Nobunaga the Fool Review

This is review number three hundred and fifty four. This anime is part of the Winter 2014 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is called Nobunaga the Fool. It’s a twenty four episode anime about Nobunaga Oda. This is a long review, so let’s just continue on.

Story

This show is about Nobunaga Oda trying to become the ruler of both heaven and earth. Along with his loyal subjects, Mitsuhide and Hideyoshi, he tries to achieve this goal. It is his destiny, as foretold by Jeanne d’Arc accompanied by Leonardo da Vinci. According to her, it is him and not King Arthur, ruler of the Western planet, who deserves to be the true ruler. She could be wrong though, but it won’t stop Nobunaga in achieving his ultimate goal.

Taking the Pants Off

What a beautiful clusterf*ck this anime turned out to be. This is yet another Original Screenplay for the Winter 2014 lineup, and this is probably the most decent so far. It had a solid premise, the exposition is great and it seems to have a direction on where it wanted to go. This anime is apparently also a stage play created by the dude that gave us the Macross Franchise and Aquarion Evol. It certainly has potential, doesn’t it? For the most part, the grand storytelling is something that does feel like live actors should be saying them out loud to a group of eager audiences. The idea that an anime is trying to recreate Oda’s story of unifying Japan isn’t really that new, but Nobunaga the Fool seems interesting enough to follow. It understands the warring state period, and it actually captures the beauty of it all. I was honestly sold when I watched this anime, because it is entertaining. Like most O. Screenplays though, this one fell on the same sand pit. Once again, it tried to do too much. Instead of just working and improving on what it already has, the show tried to elevate itself to disastrous results. The transition is awkward, the story slowly crumbled and the whole thing soon became a giant waste of time. There’s a lot to like in this anime, but it also has a lot of things that just didn’t work. I personally enjoyed how it captured the enigmatic story of Nobunaga Oda, but I also didn’t like how it presented Joan of Arc. Yeah, this anime is about the man that unified Japan and the woman that heard God’s voice then got burned for it. You’ll scratch your head at the idiotic setup but the premise does work. Oda Nobunaga and Joan of Arc is a good idea, but the anime pushed it too far that it eventually became one giant mistake.

This anime is about Oda Nobunaga trying to rule Japan. It’s a pretty straight forward premise, but this story has giant robots in it. Again, it’s not that big of a deal. I reviewed an anime where Oda is a loli character, twice!!! Seeing him ride a robot is something I would gladly welcome. So the warring period of Japan is riddled with giant robots, and the warlords are trying to aggressively rule the land. In this anime, the whole of Japan is one giant planet, or star, called the Star of the East. Yes, just Japan because Japan supremacy is something the screenplay writer is certainly proud of. Opposite this planet is the Star of the West where the rest of the world is probably grouped in. Anyways, Leonardo da Vinci decided to travel to the East Star. He asked Magellan to take him, and he brought along Joan of Arc just for the hell of it. With the ruler of the West’s approval, they set sail. Da Vinci pulled an Italian double cross though, and he hijacked a spaceship and crashed into the planet. It seems that he is looking for this special person that can pilot his “Giant War Armor” in the Star of the East. It turns out to be Nobunaga Oda. He soon decides to follow Nobunaga in his conquest to rule the entire planet of Japan with Joan of Arc assuming the role of Ranmaru Mori, historically the most loyal subject of Nobunaga, as they try to unify Japan. Da Vinci’s action isn’t taken lightly by the Star of the West though, and its supreme ruler, King Arthur, discusses with his round table on what course of action to take. Whatever they decide, it looks like trouble is brewing and both planet is going to play a big part in it.

If you read the plot above, then you are not mistaken. This is indeed someone’s stupid fan fiction approved to be an anime. I mean, holy Pikachu, this is stupid. I’m not surprised that this is an Original Screenplay though, since it’s already a blooming clusterf*ck in its first episode alone. As much as I want to hate on the anime though for having the most idiotic story of all time, it does work incredibly well. It only takes three episodes for the whole thing to work for me. The characters are all interesting, the setting is pretty unique and the whole concept of warlords riding giant ass robots is pretty exciting to watch. This anime also feels like different, because it is intended to be a play. The dialogue feels grand, the scenes feels refreshing and even the mecha battles look more like actors fighting on a giant stage. This subtle element really makes a difference, because it can easily make you forget that the playwright is anal about the Japanese timeline but he decided to have Da Vinci and Joan thrown in there for the sake of it. Also, he thought having da Vinci in his story would work. Oh gawd, it doesn’t but you’ll soon forget that it even matters. The story is still about Oda’s journey into unifying Japan and they really captured the disrespectful Oda that did complete the task. His journey is a rough one, and the anime seems to be solely focused on really capturing the story of this incredible war hero.

