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)
This week's initial television broadcast on NTV was at 01:55 on Sunday morning (Japan time). The YTV and BS Nittere broadcasts are shown over 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 are streamed weekly on Saturdays at 14:20 Eastern Time with English subtitles. They've added the first three episodes already with the next two scheduled for today. 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 three 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, three episodes are 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.
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 five 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 for his 'eastern army' while his old friend Motochika allied himself with the 'western army', the remnants of 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.
At that time, Matsu was actually being held at a castle belonging to Kobayakawa Hideaki, a cowardly young lord loyal to Mitsunari. The abduction was apparently arranged by Tenkai, the mysterious monk who advises Hideaki. So far, Yoshitsugu and Motonari of the western army were apparently the only two people who had been made aware of the secret.
Just as Yukimura has decided to side with the western army in the upcoming war, Masamune arrived at Ueda Castle and attacked Mitsunari. Yukimura rushed to defend his ally, causing him to cross weapons with his old rival once again.
How many more people will end up being pulled into the growing conflict between Ieyasu and Mitsunari?
Episode 5: Haiboku ('Defeat')
Continuing straight on from last week's cliffhanger, the episode opens with a brutal fight between Masamune and Yukimura.
Even after being disarmed, the two continue fighting with their fists.
Masamune plainly wants to ignore Yukimura and lunge towards Mitsunari, but Yukimura won't let him past. After a while, Mitsunari leaves.
Since Yukimura is still blocking his path, Masamune decides to kill him.
Masamune's wounds from his fight with Mitsunari begin to open due to the intensity of the battle.
Both Sasuke and Kojuurou realise that they will have to intervene to stop the two rivals destroying themselves.
Sasuke rushes to protect Yukimura.
At the same time, Kojuurou risks his life, grabbing Masamune's weapon to stop him and bring him to his senses.
After the battle is over, Yukimura passes out and the Date army leaves Ueda Castle.
Kojuurou once again urges Masamune to reconsider his reckless revenge plan.
Back in Osaka, Yoshitsugu talks about his strategy for supplementing their strength with warriors from Kyushu, the western part of the country. There are four powerful forces he's particularly interested in: the Shimazu, the Kuroda, the Ootomo and their retainers, the Tachibana.
Yoshitsugu wants Motochika to work with Mouri Motonari and pay a visit to each of these clans.
Motochika isn't pleased at all; he doesn't have a good relationship with Motonari. Yoshitsugu reminds him that they don't have time to waste if they're dealing with Ieyasu.
In the end, Motochika travels to Aki to meet with Motonari.
There, he learns that Motonari has a grudge against Ieyasu as well - in fact, it seems that his land was attacked by Ieyasu's army, just like Motochika's.
Motochika explains the plan and says he'll take the Shimazu and Kuroda clans if Motonari handles the Ootomo. Motonari seems interested; Ootomo...Sourin?
With everything decided, Motochika heads out on his ship. Motonari smirks.
While all of this is happening, Ieyasu is having a hard time with the former Oda retainers in Owari who have rallied now that Oichi has appeared again.
Investigating on behalf of Magoichi and Keiji, Tsuruhime has tracked Ieyasu to Owari and is now surrounded by enemies. Suddenly, Ujimasa rushes out to defend her from the attackers all on his own.
He looks cool until his back gives out again.
Thankfully, at that moment Tadakatsu flies overhead and drops off Kotarou and Ieyasu, who both make short work of the enemy soldiers.
Tsuruhime immediately decides that Kotarou is the one who is destined for her. She's taken aback when he withdraws in silence the moment she throws herself at him.
Recovering quickly, Tsuruhime wastes no time in interrogating Ieyasu to find out his true intentions.
She performs a divination...
...and ends up even more confused by its ominous nature.
Back at Ueda Castle, Yukimura awakens from a restless sleep full of visions of drowning. Sasuke fills him in on what happened after the battle. Yukimura reflects that Masamune seemed different to the way he was before.
As they ride, Kojuurou is still lecturing Masamune. He's surprised when Masamune suddenly announces that his plan has changed; he wants to head to Ieyasu's territory and beat him.
Since Mitsunari is so fixated on Ieyasu, he'll be forced to notice Masamune if he takes Ieyasu out first.
Motochika has reached his first destination in Kyushu: Satsuma, home to the Shimazu clan. He crosses weapons with Shimazu Yoshihiro on the beach.
Both men are referred to as oni ('demons') in their respective homelands, and they manage to reach an understanding when Motochika mentions that Yukimura is on the side of the western army. Yoshihiro decides to join them.
Meanwhile, Motonari is visiting the Ootomo clan in Bungo province, where a strange religion known as 'Xavism' is preached.
Tachibana Muneshige attempts to greet Motonari but he's immediately shoved aside by Ootomo Sourin.
Sourin excitedly greets Motonari by referring to him as 'Tactician' and 'Sunday'.
When Motonari doesn't react as he'd expected, Sourin simply declares that he must have lost his memory.
Sourin is immediately convinced that joining up with Motonari must be his mission.
Muneshige privately worries about how weird they must seem.
Having gained an ally without having to do anything at all, Motonari departs.
Next, Motochika visits Kuroda Kanbee. Kanbee is furious about how he's been treated by Yoshitsugu in the past - his arms are still chained together.
It doesn't seem likely that Kanbee will agree to work with Motochika at first, even though he's pleased to have someone to talk to who appears to sympathise with his misfortune.
Motochika has an idea though - perhaps a young oracle he knows can use her powers to help search for the missing key to Kanbee's chains. Kanbee eagerly jumps at the opportunity to free himself.
Masamune has reached Ieyasu, who thinks that he's there to form an alliance at first.
Masamune explains the real reason. He wants to challenge Ieyasu one-on-one. Ieyasu suggests that they make the fight more interesting with a wager - then proceeds to thoroughly trounce Masamune.
Although he's not willing to accept defeat at first, Masamune is eventually forced to concede to Ieyasu.
Looking down at the shameful sight before him, Kojuurou raises a fist and grunts Masamune's childhood name: Bontenmaru.
There are now 65 days remaining until the Battle of Sekigahara.
Sourin appeared! The scene was really short, but I was so happy to see both Sourin and Muneshige finally making it into the anime. It was also good to see Kanbee, at last, and Motochika is proving to be a magnificent negotiator - the western army needs someone like him to help them build relationships more than he realises.
I also like how Judge End is making Ujimasa seem awesome (for once). The last time we saw him he was a sweet, broken old man mourning his fallen castle, and now he's leaping into danger to rescue damsels in distress! Good work, Ujimasa!
Next week's episode will be titled Sengen ('Declaration').