Saturday, 19 July 2014

Anime review: Sengoku Basara Judge End episode 3

I've just finished watching the third episode of Sengoku Basara: Judge End so it's time for another summary! I've tried to include as much information as possible to help new viewers who might be searching for explanations about the series.

There still seems to be some kind of problem with the official simulcast arrangements outside Japan. Viewster managed to get the first episode online this week, but everyone else is still waiting for their local distributors to fulfil their promises three weeks into the series' run. Let's hope things finally improve in the next couple of days.

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, though today's episode is scheduled for 02:50 instead. 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 are offering the series online with French subtitles. So far, only the first episode is available. 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. So far, one episode is online with English subtitles. 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 three 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 subsequently 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 'Toyotomi's Left Arm'.

Despite 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.

In the aftermath of the battle the defeated Date army returned to its territory of Oushuu, being spared by the 'God of War' Uesugi Kenshin along the way. Over in Kai, Shimazu Yoshihiro joined forces with the Takeda army to fend off a show of strength by Ieyasu; however, the fighting ended in tragedy when Takeda Shingen suddenly collapsed in his camp. As the Takeda forces withdrew, the bewildered Tokugawa troops were attacked by someone long presumed dead: Oda Nobunaga's sister, Oichi.

Elsewhere, Chousokabe Motochika was horrified to discover that his land had been attacked by his old friend, Ieyasu, while he was out at sea. Motochika was overwhelmed with fury at the betrayal as he saw Ieyasu's flag and spear amongst the debris.

With the leadership of the Toyotomi army having been passed down to Mitsunari, it looked as though the whole country would be bathed in the fires of war once again. How many more people will end up being pulled into the growing conflict between Ieyasu and Mitsunari?

Episode 3: Doumei ('Alliance')

The episode begins with Ieyasu addressing his soldiers, telling them about his firm belief in the power of bonds. When Tadatsugu approaches him to voice his concern, Ieyasu says there's nothing to worry about - he has Tadakatsu by his side, after all. It's plain that Ieyasu has some concerns of his own deep down, but he's committed to the path he's chosen.


After a sombre scene with Sasuke trying to help Yukimura pull himself together at Shingen's bedside, the focus shifts to Osaka Castle. Yoshitsugu interrupts Mitsunari's quiet contemplation to bring him some important news.


It seems that Ieyasu is heading to the Saika village to make an alliance with the Saika faction, a powerful group of mercenaries. Since they had previously made a contract with Hideyoshi and fought on his side during the battle at Odawara Castle, Mitsunari believes that the Saika faction should continue to remain loyal to the Toyotomi forces. He proclaims that he won't forgive the Saika if they ally themselves with Ieyasu.


Ieyasu is already at the Saika village explaining his situation to Saika Magoichi, leader of the mercenary group. In spite of her lack of enthusiasm for his plan, he leaves with a smile and hopes she'll come around later on.


At that moment, Chousokabe Motochika is also heading to the Saika village to speak with Magoichi.


As he approaches, he's suddenly attacked by Tsuruhime.


She's determined to protect Magoichi from Motochika, viewing him as nothing more than a despicable pirate.


The pair's fighting is interrupted by the arrival of Ishida Mitsunari. Tsuruhime is amazed at how popular Magoichi seems to be all of a sudden.


As Mitsunari heads away towards the village, he overhears Motochika muttering about Ieyasu and confronts him. Motochika explains that he's one of many people on the opposite side to Ieyasu - but that just enrages Mitsunari further, since he wants to be the one who gets revenge against his archenemy.


The two begin to fight until they see Ieyasu and Tadakatsu flying in the sky above them. Mitsunari loses interest in Motochika and continues on his way to meet with Magoichi.


He presents himself to Magoichi and demands the loyalty of the Saika faction. Magoichi reminds Mitsunari that her contract with Hideyoshi has been dissolved and she will pick her allies as she sees fit.


As Mitsunari is leaving, Motochika calls out to him.


Back in the ruins of Odawara Castle, a broken-hearted Houjou Ujimasa is wondering what to do next. His only companion is the legendary ninja, Fuuma Kotarou.


Ieyasu approaches Ujimasa and asks him to lend him his strength. He's coming as a potential ally this time, not the enemy he was before. Ujimasa sheds tears of joy.


