Nobunaga Concerto
Episode 8

by Lauren Orsini,

After two “D” reviews in a row, readers may wonder why I am still watching this show. However, I am convinced that Nobunaga Concerto has tremendous potential, and it's not too late to live up to it. Like a strict parent, I'm not mad at Nobunaga Concerto; I'm just disappointed.

It really paid off for me, because this week just might be the best of Nobunaga Concerto we're going to get. Usually, the episode is divided into two shorter stories and tends to be a little disjointed. Today, the episode focused entirely on the Retreat at Kanegasaki, in which Nobunaga's brother-in-law attempts—and fails—to thwart the wily samurai.

A single plot makes for a much stronger episode than usual, lending expert pacing to a tense build-up, gripping action, and a satisfying denouement. Once excessive, the show's powerful soundtrack is downright epic in this context. The CG hasn't stopped being uncanny, but this episode is set in scenes predominantly lit by firelight and moonlight. Dim settings are far more forgiving on the jerky animation than the harsh light of day.

The teaser of a title, “An Unthinkable Betrayal,” was a strong storytelling decision. I assumed this episode would be about Hideyoshi's inevitable (and historically inaccurate) betrayal of Nobunaga Oda, which has been telegraphed since the first few episodes. But instead, persuaded by others from inside Nobunaga's ranks, Hideyoshi has stayed his traitorous leanings—for now. History shows he never does betray Nobunaga, but since when has Nobunaga Concerto been about staying true to history? The tension remains.

Here's what makes this episode so great: there was not a single reference to the fact that Nobunaga is actually Saburo, a modern-day high school student who ended up back in time because of Reasons. Isolated, this episode is just the latest chapter in a thrilling historical drama, no convenient anime tropes to be found.

However, this isn't an anime about Nobunaga's adventures, per se, but a time-traveling story, and there's no way the show is just going to abandon its central plot, and in fact, would be remiss to do so. This was simply a great respite. If only it could last.

Rating: C+

Nobunaga Concerto is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Lauren writes about anime and journalism at Otaku Journalist.

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