Give a small girl a really big gun…
Wow it is sad to see this series ending, but damn Nobunagun was such a crazy roller-coaster ride of epic fun for me much like Kill la Kill so I had to join in for this tag review.
I wasn’t watching Nobunagun at the beginning of winter because I wasn’t too interested (not to mention that the first couple of episodes of Nobunaga the Fool weren’t that exciting, so somewhere in my mind, associated that with this). To be completely honest, the only reason I even picked it up was because I was procrastinating. But I’m really glad that I did pick it up, because it was a pretty entertaining action series that surpassed my (admittedly low) expectations for it~.
Nobunagun didn’t get much coverage here at Metanorn besides a First Impression, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t like it! All it really means is that there are way too many shows to cover. And because I did like it, I wanted to make sure it got at least a Series Review. So thanks, Kara and Fosh for joining in and let’s see what we all thought of Nobunagun!
A Quick Series Overview
Start with one military otaku girl
In case you didn’t get a chance to watch this show, the basic premise is that an alien, knowing of the future threat to humanity on Earth, travels through time sampling the genetic material of noteworthy historical figures, in order to save some of what makes them special for future use. Dubbed ‘E-Genes’, these genes are spread throughout the world in current day people, and when these E-Gene Holders use special equipment, they can manifest special powers and abilities. The reason for needing to do this? Outer Space Evolutionary Objects, basically creepy-crawlies from space that have the ability to adapt and evolve and are trying to become the dominant life form on Earth, by wiping out humans. Organized by ‘DOGOO’ (the worst thing about the show is that name and the tortured acronym to make it), they’re the only ones with the chops to actually damage the Evolutionary Invasion Object monsters.
Sometimes the source of power was surprising
Foshizzel // Originally I thought Nobunagun was going to be somewhat like Nobunaga the Fool; however the approach is very different! Instead of having all of these historical figures living in the same world the creators of Nobunagun created something called an “E-Gene” which allows the characters to tap into a hidden power allowing them to wield crazy weapons like knifes, guns and a giant boot that controls gravity!? While I still enjoy the strange world of Nobunaga the Dool because of my love of mecha I still feel that the world of Nobunagun is a fresh take on the whole historical crossover themes that we have seen popping up as of lately. Besides that I really enjoyed watching our team of legendary heroes interacting with each other out of combat like the ending of this series which caught me off guard! I mean I knew that Ogura had some sort of attraction to Adam but I did not expect them to actually kiss at the end of the series, but that was a really nice scene to have these two characters get together; however I will say that almost every character in Nobunagun had their fair share of hilarious and epic moments. So who was your favorite character from this series? Mine will probably be Ogura because I just loved watching how crazy she would get during a fight much like Ryuuko of Kill la Kill, but also when she is not battling giant squids or other freaky monsters she can be quite silly especially when she is surrounded by military tech and weapons.
Karakuri // Shio was an interesting character, and the rest of the cast had some nice variation. Maybe it was the colour coordinated outfits and the fact that pretty much everyone fell into a stereotype, but I was never confused about who anyone was, and the cast of characters (and whatever powers they had) they expected us to remember was pretty large. Plus even if they all were some kind of stereotype, they never seemed to follow it completely. The storyline did interesting things with the characters, so the stereotyping never distracted away from the plot. It was also nice how there was at least one entire episode that focused away from whatever Shio was doing. One way to take away from the side characters having individuality is to ignore them in favour of the main character, but Nobunagun managed to balance out the cast nicely.
How Did I Enjoy Thee? Let Me Count the Ways.
This combo of Newton and Nobunagun was the first time this show went over and above for me
Highway // Like Fosh, I liked the conceit of the E-gene Holders, especially the way they were spread out amongst not just famous fighters and warriors, but throughout all sorts of notable characters. There were some fighters, like Jack the Ripper, Geronimo, and the titular Nobunaga, but most were people you wouldn’t think are fighters: Isaac Newton, Antoni Gaudi, Emperor Daizong, Van Gogh, Mozart, John Hunter, Galileo, Alfred Nobel, Gandhi (the last guy you’d think would show up in a fighting anime) and more. A lot of these characters appeared in name only, but just the fact of such a diverse group means that there’s something interesting. And what that is was that their powers were limited, which was a lot of the key to me liking this show. Since everyone could really only do one kind of thing, they had to come up with innovative combinations to be effective. Things like Shio having Newton step on her with 3 G’s to stabilize her against recoil from her gun, or having Cyx turn her track upside down to launch Geronimo, or using Gandhi’s barrier as a big plunger to clear a tunnel. The show was tactically brilliant, which made it much more interesting to me than the usual fighting show which is just about who is stronger (or more willful).