The show has five chapters, and this will hurt later on. For now let’s just take it one step at a time. The first chapter is the Oda clan versus the Takada clan. Upon meeting da Vinci and Joan of Arc, Nobunaga witnesses the Takeda clan slaughtering the innocent villagers of the Oda clan. It seems the Takeda wants to fully invade the region, and Oda must now tell his father about it. Unfortunately, the Oda clan does not believe him. They even frown upon him bringing home barbarians from the West planet. Nobunaga soon gains a resolve to just do everything by his own. He thinks that only he can save the world now, and he has his loyal subjects with him to take on this gigantic task. The first plot point is really where the foundation for the show is being established. Oda’s resolve to conquering heaven and earth is presented here along with other small plot points that are important to the story later on. There is one about Joan of Arc trying to find out if Nobunaga is a trust worthy person. She sees visions of the future and Nobunaga appeared in them from time to time. Joan thinks that Nobunaga is prepped for greatness, but the arrogant man that stands before her casts doubt on whether her visions are true. In order to find the truth, Joan decides to tag along as another subject of Nobunaga. There is also another plot point about Nobunaga being engaged to Princess Himiko, and they now join forces in battling the impending evil that’ll rain upon them. With Himiko’s help, our hero is able to prove to his clan that he is not just a rebellious kid that doesn’t listen to anyone. His subjects hope that the clan will finally listen to Oda’s words.

If you think I’m spilling the plot points very loosely, it’s because the show scatters them around with no care. They do progress and develop, but you’ll never really know what the show will decide to focus on next. In the first chapter alone, one episode features the massacre of a fort by the hands of the Takeda. It’s gritty and exciting as it does not hold back on showing the travesty of war. This is all good and great, but the following episodes features an engagement ceremony littered with fanciful stage props and a giant cake. The little subplots are all over the place, and it’s hard to take the show seriously. It’s a good thing that the chapter’s focus is properly executed though. This first chapter is all about the battle between Nobunaga and the leader of the Takeda clan, Shingen. The latter is a proud war lord that believes he can crush the weak Oda clan with his feet. If you’ve played any Shogun games then you’ll know that the Oda clan is often wiped out in a year or two. They’re that f*cking weak, and it’s often super hard mode if you decide to play as them. I guess it does require a bit of knowledge about Japanese history, but I picked up most of mine in games and anime so it’s not that big of a deal. All you need to know is that the Oda clan is facing defeat with the Shingen deciding that it’s time to crush this weak clan with his bare hands. Unfortunately, he is up against an unpredictable man. Nobunaga  Oda will not stand by and let Shingen have his way. Through a series of really exciting battles, the two takes each other to the limit and prove that they are superior. It’s a wonderful story to follow, because it has nuances of the same feeling when you play those Dynasty Warrior games. We have two strong people appreciating each other’s strength and capabilities. It’s a feat to watch, and it gets better from here when the first chapter introduces its true plot point: the succession of the Oda clan.

In the first chapter, Nobunaga’s relationship with his father is heavily focused on. The dad is the leader of a nation first before a concerned father, and it’s pretty understandable. With the Oda clan being considered a weak clan, the father has a lot on his hands trying to keep things together. Throw in the fact that his oldest son is a rebellious prick and the Takeda clan invading his land, then it’s all too much to take in. His grows annoyed with Nobunaga and he can only listen on as his advisors quarrel about what course of action to do next. But what if the father suddenly dies during battle? This turns the entire anime upside down. Nobunaga is the next in line to succeed, but his people do not like him. This is historically true, since it took Nobunaga seven years before he got full control of the Oda clan. In the history pages, the people want his younger brother Nobukatsu to rule them instead and the anime tried to do the same. Nobukatsu is being forced to lead the clan, but there is a problem. Nobukatsu is young and inexperienced. In this warring state, he would be chewed alive. Nobunaga is the ideal guy to lead the clan, but the advisors don’t want that. This soon blows up into one hell of a climax full of betrayals, assassins and deaths. Yes, someone has to die and there is no escaping this choice.

