Friday, October 26, 2012

Peps' Anime Wrap-up: Oda Nobuna no Yabou

image from MyAnimeList
I wasn't originally sure if I would like Oda Nobuna no Yabou.  The summer anime season was already inundated with time, dimension or reality-displaced heroes.  Not to mention the fact that I still wasn't over how I wasted precious viewing time on Brave 10, which also featured Sengoku era characters.  Nor was it the first time that I encountered the gender bending twist of stories that featured these historical characters (Sengoku Collection and Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls).

I ended up watching it for two reasons.  I wasn't about to pass up on watching at least one episode of each anime title.  And I was really impressed by the opening sequence of Oda Nobuna no Yabou.  I was impressed enough to stick around for a few more episodes and was subsequently hooked by the actual storyline.

High school student Sagara Yoshiharu suddenly finds himself in the middle of a battle, eventually realizing that he has somehow time-traveled to the Sengoku period.  He witnesses the death of the man who was supposed to become Toyotomi Hideyoshi and ends up getting saved by (as well as saving) Oda Nobuna.  Unlike the heroes of his favorite video game Nobunaga's Ambition, Yoshiharu learns that most of the Sengoku characters were actually women and that his favorite Sengoku hero, Nobunaga, is actually a cute girl named Nobuna.  After being nicknamed Saru (monkey) and getting involved in Nobuna's plans to unite Japan, Yoshiharu realizes that he must now fulfill the role of the man who would eventually be named Toyotomi Hideyoshi.  He uses his knowledge of the Sengoku period and follows historical events to bring victory to Nobuna, as well as potentially changing the disastrous events that he knew would be part of her eventual history.

Oda Nobuna no Yabou succeeds, despite using some very familiar anime formulas.

The series focuses on Yoshiharu's actions to help Nobuna instead of making the lead character become consumed with trying to get back to his own world or time.  It's a refreshing change from the displaced lead only coincidentally or eventually helping out.  Yoshiharu's dedication to fulfilling Nobuna's desire to unite Japan and travel the world is paramount above all else.  And then, there's also the challenge to cope with the consequences of altering fate, since Yoshiharu also made it his mission to circumvent events that would be catastrophic to Nobuna's cause. 

image from sakura-doujin
Oda Nobuna no Yabou was also able to avoid being a cliche harem series.  Sure, the lead character would love nothing more than to have a harem at his beck and call, especially since he's constantly surrounded by beautiful girls.  And sure, there are female characters who feel attracted to Yoshiharu for different reasons.  Yet, every female character was more than just a pretty face, and their addition to Nobuna's growing arsenal of generals and experts showed the audience that it really was possible for her to unite Japan.  The characters show different quirks on top of their individual merits as warriors or strategists, ensuring that they remain memorable even when the series lacked the time to showcase each one at length.

Of course, you can expect to watch Oda Nobuna no Yabou's version of famous Sengoku events.  While it's easy enough to recognize many of these events (though I would never claim to know all of them, since I'm a horrible student of history), the storytelling remains fresh for me.  The fact that Yoshiharu knows these events beforehand adds a bit more excitement, since you're always curious to find out how he can possibly find a way to ensure victory or circumvent catastrophe.  Despite the benefits of knowing the events beforehand, the series still remains to keep viewers on their toes by throwing Yoshiharu, Nobuna and their companions various challenges.  While it might seem that Oda Nobuna no Yabou would only be composed of battles and conspiracies, the series proves to be balanced with its well timed and appropriate humor.  Add all these factors with exciting action sequences, which are admittedly a bit short at times but understandable because of its short run, and the series succeeds in remaining mostly entertaining all throughout its run.

It's safe to say that when other anime titles are only faring averagely compared to the original media they were adapted from, Oda Nobuna no Yabou did just fine to honor its light novel origins.

In fact, it did very well.

I'm glad I stuck around to watch it.

Happy viewing!!

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