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Basquash! Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read
It's a show I'd say stream a bit before taking the plunge unless you know it's for you.

The game that leads to a better life.

What They Say:
On the planet Earthdash, the infrastructure is crumbling and everyone wants to escape to the technologically advanced lunar city of Mooneyes. Unfortunately for young Dan, who dreams of taking his disabled sister to the moon for medical treatment for her paralyzed legs, only their societies’ most elite are allowed to leave the planet. Dan’s big chance comes when he crashes a game of Bigfoot Basketball, which is played with giant robots, and accidentally revolutionizes the sport.

Taking the game to new heights of mayhem and destruction, he gains fame but not fortune or a trip to the moon. Instead, he’ll have to fight his way to the top of a radically changed game while solving a mystery that could affect the future of the entire planet!

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track only in stereo using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show is one that handles the balance between action and dialogue well so that it moves between each without problems. The bigger moments don’t overwhelm as it is a stereo design but at the same time it comes across well with some good placement and movement across the forward soundstage. Dialogue is well-placed too with some good moments with a few characters on screen at a time, but mostly it sticks to the kind of default design that most shows follow. The music is what works things a bit more with a warmer and bigger feeling from time to time but even then the bulk of the incidental we get is fairly understated. The encoding brings it to life well as it’s one that comes across clean and clear and we get some decent moments of directionality and placement as needed to handle some of the character interactions. It’s a solidly put-together mix for what it needs to accomplish and it does it with ease.

Video:
Originally airing in 2009, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p. The twenty-six episodes are spread across three discs with a nine/nine/eight format. Animated by Satelight, the show has a very appealing look to it with bright colors and solid designs that don’t work heavy amounts of detail but avoids looking too simple. The backgrounds have some good details to them and there’s some very fluid animation in a number of scenes. The character designs come across well with the detail there and some of the more engaging action pieces have a neat fluidity to it and keeps the whole thing moving well without any problems to be had. The encoding here captures all of it well with a clean and crisp look that’s very appealing with what it does. It’s a show that works its color design very well so that it’s inviting and fun.

Packaging:
The packaging design for this release brings us one of the main key visuals for the show with the main cast of characters in their standard outfits which looks bright and busy. It’s set against a white backdrop to change it up from the original a bit but it helps to make it all feel fresh and new overall. It does make clear the basketball right from the start so there’s an easy draw and hook into the sports aspect of this without a lot of work. The back cover keeps to the lighter colors as with a mix of white and orange to it that draws on the grey from the background visual that it uses of the equipment space. There’s some nice detail to what we get here along with a small selection of shots from the show to check out that don’t do all that much. It highlights more its creative origins with folks having been involved with Macross and Nadesico more than anything else The premise is well covered with a summary that’s done with easy to read black text on the white background and the extras are clearly broken out as well. The production and technical grid capture all the details well and there are no show-related inserts nor a reversible cover to be had.

Menu:
The layout for this release is pretty standard stuff when you get down to it but it works well with some nice in-theme elements. The right side features a piece of character artwork with the vehicle material behind them, all set to some white and grey backdrops as the theme song plays alongside it. The navigation along the left breaks down the episodes by number and title, most of which are short, and does it with black and grey that gets highlighted in red and white. And it uses the basketball as the cursor icon. There is little in the way of submenus to be had here beyond the trailers and extras so it’s all straightforward and easy to use with no problems.

Extras:
The extras for this release include the clean opening and closings, which we certainly enjoy having, along with some of the original Japanese promos for the project.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Basquash is a series that landed in 2009 as an original production that ran consecutively with a spring and summer season arrival. It’s a project that I had no real memory of when it arrived at the time and never really bubbled up much over the years before it landed at Maiden Japan. Which is at least a little surprising considering its pedigree. It has Shoji Kawamori as the chief director with Shin Itagaki and Hidekazu Sato directing two large chunks of it and it was done in conjunction with Thomas Romain, the creator of Code Lyko. The series saw its scripts overseen by Tatsuo Sato, who has a strong filmography himself, and it had Satelight behind it. Yet with all those talents it wasn’t even below the radar, it felt like a series that never really got to take off at all in the fan memory space.

