Friday, January 16, 2015

Mechanime: Nobunaga the Fool

This review was inevitable! 
Original Run: 2014
Number of Episodes: 24
Dub?: No

Welcome back to Mechanime! This time I’ll be reviewing Nobunaga the Fool, a very recent anime that only ended recently. Just like last time, this is not a review of the whole show but instead the first few episodes.

Nobunaga the Fool’s opening, appropriately titled “Fool the World”, is a song that gets the job done. Its a catchy song that builds up to a great and rather energetic chorus. While it is a fun song to listen to, it doesn’t really stand out from all the robot openings out there. Despite being a bit generic, “Fool the World” is a fine opening.

Wielding a sword, in the hand of your menacing mech, which has its own giant sword. Redundant? Of course. Awesome? Oh yeah!
On an alternate plane of being, there exist two planets: the Star of the West (which resembles Europe), and the Star of the East (which resembles Sengoku era Japan). Both stars are embroiled in constant warfare, and it is foreseen by Jeanne Kaguya d’Arc, a young girl of the Western planet, that the planets will be destroyed unless they are united by a Savior King. She and the legendary inventor Leonardo da Vinci travel to the Eastern planet with a special Giant War Armor in order to find the Savior King. The Giant War Armor is activated by Oda Nobunaga, the ostracized heir to the Owari clan. He dubs the machine “The Fool”, and he and his allies soon get dragged into a conflict that will decide the fate of both worlds.

The concept and story of Nobunaga the Fool is pretty out there but is nevertheless effective thanks to great characters and competent writing. It creates an interesting universe that is not only creative but also engrossing. The narrative is easy to follow and is filled with endearing characters, so its easy to get invested in the series. The plot also has an interesting style, blending a traditional adventure narrative with war drama feel. It also features actual consequences for actions taken by the characters, which is honestly quite refreshing.

From left to right: Himiko, Jeanne, Nobunaga, Mitsuhide, and Hideyoshi
Every character in this anime is based off of a historical figure. You have Nobunaga Oda, the brash and impulsive heir to the Owari clan, his retainers Mitsuhide Akechi and Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the gentle and prophetic Jeanne d’Arc, and the eccentric inventor Leonardo da Vinci. Also among the cast is Julius Caesar, Hannibal Barca, Brutus, Shingen Takeda, and even King Arthur.

To say that Nobunaga the Fool takes creative liberties with its characters is a severe understatement. Each resembles the historic figure he or she is based on in pretty much name only. This doesn’t mean the characters are terrible; far from it. The characters feel far more natural than artificial, and prove to be quite endearing and even fully realized. They still feel like characters, but they’re easy to invest in and feel human.

Competent writing is often the key factor in whether a character or story is worth investing in. Fortunately, the writing here is great. While not every line hits home, much of the dialogue is well written and feels natural. Characterization is strong and consistent, and dialogue fits each scene in tone. Political debates feel formal and heated, and friendly conversation feel casual and approachable. The writing falls short of exceptional, but its still very good.

Need a new animation style? Why not CG?
Like Genesis of Aquarion, Nobunaga the Fool makes use of CG. All mechs (known as War Armors) are CG as opposed to traditional 2D animation. The War Armors are very well animated, and are fairly well integrated alongside 2D characters. The 2D animation is also very good, being both consistent and polished. Make no mistake; this is a great looking anime.

Mecha and Fight Scenes
The Owari army ready to march. 
There are two types of mecha in this anime: War Armors, which are piloted by soldiers and serve as grunts, and Giant War Armors, which are piloted by generals and lords. The grunts’ War Armors have a neat, steampunk-y feel, as they appeared to be steam powered and put functionality over flash. They also resemble suits of armor, be they samurai or European knights. The Giant War Armors, however, look truly badass, especially with their elemental attachments.

The fight scenes are great too. The fights between War Armors fell like actual battles, as they drop like flies under heavy fire. Fights between Giant War Armors are another matter. While they are short, they are also very sweet, featuring seriously flashy attacks such as firestorms and a bolt from the heavens. They feel much more like duels rather than a battle, which makes sense when you take into account that their pilots are lords.

Nobunaga the Fool is a great anime, with very little not to like. With a creative concept and story, endearing characters, great writing, and kickass mecha, this is truly one show that must be scene by any mecha fan. In fact, I might do follow-up reviews on this show.

9/10- Awesome

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