Saturday 10 May 2014

News roundup: A little news and a lot of Sengoku Basara: Judge End speculation

Today's roundup is a few very short updates and then a lot of overexcited speculation about the new anime adaptation.

Artwork revealed for the new Sengoku Basara Complete Box packaging

One of the exclusive bonus features of the upcoming Blu-ray box set is a three-sided artbox illustrated by Ookubo Tooru (the anime's character designer). The preview pictures have now been released and it's rather attractive.

This rerelease is also being promoted with limited cinema screenings in Japan for fans who want to watch Sengoku Basara -The Last Party- on the big screen one last time.

Pianists can now learn to play music from Sengoku Basara and other Capcom games

Yasashii Piano Solo: Capcom Game Collection ~30th Anniversary~ is a 72-page book that will be released in Japan on 30th May 2014 for ¥2,000. It's a collection of music from classic Capcom games arranged as gentle piano solo pieces. The tracks that were chosen to represent Sengoku Basara were the series' self-titled theme song and Under Pressure.

Stage actress and singer AKIRA will be performing the new Kuroshitsuji ending song

While this has nothing to do with Sengoku Basara directly, I want to note that the upcoming Kuroshitsuji: Book Of Circus (Black Butler: Book Of Circus) anime is going to have an ending theme performed by AKIRA of DISACODE. Fans of the Butai Sengoku Basara series might recognise AKIRA as the actress behind the beautiful stage play version of Uesugi Kenshin.

She's great in her role as Kenshin; I'm pleased to see her career going so well!

Sengoku Basara: Judge End is now also known as Sengoku Basara -Judgement-

Thanks to NTV's English-language website we now know that Sengoku Basara: Judge End is planned as a 12-episode television series. It also has a new official English title: Sengoku Basara -Judgement-. This slight change will be quite confusing, especially since the abbreviated name used in Japan is still Sengoku Basara JE. I'll try to remember to be consistent about how I refer to the show in future.

I thought it might be fun to speculate about the content of the new anime and clear up some questions people have been asking at the same time. Here's an impromptu one-person Sengoku Basara: Judge End Q&A session...

Q. I watched the previous Sengoku Basara anime. How does this fit in?

It doesn't. It's already been made clear that Sengoku Basara: Judge End will ignore the existing anime timeline. The previous anime adaptation had a completely different continuity to the games outside of a few key events and it was impossible to combine the two without creating contradictions in the story. This new series is going to cover the events from one of the games, so there's no way that it will make sense if you see it as a sequel to the previous anime. It's best to think of Sengoku Basara: Judge End as a separate story set in a different universe.

Q. Do I need to play Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes (Sengoku Basara 3) before watching?

I don't think that will be necessary. The official site summarises the story in a simple way and the staff have gone on record to say that the new series can be enjoyed by newcomers and existing fans alike.

Everyone should play the game anyway, though, because it's great!

Q. Which characters are likely to return from the previous anime series?

We already know that Date Masamune, Sanada Yukimura, Tokugawa Ieyasu and Ishida Mitsunari will return. I think it's very likely that each of these heroes will have their closest followers at their side, so it seems reasonable to expect that Katakura Kojuurou, Sarutobi Sasuke, Honda Tadakatsu and Ootani Yoshitsugu will appear as well.

Takeda Shingen will probably have a very limited role since the prerelease information has confirmed he'll be gravely ill with Yukimura taking over as the commander of the Takeda forces, meaning that Uesugi Kenshin is likely to be less significant as well. That wouldn't normally bode well for Kasuga except that she's both popular and recognisable thanks to the earlier series - so I think there's a chance she'll be given an upgraded role to compensate for the large number of male characters.

Maeda Keiji (and by extension, Maeda Toshiie and Matsu) could have an important role to play. Mogami Yoshiaki has strong connections to Masamune and a personality which constantly generates drama, making him a good candidate for inclusion, and his story in the game crosses over with Keiji's nicely.

