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Romeo and Juliet, with ninjas and blood


"My beloved... please die..."


The year is 1614. The Shougun 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 a semi-historical novel by Futaro Yamada, published in 1958. 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.

Tropes used in Basilisk include:
  • Action Girl: Akeginu, Hotarubi, Okoi and (to a lesser extent) Kagerou.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The anime gives more room for Character Development and expands the backstories of several characters.
    • The same goes for the novel the manga/anime is based on. The anime expands considerably on it as well.
  • Anyone Can Die: And does.
  • Arachnid Appearance and Attire: Shogen Kazamachi.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Bishonen: Gennosuke and Yashamaru. The latter is even described as 'very handsome' in the original novel's character sheet.
    • Hyoma, 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: Kagerou and Hyouma.
  • 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.
  • Break the Haughty: Tenzen's fifth and FINAL death
  • Brother-Sister Incest: The Saemon/Okoi ship has somewhat of a fan following, due to their mutual devotion.
  • Character Exaggeration: Kagerou's jealousy was quite more accentuated in the anime. If this fandom were bigger, Kagerou would be a major target of Die for Our Ship...
  • The Chessmaster: Tenzen.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: As mentioned, anime!Kagerou takes this to the biggest, more dangerous extremes, and that is the key to her downfall. It's not like she's doing it without any reason other than wanting Gennosuke for herself... too bad her sad backstory was only explained in the original novel.
    • 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.
  • Combat by Champion
  • 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 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.
    • 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.
  • The Dragon: Koushirou for Tenzen.
  • Dramatic Irony: All over the place.
  • 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 can literally make anyone who goes up against him become so bat-shit terrified of him that they'll kill themselves rather than face him.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Oboro effectively wins - by killing herself.
  • Evil 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.
  • 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 Versus Evil
  • Eyes Always Shut: In addition to Hyouma and Saemon, Gennosuke and Oboro both get the "Seven Days Ointment" on them.
  • Fan Service: 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.
  • Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: Somehow, you can immediately tell who's the Complete Monster...
  • 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.
  • Handicapped Badass: Hyouma, Koushirou, and Gennosuke when he's temporarily blinded
    • Jubei 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 ten Iga ninja without arms or legs.
  • 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.
  • Hime Cut: Common, but especially Hotarubi.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the anime, Tenzen captures and savagely tortures Kagerou when she prefers to try murder Oboro in her sleep rather than running away to reunite with Gennosuke; if she had not stopped to kill Oboro, she would have been somewhat more likely to avoid him. Later, the very same princess whom Tenzen broke so much through the whole series is the key behind his (final) death.
  • It Got Worse: It really did
  • Ironic Hell: Ofuku, after the end.
  • 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.
  • Karma Houdini: Ofuku at the end.
  • 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 Koushirou and kill him, Akeginu stabbing Hyouma's remains in grief for Koushirou's death, Saemon and Kagerou's murder of Akeginu, etc.
  • Kill'Em All: Literally.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • MacGuffin: The scrolls, sorta.
  • 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 into 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..
  • 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
  • Nana Mizuki: Provide's Oboro's voice and the ED theme, Wild Eyes.
  • Ninja: Well, DUH.
  • 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: Koushirou'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?
  • Playing Against Type: On the other hand, the murderous Hotarubi is played by Miyuki Sawashiro, who usually voices Genki Girls and Moe types. Then again, Hotarubi acts like one if you don't mess with her beloved Yashamaru.
  • 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.
  • Rape as Drama: Tenzen attempts to rape Oboro twice.
  • Razor Floss: Yashamaru's weapon of choice.
  • Really Seven Hundred 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.
  • 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 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 Koga (needles).
  • Technical Pacifist: Gennosuke and Oboro.
    • 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.
  • 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 Be a 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 Freakish-Looking 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 has 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. 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.
    • 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 all die 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.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Tenzen pulls some of these through the series. We later find out that the destruction of the truce is the result of a BIG Xanatos Gambit 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.
    • The entire plot was a Xanatos Gambit 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.
  • X Meets Y: Romeo and Juliet meets Ninja Scroll gives a good impression of what the series is about.
  • 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