Hello everybody and welcome back to another session of the Sengoku Compare. As opposed to Samurai Warriors who only had Sanada Yukimura as the constant mascot or main character, Sengoku Basara actually has ONE more poster boy and mascot character, this being the Warlord of Oshu, the One-Eyed Dragon Date Masamune. Therefore, let’s dig in to how the two compares.
Brief History Bio
Date Masamune is the son of the Date clan daimyo Date Terumune. During childhood, he had… a smallpox that costed him his right eye, and made some people in his clan, like his mother, actually doubt his rights to rule. Regardless, his father instated him as the successor anyway, and he proves that he’s different compared to his more passive father: He’s more aggressive, conquering neighboring clans in a quick time, until one of them, the Hatakeyama, decided to take his father hostage out of retaliation. But his father ordered him to fire anyway, and Masamune complied and delivered bloody retribution on the Hatakeyama, just so they know that you don’t fuck with Masamune. Unfortunately when he succeeded pacifying the north, Toyotomi Hideyoshi has pacified the other majority of Japan, so with the advices of his vassals, Masamune submitted to Hideyoshi. He later allied with Tokugawa Ieyasu and became his ally during the battle of Sekigahara.
Boy do I have a history with this one. Masamune has been in the first Samurai Warriors game, but his design is wildly different than before: He was seen as a short little brat with dual wooden swords, and his story was a wild one out there, he just interrupts battle here and there just to prove his clan’s strength and unify the land while he’s at it. It’s not until the second game that he’s made to grow up and wields his sabre-pistol combination.
Let’s just say that personality-wise, Masamune might leave less than desired. For one thing, he’s a condescending asshole that belittles anyone that comes across him. This is probably the effect of being the sole representative of Date for three games, until the fourth game added in Katakura Kojuuro, so most of the time, his only ‘aide’ are just those who are wandering mercenaries by nature, such as Saika Magoichi or Maeda Keiji. The silver lining in this is that even if he’s a condescending asshole, Masamune actually does desire peace for the land, no matter the cost, and due to his pride as the One-Eyed Dragon, he had to make sure that he’s the one to do it. That was at least in the first two games, in the third game he kind of mellowed out and let Tokugawa Ieyasu take the glory, so long as the Date is well protected. So in the end, he’s a condescending asshole, but still a man who’s committed for the welfare of his clan. His relations with Kojuuro further humanizes him more with how much he valued Kojuuro.
I’m guessing that one can say that since the word ‘Date’ nowadays means ‘flashy’, it refers to how Masamune is a rather flashy person who likes to look standing out compared to the rest. In addition of his condescending attitude, you’ll see that his interest on Western culture shows, starting from his armor that has Western elements in it (including his trademark crescent helmet), to his weapon of choice, being guns and a western sabre. Also did I mention that the word ‘Date’ that is known as ‘flashy’ originated from this very Date Masamune himself?
Unfortunately, there was a time where Warriors Orochi happened. I do not know if it’s because Masamune being the sole representative of Date at the time, or because Koei wanted to compete with Capcom and this is their way… but Koei saw it fit to make Masamune buddy-buddy with the big bad of the series, Orochi. Sure, Koei can give all the reasons they want on him, say that Orochi’s overwhelming power can bring peace to the warring states, or that he switches sides when in 3 the destructive power of Orochi went wild so this is not the buddy he knew of, but the sight of Masamune going against humanity and belittling them kind of gives vibes he’s a snake worshipper that hates mankind and… well, personally, that WAS a big minus point to me about this rendition. I got better, a bit, but I guess the damage has been done.
OK, HERE WE GO. As one of the main poster boys of Sengoku Basara, Masamune gets A LOT of privileges. Lots of screentime compared to his Musou counterpart and a much more over the top presentation. Let’s start with the fact that he spews Engrish like no tomorrow. Say it with me, guys… ARE YOU READY, GUYS??? PUT YA GUNZ ON!! This is, without a doubt, one of the better way to set the setting that you’re not in a normal Sengoku Period setting, you’re in for one crazy wild ride. In addition, Masamune here likes to pretend that his horse is a motorbike. He put exhaust pipes on his horse, and he just crosses his hand as he rides his horse like a frickin’ badass that doesn’t give any shit come what may. This also speaks of one of his personalities: His extreme confidence.
