4 January 2016 | bmcafee_98-257-960319
Japanese history... kinda.
The Ambition of Oda Nobuna is a gender swapped retelling of the end of the sengoku, or warring states period of Japanese history. Most of the major historical figures have been transformed into girls, and time traveler Yoshiharu Sagara, a high school student from modern day Japan, full of knowledge about the period from playing simulation games, uses his knowledge to change the events so everything works out the way he wants it to.
The series is a mostly interesting, definitely entertaining, a bit disturbing, historical gender swapped harem comedy. I'm currently working on my masters in ancient and classical history, so I'm very interested in Japanese history and I was intrigued by this anime. Now that I've watched it, I'd have to say I enjoyed it, but I'm definitely scratching my head at some of the decisions the creators made.
Lets break it down:
Art: 7.0 The animation is competent, but not outstanding. I don't have a problem with using still frames when used appropriately, but I think they relied on them a bit too much. One scene in particular, when Nobuna's army is besieging her little brother's fortress, and everyone is chanting Nobuna's name. It looked weird that nobody was moving, not even their mouths. Still, the character designs were interesting, especially Inuchiyo, and while a purple haired girl wearing a tiger hoodie and wielding a huge spear sounds strange, it looks pretty cool. I understand the gender swapping, and that does make for an interesting premise, but the age reduction went a bit too far. The character who would eventually be Tokugawa Iyeyasu was a little girl with mouse ears and a tail, probably about eight years old. I can't imagine what inspires an army to follow that into battle. I'm sure this was played for laughs, but it elicits more of a WTF than an LOL. The action and the fight scenes were well done, and I wish there had been more.
Story: 7.0 Overall, I liked it. There were a lot of historical details which made me happy, such as Yoshiharu taking Toyotomi Hideyoshi's place as sandal bearer in the Oda court, and Nobuna dancing and praying before the battle of Okehazama, but there were some blatantly anachronistic things which made me cringe. Imagawa Yoshimoto and Tokugawa Iyeyasu playing soccer (that wasn't kemari, there was a net), an assassin using a sniper rifle with a modern scope two hundred years before the RIFLE was invented, Yoshitatsu Saito running around with a cannon which can fire repeatedly without reloading, Hisahide Matsunaga attacking Kyoto with war elephants? So many historical details, balanced with so much absolute nonsense. It would be different if it were explained, or played for comedy, but it's not.
Characters: 6.0 There really isn't a lot of character development. Nobuna and Yoshiharu make in interesting couple. I'd have to say that the male leads in most harem comedies are the worst kind of fish out of water, ineffectual, plankton of any characters in anime, but happily, Yoshiharu actually drives the plot of the show, and is incredibly knowledgeable about the world he has been dropped into. He's actually a strong leader and that made for a pleasant surprise. The rest of the harem are fun to watch, and Niwa Nagahide's running gag of assigning point values to other character's actions is amusing. But really, we are never told anything about Yoshiharu's life before he magically gets transported into bizarro sengoku Japan. Nor do we know how he got there. We do get some of Nobuna'a background, but the rest are pretty much blank slates. The biggest problem I had character wise was definitely Takenaka Hanabe, who is supposed to be some incredible strategist, but never comes up with a single plan or strategy, but instead uses marginally effective magic to little effect. Sometimes I get the feeling Hanabe is only included in the series so we can have a scene of an eight year old girl with her shirt off, and that's pretty disturbing. More on that later.
Sound: 7.0 The dub was actually quite good. I thought all the voices fit the characters well. The high point would definitely be Hilary Haag as the ninja Goemon. The little girl ninja with a lisp was actually very entertaining. The music was competent, but not outstanding. It worked to complement the scenes, and the opening and closing songs were good, but nothing memorable and certainly nothing I'm going to listen to by itself.
Fan Service: This isn't a category on which I usually comment, and I'm normally cool with fan service in a show, but here it needs to be addressed. There isn't too much of it, quantity wise, and some of it is actually kinda funny, such as Shibata Katsuie's boobs bouncing
in armor! How that works is beyond me, but it's worth a laugh (or a giggle). The real problem is the younger characters. Goemon, the little ninja girl with a lisp is followed around by a gang of grown men who cheer about how sexy she is
awkward. Yoshiharu's "little sister" Nene, who in real history would have been his wife, is like five or six years old, and we still get the occasional kimono slipping off her shoulder, etc. The worst, however, is Hanabe, who is apparently about eight, and gets sick and has to be undressed and 'cooled down' to reduce her fever (why is Yoshiharu present for this?). I think we are supposed to laugh at Yoshiharu's uncomfortable predicament, but I felt like I was the one in the uncomfortable spot.
Overall: 6.75 For all its faults, this anime has an interesting story and likable characters. I found it enjoyable. If you like Japanese history, and you'd like to see it thrown in a blender and mixed with a healthy dose of romantic comedy, then give this a try.