Back at the Saika village, yet another man is approaching.


As Tsuruhime and Magoichi discuss their options, Maeda Keiji arrives. He's hunting for Ieyasu to try to locate Toshiie's wife, Matsu - she's been abducted and it seems that Ieyasu is responsible.


This interests Magoichi, and she asks Keiji whether he truly believes Ieyasu can be the one behind Matsu's disappearance.


Keiji is wavering because he's still shocked that Ieyasu killed Hideyoshi, but the two talk it through. Magoichi tells Keiji that it would be wisest to gather more information at this stage.


The chat with Keiji has helped Magoichi make up her mind, and she marches out to declare who the Saika faction will be allying themselves with this time.


Surprisingly, she chooses the Maeda family - even though Keiji didn't go there intending to make a contract with the mercenaries in the first place.


Mitsunari arrives back at Osaka Castle with Motochika in tow. Yoshitsugu comes out to greet them.


There are some soldiers causing a commotion nearby. It seems that they're former troops from Oda Nobunaga's army who have begun to rally now that Oichi has returned.


Mitsunari admits that the negotiations with Saika Magoichi didn't go too well. Yoshitsugu welcomes Motochika and updates the pair on the alliances that Ieyasu has been making elsewhere.


Ieyasu's next target is Uesugi Kenshin. After a tense start they converse amiably. Still unsettled by what's happened to Shingen, Kenshin isn't willing to join up with Ieyasu. He remarks that there's another tiger out there.


Ieyasu was thinking the same thing, and heads off to pay Yukimura a visit.


Yukimura reacts to Ieyasu's arrival with hostility, expecting a fight. As Ieyasu tries to start a discussion, Sasuke explains that with Yukimura in his current state it's better for Ieyasu to depart.


Ieyasu takes the hint and leaves, saying he'll see Yukimura again later.


After being reminded once again that he's supposed to be in command, Yukimura goes back to Shingen's bedside and tries to understand what his master would do. He finally seems to be finding his resolve.


Still unconscious, Masamune is dreaming of battling with Yukimura once again. His dream takes a dark turn towards the end when he remembers Mitsunari.


Reminded of the shame of his defeat, Masamune finally awakens and runs wild, brandishing his weapon.


The Date soldiers rush to subdue their lord in a way that Sengoku Basara 4 fans might find all too familiar.


Masamune's rampage comes to an end with the arrival of Ieyasu.


Though the intruder only wants to negotiate, Masamune has just one thing on his mind: Mitsunari.


Masamune announces that he's heading straight out to ride for Osaka Castle to get his revenge.


Kojuurou is a little taken aback but within moments Masamune has donned his armour and hurtled away on horseback, ready to challenge Mitsunari to a rematch.


There are now 77 days remaining until the Battle of Sekigahara.

--

This episode seemed slightly less action-packed than before as it was mostly devoted to Ieyasu rushing around Japan trying to build alliances. That said, it was an important episode to set up the pivotal character relationships. Tsuruhime's big anime debut was probably the highlight for me!

The next episode will be titled Meisou ('Astray'). The (spoiler-filled) details from the official preview can be read here.

19 comments:

  1. Highlights
    -Magoichi
    It surprised me that she didn’t make a contract with the two but instead with Keiji - I really like that. Yay KG!
    -Yumekichi looks even more than before like a cute toy-monkey instead of a real monkey geez.
    -I could actually take Yukimura seriously in this ep
    - Masamune seemed traumatized but recovered quickly and comically at the end. And he still has a kind of special horse in this version(with a thunderbolt decoration)
    -I think the bg music is kind of nice even if it’s much more the low-key type

    Negative
    -Budget walking (I’m looking at you Mitsunari)
    -While it’s great that they all appear, I think the show stlll feels rushed because there are so many characters
    -Western streams are really late; what’s going on :/

    -Best part
    Tsuru: ”Oh look it’s Ieyasu”
    Mitsunari & Motochika in unison: ”IEYASUU!” >:O

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    1. I think this episode felt slightly more focused, since Mitsunari's army only had one storyline and Magoichi never moved from her village. Ieyasu was zooming all over the place though; the scenes with Ujimasa, Kenshin and Yukimura felt so quick!

