Hello and welcome to the first installment of the Sengoku Compare section. For now let’s just take Japan’s favorite figure… yeah, seriously, EVERYONE is competing to make dramaticized stories about this guy. This is Sanada Yukimura.
Brief History Bio
Sanada Yukimura was one of the generals in the Sengoku Period born under his father, Sanada Masayuki, who used to be one of the generals of Takeda Shingen. After Shingen’s passing and the Takeda’s collapse, Masayuki stood in the land under his own family banner, with his sons, Nobuyuki and Yukimura (actually named Nobushige, he just adopted the name Yukimura later). He took the side of the Western Army during Sekigahara, opposing Tokugawa Ieyasu, and alongside with his father, stalled his forces led by his son Tokugawa Hidetada and Ueda Castle. But the Western Army lost and Yukimura was punished with exile, resurfacing only at the Osaka Campaign for one final battle against Ieyasu, and was close to finishing him off single-handedly before finally perishing in one final stand there.
Most medias just LOVE giving a romanticized presentation of Yukimura, and Koei definitely is one of the more premiere one. Yukimura is passionate and hot blooded here, but he is also more down to earth here. His sense of honor is clearly more shown as he’s more portrayed as a ‘traditional hero’, in as much as the setting allows. Clearly he’s NOT your typical Superman-style idealistic superhero, but he’s as courageous and loyal as you get and will make sure he gets to see his mission to the end, regardless how bitter it is. That determination deserves a medal.
Two things I gotta say about this Yukimura is that he took those things in a more down to earth manner, he never really goes over the top in what he does (you’ll see later), which is within the boundaries of Koei style. The second is that with this down to earth portrayal, his qualities as a Tragic Hero shines a lot brighter. Let’s just face it, Yukimura didn’t exactly have the best ending. He’s doomed to die in one final charge against the Tokugawa based on one thing: His warrior spirit. The same thing that makes him such a courageous man, a star in the battlefield… it just happens that he can’t let that go. War’s over after Sekigahara, it’s time to put down your weapon and live for the future in peace… Yukimura will have none of that crap, as a warrior, the best place to die is in the battlefield.
Alas, poor Yukimura. If only he got a clue about the values of living in peace as a non-warrior, he could have gotten a good life ahead. But then, without it, he might never get his great fame.
Okay! After that much talk about the more down to earth version of Yukimura, let’s talk about the more over the top Basara version. I’m not kidding about saying over the top. Like the Musou version, Yukimura’s weapon of choice is the Jumonji-Yari. But rather than wielding one, Yukimura here wields two of them, and has no problem spinning one with just one hand. Deal with it, it’s the Basara rule, you gotta be as awesome as possible.
While Yukimura is well known about his honor, in Basara, that actually takes a backseat compared to this one gimmick of his personality that Yukimura clearly shows greatly: His Hot Bloodedness. It’s not just his soul that burns, his weapon burns as well, he’s way louder than any average person, screaming loudly on every attacks, and… he’s also quite naive, requiring Takeda Shingen to punch some sense on him when he’s not using his brain that much. Yes, you can say that with his naivete comes a bit of idiocy. Even his ninja retainer Sarutobi Sasuke look like an older caretaker when compared to other Sasuke portrayals, including the Musou one when Sasuke is usually the younger one! Of course, they got someone like Hoshi Soichiro to mainly voice him, and he’s known for his more youthful voice.
So you might be surprised that Yukimura was supposed to be a tragic hero when you just see it via the Basara angle, it’s clearly not showing. In fact, he never really dies in any events of Osaka, except maybe at Yukimura-den, but that’s just one compared to the many versions that Capcom has produced. In fact, for the most part, his Basara version’s story can be summed up with “I met Date Masamune in battle, I’m impressed with how he fights, I wanna fight him more!”, like they’re just using the rest as a cover for their inner LGBT desires. But then, Capcom did a really good job in showing his extreme hot blooded attitude, so I guess that balances out a little.
Obviously Capcom puts little priority in historical accuracy, so their Yukimura went REALLY over the top and focusing his burning warrior spirit. However, it came with a cost: It makes his interaction with others, excepting a few, more superficial and there’s only a few characters that he interacts with meaningfully, mainly Masamune, followed by Shingen and then Sasuke. Probably his family as well, but I’m not sure how Yukimura-den took it, since I never played that game. On the other hand, in the Musou series, Yukimura’s more down to earth approach allows for a more meaningful interaction with others, for instance, it makes his allegiance with Ishida Mitsunari making more sense than just shoved in because there has to be a Sekigahara, in here, they nurture their friendship together. It also shows their family dynamic with Nobuyuki and his sister in law Inahime. Everything just comes together more naturally on Musou Yukimura, and he has a lot more people to interact with to show his human side more, not to mention, his range of friendship extends beyond Takeda and Sanada.
Also… well this is probably personal bias, but I came to appreciate a tragedy when done right. And Musou Yukimura is one of those. If he’s meant to be this courageous tragic hero like how history and folk tales did, then Koei did a good job on portraying it. While Basara Yukimura is entertaining in his own way with his extreme hot-bloodedness, it just doesn’t feel quite Yukimura enough without his more obvious tragic qualities. To me, at least.
And that’s why with that said… For this one, my preference vote goes to the Musou version of Yukimura.
Samurai Warriors – 1
Sengoku Basara – 0
Tune in next time for the next guy, whoever it is!