The original production takes us to an alternate timeline with Earth Dash in a far-flung future. We get the main division being between those on Earth and those on the lunar surface, making it clear you can see a kind of classism and elitism going on here. The focus is on the character of Dan, a young man who has some real skill at the game of BFB, aka Big Foot Basketball. Dan prefers regular basketball and has a hate for BFB because his younger sister Coco had her legs crushed by a Big Foot, the thing that’s used in this version of the game. She survived but is wheelchair bound now and the two have a really problematic relationship because of the accident, where he blames himself (and she does as well as a kind of front) and that distance has made it so that Dan is now trying to figure out how to really help her.

Even worse is that Dan tried his best to make the sport unpopular after what happened and took on the persona of Dunk Mask with his own Big Foot named Dangan. He intended to trash the whole thing but ended up making the thing even more popular. And in doing so ended up getting himself set up with a huge amount of debt and some jail time for it, even though it made him a legend. All of this, combined with a budding romance with a young woman named Rouge, has him realizing that the best way to make things right with his sister isn’t the destruction of the game itself but rather to use it to make the money he needs to get her to the moon for the surgery that can help her. It also just happens to work out that Rouge has left to go there along the way as well.

 

As an overarching idea, Basquash has a lot going on and it does manage it fairly cohesively because it roles it out in various arc-chunks. The first arc is seven episodes and deals with introducing Rolling Town and how Dan operates there as Dunk Mask and ends up laying a lot of the foundations for the show while introducing the core cast of characters. The second arc runs about eight episodes as the Road! Road! arc gets more formal movement in the matches and league play as Team Basquash move along when invited to a tournament in Turbine City. It’s an easy temptation tournament since it involves a passport to the lunar league as a prize. I loved and hated how this played out afterward as the Underground arc – just four episodes – gets us tantalizing close to the Moon but forces things to restart to a degree. Which lead us into the Legend League arc, which leads us into the final seven episodes of the series where everything goes way too big for my taste when it comes to the finale.

Basquash is that kind of series that’s loud and chaotic but has an infectious energy to it as it does a lot of crazy things. It works with a good core cast but expands outward regularly with tangents that are drawn on later, not always in interesting ways. There are moments in this where I see glimpses of others shows, such as Gurren Lagann in some of its design and style, but in the end I keep coming back to the same thing. This is a Satelight show and my goodness they are so hit or miss for me. I really love some of their visual standards in how they operate, especially with the CG such as with the Big Foot here and all, but I know it’s not everyone’s thing. And this is from 2009 so it’s certainly not their latest style either. But I liked their shows like Noein and Aquarion which predate this so I’m a bit biased in it. But the problem I almost always run into is that while they’re creative (if repetitive in some ways) with the visuals, the stories never feel like they’re as cohesive and as clear as they need to be. It’s not a visuals before anything else situation but rather an original creation where so much is in their heads that not enough make it into the story and exposition for it to feel truly together.

In Summary:
Basquash! is a series that flew under the radar at a time when how anime was coming out began to change and I think it just got lost along the way. It’s a project that has some interesting creative choices about it and some neat visuals that really stand out well, but it’s also a futuristic quasi-sports show that I’m not surprised had a hard time finding an audience even in Japan. I really like all the talent involved in this project and can see it as a passion project that just couldn’t catch on with a large enough audience. Some of it reminds me of the crazy video games I used to play in the 90s with the BFB itself while at other times it’s just a weird robot sports comedy. Other times it’s a deeply heartfelt show about wrongs trying to be righted. I do like that we get some pretty solidly defined arcs along the way and with two cour here it has more than enough room to explore its ideas and concepts. But it’s one that took me some time to get through as it never connected fully. Maiden Japan’s release is a solid package that encodes it well so that fans have a great looking high-definition presentation here and the ability to own it subtitled and legit. It’s a show I’d say stream a bit before taking the plunge unless you know it’s for you.

Features:
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Japanese Promos

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Maiden Japan
Release Date: June 18th, 2019
MSRP: $89.98
Running Time: 650 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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