Saturday, 26 July 2014

Anime review: Sengoku Basara Judge End episode 4

I watched the fourth episode of Sengoku Basara: Judge End a little later than usual today due to real-life commitments.

How to watch

Now that the official simulcasts are beginning it's been confirmed that the alternate title Sengoku Basara -End of Judgement- is being used outside Japan. I'll keep using Judge End for consistency but they're the exact same show.

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. 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 2:20pm Eastern Time with English subtitles. They've added the first three episodes now with the next two scheduled for next week, to catch up with the Japanese broadcast. From episode five onwards, subscribers will be able to watch the latest episode on the same day it's available in Japan while free users have to wait a week. 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, the first two episodes are 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 show's broadcast was announced as being 'day and date with Japan' so I'm guessing they'll appear every Saturday afternoon once the service has been set up. So far, two episodes are online with English subtitles with a promise that the third is due soon. 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 four 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. Ieyasu travelled around the country trying to forge alliances with other rulers while his old friend Motochika allied himself with the Toyotomi. Meanwhile, the Saika mercenaries refused to take sides and joined forces with Maeda Keiji to find out whether Ieyasu really abducted Keiji's aunt, Matsu, as rumours suggested.

How many more people will end up being pulled into the growing conflict between Ieyasu and Mitsunari?

Episode 4: Meisou ('Astray')

After his wavering in the previous episode, Yukimura has now decided to take action. Donning Shingen's headgear and enormous gunbai axe, he musters the Takeda army.


Yukimura's plan is to directly confront Shingen's rival, Uesugi Kenshin.

I loved the way they crammed in a Sengoku Basara 4 reference by using a Basara-zu illustration! Is that picture (of Bishamonten, presumably) going to be Kenshin's Basara-zu when he finally becomes playable in the games again?


Though Sasuke is extremely wary of Yukimura's plan, his attempts to advise his master fall on deaf ears.


Moments after arriving at Kawanakajima, Kenshin appears out of the mist with his army in an ambush. It seems that he was expecting the visit.


As Sasuke tries to negotiate, Yukimura challenges Kenshin.


The 'God of War' willingly accepts, keen to see how much of a 'tiger' the younger man has become.


Although he attacks fearlessly, Yukimura is swiftly overwhelmed.


He finds himself flung into the water, where all of his self-doubt comes rushing back.


Kenshin shows his wisdom once again by giving Yukimura a frank pep talk.


It's difficult for Yukimura to take everything in as he wrestles with his whirling emotions, but it's exactly what he needs to hear.


With everything settled amicably for now, the troops relax and look to their leaders.


Kenshin asks Kasuga to accompany the Takeda army as they depart from Kawanakajima.


With Kasuga nearby, Yukimura apologises to Sasuke; he's finally found his resolve for real this time and decided to side against Ieyasu in the coming war. That means that they will have to join the ever-growing Western Army led by Mitsunari, if possible.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist using this picture. Kenshin is so dashing.)


Ieyasu has been continuing his travels across Japan in the meantime, making as many alliances as he can. This time, his destination is Ujou (Okayama Castle).


He meets with the naïve Kobayakawa Hideaki (hereafter referred to as 'Kingo' to match the dialogue). Kingo is completely charmed by Ieyasu's respectful approach.


However, he's far too afraid of his 'betrayal' being discovered by Motonari or Mitsunari to make any firm promises. He's absolutely terrified of what they'll do to him if they learn that he's been speaking with Ieyasu.


The news travels to Mitsunari quickly, as always. He's absolutely livid to hear that Ieyasu has approached Kingo.


Back in the Saika village, Magoichi and Keiji are investigating what might have happened to Matsu (Keiji's missing aunt) while Tsuruhime has disappeared to look for Ieyasu. There aren't many leads until Magoichi learns about some unusual movements from the Kobayakawa forces. She becomes suspicious.


Mitsunari has since arrived at Ujou with Motonari and Yoshitsugu in tow. He interrogates Kingo at once and demands to know what he told Ieyasu; Kingo grovels desperately in response.


Deciding that threatening Kingo is a task best left to Mitsunari, the others chat to Kingo's advisor, Tenkai instead.


As it turns out, Tenkai has a way to prove that the Kobayakawa forces are loyal to Mitsunari: he's been manipulating the rumours about Ieyasu having abducted Matsu. She's really been imprisoned in their base the whole time.


Satisfied by the results of the visit, the Western Army leaves Ujou with the knowledge that they have a few more allies in the campaign against Ieyasu.


Late at night, Sasuke and Kasuga sneak into Osaka Castle to speak with Yoshitsugu in private.


Their original plan fails disastrously when Yoshitsugu calls out to Mitsunari to warn him about the intrusion. The two ninja end up face to face with Mitsunari and Motochika.


