Directed By: Nobuhiro Kondo
Written By: Hiroshi Yamaguchi
Music By: Yutaka Shinya
Opening Theme: Respect For The Dead Man by Pay Money to My Pain
Manga Writer: Masato Hisa
Manga Run: May 12, 2011 – ongoing
Original Run: January 5, 2014 –March 30, 2014
Licensed By: Madman Entertainment (AUS), FUNimation (NA)
After the mindfuck that was FLCL two weeks ago, I’ve decided that it’s time I review something a little more normal instead. So with that in mind, lets look at a series based around a high school girl with the e-genes of Nobunaga fighting off a Starship Trooper styled alien invasion with a giant freaking mini-gun, while working for an agency set up by a space bunny. Okay maybe it’s not completely normal but it is when compared to FLCL okay.
Surprisingly enough Nobunaga isn’t a terrible singer.
In the world of Nobunagun, the human race is under threat from a ruthless race of insectoid creatures known as “Evolutionary Invasion Objects”. These EIOs are completely immune to all forms of conventional weapons and to make maters worse. they can also adapt to their environments by evolving seamlessly at will. The only weakness are weapons created by E-gene holders using an item called an AU ball.
One such E-gene holder is our protagonist Sio Ogura, a Japanese school girl who happens to also be a massive military otaku. One day while on a field trip in Taiwan, she ends up in the center of the first major invasion by these EIOs. Despite being in a state of total terror, she still risks her life to save her new friend Asao only to end up being saved by one of these AU ball users, who also happens to be the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper. Seems like the AU balls aren’t exactly picky on which E-genes use them.
Unfortunately her attempt to save her friend only distracts Jack long enough to get injured by a EIO and in desperation, she picks up his AU ball and active her own E-genes. This in turn causes her to create the Nubunagun, which is a huge freaking gun that looks like a Mega Buster on steroids. What happens next is the first of many awesome fights before we learn that Jack is part of an organisation that was set up to protect Earth from these creatures, which are called DOGOO or the Defense Organisation aGainst Outer Objects.
Well this picture is pure badass.
Because she is one only a handful of people capable of killing these OIEs Sio reluctantly agrees to join DOGOO and she becomes a member of the second platoon, whose besides Jack includes the reincarnation of Isaac Newton and Gandai.
Despite the whole possible end of the world scenario that Nobunagun presents, the show is pretty lighthearted and at times even goes in shounen territory.
Sio herself is one of the highlights in the show. Her geeky outbursts whenever she sees a piece of military gear is always fun. On top of this we see her grow from being your standard anime frightening flower into a strategist with some of the most out their plans. I mean one of her plans include jumping into a hurricane after dancing to a song sung in her head by Nobunaga. Guess Nobunaga has more of an influence over her then she thinks.
I’m amazed that nobody could find Jack the Ripper when he apparently had a skull for a face.
Besides Sio the rest of the cast are all really good and they each get their own moments to shine. They include the reincarnation of Isaac Newton who has the whole dominatrix thing going for her in battle but outside it is so innocent she gives everyone french kisses and Ghandi who has the perfect weapon for his reincarnation, a barrier which can only protect not kill. Hell even the coward Hunter from the special unit gets his one moment of badassery (is that even a word?)
Later on in the series we also get to see the first platoon in action. They are first introduced in an almost horror styled filler episode but later become part of the overarching plot thanks to one of Sios plans. While I do like each of them, I must admit that I really feel sorry for Gaudi. His only a small kid but his forced into action against the OIUs with two women who love poking fun of him. It’s a shame too because he has one of the best powers, the ability to move the earth and create whatever constructs he wants including a giant ball.
Despite how good these characters are, they all get outclasses and out badassed (okay that can’t be a word) by the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper. You know because when you’re fighting an alien invasion, you’d want to infamous London killer on your side too right. He was the previous saved elected leader of the second platoon before Nobunagun appeared and despite claiming otherwise the two work extremely well together and he is insanely powerful.
His AU power comes in the form of a giant knife which can turn into multiple smaller ones and he can cut through anything like butter. He also loves his job way too much though I can say the same thing about Sio whenever she gets caught up in the action and those blood-red eyes appear.
Speaking of the fighting scenes, if you’re a fan of Hellsing you’re going to love them. There extremely well done and always a blast to watch. I also really love the way the show changes the color palette and music whenever the OIUs are involved. Usually Nobunagun uses has a very bright and colorful color palette to the point where you could easily mistake the show for something like Baka and Test.
If you ever see a Japanese schoolgirl with this type of grin, RUN FOR YOUR DEAR LIFE!!
However once the OIUs are involved all of a sudden the show switches to a darker color scheme, favoring colors such as dark purple and black. This along with the change of music into ominous noises and rock really helps make the OIUs feel like more like the world devouring threats the show constantly claims they are.
Speaking of the soundtrack I really like the appropriately titled opening theme “Respect For The Dead Man” by Pay Money to My Pain. It’s a great track that really amps you up for the show, but every time I heard it I couldn’t help but remember the much better opening theme of Deadman Wonderland. I feel that the reason for this is because the Deadman Wonderland theme feels more alive, while this one feels more like a last-minute inclusion.
Despite everything positive I’ve mentioned so far about Nobunagun, its time to talk about the negatives. For starters while I had no real problem with it, some people might take offense to the amount of sex jokes, especially the ones that take the piss out of Sio and her ever-changing breast sizes.
While I’m on the topic of things people might take offense to, why the hell does she nearly get tentacle raped by an alien kraken (well that’s another sentence I never thought I’d write). It comes out of nowhere and boy did I want to fast forward over the part where the kraken tries to remove her armour. I mean why the hell did the OIUs evolve themselves to learn that. What are the OIUs a massive fan of Urotsukidoji.
My final problem with Nobunagun is that the show never really takes full advantage of the whole reincarnations of famous people from history killing aliens concept. Don’t get me wrong it was awesome watching in reincarnations of Nobunaga (who I wish showed up more), Jack the Ripper, Isaac Newton and Gandai slaughtering aliens but there were so many other famous people they could have also used.
It may be a small detail but I love this small overlay that Nobunagun sometimes use.
Could you imagine a team made of Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun or even William Wallace or Michael Collins going against aliens with strategies created by Napoleon. This E-gene idea is a gold mine of possibilities for sequels, spin-offs and more. That being said I understand why they only used a limited number of E-gene holders, after all a small cast of awesome characters is better than a bloated cast of dull one.
Despite my few problems with Nobunagun, I loved it. The action was awesome, the soundtrack was great and the characters were a blast to watch. I especially like Sio as she was a genuinely entertaining character to watch. She was both hilarious and at times unpredictably awesome. Do I need to mention the hurricane scene again.
Sure the overarching plot was a little predictable in places and the animation is pretty standard for this type of show but I couldn’t stop myself from smiling throughout and I lost track of how long the episodes were. To be honest that’s all I can really ask for when watching anime.
Okay tears and a moving story are nice too but like I said in the FLCL review not every anime has to be the next The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Sometimes all you want to do is watch some entertaining characters be awesome you know. If you a fan of action anime or shounen anime I recommend that you give Nobunagun a shot.
That being said in two weeks time I’ll be going back into the insane (and unpredictable) when I review Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Hope to see you then.