Note: This was originally written on January 13, 2014, before my WordPress was created. It was later reposed here, unedited.
Nobunaga the Fool is an interesting creature. It’s not unheard of for anime to be based off plays, but in this case, Nobunaga is written as both an anime and a play. The two were made pretty much side by side. And because of this, there are a number of things that seem odd in the anime, that can only be explained with “well that part’s probably meant to work better in the play. But the thing, we’re not looking at the play. So with that, welcome to the End. Today we’re looking at the first episode of the new anime, Nobunaga the Fool.
Right off the bat we’re greeted by chaos, followed by a mass of exposition that explains none of it. Apparently the world is divided between two stars, both somehow led by dragons. One star, the Star of the West, has managed to get the Dragon’s Breath, which is… good? It’s all a little confusing, but long story short, samurais, mech suits, and space travel. Can’t go wrong with a combination like that.
Nobunaga, along with two other samurai are traveling through the forest to warn a city of an incoming attack. The leader of the city refuses to run away, claiming that the city can withstand any attack. The enemy arrives with an army of mech suits, that claim is put to the test, and it all ends like The Ugly Barnacle.
Nobunaga, having survived being right in the middle of the clash by virtue of protagonist status, now confidently finds a much bigger mech (complete with cute fantasy girl) and, by virtue of protagonist status, knows how to pilot it to fight the incoming next wave.
But that’s really only half of the story given in this first episode. The problem is, the other half is all about the larger world, which I still can’t make East or West of. Nobunaga has the big, fantastic world, but never really gives us an introduction to it. Even a few good landscape shots would convey so much about this setting, but the handful of those there are are mostly ordinary real-world fields or mountains, or just desolate battlefields. It seems like they’re trying to tell the story before letting the audience adjust to the setting. Even the characters have already begun to be fleshed out, but I just couldn’t care about them because I was still trying to figure out where they were.
As best as I can tell, Nobunaga and his group are on the Star of the East. Nobunaga seems to be the leader of the group, and is the son of some kind of lord. So far he’s somewhat of an interesting character, being very laid back and anti-social, but also sensitive. He’s very much a noble madman, similar to Gurren Lagann’s Kamina. Also, he wears leather jacket armor, because that’s just awesome.
As for the other two in his group, one is sharp and serious, and the other is fittingly nicknamed monkey. They’re really not that important at this point. Other than them, there’s also a girl who may or may not be a demon, and Leonardo Da
Many of The Fool’s characters are based off real historical figures, such as King Arthur Pendragon, Da Vinci, and Shingen Yashida. It’s a nice touch but, as someone who built eraser dominos in history class, it doesn’t really add anything for me. But their designs are all very interesting so far, and Da Vinci is just cool (I like my men Renaissance).
The animation for The Fool is handled by Satelight, and it’s mostly pretty good. Corners are cut, potentially expensive scenes are avoided, there’s some CG that needs work, and the backgrounds are too bland, but there are a lot of great designs and fantasy visuals that really make the world believable. The characters, the sky, space ships all suit the world well.
My biggest issue is the mecha design. It’s just boring, and unoriginal.
With no clear introduction to the world, poor pacing that probably worked better in the play, a boring mecha, interesting character designs, a potentially engaging world, and a Kamina-like main character, Nobunaga the Fool is holding my interest for now. We’ll see if it lasts in a couple episodes.