Sengoku BASARA Moonlight Party [UPDATE]

What do you get when you cross Frank Miller's Sin City, The Matrix, cosplay, a Sailor Moon live action television series and Japanese history plus a dash of GACKT? Sengoku BASARA Moonlight Party of course! It has been over a month since the first episode aired on MBS in Japan. Only now can is it possible to give you update on what it was like. The first episode was titled: "RIVAL OF ETERNITY." Epic, ne?

For those keeping score from the video game and anime side of Sengoku BASARA, the first episode covers the fated meeting of Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura and their encounter with Oda Nobunaga. The TV series skimps on a lot of detail concerning this meeting so brush up on your Japanese history or watch the anime before viewing. The very first scene is involved Yukimura and Takeda Shingen in their signature 'Oyakata-sama!' 'Yukimura!' shouting match. The first 11 minutes of the episode were completely scenery-less. Everything had a hazy white or pitch black background. The battle sequences were a mix of CG work (ala Sin City) to cover the battle between the armies and actual choreographed sword play between the actors. The producers were kind enough to add in little special effects to make it seem like Date and Yukimura were using their special powers. This was also abundant in the opening sequence too.

Just when Date and Yukimura were really about to have fun, the Oda trio consisting of Nohime, Akechi Mitsuhide and Mori Ranmaru show up to crash the party. And standing behind them was Oda Nobunaga himself... but I'll get back to him. Of course, Katakura Kojuurou, Date's right-eye, cautioned him not to challenge Oda. But, Date can't resist a challenge so Oda gets to show off some of his awesome moves. A stylish battle then ensued between Oda and Takeda Shingen, who stepped in to save Date from a fatal blow. However, Takeda wasn't able to escape the battle unscathed.

The episode finally received some tangible scenery after the fight with Oda. The cast was outside the Takeda residence waiting to see if he'd be okay after taking a direct hit from Oda. While there, Date tried to toughen up Yukimura and a comical fist fight results. As the boys beat the crap out of each other, they were completely unaware of Takeda's forces limping back to the residence. Only when Kasuga and her lord Uesugi Kenshin showed up did they stop fighting and look up. The episode ends.

In my opinion, Moonlight Party is entertaining. I'm so used to playing the games or watching the anime that some things were a little difficult to adjust to. However, the producers did well to combine fantasy with real life. The abundance of CG work I can understand since the Sengoku BASARA world is hard to replicate in reality. However, 11 minutes of hazy white and pitch black backgrounds without a prop anywhere (minus everyone's weapons) was a bit much. Even the scene where everyone was riding their horses was not that believable. As for the actors themselves, they seem to understand the essence of their characters. Sometimes, the acting did seem a bit forced. The costumes and weapons were slightly above the quality of the Sengoku BASARA stage play costumes. Yukimura's costume looks great in the TV series with the exception of his hair. I'm a big Katakura fan so I was slightly disappointed that his actor has such a high voice. Years of listening to Morikawa Toshiyuki in the role I guess is hard to erase. However, as the episode continued, his voice gradually began to deepen into that fatherly, advisory tone. Date's actor doesn't have Nakai Kazuya's voice nor the presence of the stage play actor, but he is a lot of fun to watch. His English is okay too. Uesugi Kenshin, as always, is played by a woman. Although he only had a few lines to say, I wish his actress would have tried to deepen her voice as she spoke to bring out what little masculinity Kenshin has. Sarutobi Sasuke and Takeda Shingen are the highlights of the good-guys. Their actors are spot on with mannerisms and manner of speech. Both of their costumes look absolutely amazing.

But the real highlight of the first episode must go to the Oda forces. Nohime looks and sounds like she walked right out of the video game. Mitsuhide was just as sadistic and crazed as he should of been. His actor has a good build for him. I'm going to miss Hayami Shou's voice though. Ranmaru's actor has a surprisingly 'grown up voice' since he's supposed to be a kid. The most surprising performance of all was delivered by the man himself, GACKT as Oda Nobunaga.

I've seen GACKT's acting skills a few time before but I do believe this is going to take the cake. He is spot on with his mannerisms and producing that terrifying aura with his presence. The most shocking aspect is his voice! If you weren't paying attention, you'd swear you were listening to Wakamoto Norio.On top of that, Oda's costume is the most elaborate and I can  tell the production crew spared no expense to get that costume right. GACKT looks good in it too. You can't really tell its him unless you really stare at his face. GACKT really is Oda Nobunaga.... mustache and all. Finally, Oda had the coolest fight scene in the episode and the coolest bullets too, his awesome customized Oda Clan bullets! Did I mention GACKT also provides the closing theme? It's a standard tune from GACKT called 'Hakuro' but, it fits the series well.

The preview showed that Date and Yukimura will be in a forest in the second episode-- yes, an actual forest with actual trees (yay, less green screen!). And Mitsuhide is going to get an earful from his boss.

With GACKT anchoring this series, I think Sengoku BASARA: Moonlight Party will be quite entertaining to watch. I look forward to seeing more Sin City-esque visual effects; it really gives the show that video game feel. It's really hard to judge and entire show by only one episode but I think this series is moving in the right direction. Anyone looking for something serious should stay away from this. Fans of the series and of GACKT should definitely check it out.

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