Sarasa grew up knowing that her twin brother Tatara was prophesied to be the "boy of destiny," the one who would overthrow the oppressive government and unite the people. When Tatara dies in battle, however, Sarasa realizes that it's up to her to secretly take on her brother's identity. On the way, Sarasa meets and falls in love with the mysterious Shuri, who may also have something up his sleeve. Together, she and her group of ragtag fighters journey across the land, attacking the many rulers and hoping to someday reach the leader of them all, the Red King.
Before I begin, I would like to say that I have read the first six volumes over ten times and the entire series twice-- and I have loved it as dearly as the first time I picked up a volume.
Basara is definitely an epic to consider if you are seeking an escape from today's world. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, this tale begins with the birth of two twins, Tatara and Sarasa, and follows the latter's journey to create a better world for her people.
The first thing I would like to address is the art. Despite the seemingly haphazard lines that initially deterred me, I grew to love it. There is a certain elegance in these pages that takes a little time to notice. It is very much an easily acquired taste, and I am now enchanted by this style.
The storyline seems a little simplistic-- overthrow the king and create a new country. Yet the simple sentence above implies so many complications-- gathering the trust of men, getting close to the king. Sarasa starts practically from scratch and works her way up-- she does not have it easy, and she knows it, yet she works her hardest to improve her situation as well as others', thus gaining their trust. The story, though it can a little slow when gathering reconnaissance about a certain place, stays intriguing for almost the entire series-- and with a whole 27 volumes, that's quite a feat.
As others have stated, the real gem in this series lies in the cast of characters. It is very difficult to stay organized with a large, fully-developed army of characters, but Tam-tam doesn't just stay organized-- she utilizes all of these characters to the fullest, and shows their development. They're not stagnant characters who never change their ways.
The most prominent example I can give of this is Shuri, the Red King. In the beginning, Shuri is pompous, overconfident; he is very reckless and cares little about the value of life-- especially those of individuals whom he knows nothing about. However, Sarasa and other situations teach him that every qlife is valuable, and by the end of the series, he has changed almost completely. No longer is he the reckless, overconfident, I-am-going-to-run-you-over-to-get-what-I-want sort of man; he has become a mature individual who acknowledges the things he has done but wants to help make it better.
Sarasa's development was quite beautiful as well. She started off her journey being a crybaby, constantly relying on others for help. As she moved on, as events forced her to separate from those she relied on, she became more and more independent-- so much so that she was afraid to lean on anyone for a while. She was most definitely human-- she was constantly in conflict with herself over her actions, she is afraid, she is still quite a crybaby. Yet she looks forward with a solid resolve to accomplish what she set out to do. At the end of the series, though still a crybaby, she is very much independent, very accomplished, very confident, and no longer the younger sister who was cast aside.
I must say, I really enjoyed all of the series, even though volumes 19-24 kept leading me on false hopes (both times, at the end of every chapter, I kept thinking, "Are they going to meet again?! What's going to happen? CRAP, THEY'RE NOT MEETING YET? GODDAMNIT, WHY?!"), it's a sign that Tam-tam definitely had a firm grip on the skill of keeping the reader hooked and on the edge of her or his seat.
In conclusion, Basara's intricate plot and full-fledged army (literally) of characters should not be turned away by the seeming messiness of the art. This manga's brilliant plot and well-rounded characters provide the majority of this manga's fanbase. Definitely a must-read epic, Basara has won over my heart-- and as I did last time, I shall be thinking of Sarasa and Shuri for weeks on end!read more
Basara is an epic tale about Sarasa who replaces her twin brother; prophesized to be the boy of destiny and unite Japan; after he falls in battle. That in itself is more or less a cliched setup for a show, but Basara pulls it off incredibly well.
The whole first volume deals with Sarasa's taking up of Tatara's name. After that, things get pretty deep. Each volume (of 7 that I have read thus far) seemingly add another layer of complexity to the story. I much more than a simple "Unite Japan after an Apocalypse" type story, which has much to do with its amazing characterization and their drive.
