Sengoku Basara Anime: Samurai Kings


American History classes really ought to learn from Japan. The Japanese are adept at taking a subject that can be, and usually is, really dry and snooze worthy and make it glamorous and exciting! Just look at shows like Rurouni Kenshin and Hetalia. Through anime, hoards of Japanese students and lots of foreign audiences have been introduced and educated about events in Japan’s rich history (and in Hetalia’s case, world history).

Admittedly it does sometimes enter the Land of Inaccuracy. In Basara’s case, make that the Land of Gross Inaccuracy (but oh so fun!) Basara still manages to teach the audience about history in a weird roundabout away by making us interested enough in the characters to wiki how they really were. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s totally devoid of educational value!

Sengoku Basara is another anime based off a series of popular video games. I usually explain Basara to the uninitiated as a history book written by someone who had smoked something strange and unusual beforehand. It’s marvelous fun! The story in the game changes depending on which character you choose to play. Almost all of them are creative, cracktastic portrayals of real historic characters. The games take place in the 1580s during the Warring States Period of Japan (Sengoku Jidai), when a bunch of warlords were striving to unite the country under one banner. Historically there were only three factions, but the games and anime have a lot more major players with their motivations for take over ranging from EEEEVIIIIL to historically accurate to needing the ingredients for the Ultimate Onigiri!
The anime version of Sengoku Basara manages to be as fun and “out there” as the games while also giving it a more serious slant that fits better for a linear storyline, something I find most shows benefit from. The first season of Basara fits as many appearances from its gianormous cast as possible, but the writers do know when they’ve reached the bearable limit and do give up. No worries though! There is a second season!

Basara is an entertaining watch for just about everyone. If you’re a history nerd like me, you’ll appreciate the clever takes and twists they give to the characters, like Date Masamune’s active encouragement of foreign trade and visits being translated into his character shouting out random English phrases and decking his horse out to look like a Harley.

If you don’t know about Japan’s history or just don’t care, don’t let that turn you off from it! It’s a good action packed tale of samurai daring do and old fashioned warfare. Even though it’s loosely “historical” it doesn’t get bogged down by reciting facts or assuming that the audience is walking in with prior knowledge of the subject matter. Give it a try, you just might pick up a fact or two on the sly!

Michelle Tsuki is an avid Anime fan and writer for is an active and fun Anime community for fans to participate in writing Manga and Anime reviews, forum discussions and contests. For more Anime news and views visit:

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