“The Hanged Man”
“Tsurusareta Otoko” (吊るされた男)
Yet another interesting episode and it seems to me like Nobunaga the Fool is on a roll! While I’m silently and unwittingly anticipating a pear-shaped turn of episodes, so far the second half has yet to disappoint. It also doesn’t hurt that the soundtrack continues to be awesome and that the new OP and ED are fabulous and utterly fitting for the semi-ridiculous-semi-seriousness of this series. I do believe Nobunaga the Fool has a terrible case of bipolar disorder because no two episodes are alike and the flow of emotion and action and drama from one episode to the next is just so drastically different, which is probably why the first half of the series was a mixed bag of good and bad fruit. Nevertheless, this was a decent episode – a little cheesy at times – but the action sequences are always pretty well-done so I didn’t have too many issues this time.
So, Nobunaga and the gang, sans Jeanne are orbiting their planet on Himiko’s upgraded ship and debating their plan of rescue in order to save Jeanne from the clutches of the evil – and partially psychopathic, partially sociopathic – members of the round table. I’m starting to think that the Western Star spawns mentally deranged individuals, judging from Jeanne’s psychic ability to the now-deceased Hannibal and Charlemagne’s S&M relationship. In this episode, we meet Jeanne’s tormentors, Cesare Borgia and Niccolo Machiavelli, both of whom are pretty despicable – not to mention mentally unhinged – individuals who harbour a sycophantic yet dubious loyalty towards Arthur, whom they’ve declared the True Saviour King. They are even willing to look past the fact that he might not be the true Saviour King, so long as Jeanne declares it so and ends up marrying Arthur, so they can continue to use her for her visions. Again, there’s more blood and violence in this episode than the show has had so far, with a particular focus on some gruesome torture – they literally rip one of Jeanne’s nails off and pour hot candle wax onto her skin, all the while having her tied up on display. The so-called psychological torture that the weirdo Machiavelli administered, was bringing Jeanne back to her hometown and having her childhood ‘friends’ declare out loud what they thought of her. Scared, crazy and the devil’s spawn were some titles they bestowed, but we already knew that Jeanne wasn’t exactly popular on the Western Star. They blame Jeanne’s return on the strange tremors that the town has been experiencing and consider it an ominous sign.
But it’s Nobunaga to the rescue, along with, Hideyoshi and, surprisingly, Caesar, who makes one heck of an entrance every time. While I initially wasn’t a fan of Caesar’s character, he’s really grown on me and there’s something of a flare to his fighting technique that I’m willing to appreciate for the sake of aesthetics and the fact that it’s Nakamura Yuichi, and he does a brilliant job at the arrogant yet simultaneously charming, morally ambiguous individual. He has just the right amount of superiority in his voice and a steady cadence that’s always hinting at a hidden agenda that it’s difficult to gauge Caesar’s honesty in any one scene. Hats off to Nakamura Yuichi for delivering such an intriguing character!
Back to the show and the aforementioned cheesy moments. So, just as Nobunaga arrives in all his gallantry, once he’s released Jeanne from the column she was tied to for her public execution, the entire town is set on fire as collateral damage and Jeanne, in all her goody-goodiness and whatnot, charges herself to save it. Because of her desire to be treated as a ‘human being’ rather than be judged on her ability, she somehow manages to reach enlightenment with the aid of her shinki and manages to save the town from the fire. Whatever enlightenment is, it looks pretty cool but there wasn’t any explanation for it in this episode, so I’m assuming we’ll find out more next time. Just as the town is saved though, Cesare arrives with a bunch of troops and demands Nobunaga returns Jeanne to him but the townsfolk, and Jeanne’s childhood friends decide to burden themselves with guilt of what they did as children and line up in pretty linear position and act as a barrier against Cesare’s troops. That part was so cheesy I have no words. Also, it’s Jeanne, who seems to like playing this tragic heroine and who, episode after episode, seems to be the cause of a while load of deaths. Like, entire towns full of death. I mean, while the townsfolk ended up dying because of the strange earthquake phenomenon that, for some reason, ended up disintegrating them, everywhere Jeanne goes, innocent people end up dying. Perhaps there is some truth to claims of her being the devil’s spawn? Just maybe?
Well, whatever her issue is, there’s no doubt that Jeanne continues to play the tragic heroine, screaming out a heartfelt – *cough overdramatic cough* – “NOOOOOOOOOOOO” at the end of the episode and is probably going to burden herself with some sort of self-sacrificing guilt complex or whatever. Either way, it was such a cringe-worthy moment.
But, well, it’s Nobunaga the Fool and I’ve resigned myself to its utter ridiculousness and crackiness and strange combination of slapstick humour and actual serious drama. Nine more episodes to go until the finale and I’m looking forward to any more developments of hidden, mystical powers that the characters suddenly find themselves with. We’ve also not had a Nobunaga-focused episode in a long time so I think we really need to have a few more episodes dealing solely with his development because while there’s an obvious change in his personality, we don’t know the kind of thinking that brought on this change and some first-person insight might be in order at this point.