The characters are plentiful, and wonderfully diverse. Even stock characters somehow breath uniqueness either do to an interesting back story or the party around them in which they interact with. But for me, the best part about the characters is that both good and bad characters are given the same treatment. A character who is truly evil is few and far between. Most of the"bad guys" are just following a different path than Tatara is in order to unite Japan. Nonetheless they are provided with a full backstory early on along with their motives and relationships and inner thoughts being revealed which really makes them feel human rather than an arbitrary obstacle or goal. This makes it hard to root for "good" or "evil" to triumph, as well as adds pain when either actually does. However there are some truly evil characters in the story thus far, and I truly hate them; loathe them even, as I suspect was intended.
New characters never stop entering the picture, and old characters dissapear, reappear, and die often, keeping things fresh and really unpredictable. Not so unpredictable though that an event comes off as alien or out of place, or that deus ex machina is being used. Just unpredictable enough to be lead around by the manga-ka's story.
The only part of Basara I can really find fault in is the art. I am not going to complain about style or character design because, really, it is quite wonderful. There are just many pages in each book where I have no idea what I am looking at. The most recent example I can name comes in volume 7, where a whale leaps out of the water. I wouldn't have been able to identified it as a whale if the speech bubbles hadn't said so. To be honest, I didn't even see anything, I only saw a wave. But after really close inspection, there was a whale, it just happened to have the exact same shading as the water. It may just be that Viz messed up in printing Basara, but whatever the reason is, there are a few moments per book where I have to strain myself in order to understand whats happening.
But with that being the only real problem at least for me) I can safely recommend this manga to anybody who enjoys fantasy or adventure stories. I am sure you wont be disappointed.read more
Before I begin, I would just like to say that this is my first ever review, so please bear with me. thanks.
The short synopsis of Basara here on MAL, of one brave girl liberating Japan from tyrannical kings, is the basic gist of the story. But I want to stress that the story is also so much more then just that main conflict. There are many stories, each dealing with characters that we come across on the journey that the main character takes. And these characters' stories are interwoven with that of the main character to bring about a breath taking epic. And it is an epic with a total of 27 volumes. But unlike some series that seem to be going on and on for no apparent reason, Basara fills her volumes with stories that continue to build toward the dramatic finale. Even with a fair share devoted to telling the stories of side characters, the tale of Basara itself does not stray from the main tale it is written to tell. All this I believe, is the result of the genius and power of the story teller, Tamura-san. The story of Basara is really one of its strongest points, and I can't express enough how beautiful it is. Also I feel that the story has a bit of everything, so that almost everyone will be statisfied with this little jewel.
Art is the weak point of Basara, but that is not to say the art is bad per say. Rather the art is unique and a bit unpolished, but it does improves as the story goes on. I, myself, find the art average, it is not bad, but it is also not superb. Basically, it gets the job done.
The characters of Barasa are by far the manga's strongest point. Characters are given ample room to be developed and most of the main characters undergo changes along with the manga, and in a sense they grow with the manga. The characters are also given realistic personalities, they have both strengths and weaknesses. Even the villains are given realistic personalities, and often you may find yourself sympathizing with their plight or their goals.
I highly highly recommend this manga, it has a beautiful story with engaging characters. Tamura-san shows the extent of her story telling abilities here; the story will keep you yearning for the next volume as soon as you finish the last, and the characters will stir your sympathies (well maybe there is one exception) and you will actually care as to what happens to them. Basara will be one manga that you can really take pleasure in reading and I find that it has a bit of every genre to keep everyone satisfied. With all that said, Basara is not everyone's cup of tea. Although it has action and fight scenes, these take a back seat to character interaction. The primary focus of Basara is character interacts and for those who do not enjoy such manga (or shoujo in general) will probably find Basara to be a disappointment. Likewise, the art of Basara is unique and a bit unpolished, so for those who read manga primarily for its artistic value will also be disappointed. Other then these two reasons, I really do believe that anyone who tries it will enjoy it. So if you are up for a 27 volume long manga series, give Basara a shot. :) read more
“Sarasa, even if you feel that destiny is toying with you, destiny is something you design with your own hands.”
