Anime Picks: Basilisk – Because everyone loves a Ninja
Basilisk is the kind of show that attracts alot of westerners to anime. Its got bloody and violent, plus its got ninjas and with crazy abilities. Sit back and enjoy the bloodbath.
The story here isn’t as wafer thin as you might think. Sure its got your run of the mill two clans who want to wipe each other out, with two lovers on different sides of the turf. But it has an interesting way of getting there that will have you appreciating the depth of the conflict.
When the orders are given that the two clans must now select Ninja to fight to the death, the Iga immediately go on the offensive, before the Kouga can even announce the competition to their clan. The result is a lop sided affair where the Iga are clearly depicted, initially at least, as the bad guys. But as the show balances out, you find that both clans are as ruthless and deadly as each other. Besides the Iga play to their strength of deception and attacking in groups as to be fairly honest, the Kouga are clearly superior in combat ability.
But this show is all about the characters and their abilities. There are 10 ninja on each side that have to be killed. From the opening episode when the elderly clan leaders are the first to die, you know you are in for a bloody ride. The Iga Clan is mostly orchestrated by the unbelievably evil Tenzen. Like seriously look at his hair, its just so evil. He is followed by a motley crew of freaks. Half of them have some insane ability that they can use in battle, from the ape-like Nenki who can manipulate his hair as a weapon the useless Jingoro who can liquify and slip away like the slimy character he is, and the deadly Koushirou and his unstoppable whirlwind attack.
The Kouga clan is led by Gennosuke and his more likeable team of ninja. There is the borderline insane and spider-like Shougen who spits web and venom, the limbless Jubei who propels himself along the ground like a snake at high speed and the fat Jousuke who has skin like rubber which enemy weapons bounce off. These guys make for some pretty intense and unique battles throughout the series. But in truth its the characters with non combat oriented abilities which make up most of the shows most memorable moments.
Every character has a backstory which leads them into the conflict. The shows leaves the decision to the user of whether or not to sympathise with a character or not. There is the venomous Kagerou whose breath becomes like a deadly poison during intimacy. She is a completely detestable character, but its easy to see how she could become this way given her unfortunate ability.
By the time you to the reveal of Gennosuke’s powers and why everyone is so terrified of him (which is the show stealing event by the way), you’ll be fully invested in this show.
One point to note is that plenty of characters get killed off fairly early in the show (just when you were getting to like them too), and once you approach the half way point, you can start to put together a picture of just how this is going to end. And once some of the more interesting Ninja have been killed off, there are a few episodes the crop up which are filler-like, in their need to pad out the plot for a few more episodes.
Animation and Design
Basilisk’s animation stands up fairly well. It originally aired back in 2005, but the fight scenes and character designs stand up pretty well today. The environments are often fairly dark surroundings, in castles, forests and huts. But this is all to be expected from a Ninja show that is as violent as this one. The characters themselves range from looking like animalistic abnormalities, to traditional Ninja and Kunoichi, so there is plenty for everyone to feast their eyes on. It may not be the most visually stunning anime around, but you should’t be expecting the latest most visually arresting art anyway.
Why this Rocks:
- All the blood and violence you could want in an Anime
- Gennosuke’s Doujutsu
- All kinds of crazy insane techniques
Why this Sucks:
- I liked that character, why did he have to die?!?
- Flashback episodes introduced later on
- A bit dated in animation
- You know how this series is gonna end, RIGHT?
Verdict: Everyone loves Ninja! Watch this show!
Ninja shows don’t get any better than this. Forget Naruto and Sasuke, this is how Ninja rivalries are supposed to go.