Saturday, 6 September 2014

Anime review: Sengoku Basara Judge End episode 9

Today's episode was probably the most exciting yet! If the rest of the series continues like this, I'll be a very happy person...

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 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, 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 eight 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 eight 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.

Important reminder

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.

Summary

The rest of this post contains spoilers for the first nine 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 known as the 'Demon King', 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, bringing Uesugi Kenshin's trusted ninja Kasuga along with him. Meanwhile, Chousokabe Motochika has struck out on his own after learning that his original reasons for siding with Mitsunari were based on deception.

While all of this is happening, Ieyasu is travelling around Japan to unite other commanders and form an army to rival Mitsunari's. However, aside from the shattered remnants of the Houjou clan, Ieyasu has been struggling to gain supporters; his respectful approach is no match for the scheming of the Western Army's tacticians. His luck changes when Yukimura's longtime rival Date Masamune declares his allegiance to the fledgling 'Eastern Army'.

Elsewhere, Maeda Keiji has joined up with the powerful Saika mercenaries and the oracle Tsuruhime. After successfully rescuing Keiji's missing aunt, Matsu, the group stumbles upon a troubling new discovery: Kobayakawa Hideaki's advisor, Tenkai, has revealed himself to be Akechi Mitsuhide in disguise. He's absconded with both Kasuga and Oda Nobunaga's sister, Oichi, in his clutches. Tenkai's plan is to revive the Demon King and plunge the world into endless darkness.

With Tenkai's whereabouts currently unknown, the era's greatest warriors assemble at Sekigahara for the ultimate showdown between the Western and Eastern armies.

Episode 9: Sekigahara

The episode begins with a short, regretful narration by Ieyasu, reflecting back on the time he and Mitsunari made their pledge at Sekigahara. Both armies have gathered to face one another on either side of the huge crack in the ground.


Masamune asks Ieyasu whether this is what he wanted.


Ieyasu answers that rather than the battle, he's looking forward to what comes next.


A similar discussion is taking place far away in the Western Army command area. Yukimura can't wait to face Masamune again.


Sasuke acknowledges that Yukimura has begun to resemble Oyakata-sama.


Mitsunari, meanwhile, is beside himself with excitement now that the moment of his revenge is finally drawing closer.


The two leaders give the orders to their armies, and the battle officially begins!


Ieyasu tells Tadatsugu that he's relying on him as he heads out to fight.


Masamune and Ieyasu wait in the command area for now.


Tadatsugu is surprised when the first enemy soldiers he encounters are parading around singing on the battlefield.


It's the Ootomo army, trying to take advantage of the situation to promote the joys of Xavism.


Even Muneshige is playing the cymbals (while privately despairing).


Elsewhere on the battlefield, Kobayakawa 'Kingo' Hideaki is terrified - there's still no sign of Tenkai!


Shimazu Yoshihiro is waiting on the sidelines, looking forward to a rematch with Tadakatsu.


Fuuma Kotarou is darting across the battlefield, hotly pursued by two people for completely different reasons.


Kuroda Kanbee is convinced that Kotarou will be able to help him escape from his shackles once and for all.


Tsuruhime had been with Ieyasu at the start of the battle, but she left the moment that her beloved Kotarou was sent out.


Suddenly, a beam of blazing heat cuts through the nearby Tokugawa soldiers. It's Mouri Motonari and his secret weapon, a huge mirror.


Tsuruhime scolds Motonari...


...and is completely ignored.


Motonari is far more interested in someone else.


That 'someone' is Motonari's arch rival Chousokabe Motochika.


Motochika's enormous mobile weapon 'Akatsukimaru' lurches out of the water and joins the battle.


Intently watching the developments below, Ieyasu calls on Tadakatsu next.


But the Western Army has a plan to counter Ieyasu's powerful ally. Yoshitsugu sends a signal to the Shimazu troops.


Tadakatsu launches from the Eastern Army's camp.


And at the same time, Shimazu Yoshihiro launches himself from the hidden 'Satsuma Human Cannon' he had prepared.


Known as the 'Sengoku's Strongest', Tadakatsu is widely feared as a formidable foe.


Yoshihiro isn't afraid, though; his enemy's reputation only makes him more determined to challenge him.


The two rivals clash in mid-air.


Yoshihiro's boldness gives everyone a surprise.


Mitsunari orders the Western Army to advance but not everyone listens. Kanbee is intent on finding Kotarou and disregards the command, while Kingo remembers Ieyasu's kindness and compares it to the cruel way he's treated by Mitsunari.


On the fringe of the battlefield, Sakai Tadatsugu is no longer paying any attention to the fighting.


Sourin is staging an impromptu mid-battle confession in the guise of counselling.


