Nobunaga the Fool is interesting in regards to anime in that instead of being based on a game, a novel, or a manga, it is based on a stage play. The series takes place on two sister planets called the Star of the West and the Star of the East. The story follows a young woman from the Star of the West named Jeanne Kaguya d'Arc. Jeanne is having visions of a "Savior-King" and with help from Leonardo da Vinci, the two of them sneak their way to the Star of the East on a spaceship captained by Magellan. Upon arriving on the Star of the East, Jeanne and Leonardo meet Oda Nobunaga, who Jeanne thinks may be the Savior-King. Did I mention that people fight wars on both planets with giant mechs? With a premise like that, is Nobunaga the Fool a genius series, or did it take us all for fools?
Uniquely Its Own
One thing Nobunaga the Fool has in spades is unique designs everywhere. The characters look original with very detailed outfits that look nothing like anything I've ever seen before. The same applies to the mecha, which is even more important. Maybe I'm just crazy, but I like it when a mecha series has mecha that don't look like the rest of the pack.
The Right Kind of Crazy
Read the opening paragraph again. What's written there is the most sane this show ever gets. From that point on, the series just continues to get more and more crazy, and I love it. Often it may not make sense, but honestly, I don't care. It just looks insanely cool. Nothing better embodies this than the titular man himself, Oda Nobunaga, who does everything in a crazy and over the top way. He can defeat mecha with just a yumi bow, and that's the least crazy awesome thing he can do.
Historical and Mythological Figure Stew
There are a lot of people from both history and mythology appearing in this show. From Oda Nobunaga to Julius Caesar to Alexander the Great to Machiavelli to King Authur to Queen Himiko of Yamatai. It is just really interesting to see all of these people show up in one place.....and most of them are piloting badass giant robots.
There are some genuinely awesome female characters in this show. Leading the pack is Nobunaga's sister, Ichihime. And not only is she pretty awesome, she's one of the show's two best characters. Queen Himiko is no slouch, either, being able to command strong magic like powers. These two are rounded out by Jeanne. While Jeanne may have a mecha with defensive powers, she is able to use them in some creative ways.
Uneven Interpretations of Historical and Mythological Figures
While it is nice to see all of these figures in one show, how they are represented is another thing entirely. Some of them come off fine, like da Vinci, Caesar, Nobunaga, Jeanne, Ichihime, Mitsuhide, and Himiko. Others are handled rather oddly. For example, in a puzzling move, Hannibal Barca and Niccolo Machiavelli are portrayed as sadistic women.
Swinging Pendulum of Quality
The quality of this show is extremely uneven. Sometimes there will be a rather boring episode that drags on and other times there will be some surprisingly high quality episodes with good action and some shockingly emotional moments. When this show is at its lowest, it is teetering on the edge of being bad, and when it is at its best it is bordering on rather good.
It Makes Very Little Sense
I know I praised this show for having the right kind of crazy, but that comes at the cost of this show being logical. There were at least a few times where I was at least a tad bit confused due to the show's craziness just being too much for any sort of logic to contain.
Surprisingly Slow Start
While I enjoyed many of the early episodes in terms of their action scenes or occasional emotional moment, the story, as crazy and illogical as it is, didn't really get going until the second half of the show. You have to have a bit of patience to get to Nobunaga the Fool's best parts.
In the end, Nobunaga the Fool is not a series I can just recommend to anyone. I think the people who will get the most enjoyment out of this show are those who really love their mecha series and those who can endure the low points of a crazy and illogical show to experience its high points. It's not the worst series out there by any means necessary, but it is far from perfect as well. But if you are a fan of mecha series, I think you'd be a fool to miss this show.