Nobunagun: Episode 1

OMG SO KAWAIIIIII!

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If you’ve peeked into this blog from time to time, you know that your host Anna is a lesbian.  So it’s no surprise that the level of adorable in this series has driven me to take up this show.  And how! Surprise!

Mind you, this isn’t a “yuri series”, I don’t think. Time may prove me wrong, of course.

This is definitely an action show. But this previous summer, we had a little show called Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou, a show that was mostly about action, with a nice little dose of girl love thrown in for good measure.

And frankly? That is what convinced me to throw my support behind this series and review it week to week.  The nail in the coffin, as it were (any show that gets the attention of this blog seems doomed, doesn’t it?). But there is so much more to this show than that.  Can I say, without the girl love, would I have made the effort? Not sure, honestly.  I think I might, though, because there was some REAL talent on display.

This show is primarily about fun, and we see that from the opening and Shio Ogura waking up late, as the little floating text warns us, is a habit of hers.  Along with her butt, belly button, and mirror. Good to point these out.

Actually good indeed, because it seems rather cute, but the text scrolls are really important.  Some are obviously just for fun, repeating the “bedhead” was one of those.  But it takes the time to point out Shio’s love of weapons.  She knows tanks and missiles by a simple glance over.  She is a little bit of a weird outsider, and this is all good stuff to know.  Very subtle, I hadn’t realized where this was heading.

Shio is heading, in the meantime, to Taiwan for…I guess, a senior trip? Or something? It’s a very cute scene, Shio seems to be the only one who looks like a suspicious Japanese high school girl. But these are all quick little things, the episode is ALWAYS moving.  Movement is great. Hell, after last season it is a fucking blessing.

And then Asao. Oh gods how my mind went completely the other way about this show.  Asao…it is very clear, on second viewing, that Asao definitely has a little crush on Shio.  This goes way beyond the “cheerleader with a heart of gold” fare, straight into outright flirting.  It is JUST shy of asking her on a date…but it is not that far.  The way the show establishes Asao casting looks at Shio while amongst her own friends, the way she approaches her, just the tone she uses trying to get Shio’s email address (emphasizing, that she’ll see her back at the hotel), it screams of high school romance stuff. If this was boy and girl, it wouldn’t be batted at that someone had a little crush on the lonely boy (or girl, if we want to make Asao the boy).

But it’s not coarse. It is…well, cute. Disarmingly cute.  And it is the same for Shio, too.  Top marks to the animators for nailing a very lonely girl (Shio), who is just good at hiding it.  But when Asao scoots right next to her, there is no acting cool for her.  It’s uncomfortable for Shio to be around other people.

And this is the thing this episode shared with Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou: It’s not a big deal.  There is no “special” affection between the two because it is a homosexual interest.  It’s the same as if it was hetero, and this is a positive thing that needs to be encouraged. There would be no doubt that this relationship would have romantic elements if Shio was a boy.

Actually, it may be rather FOR that reason that they feel they can get away with this, because Shio is a very….masculine archetype. The high school kid who knows everything about the military. The fact she has breasts and wears a skirt is so much canvas.

And then, walking a tightrope so fine you can barely see it, without a drastic, jarring shift in tone, Nobunagun moves from this light hearted slice of life mood, into dark, what I’d even call borderline horror atmosphere.  Fighter jets that Shio had been cataloguing, amazed by the power of the Taiwanese military, suddenly open fire, apparently on the city.  And the monster emerges.  There is debris, fire, death….all of it so quick, so rushed, the show is as caught up in the terror and destruction as Shio herself is.  This was a magnificently crafted scene, it was nailed in all directions, and props definitely have to be given to the director because the mood was beautiful.  This isn’t exactly Attack  on Titan disturbing, but it is JUST enough to give this “fun” series a dark razor edge to it.

And then, with her knees buckling, barely able to process what’s happening around her…Shio remembers Asao.  The power of girl love compels her to get her feet moving, and she goes to rescue her.  Enter Jack the Ripper. Or rather, his reincarnation, but the M of this little E-Gene unit only uses the names of their souls, so I didn’t catch his real one.  As is fitting of Jack the Ripper, he uses knives to carve up the monster. I do like Jack, the right blend of a good person with bad intentions, directing his energies to a good end.  His attempt to stop civilian deaths doesn’t seem to stem from compassion, so much as “this is the logic of the situation, certainly you can’t argue with that?”.  Subtle, I like it.

As traditional, I don’t want to spoil everything for the opening week.

But holy hell pick this series up if you have not done so!  It is a good, fun, action romp that may end up being way deeper than we give it credit for.

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