Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $64.98 US (Blu-ray + DVD Combo)
Running Time: 325 minutes
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now
Welcome back to the Sengoku Period where there’s never a dull moment or a shortage of battles.
Usually, I’m the first one to dismiss any anime series based on a video game because, let’s face it, they often don’t come out as good as the source material that inspired it. However, there are rare instances where a really good anime series manages to make a good impression on fans of the game inspired by it the Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings series is one of them as we saw from the first season. Now, the Samurai Kings are back in the Complete Season 2 collection of Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings 2.
In the first season, which takes place during the Warring States period of Japan, the campaign to stop Oda Nobunaga – better known to them as the Devil King – has led to a shocking finale that has finally put an end to a true tyrant. Peace hasn’t exactly come to the land; however, as rivaling warlords continue to lead their forces in an effort to take control of a country that needs strong leadership. Once again, we find rival/friends Sanada Yukimura and the famed “One-Eyed Dragon” Date Masamune clashing on the battlefield in the opening of Season 2.
Regardless of the outcome of Date and Sanada’s impressive battle, it is the arrival of a new player and his massive army that has both sides putting an end to their fighting. Meet Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a man of sizeable ambition who has quite an army of loyal soldiers and an even more loyal lieutenant named Takenaka Hanbei. Much like the Devil King, he wants to rule Japan by force because he sees it as a weak country and those who oppose him will be swept away by the might of his military force and his incredible strength. I mean, the man is a giant!
Once again, Sanada and Date find themselves putting their rivalry on hold while they tackle a foe that threatens both their homes and pull their armies back to reassess their new situation. Sanada still loyally fights for the burly Lord Takeda who is better known as the Tiger of Kai while Date finds himself aligned with Lord Kenshin who wants to live peacefully alongside his loyal and very busy ninja named Kasuga who still melts when her lord acknowledges her.
As it turns out, Lord Hideyoshi has begun his secret war as he takes over key areas in Japan and has even secured a few allies such as Lord Mori as well as – surprisingly enough – Maeda Toshiie. In fact, his pacifist nephew, Keiji (who still travels with his pet monkey), pays Toshiie a visit to ask him why he would side with a warmonger like Hideyoshi. It’s clear that Keiji is disappointed with Toshiie to the point that he feels that if he encounters his uncle on the battlefield that it will be up to him to put a stop to him.
Meanwhile, it becomes clear to Lord Takeda that they should protect the lands that Hideyoshi will be tearing through and sends Sanada to represent him as well as put a stop to Lord Mori‘s campaign. The young man is eager to prove himself as he heads out with his army only to make an interesting discovery in Oda Nobunaga’s castle. He finally comes across the man who could help them put a stop to Lord Mori and that is Shimazu Yoshihiro who happens to be recovering from his injuries with the help of a young fighter with a fondness for “Yo Mama” jokes.
Not too far away, Date led a charge against Hideyoshi only to find himself outmatched. On top of that, Hideyoshi’s lieutenant, Hanbei, kidnaps Date’s right-hand man, Kojuro Katakura. It seems that Hanbei’s interest in Kojuro is personal and actually quite touching in a way. Without his “right eye,” as he calls Kojuro, Date finds an ally in the most unlikely person who lost a major battle against Lord Mori’s floating fortress, the Morning Star.
As Date’s group and Sanada’s group comes together to fight against Hideyoshi, the most interesting aspect of the series is Hideyoshi himself and most particularly his past. It seems he has a connection with Keiji who goes to Hideyoshi in hopes of convincing him to give up his campaign. An incident in both their pasts is the driving force behind Hideyoshi’s need for power. In the middle of all of this is another feudal lord named Matsunaga who has his own agenda.
There are more than enough action-packed moments that rival even those of the first season but what makes Season 2 truly stand out is its villain. The story fleshes Hideyoshi enough that he isn’t your typical villain that is evil for evil’s sake but rather he has a past that has pushed him into being a bloodthirsty warlord. The season still manages to keep its light-hearted moments with Sanada and his lordship cheering each another. In fact, the bonus OVA episode is dedicated to Sanada, which is a plus in my book since the clueless young man is still a likeable guy.
Round two in a fighting game can often be the most intense and the same can be said about Season 2 of Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings 2 as the series continues to keep its fans entertained. The villain isn’t a cardboard cutout but rather a well-rounded character that makes his campaign an intense fight against returning characters who will stop at nothing to keep the peace. This is definitely worth watching and even more so if you’ve seen the first season.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
After the defeat of the Devil King himself, Japan finds itself on the verge of another war as the great warlord, Toyotomi Hideyoshi begins his secret campaign to dominate the country and rule it with an iron fist. However, the other lords will do anything to preserve a society free of tyrannical rule as its heroes like Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura lead their armies to put a stop to Hideyoshi war.
VIDEO QUALITY: A-
A visually striking series with incredibly flashy fights, Sengoku Basara looks like an awesome video game come to life and even the characters are delightfully unique. This series is better enjoyed on Blu-ray so if you have the means you definitely should be watching this in HD.
AUDIO QUALITY: A-
The music is appropriate for this series and it makes the fight scenes really rock while the opening and closing theme songs aren’t bad at all. Then there’s the voice acting with strong performances from the Japanese voice cast and an English dub with an impressive lineup of voice talents like Johnny Yong Bosch, Travis Willingham, Stephanie Sheh and Eric Vale just to name a few.
You’ll find a decent number of extras here that go beyond a few FUNimation trailers and a collection of clean and opening animation. You’ll find two audio commentary tracks for Episode 6 and Episode 12. The Episode 6 commentary has Christopher Bevins (lead writer and voice of Akagawa) and Patrick Sietz (voice of Chosokabe) and Episode 12 has Eric Vale (voice of Keiji), Rob McCollum (voice of Date) and Chris Cason (voice of Hanbei).
Then there are two other extras worth watching such as well such as the OVA episode that has Sanada excited about participating in a manly contest alongside his rival/friend Date and some of their friends … in disguise. There’s also the 7-episode “Sengoku Basara II Katakura-kun” where chibi versions of Kojuro and a few other characters play out key scenes from Season 2 in a hilarious way.
Season 2 of Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings 2 is a knock-your-socks-off second helping of manly warfare that only this series can supply. There’s certainly a lot to absorb in this new chapter as a different kind of threat has friends and foes banding together to fight for their country. This is another exciting action-filled series you should definitely check out.
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment