If anyone reading this was one of the other few hundred people in the audience I'd love to hear what you thought as well.
The story summarised the events leading up to the opening scenes in Sengoku Basara 3. Several shots were taken straight from the game's early cutscenes, while other parts unfolded quite differently. It's only the first episode and already I feel that the staff are trying to make this the definitive telling of the story with new content for hardcore fans. Good.
(To prevent accidental viewing of the spoilers, please click the link below to continue reading if you're seeing this on my main blog page.)
- The title used was Sengoku Basara -End of Judgement- so they definitely seem to have settled on that name for the foreign market. For now.
- The very first thing I noticed was that the narrator has changed! Instead of Watanabe Hideo we now have a female narrator. I was so excited watching the ending sequence that I completely forgot to check for her name until it was too late.
- Edit 15:00: However, I think I saw Sawashiro Miyuki's name listed under narration right before the words disappeared. Please note that I am not 100% sure about this (it could have been someone else with a similar-looking name). CORRECTION: It's Saiga Mitsuki.
- The music doesn't seem to be composed by Sawano this time after all. Again, I didn't remember to check the credits. The acoustics in the room were quite bad, so I can't describe the background music at all or say whether it was from the games until I watch again. Sorry. It was hard enough to make out the dialogue during the screening.
- It feels as though the focus of this series will be on the characters, dialogues and conflicts rather than spending time setting the scene by showing us gorgeous backgrounds with beautiful music. The scale is smaller, more like one of the many official manga spin-offs. There were very few soldiers shown in each army (and no ashigaru dance sequences so far).
- The opening sequence was almost identical to the promotional video released last week. The only difference is that the opening has occasional breaks to display overlays with text; these moments were replaced with footage from episode one in the PV.
- The tone of the episode was serious as expected. A lot of time was spent introducing all of the characters who appeared.
- Nobunaga is already dead, slain by Mitsuhide. The Toyotomi army is the dominant force at the start of the show.
- Yukimura and Shingen opened the episode with a classic, cute Takeda scene. Oyakata-sama hasn't succumbed to illness yet so Yukimura has been spared from drama for now; instead, the men thought about the battle which is starting between the Toyotomi and Houjou forces over at Odawara Castle. While the episode cut back to Yukimura a few times later on it seems that his introduction to the main story is coming later.
- The Toyotomi army were shown preparing for battle together and working as a well-oiled team.
- I'm sure some people are curious about Sakon; I didn't notice him appearing anywhere in he background.
- Ieyasu still has his old spear as his weapon when he's working for Hideyoshi.
- The audience cheered loudly when Hanbee appeared.
- The new character Sakai Tadatsugu only had a couple of lines this time. He was with Ieyasu when he coaxed some of Ujimasa's men out to talk - only to be tricked into an ambush set up by Yoshitsugu to allow the Toyotomi forces to take the gate. Ieyasu was horrified at being made into a traitor and Sakai witnessed it all, so he might be able to help him deal with it in future episodes (my speculation!).
- I thought that T.M.Revolution's Nishikawa did a good job with Sakai's voice. It sounded pleasant and manly.
- Ujimasa himself only had a short scene but at least he survived the attack on Odawara in this series instead of being killed off abruptly again. I expect we will be seeing more of him (and Kotarou) in the coming episodes.
- The big fight scene between Mitsunari and Masamune/Kojuurou was fantastic; very brutal and intense.
- In contrast, I felt that Ieyasu's clash with Hideyoshi was more dramatic with less attention to the actual animation (Hideyoshi's face seemed to stray off model occasionally). Perhaps the pace was slower to give the audience time to understand the differences in their ideologies which led to the fight. That and fast-paced sword battles naturally look more frantic than fistfights, however many special effects are used.
- One departure from the content of Sengoku Basara 3 was that we got to see what happened to Hanbee properly this time. It was terribly sad, of course.
- At the climactic moment where Mitsunari learns that Ieyasu has rebelled against Hideyoshi, he reacted with disbelief like he did in the last stage play. It was heartbreaking. I like that the creators use the stage play to test new scenes and then incorporate the best parts in other adaptations.
- The characters I haven't mentioned didn't appear in this episode aside from a quick sequence at the end which showed each of them away from the battlefield at Odawara. It looks as though they'll be introduced properly in future episodes.
- Magoichi's role was small too even though she was at Odawara. I'm sure we will be seeing more of her.
- Kanbee seemed to be locked away (in a cell?) rather than being with the rest of the Toyotomi warriors when they were in battle.
- The shots of the other characters also included Shimazu Yoshihiro so we can expect him to show up in the show later too. I think that everyone else shown was already confirmed one way or another.
- Kenshin didn't do anything in this episode. Like Shingen he had sent his ninja to keep an eye on things instead of joining the fighting at Odawara directly.
- This meant that Kasuga and Sasuke were both watching events unfold from a safe vantage point. I like seeing them both together like this because their personalities are so different.
- Ishikawa Chiaki's ending theme is beautiful and it was a pleasant way to close the show after all of the shocking moments.
- The ending animation is simple; a silhouette of Masamune riding swiftly. At one point it changed to show an illustration of the leads.
- If I recall correctly the title of the second episode is Ranse ('Turbulent Times'), a word which is frequently applied to the turmoil of the Sengoku period.
- From the short preview, it looks as though Mitsunari fans are in for an emotional second episode.
- I really enjoyed the show!
After the screening was over I stayed in the hall for a while talking to my friend and comparing our impressions of the show. Another fan came over and asked whether we spoke English then started a wonderful conversation about how strange it was trying to work out what was going on when the story was so different this time. Since she wasn't familiar with the games the new character relationships had been a surprise.
It seems likely that a lot of other anime-only viewers are going to be confused when they start watching Judge End and notice that the storyline completely contradicts the previous adaptation. I hope that it doesn't put them off, because it looks as though this story is going to be very interesting now that the initial introductions are out of the way!