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Ambition Of Oda Nobuna Complete Collection Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read

Ambition Of Oda Nobuna Blu-rayGender swapping in the Sengoku is familiar, but can still be done really well.

What They Say:
Yoshiharu Sagara thought he knew his Japanese history backwards and forwards, but when he inexplicably finds himself in the past everything he thought he knew was wrong and he’s in a very different history altogether! Not only is this timeline’s version of the legendary (and very male) Oda Nobunaga now the cute (and very female) Oda Nobuna, but one of the first things Yoshiharu manages to accidentally accomplish is getting one of the Sengoku era’s most important historical figures killed!

Still, when you’re stuck in the past, have a semi-reliable knowledge of one possible future, and there’s now a vacancy in the history books, what’s your best present course of action? Aligning yourself with someone with the potential to become one of the most powerful warlords in any of Japan’s possible histories might not be a bad start. Provided, of course, that you can keep yourself from becoming too intimately involved in the cloak and dagger action during a time when the cloaks cover body armor and the daggers are paired with multiple swords! But that’s just part of the risk you assume when your history becomes her story!

Contains episodes 1-12.

The Review:
The audio presentation for this is pretty solid as we get the original Japanese language track as well as the newly created English language track, both of which are in stereo and encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The series works a good mix of dialogue and action with some decent music cues along the way to give it a little extra life and some solid flourish during the bigger action sequences. In general, it has a good use of the forward soundstage to present a show that works Sengoku era style action that’s kept relatively proper in tone without anything going far beyond belief, so there’s decent impact with various aspects of it, from the swordplay to the horses and the general tone of it all. Dialogue is well placed throughout as there are at times a range of styles of dialogue being used but it’s still a fairly typical stereo mix overall without a lot of placement and only a few minor areas of depth at times. The music populates the show in a good way by adding more overall warmth to it where appropriate and the opening and closing sequences are where it’s at its richest.

Originally airing in the summer of 2012, the transfer for this twelve episode TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The show is spread across two discs with nine on the first and three on the second with minimal extras. Animated by Studio Gokumi and Madhouse, the show has a really good design about it overall with plenty of detail in the characters and backgrounds that gives it a bigger life than a lot of shows of this nature. It also really does a fantastic job when it comes to the colors, giving it a lot more pop and vibrancy to it in both character and backgrounds. There’s little in the way to fuss about when it comes to the transfer overall as colors are bold and solid and there’s barely a hint of line noise in a few scenes during panning sequences. Beyond that, it’s just a visual treat.

The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case with the two discs held against the interior walls. The front cover is one that definitely works, even if it excludes the male lead entirely, as it provides a good image of Nobuna and several of the other girls behind it. It’s bright and colorful but not overly so to the point of distraction. That’s helped by the darker and heavier background to give it a bit more weight. The characters look good and there’s some decent detail, and minor fanservice, that lets it stand out nicely. The back cover is fairly traditional as well with a partial circle in the middle sliced in half in order to do the summary of the premise in a small font on a darker color. That’s all surrounded by several shots from the show and some good standalone character artwork as well. The disc and episode count is clearly listed as are the extras for the release. The technical grid covers everything well and the production information for folks like me that read them is definitely easy to read. Sadly, the release has no inserts, booklets or artwork on the reverse side.

The menu design for this release is fairly traditional in its layout, which is to be expected, as we get the navigation along the right that goes for a sort-of old style approach in its iconography, colors and the text itself while still being easy to read as it breaks it down by episode numbers and titles. The left side featuers the character artwork against other traditional images where we the the two leads for the first disc and some of the secondary characters for the second. The logo is the most awkawrd piece overall along the lower left as it’s just too modern by comparison. Submenus load quickly and the navigation works well as the pop-up menu during regular playback.

The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the light novel series Oda Nobuna no Yabo by Kasuga Mikage and Miyama-Zero, which was at seven volumes when the series premiere and is at eleven volumes now. The Ambition of Oda Nobuna is fun Sengoku era series that comes to us from Studio Gokumi and Madhouse. Series involving the Sengoku period abound every year it seems as there’s always some sort of interest in them, especially when cute girls are involved. Some of them tweak the format well as they go along, such as the Sengoku Collection series which I find to be a delight, while others are pretty by the numbers like Battle Girls – Time Paradox, which I enjoyed as well. For the Ambition of Oda Nobuna, we get something that’s definitely different.