Thanks to some clever teamwork, the two intruders take Yoshitsugu as a hostage in the middle of the fight.


This forces Mitsunari to listen to what they have to say.


Sasuke explains that the Takeda forces want to ally themselves with the Toyotomi army.


Mitsunari's reaction is as intense as ever, but Yoshitsugu analyses the situation more carefully. The men talk it through.


While all of this is happening, Date Masamune is still riding furiously towards Osaka Castle and his planned showdown with Mitsunari. The Sanada clan's stronghold at Ueda Castle lies directly on his route.


Yukimura is waiting for Sasuke to return from his mission when he receives word from his soldiers that the castle is under attack.


Yukimura rushes out to confront the enemy. The two old rivals exchange a few words and prepare to do battle.


Before they have a chance to fight, Sasuke arrives back with Mitsunari in tow.


Yukimura tries to welcome Mitsunari but he's cut off mid-sentence by Masamune, who is thrilled to see the man he's been looking for right in front of him.


He asks for a rematch there and then.


However, Mitsunari doesn't recognise Masamune at all.


Infuriated at the insult, Masamune loses his temper and throws himself towards Mitsunari.


Yukimura lunges between the two of them and blocks Masamune's attack, protecting his new ally.


There are now 69 days remaining until the Battle of Sekigahara.

--

So, we finally see what's happened to Matsu and it turns out that Mogami Yoshiaki (probably) wasn't involved after all! With Yukimura having chosen his path the main conflicts are rapidly falling into place; I like how they've managed to expand some characters' roles by blending material from Sengoku Basara 3 Utage into the main plot and adapting other parts to make the story tighter. The little Sengoku Basara 4 reference was awesome, too.

I'm looking forward to next week when it looks as though we'll finally get to meet most of the other key characters. Once all of the introductions are finished, it will be down to the Sengoku Basara: Judge End staff to show us how the story is going to play out this time around.

Next week's episode will be titled Haiboku ('Defeat'). The details from the official preview can be read here (they include spoilers).

23 comments:

  1. What... the Matsu kidnapping incident one was totally a surprise. If Yoshiaki isn't involved in this, I wonder how he will make an appearance in next upcoming episodes.

    And next episode will definitely be interesting! Setouchi! xD

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    1. I'm guessing that Yoshiaki has been removed to avoid having too many characters (he had a cool scene in the movie, I guess), but the way they've done it has provided an interesting twist.

      Can't wait to see what happens next!

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    2. (this is me with the proper display name! sorry for the inconvenience u_u)

      Yes, that might be so. I wonder what does kidnapping Matsu has to do with the Kobayakawa faction, though. Is it to blackmail the Maedas? (probably) And while Keiji is seemingly building a third (neutral?) party between the Eastern and Western forces with the Saikas, things are going to get interesting this time...

      By the way, I gotta agree with your comment below; I like how the new series goes into Gyoubu and Motonari characters deeper than the Production IG's previous adaptations. Their role were small back then and it made their character seemed to be rather shallow, especially Motonari (I used to somewhat dislike him back then but now he's one of my top favorites lol). It's nice to see Tenkai, Gyoubu, and Motonari in one frame. I can totally sense the ~evil~ between them. Haha.

      The battle scene between Sasuke & Kasuga vs. Motochika & Mitsunari is my favorite part of the episode, by the way. *_*

      Also, I wonder how will anime-only viewers will catch up with this whole Xavism thing going around in the next episode... though I don't play the games (which is very sad because my parents won't let me buy PS3), at least I know about them, from watching the gameplay vids, of course. xD

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    3. Yoshiaki is not serious enough for Judge End! I'm getting tired of the heavy mood of JE, it needs more zest, and well more BASARA! Still it was an interesting episode and I wonder what is going to happen next. Probably a lot of angst on the horizon though if it continues like it started off. I think my fave part was the fight scene & banter with the ninjas. Feeling sorry for poor Matsu who has to sit in a dark storage room all alone. Does Kingo know she is there? What if they meet and bound over cooking?

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    4. I'm guessing that Kingo has no idea she's there (he'd be completely incapable of keeping quiet when Ieyasu came and reached out to him, I bet) so poor Matsu probably has nobody keeping her company besides Tenkai ^^;

      Hopefully someone will bust her out of there soon, because even the strongest person would probably go crazy after being taunted by Tenkai for long enough.

      I agree with both of you that the scenes with the ninja at Osaka Castle were probably the highlight of the episode; lots of much-needed action! Kenshin wins all of his fights too quickly so it was good to see some proper struggling (lol). Kasuga and Sasuke are always great together.

      From what I've seen, the anime-only viewers seem to be having a lot of fun speculating on what's going on (those who didn't drop it after the first episode, that is). I'm enjoying reading their theories on forums. They will probably think all of the game fans are crazy once they discover Xavism ^^;

      I hope you can get a PS3 one day, Karin!