Although Chousokabe Motochika and Mouri Motonari haven't always been treated well in previous spin-offs I think they're almost guaranteed to be relevant this time. Motochika's main story in the game complements Ieyasu's - something he sorely needs when his only retainer can't talk back to him. Motonari's inclusion is probably tied to Motochika's but he'd be a good choice too, helping to develop Yoshitsugu (and by extension, Mitsunari).

I think that Houjou Ujimasa and Shimazu Yoshihiro will have some kind of small role. As will Fuuma Kotarou, though it remains to be seen who he'll be working for...

Several characters are officially dead in Sengoku Basara 3 and unlikely to appear outside of flashback scenes: Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Takenaka Hanbee, Azai Nagamasa, Nouhime, Mori Ranmaru, Honganji Kennyo and Imagawa Yoshimoto. I think it's virtually guaranteed that there will be some flashbacks showing most of them at some point. Xavi, Itsuki and Miyamoto Musashi will probably be skipped as they're not directly relevant this time and don't have a huge number of fans.

As for potential villains, the staff could go with a number of different approaches. They could stick with the conflict between the four leads and end with the country divided in two for the Battle of Sekigahara, or they could use the remnants of the Oda faction seen in Sengoku Basara 3 to unite the heroes against a common enemy - either would fit in with the original game. If they decide to do the latter we could expect to see Oichi, Tenkai and a revived Oda Nobunaga playing important roles.

Kobayakawa Hideaki is so important to the story about the Battle of Sekigahara that I can't see him being cut from the roster. This would require Tenkai's presence and add some weight to the Oda faction theory. What might be great is if these twelve episodes concentrate on assembling the two armies ready for Sekigahara while slowly building up the suspense about Tenkai's objectives in the background in preparation for a possible sequel. A little like a slower-paced The Last Party with substantially more story development in place of the ridiculousness.

Moving on, there's a third obvious possibility; that the writers could incorporate Matsunaga Hisahide as a sneaky antagonist the way he was in the Sengoku Basara 3 Utage expansion. Or they might prefer to save his villainy for a sequel to avoid overcomplicating the main storyline.

Q. Which other characters from the games can we expect to see?

The other characters who debuted in Sengoku Basara 3 are strong candidates this time. Saika Magoichi, Tsuruhime and Kuroda Kanbee can all help fill out the roster; the fact that the first two are female and Kanbee is currently a big name in Japan thanks to the recent Gunshi Kanbee drama improves their chances further.

I'm looking forward to the Xavists making their first (proper) appearance in the anime via Ootomo Sourin and Tachibana Muneshige. It's possible that the staff will be cruel and save them for a bonus episode instead of adding too much comic relief to the main series - but they have to appear somewhere. Please, Capcom!

I suppose the only other characters in question are the five 'area warlords'. Since none of them have proper designs or backstories they're the most likely to be skipped entirely, just as they were in Sengoku Basara 4. Small roles as minor enemy commanders (as in The Last Party) could work.

Well, either way, a cameo from the invincible Naoe Kanetsugu would be appreciated.

Q. Will the characters from the new Sengoku Basara 4 game be in the new anime?

None of them were involved in the story of Sengoku Basara 3, so probably not.

However, several of them could easily be inserted into background roles without disrupting the main plot since they're attached to forces which appear in the game already. It wouldn't be the first time it's happened.

I think it would be cute to see Shikanosuke reacting to a scene where someone defeats Amago Haruhisa, or Katsuie in the background of a flashback to the days of the Oda army.

Q. Will the new anime include any original characters of its own?

It's very likely. They've added new characters in various spin-offs like the Takarazuka Revue musical, manga adaptations, live action stage plays and the previous anime. Original spin-off characters tend to be given minor roles to help develop the main cast.

On the other hand, there are so many characters in the series at this point that spending time developing throwaway side characters instead of including more of the original cast could be an unpopular decision. It's not unreasonable for people to be disappointed if an original character takes up too much time when the series is just 12 episodes long.

