Ignoring the minor gripes with the way today’s events proceeded, I am impressed overall with the way the plot is moving forward. The show is finally maturing into a world where everything is anything but black or white. Can we label Nobunaga as either a complete asshole or a misunderstood savior? Is Mitsuhide a pragmatic advisor or a ruthless and blinded individual? Before, it may have been easier to put such labels on these characters, but now, who knows?
From a historical perspective, a good number of these events fall perfectly within some corresponding story of Japan’s past. Nobunaga did indeed throw incense at his father’s funeral while being inappropriately dressed, which obviously offended Nobuhide’s former retinue and consequently broke all chances of Nobunaga gaining support from his clan from within. In fact, it would take seven years after Nobuhide’s death for the Oda clan to fully rally under Nobunaga’s cause. At the same time, there are a number of added events that deviate from history, but nonetheless strengthen the story and its characters. Some must die for the rest to continue to grow.
As hinted in the OP, Mitsuhide has acted in the Oda’s best interests, despite how morally wrong it is to kill an innocent soul. Even Mitsuhide himself admits that Nobukatsu would’ve been a great leader in times of peace, but such a style in war would be an open invitation for the mistreatment and subjugation of the Oda by its neighbors. Though I’m confused as to why Nobu’s brother couldn’t have gone into hiding, it still is tragic to see such a nice character die. His death was purposeful for the story though–there is now a clear message that the means for the Oda to survive will be bloody and full of disappointment. Mitsuhide leads that charge, and no doubt will he continue to lead that charge, even against Nobunaga and Jeanne. No longer is this show about our main characters triumphing over all, but rather how our main characters will have to survive the dehumanizing choices they’ll have to make so that the many will out-survive the few.
With Nobunaga’s own family falling to pieces and his sister in grave danger, who knows what that rage and sadness will transform into. Although he’s still mainly perceived as a sociopath by everyone (audience included) except his closest peers, the show is paving a proper road to revealing Nobunaga’s true face. The hints such as the homage of cherry blossoms or the isolated mourning at the waterfall show a side of Nobunaga that he stubbornly refuses to show, allowing only the faithful to hope for his eventual return. It’s still perplexing why Nobunaga would sabotage his diplomatic ties so blatantly, but I optimistically look forward to seeing it all tied together before the end of this season’s cour. So far, it’s been hard to watch this show with Nobunaga acting like a douche without reason, but if the soft-spoken characters in this show place so much faith in him, there has to be something redeeming going on within Nobunaga’s mind.
With the presumed deaths of both Nobukatsu and Himiko, whose roles have been fulfilled in the political play, it becomes much more compelling to follow the logic behind each character. Going forward, everyone’s intentions must never be judged at face value, and no one can be presumed guaranteed to survive to the end. This suspense and unpredictability, though imperfect, has made this show a whole tier more interesting to analyze. Though I will miss the characters that have died today, their efforts in setting up the story will not have gone in vain (hopefully).