Originally posted: Friday, September 11, 2009 on Blogger

This is the second last volume of Basara. I can’t believe I am so close to finishing this beautiful manga. Basara is also the longest manga of mine of which I own every volume.

Summary


Since the main story has already concluded, the 26th volume of Basara contains three side stories related to the main one which ended last volume. The three stories are titled: Nakama, Dakara, and Katana. There is also a Tam-Tam Extra Story that is very much like the one included in volume 24 titled “Basara Academy”.

Nakama, meaning “friend” or “comrade”, is fittingly titled as it deals with Nachi and Hijiri, two best friends, after the finale. What is nice about this episode is that it not only gives us a look at the two after the finale, but also before. Basically Nachi falls in love and this gets Hijiri thinking about their childhood. After the two reminisce, Hijiri decides that even through they are friends, they won’t be able to share all their adventures, and sets out on his own adventure to discover his betrothed. She turns out to be a beautiful young lady with an uncanny resemblance to a mermaid from Hijiri’s past and is also a little mischievous.

Dakara, “because”, is a very short (literally a few pages) story about a young Asagi. Basically the present Asagi is explaining to Muratake where his hatred towards Shuri began. It turns out Shuri pushed Asagi, which made Asagi drop his treasured peach that Ginko gave him because he was sick. Shuri didn’t do it on purpose, but he didn’t really care that Asagi’s peach got ruined in the process; he sort of shrugged it off. Ginko saw the peach on the ground and told Asagi that if he doesn’t like peaches, she won’t give them to him anymore. This devastated Asagi because Ginko was all he had and she rarely showed him affection. (The hatred was further developed in other flashbacks in the main story of Basara, where Shuri is often complement by Ginko and Hiigari for his strength and skill, strength that Asagi lacked because of his physical frailness. This hatred was thus later fuelled by this new inferiority complex, and Asagi often tried to best Shuri throughout the main story with Sarasa, with kingship, and with Ginko’s support.) So this story didn’t really add anything new to Asagi’s character, but rather pinpointed the beginning of his rocky relationship with Shuri and gave us a look at a more vulnerable and tender Asagi.

The final story, Katana, is actually a prequel to Basara, and deals with the four warriors that tried to unite Japan prior to Sarasa and her group, but failed. What is interesting about Katana is discovering each sword wielder’s great grandparents, and the basic relationships between them. Little curiosities like why Raizo has blond hair, why Genbu’s sword is wooden, and why there was a mechanism made that would cause the whole castle at Kyoto to fall apart are explained here as well.

The Tam-Tam Extra I mentioned before is basically a very loose take on the beginning of Basara if it had taken place in the world of show business. And when I say loose, I mean loose. There are a few similarities that will make you laugh, but everything else is totally different. For example, Hayato and Tatara are friends and not Sarasa and Hayato, and Tatara doesn’t die, he is just sick. It’s very funny, and Tamura-san knows what parts to reproduce to humorous effect.

My Thoughts


There is still nothing about Shuri and Sarasa. I guess Tamura-san wants to save the best for last. Yet even with the absence of Sarasa and Shuri, Basara 26 is still great. The prequel, although short and underdeveloped when compared to Sarasa’s story was still nice and it explained a few curiosities that I always wondered about. Asagi’s little story didn’t add much to the mix, but only further explained his dislike for Shuri, and why Ginko’s approval became so important to him. It also showed us that Asagi and Muratake are basically travelling through the lands now, although this was already showed at the end of Ginko’s story in volume 25. Basically, Asagi’s story doesn’t give us any new information, but reinforces what we already knew. This sounds a bit pointless, but since it takes up only a few pages, it was more of a quick look into his past and what he’s up to once more.

Nachi and Hijiri’s story, on the other hand, introduced a lot we did not know about the two of them. For example, we were never told before this story that the two of them didn’t get along until a certain incident. We also learn that the two of them are basically settling into their roles of head priest and village leader. Nachi, having fallen for a widow, is thinking of settling down and Hijiri realizes he has to get on with his own life as well.

Tamura-san’s extra was very funny and her thoughts on each of the side stories up till now (including the two from volume 25) were humorous. Her little panel about Ginko’s story is exactly what popped into my head when I read that part of the story (must get my mind out of the gutter!) Her thoughts also show how she feels about certain elements in the story and certain characters. The most interesting aspect that she shared was that Nachi and Hijiri’s story was modelled on her own experiences with a friend. I personally have never befriended someone who I openly hated and who openly hated me back, so I found it interesting that people have these types of experiences. (I have however befriended people I wasn’t especially fond of, but who I did not harbour hostility towards, because I basically never talked to or got to know them.)

Overall, Basara 26 answers a few minor mysteries from the main story and gives closure at two characters, Nachi and Hijiri. Yet there is a large cast and we are still left wondering about them. I wonder if Tamura-san can give each character enough closure in the last volume.

–SW

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