Sengoku Basara: Judge End 08

Promise 「約束」

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Who knew Ishida could smile like that?

Let the battle begin. Sengoku Basara: Judge End has been building and pacing itself up quite nicely up to reach the eve of the Battle of Sekigahara, which hopefully promises 4 action-packed episodes to come. There’s been a lot of dialogue and a multitude of characters but I’m appreciating how the narrative has been handled well this time around compared to seasons 1 & 2. Granted, the production studio and staff probably had different priorities in mind. This episode in particular, cut the scenes between Ieyasu and Ishida really well as they went about giving their respective pre-battle speeches. The scriptwriting’s not phenomenal but it’s done a good job of showing us just exactly where the 4 main characters stand in this battle and more importantly, why they choose to believe in order to stand where they do in the battleground.

Both Ieyasu and Ishida made really compelling arguments about this war. They were once comrades who fought side by side, loyally protecting Hideyoshi’s goal of unifying Japan. From way back then, Ieyasu was talking about bonds and being lenient unto the enemy whereas Ishida’s fierce loyalty bid death upon anyone who wasn’t for Hideyoshi. They had each other’s back once at Sekigahara so it’s come full circle that this promised place between them is where they should meet to truly have that one real fight they promised one another. Ishida rallies his men and speaks his voice and thoughts for the first time, courtesy of Sanada Yukimura. He had nothing, knew nothing and had want of nothing, until Hideyoshi gave him something to live for. So it’s understandable just how devoted his loyalty is towards his slain master. Hideyoshi aimed to change and build a stronger Japan against evils such as that of Oda Nobunaga, who was eventually betrayed. Such irony it is that the man who went to war against such evil should himself be betrayed. That’s Ishida’s motivation for going to war – to kill the traitor Ieyasu, whom he blames for dragging the land of the rising sun back into the downward spiral of war and conflict. On the other side of the fault line, Ieyasu speaks of Hideyoshi’s rule by strength. He killed Hideyoshi because his brutality was getting out of control, beyond what Ieyasu could hold in anymore. What lies in a regime ruled on strength? What if a stronger power comes along and smashes that strength? Ieyasu’s motivation is of good intentions as well for the country – to climb the endless steps of war and to have a war to end all wars. I can’t choose sides because I genuinely thought both of them had good arguments for this coming war and isn’t that the truth in all fights? This is what sets season 3 apart from the first two – good scriptwriting, strong narratives, well paced and edited in a way that flows a story really well.

What of our main characters Date Masamune and Sanada Yukimura? The one-eyed dragon’s calm and sits for a tea break with the tiger cub before the final showdown. For rivals, one may think it’s awfully cordial of them to have a nice chit-chat but that’s just the kind of friendly rivalry they have. Why is Sanada in an alliance with Ishida? Because Sanada knows what it feels like to have lost a master and the sudden heavy responsibility burdened upon their shoulders so Sanada wants to be there for to support Ishida. What about Date? Manly jealousy (lol did you notice Sasuke glance sidewards at Kojurou when Date said that?) – Ieyasu’s got this one bombastic idea and goal he’s so focused on that Date wants to be there to help shoulder the responsibility. I guess Date and Sanada see themselves as some senior veterans who have to help newbies Ieyasu and Ishida in this war? Doubt the latter 2 would agree but oh well, as long as the party is reserved (バディーのリザーブ) who cares!

Amongst the supporting characters – the western forces are currently scattered but I reckon Chousoukabe’s up to something as he and his men set sail once again and Saika and Matsu-nee join forces to seek vengeance against Oda Nobunaga. Will Shingen and Kenshin join the foray eventually? 4 episodes of sheer action to come – bring it on Sengoku!

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