「元服」 (Genpuku)
“Days of Youth”

In a season seemingly almost totally devoid of sleeper potential, Kochouki: Wakaki Nobunaga was a series that struck me as having just a wee bit of it. We’ve seen no many screwy and frankly dumb takes on Nobunaga in anime in recent years – I don’t think there’s any question he’s the single most popular historical subject for anime (and manga), but almost none that have taken on his life in relatively straightforward terms. Hyouge Mono was of course far and away the best, but Oda was a peripheral figure in that story – important, but more for the impact he had on events than for his life itself.

Kochouki not only presents a take on Nobunaga lacking any bizarre gimmicks, but that take is on Nobunaga’s adolescent years, when he was just starting to become the man who would unite Japan. Still, this show was pretty much a cipher going in – it’s an original and writer Yamaguchi Ryota has penned almost exclusively adaptations. Director Abe Noriyuki is one of anime’s real war horses though – not just much-tenured, but generally very good. His presence as much as anything made me hopeful Kochouki might surprise to the upside.

After one episode, I’d say it still has a chance to do that. Noriyuki’s sure hand at the wheel is quite evident here, as is the fact that this is very much a DEEN series. It looks pretty cheap animation-wise but has some quite pretty backgrounds (a common DEEN profile) and they know exactly who their primary audience is. Kochouki: Wakaki Nobunaga definitely presents an Oda of the bishounen variety – pretty much all the young dudes here are bishies, for that matter – and there’s a fair amount of posing for the camera in the premiere. But it’s pretty harmless on the whole and doesn’t really detract from the narrative much.

The first episode shows us a Nobunaga just before his coming-of-age ceremony (at 14), a clever lad who mixes with some street urchins to pilfer Western goods his father is trading in and generally seems to be held in ill regard by his parents. He already has a fascination with “barbarian” items (especially muskets) and a keen strategic mind. And in the climactic staredown with his father Nobunaga shows he has nerves of steel, too. All in all it’s pretty entertaining, and knowing where Oda ends up it’s interesting to speculate on how Kochouki will show him getting there. It’s way too early to jump to any conclusions and I’ve no doubt this series will be roundly ignored, but I kind of liked the premiere and I’ll give it at least a couple more episodes.



    1. From a historical perspective, it was because he did the groundwork for Japan’s political reunification.
      Recall that during Nobunaga’s lifetime, Japan had been going through civil war for nearly 100 years.
      Out of all the feudal warlords jostling for power, his rise was the most apparent; the one with the greatest shot at succeeding.

      And he would’ve headed an Oda shogunate too, were it not for his assassination.
      (His ally, Tokugawa Ieyasu eventually rose and took over the foundations, hence the existence of a Tokugawa shogunate and not an Oda.)

    2. He is one of the Thrree Unifiers of Japan, and to Japan this is a really Big deal if it weren’t for Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu; japan would never have been unified during the Warring States Era of Japan.

      Nobunaga pretty much did the groundwork not only for the political reunification during his lifetime but he also ended many of the major threats during the war and era of chaos such as the Takeda Clan, Kenshin Uesugi, the Saito Clan, Asakura, and many more. and if it wasn’t for his Assassination he probably would of succeeded in unifying Japan.

      Hideyoshi pretty much took over Nobunaga’s goal; but he use military might and subjugation as well as politics to do so i believe he also basically became the guy who commanded the emperor’s armies and made law changes, and other such things. and Ieyasu pretty much finished the unification by creating the Tokugawa Shogunate, thus preventing japan returning to chaos if the ruler died and ended the Toyotomi clan (given they refused to obey Ieyasu).

      Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu are also all considered Minor Kami (Gods) in Japan. so Nobunaga is as much of a big deal to Japan as someone like Hercules or Achilles would be to the greeks. or Liu Bei, Cao Cao, and Zhuge Liang are for the chinese.

    3. Let me try to take a stab explaining the Popular Nobunaga phenomenon:

      Well, he’s always been a fascinating figure. But until recently, most of his depictions tended to be on the negative side. Nobunaga was usually a villain in Sengoku-jidai stories, the same way Cao Cao tends to be one in stories based on or depicting his Three Kingdoms period, or Cesare Borgia in stories set in the Italian Renaissance.

      But, something changed: A new generation with slightly different values from the one that came before it.

      A generation that took Nobunaga’s legacy and came to the conclusion that rather than a figure of contempt…they instead thought he was pretty damn awesome.

      Nobunaga’s eccentricity and weirdness and willingness to bend and ignore rules and conventions in Japanese society endeared him to the young and geeky who saw themselves a lot on him and his life story. He was a Japanese who didn’t think like a normal Japanese. He promoted on merit instead of familial connections, hung out and made friends (and commanders) of people of much lower social castes, he was brash, loud, bombastic, sarcastic, impatient, wild, and more than a little dramatic and absolutely flashy. He’s a very entertaining man to read about. He was a very different figure compared to the more reserved and stoic samurai figures admired by older generations–Nobunaga was basically a punk. A punk who made good. His innovation and relatively liberal attitudes towards “The Southern Barbarians” made him seem like a man outside his time. A visionary. One whom, like the new generation, was often misunderstood. At the same time, his ruthlessness just made him, to that same generation frustrated with the “slowness” of their forebears, look like someone who had the guts to do what must be done for the greater good (which in his case was the unification of Japan and the end of the Sengoku Period) and go all the way. In short, the generation that had more exposure to the world outside Japan, had better appreciation for it, and one that developed very different values from their more conservative parents saw themselves in Nobunaga and began to see him as a figure to be celebrated rather than reviled.

      Also, it helps that you can plot Nobunaga’s entire life very neatly on the Hero’s Journey. Which lends itself very well to story-telling.

      1. There’s a lot of truth in that, to be sure. I would also add that it’s safer to idolize Nobunaga than Hideyoshi, because while Oda promoting commoners is dangerous and cool, Hideyoshi actually was a commoner and that’s, you know – ick.

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