The year is 1614. The Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu is old and sick yet not senile, and war is about to erupt between the numerous noble factions that want to see one of his grandsons, either Takechiyo or Kunichiyo, as the heir. To settle this, each group will be represented by two very powerful Ninja sects, the Kouga Manjidani (chosen to support Kunichiyo) and the Iga Tsubagakure (chosen to fight for Takechiyo), who will "compete" for their cause. However, there is a BIG problem.The heirs of each group, Kouga Gennosuke and Iga-no-Oboro, are... engaged. Have actually been for at least ten years. Unlike other arranged couples, though, they're very much in love and were very willing to tie the knot. And this engagement was settled many years ago specifically to bring peace among their clans, who have been bitter enemies for years. So, after the shaky truce is shattered, what will Oboro and Gennosuke do, as their warriors start fighting and killing each other with glee?Fully titled Basilisk: The Kouga Ninja Scrolls, this manga was authored by Masaki Segawa and published by Kodansha in Japan in 2003 and 2004, based on the semi-historical novel The Kouga Ninja Scrolls by Futaro Yamada, published in 1958, which also inspired Ninja Scroll. The anime, produced in 2005 by GONZO Studios, closely follows the manga aside from a handful of distinctions. The manga itself also won the 2004 Kodansha Manga Award for general manga.Basilisk is followed by a sequel series, The Yagyu Ninja Scrolls, though with only a couple exceptions the entire cast is new.
This show provides examples of...
Action Girl: Akeginu, Hotarubi, Okoi and (to a lesser extent) Kagerou.
The same goes for the novel the manga/anime is based on. The anime expands considerably on it as well.
A Day in the Limelight: One episode focuses on the goings-on with the Shogun and the nobility, showing that things are getting pretty bad behind the scenes as well, to the point that both noble houses are actually staging regular assassination attempts on the opposing house's heir.
Big Brother Instinct: When Okoi was tortured and killed by the Iga, her older brother Saemon threw himself fully and furiously into the Iga/Kouga feud. And even before this, the Kougas knew that doing something bad to Okoi was a Bad Idea.
Bishōnen: Gennosuke and Yashamaru. The latter is even described as 'very handsome' in the original novel's character sheet.
Hyouma, though he's more of a biseinen since he's older than both of them. He fits much more in the anime's backstory, where he's in his late teens/very early 20's.
Bloody Murder: Akeginu of the Iga Tsubagakure group not only is extremely seductive as well as deadly with her trusty tanto dagger, but she can also control her own blood, secreting it out of her pores to blind or tag her opponents or create a sort-of mist as she mixes it with the air in her surroundings.
Break the Cutie: My goodness ... poor Oboro. And to some degree, poor Kagerou. And Hotarubi, for that matter.
In the anime, Gyoubu's backstory was a painful, cruel dose of this.
Body Horror: Many of the ninjas on both sides are quite freakish looking. The former Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, also counts, what with the disturbingly scrotum-like swollen growth hanging under his chin.
In the Iga group, there's Hotarubi. Even insinuate her fiance Yashamaru might have another girl and she'll scare the shit outta you with just a Death Glare.
The Comically Serious: In the flashback episode, we get to see some of the characters of the Iga side... trying to cure Oboro's hiccups. Some of these individuals have done horrible things (including attempted rape) during the series, so this is actually really weird to observe.
Death by Sex: Kagerou's bitterness at the world comes from having powers that will inevitably kill every man she has sex with, so she will never be able to be with the man she's loved ever since she was a little girl. Later Tenzen captures and rapes Kagerou, so she has her revenge by poisoning him and snapping his neck... but he survives thanks to his own powers, to re-capture and savagely torture her)
Disability Superpower: In addition to Juubei and Koshirou, mentioned above, when Gennosuke is also blinded (though temporarily, via Seven Days Ointment), he remains an effective fighter, able to trick and kill Tenzen for the third time and letting Oboro give him the coup de grace.
