As the shogunate’s power weakened, the lords gained more control and fought for their territories during the Warring States period. Anecdotes about the warlords who played an active role in this war-torn world have great appeal even today and have been depicted in numerous animations, movies, and dramas.
Among the many military commanders, those who won numerous battles and came close to unifying Japan or who achieved unification and became the ruling shoguns of the country are very well known! Everyone knows their names from history lessons and is exposed to their military deeds.
Many of you must remember the phrase “If you don’t cry, ……” comparing Nobunaga Oda, Ieyasu Tokugawa, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, and the word “Tenka Mochi.”
In this issue, we will introduce five anime works in which Nobunaga Oda Nobunaga, one of the highly popular and well-known warlords of the Warring States period, appears as a character. There are a variety of works with different styles, so please check out the results you are interested in.
What kind of person is Oda Nobunaga? What is the Sixth Heavenly Demon King?
Oda Nobunaga was born into the Oda Danjochu family, a family under the Seishu Oda clan (Yamatomori family), which served as the guardian of Owari Province.
When he was young, he was called “a great hussy” for his unusual behaviour. After succeeding in the family, he destroyed both the Yamatomori and Ise families of the Owari guardians and eliminated his younger brother Nobuyuki, thereby strengthening his control over Owari Province. In 1560, he defeated Imagawa Yoshimoto in the Battle of Okehazama, overturning a workforce disadvantage with a surprise attack!
After this battle, the Tosa clan continued to expand its territory, winning many competitions, including the “Battle of Nagashino,” which was won by adopting advanced tactics such as firearms.
In the process, the Takeda clan fought with Buddhist forces, which united their beliefs and annihilated 20,000 people who revolted and burned down the Enryaku-ji temple on Mount Hiei. In a letter to Shingen Takeda, he called himself the “Sixth Demon King,” the devil in Buddhism.
Although steadily expanding his territory and power, he ended in the Honnoji Incident, a rebellion by Akechi Mitsuhide.
1. Nobunaga Concerto
Nobunaga Concerto is based on a manga of the same name serialized in “Gessan” since 2009. The anime adaptation was aired in 2014, followed by live-action drama and film adaptations.
The series’s protagonist, Saburo, is a high school student struggling academically. He has a careless attitude towards his studies and even mistakes Oda Nobunaga for “Mr. Aida” immediately after being introduced to him. He used to think that history had no relevance to his life until he slipped through time one day.
Upon encountering Oda Nobunaga, who happens to look exactly like him, Saburo’s life takes a drastic turn. He is forced to live as Oda Nobunaga, even though he knows nothing about history. This unique historical story follows the journey of a protagonist unfamiliar with history but becomes intertwined with the life of Oda Nobunaga.
As a modern-day individual, Saburo surprises those around him with his unconventional behaviour and knowledge that deviates from the norms of the Sengoku period. Yet, he gradually captivates the people around him. Witnessing how this somewhat carefree contemporary youth begins shaping history as the warlord Nobunaga is fascinating.
2. Gorgeous Butterfly: Young Nobunaga
Gorgeous Butterfly: Young Nobunaga is an original anime Studio Deen produced and aired in 2019. Unlike the portrayal of Nobunaga as an accomplished warlord, this series focuses on the young Nobunaga in his teenage years.
The story begins in his childhood before his coming-of-age ceremony and adulthood. The protagonist, Yoshihōshi (Nobunaga), is a curious young boy who loves anything rare or unusual. He often sneaks out of the castle and engages in a game of thievery with the town’s orphans, stealing his father, Nobuhide’s, collection of Nanban artifacts and selling them.
On the other hand, there is his well-behaved younger half-brother, Nobukatsu, and there are factions within the family who believe that the succession should go to Nobukatsu. The series focuses not only on the growth of Nobunaga but also on the people surrounding him, such as his family and close associates. It presents a unique perspective by exploring the path leading to the iconic figure of “Warlord Oda Nobunaga.” It highlights the relationships with his family and inner circle more than other works of the warlord genre.
Drifters is an anime adaptation of the manga series of the same name, serialized in Young King Hours, and the first season of the anime aired in 2016.
The story begins amid the decisive battle of Sekigahara in 1600, where the nation’s fate hangs in the balance. Toyohisa Shimazu, a warlord from the Shimazu clan, manages to escape the battlefield but wanders in the mountains.
Eventually, he stumbles into a place with countless doors and is transported to a mysterious parallel world by a man named Murasaki. In this world, various races, such as elves and orcs, coexist, oppressed by humans. Toyohisa is not the only one summoned to this world; there are other historical figures.
Oda Nobunaga is depicted in this series as a one-eyed, 50-year-old veteran known for his cunning and ruthless strategies. He excels at planning practical tactics with a long-term perspective and even achieves the remarkable feat of leading an army of farmers to defeat a military force.
While incorporating elements of an alternate world, Drifters skillfully utilizes the distinctive characteristics of historical figures, creating a seamless and enjoyable experience without feeling out of place.
4. The Ambition of Oda Nobuna
The anime series you’re referring to is based on a light novel of the same name by Mikage Kasuga and was aired in 2012. In this series, all the Sengoku warlords are portrayed as beautiful young girls, and it offers a romantic comedy with the protagonist, Yoshiharu Sagara.
Yoshiharu Sagara is a high school student who claims to be a “world-class” womanizer. One day, he gets involved in a battle and accidentally time-slips back to the Sengoku period. There, he is saved by a foot soldier uncle, but…
The character corresponding to Oda Nobunaga in this series is Oda Nobuna. Due to the rule that “the firstborn of the samurai family inherits the family estate regardless of gender,” which has become widely accepted, Nobuna is one of the “princess daimyos” that appear frequently in this series.
Known as the “Clumsy Princess” due to her eccentric attire and behaviour, she is often the target of rebellions from her younger brother, Nobukatsu. The series showcases the romantic comedy between Yoshiharu, who is recruited as a foot soldier by Nobuna, and their quest to conquer the land.
5. Oda Cinnamon Nobunaga
The anime adaptation you’re referring to is based on a gag manga of the same name by Megurogawa Una, serialized in Monthly Comic Zenon. It was aired as a late-night anime in 2020.
In this series, Oda Nobunaga is depicted as a Shiba Inu! The story features reincarnated dogs representing Oda Nobunaga, the warlords who vied for dominance with him, and other historical figures. After unexpectedly reuniting at a dog park, these reincarnated dogs not only communicate with each other but can also transform into their past human forms.
The series highlights the clever contrast between the dogs’ behaviour and their ability to speak in archaic language, their joy when their bellies are petted, and their instinct to dig holes. Despite being famous historical warlords such as Sanada Yukimura, Date Masamune, and Uesugi Kenshin, their unexpected voices and appearances will surely make you laugh.
In this issue, we have carefully selected and introduced only five anime works in which Nobunaga Oda appears. There were not only battle stories but also romantic comedies and gag stories. Warlords are well-known because they are naturally introduced in history classes and are excellent subjects for manga and anime.
Because they were fighting over territory, they were particularly well suited to battle elements. There are many works in which military commanders appear, so please try to find the one you like. Perhaps it will be the beginning of your interest in history.