I'm in pain *howls*! How could the anime producers of Legend of Basara be so cruel?!? I should have known better than to have watched this. I've read reviews that the anime is not enough and that the ending episode just fizzled and went kaput. But who can resist a plot that vaguely resembles Romeo and Juliet? Not me, of course. Guess I'm just a masochist at heart -_-;
Legend of Basara was created by Yumi Tamura as a manga which ended in 1998. The manga was a hit that an anime counterpart was produced. Unfortunately, the anime didn't stir much interest in Japan; it ended in the 13th episode, which only covered five volumes of the manga.
It's hard to classify Legend of Basara as to whether it's a shounen or a shoujo flick. It's an epic story with moderate amounts of violence reminiscent of Berserk, but at the same time has a romantic element that would make fans of Fushigi Yuugi take notice. In short, it's one of those few anime that I love, which actually has a solid plot and tempered with a touching love story. Why oh why didn't the Japanese audience ever recognize the potential of this anime?!? -_-;
Three years after the Red King was born, fraternal twins were born: a boy named Tatara and a girl named Sarasa. Tatara was prophesized to be the fated child, the one person who will save the nation from the tyrany of the Red King. Unfortunately Tatara was killed by the Red King's henchman, and for the people not to lose hope in the longed for independence from the Red King, Sarasa cut her long hair and masqueraded as Tatara. Except for a handful of people, nobody knows that Tatara, the small but fearless leader of the rebels out to take down the Red King, is really a fifteen year old girl who took the responsibility of her twin brother as fulfillment of a promise she had made to him to save their people when he's gone.
In Tatara's (Sarasa's) first
battle against the Red King, she sustained an arrow wound that necessitated
a good long soak in a hot springs nearby. Thinking she was alone, she
stripped and was having a luxurious time when a guy with a horse came.
The guy, called Shuri, saw Sarasa nude and easily told her to get out
of the water so his horse could get in. Sarasa refused, so the horse went
in the water nevertheless until horse and girl were eye to eye ^_^ Shuri
finally tossed her her clothes, and as Sarasa waded out of the water,
Shuri attempted to kiss her. He was rewarded with a fist on his nose ^_^
Shuri complained that she's the first girl ever to make his nose bleed,
to which Sarasa left in a huff.
That's how I felt when I watched the Legend of Basara anime. It all started out fine. We have this hunk of a Red King: cold, calculating, arrogant. Then he turns all mushy with Sarasa, who while occupied with problems of leading a group of rebels, also manages to fall in love (lucky her!). We're also shown the Red King's inner demons, how he was predicted to be the son that would kill the emperor, and so was branded like a slave and was practically disowned by his father. The Red King wanted to prove that not all prophecies come true--ergo his strong dislike for prophets--and this he set out to do by trying to capture Tatara, the rebel who was foretold to defeat him.
Just when I'm getting comfortable in my seat and waiting for the moment when Shuri and Sarasa would discover their true identities, they get to part in the 13th episode :( Worse, another character, Asagi, came into the picture, and I'm left with the impression that the initial Blue King might be a fake and that Asagi is really the Red King's brother -_-; The end. No follow-ups. No OAVs. I was left hanging on the edge of my seat and would remain there unless I go read the manga :(
Okay, as if it wasn't enough to torture me with a vague ending (if you could call it an ending), the supporting characters are also a sight to behold. Heck, there are few anime with lots of eye candy, and Basara is one of them. There's Nagi, the prophet with long white hair who doesn't seem to age. Another hot bishie is Ageha, a one-eyed slave who also has powers of divination. He saved Sarasa's life when she was young by sacrificing his left eye to the Red King (yep, that was Sarasa and Shuri's first meeting). Ageha also has a tendency to cross-dress, but that doesn't deter me from liking him ^_^ Shido, the Red King's older cousin, is also an acceptable hottie (errr, take no notice of the metal bands around his head) who appears to live the easy life but turns into a shrewd strategist when it comes to war. Interestingly, Shido reminds me of Youji in Weiss Kreuz; guess it's because Shido also wears a pair of colored glasses ^_^ Of course, Asagi is also hot :D
Then again, people say I'm very critical, and Legend of Basara, besides the nasty, half-baked ending, is not without gripes: Initially when I first watched it, the artwork turned me off. Not because it was badly drawn, but because the setting was mostly done in the desert; I always find the desert dreary. Then again, when I sat down and watched it, I forgot how bleak the desert looked and was struck at how hot the bishies were drawn (alright, so I'm drooling). Unfortunately, the eyes of the women (Sarasa included) are so big to the point of bizarre. Sarasa admittedly is not pretty. Guess it's because Yumi Tamura tried to make Sarasa passable when dressed as Tatara, but still, that doesn't justify how big her eyes were. I won't deign comment on the opening and ending themes of the anime -_-; The instrumental tracks in the anime are average though.
So what's my verdict on Legend of Basara? It's a great anime! I can't overemphasize how great it is without making cartwheels ^_^ It definitely holds promise and it's really a shame that it didn't receive much appeal to the Japanese audience back when it was shown on TV. The manga however is another story. Guess I have to go read it to appease my Basara craze.