Basilisk- A Review


            Basilisk is an anime which takes after the romantic tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Set in the year 1614 in feudal Japan, a bloodless war of succession takes place within the Tokugawa shogunate.

            Lord Ieyasu Tokugawa, victor over the previous Toyotomi regency, is now an old man. His only son has died of illness, but not before siring Ieyasu’s grandson, Takechiyo. However, there is another contender for the title of shogun; Ieyasu’s nephew Kikuchiyo.

            The clan is split in their support of the two choices, and Ieyasu fears bloodshed between his clansmen should he make a choice. However, he sees the opportunity to kill three birds with one stone.

            The ninja clans of Koga and Iga, both loyal to themselves first and the shogunate second, have been at each other’s throats for over 400 years. The only thing keeping the relative peace is a treaty of non-hostility imposed and enforced by the ancestral line of the Hanzo family. Their current leader, Hattori Hanzo, is Ieyasu’s chief of espionage. Ieyasu does not fear the two clans, but should they ever unite and form a unified front, as unlikely as that sounds, they would be strong enough to challenge the shogun’s authority.

            Ieyasu orders for a roster of the ten top ranking ninja from each clan to be drawn up, and for the pact of non-hostility to be nullified. Whichever clan can eliminate the ten opposing ninja listed on the roster and then present it to the shogun will be named the victor.

            If the Iga win, Takechiyo will be named the successor. If the Koga win, Kikuchiyo shall reign as the next shogun.

            This decision comes just as peace between the two clans is about to be made. Gennosuke, head of the Koga, and Oboro, head of the Iga, are madly in love with one another and will soon be married. In this way they will attempt to quell the animosity their two clans have for each other.

            Blood is shed the instant Ieyasu Tokugawa’s proclamation is made. Will the two young clan leaders’ love prevail, or will the anger and hatred of a 400 year history culminate in mutual destruction?

            The name Basilisk may be a little obscure at first. A Basilisk was a mythological lizard creature with piercing eyes capable of turning its victims to stone. This is a reference to the abilities possessed both by Oboro and Gennosuke. They can subdue their enemies with the innate power of their gaze, but when they look upon one another their powers cancel each other out. This is indicative that fate or destiny meant them to be together.

            This anime is superb; combining action and heartrending drama in equal measure. The artwork is clean and well detailed. The English voice acting is top notch, and goes a long way towards getting through to the viewer the emotional anguish that the characters go through as their personal feelings war with their sense of duty.

            But be warned, this is most definitely not a children’s cartoon, with plenty of violence, bloodshed, and sexual content.

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