Reviewby Rebecca Silverman,
Nobunaga The Fool
With Nobukatsu's death at the hands of Mitsuhide (although only he knows he did it), Nobunaga becomes the undisputed head of the Oda clan. It's just in time, too – Caesar's forces are becoming ever more relentless in their efforts to bring the Odas down. With new regalia and giant war armors to be mastered, Nobunaga, Jeanne, Mitsuhide, and Hideyoshi continue to marshal their strength. But can they really defeat the greatest conqueror of Ancient Rome?
By this point, officially half-way through the series, we have become accustomed to the historical malpractice carried out by Nobunaga the Fool. While there has always been an amusing aspect to it, with increased comfort comes more small, snide opportunities for grim humor, such as when Caesar leaves Brutus in charge of his base because he trusts him. Surely more than one viewer whispered “et tu, Brute” under their breath at that little moment, and it is details like that which continue to make this historical mash-up's characters still vaguely recognizable. We even, in episode eleven, get to hear Caesar proclaim, “veni, vidi, vici,” which also has its amusing qualities.
While Nobunaga the Fool does continue to be entertaining, it has also managed to settle into itself quite nicely. Nobunaga himself is one of the major aspects of the show that has effected this change. When the series began, he was more obnoxious than anything, an immature twit with self-aggrandizing aspirations nearly eclipsing his better nature. While those less charming traits are still present, he has also risen to the new place he occupies, showing some interesting strategic skill and definite compassion, particularly where Jeanne is concerned. However you feel about Jeanne d'Arc as a romantic interest, it's really starting to look like Nobunaga thinks it's a good idea, although to be fair, we could also interpret some of his care of her as more friendly.
Jeanne remains an interesting and somewhat troubling character given her historic roots. If we simply divorce ourselves from her as the legendary Maid of Orleans, something not too hard to do since she has been given the middle name “Kaguya,” she's fairly remarkable. She is determined, loyal to the point where she'll object to something in a meeting, and utterly committed to protecting the people. On the other hand, she breaks down the minute she sees that she has failed in episode eleven. Granted, the sight of slain villagers is pretty horrific. On the other hand, Ichihime really begins to come into her own, developing in ways that really only Mitsuhide has in terms of secret motivations and a willingness to do what must be done, no matter what the cost. Her actions in episode twelve will almost certainly have a large bearing on his later ones, arguably making her move the most significant thus far.
Other aspects of the show do not fare quite as well in these second six episodes. One of them is the artwork, with more than one episode showing laziness in terms of fidelity to character models. In a few episodes, as well as significant scenes in others, main players are drastically simplified in terms of facial features, hair ornaments, and sometimes even face shape. Plenty of shortcuts are taken with the battle animation as well, with characters seated in cockpits and simply narrating their movements or moving their arms. To be fair, these scenes do often cut away to a shorter scene of actual battle. Tarot cards continue to be one of the more interesting visuals in the show, with a vaguely steampunk feel to them. This is especially neat with the Death card, possibly simply because we (or at least I) don't often think of Death as riding a mechanical horse. Also worth remarking on is the Fool card, where the character looks fairly androgynous but is still recognizable as the fellow in motley familiar from the Rider-Waite deck.
While Nobunaga the Fool is moving away from some of its more stilted aspects – having less of Da Vinci definitely helps with this – it still does have its annoyances. Foremost among these are Caesar's little imps, Nell (or Neru, which makes a bit more sense given the Latin for “black”) and Bianchi. These two have begun to be present in every episode, and they really are more irritating than anything, with their shrill voices and manic capers. They don't feel entirely necessary to the plot, which is perhaps one of their most detrimental aspects. Luckily they are by far the most annoying characters now that Himiko and Nobunaga have settled down. Arthur's mysteriousness is beginning to grate a bit, but by and large this show is improving, and with the latest moves by Ichihime, it looks like it will continue to do so.
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : B-
Animation : B-
Art : C+
Music : B
+ Story is heating up, Ichihime is starting to play her hand. Generally just fun.
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