Basara Volumes 7 and 8

Basara Volume 7

So the undercover Blue King Asagi’s manipulations are successful and Sarasa sets off to liberate her mother from the grip of the Red King’s General Kazan. As they travel on their ship, Tatara’s band encounters an unusual hunter – a young man who is taking on a whale all by himself armed only with a harpoon and a small sailboat. Asagi attempts to play the spoiler when they head into town, announcing Tatara’s presence in an arrogant and threatening manner. Sarasa yells at him, saying that isn’t the way they do things. The young whaler Nachi serves as the band’s guide, taking them on a meandering trip to meet his village that involves quite a bit of road reconstruction on the part of Tatara’s people. Tatara tries to gain the support of Nachi and his leader Hijiri. Chacha and Zaki head out to scout the situation and see something unexpected – Tatara’s mother refusing to leave the General even though she has the opportunity to do so. She comments to Kazan, “I cannot leave your side. Not until I witness your death.” Chacha vows to hide the potential complicity of his mother from Tatara. Up against impossible odds, Sarasa isn’t sure how she can succeed, but Hijiri promises to bring more allies if Tatara is able to successfully demonstrate his leadership.

At the same time, Shuri is traveling towards Kazan’s hideout, determined to punish his general for his insolence. As soon as Sarasa’s mother sees her, her internal thoughts highlight just how much her daughter has changed. She thinks “She’s only 15! She’s just a little girl!” and the General is determined to grab Tatara’s head as a trophy. Chacha confronts the General, thinking that the situation is her fault for not being more forthcoming with Tatara after her scouting mission. Sarasa is ironically saved by Shuri’s attack, but her eyes are injured and she throws herself into a burning building to rescue Chacha and Zaki. Hijiri tells Tatara that Zaki is risking his life for his leader, “Be proud of him boy! You have good followers.” Sarasa’s response is that no one is worth the sacrifice of a life and she blindly jumps on her horse to rescue Zaki. Hijiri decides that he’s figured out the secret to Tatara’s success as a revolutionary, “They don’t come to you looking for guidance…they just can’t bear to stand back and watch as you run ahead on unsteady feet bawling your eyes out.”

Basara Volume 8

The 8th volume of this series shows Sarasa and Shuri brought down incredibly low, but they’re about to head towards one of my favorite places in Basara, the Democratic Island of Okinawa. Sarasa has been blinded, and she doesn’t even have the consolation of her mother to help her with her illness. Sarasa’s mother confirms with Kaku that the prophecy identified Sarasa as the Child of Destiny all along. She decides to leave, saying “If I see her…if I hold her in my arms…I might undo… everything, turn her back into her mother’s girl.” Sarasa’s in a almost depressed fugue-like state as she deals with her injury and the burdens of leadership. Her people deal with the aftermath of battle in their own ways. Asagi, knowing Sarasa and Shuri’s secret, decides to scare her by holding her down and kissing her. Sarasa asks Nagi to make her eyes better sooner, and he points out that she has other senses she can now sharpen. Plots in the Red King’s city leave Shuri deposed and alone, dependent for the first time on the random kindness of his subjects who support him while the nobility turns on him. Even when being attacked, Shuri’s quick insight allows him to penetrate the truth behind the plot that is removing him from the throne, as he quickly grasps that one of his last trustworthy advisers has been turned only because his mother has been held captive. The scenes of Sarasa and Shuri facing their worst fears are juxtaposed with each other, showing how they deal with adversity in different ways.

Shuri escapes the city he’s worked so hard to build and ends up on the boat of Dr. Basho, the mentor of Sarasa’s trusted adviser Nagi. Shuri’s imperious mannerisms don’t tend to go over well with Basho’s apprentice Yuna and he soon finds himself doing the unthinkable – swabbing the decks. Sarasa is traveling towards Okinawa to meet Dr. Basho too, in the hopes that he’ll be able to assist with restoring her eyesight. Shuri realizes that for the first time he has no one to rely on but himself, and Sarasa tries to make the best of her own situation by exercising her other senses and visiting her people. Shuri sees Okinawa as a poorly-defended island paradise, noting that he’d have no trouble taking it over if he were still king. Sarasa is washed up on shore, and is rescued by another of Dr. Basho’s associates. Will the two lovers meet again in the next volume? Are there mysterious and complex geopolitical undercurrents tainting what appears to be a simple island paradise? Do you even have to ask?

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