Nobunaga the Fool: I’m still fairly uncertain as to how I feel about it but I shall call it a historical clustermess meets Gundam.
***BEWARE OF SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT***
It isn’t the first time that mecha and history have combined and I doubt that Nobunaga will be the last. The plot itself isn’t entirely complex as it is oftentimes completely incomprehensible, at least for my little mind. The basic premise is that there is the Western and Eastern Planets – literally planets as in floating globes in space that carry life – and they are in relatively close spatial proximity to each other. I presume the planets reflect the distance between the historical cultures of the East and West, i.e. Japan and the United Kingdom in this context, and we all know how fond the Japanese are of European history, particularly the renaissance period. The whole concept of the show is quite cool, really, regardless of how it kind of boggles me. Despite being halfway through it I still can’t decide whether I like it or not, which is strange seeing as I usually make up my mind by the second or third episode. But this is…complicated. It’s a mix-match of Japanese 16th Century history and clashes quite intriguingly with Western history, with notable names such as Jeanne d’Arc, Leonardo da Vinci, General Caesar and, of course Oda Nobunaga. The Eastern Planet is in a state of civil war, and while there is trade that goes on between the Eastern and Western planet, it’s limited to specific places and specific goods as their relationship is strained too, possibly because of the technological and military difference, namely the gigantic fighting robots, one of which Nobunaga himself stumbles across, and aptly names The Fool. From then on it’s a series of battles in defence from greedy shoguns and lords and Nobunaga and his friends at the centre of it all with their magic, technology and military prowess. Along with some laughs and hilarity on the way, of course.
The first two episodes weren’t enough to get me to like too many of the characters and unfortunately I had to say I disliked a couple right off the bat.
Nobunaga is voiced by my favourite voice actor, Miyano Mamoru. I adore him. Everyone knows it. His voice is just so distinctly spectacular to me and there’s no shame in admitting that I picked up this show mainly because of him and a number of other voice actors I enjoy listening to. In the first episode, however, I kind of had my doubts about Nobunaga, not least because he is, very clearly, a bit of a fool. He’s loud, brash, has a certain bloodlust to him but he’s also so juvenile that by the second episode I quite enjoyed him. As the main character, he’s obviously got to meet his female counterpart in the form of Jeanne d’Arc. I see a whole tonne of love triangles due pretty soon and a mountain of drama, which I’m not entirely looking forward to, but we shall see, we shall see.
Jeanne is voiced by Hikasa Yoko, who tends to voice a lot of young boys, actually. Her voice is decidedly female and feminine in NtF, though, so fear not, kid-haters. She also played Tsubaki from Karneval, and I adored here in that show. Alas, I don’t quite enjoy Jeanne as much as she’s sweet and all but her moral compass runs too straight and I’m waiting for a little bit more character growth in that respect. It might be asking too much from a 12-episode series, but so far the show has just been going and going like a bullet train so I doubt my wishes are too far-fetched. Jeanne is, as you might have guessed, from the Western Planet and travelled to the Eastern Planet with da Vinci to ‘look for her destiny.’ Yeah, I laughed too. Still, though, while my doubts about her haven’t been alleviated completely, she does have her moments and I’m looking forward to seeing her grow.
Now Mitsuhide is a character I do very much like, and aptly too, considering he’s voiced by Sakurai Tahahiro, and who doesn’t love a little Sakurai? His character is the dutiful, level-headed companion to Nobunaga and where Nobunaga runs into battle without a clear plan save for his instinct, Mitsuhide is the thoughtful planner and also a very loyal and faithful friend. He’s also very pretty, in case you were wondering. And that’s another thing that sort of redeems the show for me; the number of pretty people there are. It’s essentially bishie galore in here!
When I heard that Kaji Yuki was going to be in Nobunaga, it only firmed by resolve to watch the show and review it. But then his character, Hideyoshi, ended up being a bit of a disappointment. His nickname’s Monkey, for goodness’ sake, so that should say it all. Nevertheless, he’s quite funny in a lecherous, pervy and crass sort of way, and he is loyal to Nobunaga, almost to the point where their relationship seems one of hero worship, which is probably is.
One supporting character whom I have grown very fond of, however, is Himiko, because she’s tiny and hilarious and has a gigantic crush on Nobunaga. She’s also the kind of girl who always seems to get her way and her manipulative streak only endears her to me even more. She managed, against all odds, to get Nobunaga engaged to her, which again, serves to fuel the fires of numerous romantic sub-plots throughout the story, but since it’s her, or perhaps because it’s Himiko, I find myself enjoying the tension she brings to the extensive cast of characters.
The best part of the entire show, however, has got to be the soundtrack. It’s incredible. It’s composed by Yokoyama Masaru, who has several shows including Arakawa Under the Bridge and Acchi Kocchi. But the music is really epic, to the point where it’s almost too good for the show. It’s vaguely reminiscent of Shingeki no Kyojin’s soundtrack, but is very beautiful in its own right. The fact that NtF is very action-packed and battle-heavy means that we get to hear a lot of some very gorgeous tracks. And everyone knows that I’m a firm believer in OPs and EDs sometimes really making a show and this one definitely does. The opening sequence is by Chihara Minori, who did the opening for the incredible Kyoukai no Kanata, the ending of which was sung by Stereo Dive Foundation, who also does the ED for NtF. While I much prefer ‘Daisy’ to ‘Axis,’ it’s still a pretty cool ending song and the art in the sequence is lovely.
So far, I’ll give NtF a 7/10, which may or may not be raised to an 8/10 by the end of the series. All in due time, however, and I really hope this show doesn’t let me down!