Sengoku Basara: Judge End 01

Farewell 「決別」

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LET’S PARTY! The 3rd season of Sengoku Basara starts off just the way its last 2 seasons have built a reputation for being – loud, over the top, hot-blooded mix of action, action and more sword fighting bombastic (literally) action. Welcome back to the Sengoku franchise! If you’ve not seen the first 2 seasons, it’s up to you to catch up on them if you’re in for the plot and historical accuracies/inaccuracies. Otherwise if like me, you’re just in for the action, fights and multitude of male seiyuus doing amazing voice acting jobs then just plunge straight into this newest season.

OP “Thunderclap” by Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

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The Story

Based on CAPCOM’s Sengoku Basara: Samurai Heroes, Sengoku Basara: Judge End continues during the warring times of feudal Japan, culminating in the historically renowned epic Battle of Sekigahara. I won’t profess to knowing just what exactly’s been going on in the first 2 seasons because with so many characters and names, over and above the sheer ridiculous action sequences and fights, I’m thoroughly entertained enough to blatantly ignore plot details and story lines. All anyone needs to know is that some factions are pro-unification, some are against unification and everyone fights from north all the way down to south of Japan. Sometimes the differing factions band together against a greater enemy and sometimes they switch alliances because of various factors – political marriages, lack of resources etc. I didn’t study Japanese history heck I didn’t even do history much in school so without a doubt, I’m partially lost as to the plot, guided by characters (I can’t even remember their names) and their awesome weaponry. But the warring feudal times in the 1600s is a very, very popular anime/manga story for fodder because it was epic, there were many fights to the death and at the same time, very romantic – it was the era of the samurai after all where loyalty to one’s faction and master was the rule above all. So you can imagine the allure to both male and female viewers (the number of ships sailed in this franchise…) of all ages.

If you’re the type of viewer who needs to know the exact comings and goings then by all means, read it up on wikipedia. Be warned however that plenty of liberties has been taken in Sengoku. For starters, one-eyed dragon Date Masamune wields 6 swords in 2 hands (yup, 6 swords, all at the same time) and sprouts random English phrases such as ‘are you ready guys’, ‘let’s party’ and swears in English too. Oh and did I mention he rides a pseudo Harley Davidson horse? Then there’s the tough love between master Takeda Shingen and his loyal servant Sanada Yukimura who can only communicate by bashing each other up. This is a game-based adaptation after all so it’s no surprise Honda Tadakatsu’s a robot warrior with lightning attack capabilities right?

The opening episode of Judge End goes right into a massive attack by Hideyoshi Toyotomi along with his posse comprising Takenaka Hanbei, Tokugawa Ieyasu and Ishida Mitsunari. Basically what happens is that Hideyoshi’s a tough ruler who’s keen on shedding blood to achieve his goal of unification, whereas peace-loving Ieyasu aims to unite everyone through building strong bonds with one another. Ieyasu eventually K.O.s Hideyoshi with a powerful blast that’ll put nuclear bombs to shame and seeing his master killed (rather anti-climatically though the story does need to move that quickly), Mitsunari screams, and screams, and screams and aims to seek revenge upon Ieyasu one day. What a start.

The Seiyuus

Here’s why I started watching Sengoku – Nakai Kazuya, Morikawa Toshiyuki, Hoshi Souichiro, Koyasu Takehito, Ookawa Touru, Morita Masakazu, Park Romi, Noto Mamiko, Okiayu Ryoutaro, Ishida Akira, Hayami Sho, Seki Tomokazu, Namikawa Daisuke and Fujiwara Keiji. If that’s not enough, here’s more joining the gang in Judge End – Fukuyama Jun, Oohara Sayaka, Koyama Rikiya, Saiga Mitsuki (as narrator) and even TM Revolution’s Nishikawa Takanori, who sang both season 1 and 2 OPs.  

Usually, the only way to watch an anime with that many male seiyuus involved is in BL or reverse-harem/otome-game adaptations, both of which turn me off with lacklustre plots and lame dialogue. So the next best alternative is in long shounen franchises such as Fairy Tail, Naruto, Bleach and One Piece. But those are hundreds of episodes long. So when Sengoku came along in 2009,  I was on board from day one without looking back ever since! Just in this opening episode alone, I was flinching and gasping from the quick pacing and certain rather exciting scenes, all thanks to these seiyuus doing excellent voice acting work:

1. Date Masamune (Nakai) & Katakura Kojuurou (Morikawa) vs  Mitsunari (Seki ) 

Whoa, that escalated quickly. Kojuurou’s agony in protecting his lord Date, who in turn struggled to keep up with Mitsunari – all 3 seiyuus were beyond perfect in getting the right amount of hoarse/harshness in their voices. Kudos to Seki though for going from calm, composed loyal servant keen on getting his job done quick in order to return to protect his lord, to sounding frantic and panicky upon hearing Hideyoshi-sama’s screams.

2. Takenaka Hanbei

Ishida Akira you always renew my love for your voice even with the smallest of roles. Such gentleness even in Hanbei’s final moments can only come from you in order to illicit any pity for the enemy. Truly, my breath was taken away by those few scenes. Death never sounded more desperate (yes I’m sadistic so what).

3. Sarutobi Sasuke

Koyasu saying his famous one-liner やれやれ (roughly translates to ‘oh dear’) was enough for me, even if the Takeda-Sanada fist fights is starting to get an itsy bit old.

4. Ishida Mitsunari 

I’m a fan of Seki’s from waaaay back, like Fushigi Yuugi in 1995 back (same for Koyasu). And it’s delightful to hear him in not just Sengoku this season but also in Psycho Pass. 2 very different characters and he’s nailed the crazy, blinded by rage for revenge Ishida in those last couple of minutes. He’s moved up as main character this instalment so that’s reason enough to keep watching Judge End.

FUNimation is behind the production yet again but this time without their usual Production I.G. partners. The art and visuals are noticeably different now that we’ve got a completely different set of production staff. However, what matters most is that the action is still as sleek and well animated. They’ve really gone all out in this opening episode – just look at those background illustrations and the interspersing of 2 different but equally important fight sequences! Sawano Hiroyuki’s first 2 OSTs – they actually sound different to what later becomes his signature composition style in Guilty Crown and Shingeki so have a listen to his pre-fame days, are a tough fight to beat so can anime composing newcomer Tokuda Masahiro shine through in his debut here? He’s got the experience from CMs and jdoramas but we’re talking epic battles here. All in all, a GREAT start to the 3rd season and judging by the OP/ED sequences, the focus is going to be on the friendly Date-Sanada rivalry and the betrayal/revenge of Ieyasu-Mitsunari. I’m totally hyped up anyway so who cares about the story, LET’S PARTY!

ED “Hokkyoukusei~Polaris~” by Ishikawa Chiaki

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