Saturday, 20 September 2014

Anime review: Sengoku Basara Judge End episode 11

More scores are settled as the series heads towards its grand finale. We're gradually getting closer to the decisive battle!

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.

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 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.

While all of this was happening, Ieyasu travelled around Japan in an attempt to unite other commanders and form an army to rival Mitsunari's. At first he was only able to gain the support of Houjou Ujimasa and his bodyguard, the legendary ninja Fuuma Kotarou. His luck changed when Yukimura's longtime rival Date Masamune declared his allegiance to the fledgling 'Eastern Army'.

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.


Poor Akatsukimaru.


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.

15 comments:

  1. I guess it was obvious that Ieyasu's whole bloody image was him putting the country back into chaos. Well at least he is not evil.

    I was for one REALLY HAPPY for that eclipse to show up. The whole battle of sekigahara on plain daylight was so boring(Also that Honnoji temple was so out of place lol), they should at least cover the battlefield in a mist or make the setting more darker and conflicted.

    Next, we have Ieyasu and Mitsunari duking out on the REAL Sekigahara and probably Masamune and Yukimura having a battle some where else (Hint Hint, hopefully they have it "there")

    I expect Sakai to jump back in the next episode because someone promised us something.

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    1. Agree about the eclipse and weather. Seeing Gyobu vs Kojurou (I really liked their scene though) and the general drama of the whole battle in cheerful sunny daylight was a mood mismatch.

      Imagine the dramatic showdowns in next ep and then Sakai I mean Revolution!! comes running in his weirdass outfit, hmmm how will this work

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    2. Yes, darkness doesn't look as flashy but here the eclipse added some much-needed atmosphere. They kept teasing by showing the moon overhead throughout the episode but somehow I was still surprised when it finally happened and transitioned into the ending.

      Apparently KobaP mentioned that Sakai was created to give someone to talk to as part of the audio commentary on the first Blu-ray/DVD, so I'm not too hopeful he'll get a chance to redeem himself... but man, I really hope he comes back and does something. We've all been wondering about his fighting style for such a long time (lol).

      Since this episode had such a great moment at the end, I wonder what they'll do for the finale to top it? They'll probably just do something normal like play the opening over the credits but it would be awesome if Revolution suddenly breaks out a classic TMR song for a stylish finale.

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  2. Thank goodness the Ieyasu I know and love is finally, finally FINALLY here!

    Watching the Tokugawa army crumble to pieces these past episodes (Tadatsugu being converted, Tadakatsu depowering) really took an emotional toll on me. The scene with Gyoubu reminds me that he does have a kinder side to him that not even he knows about.

    Still, it's painful to see that all my observations about Ieyasu have been proven correct: With Masamune leaving (temporarily; I know he'll be back for one hell of a crazy PARTY with Yukimura), Tadatsugu converted to Xavism, Tadakatsu dead (I really hope the last two don't stick), Ieyasu marches on alone. We've only seen glances of the emotional turmoil roiling inside of him, and this episode finally showcases it. And to hammer the last nail in the coffin, he's refused to speak about it to anyone but Tadakatsu (who is mute and now dead), he really does come off as a hypocrite.

    Why, husbando, WHY?! Why must you make cry like this?! ;(

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    1. I felt even sadder seeing Tadakatsu powering down than Gyoubu suffering ;_;

      Somehow Tadakatsu's stoic silence makes it feel even more cruel, and I'm with you in hoping that they aren't actually dead. The deep loyalty all of these people have for their lords is probably my favourite part of the entire series; their respect and affection makes me feel that the world isn't so bad after all.

      It's going to be interesting to see how Ieyasu goes from here. Since so many different routes have been merged and enhanced to make this storyline, it feels to me as though both Ieyasu and Mitsunari have more weight on their shoulders as they walk towards one another than in any of the other Sengoku Basara 3 adaptations so far.

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  3. Nice episode! Go to hell. Okay? = classic. Masamune even acknowledged what a huge support Kojuurou is to him. About time! Yes you’re lucky to have such extreme loyality around.

    The magical barriers looks like giant icecreams but hey it gives them a chance to a truly private meeting/duel. Judging by the extreme shockwaves that happens when main characters clash it’s probably the best for the other’s safety heh.

    The writers managed to make Tadakatsu’s passing slightly tragic, that’s a feat.

    Is it just me or is Aniki with his tiny crew on that little (compared to his other ships) monsterboat vs okrahat with the cheesy pirate sondtrack in the background kinda endearing?
    I like how it included Mori’s narcississtic breakdown. It’s satisfying to see him loose his cool.

    I’ve my compaints about JE but it’s so engaging to watch, many good scenes, it’s sad there is only one episode left.

