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Anime / Nobunaga Concerto

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Nobunaga Concerto is a manga written by Ayumi Ishii, which first spawned an anime that aired on July 12, 2014. It follows a young teenager named Saburo, who gets sent back in time to the Warring States period of Japan. He crashes into a young nobleman fleeing to the countryside because he is sickly and can't bear the stress of being the heir of the family. Since the two bear an uncanny resemblance to each other, Saburo ends up taking his place in the family.

As it turns out, the young nobleman happened to be Oda Nobunaga, the first great unifier of Japan, and whom Saburo believes to have conquered and united the entire country (which he didn't). Through charisma, talent and sheer dumb luck, Saburo manages to piece together history as it was, all while navigating the tricky diplomacy and politics of Sengoku Japan without any idea of what he's actually doing.

The anime features an all-star cast, including Mamoru Miyano as Saburo, Yūki Kaji as Oda Nobunaga/Akechi Mitsuhide, Yūichi Nakamura as Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Nana Mizuki as Kichou, Nobunaga's wife, and Takahiro Sakurai as Takenaka Hanbei. A live action drama in October 2014 also aired with Shun Oguri as Nobunaga, and a movie conjoined with the drama was released in December 2015. Note however, that the drama is only very loosely based on the original story and features a number of major deviations in characterization and story.

