Saturday, 12 July 2014

Anime review: Sengoku Basara Judge End episode 2

It's Saturday again and that means it's time for me to continue trying to review Sengoku Basara: Judge End episode-by-episode! I've tried to include as much information as possible to help new viewers who might be searching for explanations about the series.

The anime's availability outside Japan should be improving very soon. I'm expecting to hear something about the foreign simulcasts in the next couple of hours at the latest since that's when FUNimation said they'd be broadcasting.

How to watch

These are the official ways to watch Sengoku Basara: Judge End at the moment:

Television (Japan only)
The initial television broadcast on NTV is at 01:50 every Sunday morning (except this one will be shown at 02:30). The YTV and BS Nittere broadcasts are shown a week late.

NTV On Demand (Japan only)
This is a premium service. Fans can pay ¥900 to watch the whole series or ¥300 to see an individual episode. The first episode is free and the previous week's episode is shown for free on Fridays and Saturdays. The series airs slightly earlier than the television broadcast at 24:00 local time.

Hulu (Japan only)
Fans who pay Hulu's ¥933 monthly fee can watch the episodes slightly ahead of the broadcast time.

The following Japanese streaming services will also be streaming Judge End; if you can't wait then it might be worth checking them to see whether any work in your region. I imagine they'll make the episodes available shortly after the television broadcast and some will be showing it for free.

AcTVila, Bandai Channel, Best Hit Anime Douga, d Anime StoreDMM.com, Google Play, GyaO Store, Happy Douga Anime, Hikari TV, JCOM On Demand, Movie Full+, Nico Nico Official Channel, Rakuten Showtime, Tsutaya TV, TV Dogatch, U-NEXT, Video Market

FUNimation (US only)
The episodes will be streamed weekly on Saturdays at 12:05 CST with English subtitles. FUNimation also have the home video rights, so if the stream is popular the series should eventually be dubbed into English.

Anime Digital Network (France only)
ADN will be offering the series online with French subtitles. They charge a monthly fee for the service.

J-ONE (France only)
A French-subtitled broadcast will take place on J-ONE - Canalsat (50) and Numericable (38).

Viewster (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway only)
The episodes will be 'day and date with Japan' so I'm guessing they'll appear every Saturday afternoon once the service has been set up. Viewster is a free ad-supported service.

Like many fans around the world I live in a country which has been excluded from the licensed simulcasts so far (thanks, anime industry!). In spite of this treatment I feel very strongly about supporting the official western version when it's available rather than resorting to piracy. The Japanese distributors will use the official viewing figures to see how successful the show has been while the US anime distributors like FUNimation use them to decide whether to give new titles home video releases, whether to dub them and whether to go the extra mile and produce a high quality premium release. If we want Sengoku Basara Judge End to receive a decent western release and raise awareness of the series, we need to make sure people are watching the official streams if possible. Please get your friends to watch it too if you can so that the industry can see that there's an audience out there. It might help to visit the official streaming sites and leave supportive comments there too, even if you live in a country where the video itself is blocked and you had to watch it some other way.

I'd rather not say how I'm watching the Japanese streams but it's not that difficult to find a method with some searching.

Important reminder

Sengoku Basara: Judge End is not a continuation of the previous anime adaptation. It's a brand new story and none of the events in Production I.G.'s version of Sengoku Basara have taken place in its timeline. Please don't get confused trying to match the old story to the new one; this anime is a complete reboot of the entire Sengoku Basara scenario. The story takes place after the fall of Oda Nobunaga.

Summary

The rest of this post contains spoilers for the first two episodes of Sengoku Basara Judge End and some low quality screenshots. Please note that I'm watching the show in Japanese and using my preferred spellings for character names; they won't necessary match the localised spellings if you're watching one of the subtitled versions!

The story so far

Prior to the events in Judge End, the warlord Oda Nobunaga was betrayed and killed at Honnouji by his retainer Akechi Mitsuhide. Mitsuhide was then defeated by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who went on to lead his powerful army across the land.

In the first episode of the series we saw the Toyotomi army launching a major attack on Odawara Castle, home to the Houjou clan. The Date army tried to interfere with the battle and were brutally defeated by Ishida Mitsunari, a loyal warrior renowned as the 'Toyotomi's Left Arm'.

In spite of their overwhelming strength, the Toyotomi attack was cut short when Tokugawa Ieyasu rebelled against Hideyoshi's methods and killed him in combat. Hideyoshi's loyal strategist Takenaka Hanbee died at Odawara too, leaving Mitsunari behind to curse Ieyasu's name and swear revenge against his former ally.

Meanwhile, other warriors such as the veteran Takeda Shingen were monitoring the events unfolding at Odawara from the safety of their own territory. With the Toyotomi army losing its leader, it looked as though the whole country would be bathed in the fires of war once again.

Episode 2: Ranse ('Troubled Times')

After the usual introduction, the episode begins with a classic fight between Date Masamune and his eternal rival, Sanada Yukimura.


