Anime Meta-Review


Legend of Basara, The


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Title Info

  • seen: 1-13 of 13
  • type: TV
  • grade: flawed
  • made: 1998
  • Review created: Recently, but I didn't record the date.
  • mod: none

I don't really understand why this title is down here. It has all the elements of a fine fantasy anime...but it just seems to have some problems in its foundation and production that make a higher rating unwarranted. In any case we are introduced to a fantasy world (with strong hints it is actually post apocalyptic) which also seems to have some arablic influences in design and ambience. In fact this is set in the deserts of Japan, a country now split into various brutal kingdoms. Life for the common people is rough, and often short, but they are sustained by the legend of one who will claim the four sacred swords of the kingdoms and lead them to a new future. Indeed it is that time, and one tribe is delighted to find that a golden youth, named `Tatara', is clearly marked as the saviour. His identical sister, Sasara, is less delighted at being overshadowed but as a result grows up to be an interesting and unusual young woman. Eventually the forces of the tyrannical and cruel `red king' actually find Tatara, after many sacrifices by his people, and rather forcefully ask him to stop it. It seems that Sasara might become more involved than she thought, and that prophecies have a bit more flexibility than might be expected.

It's certainly a nice start. Aiming for the epic fantasy quest with the modern addition of lots of character interaction and emotion. Certainly the world is interesting and Sasara herself, and many of those she meets, are interesting characters. The familiar conflict between her role as a young girl, and the fearless chosen one, is interestingly portrayed. And is also visible, with her having moments of empathic `girl mode' and going quite cunning and ruthless (as well as brave) in `tatara' mode. Meanwhile, in the best tradition of this modern style, the various factions are also exemplified by a `leader' (with rather a lot of bishounen types) and they get to inter-relate as people and as the focus for political forces, often without being aware of the dual nature of the other. Indeed there's a romantic sub-plot that is nicely complicated because of this fact.

The problem is it simply doesn't seem to work...and I suspect the main reason for this is too many compromises and some suprisingly weak writing. Clearly they have tried to put all the things that are needed, even to extra's like cute animal sidekicks. There's powerful and dangerous men, tough women, romance, prophesies and politics but it just doesn't seem strong enough to be believable. This interacts with the writing to make it feel that a large number of elements and events have been loosely tied together, rather than giving the true feel of an epic story. This is amplified by lots of `lucky' saves and doubtful victories given to Tatara. It is one thing to be saved by skill or strategy, but entirely another when she is saved by natural phenomena occuring at just the right time and with sufficient effect to decimate otherwise unbeatable opponents. Meanwhile the focus on the romance sub-plot, and the relatively mundane scale of many of the events, reduces the epic feel. The final blow comes when the series seems to wind up without really coming to a full conclusion. It spends a lot of time building up steam and then ends relatively quickly. Quite possibly the creators had hopes of taking the story further.

It's a shame really...and it is quite possibly the strange feeling of being unsatisfied but not really being sure why that has made this review sound so negative. In any case the production is sufficiently good, and there are enough quality elements, to make this worth a watch and the formation of your own opinion. This is greatly enhanced if you like `heroic' fantasy characters with some cool character design and animation. From Sasara to her allies and enemies there are some interesting people to watch and they are wonderfully animated. Likewise the world itself has many interesting sights, and some lovely scenes, to take in on the way. It actually is rather attractive and the style and appearance is pleasantly unique. The action is not so great, with the focus being more on the dialogue and character work, but most should still find this an enjoyable watch.

Other Reviews

  • Lord Carnage review And he's right into it, being aggravated only by the fact that 13 episodes is not enough. He also notes the bishounen and Fushigi Yuugi similiarities but clearly likes Sasara a lot more than Miaka. Still, if he says, "Great story, great characters and smooth animation make Legend of Basara a winner in my book." It's probably worth checking both the review and the series out (3.5/5)
  • THEM preliminary review A fairly short review from THEM but certainly positive. While it mentions the large cast and deep story does come at some cost in pace they still find a lot to like. They also note the profusion of bishounen's the show has to offer. I look forward to the full review from them, but for now it gets (3/5)

Authoritative Site

Want to know a lot more about this series? To get a well deserved correction to my negative viewpoint and see the true fans side of things. Then get thee on to The Legend of Basara page. It also links to this review and bags me as another "anime fanboy who knows nothing about the appeal of shoujo manga" :)


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:20 WST 2009