This is actually my favorite part of the anime, because the story is just so wonderfully told. It doesn’t feel like an anime as well. The narrative is more like a historical drama, and I love how the anime was able to elevate to such a level. Remember, the plot is stupid having da Vinci and Joan of Arc crammed in it but this all changes when the beauty of the historical drama shines through. Borrowing from true events, there is a layer of intrigue to the story that now demands your attention. This plot point eventually adds fuel to the intense rivalry between Nobunaga and Shingen. This, too, comes to a big exciting climax approaching the second chapter. With the Oda clan in disarray and Takeda putting pressure on them, it all comes to a bad spill when a Westerner joins the fray. The second chapter is about Gaius Julius Caesar giving his support to the Takeda clan. Nobunaga is now tasked to fight two impossible threats before him, and he has very little options on how to approach the problem. The Oda clan is basically nailed to the cross at this point, and Nobunaga can only hope that a miracle can happen. Miracle does appear in the form of the second plot point focused heavily in this chapter.

For some reason, we are introduced to Regalias. They’re like materia from FF7 that a robot equips and it gives them magical powers. The second plot point focuses on Oda trying to obtain one to make him stronger, and it also has Caesar trying to gather a lot of them for his own purpose. For the second chapter, I think Regalias of fire, wind, and light appear for the characters to fight over. Regalias can only be used by chosen individuals though, and so Caesar is hoping one would eventually agree to let him use its powers. This Regalia business is established in the second chapter, but it also plays a big role down the line. Powering up the robots is essential in Oda’s war, but it appears that the West star needs it as well. For whatever reason will be explained at another time. Nobunaga’s position might be hopeless now, but individuals that can use the Regalias soon appear and they help even out the odds for the Oda clan. This means that the battle between two robots soon blossom into a melee involving four, five and it even grows to six robots from both sides. Two robots can produce an incredible stage performance, so you can only imagine how grand a free for all with six robots can be.

Nobunaga and Caesar eventually have their own rivalry as well. This one is different from his battle with Shingen because that story emphasizes how warriors respect each other through battle. This is not the case for the slimy westerners. They would lie, cheat and steal their way to victory and Caesar is a slime ball through and through. You just got to love how non-Japanese people are portrayed in this anime, but it doesn’t matter. The only important thing is that Caesar is a formidable foe but he also doesn’t mind dirtying his hands from time to time. He treats others as pawns to his schemes, and he’ll do anything to win. Up against a horrible person, Nobunaga must find a way to gain the upper hand. This leads to a climax that, once again, proves how unpredictable Nobunaga is. The second chapter ends in the most unusual way, but it’s something that I personally liked. You don’t see it coming, and it stays true to the show’s mindset of being a stage play about a historical drama. It might be a bit anti-climactic, but save your disappointments for the following chapters. The show slowly goes downhill at the next one.

This anime has one important flaw to it. It’s overly stuffed with exposition, and this is actually a crazy thing. O. Screenplay, by design, often lacks exposition as they try to make their concept work. Nobunaga the Fool is a rare case where the talking out balances the fighting. In the first two chapters, this is properly evened out by the interesting rivalries and the historical drama appeal of the story. Even if they talk nonstop about ambiguous philosophical bullsh*t, it all amounts into a payoff you’ll be glad to watch. The talks about the Regalias can be a bit boring, because the show is insisting on selling its technical jargon on the audience. I don’t really give a flying f*ck how da Vinci is able to create a robot out of scraps or how spaceships fly using the earth’s ley lines. None of that matter, but the show keeps on doing it because it is an obvious padding to a weak story that is about to get a lot weaker. The third chapter is about Joan of Arc returning to her home planet. It starts with the Knights of the Roundtable declaring war on Nobunaga, and it’s an exciting setup right off the bat, but it somehow shifts into a heavy exposition story focusing on Joan of Arc. The third chapter is at the second half of the anime, which is 12 episodes in, so it doesn’t really need exposition anymore. You should’ve already dumped out all the needed info on the first half. The second half should really just focus on those awesome robot melees involving the warlords of the East that Nobunaga gathered against the Knights of the Roundtable. Exposition, at this point, should only be light to setup the story later on. Having an entire chapter dedicated on Joan just explaining her visions and her backstory is redundant now. It won’t help the show at all. There are twelve knights in that roundtable, which means twelve awesome battles to be had so there’s no more room for exposition.

