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 is at 02:55 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, even when the Japanese television broadcast is delayed. Subscribers can 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 six 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). It seems to have begun, so the schedule can be viewed at the link.
Viewster (Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway only)
The show's broadcast was announced as being 'day and date with Japan' but it took a while for them to catch up. They seem to have settled into a rhythm now and the first seven episodes are already 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. 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 eight episodes of Sengoku Basara: Judge End and some low quality screenshots. Please note that I'm watching the show in untranslated 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 devoted 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, Shimazu, Ootomo, Tachibana and Kobayakawa clans. They also sought to add former Toyotomi retainer Kuroda Kanbee to their ranks, but he has since disappeared on a personal quest to search for Fuuma Kotarou - the legendary ninja employed by the Houjou clan.
After some soul searching, the newly appointed general of the Takeda clan - Sanada Yukimura - decides that the Takeda forces will join Mitsunari's growing 'Western Army' too. Meanwhile, Chousokabe Motochika has struck out on his own after learning that his original reasons for siding with Mitsunari were based on deception.
Elsewhere, Maeda Keiji has joined up with the powerful Saika mercenaries and the oracle Tsuruhime to try to locate his missing aunt, Matsu, who was reportedly abducted by Ieyasu. In reality, Matsu was secretly being held captive in Kobayakawa Hideaki's castle by the monk Tenkai.
During a raid on Ieyasu's base of Sunpu Castle, the Western Army releases Oda Nobunaga's sister, Oichi, from her confinement. Keiji is finally reunited with his missing aunt, yet at the same time Tenkai is revealed to be Akechi Mitsuhide in disguise. He vanishes with both Oichi and Kasuga in his clutches.
Unable to reach a peaceful mutual understanding, Mitsunari and Ieyasu plan to meet again soon at the 'promised' place for a final showdown: Sekigahara.
Episode 8: Yakusoku ('Promise')
As the episode opens, Masamune is still travelling west with Kojuurou. He left Sunpu Castle before the events which unfolded last week, on a mission to find out what the Western Army was doing.
Motochika has returned to his home of Shikoku.
His first act is to make peace with his dead comrades.
Next, he looks up at Akatsukimaru, his enormous mobile weapon.
Motochika's men tell him that he's not alone, and his spirits lift. He makes preparations to head out.
It was really Motochika's bitter rival, Motonari, who wronged Motochika.
But it seems that Motonari has some kind of secret weapon of his own, too...
Elsewhere, Yukimura and Sasuke are returning alone from the failed attack on Sunpu Castle. The pair are worried about Oichi and Kasuga.
Oichi is sweeping westwards with Kasuga trapped in her dark hands.
The creepy procession is guarded by the zombified remnants of Nobunaga's army.
Back at Sunpu Castle, Magoichi and Tsuruhime are preparing their horses.
Matsu approaches them, brushing off Keiji's concern. She has something she needs to tell Magoichi.
Matsu tells Magoichi that Tenkai was serious about his plans to revive Oda Nobunaga.
Magoichi's reaction is emotional; back when he was still alive, Nobunaga burnt her village and killed the previous Saika Magoichi.
Matsu pledges to join them in doing something about the situation.
Masamune and Kojuurou have arrived in Osaka. They're waiting in a teahouse and discussing the situation.
Hearing a scuffle outside, they witness some of Shimazu's troops arguing with a group of Toyotomi soldiers, who have them outnumbered.
Yukimura rushes onto the scene just in time to prevent a fight. He scolds the soldiers for squabbling with their own allies.
As the grateful Shimazu soldiers thank Yukimura, Sasuke is surprised to spot Masamune and Kojuurou standing in the crowd.
The four of them head back to the teahouse for what Masamune calls a 'tea break'.
Masamune asks Yukimura about the Western Army.
Yukimura explains that he feels he has a lot in common with Mitsunari. While he acknowledges that Mitsunari has some problems, he still wants to help him.
As the two men chat, they come to an understanding and realise that they're both doing what they believe is right.
Once they're finished with their discussion, Masamune rides away from Osaka contently.
Yukimura and Sasuke remark Masamune hasn't changed after all, and Yukimura warmly describes him as his rival.
Finally back at Osaka Castle, Yukimura reports what happened in Sunpu to Yoshitsugu and Mitsunari.
Mitsunari is furious to hear that Tenkai has betrayed them.
Still mindful of his trickery with Motochika, Mitsunari immediately questions Yoshitsugu. However, Yoshitsugu had no idea that this was going to happen.
Yukimura isn't sure where Oichi has gone, but he sternly reminds Mitsunari of his position when he starts to get angry.
Mitsunari walks off to be alone with his thoughts, and finds himself thinking about the time he and Ieyasu decided that Sekigahara would be the 'promised place'.
The two of them were working under Hideyoshi at the time.
It's the same incident which was briefly shown in a flashback in the second episode.
They were suddenly ambushed by a huge number of soldiers who tore through their men.
Mitsunari and Ieyasu worked together as a a team to completely overwhelm the ambushers...
...tearing a huge chasm in the ground with their joint counterattack.
The site of that battle was Sekigahara.
Back in the present, Yukimura has caught up to Mitsunari.
He confronts him again, giving Mitsunari a firmly-worded pep talk about how he ought to be behaving as commander of the Western Army.
Regaining control of his emotions, Mitsunari calmly walks to the lookout at the top of Osaka Castle.
He addresses the whole city with a powerful shout.
Mitsunari lets all of his feelings out in his speech, holding nothing back.
As Mitsunari continues shouting, people stop what they're doing and gaze up at him.
Including his allies.
And his friends.
Almost everyone is listening intently.
Mitsunari's impassioned speech carries to the farthest reaches of the castle grounds.
Many miles away, Ieyasu is giving a similar speech to his own army.
Ieyasu's honest demeanour gives his words a lot of power.
Hearing his lord's resolve, Tadatsugu mutters Ieyasu's childhood name of 'Takechiyo' under his breath.
The countdown is now over - the Battle of Sekigahara is beginning!
This episode was great; Mitsunari's seiyuu (Seki Tomokazu) stole the last five minutes with an incredibly heartfelt speech. While Ieyasu is much better at encouraging his troops than Mitsunari overall, I don't think any soldier in the Western Army could fail to be affected by the emotion that Mitsunari was projecting. The music was used well during those scenes, too. I was so excited at the end of the episode!
Still, I'm starting to wonder what happened to Kanbee. According to the countdown it's been weeks since he ran off in search of Kotarou - did he get lost on the way to Sunpu? Is he sitting in the ruins of Odawara Castle shouting in despair?
It's sad to think that there are only four episodes left.
Reminder: There's no new episode scheduled for next week due to a charity event in its time slot on NTV, so the next episode, titled Sekigahara, will air on Saturday 6th September 2014 instead.