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Manga / Basilisk

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My beloved...please die..

"There were those who loathed one another. Bodies rotted in the fields; souls were stained blood; and bonds were severed by blades. Sunk into darkness, sincerity cried out... to loved ones 'prepare to die'. My beloved... please die..."

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 historical fantasy 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 apart from a few differences. The manga also won the 2004 Kodansha Manga Award for general manga.

Basilisk is followed by a sequel manga, The Yagyu Ninja Scrolls, though it features only a few characters from Basilisk among an otherwise all-new cast of characters. Another sequel — the anime series Basilisk: The Ouka Ninja Scrolls — was released by Kodansha in 2018.

Interestingly, doesn't include any actual Basilisks; the title is metaphorical.


This show provides examples of...

  • Action Girl: Akeginu, Hotarubi, Okoi and (to a lesser extent) Kagerou.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • The anime in itself follows the manga rather closely but gives more room for Character Development, also expanding the backstories of several characters (particularly Gyoubu).
    • 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.
  • Anyone Can Die: And does. From the gentlest to the meanest characters, almost all of them have their days numbered.
  • Arachnid Appearance and Attire: Shogen Kazamachi has a decidedly spider-like appearance, as he has elongated limbs, a tongue that spits out webbing and six markings on his forehead that makes it look as though he has additional eyes.
  • Attempted Rape: Lots of it, they are usually an good indicator that someone (either victim or perpetrator) is about to die. Though, given the series, that isn't saying much.
  • Back from the Dead: Tenzen's ability.
  • Battle Couple: Hotarubi and Yashamaru must have been one. But the show never lets us see them actually fighting as a team. In the flashback episode, Yashamaru actually discourages her from EVER taking part in a battle. Insisting that it would be a shame if someone like her were to ever smell of blood.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Lots, but most notably Udono Jousuke and Saemon Kisaragi.
  • 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.
  • Blessed with Suck: A few of the ninjas in Basilisk have powers that adversely affect their lives. If Kagerou ever has sex with someone, they will die. Hyouma has a doujutsu that can kill people by looking at them, but he is unable to turn it off. Being ninjas, they will use these same abilities to kill their enemies.
  • Blindfolded Vision: Hyoma keeps his eyes closed at all times because he possess the Dojitsu, an ability that could kill anyone he makes eye contact with. He taught disciple Gennosuke to also fight without his eyes.
  • 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.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Koshirou for Oboro and Kagerou for Gennosuke.
  • 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.
  • Break the Haughty: Tenzen's fifth and FINAL death
  • ...But He Sounds Handsome: Saemon is prone to doing this.
  • Character Exaggeration: Kagerou's jealousy was quite accentuated in the anime. If this fandom were bigger, Kagerou would be a major target of Die for Our Ship...
  • Clingy Jealous Girl:
  • 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.
  • Combat by Champion: The series begins with a match between members of each clan, but it soon becomes a Kill 'Em All scenario.
  • Crash-Into Hello:
    • In both anime and manga, Oboro brings some tea for Gennosuke during their first meeting as adults, but she's so nervous that she trips and dumps the tray and its contents on him.
    • Gennosuke manages to catch two out of three tea cups.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Gyoubu Kasumi is stabbed to death by Tenzen when he's merged with a wooden panel, and since his death doesn't allow for the corpse to be de-merged, the whole panel is exhibited in the nearest port as a warning to the Kougas.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Saemon does this several times over the course of the series. It eventually backfires on him when impersonating Tenzen who, unbeknown to him, was Not Quite Dead
  • 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)
  • Deus Sex Machina: Subverted with poor Kagerou. Just read above.
  • 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 This is because he was specifically trained by Hyouma in case he came across an opponent that blinded him as a means to nullify the power of his eyes.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Nana Mizuki provides Oboro's voice and the ED themes, "Hime Murasaki" and "Wild Eyes".
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Oboro effectively wins - by killing herself.
  • 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.
  • The Dragon:
    • Koshirou for Tenzen.
    • Hyoma is also this to Gennosuke. In fact, he seems to be the only one with no stake in this fight outside of protecting the latter.
  • 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 an 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.
  • Evil vs. Evil: In a nutshell, the story is basically an evil clan of ninja (the Kouga) versus a slightly MORE evil clan of ninja. (the Iga) In fact, outside of Oboro and Gennosuke, the only one who doesn't show any signs of sadism or bloodlust is Hyoma Muroga.
  • Eyes Always Shut: In addition to Hyouma and Saemon, Gennosuke and Oboro both get the "Seven Days Ointment" on them.
  • Fan Disservice:
  • 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.
  • Gonk: Tokugawa Ieyasu and his deformed chin.
  • 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.
  • Handicapped Badass:
    • Hyouma, Koshirou and Gennosuke when he's temporarily blinded.
    • Juubei also counts as he was the first in the anime to kill Tenzen with a knife concealed in his throat and wielded with his tongue and outrun the Iga ninja without arms or legs.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Every ninja has one special ability, and even though some have an ability that appears to be useless, each character uses their power to be a deadly warrior. Examples: Hotarubi has the power to summon butterflies. Jingoro has the power to turn into a small, slimy slug creature when he touches salt. Nenki has Prehensile Hair. Jubei has no arms or legs, but does have a really long tongue.
