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Manga: Basara

Basara: the spirit of freedom which denies old authority, transcending traditions and customs.
Diamond Sanskrit Vajra

Basara is an award-winning manga created by Yumi Tamura, which was later adapted into a (rather obscure) thirteen episode TV series. It centers around a sixteen-year-old girl, Sarasa, who uses her wits and the Power of Friendship to lead the people of a Post Apocalyptic future Japan to freedom.

At the end of the 20th century, an undisclosed catastrophe destroyed the civilized world driving society back to a feudal level. Japan is ruled by the Golden King, a tyrant who came to power by assassinating everyone ahead of him in the line of succession. Now his greatest fear is to suffer the same fate. To avoid this he divided the land among his three sons, the Black King, the Blue King and the Red King, so they would expend all their energy fighting each other instead of him. Naturally it's their subjects who suffer most by this.

In the tiny Village of Byakko in the now desertified western region of Japan, a pair of brother-sister twins are born under a prophecy: one of them will become the Child of Destiny and lead the country into a new era of freedom and prosperity. The boy Tatara is taken for the Chosen One, while his sister Sarasa languishes in his shadow. However, when the local ruler, the Red King, learns of the prophecy, he attacks the village, finding Tatara and executing him. Sarasa disguises herself as her brother to keep her people from falling into despair.

Newly promoted to leader, Sarasa initially only seeks revenge against the Red King for murdering her family, but over the course of many adventures her motivation gradually shifts to dethroning all the kings and establishing a country where everybody is equal. And as if leading a rebellion wasn't enough for a sixteen-year-old, Sarasa's relationship with Shuri, a Tall, Dark and Handsome stranger she meets time and again on her journey complicates her life further.

Not to be confused with Sengoku Basara.

