Anime of Tomorrow
Tag Archives: gender swap
Summer 2012 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – The Ambition of Oda Nobuna) (more info)
Oda Nobuna gives me this weird impression that some narcissistic Japanese history buff wrote himself into his own historical fan fiction and managed to pass it off as the script for an anime. Yet another of Japan’s idiosyncrasies is on full display—gender bending. Following in the footsteps of such anime as Sengoku Collection, Samurai Girls and Sengoku Paradox; as it turns out, most of Japan’s historical generals were actually women.
Finding himself 450 years in the past, protagonist and RTS aficionado Yoshiharu just rolls with his new circumstances—giving the impression that the time traveling rules in this series are, “if you go back in time, you were meant to so that you can shape the future.” It’s nothing new or exciting. And naturally hero and heroine have some hollow chemistry between them that just has to be there by default because they’re the main characters and it’s what people would expect. Pretty much all aspects of the premise can just be written off as playing mix and match with ideas that have already been done before and better by other anime.
So Oda Nobuna is a historical fiction that’s so crumblingly insubstantial I can’t think of anything more meaningful to say about it. If you’re into ridiculous anime that feature female warriors in classical Asian settings and watching them do battle I say stick with Koihime Musou so at least you can get a few good laughs and don’t have to put up with half-baked romance.
Initial impression – unoriginal, but not entirely mind-numbing (4/10)
Spring 2012 (12 episodes) (English title – Parallel World Samurai) (more info)
Genderbending ancient Japanese heroes into women is hardly new territory; but Samurai Girls proved that it’s possible to turn that premise into something cool. And while it falls far short of anything approaching what Samurai Girls accomplished, Sengoku Collection does a respectable job of telling a story of a young woman out of her era.
Where it fails, though is when it turns to the tired old plot device of having the main character travel around collecting pieces of some vague energy in order to have her wish granted. It’s so lacking in imagination and the main story is such an ordinary clash of cultures / boy meets girl story that I can foresee nothing promising on the horizon.
This suspicion is further confirmed in the credits where the other characters feature as a smorgasbord of moe stereotypes ranging from glasses to jailbait. I’ll fully admit my own weakness to moe, but I don’t like having it shoved in my face in such a painfully obvious manner. The spirit of Sengoku Collection can be summed up as regendered, fetishized historical figures transported to the modern era and trying to get home and that’s a bit too simple for me to lend it any more of my time.
What do you think? Is this kind of formula too weird? And is reimagining great men from Japan’s past as women something that piques anyone’s interest? How do you feel about the excessive exaggeration of the character’s appeal? Is it fun and goofy or offensively contrived and transparent?