Unfortunately, this anime fell into the same sandpit O. Screenplays tend to get stuck in. It’s trying to do too much. It isn’t satisfied with what it already has, and it tries to do more. This damages the show greatly because, without a proper balance of exposition and action, this anime is now becoming boring. Anyways, the third chapter focuses on Joan of Arc getting tortured by Cesare Borgia. He is forcing her to declare Arthur as the “Savior-King”, but she insists that Nobunaga is the true “Savior-King” that’ll unite heaven and earth. Cesare doesn’t like this, so he proceeds to torture the girl. He starts with some whips and eventually moved on to more medieval stuff. I love the little subject of medieval torture there, but Cesare decided that she needed to suffer some more. While this is happening, Nobunaga rides his fiancé’s ship and tries to travel to the Western star. Of course, this spells nonstop action because Nobunaga is an enemy in Arthur’s eyes, right? Actually, nothing really happened. The anime is too busy focusing on Joan of Arc and her struggle to find resolve. The show wastes two episodes on her while Nobunaga simply hides. When all the chips align though, Nobunaga will then execute his plans to save Joan of Arc. This third chapter is a pretty short one, but it does signal the clusterf*ck that’ll happen later on. It seems that without any historical event to ripoff from, the story would lose its focus. Yeah, we got Joan condemned and about to be burned on a stake but it’s clearly not as elaborate as the first two chapters. It’s a shame as well, because Nobunaga is in a new setting. This is a great opportunity for the story to grow out of its warring state format and transition into something bigger. It could’ve taken the new route and go full blown world war. While in the Western star, the show should’ve introduced more knights and menacing robots for Nobunaga to fight with. He doesn’t really need to fight them now, since he is on a rescue mission, but it makes sense to setup a war between the two planets. Sadly, the show can’t handle the transition well. It is clearly overwhelmed by its own premise, and the story just crumbles. It can no longer focus on compelling rivalries and interesting character interactions. The show really felt hollow at this point, and the anime just decides to bulk it up with useless exposition.

Enter the third plot point of the anime: the ley lines. It’s mentioned early on that the ley lines are like the blood of the planet, and its constant flowing signifies a healthy planet. The Savior-King is prophesized to be the one to stop the death of the planet and keep the ley lines flowing. The third plot point expands on this some more. They explain that the ley lines grants powers to the robots, gives the spaceship its flight and whoever controls the ley lines gains absolute power. The first two chapters would’ve benefitted heavily from this but, this late in the game, it’s clearly just useless clutter now. Anyways, it’s revealed that there is a gate that connects the two planets. It’s a place where the ley lines are strong, and Nobunaga actually used it to get back to the Eastern star. Absolutely out of nowhere, we are told that there are ruins in the western planet that can get our heroes back home. Absolutely out of nowhere, it’s revealed to be underneath Joan’s village. Absolutely out of nowhere, da Vinci claims that it’s an important ruin in the western star and abso-f*cking-lutely out of nowhere, King Arthur decides that he wants control of it. This is shameless padding, and it’s a clear sign that the anime has nothing at this point. I think the screenplay is only up to the first two chapters, and the rest is just something the anime made up. I’m just speculating here, but the entire second half feels forced and hollow. If it is truly part of the playwright’s stage play then shame on him. His story sucks. But wait, there’s more.

After rescuing Joan of Arc, the gate is now used by the westerners to try and invade the eastern star. The fourth plot point focuses on the strongest warrior in Arthur’s court: Alexander the Great. He enters the fray and just f*cks everybody up. The strongest robots in the previous chapters now pale in comparison to Alexander’s might. He is untouchable, and Nobunaga tastes humiliating defeat at Alexander’s hand. With no one to stop him, Alexander then proceeds to plant some weird spikes on the eastern stars ley lines. Under King Arthur’s orders, the strategic points converge to reveal the Holy Grail. Again, absolutely out of nowhere, the show mentions a vital point to its story. This Holy Grail is supposedly the thing that saves the world, but it only manifests itself after you drain the planet of its ley line blood. So the thing that saves the world can only appear if you destroy the world first. It makes a whole lot of sense, right? Alexander’s appearance in the eastern star is actually pretty great. He is so powerful that he can destroy the planet by himself, and I think it would’ve been awesome if we just let him fight a lot of robots. Instead, he becomes a pawn of the story padding trying to do an errand assigned to him by King Arthur. It’s ridiculous. He is trying to f*ck the eastern star simply because another person wants him to. The ripe rivalries that make the story great is somehow forgotten, and the characters are now becoming badly stale. Nobunaga still claims that he wants to rule both heaven and earth, but he seems to forget that he hasn’t won a fight since episode eleven. Yes, gawd damn it, the fighting stops there but the talking never ceases to end. After his humiliating defeat at the hands of Alexander, Nobunaga does decide that he will train. He’ll try to outsmart the beast and find a weakness. With his strategists at hand, he’ll use his mind to defeat Alexander. With his loyal subjects at tow, he’ll rain down hell on the poor bastard to remind him Nobunaga is the man that’ll unify the world! And- actually none of that happened. Elaborate storytelling is abandoned at this point, and Nobunaga simply decided to get strong by acquiring a dragon. This is the fourth plot point of the show.

