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Nobunaga The Fool: Part One – Review

Nobunaga-The-Fool-Part-1-Cover-IMage-01Inspiration can come from an infinite number of things. Creative types use whatever it is they can to stimulate their imagination; be it reading a good book, watching a good movie, or simply living life itself. It’s no mystery that the greatest level of inspiration comes from the history of our world. Looking back through time, you’ll soon come to the realisation that some absolutely amazing feats have been accomplished through the ages by some of existence’s most interesting people. Granted, some of those people did devastatingly evil things but that doesn’t make their stories any less enthralling.

Though series’ like Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings is grandiose in it’s retelling of the Sengoku period leading up to the battle of Sekigahara, it is because of the Anime that I was able to get somewhat of a grasp on the battles of the time. Watching through it lead me to research more and to, in fact, seek out other series’ like it. I then began reading Takehiko Inoue’s Vagabond which recounts the life of famed Samurai Miyamoto Musashi and from there my love for Japanese history blossomed.

Madman Entertainment have just released part one of a brand-new series called Nobunaga The Fool which is an Anime series that follows the story of a very unrealistic Oda Nobunaga who lives in a time wherein which tea ceremonies are still very much the norm for upper class Japanese society…but so are gargantuan robots piloted by worthwhile soldiers. Going into Nobunaga The Fool, I was very much under the impression that it would be another twisted retelling of past events, albeit one filled with robots and spaceships. What I witnessed was a mismatch of different historical figures laid out across the very much unrealistic war based heavily upon the unification of Japan…featuring robots and spaceships…and tea ceremonies. Before I delve any deeper, allow Madman Entertainment themselves to explain the plot:

Long ago, in an age when the cosmos was still known as Chaos, the world was split into two planets, forming the West and East Stars. After years of war and strife, the Western Star has finally become united under a single king, the legendary Arthur. But conflict still threatens to consume all until hope arises in a vision: a vision of a champion who could save the futures of both worlds.

Setting forth on a dangerous journey, Joan d’Arc must travel from the West world to the East, seeking the man she believes can use the devices of the great Leonardo Da Vinci and become their savior. But will Nobunaga Oda be the kind of man they are expecting? Will history’s greatest heroes find themselves choosing not a liberator, but a destroyer? Or is Nobunaga’s role that of the Fool from a deck of Tarot, the wild card whose purpose is to invoke change, no matter what the cost?

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What happens when you bring together Oda Nobunaga, Takeda Shingen, Gaius Julius Caesar, Alexander The Great, Joan of Arc, and Leonardo Da Vinci? Answer: A very confusing and historically incorrect cast of egomaniacs. Despite how strange that does sound, these characters coming together actually did prove to be quite entertaining. Through the clash between East and West we got to see some incredibly real parallels that simply highlighted the differences in not only their military natures but their cultures as a whole. It actually somewhat took me by surprise to see a series like this take the time to actually subtly outline why it is the heads of both sides cannot see eye to eye.

I will not lie; Nobunaga The Fool had a very interesting premise, though it’s execution was one that left me feeling very much unimpressed by the end of the thirteenth episode. Nobunaga The Fool is an Anime that tried being intelligent but did so only by throwing in a whole bunch of lore that either was explained far too much or wasn’t explained enough…or at all. The world of the series mixes history, science, magic, and everything in between but never once did it feel as though any of those things actually came together in harmony. Instead, they were just thrown at the same target with the hopes that at least a few of them would stick. Too bad not many did.

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Being a studio Satelight production, I did have some pretty high expectations for the animation quality of Nobunaga The Fool. They’re not usually a studio who cuts corners or produces lacklustre visual quality so as you can imagine I expected a great deal from this series. It’s very much unfortunate that it did not live up to my presupposition of great, and it instead fell very much flat.

Nobunaga The Fool featured a great deal of CGI animation which were used in my favourite scenes from the series, all of which featured intricately-designed mechs and wonderfully smooth animation…though they were few and far between. Instead, I found myself sitting through mindless still frames and quick pans to indicate action sequences…I simply wasn’t impressed. I would love to say the environments looked great and the character designs even better but the DVD quality was lacking to the point where I couldn’t even focus properly on what it was I was watching. To say the very least; at times…Nobunaga The Fool was a chore to sit through. Sad but true. 

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Backing up the average visual quality of the series was a soundtrack that matched the setting of the story but wasn’t as memorable as one should be. The series used a great deal of traditional tracks during the story’s down time and kicked it up a notch to more fast-paced rock when it came time for action but, once again, those times were few and far between. I feel as though a good soundtrack will stick with you long after you’ve finished watching the respective series…the soundtrack for Nobunaga The Fool, though fitting, just felt average and it left my mind just as soon as it entered it.

Much like that of the series’ characters, those who provide the voice acting talents for them are just as hard to categorise in a review setting. At times, they delivered their lines perfectly, hitting every single mark and expressing just the right amount of raw emotion mixed with theatrics. At other times…I honestly thought I was watching some low-budget abridged series that was trying way too hard to get a laugh. Nobunaga himself was rude and crass which fits into his character very well but lines like “come at me, bro!” absolutely do not…simple revision and rewording could have redeemed this series in a huge way.

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What more is there to truly say about Nobunaga The Fool? It is a series that tried it’s hand at something more than just your simple mech story and it, well…failed. There’s a great deal to get out of the series so long as you’re willing to do most of the work to find it. That means you’ll be doing a lot of research on the backstory elements mentioned but not explained throughout the series. To me, this Anime seems incomplete BUT it is only the first half of the series and I feel as though much will change once part two is released. Still, I cannot grant Nobunaga The Fool a better score simply because of a benefit of the doubt, that just wouldn’t be fair.

As it stands now, Nobunaga The Fool is for those of you out there who do not care for the minor details. If you’d like to watch a fleshed-out, well-written series that tugs at the heart strings and features just as much action as there is emotion…Nobunaga The Fool isn’t for you. If you’re looking for an Anime to fill the time between one month’s releases and the next than maybe you should give Nobunaga The Fool a go. It just left me wanting more, and not in the good way. Consider Nobunaga The Fool to be a hot meal; instead of being so delicious it has left me craving more…the plate it was served on was so empty that, even after I’ve eaten, I’m still very much in the mood for a good meal.

Check it out for yourself! Purchase it at Madman Entertainment’s official online store: Click Here

Grade: C

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