Basara Volumes 9 and 10

Basara Volume 9

As the ninth volume opens, Sarasa finds herself just where she wanted to be – with Nagi’s mentor Doctor Basho. Rescued after a shipwreck, she overheard an assassination plot as she was regaining consciousness on the beach. Unaware that Sarasa is so near, Shuri meets with Okinawa’s democratically elected president Asato. His thoughts are full of military strategy and contempt for the island which appears to be unprotected to the point of almost provoking attack. When he questions the president about his plans if Japan attacks, he replies that he doesn’t want to turn his country into a battleground and prefers to avoid fighting. Nakajin takes Sarasa around to see if she can hear the voice of the person directing the assassination. She recognizes the plotter as Nakajin’s older brother and main rival to the president Unten!

One of the most consistent things about Basara is every so often seeing the flashes of brilliant insanity that make Sarasa/Tatara such an inspiring leader. In this case the dramatic scene occurs at a bullfight ceremony where despite the fact that she’s blind she climbs the rigging above the ring and yells a warning to the president. Shuri foils the assassination attempt with a well placed coconut and yells a warning himself. Sarasa hears his voice and calls for him, ripping of her eye bandages as she stands in the middle of a herd of rampaging bulls. I’m not sure how lovers could be reunited in a more dramatic fashion. Seeing Shuri and Sarasa reunite after dodging bulls and assassins was very satisfying. What follows is a brief idyll, and Sarasa and Shuri contemplate their experiences in a way that shows how they are so far apart as people even though they love each other. Shuri has decided that he’s tired of having everything handed to him and even though he has nothing after being kicked out of his city, he’s going to achieve his ultimate goal of ruling the world with his own power. The lessons about work that Doctor Basho were trying to teach him have some unintended effects. Sarasa sees the peaceful democracy in Okinawa and vows to use it as the template for the new Japan she hopes to build as Tatara.

Basara Volume 10

The reunion between the lovers is brief, as they are separated quickly. Shuri shows flashes of his usual military brilliance as he defends Okinawa from Japan’s fleet. Sarasa has her Byakko sword back, and she calls upon Tatara as she goes to defend President Asano. Things are more complex then they appear to be on the island nation, as the true nature between the breach between Unten and Asano is revealed. Sarasa is worried that Unten and Nakajin will end up killing each other. Shuri fights a piratical battle on the sea, with some surprise allies from the Japanese army and a fireworks display from the nearby foreign fleet.

Shuri’s quick thinking and tactical brilliance show that he’s just as inspiring a leader as Tatara. While Sarasa takes action based on her emotions, Shuri makes the educated bets of a high stakes gambler. The fate of Unten and Nakajin might foreshadow an ending for Sarasa and Shuri. Sarasa shares some heartfelt conversations with Unten, who challenges her about trusting her followers with her secret. A new chapter begins for Sarasa and Shuri. She leaves to go back to Japan, leaving Shuri to fume that he has no way to get in touch with her. The end of this volume concludes with new trust between Sarasa and her followers, and new dangers as she has to find out what happened to Hayato.

Thinking back about the series so far, it is really amazing how much Tamura has been able to pack into ten volumes. Shuri’s suffered what would be an enormous setback and is in the process of starting to put his empire back again. Despite Sarasa’s meandering journey, she’s put together a group of devoted followers and is beginning to grasp what becoming the leader of a rebellion really means beyond just following along with other people’s expectations of the “Boy of Destiny.” Sarasa and Shuri are apart but they both now have the support of new friends, and it is easy to understand and sympathize with the motivations from each side as they slowly move forwards to a place where they’ll have no choice but to confront each other as King and Rebel.

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