The show introduces us to a young man named Yoshiharu who has found himself waking up in the past, having been a huge fan of the game of the same name as the series. He thinks he’s dreaming at first as a hot girl with Oda’s name is riding around and he does what he can to protect her, using some of his “magic” with his cell phone that’s just run out of power. We get to know that things are definitely different quickly when she’s introduces herself as the head of the Nobunaga clan, but it’s named Nobuna here. What Yoshiharu learns is that while the history is generally the same here, the difference is that gender didn’t matter when it came to ascension of a household and that’s lead to a number of young women to assume powerful positions as the warring going on between the various lands in Japan is underway. And he has a habit of getting involved with several of them quickly once meeting Nobuna and saving her, which puts her in an awkward state of debt.

Since the series is going to deal with a host of well known names, it doesn’t take long to showcase several of them in these new incarnations and some of the other quirks. While we get hints of what’s going on here and there with the other characters, the main focus is truly on that of Nobuna herself and with Yoshiharu as he becomes her “monkey” as he’s referred to by others. He’s in an amusing spot since he understands the history here, through the games of course, and he also has a certain confidence about him that works in his favor. While we often get characters tossed into the past that are either girls or just plain wimps, Yoshiharu has a different feel to him where he understands what’s happened, if not the why, and intends to make the most of it. Seeing how he works the situation when tensions escalate in a private way is a lot of fun because he doesn’t hide where he’s from and he uses that to his advantage in some creative ways.
Though there’s a lot of familiar structure to the series with how it plays out, moving us to meeting multiple characters and making lots of connections with the women there, it also avoids some of the usual traps that helps it to work in its favor. The big thing is that even as we add more and more girls to the show in various positions of power, we don’t get them as romantic interests. There may be a mild interest here and there from some of them, but it’s not the overriding aspect to it. Each of the women that are added have their own roles, since they’re often named people from history, and that puts them in positions of power instead, rather than identifying their place by their relation to Yoshiharu. In fact, pretty much all of them see the way Yoshiharu and Nobuna are together and realize that they’re really good for each other and end up rooting for that. That, in the end, removes a lot of the usual sexual/relationship tension that populates shows like this.

And it is actually fun watching the relationship between Yoshiharu and Nobuna grow over the course of it. While she puts him in a lower position from the start by calling him her monkey, she also realizes his value to her with what he knows and continually challenges him on that. But it’s his plain and straightforward way of insisting that he’ll be there for her through thick and thin that really makes the difference because he takes every challenge she offers, even the foolish ones that she does in jest, and that manages to endear him to her even more. Though the two don’t get too awful far in their relationship, with with her quest for unifying the nation being her big thing, we get some really good moments that are tender and sweet in many places but also some stronger moments where she begins to really understand just how he feels about her. It naturally makes her awkward and uncertain, but since it’s largely kept to just the two of them in terms of feelings like this, it works out well.

I also really like that this series actually does things. While we’ve seen a number of this gender swapped kinds of historical fantasy shows before, they end up being more about lazing about with maybe one or two threats along the way. More about the journey than anything else with the interactions that exist. Here, they have that but they also do a lot with the action. Nobuna is making her name across the lands and really working at gaining territory and alliances, sometimes through diplomacy, sometimes with Yoshiharu’s knowledge of the future, but also through combat and other physical means. These aspects are well done overall with good horse cavalry action, the growing use of guns and other explosives in the mix and plenty of close combat battles as well. That does, in the end, help to make this series feel more fleshed out than just being about the girls and their hoping for attentions with Yoshiharu.

In Summary:
I had really enjoyed the Ambition of Oda Nobuna when I saw the simulcast. I was surprised it took as long as it did to get licensed, but Sentai Filmworks has put together a pretty good release here, giving us a great looking show in general and going the expected distance with a dub since shows like this do well. The series is one that does play to the whole Sengoku period as a game kind of angle, but it changes it up a bit with what Yoshiharu is able to do and it doesn’t provide things like quick trips back or access to technology. I like the group as it evolves, though watching this in smaller doses as opposed to a marathon session is likely the better approach. I thoroughly enjoyed the series the first time and definitely this second time as it has fun characters, great looking designs and solid animation to pull it all together into something fun that doesn’t play to the usual cliches in a big way.

Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: December 16th, 2014
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78;1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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