The Ambition of Oda Nobuna isn’t usually a show that would grab my interest, especially after the poor Battle Girls Time Paradox which deals with a similar premise, but thankfully this isn’t nearly as dire.
A romantic comedy, The Ambition of Oda Nobuna sees game-loving teenager Sagara Yoshiharu thrust back in time to the Sengoku period but all the historical figures are now eye-catching females. If you know your history (or have played Dynasty Warriors) then you’ll recognise Oda Nobuna as a female version of Oda Nobunaga, with similar treatment for the rest of the cast. It’s undeniably standard affair but the execution is better than most shows that follow a similar premise and, surprisingly, doesn’t fixate on fan-service.
The characters are genuinely likeable and Yoshiharu adds a fun twist to these classic battles as he knows how they’re supposed to pan out, and what he can do to change the outcomes but the real challenge is getting those to believe him. Nobuna and co. obviously distrust him at first but that changes once he’s given a chance to prove himself, and then they learn to become friends and act like one big happy family. It’s heartwarming in ways that I didn’t expect it to be, and although this certainly isn’t my type of anime, I can say I quite enjoyed the characters and battles. I might not have had the urge to need to know what happens next but I liked seeing everything unfold, but most likely I liked the character relationships.
With Yoshiharu helping lead Nobuna’s forces to victory, we see history changed in their favour due to Yoshiharu’s expertise in the field as he’s an avid fan of the game ‘Nobunaga’s Ambition’, and is already familiar with history and how it originally unfolded. The set up allows for bundles of humour and action and it’s a hit on both fronts, with some outstanding visuals helping the show stand out amongst its similar premise-following peers even further.
Although I much prefer shows set in modern day Japan, I found the visuals for Oda Nobuna to be eye-catching and above average. As you can tell, I didn’t really have high hopes for this show but Madhouse, as usual, have done a great job with it and I encourage you to give it a whirl, even if similar shows have disappointed you in the past as they have with me with the poor Battle Girls Time Paradox. There are some truly spectacularly animated combat scenes, like the image below, that are breathtaking and left me genuinely impressed with the shows overall animation and its fantastic use of lighting and camera-work. Madhouse shine more so towards the end when the action hits its peak with a few grand battles and gut-wrenching scenes.
Thankfully, Oda Nobuna is light on fan-service – although there are some more ‘jiggly’ moments in the series – and I’m pleased with how it was handled. I’ve never read the light novel series that it was based on but the author has clearly managed to find a good balance between the differing elements of the show without being too heavy-handed at any point. Character designs represent the time period they’re in with a different twist due to the lack of expected armour-clad men, but they don’t feel out of place and, unlike many other shows, most women are wearing clothes that are suitable for battle. Madhouse have respect the original work and haven’t made the mistake of making it ‘ecchi’ as one studio did with Rail Wars! – I love Rail Wars! but the author is known to dislike the animation due to the excessive ecchi elements that were adding that weren’t as focused on in the light novels.
You have the choice of both English and Japanese audio, and I opted for English. There aren’t many noticeable voice-actors and actresses past Emily Neves, who plays Oda Nobuna, and Greg Ayres, but I’m happy with the natural-sounding dub and hope that Oda Nobuna is a good platform for many of those involved. The OST is decent too, if not without any truly memorable tracks, but the OP and ED are visually well-designed with catchy tunes.
Oda Nobuna is a solid show that has above average animation and a humourous story but it struggles to stand out as a must-watch show amongst the many excellent shows that I could recommend. I enjoyed my time with it but it’s a forgettable show and one that doesn’t provide much depth or reason to talk about it or revisit it now that it’s finished. If you fancy a change of pace or something enjoyable to turn on that you don’t have to give your full attention too, then The Ambition of Oda Nobuna is an easy recommendation but if you have many shows to watch on your backlog, then you might want to add it to the list for future consideration.
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