This is review number three hundred and forty seven. This anime is part of the Winter 2014 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Nobunagun. It’s an anime about Oda Nobunaga, and the famous leader is a girl in this version. She carries a gun, and she fights aliens trying to control our planet. It’s a trippy premise if there ever is one, but it’s one hell of an anime though. Let’s read on.
This anime is about a girl named Shio Ogura, whose life is turned upside down when a bunch of aliens starts attacking her class field trip in Taiwan. Hoping to save her friend Kaoru, Shio realized she has a great power inside her. The burning soul of Oda Nobunaga, the first person to unify Japan under one ruler, is raging inside her. Armed with a powerful gun, Shio embodies Nobunaga’s passion and she focuses it on killing every gawd damn alien invading planet Earth.
Taking the Pants Off
I’m a bit torn about Nobunagun, because I honestly enjoyed it. From the very moment we are introduced to Shio Ogura up until the big alien bashing in the final episode, I enjoyed every single moment of this anime. It’s just so damn fun to watch, because it’s an action packed adventure that is so flashy that you simply can’t stop watching it. I finished this anime in two days, because I didn’t notice I consumed more than half of it in a day. It’s just a fun and thrilling anime to watch, but there is a problem. This anime is pretty generic. It sounds harsh even if it comes from me, but I think the show just doesn’t really look all that impressive. It had a lot of potential to be a really amazing Shounen anime, but it just stops at being “OK”. When I first saw this anime, my initial impression is that it’ll be this generation’s Soul Eater. It’ll be the Shounen anime with a dumb premise, but it eventually gets better the more you watch it. Soul Eater opened with Maka chasing down Jack the Ripper. It’s just ridiculous, but it’s also really flashy that you can’t stop watching. As the series progress though, the stupid premise of the moon has a creepy face then transforms into a really cool Shounen anime. It hits a really wonderful balance of eccentric-ness with Excalibur, but also gets damn serious like when Medusa possessed that little girl and freaked her mother out. Nobunagun had the same wonderful and welcoming feeling as Soul Eater, but you can tell it’s just screwing things up. It’s not properly developing its components, and the action feels shallow even though you’re easily caught up in it. I guess I just wanted more from Nobunagun, because it feels like it can offer a whole lot more. It’s a really entertaining Action anime, but it could’ve easily gone Shounen if it wanted to. Soul Eater did it, with the same elements Nobunagun had, and it succeeded into jumping into Shounen. Battles are more detailed, arcs become more exciting to watch and characters develop far from what you’re expected of them. Nobunagun had the same opportunity, but it chose a different route. I’m not really sure the path it chose is the better one.
So what exactly separates Action from Shounen? Shounen still has Action, right? I guess it’s easier to just compare shows. A good example of a show representing the Action genre is Black Lagoon. Remember that show? It’s loud, in your face and full of guns. It has characters swearing, and it has a maid killing an entire army by herself. It is high impact and fast paced. It doesn’t slow down, and it’s just a thrill to watch. For a recent example, I guess Kill la Kill. It focuses more on the awesome fighting than anything else. Shounen is different, because it’s longer. Sometimes, the action feels a lot more important because we are introduced to the characters first. Action would give you the needed amount of exposition to move the show along. Shounen would bombard you with flashbacks, technique explanations and so many other sh*t to help build up confrontations. The more you watch, the more you become invested in the characters and the fights they’ll be in. Shounen would tell an antagonists’ side of the story to really letting things stew, and then finish it all off in a drawn out battle covering all the emotions and backstory revealed until now. Action is more about the rush of characters rampaging. Shounen is more about telling a story that leads to a rampage. It’s more patient, and often a bit overdrawn for its own good. Soul Eater started out as Action just focusing on Black Star being all gangster and sh*t. It soon transforms though, because we are given a huge arc dedicated to one of the characters being invaded by a bad blood inside him. The anime even ended on more characters being introduced to fight a bigger bad guy down the road. It’s too bad the anime is just a mangalure though. These are shows designed to urge viewers into reading the manga. It’s an effective way to convert anime fans, since majority of fanatics read a manga first before seeing the anime. It pumps the blood of the manga industry, and I love how super effective the mangalure tactic is. Anyways, Soul Eater has the charm of an Action anime, but it grows into a Shounen. Nobunagun could’ve been the same. It starts out with Mahatma Gandhi fighting alien bugs, but it could’ve grown into something bigger. It just consistently delivers high impact and fast paced action, and it does that without considering the massive story potential it could’ve developed. I’ll complain later on. For now, let’s go into the actual review.