He tries to get a dragon to beat Alexander. I mean, good gawd, whatever happened to the man that built a f*cking castle in one night to spook his enemy? Anyways, he goes to this important place in the ley lines and tries to get a dragon. He is accompanied by Joan of Arc who also wants a dragon. You see, Joan is still uncertain on what she wants to do. Throughout the entire show, she only really does things to prove to herself that she must serve Nobunaga. In the first chapter, she is uncertain because Nobunaga is a rebelling idiot. In the second chapter, she is uncertain because her vision scares her. In the third, she is uncertain because she is unsure if he is the Savior-King. In the fourth, she is uncertain if she really wants to follow him. Every time, she always settles on a decision that she will indeed follow him, but the girl is so wishy washy it’s getting annoying. So, anyways, dragons. Their existence is only figuratively up until now, but they’re now real and Nobunaga wants one. If he does get one, will he finally defeat Alexander with it? Lol, no. They didn’t even fight with their mecha. They went one-on-one with swords and it ends with King Arthur interrupting the fight with his arrival at the dying eastern star. Payoff is but a dream, at this point, dear readers.

King Arthur versus Nobunaga is now the fifth and final chapter. There is no build up to this face off, and the story is non-existent. It’s badly forced and the show is really just trying to figure out an ending. If you follow most O. Screenplays then this kind of ending is really nothing new. It’s also pretty unsatisfying so I won’t even bother explaining what happens here. It just sucks. That’s it. After a long journey, the goal of Nobunaga trying to rule heaven and earth is not even achieved. The plot points of the ley lines, regalia and f*cking dragons didn’t even play a part in the ending, and the battle between King Arthur and Nobunaga is stupid. I mean, their face-off is inevitable but it just looks so sad in the anime. The show even tried to pull off a plot twist including Akechi Mitsuhide, but it didn’t really make a difference. It’s still bland and boring resulting from the lack of direction and over padding of exposition the anime enforced in its story. I think the show didn’t even have an ending credit scene following the aftermath of the whole event. It just faded to black, like a slurring drunk bastard passing out after his fifth drink. This is f*cking embarrassing.

The characters are a mix of good and bad. Some of them are compelling, while others became stale at the end. Nobunaga is one of the bad ones. He is portrayed as an arrogant yet impressive man at first, but he soon became a guy that just talks. He never wins his fights, yet he still promises to rule the world. Um, you’ll need more than words to convince the audience. After all, the last brilliant move you made is making a f*cking pact with a guy that cleanly beat you because he was better than you. Joan of Arc is also massively wasted here. She could’ve been used as this girl seeing visions of tragedies surrounding the story, and this makes her and the plot pretty compelling. Unfortunately, she is relegated to a useless sidekick just uttering nonsense. She isn’t even fan service bait, and that makes me sad. She just floundered, and it begs the question: why have Jeanne d’Arc in your story if you’re not going to utilize her well? What? You’re fan fiction absolutely need to ship Nobunaga and Joan together? She isn’t even a romantic damsel for Nobunaga. She keeps getting upstaged by a loli character. Really, she is so useless in this show that it feels like she isn’t needed at all. The same goes for da Vinci. What the f*ck is he doing in your story if you aren’t going to use him? He didn’t really do anything except annoy people by picking up arcana cards. In the first two chapters, the cards are used as a foreshadowing tool but it gets old pretty fast. In the later chapters, he is seen drawing the last supper and it’s as out of nowhere as everything else. He painted while the other characters die. Compelling, isn’t? Akechi Mitsuhide and the other important characters also turned horrible at the end. If you cut the show into two seasons with the first half being one season and the second another, then I think you could actually make a better case for the characters. They are really badly ruined in the second half. Mitsuhide historically betrays Nobunaga, and the anime wanted to do it as well. Unfortunately, that task requires a steady buildup and constant character introspection. It’s something the second half can’t handle, so this intriguing character soon turned to mush along with the story.