Tropes present in Nobunaga Concerto include

  • Acting Unnatural: Not that it phases any of the Oda retainers. They just think their master's gone off the deep end, and decide to put up with him.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The anime is notably shorter than the manga, with narration covering moments in the manga that weren't animated. It ends on a very open note, since the manga is still ongoing.
  • A Father to His Men: To a certain extent, while he is more of a big brother to most. Despite being a Cloud Cuckoolander and lax with how his subordinates treat him, he does discipline them when they do wrong and rewards them well when they succeed. He also takes care of the Mori brothers, the sons of his deceased retainer.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Mitsuhide is referred to as "Micchi". At any rate, it's better than "kumquat head".
  • All There in the Manual: It's historically accurate (barring the fact that Saburo doesn't have any kids or concubines running around). Said manual exists in the story itself in the form of a textbook, for a short while.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: Befitting Sengoku Japan. Saburo notably averts this by using modern speech.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: As per the world's rules around that time. The Oda rise to the top not only by making connections, but defeating rivals that seek to depose their power.
  • As You Know: Saburo is most definitely not a history geek so despite the fact that he should know some of this stuff (as either the guy he's pretending to be or a modern student), he does not and so he has to be told.
  • Badass Crew: The Oda clan and its retainers are all formidable in the field.
  • Becoming the Mask: Simultaneously played straight and averted. Saburo ingrains himself into the position of clan head, and does take responsibility for his actions as such, but he has shown no indications of losing his modern side, and refers to "Nobunaga" as a separate entity, which most people parse as if he was talking about himself in the third person. This usually results in misunderstandings.
    • As the long years go on he gets more and more into his Oda Nobunaga "role", and while he still regards it as distinct from himself, he eventually comes to regard himself as being "as good as the real one".
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Hashiba Hideyoshi has been the most personal (yet Unknown Rival) enemy of Saburo, making it his life goal to avenge himself for his failure to Yoshimoto. Yet despite this, he is utterly small potatoes to actual threats like Azai Nagamasa who is actually at war with Saburo. In fact, Hideyoshi knows this and has to serve as a Yes-Man to Saburo so that he can actually elevate himself to The Starscream.
  • Big Brother Bully: Mori Nagayoshi toward his younger brother Ranmaru (he's a lot less of a bully toward their younger brothers).
  • Big Brother Instinct: Saburo has shades of this to his men and the Oda family (most notably his "siblings" Oichi and Nagamasu). Most noticeably with the Mori brothers.
    • Mitsuhide (aka the real Nobunaga) also has this toward Oichi, despite the fact that she has no idea that he's her real brother.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: A lot of people have them, but most notable are Tsuneoki, Hanbei and Hideyoshi.
  • Bishie Sparkle: While not as blatant, Nobunaga gets a few when going to court in Saburo's place.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Kinoshita Tokichiro can go from Nice Guy to Faux Affably Evil at the drop of a hat. No matter what, he's extremely ruthless. Hirate Masahide spots this right away...It's what gets him killed.
  • Book Dumb: Saburo, by his own admission, hates studying and has never actually tried to read a textbook. He does try to use his history textbook to guide him, but usually gives up halfway. Then he loses it, and then has to go by the seat of his pants.
    • Also Matsunaga Hisahide, a yakuza from Saburo's time who is shown to not know that much more about the Sengoku era than Saburo.
  • Bound and Gagged: When Saburo is kidnapped by Takugen. He gets out of it soon enough.
    'Takugen': You are far too easy to kidnap!
    'Saburo': Huh? I don't wanna get lectured by a kidnapper.
  • Break the Cutie: Not that it lasts, but the death of Hirate Masahide. It does have a lasting effect in teaching Saburo a lesson about responsibility.
  • Brick Joke: The Sengoku era characters never being able to understand Saburo's modern words and expressions. They usually just smile and nod.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Saburo in spades. Everyone recognizes his odd quirks, but he has proven to be a good leader who brought Oda to the top, and so few challenge his authority.
  • Butt-Monkey: Most characters have a spin at being this at one point or another.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Owing to Ayumi Ishii's style, everyone (except for the two leads, for obvious reasons) look very distinct. The anime averts it with the background characters (who are nothing but copy-pastes of a bunch of generic models), but the manga keeps the diverse style even with bit roles.
  • Casting Gag: Mastunaga Hisahide is voiced by Takaya Kuroda, who voiced the ex-yakuza Kazuma Kiryu in the Video Game/Yakuza series. At one point, he even dons Kiryu's iconic white suit with a red shirt.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Saburo. Dear God. It works to his advantage, though.
    • Oichi is also often this. It ironically probably helps to further dispel doubts about Saburo/Nobunaga's leadership as people think that such behavior simply runs in the Oda family.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Saburo's textbook. In the anime gets burned by Kinoshita Tokichiro after he discovers it. In the manga Oyuki tries to steal it to take it to her master Uesugi Kenshin, but she accidentally burns it. Saburo never managed to finish reading the part on Oda Nobunaga... including the Incident at Honno-ji...
  • The Chessmaster: Saburo to some degree. He's manipulative, but certainly not in a malicious way.
    • Ashikaga Yoshiaki tries to be one, but he's not very good at it.
  • Children Are Innocent: Humorously averted with Tokugawa Ieyasu, whom Saburo gave porn to when he was a child. Ranmaru seems to play this straight, coupled with Adorably Precocious Child.
  • Cool Old Guy: Hirate Masahide.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Saburo is red, Mitsuhide is blue, and Tsuneoki is green, among others.
  • Crapsack World: Not in the dystopian sense, but it sucks living in Sengoku Japan, with all the death and betrayal. Matsunaga Hisahide revels in it, though, as such a violent age gives him the chance to seize power through strength of arms.
  • Curtains Match the Windows: Most, if not all characters.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Micchi gets one, after offering to switch places with Saburo when the latter expresses that he's tired.
    Micchi: Have you forgotten whose face you share?
  • Demoted to Extra: Kichou, Nobunaga's wife, appears more often in the manga than she does in the anime.
  • Dramatic Irony: Saburo doesn't know who the killer of Oda Nobunaga is, and believes it's someone called 'Aida-san'. Mitsuhide vows to protect Saburo from this 'Aida-san'. It's actually Akechi Mitsuhide, Saburo just didn't do his history homework.
  • Evil Is Petty: Hashiba Hideyoshi aspires to become conqueror of Japan, ruin Oichi and Nobunaga/Saburo over the slight of Oichi calling him a monkey and Nobunaga tarnishing his honor by having him send false information to Yoshimoto.
