「清水寺攻防」 (Kiyomizudera Koubou)
“The Battle at Kiyomizu Temple”
Oda Nobuna no Yabou – 09
The anime has reached the tipping point for Saru’s usefulness–from a wealth of knowledge to emotional support. Now that the future has basically been stripped of Yoshiharu’s grasp, he only has what he calls his ‘soul as a civil war era gamer‘ to make the calls. Those calls would still be useful, if not for the key aspect of Nobuna: she is much more engrained in her ideals of freedom and unity than her historical equivalent. As a character who believes that the ends do not justify the means, Nobuna is unable to resort to sacrificing emotional anchors in her life in order to achieve her dreams. Nobunaga, historically, made some violent calls in the course of his conquest that involved the harming of civilians. This was a trend of the Sengoku period–the goal was highly prized and the methods unquestioned. However, thanks to the genderbending of the period, conquest must be achieved through fair game, something that Sagara was reminded of. Nobunaga the conqueror vs. Nobuna the dreamer. Thus, instead of following what Nobunaga would’ve done to succeed, Saru is now forced to view through new lenses, to predict what a fair and kind-hearted Nobuna will do next.
This diversion from time makes it all the more exciting for me personally. It becomes interesting to now compare all these diversions from the actual timeline, to see if these diversions actually make sense. Mind you, this means more research for me (after I write the body of this post, I’m going to be spending hours researching all the events that happened this episode and two episodes previously), but it also means becoming surprised when history decides to turn left instead of right. Even though I’m not following the series, it seems that Kyōkai Senjō no Horizon via Stilts’ coverage follows a very similar coverage style, where history and fiction interact. Though Nobuna may follow a more preset plot than Horizon, both require tons of research, so I give my shoutouts to Stilts onii-chan for putting lots of work into research!
Shoutouts aside, I want to focus on the dynamics of two characters this season, one of whom surprised me more than the other. Firstly, Danjou, as I suspected, switched sides and surrendered, but it was done in a tone that I didn’t expect. The lineage that Danjou comes from has a history on siding with the inevitable victor, which will be seen again some centuries later during the Meiji Restoration. Danjou also surrendered quickly in Nobunaga’s timeline, allowing him to stay Daimyo of a region. Thus, it was predictable from a historical view that Danjou would eventually join the winning side of the Oda. However, she joined Nobuna because she was inspired by Nobuna’s ability to rally the hated and the lost—an interesting twist. Though the reasoning cheeses up the plot, it is a surprise that lends to the general theme of the story, and explains many of the events of episode seven. What would’ve made this moment better would have been more exposition to Danjou’s past and intentions (in fact, more exposition on the antagonists would be great), but given the timeframe of the anime, asking for original material is too much.
That leaves the second dynamic to examine to the star of this episode, Mitsuhide. To be frank, I’m disappointed in her exposition. She almost had the potential to become a breakaway character and spice up the plot significantly, but at the last moment, Nobuna rallies everyone else to her side and snap Mitsuhide back to her ideals. On top of that, thanks to Saru defending her at the last minute, it is inevitable that she will fall into his de facto harem soon enough. I loved her struggle to stay loyal to Nobuna and to her own dreams as it provided an interesting window into her internal struggles with being wanted or loved. Her display of devotion to those she believes in and the honor that she struggles to keep is a great addition to the show, representative of the samurai ideal. It all could’ve been a much deeper plot if Mitsuhide had, even temporarily, switched over to the other side, for it would’ve given so much potential for her character to grow in the end. However, the show’s flaw–ending on cheesy and happy notes–gets in the way.
Nobuna is a great show, don’t get me wrong. Even though I have not seen many other Sengoku genderbenders, from what I hear, it’s well up on the top. The problem that holds this show (and I assume the light novel as well) from being great drama is partitioning the plot way too much with happy victories. Sure, people may bleed some blood now and again, but in the grand scheme, nothing permanently negative has happened to ANY of the characters, even the antagonists! Although Saru and Nobuna may fight at times, by the end of the episode, they’ve made up and blush at each other. The thrill of the conclusion, even for this episode, become weakened from this conditioned expectation that ‘everything will be alright‘.
But now that history has been changed to the point of no return, what will happen next? The next episode’s title is Nobuna in Grave Danger (although it looks to be part hot springs episode as well), so perhaps this expectation may be broken. At this point, nobody knows what’s going to happen next, even those acquainted with the Sengoku era, so let’s go in together and finish up this series!
As an open question the commenters, what do you guys think of the end of this arc? Besides Danjou’s ‘skin’ and groping, what else stood out for you in the episode? For those of you acquainted with Sengoku history, do you guys still think that Honnou-ji will happen? If so, will it still involve its key player?
Historical Notes: A Combination of Episodes 7 and 9