DVD Review: Nobunaga the Fool – Part 1

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Worlds collide in a completely bizzarre manner with MVM Entertainment’s latest release of Nobunaga the Fool – Part 1; but just what can you expect to receive and more importantly is it any good? Well let’s take a look!

Synopsis:

Long ago, in an age when the cosmos was still known as Chaos, the world was split into two planets, forming the West and East Stars. After years of war and strife, the Western Star has finally become united under a single king, the legendary Arthur. But conflict still threatens to consume all until hope arises in a vision: a vision of a champion who could save the futures of both worlds.

Setting forth on a dangerous journey, Joan d’Arc must travel from the West world to the East, seeking the man she believes can use the devices of the great Leonardo Da Vinci and become their savior. But will Nobunaga Oda be the kind of man they are expecting? Will history’s greatest heroes find themselves choosing not a liberator, but a destroyer? Or is Nobunaga’s role that of the Fool from a deck of Tarot, the wild card whose purpose is to invoke change, no matter what the cost?

Our View:

The warring states period of Japan is an important part of Japanese history and tradition; so it’s with no surprise that it would be reproduced in various forms of media; be it anime, manga and novels. It’s the same with Oda Nobunaga, or Nobunaga Oda if you prefer; as while he may be presented as a ruthless dictator (Sengoku Basara), or as a female warlord with a soft heart (Battle Girls: Time Paradox) none of them have illustrated him as a young impatient upstart… well that was until Nobunaga the Fool.

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As the synopsis suggests, which for once I actually suggest reading before watching this series, Nobunaga the Fool follows the events that see Oda Nobunaga become the man he was known for; a great warlord within the warring states period of Japan. However, and this is a big one, unlike previous iterations of his history Nobunaga the Fool takes place in a fictional universe that sees two planets (Eastern and Western world) interconnected with each other through Dragon Veins and interstellar travel. On the Eastern world it is the era of King Authur and his members of the round table while on the Western world it is the warring states era of Japan with nations battling it out for control. Two different worlds, two different civilisations and two different lifestyles but one ultimately confusing universe. If that’s not enough to confuse you then both worlds have advanced technology in the shape of mechanised robots, known as Battle Armor; each designed like the samurai warriors that inhabit the land at its time.

Fictional universe shock out of the way this first part of Nobunaga the Fool, which consists of thirteen episodes across three DVD discs, showcases the ‘alternate’ story of how Oda Nobunaga, and his subordinates Mitsuhide and Hideyoshi, came in to power of the Oda Clan and his attempts at protecting it from threatening nations. Step further back from this ‘simplistic view’ and you’ll see that the actual story is the impending threat from the Eastern World on the Western War thats see Joan of Arch, along with Leonardo Da’Vinci, helping Nobunaga protect his nation from not only attacks within his own world; but those from another world as well.  The key to this chaos is specialised stones which, if worn be a chosen user, will grant extraordinary power when used within a Battle armor and according to fictious history those who owns all of them will become the saviour of the entire universe.

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It sounds like an interesting setup; a girl from another world (Joan of Arch) travelling to another world with Da’Vinci in order to locate the so called ‘Saviour King’ and help him restore balance within the world. Unfortunately however it’s not as great as it seems – not from my perspective at least – as while the anime looks great (in terms of character design and animation) the actual progression of the story is just disappointingly boring. My only highlight from these thirteen episodes were the surprise deaths to important characters and the quality of fights between Battle armours; everything else was just sub-par entertinament.

Why exactly? From my perspective it’s most likely due to the over-complicated structure of how the series presents itself at the beginning and not enough aspects of the series making sense (such as futuristic items within a not-so-futuristic world)  and that the fact that the story doens’t seem to go anywhere. It’s simply one fight to the next with no regard as to whats happening and why.

Extras:

The trend of having basic supplementary content on the disc continues with this DVD release of Nobunaga the Fool – Part 1 as other than a selection of trailers, and the creditless songs for both the opening and ending animation, you won’t find anything else.