This anime is about a bunch of people with special genes that gives them the power to kill alien bugs. They are known as E-Gene holders, and they have the blood of famous historical figures that kicks ass. Their powers are brought out by these balls called the AU balls, and they transform into super powered historical figures. The main character is a girl named Shio Ogura who has the blood of Oda Nobunaga. She possesses Oda’s love for guns, and she has the power to kill alien bugs with her super powered guns. Along with other cool people with special blood inside them, Shio travels the world and fight the impending alien invasion. They plan to conquer the world by overcrowding Earth and killing off every inhabitant of the planet. Right now, a special organization is trying to hold the aliens back from invading the land. The aliens are currently occupying our seas, but they want the land as well. Unfortunately for them, Shio and her friends has something to say about that.
The first episode of this anime really hooked me. It was clunky, but it had potential. It easily made Shio likeable, and it followed a familiar pattern to easily get into the show’s pace. It featured a normal day turned upside down when a bunch of aliens attacked, and our adorable military otaku appears as the chosen one amidst all this chaos. It just feels right to continue watching knowing that the show has so much more to offer as you progress through the anime. The scene of Oda Nobunaga hyping himself up inside of Shio is so gawd damn awesome that you just know this anime will easily top that in more episodes to come. While the whole idea of having historical figures fight aliens feels a bit “meh”, the anime knows how to make it work. The secret is to just pack the episodes with so much action that it doesn’t matter if Gandhi is in the melee. The story is pretty straight forward as well. This is just a story of a girl fighting aliens with a bunch of equally awesome characters. It’s a humans versus aliens story, and the show focuses on the struggles of the humans as they try to stop this impending alien invasion. The show is just an attack and counter attack deal where the aliens would strike first, and the humans try and defend the place.
In the first half, we are treated to three different alien battles and they were just extremely fun to watch. Each one is different from the last as well, and that’s the one thing I love about this anime. The Action genre is pretty simple. It’s stupid simple, because the appeal is to pack a punch in a small dose. Nobunagun makes the encounters special by trying to up the ante. It’s trying to put some spin on the straight forward story it has. In the first alien attack, the aliens used a giant monster to carry smaller monsters to land. They were organized, and they used one of their own as some sort of battleship. Our characters immediately had to stop the alien’s sneaky tactic, and they did it by blasting the ever living hell out of those poor suckers. It’s a creative fight, and I love the unique approach to the simple genre. In their second fight, Shio fought a freaking monster inside a hurricane. It used the natural disaster as a way to travel to land by air, and the humans must now find a way to stop the aliens without letting them enter land. The deck is stacked against them, and time is also not on their side. The second battle is so exciting to watch because the humans needed a way to get past the puzzle in front of them. One of them answered though, by smashing it in the floor and using as much force as possible. It’s incredible. The first half ended with an even bigger fight between the humans and aliens. This time, the aliens are smart enough to use an actual ship to approach land. The battle landscape considerably changed and the humans must now find a way to sink a ship they already sunk in World War II. These stand offs between the humans and aliens are really fun to watch. The show embodies the action genre’s true appeal of showcasing crazy action in a fast paced and high impact fashion. It comes to a point where you do start noticing flaws with the story, but you don’t mind it. You’re so caught up in the stand offs that nothing matters to you, except seeing Shio blow the aliens out of this world. You just want to see some carnage, because the fights promised you a lot of freaking alien casualty. Soon, you’re drooling as you watch the scenes unfold and you’re waiting for the moment the humans become triumphant.
In the first half as well, we are also introduced to all the important characters in the show. The anime mostly focused on the first and second platoon, since they’ll be the ones featured in the second half. The dynamic between the characters is really cute. It has a “kid friendly” vibe to it opposite the action sequences. As I said before, it reminds me of the same approach in Soul Eater. Black Star and Tsubaki would have a cute moment together in class, but then it’s all business when they start fighting. I swear I’ll stop with the Soul Eater comparison after this. The characters of the second platoon are all interesting, because a lot of them have sucky powers. This is another cool spin the anime adds to its straight forward action scenes. Gandhi can only produce barriers, Newton can only change gravity on something she’s stepping on and Jack the Ripper can only go close quarter combat. Nobunaga is the only one that can shoot aliens, and the rest is just support. Aside from Jack, Shio is the only one that can carry the team and I love how it limits the humans in fighting against the aliens. This doesn’t stop Gandhi and Newton in having cool action moments to themselves though, since they often contribute to crucial parts of the action. Discovering how they help is part of the fun. It is a bit unfair though, because Shio has guns and it makes her ten times cooler than everybody else, but the team can still come together and produce some great scenes.
