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CompleteMartialArts.com - Basilisk: The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, Volume 5

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Manufacturer: Del Rey
Average Customer Rating: Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5Average rating of 4.5/5

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Binding: Comic
Dewey Decimal Number: 741
EAN: 9780345490476
ISBN: 0345490479
Label: Del Rey
Manufacturer: Del Rey
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 288
Publication Date: 2007-05-29
Publisher: Del Rey
Release Date: 2007-05-29
Studio: Del Rey

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Editorial Reviews:


With only three ninja remaining on each side, the battle between the Iga and the Kouga clans is nearing its bloody end. Believing he has slain Yakushiji Tenzen, shape-shifter Saemon Kisaragi morphs into Tenzen’s body and infiltrates Iga territory. But what Saemon doesn’t know is that Tnezen is an immortal ninja, and that he has his own plan to dispose of Saemon and the Kouga clan.

Meanwhile, Oboro, leader of the Iga clan, has sworn that she will die rather than fight against her lover, Gennosuke. Every death brings these two star-crossed lovers closer to confronting each other on the battlefield at last!

Spotlight customer reviews:

Customer Rating: Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5Average rating of 4/5
Summary: Plot Twists make Book 2 a surprising successor
Comment: Book 2 maintains the momentum from book 1, if not perhaps increases the speed. More battles, incredible scenes of power and skills. The story continues on backs of one body after another. Note to parents, this one does have some scenes of sexual situations that while important to the story, may need conversation. Credit the artist and author for integrating it into the story maturity and complexity, and not gratuitous.

As the 2 ninja clans continue the battle of the 10, the clan down to 6 champions start to even the odds. Just when you thought the clans could be identified as "good guys" and "bad guys" the story ending upends the structure. Finally, this manga brings about some complexity to a good story. Read book 1 first to appreciate the twists that make book 2 enjoyable, and this reader hungry for book 3.

Customer Rating: Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5Average rating of 5/5
Summary: Possibly the best volume of this excellent series
Comment: I had the pleasure of reading Basilisk in its original language version a while back, and while I immensely enjoyed every instalment in the story, this volume was one of the ones I kept returning to to flick through and reread its fantastic ending.

The story carries on from the build-up established in the first volume, with the two rival ninja clans of Iga and Kouga engaged in a 10 on 10 feud to the death to decide the next heir to the Shogunate of Japan. The truce that had held these two ancient enemy clans in check is finally lifted and they are free to mutually slaughter eachother at will - however, Gennosuke of Kouga and Oboro of Iga are deeply in love and were due to be wed before the opening of hostilities. Their relationship and the doubt surrounding its outcome provides a modicum of depth to would otherwise be a somewhat shallow (if still incredibly enjoyable) story.

Basilisk follows the common format of many battle-centred manga series, with 1 on 1 fights interspersed with as much character development and plot progression as it is possible to include in such a short series (only 5 volumes, unless this will be changed from the Japanese version). Where Basilisk differs from the common pattern - and it differs quite strongly - is that it's so *ugly*. That's not to say it's not well-drawn - on the contrary it's one of the best illustrated manga I've ever read, and you'll frequently be left dumbstruck by some of the 2-page spreads. Basilisk is ugly rather in its character design, which is often absurd and aesthetically displeasing, and the fights themselves, which are not the Dragonball-style power-up-fests common elsewhere, but instead end quickly and brutally, often within a few swipes of a sword. Basilisk's grimness lies in its mixture of fantasy grotesqueness with a grittiness that makes it feel refreshingly real. Shuriken actually hit their targets and when people have a sword swung at them in this series, they're probably about to lose something serious. There's not much improbable luck in Basilisk.

Another part of Basilisk's ugliness is its moral ambiguity. No side is right; there's noone obvious to root for. There is no hard sense of good and evil because both sides are murderers, and both sides are victims of Tokugawa Ieyasu's greater political game even when they're murdering eachother. This ambiguity and the violence involved earn Basilisk its Mature Content label. The cheap nudity, on the other hand, is pretty immature, but fun nonetheless, and whatever else this series is it's great (and sometimes mindless) fun. Morally bankrupt though most of characters may be you'll probably find yourself rooting for someone, and speculating on whether your personal favourite will go the distance is part of what makes this series such compelling reading.

If you enjoyed the first volume, you'll love this one as the feud really starts to gather momentum. If you haven't read either volume but you liked stuff like Ninja Scroll and you need a break from Shonen Jump comics' endless cycle of immortal characters, overlong fight scenes and improbable plot developments, then you may well enjoy Basilisk.

As a side note: If you're anything like me you may want to avoid the Basilisk anime, which adds unfunny childish humour and includes some ridiculous block-bullets-with-swords action which runs contrary to the fast, punchey grittiness of the original.

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