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Some of the good characters are actually those that had a minimal role in the story. I personally like Ichihide, the sister of Nobunaga. She behaves like a true daughter of a warrior and she puts her people first above all. In my opinion, she is much better as a leader than Nobunaga. Her actions also had more impact in the story. She threw away her happiness, her freedom and her own self to save her country, and that’s more than anything Nobunaga ever did in the story. Nobunaga runs when he is defeated, and he doesn’t mourn the death of his allies. Instead, he just goes on a tantrum so Ichihide stands out for me. We need more characters like her. Interestingly, Gaius Julius Caesar is also someone that I find entertaining. He is a villain that turned good then turned bad again. Every time he switches sides, you just grow more hatred for him and that’s the sign of an effective character. He is also a ruthless slimy bastard at first, but he softened up thanks to his wife. Yeah, he acquires a wife in this anime and this turned his whole demeanor upside down. I still remember how his wife forces him to join Nobunaga in battle against the western robots, and it just signifies how much this callous bastard now cares for his wife. No other character in the anime does a 360 flip quite as great as this wonderful character.

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I think Satelight’s entire goal as a company is to be just like Sunrise, but a little bit different. If Sunrise has the Gundam franchise, then Satelight will make their mecha shows different by, I dunno, have real life idols pilot it. Hey, it works. Unfortunately, Sunrise does know Satelight is a credible threat and they’re playing Satelight’s game as well. Too bad for Satelight, Sunrise will always have an edge on them because Sunrise has more money. Animation is where Sunrise truly stands out, and Satelight has no chance of competing with them. I just finished an O. Screenplay from Sunrise, and side by side, I can tell it’s better than Nobunaga the Fool. It’s better, simply because of the animation. I think Satelight does have a solid fanbase, and they know animation isn’t all that important in selling your mecha shows. If they keep up with this mentality though, then their original ideas like these will always just be a second tier compared to the worst of what Sunrise can produce. I’ll give them points for being different though. They think outside the box, and even Sunrise can’t match. Sadly, they just need to simplify their sh*t. It’s good, so there’s no need to make it better. Any attempts at being more than good ends up a disaster. All O. Screenplay should learn to settle with just good. We need to understand first what makes an O. Screenplay successful, and we should stop shooting for a Code Geass level anime. It’ll never happen again. It’s like Cowboy Bebop. Even the creator can’t replicate the success of that show. Code Geass is the same. Let that sh*t die, and aim lower. Shouji Kawamori wrote the play, and I do understand his direction. I also think the second half isn’t just his own work. A lot of hands wrote that garbage, and that’s fine. Let its clusterf*ck of a failure be a reminder that it’s not easy writing sh*t. He is known for Macross series, and I honestly haven’t seen a single one of those. It has spun a franchise though, so I think it is pretty great. I do know Aquarion Evol though, and it is the same grandiose style as Nobunaga the Fool except its better. There is clear direction and its comedic element makes it unique. It’s a shame Nobunaga the Fool didn’t quite meet his regular standards. This anime is directed by a Hidekazu Sato, and the guy sucks. He clearly lacks vision, because the director is able to turn a bad script good. This director allowed a good script to go bad, and shame on him. He didn’t even try, because every semblance of care is clearly given by the writer. The story becoming bland and boring by the second half is something a director can easily fix. Well, a competent director can and this guy clearly isn’t one. This is the last show he directed, and I hope it stays that way.

