Post Reply Nobunaga Concerto
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Posted 8/28/14 , edited 8/31/14
by EyesOfTheScarecrow

The Sengoku, or Warring States, Period is one of the most important eras in the history of Japan, and frequently privy to artistic and fictional representations. It is during this period that Nobunaga Concerto establishes itself. Part time-travelling/fish out of water comedy, part bildungsroman historical epic, Nobunaga Concerto is a unique look at the world of a pre-unification Japan. The protagonist, Saburou, is a lackadaisical, disrespectful egotist. He is also the exact doppelganger of Oda Nobunaga; the first man Saburou meets upon accidentally travelling through time after falling from a ledge. Nobunaga, being of weak body and will, decides to flee his position as Territory Lord, leaving it to the bewildered Saburou.

Nobunaga Concerto is quite a subversive idea; it's the unpredictable take on a story that has already been written in stone. In addition, its serious tone prevent it from dwelling into absurdity, and allow it to exist as a character study. Consequently, Concerto stands on its own, and does not feel derivative of other series with similar concepts, such as The Ambition of Oda Nobuna. Artistic license is taken, keeping Nobunaga Concerto from simply being a historical retread with anachronistic humour.

The key focus of Concerto is the journey and growth undertaken by its central character; Saburou, who is a far more complex protagonist than he initially appears. For instance, while he lacks any respect for history and is self-centred to the point of ignorance, he shows great deference for the space-time continuum. These inherent contradictory elements in his personality make it easier to envision him as Oda Nobunaga, who also experienced great change in his behaviour throughout his life. Saburou is not the wise, intelligent individual that Nobunaga will become, instead he must grow and, interestingly, use his somewhat limited knowledge of the future to keep the timeline unaltered, as he really doesn't want to have to learn an all new history when he returns to his own time. It's a nice change on the classic dynamic of "don't change the past lest you alter the future". Should Saburou not interfere with history and not act out the role he has been given, then history will be irrevocably altered.

The supporting cast is large and changing, as they too are based on Nobunaga's real life. Saburou takes an immediate liking to Oda's "super hot" wife, Kichou, who he enjoys taking on dates. Special attention is paid to their developing romance. His loyal friend and aide, Tsuneoki Ikeda, believes in Saburou's ambition to "conquer the land", while Saburou's scheming brother Nobuyuki attempts to take position as head of the Oba clan. Nobunaga Concerto has focus, and is quite fast paced in terms of minor events covered in Saburou/Nobunaga's life, while going in depth and taking its time during the important moments.

If there is one thing that may turn prospective viewers away from Nobunaga Concerto, it's the animation. While producing moments of tremendous beauty due to the cinematography, the series can also be very jarring and character's faces can be somewhat lacking in detail. It's not ugly by any means, but the slightly stilted style is reminiscent of rotoscoping which can be off-putting at first and appear clumsy at times. Fortunately, the story is absorbing enough that the viewer quickly acclimates to the animation, though it never loses its sense of stylistic uniqueness.

The true strength of Nobunaga Concerto does not lie in its premise, but rather its potential. The life of Oda Nobunaga is a fascinating one, going from a irresponsible youth to one of the greatest warlords and leaders in history. Exactly how Saburou affects the life of Nobunaga, forming him into the man he will be remembered as being, or if in fact it is Saburou who truly leaves the legacy behind is a delightfully intriguing premise. The development of Saburou from irreverent slacker to military and economic genius is a story that holds great promise. When the true Nobunaga returns and assumes his place at Saburou's side, even more possibilities are opened; these with far more insidious connotations. Manga-author Ayumi Ishii and director Yusuke Fujikawa are taking great risk by altering the history of one of Japan's most important figures, and while certain to irk some historical purists, the story that is born is definitely worth paying attention to.
Catch Nobunaga Concerto on simulcast at 3.00pm Wednesdays EST on Crunchyroll!
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