The Ambition of Oda Nobuna

Alt title: Oda Nobuna no Yabou

TV (12 eps)
3.819 out of 5 from 10,239 votes
Rank #2,019

Ordinary high schooler Yoshiharu is sent back in time to the Warring States Period, however not the same time line that he remembers. There he meets Nobuna Oda - not Nobunaga, Nobuna. In this world, all the famous figureheads and warlords of the era are female! Nobuna teams up with Yoshiharu to help fuel her ambition and quest to rule the world…

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Story (6.5/10) You’ve just been transported from our time to the beginning of the American Revolution. It just so happens your favorite video game was a pretty historically accurate play-through of the revolution, so you have specific knowledge of the outcome of the various events including battles, betrayals, and the deaths of major figures. As a patriotic American, you decide to embark on a quest to ensure the streamlined establishment of the United States. Oh, and it just so happens that in this alternate timeline, George Washington and all his generals are smoking hot babes. Replace George with Oda Nobunaga, a famed Japanese general. Substitute the revolution for the Sengoku Era, a period of widespread warfare between Japan’s provinces that culminated in the unification of Japan. You now have the plot of The Ambition of Oda Nobuna. Dynasty Warriors fans, eat your hearts out. The main character, Yoshiharu Sagara, effectively replaces Toyotomi Hideyoshi in history. Sagara is transported back in time, quickly meets and promises a dying Hideyoshi to live out his dream of a united Japan, and then immediately meets Nobuna, the younger, attractive, and much more female replacement of Nobunaga. In normal history, Nobunaga dies just before the country’s union, and Hideyoshi becomes the actual ruler. Sagara decides to alter history, keeping Nobuna alive and allowing her to unite Japan. What results is an entertaining romp through a light-hearted version of Japan’s warring states period. There is a veritable parade of famous faces as battles are fought and territory exchanges hands, Sagara all the while pushing here and there as his romance with Nobuna steadily develops. The story has excellent pacing - I rarely felt bored, and there’s always a reason to want to watch the next episode. The show does a great job of helping you keep track of the large number of people and places. There’s just enough exposition to keep you in the loop, but not so much that it gets bogged down in conversation. I found most of the problems occur right at the start. The audience is expected to quickly grasp the fact that Sagara has been thrown back in time for no discernible reason, which is a rather large plot hole for me to immediately digest. He’s also rather unconcerned with the fact that he’s completely cut off from everything he’s ever known. This lets us get right to the meat of the action, but it was a bit off-putting that he adapted so quickly to his predicament. This blip falls by the wayside, however, because once the story hits its stride, you’ll eat it up with a spoon. Oda Nobuna is, at its core, a relaxed harem story with plenty of fanservice set against a backdrop of the Sengoku Era’s rapid technological changes and romanticized warfare. It’s classic in execution, but takes no risks. It sometimes surprised me, but was more often entirely predictable. Still, it has a certain charm that made me smile over and over. Think Oreos - you know it’s just pure sugar in cookie form, and it’s really not that great compared to other desserts, but once you have it in your mouth it’s so delicious you can’t help yourself. While I score the story low because of its lack of innovation, it was absolutely entertaining, and will probably stick with me for some time. Animation (6.5/10) The animation was lackluster for 2012. Backgrounds were nice, but I was rarely impressed. They often reused scenes, and there were a lot of still frames. A lot of computer animation wasn’t blended in as well as it could have been. One definite plus is the wide variation in character designs. While ridiculous hair colors are a bit asinine considering this is 16th century Japan, it really helped me keep track of the numerous characters. Maps and dialogue set against battles-in-progress assist the viewer in keeping track of the ever-shifting warfronts. Sound (6.5/10) The sound hit par, but wasn’t anything special. The opener was a bland guitar riff. I actually preferred the ED’s violin and piano combination. Voice acting was well done and appropriate for each character. Characters (6.5/10) Finally a harem lead that isn’t a total pussy. Sagara, our everyman transported from the modern day, earns major points for actually driving the plot. WIth Hideyoshi dead, he decides that the only way to unite Japan is to keep Nobuna alive, and he constantly works for that goal. He has his moments, the hilarious, the serious, and even the annoying, but he is always easy to empathize with. That might be the strongest part of the whole show - I loved most of the characters. While we have our usual harem stock, the war forces all of them to be strong and useful. Nobody plays the idiot; this world doesn’t have room for stupid bimbos. No time is wasted slowly exploring relationships we know aren’t going to work out; most of the lovey-dovey stuff stays between Sagara and Nobuna, leaving more time for plot I cared about. At the same time, because I was rooting for everyone, the drama was seriously and effectively ramped up when rifts opened between friends. Nobuna herself was a typical tsundere. I found her very easy to figure out, so she tended to be a bit boring. Again, there’s nothing new there, but originality is not the name of the game. They basically threw everything and the kitchen sink into a big war. Nobuna excels in its execution rather than pioneer anything new, which is fine, but doesn’t exactly catapult it into the realm of greatness. Overall (7/10) We all know these anime - the harem comedy, the tsundere lead. A healthy dose of fanservice, and a solid injection of action. Add a touch of drama, and you get something really, really fun. That’s the best word I can use to describe this show - fun, along the lines of Black Lagoon, in the same way as Kore wa Zombie desu ka. It reminds me specifically of Demon King Daimao; Oda Nobuna never takes itself completely seriously, and can drop off into the zany at times, but is still capable of something a little deeper, too. Don’t come in expecting Ghost in the Shell, and you’ll have a blast. I’m looking forward to a second season!


