First Impressions: Nobunaga the Fool


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The newest series by Satelight, created by Macross mastermind Shoji Kawamori is pretty much a history buffs dream come true, or their worst nightmare. Being that my history knowledge is quite bad, I can’t tell you all that much about the characters in play, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t an accurate retelling. With a couple shows based on the late, great shogunate Oda Nobunaga, I wonder if this season can handle so much of his presence. Odd timing on the studios’ part.

Beyond Macross, I haven’t totally been in love with Kawamori’s works, asides from his amazing mechanical designs. Nobunaga the Fool is actually just a part of a larger franchise known as The Fool, that also includes a stage play of the anime series. The show has plenty of promise, including larger than life action scenes, a well known cast of characters, and of course robots. I decided to take in the first couple episodes before sharing my impressions. So what does the ultimate Macross fan think of Kawamori’s latest outing?

The show kicks off with a bizarre foreshadowing dream sequence, which apparently links the fates of the lovely Jean D’Arc and Oda Nobunaga. Japan is seemingly engulfed in the hellish flames of battle, and our heroine is iconicity being burnt at the stake. What is she doing in Japan? Our question are actually answered quite quickly as Jean & Leonardo Da Vinci set off for the East, in hopes of finding their destiny. The ship they are on is piloted by the watchful Magellan, who is also conveniently carrying one of Da Vinci’s War Armors. Jean gets a feeling that they should head for The Eastern Planet, so they depart immediately, causing Megallan’s forces to attack and pursue.

From there they run into Nobunga, who has been given the nickname “The Fool”, by the people of the Eastern Planet, perhaps do to his reckless and whimsical nature. Reall though, he seems like a pretty OK guy, with his head on his shoulders, probably not deserving the nickname, but why not. He is joined by his friends Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Akechi Mitsuhide. Those who follow Japanese history might want to note that Mitsuhide was a general that crosses Nobunaga, leading to his demise. Things seem a lot more chill here, with the three friends seemingly having a good time riding their flying horses and hunting. They observe the forces of Takeda attacking an outpost, and the harrowing one sides loss that follows.

The crew gather their wits, and extra weapons that are laying around, and figure out they must warn Nobanaga’s father, the King.Before they make their way back, Jean & Da Vinci’s escape pod which is carrying a War Armor crashes into ground, with Magellan’s forces in hot pursuit. Destiny unfolds as Jean meets her Saviour King, and Nobunaga convinetly bonds with the War Armor, which he later names, “The Fool.” He kicks butt quite easily, until the mecha powers down.

They then make their way back to the castle to warn of impending war, and Nobunaga makes The Fool do a little posing. At this time we also find out that Julius Ceasar is sent on hot pursuit by King Arthur and the other people of the Western Planet. We end up with Jean pretending to be a man, and finding out that Nobunaga is his sister’s lover. Wait, what? This might be a great show after all!

While I enjoyed the mechs aspects of the show, its pacing and saturation are a bit off putting. Perhaps things will slow down a bit later, but there’s just too much stuff going on, and way too time spent on trivial things. I enjoy the dynamic presented by the East & West Planets, but find the way everyone’s just smashed together a bit off. Not to mention none of the designs match anything related to the person they are based on.

You guys know character designs can make or break a show for me, and unfortunately here is the latter. Asides from some decent looks from Jean, I can’t stand the way anyone looks here. It’s likeSaint Seiya characters were thrown into an episode of Fate/Zero & drawn by 100 different people. Perhaps the idea is that everyone would have a completely unique look, but it’s way to jarring for my liking. Nobunaga is an OK character, but he has a bit too much of a Kamina thing going on right now. The mecha design looks fantastic though, and the battles are pretty well done.

The animation looks pretty consistent, with things going full 3D in mech battles. Inconsistency is still apparent in some areas, with a few things being really well detailed, with some things like the flying horses looking drab and uninspiring. The voice acting isn’t bad, but I have yet to really give a crap about any characters yet. The music is large and epic, but not yet memorable.

I guess it’s still a bit early to decide wether or not I dislike the show yet. It’s just that nothing is really sparking my interest yet besides the mech designs. I could be a bit of a victim of Kawamori hype, but honestly, this feels like one of the most generic anime series I’ve watched in a long time. The scale of things is a bit hard to digest, but it may all gel together later on, and I’m hesitant to walk away from it yet. There’s a whole cast of characters we haven’t really been introduced to yet, and maybe I’ll latch onto something. If they would spend as much time focusing on the character designs as they do Jean’s boob designs, the show may have hope.

[Act a Fool over at Crunchyroll]


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Hiroko Yamamura
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