In European bestiaries and legends, a basilisk is a legendary reptile, reputed to be the King of Serpents and said to have the power to cause death with a single glance. According to the Naturalis Historia of Pliny the Elder, the basilisk of Cyrene is a small snake, “being not more than twelve fingers in length,” that is so poisonous, it leaves a wide trail of deadly venom in its wake, and its gaze is likewise lethal.

Initially, you may not understand the reason for this title, but it will be made clear as the series goes on. This is also what I call AUHD (Alternate Universe Historical Drama). Very few of the shows based in the history ofJapanare ever historical or accurate. Most of them implant modern sensibilities on olden days, so you end up with shows like “Samurai Champloo”, “Gengoku Basara”, “Moeyo Ken” and “Oh!EdoRocket!” to name a few.

This doesn’t mean that the show is bad because it is not accurate, but, because we are in an alternative universe, we have hip-hop samurais or monsters freely walking the streets of Edoor a king whose horse looks like a motorcycle. It’s just a different take on things and “Basilisk” is another entry into this genre.

Shorthand says this is The Hatfields and McCoy Feud meets Romeo and Juliet. We are in the Azuchi-Momoyama period of Japan, and two rival ninja clans, the Kouga and the Iga have come to a cessation of hostilities after centuries of conflict (although there is still very bad blood between them). They forge a no hostilities pact that each grudgingly accepts, bound together by Tokugawa Ieyasu, who became the Shogun.Continue reading