This manga provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Sarasa, Chacha, Kikune, and Yuna. In the prequel story, Tara as well.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Tatara's sword Byakko, one of a set of four swords passed down by people who vowed to rebel against the dynasty of their day.
  • Arranged Marriage: Shido and Senjuu were engaged by their parents, albeit at Shido's request. Also, Ginko was given away in marriage at a young age to secure the alliance with the island of Awaji. Being the paranoid king that he is, her father still accused Awaji of treason when they grew too powerful, and ordered the death of Ginko's husband, taking Ginko back kickstarting her fall. Hijiri also has an arranged marriage waiting for him; he eventually meets the young lady and quite likes her, but is a bit grumpy that he's doing what his parents wanted him to all along.
  • Artificial Limbs: After the main series, in the side story Kanata, Kikune makes an artificial arm for Shuri that is full of weaponry. He eventually admits that it is "fun".
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: Chacha became the pirate leader by defeating every other claimant in battle.
  • Avenging the Villain: Averted. Senjyu finally decides not to raise her son to harbor the desire for revenge.
  • Battle Couple: Zaki and Chacha.
  • Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: Happens to Sarasa in Episode 13 of the anime and volume 5 of the manga, when the Blue King plans on sacrificing her.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Ageha's predicted death. The series tells you from the very beginning that it's going to happen...
  • Big Brother Worship: Sarasa admired her twin- so much that even after successfully leading the rebellion for some time, she still believes that he would've done a better job. Nakijin worships his older brother, Unten, just as much and is devastated when he finds out that Unten is plotting with the Japanese government.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Hayato has thick, rectangular eyebrows.
  • Bishōnen: Surprising for a shoujo manga, not every guy is...though a disproportionate number are, since it is shoujo. Ageha and Asagi especially.
  • Blind Seer: Nagi, one of Sarasa's mentors and the seer who prophesied that one of the twins was the Child of Destiny.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Kakihito to the White King/Mistress White, Ginko.
  • Boy Meets Girl: Sarasa and Shuri. First they meet at a hot spring, then they meet again and travel together until they find out they are enemies, have emotional breakdowns and get better in the end.
  • Butt Monkey: Muratake.
  • Break the Cutie
  • Cain and Abel: Shuri and Asagi, to an extent, though it's mostly one-sided on Asagi's part.
  • The Chosen One: Subverted and played straight with Tatara and Sarasa.
  • Cool Big Sis: Chacha to Sarasa. Her crew even addresses her as Big Sister.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Tamon. Muratake and Hida could also qualify.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Eventually averted, when Senju finally decides not to raise her son to seek revenge for his father.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Repeatedly averted. Senju does not name her son after his father, and an omake has Sarasa and Shuri vetoing the idea of naming their children after one another’s dead friends.
  • Deadly Game: The Suzuka Murder Race.
  • Death Is Dramatic: Shido, Taro, Ageha, and Ginko. Tamura really likes her grandiose deaths.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Sarasa alias Tatara wins her first allies, the pirate crew, this way.
  • Depraved Homosexual: The Snake King.
  • Did You Get a New Haircut?:
  • Dies Wide Open: Ageha, and Taro who dies while looking at the future of the land, and never closes them even after death.
  • Distressed Dude: Hayato in the Abashiri Prison arc.
  • Driven TO Suicide: General Kazan, because of the conflict between his loyalty to the Red King and his love for Chigusa.
  • Everything but the Girl: Asagi.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Ageha. Surprisingly none of the pirates wears one.
  • Eye Scream: Ageha of course, or he would not have his Eyepatch of Power.
  • Genki Girl: Kikune, and a rare male example: Nachi.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Raizo sports a scar across his face - it adds to his warrior look and handsome ruggedness.
  • Half-Identical Twins: when Sarasa decides to impersonate her twin brother, she just cuts her hair and almost everybody believe she is Tatara - even Tatara's fiancee. However, it may be because people deeply want to believe it.
  • Heroic BSOD: Sarasa after she realizes that her lover Shuri is actually the Red King she has sworn to take revenge on for killing her family. Shuri is in about the same condition.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Kikune eventually betrays the rest of the Four Virtues for Sarasa. Asagi seems to go through a Heel-Face Revolving Door but in the end his loyalties lie with the Tatara Army.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Nachi and Hijiri. The latter even mentions they would've been married if one of them was a woman.
  • Hidden Eyes: Tamon's hair always covers his eyes, even when he cuts it short.
  • Hot-Blooded: Ichimatsu of Hida, whenever anyone attempts to insult him or his lady.
  • Important Haircut: Sarasa cuts off her braids when she decides to pose as her brother. Later, Ageha get one as well.
  • Intrepid Reporter : Taro and Akane with their newspapers
  • Ironic Hell: Ageha gets one of these.
  • Kansai Regional Accent: Prominent among the characters from Kyoto and the Kumano region. Characters from the north feature Tohoku Regional Accents.