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All of the bonus content is relegated to the first DVD disc, as the third DVD disc features the most episodic content, so those wishing to dive into the bonus material before watching the episodic content can do so from the start.

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While there isn’t a variety of bonus materials it’s worth noting that the trailers consists of DD Fist of the North Star, Devils and Realist, She the Ultimate Weapon and Muv-Luve: Total Eclipse. Neither DD Fist of the North Star or Devils and Realist have a UK release; however Muv-Luv: Total Eclipse was released by MVM Entertainment and She the Ultimate Weapon has previously been released in the UK by Manga Entertainment.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 9 x3
Region: 2
Running Time: 1:41:44 (Disc 1 & 2), 2:32:10 (Disc 3)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow) & Translation Notes (White)
Resolution: 720 x 480 (480i)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Widescreen
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

Nobunaga the Fool is a series I half-heartedly expected something decent from; but unfortunately it failed to impress me and I believe that’s mostly due to its insanely bizarre setting and rules. So what exactly happens within Nobunaga the Fool? Well not to spoil too much (in case you did want to watch it) a girl branded as a witch within the Eastern world, known as Joan of Arch, escapes with Da’Vinci to the Western World in hopes of finding the Saviour King. What exactly this ‘Saviour King’ will do remains unclear but upon landing within the Western World Joan and Da’Vinci soon discover Nobunaga and his ability to pilot a Giant Battle Armor and wield one of the magical stones. From here it’s a daily adventure of Nobunaga trying to prove himself, and the future of technology, to the Oda Clan but as always things take a turn for the worse and now the entire nation is turmoil with only Nobunaga left standing to protect it.

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The later half of this series however sees members of the round table from the Eastern world, namely Ceaser, descend to the Western world in hopes of retrieving the magical stones to it’s rightful owner; King Auther. As one would expect world’s and ideals clash which result in each episode being another bloody battlefield; except this time fought in giant mecha units. With each passing episode brings a new issue and with that further development with each character; for instance a maiden from a distant land, known as Himiko, proclaims her love to Nobunaga and becomes a permenant member of the group while Joan on the otherhand, now renamed as Ranmaru, attempts to discover her own feelings for Nobunaga and whether or not he is actually the true Savior King. But alas all of these fights and character development are just a prelude of things to come; as just when you think you’ve sussed out the serie true intentions of the eastern world appear and a new threat descends itself upon the world; but that fight is being saved for the second half of the series.

As with most releases by MVM Entertainment the discs have been authored by Sentai Filmworks and as such we not only receive NTSC Masters (which means no PAL Slowdown/Speedup) but the content spread across three DVD discs. In total thirteen episodes are included, of which are presented in both English and Japanese audio languages with English Subtitles, and although the English Dub isn’t entirely great it does have some positive aspects but as you would suspect the Japanese audio track provides a far better viewing experience. My favourite aspect of this DVD release however is the fact that translation notes have been added to different parts of the episode; for instance during one episode which sees Hideyoshi acquire his own Battle Armour unit and magical stone a certain phrase is spoken to which at the same time a note appears at the top of the screen explaining the meaning behind the phrase.  Sentai Filmworks tend to do this ‘translation note’ aspect on a lot of their historic related releases (such as both Battle Girls: Time Paradox and The Ambition of Nobunaga) and it’s great to see the trend continue hear as it helps fill out the blanks.

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An alternative take on the warring states period of Japan with mystical stones and mechanical robots are what’s offered in Nobunaga the Fool and while it may seem like an interesting mix it just hampers the experience to provide a rather confusing, albeit annoying, experience. Of course if you are looking for an alternate take on historic figures then be my guest but there are better things to be watching; so hopefully the second instalment will offer something that more entertaining. In regards to a DVD release then MVM Entertainment have managed to achieve all of the correct aspects of a release, such as translation notes, NTSC Disc masters and so forth; it’s just a shame that the content itself isn’t as entertaining as I would have hoped.

Score: review-stars-2

Nobunaga the Fool – Part 1 is now available on DVD and Blu-ray within the UK.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked on ZOMGPlay and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita or Xbox One.

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