Three years later, the 30th installment of Oni Market. You might recall that, in my last post, I was wondering whether I should revive this blog, posting in it on a more regular basis. I am still wondering. However, the occasion of stumbling upon this new anime gave me reason for yet another post, since the jury is still out on whether I want to do a detailed review of it (likely, upon its completion). Given the abundance of review blogs in English out there, I usually do these reviews in Greek and post them on COMICDOM. Since this anime has only aired two episodes so far, I find it better to comment and speculate from over here.
The title, Nobunaga Za Fuuru, translates into “Nobunaga the Fool” with a 100% accuracy, since “Za Fuuru” is katakana for “The Fool”, as “Za Peipaa” was “The Paper”, Yomiko Readman’s code name in Read or Die (for those who remember that great series). Now, not much can be said of the story, since the anime is still building towards it, but much can be said of the setting, which is created using historical knowledge and anime tropes. Actually, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but we’ll get to that later.
The anime assumes a universe different than ours (and yet not foreign to it), where East and West are two different “stars” (essentially, a binary planetary system). The Star of the West has a more technological, European feel to it, where medieval arthurian monarchy meets sci-fi, whereas the Star of the East is basically feudal Japan (more accurately near the end of the Sengoku Jidai) with a bit of a technological twist, used (so far) exclusively in the making of Giant War Armors (i.e. rather crude mecha).
The anime uses prominent historical and mythological figures from a number of eras, especially in the governing body of the Star of the West. Arthur is King (a strange, robed figure with a soft voice) and his council includes (among others, to be named further on, I assume) Generals Gaius Julius Caesar (whose adjutant and confidant is Brutus), Hannibal and Gupta (this one likely based on the historical Maharaja Sri Gupta of India, of around 240-280 AD).
On the other hand, the protagonist of the series is Oda Nobunaga, often called “The Fool”, accompanied by his two closest friends, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Akechi Mitsuhide. As the historical Hideyoshi was often called “Kozaru” (“little monkey”) by his Lord, Oda Nobunaga, so is this one often called “Saru” (“monkey”) and in an interesting twist along the line of literary connections, portrayed as and styled after Son Goku the Monkey King of the Chinese epic, Saiyuki Monogatari (NOT as he is depicted in Dragonball).
Initially the anime follows Jeanne Kaguya d’Arc, a peasant girl who hears voices, much like the historical Jeanne and is asked by Leonardo da Vinci to accompany him on a journey to the Star of the East, “where she may find her destiny”. Taken there by Captain Magellan (captain of a star-ship, of course and confusingly pronounced “Mazeran”, which makes me wonder whether it foreshadows something to do with the historical Cardinal Mazarin, but that may be pushing it). Da Vinci is a fun, odd and extremely suspect character, who I foresee will play a major part at some turning point. So far, he is responsible for building and stealing to the East with the latest Giant War Armor, as well as Jeanne, whom he took along “as a bodyguard”.
Another interesting factor is that these incarnations of the historical figures seem to have dreams and visions of their alternative timelines, as well as each other. Jeanne has a recurring dream of being burned at the stake, while Nobunaga sees his friend, Mitsuhide, betraying him again and again (as it happened in our universe, at the Battle of Yamazaki), though he pays no mind.
So far, the whole plot relies on coincidence, destiny and necessity, so there is not much to comment on. However, I currently enjoy the building blocks of the setting and I do not mind. What I am not crazy about, is the fact that, with all this thought process behind, the creators went and used the easy, overplayed trope of “huge boobs”, which Jeanne is “blessed” with and completely self-conscious about. Not that I have anything against huge boobs in general but they just don’t gel with the character; furthermore, the comedic effect they offer is weak.
On a final note, the anime, produced by Satelight, is part of a larger franchise which includes a stage play by Avex Live Creative and signed by anime legend Shouji Kawamori (Macross, Ulysse 31, Vision of Escaflowne among MANY others). It seems interestingly and complexly thought out, though the end result remains to be seen.
Give it a try and tell me what you think,