  • Ladykiller in Love: Shuri once he gets serious about Sarasa.
  • La Résistance: A major theme. Sarasa recruits and allies with people from all over the country in her quest to overthrow the monarchy.
  • Lima Syndrome: General Kazan actually falls in love with his captive Chigusa- whose child is his king’s sworn enemy- and betrays his king in his efforts to keep her safe.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Love at First Punch: Sarasa rebuffs Shuri's first advances by bloodying his nose. He's intrigued by the fact that Sarasa does not treat him like other women do.
  • Man Behind the Man: Asagi to the Snake King, since he is the real Blue King. Or is he?
  • Made a Slave: Ageha. Also happens to Shuri. After the disastrous battle where he and Sarasa discover one another's identities, Asagi sells him into slavery.
  • Meaningful Name: See the page quote. Also Senjyu's son. Everybody thinks she'll name him Shido after his father, but she names him Motomochi, basically meaning 'find your own path'.
  • Messianic Archetype: Sarasa. Her coming was even foretold.
  • The Mole: Asagi.
  • My Sibling Will Live Through Me: Sarasa takes on her brother's name and role after his death early in the series.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The results of overthrowing Momonoi.
  • No Periods, Period: Subverted. Although Sarasa does not have her period for extended periods of time, after spending some time out of her Tatara alter-ego she gets it again and comments on how her body reacted to her wish of living as a woman again.
  • Offing the Offspring: The Golden King seems prone to this. He already had one of his sons killed and what he did to his youngest wasn't very nice either.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Ginko is implied to be a somewhat more restrained, but still scary, version.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Come on, "Tatara" is just Sarasa with her hair down and wearing a headband and pants. Justified by the fact that nobody outside her village even knew Sarasa existed, nor what the original Tatara looked like, so they have no reference to realize what's up.
  • Parental Abandonment: Lots of characters. Somewhat understandable in such an unstable country where there's always fighting going on.
  • Pirate Girl: Chacha, a pirate captain.
  • Platonic Life Partners: Tara, Shuri's great-grandmother and Genshou, Sarasa's great-grandfather from the side-stories qualify for the most part, given that Genshou is already seeing someone and Tara thinks very little of romance.
  • The Power of Friendship: The formation of Tatara's Army relies on this trope.
  • Quivering Eyes: Sarasa almost constantly at the beginning.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Sarasa delivers quite a satisfying one to King Ukon.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Murasaki no Ue, the Black King's wife.
  • Revenge: Sets the plot rolling. Sarasa wants revenge on the Red King for destroying her village and killing her family. Later, Princess Senju seeks revenge on "Tatara" for Shidou's death.
  • Slave Brand: Ageha and Shuri have them.
  • Someone to Remember Him By: Princess Senju conceives only days before Shidou dies in battle against the heroine. In the prequel story Katana, both Tenmaya and Gensho leave pregnant girlfriends behind when they die.
  • Subordinate Excuse: Zaki, Chacha’s second in command, is deeply in love with her and wants only to support her.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Sarasa in order to have people believe brother the Son of Destiny is still alive.
  • Team Chef: Asagi joins Tatara’s group and almost immediately begins to cook. (Sarasa refuses to eat his cooking at first out of distrust.) Asahiko, the wielder of the original Genbu sword, was also the cook for the failed first rebellion.
  • Tender Tears: Sarasa cries often, but is by no means weak.
  • The Stoic: Zaki, Raizo, Masunaga and Hiraagi.
  • True Companions: Sarasa gathers up close friends everywhere she goes. Her army is practically one big bunch of Companions.
  • The Unchosen One: Even towards the end, no one really knows who the chosen one really was.
  • Unrequited Love: General Kazan loves his captive Chigusa, who thinks he’s being very nice to her under the circumstances but still wants him dead because he killed her husband and son. She admits she can’t hate him several volumes after his death. There’s also Erik the Red, whose crush on Chacha never goes anywhere (not least because she has a thing for her first mate, Zaki).
  • Unto Us a Son and Daughter Are Born: Tatara and Sarasa. A side story set later on also reveals that Sarasa and Shuri's children are also girl and boy twins.
  • Weaker Twin Saves the Day: Sarasa certainly thinks about it this way, but it's implied that the prophecy was about her all along.
  • White and Gray Morality: To an extent. There are very few truly evil, depraved people on the empire's side—instead, most are genuine idealists and honorable Noble Demons (that is, everyone on the Red King's side, and the Red King himself), or else more incompetent and conservative than malicious. Or else they have Freudian Excuses. This is demonstrated marvelously during the underground prison arc, when pretty much all of the prison wardens turn out to be sympathetic characters who make Heel Face Turns. There are exceptions, such as Councillor Hagiwara.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Ageha, who's praised as being the best dancer in Japan. Umewaka also posed as a woman while spying on Shuri and Kazan.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: How Asagi got into the heroes' group.
  • Wrench Wench: Kikune.

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alternative title(s): Basara
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