Tadatsugu speaks of his sorrow over the way that Ieyasu has changed since he was a young boy.


Sourin promises him salvation through Xavi...


...and abruptly baptises him on the spot.


Tadatsugu's baptismal name is decided: 'Revolution'!


Freed from all of his worries, Tadatsugu experiences a moment of pure bliss.


His objective achieved, Sourin immediately loses interest in the main battle.


Tsuruhime is still making herself a nuisance by following Motonari. He turns his enormous mirror on her, intending to burn her to death.


It looks bleak for Tsuruhime until Motochika suddenly arrives and protects her.


Things take an even more ominous turn when Tenkai is spotted moving through the soldiers, leaving a trail of blood from wounds on his arms.


Mitsunari demands to know why Motonari, Kanbee, Sourin and Kingo aren't following their orders.


At this point, Kingo has more or less decided to do nothing at all and switched to eating his favourite nabe hotpot.


He's overjoyed when he hears word that Tenkai is nearby.


Saika Magoichi's pursuit of Tenkai has brought her, Keiji and Matsu all the way to Sekigahara. She orders her troops to disregard the war and aim straight for Tenkai - or rather, for Akechi Mitsuhide.


Full of concern for Kasuga, Sasuke heads over to Tenkai and demands to know where she is. Tenkai denies any knowledge of Kasuga and the two end up fighting.


Kingo watches with great distress as Tenkai sustains more wounds.


With a heavy heart, Kingo orders his soldiers to rescue his friend Tenkai.


Of course, this means going against his allies in the Western Army.


Mitsunari is not pleased when he hears the news.


Yukimura is surprised, but Mitsunari is barely able to control his rage at the confirmation of yet another betrayal.


Yoshitsugu curses Kingo for his actions.


Magoichi arrives on the scene with her soldiers and is horrified by what she sees.


As blood is shed, a dark miasma begins to rise up around Tenkai.


The dark miasma protects Tenkai and slowly takes the shape of dark hands.


It's Oichi, and as she comes out of hiding she finally recognises Mitsuhide for what he is.


But it's too late; the sky clouds over and Oichi becomes a pawn in Mitsuhide's evil plan.


At his command, a dark structure rises out of the crack in the ground. It appears to be Honnouji, the temple complex where Oda Nobunaga lost his life.


Mitsunari is beyond furious at this point, but Yukimura asks him to send his forces out on the battlefield.


Mitsunari calms down and gives Yukimura the order.


Over in Ieyasu's camp, Masamune tells his commander that he'll be heading out too.


The two rivals head towards the battlefield...


...and that's all for now! Next week's episode will be titled Shitou ('Fight To The Death').

--

Wow! This was some seriously entertaining stuff; the episode seemed to be over in an instant because so much was going on. I love that the previously-neglected characters such as Yoshihiro are finally getting a chance to show what they're really capable of in this series - even though Ujimasa and Kanbee are still out of luck with tiny roles. The thrill of the week was when probably the moment that Motochika emerged from the water in his Akatsukimaru; I'm not even a big Aniki fan but it made me shiver with excitement. Oichi's scene was magnificent too, and I wasn't expecting the odd twist with Tadatsugu at all. Well played, Sourin.

The big question left in my mind now is about Kasuga. She seemed to be alive last time we saw the Oda procession so I'm rather concerned. Please find her, Sasuke.

14 comments:

  1. I thought Nobunaga was going to return by taking the elevator from hell up through the chasm at Sekigahara. ”Quiet you fools! Can’t I even enjoy a drink peacefully in hell?!”

    In other news
    -Shimazu canon *shakes head*
    -Wtf zombies continue. Kasuga is either a zombie or chilling with Kenshin somewhere already
    -W.T.F ”REVOLUTION” noooo I almost died. He still has no weapon and even less clothes now, he will surely die next ep. Congrats Sorin to the convert!
    -Wtf did Oichi get hit by random lightening or what, cheap
    -That one cloned cg soldier got a lot do to today
    - KINGO’S POT ARMY haha I almost died again
    - Yukimura and Mitsunari keep being a good team. They're both burning soul + overly polite + Yukimura can actually use his head

    Well that was something. It kind of reminded me more of the previous SB anime in terms of weirdness.

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    1. Mitsuhide got another power-up. Not only he controls zombies, now he can teleport entire building from Kyoto... btw, why did he steal the reconstructed temple? I don't think the urn with Nobunaga's ashes is kept there. I also don't think it is the original temple with alive Nobunaga Mitsuhide brought from the past. The purpose of temple-stealing remains unclear.
      I also thought Nobunaga would emerge from the chasm.

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    2. I loved the chaos when so many characters got together all in one place - the feel-good ridiculousness was classic, and there was so much fan service for those who had played the games!