Gennosuke is an effective fighter even when blind because he was specifically trained in case he came across an opponent that blinded him as a means to nullify the power of his eyes.
Downer Ending: At the series' end, everyone is dead, including Gennosuke and Oboro. And yes, as we learn in the epilogue of the anime, there is also the consideration that this finally brings the clans' feud to an end, making for a potentially Bittersweet Ending.
Driven to Suicide: Oboro prefers to kill herself rather than killing Gennosuke and continue as a puppet of Ofuku. And after she dies, Gennosuke drives a whole squad to kill themselves, then stabs himself to death.
Gennosuke's power is this trope. He has to power to reflect the killing intent of anyone going up against him back at them, which causes them to kill themselves instead.
Evil Matriarch: Lady Ofuku. Not exactly Takechiyo's mother (she's his wet nurse and nanny), but her devotion to him and thirst for power are equally fierce, and she'll stop at nothing to see her adoptive son as the heir of the Tokugawa shogunate.
In the anime, Takechiyo's birth mother Princess Oeyo also counts, having arranged poor Takechiyo's death via Odd Poison to favor his brother Kunichiyo.
Evil Plan The entire plot was this by the shogun; he couldn't possibly lose. The mother and nanny of his grandsons Takechiyo/ the future Iemitsu and Kunichiyo/ the future Tadanaga were in a contest for behind-the-scenes influence of the heir that was turning violent. He wanted to prevent more assassination attempts now, and spare the samurai lives that would be lost if the grandsons grew up to fight for inheritance. So he arranged for ninjas lives to be lost instead, offering pardons and gainful employment to the winner between two clans who already passionately wanted each other dead. The ninjas who die are fewer ninjas to worry about, the ones who live would have the cunning to remove the winning nanny. The clan heads were smart enough to know just how they were being used, but their hatred for each other was too great; the rewards for winning was just icing on the cake.
Okoi from the Koga ninjas is gorgeous in an Amazonian Beauty way, and at some point we see her naked. The reason why she's in the buff, however, is that she's been captured by the Iga ninjas and almost completely at their mercy. It's much, MUCH worse when she's fighting her way to freedom... but when she attacks Mino Nenki, he fights back and the still naked Okoi dies via being becoming a Human Pincushion.
Fanservice: Akeginu fights topless whenever she can manage it, due to the nature of her powers. Okoi has a fight wearing nothing but a skimpy vest. Hotarubi is mostly covered, but manages to rip her kimono and expose her legs before one fight. Kagerou has her fair share of nudity, and Oboro has a little. Of all female ninja, only the crone Ogen remains (mercifully) clothed, except for a blink-and-you'll-miss-it almost-striptease in her rendezvous with former lover Danjo in the first episode.
Kasumi Gyoubu is really muscular and has to strip naked when using his power (merging himself with solid objects). He takes care of fanservice for the ladies pretty much by himself.
Female Gaze: Once, as Oboro and Gennosuke walk through a very thin path in the mountains, we follow Oboro's gaze as she looks at Gennosuke's back.
Femme Fatale: Kagerou and Akeginu. These ladies embody the traditional concept of kunoichis, as highly seductive women who use their feminine charms on men to get information and then kill them. Okoi uses this, but in her own terms: she's a rough tomboy who wears short hakama and low-cut tops, since her powers involve absorbing people's blood through skin contact.
Go Out with a Smile: Hotarubi was smiling as she fell down a cliff, after Saemon allowed her to die believing she'd be reunited with her dead husband. Oboro also smiled gently when she stabbed herself instead of killing the defenseless Gennosuke.
Grey and Grey Morality: There are unpleasant, overzealous characters on either side of the clan war as well as decent people, and while the Iga have Big Bad Tenzen, he's working more for his own self-interests than for the clan. The Day In The Limelight episode also shows that the people behind the clan war are resorting to drastic measures to keep the two noble houses vying for the throne from killing each other.
Jerkass: Saemon's ability results in him doing some of the most awful, manipulative, things in the entire series. He gets a sympathetic point of view most of the time but he spends so much time cruelly leading people on that his death is satisfying.
