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 nine episodes are available. They charge a monthly fee for the service.
J-ONE (France only)
A French-subtitled broadcast is taking place on J-ONE - Canalsat (50) and Numericable (38). 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 ten 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 eleven 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 worked to expand the former Toyotomi army by building alliances with the Mouri, Kuroda, Shimazu, Ootomo, Tachibana and Kobayakawa clans. Chousokabe Motochika participated for a short time before discovering that his original reasons for siding with Mitsunari were based on deception. After some soul searching, the newly appointed general of the Takeda clan - Sanada Yukimura - decided that the Takeda forces would join Mitsunari's growing 'Western Army' too, accompanied by Uesugi Kenshin's trusted ninja, Kasuga.
Elsewhere, Maeda Keiji joined up with the powerful Saika mercenaries, his aunt Matsu and the oracle Tsuruhime in order to defeat Akechi Mitsuhide, now known as Tenkai, before he could bring Oda Nobunaga back to life.
Although Tenkai's plan almost succeeded, he was unexpectedly struck down by Oichi after she was possessed by a demon. The situation was safely resolved and now only one question remains: which army will be triumphant at the Battle of Sekigahara?
Episode 11: Shinpan ('Judgement')
Continuing straight on from the fight which ended last week's episode, Ieyasu asks Yukimura whether he thinks Mitsunari still despises him.
The focus then switches straight to Mitsunari's camp, where he's being confronted by Masamune.
There's no love lost between the two proud warriors.
As they draw their weapons, their words are full of scorn and confidence.
Not far from where their lords are fighting, Yoshitsugu and Kojuurou are still locked in combat.
The two of them are naturally concerned about their lords. Yoshitsugu tries to manipulate Kojuurou with this knowledge.
However, Kojuurou is still completely confident in Masamune.
Although Kojuurou destroys a set of his floating beads, Yoshitsugu isn't defeated so easily.
His overpowering hatred turns him into a terrifying spectre.
It looks as though Yoshitsugu has the upper hand, but he wavers for a moment over Mitsunari.
This gives Kojuurou the opening he needs to defeat him.
To add to his humiliation, Kojuurou was able to sense Yoshitsugu's kinder side.
Yoshitsugu is left crawling on the floor as Kojuurou rushes away to find Masamune.
The gravity-defying battle between Shimazu Yoshihiro and Tadakatsu continues to rage, with Yoshihiro somehow propelling himself back up when he starts to fall through sheer force of will.
While he won't give in, eventually his weapon does, shattering in mid-air. Tadakatsu grabs Yoshihiro protectively as the pair fall. There's a huge explosion when they finally hit the ground.
Motonari has Motochika's Akatsukimaru surrounded by flames.
It doesn't look good for Motochika.
But still, the two continue to trade insults.
The huge mirror then expands to reveal even more mirrors.
Motonari continues the onslaught.
Motochika is clearly worried...
...but he's not finished yet!
Akatsukimaru leaps up into the air.
The deadly sunlight continues to track the pirate fortress but Motochika gains the upper hand when he manages to block the sun with the ship's bulk.
The mirror is destroyed, and the fight moves to the ground.
Motochika insults Motonari's ties to his men, drawing strength from his own.
Moments after the duel resumes, Motonari's ringblade flies from his hands in separate pieces.
Motochika calls on his allies for the finishing blow.
The fallen Akatsukimaru blasts away Motonari with a surprise attack from its cannon. He doesn't even have time to dodge.
With that, the focus shifts back to the ongoing fight between Masamune and Mitsunari. Kojuurou finally reaches his lord.
Mitsunari is showing signs of the emotional strain he's under throughout the battle.
But while Mitsunari is suffering, Masamune's confidence is unshakeable.
In the end, Masamune manages to disarm Mitsunari...
...and wins the fight. Mitsunari is stunned.
Masamune spares Mitsunari, showing how much he's grown since the humiliation he experienced at the start of the series.
Mitsunari clearly has a lot on his mind.
Yukimura finally answers Ieyasu's question from the very start of the episode. Mitsunari is a pure person.
Ieyasu immediately understands what Yukimura is saying, and agrees, clearly feeling sympathy for his enemy on the other side of the battlefield.
Elsewhere, it looks as though Tadakatsu was able to protect Yoshihiro from the fall.
Clearly wounded (damaged?), he slowly makes his way to the edge of the impact crater in which he landed and reaches up towards the impending eclipse.
Taking his prayer beads, Tadakatsu summons the last of his strength.
Elsewhere, Yoshitsugu is doing exactly the same thing. The two loyal warriors manage to create a strange light in the sky.
Ieyasu marches through the battling soldiers, his mind made up.
The light coalesces into two tunnels of light which meet in the middle.
(Yukimura's facial expression mirrored mine at this point.)
Yoshitsugu slumps in exhaustion.
While Tadakatsu powers down.
With no more distractions, Mitsunari and Ieyasu head towards one another through the tunnels of light.
It's finally time for the decisive battle.
The eclipse leads into the first frames of the ending sequence beautifully.
Next week's episode will be the last of the series, titled Shirube ('Emblem').
I can't believe that there's only one episode left!
This episode was pretty good, a mix of cool moments and slightly odd ones. I liked that they paid tribute to Tadakatsu and Gyoubu protecting their masters in the game even though it played out a little differently this time. I always end up taking dozens of pictures of Gyoubu each time he appears because his face is so interesting to watch.
Most of the supporting characters seem to have disappeared to let the main plot progress, and I guess it looks as though Tadatsugu really is gone for good. The poor guy. Perhaps he'll get to be relevant to the storyline in some future manga spin-off one day.