Sight and Sound

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Yone Kazuki designed the characters, and it’s actually one of the better parts of the show. She does a lot of otome shows, so her designs are really bishie dominant. It’s flashy but hollow yet extremely fun to look at. It goes a bit overboard from time to time, but I think the familiar designs makes the characters pretty interesting by visuals alone. She handled character design for the Hakouki franchise, Hiiro no Kakera, and Kamigami no Asobi. That is a lot of sausages for one’s CV, huh? With her background in flashy game designs, it clearly injects a certain flair to the characters. Nobunaga’s design is her typical bishie design with a handsome face and a flashy outfit to go along with it. It’s a shame the animation isn’t able to capture her design’s true beauty though. Her characters needs a softer palette to really let the gayness come out, and Satelight’s low budget color scheme prevents that. Mitsuhide is sexy as f*ck, and it’s a shame the animation isn’t able to properly convey that. She fumbles a bit with brawny types like Alexander, so I do think her style is limited. She managed to make Julius Caesar cute though, so that’s something. Her female designs are pretty ordinary though. I think her years designing hot male characters and bland dumb otome leads is a product of this. Ichihime could’ve been better considering how much detail is put in Mitsuhide and his sexy hair flips. It’s a minor detail though, and it doesn’t impact the show as much since it’s a very male dominated anime. As for mecha designs, they are pretty bad ass. Each robot personifies its pilot and it’s fun to see giant robots looking like their ideal counterpart. The CGI is a bit rough and blocky, but the full body shots of the robots looks pretty damn fine. There’s also a small detail separating the Eastern and Western robots, so I like that they added that extra detail in.

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The animation is bad. The show recycles some shots, lazily pastes scenes together at times and the design gets inconsistent at some low points in the show. The robot fight scenes are good, but its dragged down by the lack of care during heavy exposition scenes and this anime has more talking than fighting. Some fights also look awkward, and this is a good testament to how much the director lacks talent. If you can’t even envision a proper fight scene, then please let your key animators teach you how to do it properly. There are no movements during reaction shots, and most scenes simply have the mouth moving. The anime lacks interesting establishing shots, dynamic camera angles and just proper directing. Really, the animation adds to the problem of the show rather than make up for the flaws.

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The anime has two OP. The first one is “FOOL THE WORLD” by Minori Chihara. This is, I think, a love song but the lyrics are so intense. It’s about being passionate and loving hard. It does capture the setting of the anime as if representing the war aspect in the love song as well. The lyric also gets you pumped up, so the song is pretty good. The OP sequence summarizes all the character stories, and it actually tells a much better story than the actual anime so don’t be easily caught up by the flashy opening. I do love that scene where Mitsuhide and Joan point a knife at Nobunaga though. The second one is “Breakthrough” by JAM Project. This is pretty much like the first one. It pumps you up, and it’s fun to listen to. I love the blending of the voices, and it makes the chorus pretty catchy as you keep listening to it. The song is about breaking through, and fighting with all your might. It sounds like a fun anthem for the second half. The OP sequence again summarizes the important events of the anime, and it even made the lame one sided confrontation of Alexander and Nobunaga cool to watch. I’ll give some points for that creative mislead.

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The anime also has two ED. The first one is “AXIS” by STEREO DIVE FOUNDATION. I remember this guy from Kyoukai no Kanata, and I think I still have the song in my laptop. This ED song is a loud techno pop with a really annoying base line. I guess it’s not for me. I also can’t hear the lyrics well, and I think that’s part of the appeal. The ED sequence features a detailed foreshadowing of the second half, and I think it actually makes more sense in the ED sequence more than in the anime. I also like the drawings because it gives off an ominous feel along with the techno song. I’m not sure if it’s intentional but I really like the effect there. The second one is “Ran” by ASUKA. This is a much slower song compared to everything else in the anime, so it nicely stands out. It’s a solemn love ballad about someone vowing to protect the one he loves. It’s again reminiscing of the warring state period of the anime, and it’s really wonderful to listen to. I also love Asuka’s voice that gives conviction and personality to the lyrics. The ED sequence features the characters in this traditional Japanese art style, and it is pretty look to look at. The rough sketch lines gives a unique appeal to the characters not found in the show.

Overall Score

5/10 “The show is overly complex and convoluted turning a good idea into one giant mistake.”

I do recommend you try the first half of the show until the anime changed OP. It has more direction and better payoff than the second half. If you decide to continue on, then beware that the second half is extremely bad. If you’re a fan of unique mecha concepts from Satelight, then you’ll like this anime. If you like to watch one more Oda Nobunaga story, then try this one. It’s much better than those two shows where he is portrayed as a little girl. If you like historical dramas with a hint of a soap opera in it, then try the first half as well. It’s a unique experience I do find satisfying in the show. After that, just drop the anime. The second half just destroys any good quality the first half has. If I can score the first half alone, then I’d give it a seven. The second half I’d give a two, so watch with caution.

2 thoughts on “Nobunaga the Fool Review

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