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    5. Yeah, I was sorta hoping that JE will actually be slightly more 'light-hearted' than their predecessors. But whenever it includes Yukimura, Sasuke, and Shingen, it's always light-hearted and hilarious. I wonder if they just put Kingo over there just for another comic relief though... Expect those Xavists coming sooner or later.

      I doubt that Kingo actually know about it. I guess Tenkai's been arranging everything behind his back all the time. It'd be quite interesting to see Hideaki and Matsu meet up and arguing about his hotpot... just for a small comic relief.

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    6. Raindrops: I’m curious, which are those forums?
      Karin: JE has had this distinctly subdued/heavy mood from the beginning, so it will probably not change (might get worse, help) but yeah, both Tsuru and Xavists will show up next so let’s see if they can lift the mood while Masamune and Yukimura get serious.

      The feel of this is different than the game too, while frequently somber it still has epic music, intense gameplay and funny lines going on. I would like JE ideally to be more balanced with BURNING SOUL if you know what I mean.

      Tenkai looked better here than in the movie, like many characters. Even if the quality is uneven the character designs keeps being good. I hope both he and Kingo gets to be in a fightscene!

      It seems stupid to keep a hostage where Kingo could find her. A nice one with the same interests as him too, how to explain away that? Also Tenkai is all hey this is a proof that we’re loyal to you but before that he told Kingo to do what he wanted = which currently should be joining Ieyasu. Hmmm


      PS) Let’s compare the movie plot with this ep.
      The Last Party
      Mitsunari: DATEEE MASAMUNEEEEE
      Masamune: Lol whatever *trollface*

      Judge End
      Masamune: ISHIDAAAAAA >:O
      Mitsunari: Who are you *frowns like always*

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    7. I think the conversations on the My Anime List forums are the most fun I've seen so far (even though they're still quite short); there are a few gamers mixed in but they've avoided spoiling any of the future developments so people are coming up with their own ideas. It's fun seeing a few people experiencing the story completely fresh and getting angry at Ieyasu's evil deeds.

      We definitely need to see a fight scene involving the Kobayakawa forces at some point! :D

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  2. Huh, that... wasn't what I was expecting out of this episode at all. BUT THAT'S A GOOD THING! Yay, Kasuga's gonna be in the story~. I guess when Kenshin said he and Shingen have no place in this conflict, he meant it. Also I agree with K&Q... shocking that Matsu was kidnapped by Tenkai. I really have to wonder what Matsu and the Maeda have anything to do with keeping Kingo loyal? Ah well, Basara logic. Very cool that there seems to be a third faction between Keiji, Magoichi, and Tsuruhime, probably the best way to handle it but definitely nothing I'd have thought of. I'm thinking, however, that Yoshiaki now really has no place in this series, unless they go the historical route and have a conflict between the Mogami and Uesugi with Otsu and Shiroishi... but I have no idea how they would tie that into Sekigahara. Maybe an OVA thing?

    Of course they've shaken things up quite a bit, would be nice if they gave another surprise.

    Ughh, I really wanna see it but I gotta wait for next week unless I just barrel through understanding all of half of it. At least I'll be able to see the fifth episode for some (hopeful) Xavism tomfoolery right after.

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    1. When the staff said they would add a few changes for game fans to look out for I wasn't expecting this much new content; every episode seems to have a few interesting moments and now the main plot is being affected!

      I suppose that making an enemy of the Maeda clan (and Ieyasu) is a pretty good sign that the Kobayakawa have thrown their lot in with the western army, even if their nominal leader is a coward who probably has no idea that any of this has happened in the first place ^^;

      (Even if he finds out, I expect that having 'betrayed' Ieyasu will force him to declare he's chosen Mitsunari either way to try to keep himself safe.)

      Masamune's importance has really been cut down this time to make it more of an ensemble show (good) so I'm guessing that will reduce Yoshiaki's chances even more. Perhaps he'll return in a future Sengoku Basara 4 adaptation instead to give him the link to Nobunaga for his story as well? If they do any cute super-deformed bonus videos with Judge End I still hope Yoshiaki will appear. He's always wonderful for adding comic relief :D

      It's going to be good to have everything (hopefully) in sync for the first time next week with the overseas streams! Still no word on Australia or the UK but I think both look to FUNimation before taking action, so there might be something soon.

