Review for Nobunaga The Fool: Part 2
This’ll probably be a short review, short but not sweet in the slightest. For one thing, I have watched the whole thing on Crunchyroll before, and when I started reviewing the DVD release of part 1, it was with the slight hope that I’d somehow watched the wrong thing in the first place. If you’ve read that review, you’d know that hope was dashed. For the sake of completion, (some might say total masochism) I’m giving the final episodes of Nobunaga the Fool the once over. Don’t expect a total volte face at this juncture.
Bear with me, as this is a little involved. In the future, society is split across two worlds, the East Star and the West Star. Historical figures have been reborn into this future, and on the West Star, King Arthur is the first to unify the world and lead a renaissance. But this world has its troubles, not least a drought which is devastating crops. The eyes of the Round Table look to the heavens and the East Star. They’re not the only one, as Joan Kaguya D’Arc (Joan of Arc) is once again plagued by visions and voices, and she sees destruction for her world unless she finds the Savior King. Leonardo da Vinci shows up, with his newest creation, a Giant Armour, and with an idea where the Savior King is to be found. He offers to take Joan with him to the East Star.
The East Star is yet to be unified. A lush and verdant world, it’s currently reliving the Warring States period, albeit with giant robots, and Nobunaga Oda is the wayward eldest son of clan lord Nobuhide, a young man with grand dreams of unifying the world under his banner, but with only his faithful vassals Akechi Mitsuhide and Toyotomi Hideyoshi at his side. Which is when a spaceship crashes into the forest, carrying a veritable genius, a blonde foreign girl with big breasts, and the baddest giant robot that Nobunaga has ever seen...
The conclusion of Nobunaga the Fool, 11 episodes worth is presented across three DVDs from MVM. Part 2 is also out on Blu-ray if you wish your giant robots to be in HD.
14. The Empress
15. The Hanged Man
16. Ace of Cups
17. The Hermit
18. The Emperor
19. Wheel of Fortune
20. The Sun
22. The Devil
23. The World
Nobunaga the Fool gets a 1.78:1 anamorphic NTSC transfer, progressively encoded on these discs. The image is clear and sharp with no visible signs of compression, and with minimal banding. I suppose that’s one of the benefits of splitting 13 episodes across three dual layer DVDs, as Sentai are apt to do these days. Nobunaga the Fool is a rather pleasant looking show, especially when it comes to the world design and the backgrounds. There’s a lot of imagination, and plenty of detail on offer, with massive planets hanging low on the horizon, city lights twinkling on their surfaces. The CG animation, and giant robot designs are well done, although oddly enough, it’s the grunt mecha, the robots of the mass infantry that show more imagination than the hero machines, which look fairly generic. The character designs also are generic, although well accomplished when it comes to costumes and detail. The failing in Nobunaga is the 2D character animation, which is an optional extra the animators failed to specify. This is one of the most static anime I have seen in ages, which given the show’s many visual positives, really does let the side down.
Nobunaga the Fool gets Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo English and Japanese. You can switch the audio on the fly, but the subtitles and signs tracks are locked during playback. I really needed this to be a good English dub, but alas it’s down to Sentai’s usual standards. The voice acting is all over the place, with the actors sounding as if they are all in different shows. Some are over the top, some are flat, some are perky, some are serious, there just is no consistency of tone. The reason I needed a good English dub is that the lead actor in the Japanese audio, Mamoru Miyano kills it for me. In the Japanese, this is a show with full on testosterone male actor performances, but Nobunaga himself is so over the top that it winds up as a parody. The audio is fine otherwise, no glitches or drop-outs, the stereo doing a fine job carrying the action and the show’s music. The subtitles are timed accurately and free of typos, although Sentai’s tendency to fill the screen with production notes gets annoying in this show.
The discs present their content with static menus. The extras are on disc 1 and comprise the second set of textless credits, and trailers for Captain Earth, Argevollen, Appleseed the Movie, and Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky.
This is going to be the lamest, cop-out review ever. If you like Nobunaga the Fool, then you can buy these discs in confidence, safe in the knowledge that there are no technical screw-ups, no dodgy transfer, it’s all perfectly watchable. And I accept that it is possible to like Nobunaga the Fool. For one thing it’s an anime with a beginning, middle and end, with no last minute, desperate open-ended plea for a sequel that will never be made. The story flows pretty well, is decently paced, and if you like colourful, loud, and vivid characters, then this show certainly has those as well. It’s also got giant robots, and they get into fights. So if these ingredients appeal to you, then it is not beyond the bounds of reason that this show will garner its fans.
I’m not one of them. In fact, I loathe Nobunaga the Fool, I find it tiresome and of low quality, with no redeeming features whatsoever. I think the story is a mess, thrown together at random by committee. The characters are single-note caricatures, and if I can’t care about these things, then all the CG brilliance on screen in the giant robot battle sequences, isn’t going to wake me up anytime soon. Given the character of Nobunaga Oda, you can guess that the Warring States period is going to be a heavy influence on the story, and you’d be right. It doesn’t make that much of an impact on me though, and I was briefly thinking of blaming it on my own lack of knowledge of the cultural significance of the story, expecting it to play better to a domestic audience. Only I recently started re-watching Sengoku Basara: Samurai Kings, which plays with the same characters, and I have no such problems with that.
Nobunaga the Fool throws in a plethora of screen text and production notes, explaining various terms and historical facts to bolster the viewer’s appreciation of the show. You’ll be pressing pause a lot on these discs to read it all. Sengoku Basara has no need for that, the story is good enough to stand on its own. To put it another way, if Sengoku Basara is Darth Vader, Nobunaga the Fool is a three year old child in a Darth Vader costume, taken trick or treating by proud parents.
The other half of the show comprises the rest of recorded history, and a bit of fiction, and everyone from Alexander the Great to Leonardo da Vinci is thrown into the story, with a heavy helping of King Arthur mythology to boot. They really just threw everything in willy-nilly. All of a sudden the show becomes about the Holy Grail, with added zombies. And I still don’t know what Dragon Veins are. I used to have this complaint about Gonzo sci-fi fantasy anime, the shows like Kiddy Grade, Burst Angel, and Trinity Blood, which would have great stories that unfolded in intriguing and fascinating ways, expect that when it came to the climax, Gonzo would either have to ditch the manga and fashion an ending of their own, or if it was an original anime, they’d lose the plot in the final act. The end result was the same, a ‘throw everything at the screen, including the kitchen sink’ ending, with a big battle, lots of ‘splosions, and the return of every character encountered in the series, all to have their moment in the sun. The entirety of Nobunaga the Fool feels like that to me, not just the ending.
I can’t recommend Nobunaga the Fool. But I do accept that it has its fans. I’m no fan of Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere for example, but that has its adherents who have a lot of time for the show. Nobunaga the Fool is still on Crunchyroll, and if its historical mish-mash appeals, then you can always give a few episodes a try, and see how it works out. As I said at the start of this conclusion; a total cop-out review.