If a series could foreshadow itself any more than this it would be ALL SHADOW.
And that’s just in the first episode.
I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow description of the action here as no doubt other sites have already done so. I’m not particularly interested in the crazy ninja action that occupied the first half of the episode anyway; as far as I’m concerned it’s there to give battle-hardened Men with a capital “M” an excuse to watch a show that’s really just a fantasy Edo-period redressing of Romeo and Juliet. All of the above screenshots are taken from the latter part of the episode, a flashback to the youth of the two decrepit ninja masters summoned to do battle by what I believe is a representative of the Tokugawa shogunate. Or something. This show is incredibly hard to understand raw as it consistently uses irregular verb tenses that haven’t been in common use in Japan for hundreds of years, but if it keeps delivering romantic scenes of the quality depicted above I’ll keep on watching.
As far as I can decipher after one viewing, the episode ends with the Tokugawa representative giving a scroll to each of the clan leaders instructing them to fight. Each scroll has a list of ten names on it, and the goal is to eliminate the other clan’s list of ten before being wiped out. The two now-ancient ninja masters, their romance long past, wind up facing off and killing one another only to fall into a final embrace. Given that after the ending credits roll we see a short scene set in the present that mirrors the past meeting of these two clan leaders – only with the two characters who will be the real protagonists of the story – it seems pretty clear where things will be going. Not to mention that the episode starts, prior to the credits, with a battle between a snake and a hawk in which the red of their blood flies in slow motion from the monochrome cast of their bodies as they kill each other in the most symbolic fashion possible. This show has half a zillion levels of obvious foreshadowing and I love it. Along with the antiquated language and the lavishly beautiful character designs it gives the show a feel of gloomy, raw emotion that is quite promising. Based on this first episode, Basilisk is shaping up to be an epic tragedy in fine classic style.
If more narrative time is devoted to romance and less to mutant ninja action, later episodes of Basilisk could easily clear a 10. If Ogen-dono is somehow ressurected for a lesbian orgy with Oboro, we DO go up to 11.
This review wouldn’t be complete without mention of the music, which fits the show’s aesthetic well though not obtrusively. The Onmyouza OP didn’t do much for me, but I’ll leave discussions of this to more informed metal fans than myself.