Anime Review | Nobunaga the Fool: Part 1 (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 03.12.2016

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Nobunaga the Fool: Part 1 (UK Rating: 15)

There are plenty of familiar recurring themes and characters in anime. Nobunaga the Fool decides to take a variety of them and smash them all together. There are giant battling mecha, feudal samurai, a little bit of fan-service, King Arthur, spaceships, bows and arrows… it's something truly unique and has to be seen to be believed. This first half of the series contains 13 episodes and is out now, courtesy of MVM.

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Nobunaga the Fool is actually just part of a bigger creation, including a stage play in Tokyo, all the brainchild of Kawamori Shoji. A lifelong mecha fan and visionary responsible for some iconic series, he designed mecha for Patlabor and Eureka Seven, not to mention actually creating Escaflowne, Aquarion and numerous Macross series. This story takes a truly original premise, set upon two planets linked together known as the Eastern Star and the Western Star. Both stars have sacred "Dragon Veins" running through them and magical weapons known as "Sacred Treasures" seem to tap into these veins. A young lady on the Western Star, named Jeanne d'Arc, has visions of a true saviour king on the far Eastern Star and sets out with a crazy inventor and fortune teller named Leonardo da Vinci to find this promised king, stealing a super-powered battle armour along the way.

The sudden departure of da Vinci and Jeanne gets the attention of the Round Table, the ruling body of the Western Star, led by a man named King Arthur. The Round Table has its own interests in the Eastern Star and soon enough one of the table's generals - Gaius Julius Caesar - is sent on a mission to the Eastern Star. This first half of the show spends a considerable amount of time establishing the plot and characters, something that is severely required considering the truly insane and original premise. Pulling from the history and legends of both East and West, there are few series out there that can promise Oda Nobunaga and Julius Caesar throwing down in giant robots while samurai battle below, riding lizard horses and fighting with sword and bow!

Nobunaga is seen as the useless son of the Oda clan, nicknamed The Fool, yet regardless of this, he aims to become the ruler of both Heaven and Earth. He plans to begin this by ruling all the Japanese Feudal clans across the Eastern Star, a task made a little easier when his path converges with Joan and he gets his hands on a giant piece of battle armour. He's not the only warrior with a giant mech to rely on, though, as the Takeda clan, led by the legendary warrior Shingen, begins an assault on the Oda.

If that brief introduction seems confusing, it's nothing compared to the full thing. The story is absolutely baffling at points; battles are suddenly stopped to have a cup of tea, the dialogue gets exposition heavy, and, frankly, cringe-worthy, and the actions of the characters often make no sense. Worse still, the pacing feels all over the place throughout this first half, meaning so much is left unexplained while inordinate amounts of time are spent on less important matters. Despite all this, the characters are really enjoyable, not only in their designs but also in their personalities. Nobunaga has surprising depth and his companions are filled with charm. It's easy to grow attached to Monkey and Jeanne, amongst the others.

The series looks fantastic, with some superb character designs that combine feudal Japanese influences and blends them with modern and sci-fi styles. The characters and the world they live in are truly a highpoint and fantastically original. Considering the pedigree of the creator, the mecha are, of course, top notch. The choice to go with CGI mecha battles instead of drawn is something that is rarely a good choice, delivering a final product that ends up looking completely out of place compared to the rest of the show. Here, though, it uses a style that - while certainly not seamless - manages to look part of the universe and delivers some stylishly choreographed battle sequences. The rest of the presentation is okay; there are both English and Japanese dub options here, both of which have some big names, but only the Japanese is particularly well performed.

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Rated 6 out of 10


This first half of the Nobunaga the Fool season is a confusing introduction to an absolutely mental amalgamation of history, legends and sci-fi. While the story certainly seems to show a lot of promise, for a first half this falters with a slow burn to get to the real core of the story and requires a few re-watches to fully appreciate. That being said, with the stage now set, the second part has a great jumping off point to pick up from.

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