Synopsis: The Ambition of Oda Nobuna is a gender swapped retelling of the end of the sengoku,or warring states period of Japanese history.  Most of the major historical figures have been transformed into girls, and time traveler Sagara Yoshiharu, a high school student from modern day Japan, full of knowledge about the period from playing simulation games, uses his knowledge to change the events so everything works out the way he wants it to, but what consequences will come from tampering with history? The Ambition of Oda Nobuna is a mixed bag of mostly interesting, definitely entertaining, and a bit disturbing, historical gender swapped harem comedy.  I’m currently working on my masters in ancient and classical history, so I am very interested in Japanese history and I was intrigued by this anime when I got a flyer for it with another purchase I made a few months ago.  Now that I’ve watched it, I’d have to say I enjoyed it, but I’m definitely scratching my head at some of the decisions the creators made. Lets break it down: Art: 7.0 The animation is competent, but not outstanding.  I don’t have a problem with using still frames when used appropriately, but I think they relied on them a bit too much.  One scene in particular, when Nobuna’s army is besieging her little brother’s fortress, and everyone is chanting Nobuna’s name.  It looked weird that nobody was moving, not even their mouths.   Still, the character designs were interesting.  Especially Inuchiyo, and while a purple haired girl wearing a tiger hood and wielding a huge spear sounds strange, it looks pretty cool. I understand the gender swapping, and that does make for an interesting premise, but the age reduction went a bit too far.  The character who would eventually be Tokugawa Iyeyasu was a little girl with mouse ears and a tail, probably about eight years old.  I can’t imagine what inspires an army to follow that into battle.  I’m sure this was played for laughs, but it elicits more of a WTF than an LOL.  The action and the fight scenes were well done, and I wish there had been more. Story: 7.0  Here’s where I had very mixed feelings.  Overall, I liked it.  There were a lot of historical details which made me happy, such as Yoshiharu taking Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s place as sandal bearer in the Oda court, and Nobuna dancing and praying before the battle of Okehazama, but there were some blatantly anachronistic things which made me cringe.  Yoshimoto Imagawa and Ieyasu Tokugawa playing soccer (that wasn’t kemari, there was a net), an assassin using a sniper rifle with a modern scope two hundred years before the RIFLE was invented, Yoshitatsu Saito running around with a cannon which can fire repeatedly without reloading, Hisahide Matsunaga attacking Kyoto with war elephants?  So many historical details, balanced with so much absolute nonsense.  It would be different if it were explained, or played for comedy, but it’s not. Characters: 6.0  Again, mixed feelings.  There really isn’t a lot of character development.  Nobuna and Yoshiharu make in interesting couple.  I’d have to say that the male leads in most harem comedies are the worst kind of fish out of water, ineffectual, plankton of any characters in anime, but happily, Yoshiharu actually drives the plot of the show, and is incredibly knowledgeable about the world he has been dropped into.  He’s actually a strong leader and that made for a pleasant surprise.  The rest of the harem are fun to watch, and Nagahide Niwa’s running gag of assigning point values to other character’s actions is amusing.  But really, we are never told anything about Yoshiharu’s life before he magically gets transported into bizarro sengoku Japan.  Nor do we know how he got there.  We do get some of Nobuna’a background, but the rest are pretty much blank slates.  The biggest problem I had character wise was definitely Hanabe Takenaka, who is supposed to be some incredible strategist, but never comes up with a single plan or strategy, but instead uses marginally effective magic to little effect.  Sometimes I get the feeling Hanabe is only included in the series so we can have a scene of an eight year old girl with her shirt off, and that’s pretty disturbing.  More on that later. Sound: 7.0  The dub was actually quite good.  I thought all the voices fit the characters well.   The high point would definitely be Hilary Haag as the ninja Goemon.  The little girl ninja with a lisp was actually very entertaining.  The music was competent, but not outstanding.  It worked to complement the scenes, and the opening and closing songs were good, but nothing memorable and certainly nothing I’m going to listen to by itself. Fan Service:  This isn’t a category on which I usually comment, and I’m normally cool with fan service in a show, but here it needs to be addressed. There isn't too much really, and some of it is actually kinda funny, such as Katsuie Shibata’s boobs bouncing… in armor!  How that works is beyond me, but it’s worth a laugh (or a giggle).  The real problem is the younger characters.  Goemon, the little ninja girl with a lisp is followed around by a gang of grown men who cheer about how sexy she is… awkward.  Yoshiharu’s “little sister” Nene, who in real history would have been his wife, is like five or six years old, and we still get the occasional kimono slipping off her shoulder, etc.  The worst, however, is Hanabe, who is apparently about ten years old, and gets sick and has to be undressed and ‘cooled down’ to reduce her fever (why is Yoshiharu present for this?).  I think we are supposed to laugh at Yoshiharu’s uncomfortable predicament, but I felt like I was the one in the uncomfortable spot.  So glad the wife or daughter didn’t walk in while that scene was on. Overall:  6.75  For all its faults, this anime has an interesting story and likeable characters.  I found it enjoyable.  If you like Japanese history, and you’d like to see it thrown in a blender and mixed with a healthy dose of romantic comedy, then give this a try.  

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