The first platoon is also introduced in the first half, and they have a much better fighting dynamic than the second platoon. I also love how I do not know any of the historical figures aside from Geronimo. The organization fighting the aliens is also heavily introduced in the first half. The Defense Organization aGainst Outer Objects, or DOGOO, is explored in the first half. It focuses on how they function, who the higher ups are and the various important characters that’ll lend a hand in the second half, and the overall operations of the group. They go over the top with tracking alien movement that they have three air bases circulating Earth to make sure the aliens are properly monitored. It’s stupid, but also cool. This is where the really original part of the anime exists. DOGOO is composed of super powered people, but also ordinary military personnel from various countries. As the show puts it, the entire world has come together to fight the alien menace. With the battles happening all over the world, the countries has a chance to lend a hand in the stand offs. While the E-Gene holders kill the monsters, tanks and aircrafts are still part of the battle. They often just become casualty, but they also make the battles unique. It’s not just two special people fighting to the death. No, this is a world war against the alien invaders. If this means we’ll have to drop a nuke on their asses, then f*ck it we will very well do that. The super powered historical figures might steal the show, but the worldwide military involvement is still felt in the battles. It’s a cool element of the anime that really makes the confrontations special. Sometimes a super powered attack is amplified by tank power and such. It just gets inventive from there, and you’re often caught up in the cheering knowing that Earth just scored a point against the baddies.
We’ve praised this anime long enough. It’s time to point out the glaring flaws that hindered the experience a lot. First of all, it’s a one sided battle. The aliens are disappointingly just creatures doing instinct stuff. I didn’t mind it at first. When the show mentioned that they fight more organized that we expected though, I thought it was doing a big reveal that the aliens are evolving in such a rate that they would start to look like humans. I was expecting a menacing half bug half human super villain to fight our heroes. It would’ve made sense, because it would add a more thrilling element to the story. With the emergence of harder enemies that thinks just like our heroes, then there is really a chance that the world would be conquered. The show also misguidedly hinted that aliens can control people. Ok, maybe I hyped myself up for this one, but when the aliens manipulated a freaking WWII vessel I thought that controlling humans is not that far behind. I just really wanted to feel like the aliens had a fighting chance. I love those moments that the enemies would outsmart ort heroes, and I hoped it culminated in a swerve so big that a lot of casualties happened. When you reach the second half though, it becomes evidently clear that the show has no plans of evening the odds in favor of the aliens. The historical figures would always figure out what the aliens are thinking, and it just killed the excitement a little. Knowing that no more innocent bystanders are going to get crushed, like this:
It just didn’t feel right. For some reason, the anime is trying to rush to an ending and this would be another thing flawed about the anime. It isn’t a mangalure. I think the anime actually covered the six volumes of the original source, and I think the manga really just wanted it to end early. I’m guessing it got bumped out of its publication, and that’s a shame. With the anime aiming for an ending, the elements are now left badly underdeveloped. The characters are rushed and disjointed, the final battle felt one dimensional and it was just very anti-climactic. I wanted more, and I didn’t mind if I had to read the manga to see more of it. It just feels like there’s so much more that could’ve been done to the story. We could’ve introduced internal conflict within DOGOO, we could’ve killed off one of the characters, and we could’ve let the aliens win one by attacking DOGOO’s base itself. With the show sticking only to action, anything could’ve really happened. It could easily top the amazing final battle it had. Yeah, the show really ended with a big bang but I think there is so much more potential to recognize that’ll easily overshadow that finale’s big bang.
Shio is also a major flaw of this anime. She’s interesting, but she’s all over the place. I think the length of the anime might’ve been the cause, but Shio still comes out looking bad. Shio is this young girl trying to learn about herself through her alien bashing adventure. There are elements that suggest that, but they’re awkwardly shoved in the show. The one annoying element that feels off is her infatuation with this girl named Kaoru. She’s the girl Shio desperately wants to save in the first episode, and her involvement in the story just feels odd. There are a lot of ways Shio’s obsession of her could affect the story, but nothing really transpired from it. Kaoru is the popular girl in Shio’s class, and being a weird otaku, Shio secretly looks up to Kaoru. Given a chance to be friends, Shio soon develops an obsessive infatuation with Kaoru, but it’s delivered in a cute way. The little tank enthusiast now has a true friend to call her own. Kaoru doesn’t have any powers though, she isn’t part of the story in any way and there is no big twist that reveals she’s actually one of the bad guys. She is just there as the apple in Shio’s eyes. I honestly expected her die. She even became a volunteered nurse halfway through, and I already imagined her going out like Prim in that sucky finale movie of the Hunger Games. Uh, I saw it because I always finish my sh*t. Awful movie. Anyways, Shio’s relationship with Kaoru is really so ham fisted that it doesn’t make sense. It could lead to Shio’s growth emotionally, but Kaoru has to do more than just be a damsel Shio has to save. You can just tell there is more to this relationship than meets the eyes, but nothing really materializes from it.