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    1. I enjoyed seeing Mitsunari and Masamune bickering at the beginning so much now that Masamune has regained his pride :D

      That's a good point about the safety aspect; if those two tore that massive crack in the ground when fighting together as friends, they could very well destroy the planet as enemies. Hmm.

      JE certainly isn't perfect, but I've enjoyed (almost) every moment. It's going to suck going back to no regular weekly dose of Sengoku Basara in a few days so I hope KobaP has a lot of good things planned for the future.

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  4. Omg, character deaths happened T.T

    Mori finally getting his just desserts was sooooo satisfying, but everything else happening in this episode really punched me in the guts.

    Yoshitsugu realizing he wanted to protect Mitsunari-in time to die; Tadakatsu protecting Shimazu as they fell-in time to die *sobs*

    I just...I don't know what to expect for the next (final?) episode! Part of me wants to enjoy Masamune and Yukimura duking it out (although Sanada might be injured; could they actually go far enough to show his character death if he loses to Masamune? D: ), but I wouldn't mind if they were set aside so that the episode could focus on Mitsunari and Ieyasu's fight.

    What are the odds that Mitsunari lives? Without Yoshitsugu, with the way his character has been portrayed, it might damage him too much to go on, so dying seems kinder in a narrative way. Ieyasu of course is equally screwed emotionally, but he's got enough at-arms-length comrades to make it through (plus, at least his living would be one historical fact that's semi accurate, lol)

    Ahhh...I think I'm too emotionally invested in this season, haha. The little I've seen of the previous 2 seasons had enough lolwut whackiness to just enjoy them as is, but this Judge End was pretty grim all things considered.

    (Oh well, looking forward to the next reboot with the SB4 characters, lalala~ ^_^)

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    1. They're certainly not afraid to make people die (or look as though they died) this time around. I hope they won't kill Yukimura since that would feel really weird! However the main fight between Ieyasu and Mitsunari ends up, I'd be satisfied with the long-awaited Masamune versus Yukimura battle ending in a draw as usual :)

      I felt bad for Motonari because I'm secretly on his side (my partner is a Motochika fan so we always disagree about who should win, but Motochika's much more heroic so I guess it's fair...).

      It's possible that Mitsunari and Ieyasu will somehow manage to resolve things in a happier way, I suppose, then they could support one another as they did in the old days (especially if they've both lost their most loyal retainers and friends). But the creators seem to prefer the tragic outcomes, so I'm going to be really anxious right up until the end of the episode ;_;

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    2. Mellusia - Yes! SB4 anime please! Since people were so confused about this anime imagine everyone who don’t know about the games reacting a SB4 anime though, where everything is reset again. I wonder how the creators would solve that.
      Possibility that next episode will be a spectacular punch right in the feelings: Alarmingly high.

      Raindrops: Were you disappointed about Mori losing? Imagine it ending with him lasering the - unlike in the Last Party - underdog Motochika to death, oh god D:
      While Mori is interesting, and while Motochika blasted him unarmed, I’m definitely on the pirate side here. He actually cares about people, and I can’t get over that Mori tried to make him kill his own good friend. Got so mad about that in the game.

      Would like bonus ep about Mori simply thrown away very far by the blast and landed in Sorin’s land :3

      PS) god those chibis in the other post are so cute. Why so unobtainable.

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    3. If anyone from Capcom is reading this I think Lumi should be in charge of writing the finale somehow, even if a time machine is required. That bonus episode idea is magnificent and also potentially solves the problem of Revolution not having enough screen time.

      I wasn't disappointed with Motonari's loss since he's such an irredeemable jerk that it was obvious that he had it coming. I just felt sorry for him because he's so easy to relate to (what this says about me, I'm not sure). It would have been pretty awful if he'd murdered poor Motochika on top of everything he went though in this series!

      I want all of the event-only badges from the other post... They should really gather all of these rare pieces of art into a pretty illustration book one day so that everyone can enjoy them properly.

      If they make the next anime project Mame Sengoku Basara 4 they can reset the timeline and get everyone used to the new characters before dropping the full storyline on them later when they've forgotten the original sequence of events :D

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    4. Thanks for promoting me as plot writer LOL. But they did pretty well with the last ep!
      Yes would like artbook like that pls.

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  5. I like how Motochika's conversation with Motonari in this episode is the same (word by word) as his alternative route scenario in Basara 3 (which is one of the best scenes in the entire franchise). Still its fun to see Motonari's villainous breakdown in this episode (kudos for his VA for pulling that off).

    Other than that, great episode and looking forward to the final one.

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    1. I think of all of the 'villainous' characters in the series, Motonari is probably my favourite because he's such a snake, and so complicated. He's a natural enemy for someone so straightforward as Aniki and Nakahara's cold voice is just perfect *_*

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