but I'm the kind of viewer that needs at least a little of that to stay invested if everything else is going to be fight scenes and sight gags. The characters are all charming enough, but the only ones who ever felt compelling to me were Tokugawa Ieyasu and Ishida Mitsunari, whose friends-turned-enemies struggle was just barely enough to keep me going to the end of the season, despite being more than a little tropey in its own right.
The blu-ray set that Funimation has given us is of predictably high quality; the video quality is especially important, since the show is so bright and colorful, even in its direst scenes. The dub does a good job of emphasizing the series' over-the-top campy quality. Its script can be a little silly at times, but I appreciated that too. Familiar performers show up all over the place, with Patrick Seitz, Laura Bailey, Vic Mignogna, Christopher Sabat, Johnny Yong Bosch, and more all showing up to lend some fun to the proceedings. The set also includes some commentaries for Episode 1 and Episode 3, which are informative and enjoyable, as most Funimation commentaries tend to be.
Most of my qualms with Sengoku Basara: End of Judgement come from my own personal taste, and that's more on me than the series itself. This is a show that epitomizes dumb fun, especially if you're into Japanese history or musou games. It's audio-visual junk food, and every aspect of the production embraces that strength. It's not really my thing, and it's a little too lightweight to stand the test of time, but I can see this being a great binge watch for anyone who loves cheesy 90s action anime, or anyone that's beaten Dynasty Warriors for the umpteenth time and just needs a bit more of that Sengoku Era fix.
That wraps up this week's review section. Thanks for reading!
This week's shelves are from Lisa:
"Hi, I'm Lisa. I love looking at the shelves in this column, so I've decided to finally submit mine. I haven't added much to my collection in recent years due to life issues. But I'm trying to get back into it, and over the years, I've accumulated quite a bit. Well, from the actual VHS' on my shelf, you can see how long I've been doing this for.
My collection also indicates my weird tastes. Particularly, I'm a huge fan of Battle Spirits and Spider Riders. Scattered around are many boxes of Batosupi cards, and I also collected the R2 DVDs for the first four seasons. 17 DVDs per season takes up a lot of space. As for Spider Riders, I also purchased the R2s. (They never even finished releasing this show on R1, and it was dub-only). I even got the first season box signed by Yuu Asakawa. But the prize of my collection is an actual copy of the script for ep. 49, my favorite episode. As a shameless Buguese/Aqune shipper, I had to snag it as soon as I found it on a Yahoo Japan auction. (I took a separate picture of it, since it can't be seen well on my shelf.)
Not pictured are various straps because I have them hanging around all over, and my collection of Saikyo Jump magazines."
Having a script from any anime episode is pretty cool, but having one from your favorite episode is definitely something special. Awesome, thanks for sharing!
If you want to show of your own collection, send me your photos at [email protected]!
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