First thing is first. The art style...overall I wasn't won over by it. I love all different styles and I thought for sure by the end of the season I would appreciate the style for what it was, but I found that only Ieyasu looked better in this style (maybe I felt it aged him a bit?). Kojuurou in particular really suffered, I noticed he was constantly drawn with a small head and strange angles that just didn't work for me. Sasuke as well, I can't even quite explain what was wrong with him but looking at stills of him, I guess it's the same as Kojuurou, there's something lacking in his design for me.
The battle scenes were definitely a pro for me! Having them be so bloody and visceral really amped up the adrenaline factor for me. As much as I prefer how the previous seasons were handled on a plot scale, the fights here definitely feel more epic and like they have much more weight to them. I really thought not only Tadakatsu, Mori, and Yoshitsugu were dead, I thought Mitsunari was going to die too.
The plot is where it all fell apart for me, and as much as I love fight scenes, obviously that can't be all there is to an anime. The reason I'm so conflicted is because there are individual MOMENTS that I loved, even though I feel like it wasn't so much a reinterpretation of canon as bastardization (in a loving way of course) of it, but overall the show dragged endlessly during the "countdown" portion, and since I'm not a Masamune/Yukimura fan (I don't like them as a couple, but I'm writing this more as a general comment, so what I mean is I feel their rivalry is just a little too hyped, especially because it lacks what I feel is adequate trigger for it.) It ruined what I feel like was an anime supposed to focus more on the Sekigahara plot. I loved Masamune's fight with Mitsunari, and after being unimpressed with him all season (normally I love Masamune so I was surprised to find him grating on my nerves!) I was glad to see him acknowledge Kojuurou and them being back to being the unstoppable duo.
The humour felt a little misplaced this season too, I didn't really need a break from the otherwise serious and heavy battle scene to see "Revolution" convert to Xavism. I laughed more out of absolute shock than any real humour.
Otani. Yes, Otani deserves his own paragraph. (This character is way underloved, so getting so much of him in this anime? Yes please!) I was just blown away by all the choices they laid out for him in Judge End! When I thought he died, I was irritated because I felt like it kind of cheapened the canon where he sacrifices his life for Mitsunari directly instead of in a far off battle. But having Kojuurou be the one to recite Mouri's lines? That was a completely unexpected and incredible change in my opinion. And changing it at the end there, with Kojuurou adding in dialogue that feels true to his character, I loved it. Not to mention the fact that I adore the relationships between Tadakatsu and Ieyasu, and Otani and Mitsunari, so to see them all alive at the end was just...I loved it.
The fact that the "decisive battle at Sekigahara" had no victor left me with mixed feelings despite my overwhelming need for happy endings, but I like that they respected that Ieyasu and Mitsunari are characters that will never, ever get along again. Keeping that bone deep hatred and despair Mitsunari has for Ieyasu felt true enough to me that I was able to get over what I feel was a bit of a cheap ending for such a heavy season.
Overall I feel like I'm back where I was at the beginning...conflicted about this whole thing!
I would love to hear everyone's thoughts and feelings on this season! Do you think they left it open ended on purpose? Are we in for another season? Love Judge End? Hate it? Tell me! I need to talk to other fans!