In most stages featuring Masamune, he might look like he’s a running coward, as it will involve a horse race so you have to pursue him. Truth is, Masamune CAN fight, but he prefers having fun while battling. And since horse racing is one of his favorite past times… Another thing worth mentioning is that the Date army in this game, including Masamune himself, are roughly based on the Japanese gangster/delinquents or Bosozoku. This is why most Date grunts you face tends to have a rowdy style, and even this translates to his only aide and best partner, Katakura Kojuuro. He looks calm, but he can flip into a brutal gangster beatdown style in seconds. Regardless of that, his loyalty with Masamune is absolute, and Masamune returned that in kind.
Because apparently a single sword isn’t cool enough for Masamune, even if he normally attacks with just one, he keeps in store around five more swords, which he can use to attack like wielding claws like Wolverine. In addition, his aggressiveness while keeping some of his cool in check translates well into how he uses lightning. It is probably worth noting, but if many players mistook Masamune as Dante from Devil May Cry… they might be not too far from the truth, Masamune adopts a lot of Dante’s mannerisms, and in the localized third game, they event went on to bring in Dante’s voice actor, Reuben Langdon, as his voice. What a great moment to be someone who appreciates English dub and liked Devil May Cry! But similar mannerism aside, somehow Masamune still avoids being a complete copycat character for Dante.
Which brings us the same problem he had with Yukimura. Masamune historically had very little to do with Yukimura, but as far as this game is concerned, they’re like destined rivals since birth, and most portrayals will usually end with the two of them about to pick a fight together because they like how each other fights. You can just FEEL that they have some unresolved LGBT issues they had to settle… It’s not a bad thing, but… I’d actually like to see more about him which is outside “C’mon, LET’S PARTY, Sanada Yukimura!”
So like I said, awesomeness is a great thing. But in the case of Masamune, it was actually his awesomeness that shines through. He shows more about his ‘abrasive yet good hearted’ fellow, like a lot of honorable biker gang leaders we’ve seen in some Japanese media. It actually works. It also helps that it was at this time that consistency of characterization actually helped out. In Musou, Masamune eventually develops for good, but it’s like Koei couldn’t decide what’s gonna be his personality. He’s a complete brat in 1, a backstabbing asshole in 2, mellows down a little in 3, and is more concerned about his clan in 4. A good move, but for the love of Amaterasu, make up your mind, Musou-Masamune!
And I haven’t included all those times he looked like anti-human and pro-snake worshipper in times of Warriors Orochi. God, I just… I couldn’t believe that. The smugness is taken to unbearable ways, I cannot even believe he could be even called Date Masamune, the proud dragon that takes no shit from anyone. Of course, it subdued by the time WO3 rolled in and I could accept it better that he ended up joining the humans team because it’s not the Orochi he befriended, just his destructive power, and Orochi himself has had his ‘good side’ transferred to Shuten Doji and… well, long story. But by then, the damage has been done. At this point, Basara Masamune has been quite ahead in the race.
I believe that being a main character actually helps out Masamune in Basara, this means he gets a lot more time to show things about himself, including his hidden tender side beneath his rowdy attitude. This is why it doesn’t matter if he only has Kojuro as his aide (Musou-Masamune has his Kojuro too, but he also interacted with others like Magoichi and Keiji, but just as mercs), or how much he spends a lot of his time just pursuing whoever is his rival at the time, either Yukimura or Ishida Mitsunari, if he’s not setting to conquer the land, Basara-Masamune has plenty of time to show that he’s more than just this badass dude.
Not to mention, if you’re talking about gimmick… well, calling others ‘imbecile’ seems to lose out to epic Engrish a lot of times, or motorbike horse. Plus, Basara!Masamune has my favorite color. Blue. Yes, it might not matter to the actual stuffs, but for someone like me, it’s good enough as a leverage point!
That said, it’s already clear that at this point, Basara’s version of Masamune takes the point.
Samurai Warriors – 1
Sengoku Basara – 1
Tune in next time for the next person, whoever it is!