Q. What if they replace the voice cast for the new anime, since it's a different studio?

Doubtful. The Sengoku Basara series involves some of the most popular seiyuu in the anime industry and they tend to be very involved in promoting the series across radio shows, live events and audio dramas. Unless it was completely unavoidable, nobody from the much-loved original cast is likely to be replaced for this adaptation.

Q. What will happen with the series in English-speaking regions?

I'd guess that we'll see the series licensed by FUNimation in the US and streamed in the US (via FUNimation) and Australia (via Madman). FUNimation have gone on record to say that the previous anime sold acceptably so I imagine they will try to acquire and dub this series too in order to build on the brand and cross-promote their older releases. The fact that it ties in with the relatively familiar Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes (Sengoku Basara 3) will also help its viability in the west.

With regards to the UK, I have a bad feeling that Manga UK will license it but there'll be no simulcast because they don't have a simulcast system set up. Manga UK have a mixed history with the series; they've admitted that it sold poorly and the second season was DVD-only with half the extras missing.

I hope that I'm wrong and Crunchyroll can stream Sengoku Basara: Judge End to as many countries as possible.


  1. Especially hoping for
    Some fabulous Yoshiaki scenes
    Badass Magoichi scenes (with different staff, better writing for the female characters I hope)
    Tsuruhime being funny and not entirely incompentent
    Yup, Xaviists even if it's just 5 minutes (omg what if Mori turns into Sunday Mori)
    Kingo action scenes lol
    and Kanbei too obviously

    Bye I need to stop hyping myself for this

    1. I agree with every suggestion in your list. Are the anime-only fans ready for the glory of Sunday Mouri? I think they are.

      (They can save it for a special Blu-ray thirteenth episode I suppose, if it won't fit with the tone of the main series.)

  2. "Sengoku Basara JE"

    God help me but I can't help parsing "JE" as "Johnny's Entertainment"... (and this makes me want a Sengoku Basara idol band spinoff)

    About the story I think I'll be happy as long as Yukimura gets a good story and decent amount of screentime, and Keiji isn't sidelined. If Kasuga gets only a tiny role (I wouldn't be happy about that, I like her too much), I hope they bring in Magoichi to compensate.

    1. I would definitely pay to see a 'JE'-style spin-off series, even if many of the hardcore gamers would freak out :D

      Should they all be in one big group trying to work together (a la THE iDOLM@STER anime) or split into rival groups depending on their allegiances in the series? It would also finally mean we could have some character songs!

      Ahem...anyway, we definitely need some girls in the regular cast to balance out the hot-bloodedness, so I have my fingers crossed for Kasuga and Magoichi.

    2. Definitely rival groups! :D You have the Date, a old family business headed by Yoshiaki, with Masamune as the current No.1 idol who's trying to wrestle power from Yoshiaki so he can start a rock band, and Kojuurou the manager, who actually runs the agency as Yoshiaki and Masamune are too preoccupied with fighting each other. There's the rival Takeda with Takeda "The Tiger" Shingen as the boss (himself a former star tokusatsu actor), Yukimura as the up-and-coming star who is threatening Masamune's position, and Sasuke the beleagured manager (he and Kojuurou visit the same bar and often end up commiserating). The Uesugi agency has Kenshin (boss and veteran star, look for him in high-profile movies and beauty product commercials, releases an album whenever he feels like it) and Keiji, star of comedy shows. The peace is threatened by the Toyotomi Group originally founded by Hideyoshi who really wanted to be an idol but couldn't, now taken over by Mitsunari, one of Hideyoshi's two fans (the other is Hanbee) who has sworn to avenge the fall of his idol and bring glory to the agency's name. In the meanwhile, at Tokugawa Entertainment, Ieyasu is trying to organize a huge event where they would all perform as one group...

      ...okay, I think I'll shut up... :D

    3. That response was the best thing I've ever read on a morning train ride.


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