Kick the Dog: Hotarubi brutally stabbing Shougen in an Unstoppable Rage for not receiving the answer she needed about Yashamaru, Saemon's specially messy murder of Hotarubi herself, how Saemon and Kagerou manipulate the blinded Koshirou and kill him, Akeginu stabbing Hyouma's remains in grief for Koshirou's death, Saemon and Kagerou's murder of Akeginu, etc.
Kazamachi Shougen has a grotesquely elongated tongue which he uses to spray webbing-like mucus, as well as the ability to secrete slime from hands and feet that let him travel on his webbing, just like the spider he resembles.
Udono Jousuke has Rubber Man powers, allowing him to inflate himself like a balloon, squeeze his entire (considerable) bulk through the bars of a cells, or catch a katana harmlessly in the flabby folds of a cheek.
Jimushi Juubei uses a super-long, snake-like tongue to dispatch victims with a dagger concealed inside his throat.
Okoi can leech blood from whoever she touches.
Kagerou exhales poisonous miasma when sexually aroused.
Yakushiji Tenzen has a parasitic twin in his body that "eats" his wounds, allowing him to resurrect.
Azuki Rousai is also a Rubber Man, which he uses to extend his limbs and neck to reach opponents from further away.
Possibly situational, considering that he is, in all likelihood, dead as far as she knows. Missing at the very least. It's implied that she sort of knows, but she's eager to believe that he's alive. Of course, the AUDIENCE knows that he's already dead...
Meaningful Name: The anime's titular namesake, the Basilisk, is a mystical creature said to be able to kill any who meet its gaze. Eye contact is the most powerful asset that the main characters have: Gennosuke can reverse the murderous intent of any who meet his eye, thus forcing them to kill themselves; and Oboro can neutralize the ninja arts of any who meet her gaze.
My God, What Have I Done?: In the anime, Gyoubu is utterly shaken and horrified after Tenzen grabs a boy and throws him into the middle of their fight, causing Gyoubu to accidentally kill the kids's father when the old man tries to save his son. And that lets Tenzen kill him..
Names to Know in Anime: A good chunk of the dub cast consists of some of the best voiceovers Funimation has to offer. Just like with Baccano!, "Every Dick and Jane is playing the lead." First let's look at the Kouga's voice talent.
Parental Abandonment: Gennosuke was raised by his grandfather Danjo and his maternal uncle Hyouma since his parents died when he was a child. Oboro's parents are also dead, so she was raised by a nanny and then by Ogen. Out of the other Iga and Kouga, only Gyoubu's father Kasumi Renbu is mentioned, and he's dead.
Parental Substitute: Muroga Hyouma, helping take care of his very young nephew Gennosuke when barely out of this teens.
Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Oboro and Gennosuke were engaged at childhood, but as it's already been said, they fell in love of their own will.
Pet the Dog: Koshirou's woodcarving skills and his relationship with the flautist boy.
Pigeonholed Voice Actor: Three guesses as to which character is played by Hayami Show! Yes, Tenzen, how did you guess?
Tenzen pulls some of these through the series. We later find out that the destruction of the truce is the result of a BIG one of his', bordering on Gambit Roulette, that was this close to leave him as the pretty much last warrior standing in both clans, with Oboro as his puppet wife and as Man Behind the Man for the next shogun.
People like Danjou, Ogen, Gennosuke and Hyouma are also capable of these.
Puppy Love: Oboro and Gennosuke originally meet at around the age of 5. And are completely ADORABLE together. In no small part due to Oboro being a chibified Genki Girl... Who is introduced tugging on Tenzen's hair-spikes.
Rape as Drama: Tenzen attempts to rape Oboro twice. He hopes for Rape Is Love, or at the very least that it will turn her into an obedient little wife so he can be the leader of the Iga village.
Really 700 Years Old: Tenzen looks like he's in his late 30's, but is over 200 years old. Apparently, being able to come back from death regularly also makes you age slower.
