Sengoku Basara, also referred to as Devil Kings or Samurai Kings, is known by most people as a series of Capcom games first and foremost. The anime was an adaptation off the back of the success of the game franchise. The games do have a back story, but the focus is on the fighting, so I was intrigued to see how the series would adapt to a focus on the story rather than the fighting.
The anime adaptation was handled by Production I.G. so we have little to worry about in the quality department, and that does come across. The characters and visuals are well realized, the fighting scenes involving armies of characters as well as the over-the-top special moves from the different warlords and samurai all work well. The English-language voice-acting cast is also top-notch and a pleasure to listen to.
There is one thing very clear from watching this anime, though: it has been made for fans of the games. Sitting down to watch it with no knowledge of the games could see you walk away confused and a bit underwhelmed. The over the top voice acting will sound, well, over the top and almost comedic. For a fan of the games it is spot on, though.
Another difficulty comes in the number of characters you have to recognise and keep track of very early on in the episodes. There’s lots of shouting, lots of chasing, and a few minor battles before the main story thread really gets going. You’d be forgiven for getting lost before a handful of episodes have gone by.
Get past that stage and the story starts to come together. But by now we’re halfway through the series so you can understand if some people have already turned off and switched to watching something else with a little more depth. If you made it this far then well done, it’s actually worth it for the second half.
The main story involves a number of factions who are at war with each other and regular battles take place between them. But the Devil King, Oda Nobunaga and his untrustworthy apprentice Akechi Mitsuhide have other plans, and decide to attempt to wipe out all the factions by removing the generals and warlords. Although difficult to accept, the generals realize and start to work together against the Devil King setting the scene for a final battle to decide the fate of the land.
If you are a big fan of the games there’s every chance you’ll thoroughly enjoy this anime. For the general anime fan it’s tough to recommend. While I enjoyed the second half, I don’t think I’ll be coming back for more when the second series arrives on our shores. It’s also not an anime you’ll want to watch again and again.
Overall then, an anime for fans of the game. The score below should have one or two points added to it if you fall into that category. For everyone else, possibly wait for a sale price before investing.
One last thing to note. On the review copy of the series there was an additional section after the credits had rolled, so don’t switch off when they start rolling.