I love the fantasy genre. Lord of the Rings, Wheel of Time, Game of Thrones... stories with a truly epic feel, huge sword battles, intricate political schemes and a mountain of well-developed characters. So, of course, it's no surprise that I searched for an epic fantasy manga series when I began to get into the wonderful world of manga and anime. I read a few, they were okay... And then I found Basara.
Outstanding world building? Check. Incredible character development? Check. Huge, encompassing political wars? Check. And, the thing that drew me in the most; delicate, well-handled relationships between characters including but not limited to a forbidden romance, deep rooted friendships, loyal servants, and vengeful enemies? Check. Let's start with the basics.
Yes, the art started off rather... ugly. There's no disguising that fact. It wasn't all that pleasing to look at, there wasn't much detail, and sometimes character's faces looked really messed up. So why the nine? Just like the characters, the art developed from something ugly into something beautiful and detailed, unique yet simple. Battle scenes became easy to understand but still incredibly detailed, and every single character grew into someone beautiful and unique. I had no trouble distinguishing one character from another--they all had certain physical traits and looks that made them easy to tell apart. If you're worried about the art, I encourage you to ignore the ugliness at the beginning, because you'll certainly be rewarded later on. And when you look back, it's interesting, even amusing, to see how the mangaka's art has progressed.
I'm not going to bother with a huge synopsis because it'd be too long and wouldn't do the story any justice. I know people worry about certain things in the story so I'll put any hesitations about the story you have to rest now--the pacing, first of all, was fantastic. The story gripped you and brought you up to dizzying heights of excitement, then slowly released you only to sweep you up again. There was never a moment where I felt bored, never a moment I didn't want to continue reading. Sarasa's journey grew from simple vengeance into trying to save the people of her world, and it worked. The story development was realistic, and though it was pretty unpredictable, there was never anything that happened that seemed like the author just did it on a whim. Going back, you could see the foreshadowing, but while reading it was near impossible to predict what would happen next. The overall plot was extremely well thought out, and the length was spot on for what needed to be done. What needed to be done leads me to the ending... not giving anything away, but it was very satisfying. No huge cliffhangers, no things left undone, nothing that needed to be revealed, and nothing rushed in.
Where do I even begin? I HATED Sarasa at the beginning. I mean, I completely loathed her. She was a crying mess of girly 'please save me' cliches and 'no, I don't want to hurt anybody!' Ok, honey, grow up. Yes, your friends will get hurt if you don't fight. No, you can't save the world by loving everybody. Deal with it. Oh, but she did. She went above and beyond dealing with it--she became an ass-kicking, confident badass who led an army, and one of my favourite characters of all time. Definitely my favourite female character of all time. And Shuri. Man, he was a spoiled little cliche evil dude with his 'yeah I'm gunna kill this village for no reason because I can, and because you're a bunch of puny pukes who don't obey me... suck it up, princess.' But then you find out his reasoning. But then he falls in love. But then his morals and actions change and all of a sudden he's endearing, brave, kind, and fiercely loyal to the people he loves. Then comes in other side characters who help Sarasa and Shuri, who somehow manage to not be cliched whatsoever and all loveable. Ageha in particular stands out--the mysterious man searching for the one woman he'd heard about in a prophecy who would be worthy of his service. So many characters, each with their own hopes, dreams, sense of justice and development... It was so amazing to see the world from each different person's eyes so you understood all sides of the story, and so wonderful to see how they all interact.
I freaking love the shit out of this series. It's the only 27 book series I've actually bought all of the books of, because I read it over and over and never get tired of it. It has everything, I mean EVERYTHING a high fantasy should. Well, except for orcs. Though I think this J.R.R. Tolkien quote should describe the world of Basara nicely--
“The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places.
But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now
mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater.” read more