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ANIME & MANGA - Review
15:33 - 6th January 2017, by NEO Staff

Nobunaga the Fool Part 1

Anime has immortalised the life and times of Oda Nobunaga, but the conflicting histories rarely paint a vivid portrait of the feudal lord. Nobunaga the Fool doesn’t profess to be a historical series, and with its mech battles and characters cut from the past two millennia, it is perhaps the weirdest to bear Oda’s namesake.

Though the narrative favours the fairytale in telling its complex story, the sense of myth and storytelling tradition is kept strictly visual with its handsome animation and quirky eye catches. The Eastern and Western stars are marked out more by variations in music and colour, with the East awash with the muddy colours of warfare, and the West a veritable story-book setting with a warm palette and crystalline structures.

The titular hero (superbly voiced by the ubiquitous Mamoru Miyano) starts life more like a punky upstart, out to tarnish his good father’s reputation and earning the ‘fool of Oda’ moniker. While our Oda shares similarities with his historical counterpart, the sexy, devil-may-care bishie of Studio Satelight‘s anime takes more than a little poetic license. If Nobu is a departure from history, then none come more divorced than da Vinci, imagined here as a dandy somewhere between inventor and magician. He escaped to the East in search of someone who could activate his new giant war armour (a mech by any other name will still hit as hard). Hot on his heels is Julius Caesar, a member of King Arthur’s round table. No, really.

Nobu ends up proving himself the saviour king and piloting the new mech. Of all the figures in the historical free-for-all, it’s Jeanne Kaguya d’Arc who winds up seeming the strangest. Yet as the episodes go by, each end up growing out of and shedding the visage of their inspirations, developing into their own entities entirely. Jeanne goes from hiding as a man in Oda’s castle to piloting a mech of her own, defending Nobu and his aim of uniting heaven and earth. Emerging as a keen strategist and embracing his role as leader of the Oda clan, Nobu sees the best development, flourishing into someone who could give the pragmatic Lelouch vi Britannia a run for his money.

In its moments of melodrama, like a pivotal funeral scene midway through the collection, Nobunaga the Fool shows that it’s a powerful blend of magic realism and character study that sometimes aspires to greatness.
SCORE: 3/5
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