Thursday 3 July 2014

First impressions from the Sengoku Basara: Judge End world premiere (spoilers)

Following on from my post about the event itself, this post contains my detailed impression and spoilers for the first episode of Sengoku Basara: Judge End which premiered at the Japan Expo event in Paris today. Please don't read any further if you want to keep this weekend's episode a surprise!

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!
Please note that I'm posting this summary many hours after actually watching the episode so it's possible that I've made some mistakes. The screening was in Japanese with French subtitles, and while the audio wasn't the best and the picture suffered from the odd video interlacing seen in the trailer, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the animation and the effort that all of the staff had put in. I'm sure that the picture quality for the broadcast version will be fine.

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!


  1. (Ieyasu still has his old spear as his weapon when he's working for Hideyoshi.) Same as Ieyasu did in the Bloody Angel series' book 1 before he decides to break it lol
    From you summary, I bet this season will do just fine; though so of my friends seems a lil' upset because the story is not the continuation of the second season

    1. Ah, good catch! I love the way that they put these little references into the series; it makes me feel that the creators really care about each character and their history ^^

    2. Telecom's sengoku basara may be can't match I.G. in terms of animation but I do hope the story's better even only a little...
      Yeah they are like reading the bloody angel series or playing the game to find some references for the anime X3 even taking references from the butai, eh?
      Fixed: i gonna watch judge end till it finishes X3
      And now Sakai seems really interesting that I cant wait to see his appearance (and hear Takanori’s voice ♡ワ♡)! Till now still wondering about his weapon since some fanarts in pixiv drew him with spear (and i was like "please no more spears too mainstream")...
      "Shinjiru!" X3
      This guy will make some cute appearance in the anime
      I have no complaints about Yoshitsugu's sly tactics...
      At least mago still have some role in the first episode, though... only some lil' role...
      Masamune's fight against Mitsu at odawara always a really good scene loool (because at there -again-, THE POSTER BOY LOST YAY! *here's a traitor of Masamune since Mitsunari's appearance in 3*)

      then again, i hope that there will be a Sekigahara Duo nendoroid from gsc lol
      Because DateSana needs companies x3

    3. A spear would be ok for Sakai if it had some kind of ridiculous design like the microphone stand on the UTAGE artwork. But something completely unique would be even better!

      Masamune losing right at the start is going to be quite a shock for anime-only viewers, I think, especially as he was so strong throughout I.G.'s story. I'm hoping lots of people watch it so I can read their impressions (*'-')

      And yes, we need more Nendoroids! It would also be a great time to finally add the missing Sengoku Basara 3 characters to the One Coin Grande lineup so I hope they're working on that now...

    4. Masamune was such a giant Gary-Stu in the previous anime, defeated both Nobunaga and Hideyoshi (the latter all by himself if I remember correctly, what) so I'm going to enjoy seeing him less overpowered in this.

      Feeling quite D: after I saw the preview pics of Hanbei though. I was prepared for him dying but does he have to look all super cute and smiley while it happens damn it.

    5. @raindrops
      I'm imagining him with tonfa, or vajras. Both of them seems good with him. I NEED IEMITSU'S NENDO TO ACCOMPANY MY DATESANA NENDO *dont forget to make a sekigahara battle*

      Yes. Mune is such a warrior-sue but since the last party his sue grew less (defeated by mitsu so badly, wasn't the one who gave the finishing blow to nobunaga). Seems the anime tries to break hanbei's fans with that face lol!

  2. Thanks for the write-up!

    So no Sawano. That's a shame. And drama and more drama... :( I expected that, of course, but I'm still not happy about it. I hope Sakai will be fun and do some fun things... And my pessimistic thoughts re: Yukimura are coming back. I was kind of optimistic when he was announced as a main character, started worrying when I saw the PV, and now he's not treated as an important character in the first episode, with the second one seemingly focusing on Mitsunari? :(

    1. I completely forgot to mention this in the summary but there was another Yukimura scene which might indicate he'll play a bigger role next time. Although the next episode preview was just a glimpse of Mitsunari, there was a scene before the end of the episode with Oyakata-sama starting to tell Yukimura about Ieyasu. I think we might see Mitsunari on his own next time with Yukimura possibly running into Ieyasu and forming his opinions on what happened (hopefully there'll also be some appearances from the rest of the cast to lighten the mood in between). Masamune probably won't be in any fit state to participate in any red-blue adventures for a while ^^;