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  3. YAY! Finally I could be able to see Tenkai, Gyobu and Motonari at the same scene together! These kind of people could form a deadly alliance! Hehe :D

    On a different note, I just have this kind of feeling that Sengoku Basara 3 game would eventually get REBOOTED for the next-gen consoles! The reasons why I said that because first, they introduced Tadatsugu Sakai as a new BASARA character in which he didn't been introduced in Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes back in 2010. Second, Yukimura Sanada with his newly Oyakata-sama's headgear and enormous gunbai axe costume. Third, this is the first time we saw Tenkai, Gyobu and Motonari at the same scene together with their mysterious goals to achieve, in which also we never saw Tenkai talking to Gyobu and Motonari in Sengoku Basara 3 game. I hopefully the Sengoku Basara 3 game will get REBOOTED in the future for a more epic game that people will always remember and much more better than the 2010's version os Sengoku Basara 3!

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    1. Getting all of the devious people together in one place was fun. It feels as though they communicate on an entirely different level to the more straightforward characters :D

      Both Gyoubu and Motonari are coming across really well in Judge End (they both seemed kind of shallow in the previous anime adaptation as their plans were relatively simple). Tenkai's daring plot is going to be very interesting; when Yoshiaki was the culprit the kidnapping was played for laughs most of the time, but Tenkai obviously knows exactly what he's getting the Kobayakawa army into this time around.

      I still want them to show us what Tadatsugu is like in combat!

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    2. Those 3 guys teaming up is interesting because no one can trust what the others say. I'm really curious what's going to happen with Otani because in the game you know spoiler spoiler. Wonder if JE is going to follow more stories closely or do it's own thing with the story now.

      I bet something super angsty is going to happen to Tadatsugu. What if he joins Mitsunari instead or something. Or maybe his role will be very small now that Ieyasu has other people to talk to than his robot.

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    3. When Ieyasu unintentionally brushed Tadatsugu off at the start of episode three and said something about being fine because he had Tadakatsu, I started imagining some kind of angsty subplot coming out of the one-sided rivalry between the two Tokugawa retainers. They're taking a long time to develop him, though, so maybe not...

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  4. this show is getting more interesting by every new eps l liked sooooo much
    l can't wait until the next eps to see yukimura defeated by masamune ^ ^

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    1. I'm glad to hear you're enjoying it too! They ended the episode at such a tense moment this week...

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  5. At this rate Mitsunari faction vs everyone else. Keiji will no longer intrude Sekigahara as its solely Mitsunari faction fault instead of Yoshiaki who joined Ieyasu. I have a feeling Yukimura loses to Masamune and Mitsunari would be like, your not worthy of joining me and just leave. Motochika finds out and betray. Masamune vs Mitsunari will be the last episode with Masamune killing him. The End

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    1. Keiji still has reservations about why Ieyasu rebelled against Hideyoshi, so I think there's a lot of potential for the three sneaky schemers to play him against Ieyasu until the last minute if things turn out that way. There certainly is a lot of drama!

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  6. So much details, so many references to the games, really like it. I'm kinda liking the Motochika/Mitsunari duo like the 1st time they both say "Ieysu!" and in this episode whene Sasuke and Kasuga take Yoshitsugu as an hostage they have the same reaction at the same time XD So far Kenshin is owning everyone while staying still and doing nothing: umiliates physically and mentally Kojuro, teaching a good lesson to Yukimura and ordering Kasuga to help, refusing Ieyasu's request. Am i the only one finding a bit akward the "I'm here to form a Bond with you" thing ?

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    1. Those scenes you mention were all highlights for me too, and yes, Kenshin is definitely a monster in this series (that's a big compliment)! While I loved his general aura of respect in the previous anime, it's great seeing him actually tangling with people other than Shingen this time around. I hope it means they're finally going to bring him back to the game series properly in the next release...

      Ieyasu could probably use a few scenes of doing something other than wandering around and having his requests turned down. They did well showing the western army working together (in their own way) last week, so perhaps this week we'll get a few scenes of Ieyasu with his new allies to balance things...

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  7. Side note, i saw in one of your twitter messages someone posted a picture of a prototype of Mitsunari by Figma. Since you usually keep update about merchandising, i'm looking forward to know the details about it so i can preorder it as soon as possible (the revoltech one is almost unfindable at resonable prices and his face is kinda dull).

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    1. I've added a note about that to today's news update post, but unfortunately details are very scarce. It's terrifying how quickly the prices rose on the other Revoltech, isn't it? I went to a shop in Osaka once which had it on the shelf and priced at ¥30,000...

      (I'm glad I didn't pay that much.)

      I'll mention it again as soon as they publish the release details, but at the moment all the sign at Wonder Festival said was 'release date: unknown'. Mitsunari doesn't even have a product number yet, so the release might still be quite far away.

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    2. Thanks as always for all the info ypu provides =) Still hoping for brand new merchandise tied to JE, i'd like at least a reissue of normal revoltech Mitsunari but so much more i'd like a brand new action figure with more details in it. Still far away from that i guess, just like the SB4 full package to the west.

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