  • Hiccup Hijinks: In one episode Oboro gets the hiccups.
  • High-Pressure Blood: By the keg.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: All of them have distinctly conspicuous appearance and dress, if not outright freakish.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
  • Incest Subtext: Saemon and Okoi have a rather strange romantic chemistry, despite the fact that they are a brother and sister and the work constantly reminds us of this. In particular, when the excited Hotarubi runs to him, taking him for her lover, she immediately reminds Saemon about his sister...
  • 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.
    • Yeah, Saemon and Kagerou do this a lot.
  • Killed Off for Real: Tenzen, thanks to Oboro's eyes being unsealed RIGHT before his resurrection. It's not pretty, either.
  • Kill 'Em All: All the named ninjas eventually die.
  • Killing Intent: The Dojitsu is an ability that can turn an attacker's killing intent back on them, leading to the would-be assailant violently attacking themselves.
  • King on His Deathbed: Downplayed, because the shogun's not quite there yet. However, the fact that he won't live much longer is the reason behind the conflict in the first place.
  • Kissing Cousins: Kagerou is Gennosuke's cousin and, if not for her powers, she would've been the one chosen to marry him.
  • Last Kiss: Subverted: Kagerou didn't get to kiss Gennosuke and take him with her, thanks to Oboro's eyes being unsealed.
  • Left for Dead: Happens quite a bit with many characters, even after precautions are made to prevent any unpleasant surprises later.
  • Let Them Die Happy: Saemon is a very ruthless fighter, but not even he has the guts to deny Hotarubi a last flash of happiness and lets her believe he's Yashamaru so she can die without regrets.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Has examples of:
    • Completely Different Title (Shinobi: Heart Under Blade)
      • This is because it's based on the same BOOK that this anime is. Not the anime itself. And neither is necessarily all that accurate to the novel...
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: Tenzen, though he isn't completely immortal
  • Love at First Sight: Oboro and Gennosuke fall into this, as they were almost instantly attracted to each other the moment they met as adults.
  • Lovecraftian Superpower: The various ninja talents tend towards these:
    • 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 cell, 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.
    • Mino Nenki has Prehensile Hair over his entire body.
    • Amayo Jingoro can use salt to mutate himself into a repulsive, slimy slug-man.
    • Akeginu can squirt blood from her skin to create a blinding mist.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Hotarubi is... not quite all there where Yashamaru is concerned.
    • 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...
  • Magical Eye: Gennosuke's eye technique turns his enemies' evil intent against themselves. Oboro too has her own eye technique. Even though it isn't as sinister as Gennosuke's, it's still powerful enough to render any other technique completely useless.
  • Male Gaze: Okoi is frequently shown from rather...strange...angles.
  • Mama Bear: Ofuku, to Takechiyo. Evil Matriarch style, of course.
  • Master of Disguise: Saemon's ability.
  • 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.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Kagerou is dead set on killing Oboro so she can have Gennosuke. Much more in the anime than the manga, though. Tenzen also wants to kill Gennosuke so he can have Oboro as his puppet wife, which would grant him full control of the Iga Tsubagakure.
  • 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..
  • One-Word Title
  • 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?
  • The Plan:
    • 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.
  • Prehensile Hair: Mino Nenki, and to a lesser extent, Yasamaru.
  • Psychic-Assisted Suicide: The dōjutsu, though it only works when the target is trying to kill the user.
  • 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.
  • Razor Floss: Yashamaru's weapon of choice.
  • 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 committing 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 spectacular Villainous Breakdown.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Oboro in the live-action movie Shinobi: Heart Under Blade.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Oboro and Gennosuke. And when young, Danjou and Ogen.
  • 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 Kouga (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.
  • Traumatic Haircut: He did it himself after Kazamachi nailed him with his spit.
  • 5 * The Unfavorite: Poor, poor little Takechiyo.
  • 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.
  • Used To Bea Sweet Kid:
    • Young Gyoubu was a simply adorable child. Then his dad died...
    • The same could be said for most, if not all of the cast. This is just the example we see. Some of them remained sweet, some... not so much.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
    • There is a clear tendency for the more grotesque ninja (Juubei, Shougen, Rousai...) to die first.
    • The old people are the first two to die. So quickly, in fact, you might forget to count them in the 10 warriors from each side. And I think the Bishounen Yashamaru goes down in the third episode.
  • Villainous Breakdown (Ofuku, AND HOLY GODDAMNED HOW. For as sadistically short-sighted as the character is, she got off fucking lucky.)
  • 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, and she has gone through the Despair Event Horizon; 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, for trying to help Kagero after learning of the savage torture she's been put through, 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 all die very messily.
    • Let's not forget that he killed Akaginu while Kagerou distracted her on the bridge
  • Your Head Asplode. Tenzen's final death.
  • You Killed My Father: In the anime, Gyoubu Kasumi saw his father Renbu die at the hands of Iga ninjas


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