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Goin’ Japanesque!

Basilisk: The Kōga Ninja Scrolls ― Manga of Ninja from the Mysterious Country of Japan

Ninja are a group of professionals who actually existed in Japan in the middle ages. They used their special abilities to carry out such tasks as assassinations and espionage.

Special abilities of Ninja are quite often the products of imagination. Such imagined figures of Ninja with special abilities however, very much suits the fictive settings of manga.

I am taking this opportunity to introduce to you about Basilisk – the Kōga Ninja Scrolls – , one of the best ninja manga titles.

 

Synopsys

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The manga is set in Japan when the Sengoku (Civil War) Period has been brought to an end by Ieyasu Tokugawa and the country was finally enjoying a time without wars.

But aged Ieyasu was troubled about deciding which of his two grandsons, Takechiyo and Kunichiyo, he should choose as his successor.

Tenkai, one of his retainers, suggested a solution to Ieyasu. He suggested that the most talented Ninjas from Koga and Iga, the two major Ninja schools who had long been in a conflictive relationship since long time ago to compete against each other. As Koga was supporting Takechiyo and Iga, Kunichiyo to be the successor, the idea was that they and either of the two princes supported by the winner of the fight should claim the throne.

Ieyasu accepts the idea and orders Koga and Iga to fight the “proxy war.”

 

At around the same time, Koga Gennosuke, one of the grandsons of the head of Koga group, and Oboro, the granddaughter of the leader of Koga, were in a romantic relationship and had promised to marry each other.

If their marriage would turn out to be successful, they expected, the conflict between the Ninja groups can be finally dissolved. But Ieyasu’s order for them to fight the proxy war brings them again into a hostile relationship.

10 best ninjas from each group are selected for the proxy war.

Koga Gennosuke and Oboro are both among the selected ninjas.

 

Characters

1. Koga Gennosuke

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Gennosuke is the protagonist of the manga. He is selected as one of the ninjas for the “Koga Manjishu” a group selected to represent the Koga group for the proxy war. Gennosuke acts as a leader of this Koga ninja group.

He has a special ability to hypnotize opponents to annihilate themselves.

In personality, he is more a samurai than a ninja. While he is usually mild tempered, sincere, has a strong sense of justice and tries to avoid useless conflicts as a pacifist, he also often shows his cooler and even cruel sides and proves his capacity as the next leader.

2. Kisaragi Saemon

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He is one of the selected Koga Manjishu ninjas and supports Gennosuke as a senior commanding ninja.

His special ability is to disguise himself as a stranger by the art of “face transference.”

As he also excels at vocally imitating strangers and transforming his body, he can disguise himself as anybody regardless of age and sex.

3. Oboro

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She is the girlfriend of Koga Gennosuke. She is selected from the side of Iga and also assumes the role of the leader of the selected Iga ninjas, the “Igatsuba Gakureshu”.

With her kind and thoughtful personality, she is trusted by the people in Iga.

While she does not have any particular ninja skill and looks pretty much like an ordinary girl, she is actually born with a special ability to defeat any kind of ninja trick, which makes any ninja helpless against her.

4. Yakushiji Tenzen

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He is the senior commanding ninja of the Igatsuba Gakureshu ninja group.

His special ability is “the art of immortality.” He can revive even if he gets killed.

As he has always been committed to bolstering Iga’s supremacy against Koga, he takes advantage of Oboro’s hesitancy and passive attitude with the proxy war and grasps the substantial leadership in Igatsuba Gakureshu.

Almost contrary to Gennosuke, he is extremely cruel and inhuman.

 

Analysis

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The manga produced by Segawa Masaki is based on the novel “Koga Ninpocho (Koga Ninja Scroll),” which was written in 1958 by Futaro Yamada.

The author of the original novel, Futaro Yamada, is the very writer, who created and disseminated the now widely accepted image of Ninja, who has extreme physical agility and special skill as swordsman and assassinator.

The original novel “Koga Ninpocho” was the first of many titles collectively referred to as “Ninpocho Series,” which was the lifework of the author.

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The manga is a recreation of the novel by Segawa Masaki.

The bold artistic style of the manga artist is created by very strong brushstrokes, which perfectly matches the atmosphere of the ninja world.

The characters are artistically represented with a good balance of realism and deformation, which well illustrates the personality and emotion of the characters and makes one of the great features of the manga.

Especially, the ninja arts depicted with particularly impressive manga art style are really absorbing.

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The manga has been published in five books in Japan so far. When I got them, I could not help but finish reading all of them without stopping.

The manga is punctuated with unpredictable and richly dramatic moments and will surely make you anxious to know how the story is going to develop in the future episodes.

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Berial the Demon

About the author

It has been over 40 years of reading manga in the deep world of manga. Japan’s manga has an endlessly wide variety of genres. I will be recommending special manga for you to read from such infinite amount of works.

View all articles by Berial the Demon
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