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 five episodes already with episode six scheduled for today. 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. Even though the videos are region-locked, fans outside the US can still visit the site and rate the videos to show that there's demand!
Anime Digital Network (France only)
ADN are offering the series online with French subtitles. So far, the first four 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' but it's taken a while for them to catch up. So far, five episodes are online with English subtitles so hopefully the sixth will appear very 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. In spite of this I feel very strongly about supporting the official translated 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 six 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.
The series began with the Toyotomi army launching a major attack on Odawara Castle, home to the Houjou clan. The Date army tried to interfere and were brutally defeated by Ishida Mitsunari, a loyal warrior renowned as 'Toyotomi's Left Arm'.
Despite their overwhelming strength, the Toyotomi attack was stopped 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.
Since that day, Mitsunari and his loyal retainers have been working to expand the former Toyotomi army by building alliances with the Mouri, Chousokabe, Shimazu, Ootomo, Tachibana, Kobayakawa and Kuroda clans. After some soul searching, the newly appointed general of the Takeda clan - Sanada Yukimura - decides that the Takeda forces will join the growing 'Western Army' as well. He risks his life protecting its leader from his longtime rival, Date Masamune.
At the same time, Ieyasu is travelling around Japan to unite other commanders and form an 'Eastern Army'. Aside from the shattered Houjou clan and its legendary ninja, Fuuma Kotarou, Ieyasu has been struggling to gain supporters; his respectful approach is no match for the scheming of the Western Army's tacticians. Ieyasu encounters Oda Nobunaga's sister, Oichi, on the battlefield, but her supporters from the former Oda army have been pressuring him to hand her over to them.
Elsewhere, Maeda Keiji has joined up with the powerful Saika mercenaries to try to locate his missing aunt, Matsu, who was reportedly abducted by Ieyasu. In reality, Matsu is secretly being held captive in Kobayakawa Hideaki's castle under the watchful eye of his mysterious advisor, the monk Tenkai.
After suffering a string of humiliations since his defeat at Odawara, Masamune decides that the best way to get Mitsunari's attention is to attack the person he hates most. He immediately goes to challenge Ieyasu to a one-on-one fight - and loses.
Episode 6: Sengen ('Declaration')
Masamune has lost his duel with Ieyasu.
Kojuurou impresses Ieyasu by sternly chastising Masamune for his recent behaviour.
Addressing him by his childhood name, Bontenmaru, Kojuurou forces his lord to think back to his very first campaign...and the heavy losses he experienced.
At last, Masamune calms down.
In the land of Kai, Yukimura returns to Shingen's bedside to reflect on what's happened. He remembers an old promise he made to Sasuke.
Back in the past, Sasuke once confronted Yukimura and questioned his ability.
The two ended up earnestly fighting one another.
But Yukimura focused and showed his true strength, impressing the ninja and earning his loyalty.
Still troubled by her earlier vision, Tsuruhime heads back to meet up with Magoichi - but Motochika and Kanbee appear before her instead.
They don't want to fight. Kanbee is simply seeking Tsuruhime's help in looking for the key to his shackles.
Tsuruhime decides to perform a divination. In it, she sees a (rather romanticised) vision of Fuuma Kotarou.
She draws a sketch and Kanbee immediately recognises the legendary ninja.
He rushes off eastwards to look for Kotarou, leaving Motochika and Tsuruhime alone.
At that moment Kotarou is below Sunpu Castle along with Sakai Tadatsugu. The pair of them are watching over Oichi, whose dark hands have been pinned to the floor.
Ieyasu enters the room with a look of concern etched upon his face. Oichi still doesn't seem to recognise Ieyasu, asking him why he's stained with blood - like her brother.
Tadatsugu isn't happy about the comparison but Ieyasu stops him before he frightens Oichi further.
Still being followed by Motochika, Tsuruhime finally makes it back to Keiji and Magoichi and tells them about the confusing vision she had back when she encountered Ieyasu.
Motochika suggests that Magoichi joins him in the Western Army for old times' sake, addressing her by her old name, Sayaka.
Keiji and Magoichi ask Motochika what happened to cause him to join up with the Toyotomi like this and he explains that Ieyasu has changed. Full of emotion, Motochika presents the Tokugawa flag he found in his devastated homeland as evidence.
Magoichi challenges Motochika, saying that a flag isn't solid proof of anything. He takes offence to her questions until Keiji leaps between them to stop him from attacking Magoichi. Keiji has his own lingering misgivings about Ieyasu too.
The focus shifts back to the Western Army. Shimazu Yoshihiro greets Yukimura warmly as he arrives at Osaka Castle.
It's finally time for Yukimura to have a proper face-to-face meeting with Mitsunari to discuss their respective intentions.
Mitsunari tells Yukimura about his single-minded hatred of Ieyasu.
Yukimura is shocked; surely Hideyoshi would never have wanted things to come to this.
He questions Mitsunari and ends up angering him.
The two men fight inside the castle.
(I liked the loud music during this battle scene.)
Yoshitsugu stops them both just as they seem to be evenly matched.
Yukimura remarks that he and Mitsunari are both the same. His battle with Mitsunari seems to have helped him understand the other man's feelings.
Masamune, meanwhile, has made up his mind.
He challenges Ieyasu to another battle with a clear head.
This time, Masamune is victorious.
He decides that forming an alliance with Ieyasu might not be a bad idea.
These two men, too, have reached a kind of understanding at last.
And with that, it's decided: Masamune will fight in Ieyasu's Eastern Army, and Yukimura will join Mitsunari's Western Army!
There are now 58 days remaining until the Battle of Sekigahara.
It didn't feel as though much happened in this episode so I was shocked when the ending credits began - the fights had made the time fly by! For some reason, I noticed the background music more than usual this week. It's pretty good, even if it doesn't stand out as much as Sawano Hiroyuki's glorious score from the older adaptations.
All of the main players are now assembled, so as the series moves into its second half we should start seeing the results of all of these plans and alliances. I'm still really enjoying the show!
Next week's episode will be titled Ankoku ('Darkness').