      Hmm, zombie-Kasuga. While I'd definitely prefer to see her alive, it would be interesting...

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    3. Perhaps the original temple where Nobunaga died is somehow where his soul has been trapped ever since? I guess they were trying to replicate the effect of resembling the way the encounters appear on the map in the game rather than worrying about how logical it all was...

      It's a shame we didn't see Judge End's version of Nobunaga's original death playing out properly (perhaps we will later?) as it might explain things better.

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  2. REVOLUTION!!! I'm seriously dying right now for the laughs ahahaha! I expect now he will fight with the sound of rock and Xavism, give him a mic and an electric guitar XD Satsuma-style human projectile lol, i expected Gyobu to take flight and fight him like the game. The Mitsunari-Yukimura duo is very good, they both benefits from the alliance in terms of experience and personality, it helps them grow. I expected to see Takeda's cavalry though. And we have the poor Kanbe that in the midst of the battle is looking for Fuuma that probably do not have the key XD Tsuru is annoyng Mori telling him is bad to use the sun as a gigantic fire shooting laser and of course he takes action but then here comes Motochika to the rescue, what a noble pirate he is. I am actually looking forward for Motochika vs Mori. For Tenkai to show up and mess with the battle was clear from the beginning but the zombie army is a touch of class, now let's all sing "Thriller" with the xavits and we're done (add a dancing sequence like the one in the credits of The Last Party) XD Seriously Oichi's dark hands grabbed from hell the entire Honnou-ji ? I wonder what else can be taken out of it XD For sure Kasuga is trapped somewhere, i bet we will see soon a glorious sight of Kenshin with his army coming to the rescue. I'd like to see Toshie too to join the fray.

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    1. Drawing Takeda's cavalry was too expensive, it appears. I spotted lots of ashigaru and almost no riding samurai.

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    2. I thought exactly the same when Gyoubu started to move forwards to counter Tadakatsu - then they changed it, but in an awesome way. It's a shame about the horses (even though I hate them in the games because I suck...) but let's hope for the other characters to come rushing in at the end to assist their loved ones!

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    3. Deal with them from distance or evade and attack when they stop XD I really liked the pumped theme while everything started to move with strategies and counter-strategies from both sides.

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    4. But...terrifying mounted soldiers! I don't know why, I'm completely terrible at judging the enemies which rush (like the trios of spear-users which pop up all the time on Naotora's stage) and end up losing my combo way too often :D

      Can't wait for the Judge End soundtrack. I didn't really notice it for the first few episodes but it works well with all the intense battles.

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  3. Am I the only one who thinks Tasatsugu's instant battlefield conversion as being unexpectedly tragic, rather than being ridiculously humorous? Think about what the guy said: he and Ieyasu used to be real close, but now, they rarely talk, and Ieyasu doesn't even confide with Tadakatsu. Hell, the very fact that one of the Eastern Army's most able generals, let alone the supreme commander's childhood friend, is immediately converted to a shady religion by a missionary from the opposing forces speaks volumes about the tragedy that is the Tokugawa clan.

    Also, fuck you, Sorin.

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    Replies
    1. I think you may be the only one I've encountered, though I can certainly see where you're coming from. I think a lot of people (myself included) are so thrilled that Sourin actually got to do something in a battle (and something which fits his personality, at that) that Tadatsugu's self-destruction as a character hasn't really hit home yet. There was so much fan service in that episode that it blew my mind.

      I do wonder if they're ever going to use Tadatsugu properly though. The poor guy still has no sign of a weapon or fighting style even on a massive battlefield like Sekigahara. It's possible that he uses hand to hand martial arts, I guess, but I'd still like to see him in action before the series ends.

      Perhaps he's infiltrating the Xavists and he's going to come through for Ieyasu when it counts (even I don't quite believe this).

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  4. Someone mentioned zombie Kasuga?

    If she can somehow retain her self control via a prayer slip ala Hsien Ko/Leilei, I could go for it. OTHERWISE NO HISS BOO NOT MY KASUGA

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    1. I feel as though it's something that should be explored through fan art at some point. Retaining her sense of self would definitely be preferable to becoming a mindless minion of Tenkai, though (Matsu's already got that covered for this series).

      They were so careful to show Kasuga with the Oda troops a couple of episodes ago that she can't be far away. I wonder where she's gone? I'm guessing she either escaped and ran off to tell Kenshin what was going on or she's somewhere in Oichi's logic-defying sea of darkness waiting to be brought out...

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    2. Oh dear what have I started? It was just a jokey comment because she was nowhere in sight. Anyway, now in 10 she appeared safely on the battlefield so was probably hidden in that logic-defying sea of darkness somewhere. Weird though.

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