Genre: Action, Comedy
Summary: Shio Ogura is a Japanese high school student, who is visiting Taiwan on a school trip when she is suddenly attacked by monsters. Agents known as “E-Gene Holders” from the government agency DOGOO also arrive, who wield weapons infused with the spirits of historical figures. Shio is revealed to also be an E-Gene Holder when the soul of Oda Nobunaga awakens after she tries to rescue a friend.
Review: From the summary I didn’t really expect this anime to grab my attention as much as it did. Generally speaking an anime about super monsters that have invaded earth have pretty typical outcomes. The series will be filled with nameless casualties, shocking near death experiences, and possibly one main character who dies to save another. However, Nobunagun did something a little different by making the typical action more entertaining with a mixture of attractive personalities and unique art style. The characters seemed to have more depth to them than the typical meat heads or emotional wrecks you see in this genre. I saw E-Gene Holders as a team rather than a scattered mess of superhumans. Plus who doesn’t want to see the reincarnation of Isaac Newton fight giant bugs?
The first thing that will caught anyone’s attention was the opening; the grainy texture and charcoal dark colors with bright red highlights make for an artistic flashback. This separation between flashbacks, battle sequences, and normalized world make a really bold statement that sticks to anyone’s memory. Even months later I still remember a lot of key scenes and details because of how different they were from any other anime I’ve seen. I really liked the small floating text around Shio that said things like “bedhead”, “drooling”, or other random facts that didn’t really play much toward the story, but was a nice change of pace. The battles made you feel like you were in a game because the entire world would switch to hues of red to purple; the blood and explosions were highlighted with bright and vivid colors. I’m a bit disappointed that this anime didn’t catch more attention, I would have loved to see more wallpapers of it. Of course, no matter how awesome the art was, none of it would have mattered if it weren’t for the kickass characters.
Shio stood out as one of the best characters of the series because she always took things as they came. She was born with Nobunaga blood and she showed it. Once she was thrown into battle, she didn’t hesitate to unleash hell on these alien monsters, lining up her sites and firing away. More importantly, she didn’t just rely on big guns, she had brains too. The series decided to throw in an explanation as to why she had some sense of fighting by making her an otaku for military. She knew every tank, jet, and bullet known to civilians and could even interpolate new tactics by combining her knowledge of the alien species and military firepower. However, she was still a typical high school girl and wasn’t immune to the effects of hormones and ditsy personality. Shio did have a desire for friends and romance just like anyone else, and this made her a lot more relatable. In fact, most of the characters had a human side and weren’t just used for weapons. I enjoyed listening to the backstories and how their E-Gene Holders related to their fighting style. It gave a new layer to the series that many others overlook: individuality. All of the characters had a very specific set of skills, and none of them really overlapped. This uniqueness forced the squads to actually work as a team and formulate new plans based on their attributes. You couldn’t send Ghandi in to fight by himself if all he can do is produce a shield, but you can send in complimenting characters like Nobunaga and Newton to create a deadly, no-recoil Gatling Gun. Creating different strategies helped keep the characters fresh and interesting because you didn’t see the same fighting style over and over again. The only real complaint I had were the monsters. While they did have unique attributes in some ways, they still fall into the typical categories. They also didn’t give much background to the creatures, or at least nothing too shocking that makes me see them as anything other than mindless drones trying to wipe out another race for no reason. Had the series added a bit more of a twist to the overarching story I probably would have pushed it over to a must see.
What good action anime wouldn’t have a wonderful soundtrack? The OST for Nobunagun was phenomenal. My personal favorites being “Under War” and “Rock On”. Most of the OST was filled with intense rock music with bits of piano and string instruments during the lighter scenes. Of course anyone probably could have guessed how intense the soundtrack was going to be after listening to the metal intro by Pay Money to My Pain, a band that seems a lot like the Japanese version of BURY TOMORROW.
Final statements: I feel like Nobunagun didn’t catch as much attention as it should have because I easily consider it a high priority watch. It had a handful of solid characters, thrilling action, and spurts of chuckling comedy. I also very much liked the ending that I will hold back telling you because you should watch this series for yourself!