[Maaaaybe spoilers for Nobunaga Concerto. But. I mean. If you know how it ends in history then is it even really spoilers?]
Nobunaga is an extremely common historical figure in anime. In fact, there are THREE Nobunagas in this season alone: one from the adaptation of Kouta Hirano’s popular historical figures versus historical figures manga, one where Nobunaga has a cute and loyal ninja bodyguard, and one where Nobunaga is a bird in an animal version of the Sengoku Era (seriously).
And yet the best Nobunaga that I’ve watched this 2016 was from a series made two years ago, and he isn’t even technically Nobunaga.
I’m talking about Nobunaga Concerto’s main protagonist: Saburo, a random student from the modern age who tripped over a wormhole and travelled back in time to the Sengoku Era. He bumped into the sickly daimyo of Owari, Oda Nobunaga, and ended up impersonating the man due to their uncanny physical resemblance.
Saburo, in the modern man’s perspective, is a lazy and loudmouth slacker who is too blunt for his own good. He doesn’t really have good grades in school, his future prospects aren’t very bright, and he’s pretty happy with running away from responsibilities and lazing around all day. Considering how modern culture is so revolved around the idea that future excellence will only happen to a person if they are academically excellent (good grades = good job opportunities), most people would assume someone like Saburo wouldn’t become anyone noteworthy.
But what Saburo lacks in technical skill and academic standing, he more than makes up for with his self-confidence and excellent social skills. Despite his rough and hard-to-manage personality, Saburo is a natural charmer and anyone he ends up befriending becomes incredibly loyal and faithful to his cause.
What I find to be so entertaining about Nobunaga Concerto is how Saburo’s natural social qualities makes him much more suited to the simpler times of the Sengoku Era. Despite taking over the role of an influential historical figure, Saburo’s presence actually gives explanation to some of the mysteries and peculiarities about Oda Nobunaga, as known by the modern world.
Historical records describe Oda Nobunaga as a man that followed his own rules, defied religious beliefs to expand his territory, and held very western perspectives compared to his more traditional counterparts. Even if it’s fictional, Oda Nobunaga being switched at his teens with a modern high school boy (who is social and confident and has been influence by a much more liberal and global era), actually makes sense! Amazingly, Nobunaga Concerto is a series that’s working under a stable historical time loop.
The downside of a stable historical time loop is that when you know where history will take the characters, you can predict what will happen in the future. The beauty of Nobunaga Concerto is that the actual historical figures themselves and the circumstances of their end are shrouded in mystery, and the series — with its clever twists and turns and genuinely shocking reveals — makes you wonder how will we reach the inevitable confrontation at the Honno-ji temple.
I really hope we get a season 2.