Gandhi, showing off his defense and Gaudi being creative
Highway // Another thing that made me like the series was its aesthetics. The show used a lot of bright solid colors, a lot of shadow, and had a very simple but effective look. It looked VERY shounen, but threw in touches that really worked. Things like in the first episode, when Shio is revealed to be a military otaku, they overlay the rest of her classmates with flowers and rosy colors, but overlay Shio with camo and green and brown. But they play with this throughout, with Shio getting a more geometric pattern and psychedelic colors when she interacts with Asao, her first friend (and early crush), or late when she get a flower pattern… with much brighter colors. There are also fun things that the show points out, like it’s annotating itself, things like Shio’s drooling while she sleeps, or a blush, or other notable things. And one touch that really made me love the show was that the infrastructure of DOGOO had great names, after famous (and maybe not so famous) science fiction characters who, coincidentally, all battled against space monsters: Blimp bases named Alex Rogen (The Last Starfighter), Joji Atsumi (Earth Defense Force, a Toho alien invasion picture), and Steve Hiller (Independence Day), as well as ships named Clayton Forrester (War of the Worlds, but I claim it’s really MST3K), Ellen Ripley (Alien), and Johnny Rico (Starship Troopers). Seriously, they named stuff after Ellen Ripley, Johnny Rico, and Alex Rogen!
She wasn’t exactly like everyone else
It’s Not All About Battling Space Monsters
(Taking Some Time for Love)
A well-timed kiss
Karakuri // The romance between Shio and Adam was cute. Maybe not the most subtle thing ever, but it was cute. They had a good balance as team mates in battle, and that extended somewhat smoothly to the interactions outside of battle (for the most part) too. Actually, they were probably the closest in battle (or talking about something to do with fighting), with maybe less meaningful interaction outside of that, but oh well. This was an action series, not a shoujo one, so it’s completely understandable. Plus it was nice that they actually had some sort of actual conclusion to the relationship at the end. They could have easily left it as “Adam’s E-Genes were the reason for everything” and just teased at the possibility of something actually happening between the two of them. Using the same reasoning, the “my E-Genes didn’t tell me to do that” line was also really well placed. …Though now that I think about it, Adam never really seemed to have a personality outside of his involvement with Shio.
Maybe the fact that pretty much everyone made a pass at Shio was a bit unnecessary. I suppose a lot of that was for the humour that came from the fact that Shio was super socially awkward and had no idea how to deal with human interaction. Along with that too, I suppose it also pointed out that Shio’s low self esteem was undeserved, since so many people saw something in her that she didn’t. (…Or maybe the series just wanted to say “look how awesome the heroine is!!!!1!!!one”.) Though Shio definitely had hidden talent, which was made obvious when she suddenly became THE tactician once she left most of her hesitation behind towards the ending. Though in regards to that, Shio’s leap from newbie to super battle tactician seemed like a big one. Yes, most of it was due to Nobunaga, but even after that first victory against the flying Evolutionary Invasion Object (which will be shortened to EIO from here onwards if I ever mention it again, because that name is just too long), she still seemed unready for real combat and they let her join on the team anyways. I suppose this speaks to how understaffed they were, but it never really felt like Shio was truly ready for battle mentally until the end. I know that there was definitely a steady growth in her confidence over the course of the series, but it still felt kind of abrupt to me. Though maybe that’s because I marathoned most of the episodes as the series was getting towards its end instead of watching this weekly.
A lot of young healthy people all sleeping together…
Highway // Kara wondered about how necessary the swinging nature of the ships was to the show, but I liked the atmosphere that it added to DOGOO. It gave this situation, where you have a bunch of teens all kinda thrown together, an interesting feel, and it helped that they didn’t really overplay any promiscuity. For me it helped to both modernize these kids and grow them up a bit. Sure they are trying to save the world, they’re still teenagers and young adults, and instead of just having the chaste crushing of Shio on Jack, or Galiko on Vidocq, you have the more out there “anything that moves” nature of Jess (Newton) and the obsessively (jealously?) monogamous Cyx. And I agree that it was nice they acknowledged Jack’s interest in Shio as well.
I think everyone who watched Nobunagun was surprised at how it came off as a series. For something that was kind of a throwaway idea, the show handled itself really well, was a lot of fun, and made for a great watch every week (or all in a row). Not very subtle, it had a bright flashy style, a brash approach to action, and a straightforward plot that melded well with they very shounen feel without feeling tired or predictable. I particularly liked the extreme creativity that they showed in both the manifestation of the powers and the battles they had to fight. That is what elevated this show for me above your average MOAR POWAH!!!! shounen. Thanks again to Fosh and Kara for joining in, and let us know what you thought of Nobunagun!