Required Secondary Powers: Akeginu's power is to expel her blood. Far more than a normal person's body could possess. Enough to create a cloud of mist.
Resurrective Immortality: Tenzen Yakushiji. As long as his inner parasite twin is fine he can abuse of this power as much as he wants.
Spanner in the Works: The only thing Tenzen couldn't plan for was Oboro's regaining her sight and using her power on him while he was vulnerable. Though you'd THINK he'd be expecting her to try and murder him at the first opportunity, given the Rape as Drama entry...
That, and she also derailed Ofuku's gambit by commiting suicide rather than killing Gennosuke. Almost, since Gennosuke made sure the Igas would be pronounced victorious and then killed himself, but it still was a neat way to throw Ofuku's crap back at her, since it gave her a spectacularVillainous Breakdown.
Stock Ninja Weaponry: Many characters employ kunai daggers and tanto. We also have Gennosuke and Tenzen (katana), Nenki (a long nunchaku that can turn back into a pole), Jubei (an Aikuchi dagger hidden in his esophagus), Koshiro (two kama) and also Danjo Koga (needles).
Story Breaker Power: Gennosuke and Oboro's powers ( the power to drive anyone who tries to kill him to suicide and a Power Nullifier for ninja powers, respectively) are so broken that both end up getting blinded for a good chunk of the story to keep them from using them.
I'd say Gennosuke is more of a Martial Pacifist, since he will defend himself if under attack even if he's not willing to throw the first slash.
His first aim upon discovering this plot was to go and discuss the Shogun's intentions with this war. And to tell the Iga his route, to protect the people of his village. He's clearly out to resolve the conflict with minimal casualties.
Traumatic Haircut: In the manga, Yashamaru gets his long hair cut when ambushed by the Kouga. Subverted in the anime: He did it himself after Kazamachi nailed him with his spit.
Unlucky Childhood Friend: In the novel, Kagerou is said to be in love with Gennosuke since they were kids. Her poisonous powers (which are inherited in her side of the family; her Missing Mom also had them) developed when she was a teenager, though, and that's one of the reasons why she can't marry him.
Woman Scorned: Hotarubi ( after Yashamaru's death), to the maximum degree.
Kagerou on the other hand, is one of the most tragic examples ever, and with a much longer indication of dwelling under the shade of this trope. For most of her life she has been bitter that despite her worthy lineage, her inherited abilities keep her from getting too close to Gennosuke. The twist of the knife comes when he is set up to marry Oboro, the heir of the hated Iga clan... and is more than willing to do so. She manifests her hurt through her desire to kill Oboro and her clan once the truce has been dissolved, and she has Gennosuke promise that he himself will take Oboro's life. On her weaker moments she tends to be suicidal and wants Gennosuke to die with her, and Gennosuke has to use his powers against her. The worst of these moments comes when, in near death after experiencing so much tragedy and personal torture from the Iga, she witnesses Gennosuke refusing to kill Oboro, breaking his promise to her. Though Gennosuke chooses to take Kagerou with him, she knows she cannot have the life with him that she wanted so much; so she attempts to kill Gennosuke so that they may both die together.. And then Oboro's eyes are unsealed and dispel Kagero's poison, derailing her desperate plan right before she succumbs to her injuries and dies.
Oboro averts this trope for still believing in and struggling to understand Gennosuke after he (apparently) turns his back on her and after all the tragedies she has experienced from his clan, and for letting Gennosuke choose to leave her and take Kagerou with him.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Subversion: Saemon Kisaragi thinks it's not in him to harm a woman if he can help it, but even then, he kills Hotarubi very bloodily, since she had a part in the demise of his dead little sister. Not to mention, almost half of the Iga and Kouga warriors are females, and they alldie very messily.
Let's not forget that he killed Akaginu while Kagerou distracted her on the bridge
Actually, in the manga he held her in place while Kagerou stabbed Akeginu to death. Still more than enough since it's clear that despite not liking it, he has no qualms harming women if he has to do so.