      I'm glad they didn't try to cram Shingen's illness into the first episode too or my heart might have broken from all of the sadness. Yukimura's moments were super-cute :D

    2. Oh, thanks for telling me! And please don't mind me, I'm just grumbling in myself. ^^;; I'm sure there are a lot of things to like about the anime and I'm sure I'll like it once I've seen the episode, it's just that it's tough when you have a favorite character whose position is so shaky. ^^;; (Case in point: the new keyholders you mention in your next post...) As for red&blue, if the story follows SB3 there's not going to be a whole lot of red&blue adventures anyway, so I hope Yukimura's story will be more integrated with the main story, as scene you mention suggests.

      (Re: Shingen's illness, actually this was another thing that I liked better in the movie. ^^; Sure, Shingen being too awesome to stay ill was still great in the game, but after all that angst...)

    3. It's understandable to be worried about a favourite character under the circumstances! I hope he gets a decent role in Judge End and some new scenes with his fellow 'tiger' Ieyasu (while Mitsunari is recovering from the shock of his whole world being turned upside down).

      The keyholder decision makes no sense to me. Why did they remove one of the most recognisable symbols of their entire series after they'd already produced a design for him anyway? :S

      I'd have assumed they were saving him for a second set of keyholders later but they haven't left many other important characters out to accompany him. It's weird!

    4. I also hope that about JE... and some scenes with him and Ieyasu would be definitely nice. And maybe even with Mitsunari. It always bothered me that despite being supposedly allies there's barely any connection between Yukimura and Mitsunari (it's not surprising in the sense that they're way too different characters and don't have much chemistry, but still), especially as Yukimura and Ieyasu "gel" so much more easily even as enemies.

      As for the keyholders, maybe I'm just being pessimistic again but it kind of seems to me that they're phasing him out as a "main tier" character? :/ Like, he's (supposedly) a main character in the anime because he was still so in the game, but clearly Mitsunari is going to have a bigger and more central role, and the story will mainly revolve around Masamune and Mitsunari (and Ieyasu, I suppose). In SB4 which is for all intents and purposes a reboot of the franchise, Mitsunari has taken over the poster boy position and the role of Masamune's rival (whatever they say that's how it looks like, especially with the alt. outfits... meanwhile, Sakon has the color red and the "enthusiastic, loyal warrior" role covered), Yukimura still appears on some merchandise because he still has a kind of legacy, but on goods based on the newest incarnations of the franchise it seems he's more often absent than not... I suppose we'll have to wait until the next game/fandisk/whatever to see if KobaP is willing to reinstate him to his old position or make him join Keiji on the bench. :/ (That would break my heart...)

      But again, maybe I'm just pessimistic. ^^;; (Although if I am I'm not alone, so I guess it's not just me!)

  3. Thanks for the summary! It was surprising to see that you attented to that French event, that's cool.

    At first it was alarming to read that this anime was more smallscale and didn't show a lot of soldiers and so on, but then it sounded very promising when you wrote that the fightscene was done so well & that staff had put a lot of effort into this anime! Phew.

    I look forward to watching it (of course!)

    1. Also it sounds like the managed to squeeze in a hella lot of things into the very first episode. Was that only a normal short episode?

    2. Thanks for the reply! My whole body hurts today from all of the rushing around trying to get there and back in a single day (lol). It seemed like the perfect opportunity to make use of the good transport links this country has to France and take advantage of my location for once!

      It was a normal length episode (~30 minutes). Some of the things I described were very quick so they managed to squeeze all of that into the time they had somehow. There were a few additional scenes I didn't mention but I don't want to spoil the entire thing in advance ^^

  4. Thanks for getting me hype for the new season raindrops, but since im all about the new characters, and they gave sakai a dope design, did they show his weapon by any chance?

    1. He might have been holding his weapon in the scene with the Houjou guards but there was so much going on that I didn't notice it. I'm really sorry!

      I want to see him fight so I hope we find out what kind of style he uses soon.


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