It turns out to be a flashback back to happier times; in reality, a defeated Date army is trudging solemnly back home to Oushuu. Masamune is slumped behind Kojuurou, wounded from his battle with Ishida Mitsunari in the previous episode. Suddenly, the Date forces are fired upon. It's going to be hard work for them to get back home in their current shape.


Back in Kai, Yukimura rushes to report the latest developments at Odawara to Takeda Shingen. Shingen seems unruffled and introduces Yukimura to one of his old friends, Shimazu Yoshihiro of Satsuma.


Yoshihiro has already heard about Yukimura, and as the younger man departs he notices that something seems to be wrong with Shingen.


Yukimura is completely oblivious to Shingen's situation and reflects on the news of Ieyasu's rebellion instead. Elsewhere, Mitsunari is taking the events which took place at Odawara Castle as badly as can be expected.


His friend Yoshitsugu approaches and calmly points out that Mitsunari is now the castle's lord, a fact that Mitsunari struggles to accept.


Wracked with grief and anger, Mitsunari thinks back to the past.


He can't understand how someone who betrayed his bond with Hideyoshi would dare talk about 'bonds' now.


Yoshitsugu looks on as Mitsunari falls further into darkness, driven by a mixture of sadness and hatred.


Over in Mitakagahara, Ieyasu rallies his men and decides to head for Takeda territory with the intention of forming a bond with Takeda Shingen. Rather than wanting to defeat him, Ieyasu wants to show Shingen the power of the bonds he believes in so deeply.


Sasuke is watching Yukimura training when the pair receive word that Ieyasu's army is at Mitakagahara. Shingen appears, already prepared for battle.


As all of this is happening, the Date army's retreat has been cut off by the Uesugi army headed by Kenshin himself.


There's a tense confrontation between Kenshin and Kojuurou which leads to an inevitable duel.


The Takeda forces come out to greet the Tokugawa troops. Yukimura and Sasuke make a lethal team on the battlefield, tearing through the enemy unstoppably. The background music for this scene was pretty good.


After Yukimura runs back to camp to check up on the situation, Sasuke suddenly finds himself face-to-face with the colossal Honda Tadakatsu. Fortunately for him, Yoshihiro is there to support the Takeda army; he's more than happy to charge in and take advantage of a rare opportunity to fight such a notorious opponent.


The fight between Kenshin and Kojuurou is one-sided right from the beginning - the 'God of War' has earned his reputation. I love how the staff incorporate so many recognisable special moves from the game series!


Thankfully, Kenshin is as honourable as he is skilled.


Sasuke wonders where Yukimura has disappeared to, eventually finding him in the main command area screaming Oyakata-sama's name over the prone body of Takeda Shingen, who has succumbed to illness.


Seeing that Yukimura is in no fit state to lead at that moment, Sasuke gives the signal for the Takeda army to retreat. Yoshihiro is very frustrated when Tadakatsu leaves too instead of finishing their battle.


Ieyasu and Tadatsugu observe the Takeda withdrawal and try to work out why Shingen would suddenly pull out from their battle.

With the main fights resolved, the scene shifts west to Shikoku. Chousokabe Motochika is horrified to find that his land was raided while he was out at sea.


One of the fallen men explain that it was a Tokugawa attack. Motochika notices his old friend Ieyasu's spear and flag nearby in the rubble, corroborating the soldier's story.


Motochika trusted Ieyasu; the two of them had been friends for some time. He's shocked at the idea that Ieyasu would betray him by attacking his territory behind his back.


At the same time, Mouri Motonari is secretly meeting with Ootani Yoshitsugu.


The two men discuss their plots with one another, neither giving much away.


Motonari, for his part, has only one objective.


As Ieyasu stands outside the Takeda camp, still wondering about the enemy's unexpected retreat, a dark shadow appears from behind.


Tenkai chuckles from where he's hiding nearby. He's finally found Oichi... Tenkai is accompanied by Hideaki (who is paying absolutely no attention to what his advisor is talking about).


The sound of Oichi's singing drifts across the battlefield. Ieyasu recognises her immediately, while Tadatsugu is surprised to see that Nobunaga's sister is still alive.


However, Oichi doesn't recognise them at all. She sees Ieyasu as a great brightness, like the sun.


But she also senses a great darkness coming from Mitsunari in the west. The two contrasting powers seem to be dividing the land in two (this is a clear visual reference to the upcoming Battle of Sekigahara).


As the Takeda army attempts to regroup back home, Kasuga reports Shingen's illness to his old rival, Kenshin.


Finally, the Date troops safely arrive home. When Masamune stirs enough to speak, the very first thing he says is Ishida Mitsunari's name.


There are now 85 days remaining until the Battle of Sekigahara.

As the ending song played once again, I felt chills at how exciting it is so see a Sengoku Basara anime with such an emotional plot (and so many characters!). I've seen scenes like this played out so many times in the various spin-offs yet it's still keeping me right on the edge of my seat!

The next episode will be titled Doumei ('Alliance').

Reminder: We should be getting the first episode of the new Hoshi Souichirou and Seki Tomokazu's 'Sengoku Basara: Judge End' Radio show starting from 24:30 tomorrow (Japan time).

