This is a ninja clan war flick with Romeo and Juliet smack in the middle of a centuries-old feud between the Capulets and the Montagues – er, actually between the Iga Clan and the Kouga Clan.
Now, lifting from Shakespeare is not a crime – we’re talking public domain and Shakespeare himself lifted the basic plot from an Italian play. But he made it his own, and so do the people who created Basilisk.
Basilisk has good music, wonderful, lush scenery, and two star-crossed lovers who first owe their allegiance to their clans. So when the Emperor needs the two clans to fight it out to see who the heir to the Shogunate is, he selects Iga and Kouga. The uneasy truce between the clans (who were having the heirs of both clans marry, in an attempt to kill the feud and possibly unite their clans) is blown out of the water, and the killing begins.
I’ve only seen one disk of this series, and I probably won’t finish it. Character development is almost zero – indeed, for me, the only interesting person in the first disk is already dead. If the couple at the beginning of Episode 1 is actually the older people seen later, that was interesting, too, but they’re gone. People show up, demonstrate their skills, and somebody gets killed. Do NOT invest in the characters here – watch for cool ninja skills, scenery and a not-seen-often drawing style, but there’s no guarantee your favorites will survive.
Lots of blood and even rape coming up – this is NOT a child’s or even a young teen’s DVD. Older teens can probably handle this series, but I’d suggest watching it together or before your kid gets hold of it, in case s/he wants to talk about the series.
I will try not to give anything away, but if you want the HEA (Happily Ever After) or even the H?A (Hopefully Ever After) finish, this is probably not for you. This is like so many of the great, beautiful movies that have come out of China and Japan in the past decade or so. As I like to say as a log line for Hamlet – “Everybody dies, I die last”.
So – constant sneaky ninja fights? Check. Lovely and unusual art? Check. Music that fits? Check. Shows the horrors of feuds that carry on long after their beginning is forgotten? Check.
But there’s no one to root for. You have been warned.
For mature teens and adults only. The captions do not at all match the voice-over. You might try Japanese with English captions – but the English duo literally felt like two different movies were being simultaneously run.