Shio herself feels so half baked. I’ve seen a lot of sh*t to know that Shio can be more than just a wild girl possessed by Oda Nobunaga. There are elements loosely told in the show that hints at Shio’s coming of age. I think it’s supposed to be a big part of the anime, but it was just cut short. Elements like Shio finding friends in the military, developing feelings for a dude, having a weird connection with the aliens and learning to embrace the mad gun wielding historical figure inside her seems to hint that the anime could’ve had a coming of age story. It’s there, but it’s not properly conceived. I think sticking to Action ruined Shio, and it turned her into a mess character wise. I honestly don’t like how one dimensional she is and it’s a shame considering she is the show’s biggest appeal. She is destined to be so much more, but I think the show’s short run didn’t give her enough room to really grow.
The show also badly utilized the supporting characters. The rest of DOGOO is badly one dimensional. They’re really just relegated to punching, being punched or watching others get punched. The first platoon is the one group I want to see more off. Geronimo looks badass with her tomahawk weapon, and her awesomeness is somewhat achieved when she paired up with Jack the Ripper. I want to see more of her though, because she just looks great to watch. I bet seeing her work with Shio is just amazing. The first platoon is an awesome group by themselves though, and I bet they have more to offer in the story. There must’ve come a point where the second platoon can only stand in awe at the first platoon’s teamwork, and I’m a bit sad we never see that happen. Geronimo on a motorbike being aided by Antoni Gaudi just sounds so f*cking awesome on paper. I can see Shio being envy of that as well. Saint Germain and the other guys running DOGOO are also badly utilized. For someone holding century old grudges, you don’t really feel the fire in them. They aren’t as desperate as the characters bleeding in the field, and they just feel dull. The show dedicated an episode on how DOGOO is established, and you understand just how much is at stake, but the characters themselves never really give into pressure. I guess they’re too perfect as leaders in this Action anime. We need someone that easily gives into their emotions and makes mistakes, because it’s more fun seeing leaders f*ck up in this fast paced genre. Remember that feeling watching TTGL when Rossiu doomed the entire human race by stubbornly thinking his way is the only path to go? Nobunagun could’ve used a guy like Rossiu, even if only to make the main characters look good.
I have not heard of Studio Bridge before. The only notable work they’ve done is Mitsudomoe, and that was back in 2010. I think they’re trying to get back in the game by gearing towards a more approachable genre. This is a good choice, because there’s not a lot of pedophilia fans out there. Nobunagun might not hit big this time around, but let this damn show age. I guarantee it’ll get people noticing. Nobunagun is actually a great gateway anime, and something I will now recommend to people new to anime. It’s generic and simple, and those are elements that make a good gateway anime. Bridge is on the right track in trying to get their name out there. The next step is to adapt more of Masato Hisa’s manga. I recommend Jabberwocky, because it sounds as insane as Nobunagun. Jabberwocky might be more acid trip inspired though. I am a bit baffled by Masato Hisa though. He is a great storyteller, and he knows how to make an action scene work but he seems to only be satisfied with short manga. Nobunagun and Jabberwocky only has less than ten volumes to them. This is a big shame, because his works have so much potential. He has a way of making people invest in his work, but he cut us off early by ending things too soon. Masato needs to jump to Shounen, and I think he has enough crazy ideas that’ll get his work published. Action is a genre that is limiting his potential. He can honestly do more, and I hope he does. He could seriously give us the next Soul Eater anime if he really cares. Nobohiro Kondou directed this anime, and he did a great job at adapting Masahiro’s insane vision. He captured the crazy energy of the original source, and he paced it just right for viewers to easily get caught up in it. Nobohiro has done a lot of storyboarding in his career, so it makes sense that he did Nobunagun justice. Someone who worked on a lot of action shows can easily bring out the beauty of Nobunagun. Make no mistake though: this anime would suck if handled by someone that doesn’t understand Masahiro’s vision. I thank Nobohiro for having a talent to capture that insane vision.