13 comments:

  1. Ugh, the UK does no justice to anime fans ;____;

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    1. I really wish the US companies would open their streams up here instead of sublicensing to the UK companies, who don't seem to care. I'm pretty sure Animax UK has it and just hasn't said anything yet for some reason...

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  2. Gah, still nothing on Funi. :/ This is getting upsetting... At least we have confirmation someone even HAS the rights here, feel sorry for you guys in the UK.

    Can't really comment on the ep as I haven't seen it but it sounds amazing. ;_; Kenshin fighting Kojuuro, Yoshihiro fighting with Tadakatsu, Ichi showing up... Can't wait to see it.

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    1. I hope you can get to see it soon! Why is it just this series which is receiving such poor treatment? I'm going to keep sending them messages about it ヽ(;´д`)ノ

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  3. thank you very much for spoil! <3

    *wait episode 3* Battle of Sekigahara is interesting!

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  4. This series definitely needs a release in high quality. Some scenes are just plainly beautiful (Gyobu's visualization of Mitsunari getting hit by misfortuneteors, Ichi's vision at the end), but the QUALITY in others can turn away some.

    They didn't kill Shingen, I'm happy. I really am.

    Seeing that Nobunaga keeps getting mentioned at the episode start makes me suspicious about the 'totally different ending than Last Party guys' act. Also, they didn't mention Mitsuhide's death this time and Tenkai appeared, but we all now that's a simple ruse, since those two are totally different, right?
    That reminds me, I like that they are implementing Utage stuff (can't wait to see how they plan out Ueda and too bad we didn't get Ieyasu vs. Kojuro), but I hoped for a certain villain of the era to make a surprise, which might not happen with all the Maou foreshadowing. Then again...

    Poor Ryuu-no-Migime is getting destroyed on his walk of shame. That 'duel' with Kenshin was a lot different than anything else we've seen and will probably see; I for one liked that. The animation for his OHKO move was another of those 'that's pretty' scenes.

    Mitsunari's scene in Osaka was AMAZING. I really feel that I don't need to say anything else.

    Mikatagahara was... OK. (Wasn't it Komaki-Nagakute in SB3 though?) Digressing a little, I thought until that scene that they were making Ieyasu into a villain of the series, at least for a few episodes. Now I don't know what to think.
    Then there was Motochika's scene which for some reason wasn't as emotional as Mitsunari's and overally kinda meh. Though now we know what Ieyasu's done with his spear (because who else could've collected it from the rubble of Odawara, right?). Maybe though I feel that way because the previous animations never really expanded on their friendship as much as the games... But the anime-viewers are not only players, so this might be weird. I hope they'll do something about this hole in the characterization later.

    Desings: Ichi looks a lot better than before, Yoshihiro is different but still good, Kenshin's outfit I absolutely loathe (that collar, those shoulders reaching to the heavens ughh how could they change so little and mess up that much).

    Dragonglish of the day: none (aside from MAGNUM STEP at the beginning there was none afaik, which is probably the only episode with so little. A certain pontiff should make up for that...

    PS Tadatsugu still did nothing.

    PPS I admire you for managing to not give away any spoilers for the game. It's certainly hard for me, and I'm just commenting (btw, if you want the comments spoiler-free and I've done horribly at not writing any, feel free to delete this comment, I can always rephrase it).

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    1. Thank you again for all of the insight! It was a good read.

      I think Tadatsugu's main role at this point is to give Ieyasu someone to talk to who can answer back. I kinda like how Ieyasu always seems slightly crazy talking to Tadakatsu and only getting mechanical noises in response, but this way probably makes it easier on the scriptwriters now that he's a proper main character :D

      Still expecting the poor guy to die horribly at some point once Ieyasu has managed to successfully make a bond with someone (that doesn't go wrong)...

      I'm also glad my attempts to avoid game spoilers are appreciated. Feel free to write what you want in the comments though, I don't think there's anything bad in there and people can see the warning before clicking through and reading. Though if you put a big spoiler at the start so it appears in the sidebar I might edit and re-post ;)

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  5. This was a very enjoyable episode, both emotional and funny. (I can't take sad cute Yukimura seriously his voice is so funny!) I have faith in this adaption now.
    Animation sems to be a little bit better?

    I loved the part were ICHIIII <3 appeared! She looked beautiful. Production IG seemed to hate her, I expect these writers to do a better job.

    Now this just needs to be up soon on streaming sites so many people can watch it...

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    1. Yes, I was exhilarated already after the main part of the episode then Oichi popped up and it become even more exciting! She made a memorable entrance and, as you say, is looking stunning, so things are really getting interesting!

      I'm going to email every company which has announced a simulcast to see whether any of them will be able to explain what's going on with the delay...

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    2. I can't find a good way of contacting Viewster on their website. Maybe I should just send a ticket to support and tell them there is a problem with the site...serious lack of Basara, lol

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    3. Anyhow, they nicely told me they will put up ep. 1 and maybe 2 this week so that's a sign of life so to speak!

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    4. The Viewster Twitter account favourited my tweet about it too so it sounds as though they're interested in what we think. I hope we get some good news very soon!

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