      Tsuruhime really helped lighten the mood of what would have probably been uncomfortably dark otherwise. I liked seeing Keiji's slightly shy body language when he was talking to Magoichi too; they're cute together in this adaptation :3

      I will never understand why the official streaming partners are handling this so badly; surely they should at least be giving people regular updates so they know what to expect?

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    2. The silence is sooo weird. Why say you will simulcast and then not do it with no updates? Or put up one video without more updates. :S

      Keiji is so handsome and cute, just saying. And Ujimasa is a cute old man in SB3 I d'aawed when he was happy about teaming up with Ieyasu, lol

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    3. Viewster told me on Twitter that they're happy to answer any questions, so I guess all we can do is keep nagging about it.

      Apparently the UK streaming service Animax is going to announce its last simulcasts this week (they have a unique interpretation of the word 'simulcast') and I think that they might have Judge End (in part because there's not much else they're likely to have licensed at this point). They work with FUNimation so I guess they're waiting on whatever is slowing the broadcast down before making their announcement, so perhaps the fact that they're going to finally say something this week is a sign that the problems are going to clear soon.

      Viewster is well behind on Bakumatsu Rock too though, so it might just be that they're slow getting started :/

      Ujimasa's moment of happiness made me want to cry with compassion. He's so sweet ;_;

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  2. I'm just commenting based on previews and tumblr screenshots. I'm so so so so happy Oichi and the Uesugi army are getting more attention than I expected. I thought they'd maybe show up once in a blue moon but this is... what the third episode in a row they've both shown up (even if the first was a nonspeaking cameo)...?

    I'm noticing no real Kenshin-Kasuga interaction yet though, beyond basic master-servant stuff. I can assume that like once Yukimura comes and shows that the Tiger of Kai lives on in him Kenshin will like snap out of it and start showering Kasuga with affection again.

    I hope.

    Tsuruhime's adorable as always, Mitsunari and Motochika becoming bros bonding over their hatred of traitorYasu is interesting (more interesting than the uneasy allies they were in the actual game), and Ieyasu going around trying to recruit everyone sounds nice. Glad Old Man Hojo hasn't been unceremoniously cut to shreds either.

    And I just love that Magoichi made a pact with Keiji, and for more than just shipping reasons. I really hope this means they'll go for the Sekigahara Intrusion ending. Matsu being kidnapped means that Yoshiaki has to be involved somehow, so I'm guessing that the site listing all the seiyuus is incomplete on purpose or something? Hence why no Sourin or Muneshige either even though Otomo is in a text preview.

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    1. Kasuga's limited screen time has been quite surprising (especially as she has such a dazzling role in the opening sequence). I guess they want to tell Kenshin's side of the story with him in full-on serious mode for a while. Or perhaps we'll get to see her working on a mission elsewhere before they have a glorious reunion? Hmm...

      I wonder whether they're going to tease the designs for Sourin (and Muneshige/Yoshiaki) on the website first or just reveal them in the episode. I'm excited waiting for them but also looking forward to Kingo finally making a proper appearance soon :D

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    2. Yeah, she's just as prominent in the OP as Mago and Tsuruhime... which is odd given that, while in Basara 4 she's quite prominent, she really just delivers a message to Keiji for Kenshin and otherwise stays at Kawanakajima, as far as I remember, whereas at least Kenshin technically follows Yukimura to Sekigahara even if he doesn't factor into the story after that in the game. Hmm, now I'm having high expectations. I guess they could delve into Utage but I really have no idea how they'd work-in a Kyoto Matsuri with all this rushing headlong toward Sekigahara.

      ... what if she's spying on Mogami or something to that effect? Would be interesting anyway. I would suppose that with Keiji being an ally (I presume) and Kenshin not expecting much out of Yukimura (for now), Mogami would be his most pressing neighbor.

      If there was anything I liked about the Last Party it's that Kingo got a fairly happy ending, so I really hope they don't bully him too much this time. It's inevitable though. I know he's a coward but it just seems like he was born in the wrong time period than anything. :x As far as Sourin, Yoshiaki, and Muneshige, teasing them on the site wouldn't be too bad of an idea but I have this nagging feeling we might have to wait for an artbook or something to actually see their art.

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    3. I also wonder what's going to happen with Kingo, since both of the main characters are going to find him at the same time. He might be annoying but I also feel sympathy towards him because he just wants to be a peaceful food nerd/cook in SB3 you know? Harmless.