Sight and Sound
Character design is pretty much the same in both the manga and the anime. It’s pretty generic, but it still looks solid. I mean, the character design doesn’t really stand out that much. They still look unique with their transformations and battle suits, but the characters themselves aren’t that impressive. The outfits and everything else are much more impressive design wise. I think it is part of Masahiro’s style though. He leaves the face and body plain while he goes ball sack insane on everything else. The monsters, the landmarks, the military weapons and bases and the characters’ equipment look impressive as hell. I guess the characters could be plain rice and everything else is delicious topping. With Masahiro’s style of utilizing shadows and crazy angles for action sequences, the story really just leaps out of the page. He sets the tone so wonderfully that any plain looking character can look good in it. I love the depiction of the historical figures in this anime. They’re plain looking like the other characters, but it just looks cool seeing them in Masahiro’s heavy inked style. Nobunaga gives me goose bumps every time he points his gun at the screen. I also love the designs on the aliens. They actually have more details than the characters, and there is some hard work put into making them look menacing. Masahiro often uses the tone of the story to make them menacing, but the design can also give off that feeling. Those gawd damn invertebrates creeps me out so much that I want to see Shio fire her gun nonstop at them.
Animation is insane. Its top notch and it’s a big factor in really enjoying this anime. You’ll notice the flaws of the story easily, but the animation is so good that it doesn’t really matter if a plot hole smacks you in the face. Studio Bridge really captured the fast paced and high impact appeal of the story and Nobohiro really brought out all the great elements of Masahiro’s work. The crazy camera angles, the intricate action packed scenes, the tentacle monsters and everything else is just wonderfully presented in the anime. I also love how every character exudes awesomeness in every scene they are in. Geronimo’s fight scenes are so much fun to watch because a little girl with a tomahawk is raising hell. Even something as simple like Gandhi’s shields can look so amazing because of how the animation portrays it. The characters personality nicely comes out in every scene they are in, and it adds to the enjoyment of the scene. From the motorbike to Galileo’s balls, they all look good animation-wise. The enemies are nicely animated as well. From how they fight to how they are killed, the animation really comes through in making it all look so cool. Studio Bridge really brought their best in this anime, and I honestly think this’ll pay off in the long run. The animation is so top notch that even Shio’s awkward otaku ramblings are nicely captured, and yet she still looks cool as hell.
The anime’s OP is “Respect for the dead man” by Pay money To my Pain (featuring Ken & Teru from Crossfaith). Oh boy, this opening song irks me. It’s honestly just loud noise with bad English as its lyrics. I’m sure it sounds cool if you’re a young japanese kid going to watch this on prime time, but the lyrics really throws me off. “Respect for the hero”, “you are buried in the room” and “the girl has fallen down” just sounds like disjointed lyrics to me. Its more like someone translated a Japanese song to English using a google translator. It’s awful. The OP sequence is cool though, and it does get you pump for the actual show. I guess the song helps as well, but only if you don’t over analyze the lyrics. “I’m coming to open the window” will eventually stop sounding stupid the more you hear it. The OP also features the show’s fast paced and high impact feel. The anime’s ED is “Chiisana Hoshi” by Shio Ogura (Shiori Mutou), Newton (Yuu Asakawa), Galileo (Sumire Uesaka), Geronimo (Chiwa Saito), Cyx (Mutsumi Tamura), and Gaudi (Ayumu Murase). There are two versions with other characters singing along with Shio, but it’s still the same song. It’s also a simple song just sung by the voice actors. Some of them aren’t even in character. It’s just a novelty song sung by the involved cast. It’s a pretty cute song, and the lyrics are adorable. It’s even more special realizing Jack the Ripper sings some of the cute lines. The ED sequence is just an image of the first and second platoon depending on who sings the song. It’s a cool way to power down after experiencing the anime.
8/10 “No, seriously, this is this generation’s Soul Eater.”
I’m not kidding about that. The two shows are easily comparable, but one is obviously much better. I just love the idea that a young kid will enjoy this anime, while his brother laughs at him because he lived in a time where Maka Albarn is as cool as Shio. If you love Action anime then you’ll absolutely love Nobunagun. If you love a simple anime that anyone can get into, then Nobunagun will surely be a wonderful gateway anime. It has its flaws, but it doesn’t matter. As long as the show delivers solid enjoyment then that’s good enough for me. It’s a show so good that anyone can really appreciate its awesomeness. I highly recommend it.