BASARA article published in Animerica Extra Vol. 2, No. 10, September 1999
This article was written by and is copyrighted to Patricia Duffield and may not be reproduced in part or whole without permission.
Shojo artist Yumi Tamura has demonstrated a talent for a wide variety of genres, but hands down, her most successful title is BASARA, a post-apocalyptic, epic adventure revolving around the "Boy of Destiny." One of Japan's most popular shojo stories of the 90's, BASARA is currently 26 collected volumes long and has produced numerous CDs and a TV series, released last year.
"This child is a child of destiny. When this child grows up, this child will lead the people, save the country and ride with the stars." So spoke the blind prophet Nagi at the birth of the twins Tatara and Sarasa. The people of Byakko village assume Nagi was referring to the boy, Tatara, and raise him to be the "Boy of Destiny." As you might imagine, this doesn't do much for the self-esteem of the girl, Sarasa.
With the attention of the whole village on her brother, Sarasa grows into a rather willful, uninhibited child. On her twelfth birthday, she is sharply reminded of her place after a ceremony for Tatara. Having been fascinated by smithing, she tries to touch her brother's sword, only to be slapped violently by her father. "The ancestral sacred sword belongs to the "Boy of Destiny"! It must not be defiled by the hands of a girl!" Understandably upset, she runs into the desert, where she's not supposed to go. There, she stumbles across a military regiment all in red. Finding the site mesmerizing, she foolishly runs in front of them. It is the Red King, youngest son of the Great King, and Sarasa is nearly cut down for her foolishness. She is rescued by her uncle Kaku and a mysterious man named Ageha, who loses an eye for his interference. Upon returning to the village, she finds her friend, Maa-kun, has been killed by the Red Army, for he claimed to be the "Boy of Destiny" and sacrificed himself to protect her brother. Three years later, having learned that the "Boy of Destiny" still lives, the Red Army returns to Byakko village. This time they kill her brother and father, and capture her mother and many others. Nagi hides Sarasa, who sees it all. Once the Red Army is gone, she cuts her hair and announces that Sarasa sacrificed herself, that she is Tatara. In that moment, Nagi realizes it is Sarasa who is the "Child of Destiny."
As Tatara, our heroine must face great adversity, and she valiantly rises to the challenge. First, the survivors of Byakko destroy their village, taking some of the Red Army with it. Alone, Sarasa must recapture Byakko, the sacred sword, from the Red King. Her solution is ingenious and successful. Afterwards, she must rescue her captured people and get them to safety, though her mother is not among them. With her people safe, Sarasa begins her adventures alone. Ultimately, she must try to defeat the tyrannical Great King and unite the country in peace and prosperity.
Since BASARA is a shojo title, naturally there is a love interest. While recouping from a wound at a hot spring, Sarasa is charmed by a presumptuous young man named Shuri, whom she tends to punch whenever he makes a pass at her. By chance, they keep meeting at hot springs, unaware of the truth the audience has known since their first encounter: Shuri is the Red King!
As the story unfolds, more characters are introduced, weaving a vibrant, complex tapestry of loyalties, politics and intrigue. The pace is usually action packed, full of drama and mystery, sprinkled with enough romance and humor to balance off the story. Exciting and entertaining, BASARA is an adventure well worth exploring.
I do the "Boy of Destiny" this way because that's how they do it in Japanese, you know, with those ‘L' shaped brackety things (I forget what they're called). If you think it's annoying, feel free to change it. Also, you being Mr. Pro Translator and my boss editor and all, I thought you should know I took artistic liberties with the title of the Great King. His title is really ‘Koku-o,' but just ‘King' doesn't sound right to me. He's king over his four sons, each a king with a different color. I wanted him to sound greater than the Red King, hence Great King. If that bothers you or anything, feel free to change it.