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    4. Three people who feel sorry for Kingo all in one place! The poor guy seems to get a lot of hate on forums so it's good to see some pity for him too :D

      (Even though I'm worried he's going to have a tough time - and really like him - I still kinda want Motonari to step on him...)

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  3. I can't understand why are you so concerned about funimation making dubbed version of this anime? I personally hope they won't ever do that. English dubbing for SB is so awful I'll surely puke when hearing it again. I hope the japanese producer will never let them make such a harm to this series again. No wonder it's not popular... I don't understand japanese that well, but I bought the third game with japanese dub, because at last it doesn't make me cry...

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    1. You serious? Well too each their own. I thought it was mostly good and a nice bonus to the jp language/eng text. I have nice memories of things like "Manstravaganza" and "Mori-eel" LOL.

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    2. Whether you like it or not, a dub or lack thereof determines if people even legally support a series in the first place. After all, why pick up a DVD or BluRay release when you can just torrent a series for free? I don't agree with such a thought, but many people don't see the harm. I'm sure Raindrops can elaborate better. And, while a lot of the voices in the anime were.... questionable, the game dub was top notch and at least to the level of the Japanese dub. Dante's VA being Date was too perfect, and I'm so disappointed I'll never be able to hear Laura Bailey as Ichi again, as particular highlights. Oh and Kasuga being voiced by my favorite English VA ever certainly helps~!

      ... The sole exception is for Kenshin. Ugh they ruined Kenshin. Interestingly it seems like that was the director's fault as the voice actor actually commented that he's received a lot of negative feedback for it and comparing it to the original he agreed, but the VD said it was good and what he wanted so there was nothing he could do.

      As far as the anime goes, it was mostly the new VAs that were questionable (excepting the Ayres brothers as Shingen and Kenshin). All the people they got to reprise their roles from the game were great.

      I will say I love the original Japanese dub, they're all amazing, and if it was the only option for me, I'd be totally fine with it!

      Of course, opinions. If you don't agree, that's fine. Just recognize a dub or lack thereof is a big deal for how well a series does. Guarantee you that basically any anime that isn't niche (i.e., to quote Stephanie Sheh "titty booby shows, not that there's anything WRONG with them") would not have done as well as it did in the West without a dub. For some reason loads of people are willing to watch shows about samurai or ninjas, but not unless it's in a language they can understand. Go figure.

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    3. ^I completely agree. Except switch my peevedness with Tenkai's VA instead of Kenshin's. Yup surely most English-speaking people who would never watch/play this if it wasn't for the dubs. I'm glad it exist and would've liked more dubbed/translated games.

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    4. I personally don't enjoy the series' dub, but from what I hear there are quite a lot of people who love it, so I want to make sure that they know they need to be pushing FUNimation if they want it to continue. The more fans who can enjoy the series, the better!

      Having said that, it's a real shame the game series has never come over to the west with its original language track intact as the Japanese cast is incredible. I wish they'd try it out as a low budget adaptation and try moving up from there; if it does well then that's when they should be building on the success by adding a dub and reaching out to fans who aren't comfortable with subtitles (or those who simply like the English voice actors).

      I'm pretty confident that FUNimation will give Judge End both an English-subtitled and English-dubbed release when it's time for the home video version, thankfully; they said the earlier anime sold within their expectations (eventually) and they must know that the problems they're having running the simulcast will hurt the viewing figures so it wouldn't be fair to hold that against the show. I hope.

      On the Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes dub, like a few of us I have both versions of the game and the English voice acting was certainly variable. Some characters sounded decent (even though I dislike dubs, I'd say the actors for Kojuurou, Muneshige and a few others did a great job) while others were...less good. But I think Mewshuji's thought about it being down to the dub director might well be correct; for example, I strongly disliked Magoichi's English performance but I don't have a problem with the voice of the actress who portrayed her. There was just something about the way she seemed perpetually sarcastic which went against the image I had of the proud, mature Magoichi I like. It's likely that the problem was entirely down to the script and direction.

