Basara is a Japanese fantasy manga series written and illustrated by Yumi Tamura. The story takes place in a future Japan, reduced to a barren desert by a catastrophe at the end of the 21st century. The main character is Sarasa, a girl whose twin brother, Tatara, is prophesied to be the “child of destiny” who will bring back the country’s independence and stop the tyrannical rule of the Empire, namely the Red King. When Tatara is killed, Sarasa pretends to be him in order to keep the downtrodden from losing hope.
The manga was serialized in Shogakukan’s Bessatsu Shōjo Comic magazine from September 1990 to June 1998. Shogakukan collected the individual chapters into 27 bound volumes under the Flower Comics imprint from March 1991 to March 2000. The manga won the 38th Shogakukan Manga Award in the shōjo category in 1993. Viz Media licensed the manga for an English-language release in North America; they published 27 volumes from August 2003 to May 2008.
Basara was adapted into a 13-episode anime television series titled Legend of Basara, which aired in Japan from April to June 1998. It was produced by KSS and directed by Noburu Takamoto.
The manga was also adapted into several stage plays in Japan, the first of which premiered in 2012. A filmed performance was released on DVD in July 2013. The second stage play was performed at Theater 1010 in Tokyo from January 9 to January 14, 2014. The third stage play was performed at Kinokuniya Hall in Tokyo from January 25 to January 28, 2019.
- The protagonist, a 15-year-old girl who takes the name of her murdered twin brother Tatara, who was known as the child of fate. As Tatara, she wields the sword of Byakko and leads the survivors of Byakko Village. Even among her allies few people know she is a girl.
- Sarasa hopes to create a land that is fertile, full of flora, and free of strife. Though she is quick to cry and psychologically weak in some respects, over the course of the story she develops undeniable skills in leadership and swordplay, and becomes the central figure of the Tatara Army.
- Byakko sword: One of the four swords descended from the Basarano rebels. It was Genshou, Tatara’s and Sarasa’s great-grandfather’s, weapon.
- The name Sarasa refers to calico cloth.
- Sarasa’s pet owl, the runt of his hatching. Sarasa is unwilling to let the other chicks crowd him out, and decides to take care of him.
- The Red King, Shuri
- The 17-year-old youngest son of the Emperor, he rules over Saikoku (western Japan) which includes Chugoku, Shikoku and Kyūshū. In the early parts of the story Shuri stands out as brutally cruel to those who do not obey him, because he is responsible for the destruction of Byakko Village and the murder of Tatara. Later he meets Sarasa, unaware that they are enemies, and falls in love with her.
- Though he is merciless to his enemies, Shuri is a capable ruler and very proud of his realm. He is big-hearted, with a free-spirited personality and is generally quite personable, though he tends to be overly competitive. Shuri is an expert swordsman.
A 13-episode anime adaptation, titled Legend of Basara, aired in Japan from April 2 to June 8, 1998. It was produced by KSS and directed by Norihiro Takamoto. While generally very faithful to the manga, some material from further into the story was cut, such as Senju’s assassination attempt and the Suzuno Murder Race episode. The anime roughly covers volumes 1–5 of the manga. The anime was released on home video in Japan, first on VHS and later on DVD. The opening theme is “Endless Loop” by Rouage.