DVD Review: The Ambition of Oda Nobuna – The Complete Series
03/04/2015 1 Comment
A sense of deja’vu appears as we witness a character travel from the future into the distant past; no it’s not a repeat but a brand new release and today i’ll be sharing my thoughts on The Ambition of Oda Nobuna – The Complete Series.
Yoshiharu Sagara thought he knew his Japanese history backwards and forwards, but when he inexplicably finds himself in the past everything he thought he knew was wrong and he’s in a very different history altogether! Not only is this timeline’s version of the legendary (and very male) Oda Nobunaga now the cute (and very female) Oda Nobuna, but one of the first things Yoshiharu manages to accidentally accomplish is getting one of the Sengoku era’s most important historical figures killed!
Still, when you’re stuck in the past, have a semi-reliable knowledge of one possible future, and there’s now a vacancy in the history books, what’s your best present course of action? Aligning yourself with someone with the potential to become one of the most powerful warlords in any of Japan’s possible histories might not be a bad start. Provided, of course, that you can keep yourself from becoming too intimately involved in the cloak and dagger action during a time when the cloaks cover body armor and the daggers are paired with multiple swords! But that’s just part of the risk you assume when your history becomes her story!
The Ambition of Oda Nobuna is not one for beating round the bush; within several seconds of you hitting the play button you’ll find yourself thrown into the midst of battle without a clue as to how or why; and even when the opening credits has ended you’ll soon be none-the-wiser. The first episode of an anime series is crucial; it’s the episode that captivates the viewer and leaves them wanting more from the show; but with the Ambition of Oda Nobuna it left me wanting to eject the disc out of my player and back into its box – and interestingly enough that had nothing to do with the English voice acting provided by Sentai Filmworks; which for once is actually pretty acceptable.
So why exactly did it make me want to eject the disc? Unfortunately I don’t have a definitive answer; but I presume it’s down to my unfamiliarity with the Sengoku period, which this show is heavily based upon, or the way this show is presented by teasing things that will never happen – such as a harem, fan-service or the possibility of a romance between key characters. Whatever it may have been after muddling through some of the shows dreary narrative and historic recreations I soon began to understand the characters and their desires; which ultimately lead me to enjoying the show for what it’s worth; an alternate recreation of historic events that’s more about politics and facts than entertainment.
So what is The Ambition of Oda Nobuna all about? Well the series follows Yoshiharu Sagara, a high-school student transported from an alternate reality into the past; as he attempts to help Oda Nobuna, who is this world’s version of Nobunaga, unite the nation of Japan into a peaceful country. As you’d expect Sagara has no combat experience; but by utilizing his knowledge of the Sengoku period, most of which he acquired from a videogame, Sagara accurately informs Nobuna upon what she should and should not do in order to unite the nation. As a result of this ‘ability’ Oda Nobuna ends up making new acquaintances and becomes a stronger fighting force within the state; but when mysterious figures from the behind the shadows appear that’s when things start to get interesting and it ultimately spells trouble for our main cast of characters.
There is a fair amount to like about this show; but there is also a lot to dislike about it – and in my eyes it all revolves around the half-assed approach to the series. Basically it doesn’t feel complete; topics are build-up and so are relationships with key characters but nothing ever comes of it and just when you think something will happen it all abruptly ends and moves on. It’s frustrating; furthermore if you were hoping that this show would be full of brutal battles between Japanese warlords then unfortunately you’re mistaken – this series has ‘very little’ violence; maybe even less than Battle Girls: Time Paradox. Basically if you want to experience the full story of The Ambition of Oda Nobuna you’re better off reading the manga that this series is based upon – otherwise you may be left wanting more; especially a definitive conclusion.
Interestingly being left underwhelmed with the overall series is something that continues along with the bonus features; as the only pieces of bonus content are trailers for other anime releases.
As you can see the trailers are for other anime releases by Sentai Filmworks; however as it stands non-of-them have been licensed for a UK release – so don’t expect them anytime soon.
Media: DVD 9 x2
Running Time: 2:31:35 (Disc 1) 2:31:21 (Disc 2)
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps
The Ambition of Oda Nobuna follows the events of Nobuna as she attempts to unite the nation into a peaceful country; along the way recruiting new members, gaining friends and discovering more about herself. It’s not the ‘epic conquest battle’ you expect it to be, nor is it the love-relationship that it may tease – it’s an anime that replicates the original Sengoku era in its own way – with diplomatic converations and iconic characters recreated as females. It’s definitely unique but it has a sense a dejavu – with the only difference being Sagara offering advice on what characters should or should not do in order to survive this war-torn country; but even this isn’t brought-up as often as you might expect.
If you’ve recently watched Battle Girls: Time Paradox then I would not suggest watching The Ambition of Oda Nobuna anytime soon; the similarities are noticeable and despite The Ambition of Oda Nobuna following more closely with the ‘factual’ material from the Sengoku period I can’t help but enjoy Battle Girls: Time Paradox that little bit more – and that’s mainly due to its conclusion and casual approach to its story. Battle Girls: Time Paradox had a beginning, a middle and an end with a progressive storyline; everything you need from a complete story –The Ambition of Oda Nobuna on the other hand just throws viewers in at the deep end until it eventually arrives at its rather abrupt conclusion. Of course its unfair to compare them, as they are two different projects telling a legendary story in different ways, but when each show is about someone being transported into the past its puzzling to see how they have been handled so differently; although each show does have a nice range of unique and entertaining characters – even if the story being told isn’t that entertaining.
In regards to this DVD release then MVM Entertainment are bringing out yet another quality product – as far as DVD standard goes at least; although I do have some niggles with it. The first of which is that the audio level seems to differ between the episode content and the opening animation – one seems louder than the other; additionally the visual quality of the opening animation seems slightly pixelated and reminds me of their DVD release of Cannan. Unlike other distributors however the chapter markings, subtitles and overall visual quality are perfectly fine and the same can be said for the English Dub, which has been provided by Sentai Filmworks, as that isn’t half bad either with some of the characters providing entertaining voices for their characters – especially Goemon who flubs her speech both in the Japanese and English versions.
Make of The Ambition of Oda Nobuna what you will; personally it’s not for me but I can see the appeal it may have; I just think that other anime series based in the same period have done better and, more importantly, have been more entertaining.
The Ambition of Oda Nobuna – The Complete Series is expected to be available from the 6th April 2015; although it may have been delayed until the 13th April 2015 (according to product listings on MVM Entertainment’s online store).