Many weeks ago while I was procrastinating my school work, I came across a lovely but violent anime called Basilisk. I actually heard of the series a long time ago when I was like 14 or 15, but I wasn’t interested in it at the time. Cut to the present where I’m much older and am looking online for anime to watch, I saw it listed on Hulu and decided to give it a chance. After finishing the series in about two days, I’m so glad that I did.
Basilisk, also known as the Kouga Ninja Scrolls, started as a manga in 2003 and became a 24 episode anime series in 2005. It centers on two ninja clans, the Kouga and the Iga, who, after several years of peace, reenter a deadly battle where 10 of the most skilled fighters from each side must kill one another until one clan rises victorious. Out of the 20 ninjas, there is Gennosuke, the assumed leader of the Kouga after his grandfather’s death and Oboro, the leader of the Iga after her grandmother’s death, who fall in love with each other and were soon to be married before the treaty was annulled. Now, with the battle beginning again, the two lovers are pitted against each other and are forced to kill off each other’s friends as well as themselves in order to bring honor to their clans.
As you may be able to tell from the description, this story is packed full of action. Seeing as how there are 20 ninjas who pretty much have to kill each other off in the span of 24 episodes, the pace of the series is done very well. The fight scenes are terrific as well as horrific at times and the characters have very interesting skills/powers that they use during battle as well as distinct personalities. I also adore the animation for this. It’s very clean, crisp and clear with the characters and the backgrounds popping out at you and for an anime that was done in 2005, the animation is very superior and can still hold up now. Overall, I thought this series was done well and even though it has its flaws, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it was, but what I liked most aside from the action was how the relationship between Gennosuke and Oboro played out.
We all know that the “star-crossed lovers” story where two people who fall in love can’t be together because of certain circumstances has been done before, in fact one of the first people to write about this was Shakespeare with his extremely successful and most famous play, Romeo and Juliet; even though the same story happens in Basilisk with Gennosuke and Oboro’s relationship, the fact that they have to KILL each other is a dark twist on the tale that’s been told over and over. When the peace treaty kept the ninjas from hurting one another, Gennosuke and Oboro were planning to make a life together and wanted to get married. There would still be hostility between the Kouga and the Iga, but the clans would be united because of their marriage. Unfortunately, all of that is thrown aside when they both realize that the clans must fight to the death and throughout the series, Gennosuke and Oboro try to do everything in their power to stop the fighting. This isn’t a story about a group of parents who didn’t want their kids to be together because they were on opposing sides. In this case, Gennosuke and Oboro already made plans to spend the rest of their lives in each other’s company and no one was stopping them until the treaty was void, which makes their love story very tragic. For this reason, despite what I said about Basilisk not being the fault of the parents for the way the relationship ended, I do compare Gennosuke and Oboro’s love affair to that of Romeo and Juliet simply because they were lovers whose families/groups tore them apart and I believe that this take on the “star-crossed” story helps breathe new life into the classic genre (and adding ninjas gives the genre more brownie points!!).
Obviously I won’t ruin the ending of Basilisk for you because I’d like you all to see it, though judging by the title of this post and my description, you probably know how the anime ends anyway. In the future, I may do a proper review of the series when review week comes back, but in the meantime, just know that I really loved watching it and those past two days that I spent finishing it up kept me very entertained. If you want to watch Basilisk, Hulu has the entire series in both English dub and sub.
Have you seen Basilisk and if so, did you like or dislike it? For those who have seen it, did you agree with my comparison to Romeo and Juliet? Leave your comments below and thanks for reading!! 😄