Anime Review: The Ambition of Oda Nobuna

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Reposted from my Facebook 24 September 2012.

Yes, it’s that time of the season again where an animated series ends so another can come in its place; granted my watch list hasn’t quite changed since Spring. Oh, and by the way, that title is NOT a typo. Ever heard of the Japanese champion Oda Nobunaga, who united Japan during a time of civil war long before the United States was even a country? No, I’m not referring to him, and neither is this TV series.

The Ambition of Oda Nobuna (Oda Nobuna no Yabou) is an anime inspired by the manga of the same title by Mikage Kasuga. Dare I say, it’s listed in the historical genre, but truly nothing is historical about it other than all the namesakes of the characters involved are real men who fought in the civil war. Did I say “men?” I’m sorry. I totally forgot this is Oda Nobuna we’re talking about.

The series takes place when a teenage boy from the present day gets stuck in an alternate (and past) universe when Japan was in a civil war during what we know of as the 16th century; only this time, both men AND women were allowed to rule as feudal lords and military personnel. In this mess of literally gender-bending history, the boy known only to his fellow comrades as Saru (literally “monkey”) meets a rather promiscuous Oda Nobuna(ga?), a lower Japanese noble who desires to unite Japan and extend its diplomacy to the coming European nations. Together with her clansmen and retainers, Oda Nobuna and Saru plan to conquer Japan with the least amount of bloodshed while having a typical anime romance sequence (and by that, I mean loving each other without ever admitting it).

Overall, nothing is terribly wrong with the series, considering it obviously plays to an audience of the typical male otaku who enjoy seeing women playing sexual warrior roles. However, I can’t help but wonder why anyone would decide to write about a gender-bending of a truly historical figure like Oda Nobunaga. That has the same effect as if an American novelist decided to say Abraham Lincoln doubled as a vampire hunter as well as President of the United States (oh wait, that’s already been done). I just hope that fans of this show appreciate that this is totally FICTION and not actually real; and therefore has nothing to do with historical fact.

On the other hand, I really like the series’ portrayal of Oda Nobunaga’s military adviser Niwa Nagahide. Like all the other characters in this series, the retainer is portrayed as an illustrious female whom I’d personally have a crush on if she were actually real. She’s beautiful, she’s tactical, and best of all, she uses the point system that I and some members of my anime club adopted a couple of years ago! 50 points to an amazing character!

Still however, there are times I wonder if the series was really pushing the loli-con agenda. Saru, the main character, has his own personal bodyguard, military adviser, ninja, and wife, all of which are girls who are no taller than say, four feet. I don’t think I need to say it, but, that’s just freakin’ awkward, especially when there’s plenty of other awesome women in the show. I mean, come on, what was the writer thinking?

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