The introductory episodes of Nobunagun did a pretty good job of drawing me in. First off, as I’m sure even detractors of the show will admit, it’s visually enthralling. I can’t help but love the color schemes used, and there’s some pretty cool images in there, such as that scene where we see things through an evolutionary invasion object’s eyes.
Second off, I was rather fond of the relationship between Shio and Asao. Shio’s interest in all things military-related is rather unfeminine, and she’s a bit of a social outcast because of it. Asao, on the other hand, fits in really well with others and is quite popular. When Asao showed a romantic interest in Shio, that created what I considered to be a rather interesting dynamic.
The trouble started in episode three, when it was revealed that Shio no longer had cell phone access and that Asao therefore was not allowed to be a character on the show anymore. Gee, Nobunagun, I’m glad you have no qualms about getting rid of half of the reasons I liked your show. Asao appeared in less than five episodes in the entire series, which is what I’d label a mistake.
The show was nice enough to introduce new characters, such as Newton, who, as far as I could tell, had no discernible personality traits beyond her habit of French kissing everyone she saw. There was also Gandhi, who didn’t kiss everyone he saw but instead hit on them. Okay, depending on which biography you read, that could actually make a lot of sense for a character who’s supposed to be the reincarnation of Gandhi. I’d question the writer’s decision to include Gandhi when the whole purpose of reincarnating these people was to fight, but given the rest of the crew, I suppose anyone can have a useful power as long as they’re a distinguished historical figure. Newton, though. Newton the show has no excuse for.
Then there’s Jack, who’s a tsundere, but… he’s a male tsundere! Meh, whatever, I’ll take it. At least the show’s doing something to stray from the usual wish-fulfillment mechanics in anime these days. I’d actually say he was a decently entertaining character, though that’s more for his badassery than his depth. The real problem I have with Jack is that Shio falls for him because he’s a tsundere and is cruel to her and takes time out of his day to insult her. Also, the show tries to establish that Jack likes Shio by having him be concerned for her mortal peril during combat missions. Yeah, a soldier would only care about another soldier if romantic feelings were involved. Totally.
The episodes start to get fairly formulaic; we’re given some exposition that we don’t care about, then a battle happens as a result of the stuff we were just expositioned, and the heroes win the battle. Having this play out every episode makes things boring. There’s no intensity when this is just a meaningless battle caused by the evolutionary invasion objects showing up because that’s what evolutionary invasion objects do.
I also thought the animations got rather boring at this point in the series. When I think about all the cool images I remember seeing, they’re all from the first few episodes or the last few episodes. To be fair, Nobunagun’s animation at its best is so good that Nobunagun’s animations at its worst is still slightly above average. However, slightly above average animations are nowhere near enough to carry a show. When you combine it with how boring the writing got at this point in the series, it made the middle episodes quite a dredge to get through.
Thankfully, the writing definitely picks up near the end. The crew finds a main base for the invasion objects, which gives the battle a sense of importance. Plus, Shio begins a character arc at this point; she slowly begins to gain self-confidence as she realizes that her military knowledge is actually important in this situation. Very few of the e-gene holders ever earned my favor, but at least Shio managed to redeem the show near the end.
(Also, the tentacle rape scene wasn’t necessary. Just saying)