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    5. Really? People prefer an ugly dub over even the worst subs made by amateurs? I feel my country is somehow different, because anime fans here prefer subs even if dubbing is also made (and no one respect it). I'd rather buy the original dvd and watch it on my laptop with subs from the internet than ever touch dubbed thing.
      The worst is Mitsuhide's english voice. Really, they gave him a typical voice of evil snake even if originally his voice is kind, delicate and pretty sad, maybe because it's his true nature that many (especially those who didn't played 3 Utage) can't see.
      Besides 3rd game's Mitsunari, Date, Yukimura, Mouri and Ieyasu, all of them sounded the same for me and actors didn't create any feelings, as if they read, not speak. English Nobunaga can't talk with his normal slow rhythm. It's something that even I can imitate, but the actor couldn't?
      Thanks God for torrents because if western producers can't do it well, I have no respect for them. I support Capcom by buying original things even if I also use torrents to know what I watch, and that's everything I can do for them, sorry.

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    6. @Raindrops (because you added your comment when I was writting mine xD)
      I also hope for games to be subbed, not dubbed... Or at last with a dubbing that I could turn off... I can't understand why they didn't do it at first. English dubbings as well as polish (I'm Polish myself) are almost always bad, they can't really see that?
      As for home video it's still painful for me because every time I have to turn the dub off what mean that I have to hear that dub for a few seconds what make my ears bleed. Really, it'd be great if they made a better choice with actors - that would make my whole problem disappear.

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    7. It's strange; I've grown up used to watching foreign films with subtitles so they're normal to me, but there's definitely a strong belief in English-speaking countries that everything has to be dubbed into English to succeed. I can understand why some people would prefer dubs (and there are definitely some groups who benefit from them such as visually impaired, very young and dyslexic fans, besides those with simple personal preferences who like the acting) but I'm pretty sure that people here can accept subtitles too if they give them a chance. It certainly seems that way when I look at how many thousands of fans are happily consuming fansubs, and Crunchyroll has 300,000 users now - many dual-language anime releases would be lucky to sell more than 500 copies in my country!

      Dual language releases are the best (or even better, releases with lots of different languages included).

      I know what you mean about the shock of accidentally starting the disc and hearing the wrong audio track (or just a trailer; some of the US anime companies such as Sentai Filmworks have such aggressive-sounding trailers that they can ruin the mood for a while). My partner sometimes deliberately starts a disc playing in the wrong language to watch my reaction ^^;

      Anyway, Mitsuhide's Japanese voice actor really is incredible, isn't he? Whenever I see him performing his lines live on stage I become mesmerised by the way he speaks *_*

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  4. This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but after all these years I still haven't gotten around to properly watching the first two seasons of the anime. However now that you shed light on Judge End, I feel better about just watching it as it. I recognize a lot of stuff happening from the third game, so I don't feel lost. Unexpected surprise xD

    I have a related question that maybe you can answer. Since this Judge End is more or less unrelated to the previous animes, do you have any idea when the anime movie takes place then? I assumed that was gonna be an adaptation of the game, but now seeing Judge End is more like it, I don't really know...I never got around to watching it either, so I just wanna know if there's a specific order to watching things or something >3>

    As always, thank you again for your coverage on all things Basara. I don't know what streaming sites allows Canadians to watch this anime, so I have been downloading the sagesub episodes, but I hope it maintains it's steady success internationally (aside from the games; that still hurts X_x)

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    1. Awesome! :)

      I'm glad that you've been able to get into Judge End. I'm hoping FUNimation's simulcast will be Canada-friendly when it finally goes up, but the broadcasts of this show have been handled so badly that I still have no idea when that is going to be. I emailed them some time ago and never even got a response; it's very disappointing.

      With the movie, it follows on directly from the previous anime (i.e. season one, season two, then the movie) but the continuity is really mixed up. It contradicts a lot of what you'll have seen in the game because they started making the first anime before Sengoku Basara 3 came out, so they had no idea which characters would end up being most important when the game series finally focused on the Battle of Sekigahara. Some important character relationships are completely different to the way they play out in the game, and the original anime even contradicts its own continuity a few times as characters who clearly died in the television episodes often magically come back to life again later on with no explanation ^^;

      Having said that, the movie is a lot of fun and the animation is absolutely stunning. If you're enjoying Judge End and already know the game's timeline I'd definitely recommend checking it out when you have a chance to enjoy the spectacle of it all. It's like all of the talented staff at Production I.G. made an exceptionally high budget Sengoku Basara fan fiction very loosely based on Sengoku Basara 3 :)

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