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 Store, DMM.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.
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.
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).