Review: Nobunagun

European greeting methods

Nobunagun poster

A review copy was provided by Funimation Entertainment

Locked and loaded? Today Moar Powah’s Inverseman is here with last year’s adaptation of the action-packed shonen manga, Nobunagun. Is the anime a hit or does it miss the mark, let’s find out!

Our earth is under attack by aliens called Evolutionary Invaders. The world’s nations have one hope, the organization DOGOO, an international team of special people with the genes of history’s greatest figures, E-Gene holders. Military otaku and less-than-confident high schooler Shio Ogura is accidentally embroiled in this war against the aliens when she discovers she is the effective reincarnation of  Oda Nobunaga. Now she must leave her normal teenage life to defend the planet.

Nobunagun Shio takes aim

My initial expectations were pretty low for the series. Was it going to be copious fanservice? Was it going to be horribly generic Sengoku-style period piece but with guns? Well, actually, my expectations were somewhat exceeded. The premise was actually quite fascinating. All kinds of historical figures are used from ruthless individuals like Nobunaga himself and Jack the Ripper to scientists like Galileo or artists like Antoni Gaudi. An observant history buff will see major and subtle cues to each E-Gene Holder and their weapon. It’s a really creative idea… I just wish more was done with it.

Nobunagun Second Platoon

Some of the best moments of the show stem from Sio herself. It’s a pleasure to see her gain her confidence and slowly develop bit by bit into a more confident individual. In the first and latter episodes, you see her communicate with Nobunaga and really interface with him. Unfortunately, these moments were rare, and more oft than not one of history’s most ruthless warlords reincarnated was demoted to being a simple weapon. Much of the rest of the cast, barring Adam, the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper, is just relegated to your usual one-note one-quirk role. It was definitely a missed opportunity to flesh out the characters when they had literally centuries of human history to work with. On the plus though, the characters have creative designs, somewhat reminding me of Megaman characters.

Nobunagun E-Genes

The story is… Well, nothing too much to write home about. Blast the bad guys and figure out where they’ll strike next. Seeing a progression in the Invaders does keep the viewer invested as DOGOO attempts to debunk the mysteries around their evolution and tactics; it gives the show a through line of flow so there’s seldom a dry moment.  I will say the action and gambits that Sio and her platoon pull off are entertaining to watch, all high octane blasts and slashing like one big Michael Bay film.  The fights actually highlight one of the more interesting aspects of the show, the animation.

Nobunagun Shio's dance

In a vacuum, Nobunagun isn’t all that well animated and it doesn’t really have much of a budget either, but in-spite of its animation flaws it makes up for it with style. Battles are a stunning array of colors and filters that keep shifting at key moments. When a fight suddenly breaks out, you can see the screen turn red, the soundtrack amplify, and lights scatter. Outside of battle, there’s not too much, but there are a few bones of some experimental cues. I thought the camo filter placed over Sio was a nice touch, but it’s not very consistent. Bridge may not be big budget, but it used what it had to make something eye-catching.

Nobunagun Jack the Ripper

The voice work is decent, but the dub is excellent. Funimation gave the show the Hetalia-treatment and gave a whole host of nuanced accents to the global cast of characters. Whether it was hearing Jack the Ripper cuss people out with British slang (Jason Liebrecht) or hearing the smooth Transylvanian of the Count of St. Germain (J. Michael Tatum) and Shio’s simplicity as a teenager (Jad Saxton), this show was fun to listen to as well. There are also two commentaries packed in as well.

Nobunagun Ghandi's force field

Nobunagun’s central weakness though is that is has a good core, but in execution it doesn’t do much bar being borrowed ideas from other shonen and action anime. However, though it doesn’t do much groundbreaking, it is a fun watch from start to finish. I think it would have been truly enduring if the staff committed a little harder to some of the bolder choices they made. To best sum it up, the series is a lot like a summer blockbuster and it’s perfect for turning your head off and seeing the shrapnel fly. All in all, I give Nobunagun a 3.5/5.

 

Pros

– Stylish character designs and art direction

– Intriguing premise when put into practice

– Entertaining English dub

Cons

– Many borrowed ideas that don’t get played through

– Rather generic plotline and characters

– Production is lacking outside of battle scenes

Rating 3.5/5

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Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

Inverseman

The Inverseman is an evil overlord from an alternate dimension representing humanity's anti-existence who wound up becoming a modest civil servant.

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