  • Evolving Credits: The names switch. After Mitsuhide's reveal, Saburo is the one labeled as Oda Nobunaga, while the real Oda Nobunaga is labeled Akechi Mitsuhide.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: As he grows older Saburo's hair loses its messy quality and becomes a neat bun.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Mori Yoshinari, Azai Nagamasa.
  • Flower Motif: Most notably the Oda crest, but many other crests are based on flowers.
  • Foreshadowing: Tons and tons, if you know history.
  • Friendship Moment: In the last episode, where Saburo and Mitsuhide change places for the day, and Mitsuhide's speech at the end after he realizes that Saburo came from the future.
  • Gaussian Girl: Kichou in her first appearance. While Saburo is on top of her.
  • Gentle Giant: Yasuke, who turns out to be an American baseball player from Saburo's time.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Sometimes, during battle sequences. In the first episode, Tsuneoki tries to kill Saburo under the impression of saving his clan from disgrace since their master has gone mad, but there's little blood shown in spite of a cut. It offers a bit of Off-Model.
  • Gratuitous English: See above.
  • Hair-Contrast Duo: Not as pronounced, but in the anime you can tell the two Nobunaga's apart by their hair color. Saburo has a warm brown, while the original has black hair. In the manga the only outside difference is that Saburo's hair is more messy and his outfit is less proper.
  • Heroic BSoD: Saburo suffers a brief one after Hirate Masahide's death. He gets over it, and it helps motivate him to become ruler of Japan.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Oda Nobunaga is at first seen as a fool when Saburo takes over, but the clan eventually grows out of it when the real military campaigns begin. On the other hand, now Oda Nobunaga is greatly feared and regarded as a machiavellian mastermind throughout the land, which is something that perplexes Saburo.
  • Hidden Depths: Saburo seems to be more savvy than he lets on.
  • Hot-Blooded: Mori Nagayoshi. Understandable, since he clearly wants revenge for his father's death.
    • Also Honda Tadakatsu in the manga.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Saburo's method when fighting against an enemy with superior numbers is to go after the enemy general to demoralize the rest of the army, which destroys the previous paradigm in the Sengoku era of victory through superior numbers. This comes back to bite him in the future after he, in turn, has amassed a big army himself, as now all his enemies are attempting to use the same method by going after him while ignoring everyone else. Lampshaded by Saburo himself, who remarks he was now in the same position as Imagawa Yoshimoto.
  • Identical Stranger: Saburo and Oda Nobunaga, which sets off the plot.
  • It's Personal: Kinoshita Tokichiro holds a huge grudge against Nobunaga for having (unwittingly) dishonored him, and is planning to betray him as revenge.
  • It Was His Sled: In-Universe, as Saburo doesn't know his history. Akechi Mitsuhide will end up betraying and killing Oda Nobunaga.
  • The Leader: Oda Nobunaga is this to people of Owari, and as time passed they remark he is just strange and not a fool as they acknowledge how caring Nobunaga is to his subjects. The young men who refuse to be conscripted to Nobuyuki's army outright say it to his face without fear that Their lord is Nobunaga, and they don't want him.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Saburo, in that he's oblivious to the actual history of Japan.
  • Love Triangle: Notably averted in the manga and anime, where Micchi is shown having missed Kichou but making no move on her (having, in fact, a family of his own), while played straight in the drama, where Micchi grows jealous of Saburo's closeness to his wife.
  • The Mole: Kinoshita Tokichiro, who goes on to be Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
  • Narrator: Who covers the time skips. The voice belongs to Oguri Shun, who plays Saburo in the live action adaptation.
  • Nice Guy: Most of the good guys. Notably, Saburo.
    • Played for Values Dissonance at times, when the viewer/reader realizes that, nice guys or not, they're also ruthless warriors. When the usually quiet and gentle Mitsuhide burns down Enryaku-ji and brutally massacres its residents, the other retainers (who are watching from a distance) cheer him on. Yasuke, disturbed by all this violence, comments on what a scary time they're living in.
  • The Nicknamer: Saburo has affectionate nicknames for members of his household and his retainers. Most notably: Micchi (Mitsuhide), Oicchan (Oichi), Tsune-chan (Ikeda Tsuneoki), Kyuu-chan (Hori "Kyuutaro" Hidemasa), Niwa-chan (Niwa Nagahide), and he also continues to call Maeda Toshiie 'Inuchiyo' because the name amuses him. The first reaction to these is usually bemusement, but people just humor him.
  • Non-Action Guy: Saburo is rarely seen in active combat, although he does a bit of fighting every now and then. Mostly he's content with commanding his troops. It Makes Sense in Context as during the Sengoku era enemy lords and generals were the most important targets during battles, and the loss of a clan leader could prove disastrous for the clan if there were no heirs or the heir was inadequate. During one battle where Saburo's forces are outnumbered by the enemy, his own retainers urge him to flee, pointing out that so long as he lives the Oda Clan's victory will be assured.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Saburo, apparently. He's actually a lot more insightful than most think.
  • Off with His Head!: One of the Azai retainers does this to his own men in order to infiltrate the Oda camp as a deserter.
  • Older Than They Look: Saburo has been in the past for over a decade, but looks as if he hasn't even aged a day. None of the cast noticeably ages, except for Tokugawa Ieyasu, as a matter of fact. This is just a quirk of the art style, though.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Saburo. He's normally very cheerful, but he can get serious, too, shown when he declares his intentions to become ruler of Japan.
  • Parental Substitute: Oichi seems to think this of Saburo, to the point her reason to refuse getting married was because she is happiest by his side. He, in turn, thinks she has a bit of a brother complex.
    • She does have a brother complex, though. Even Saburou freaks out when she starts referring to her children by Azai Nagamasa as the children of "Nagamasa-dono and my brother".
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Though it was done for political reasons - as was always the case in that time - Oichi and Azai Nagamasa's marriage turns out to be this, which only lends further tragedy to later events...
    • Also, in an interesting twist on the trope, Kichou's marriage to the real Nobunaga was a loveless political marriage- but when Saburo takes Nobunaga's place he's smitten with her, and she rapidly falls for him as well, so it works out this way.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Saburo and Oichi stand out as the more humorous of the cast.
  • The Pornomancer: Saburo accidentally turns Matsudaira Motoyasu into this as a kid by giving him his porn magazine. He refuses to never be without beautiful women by his side.
  • Recurring Riff: The bridge of the full ending, which happens to be Mitsuhide's speech declaring his loyalty to Saburo. It plays behind him talking in the last episode.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Saburo's MO, and it happens to work more often then not. A bit subverted in that most of the time he doesn't actually realize that he's being audacious.
  • Rescue Romance: Somewhat subverted. Kichou doesn't need any rescuing, but she and Saburo do grow closer after it.
  • Rousing Speech: Saburo tries to give one.
    Saburo: I only have two things to say. Eat well! And sleep well!
    • This is actually a particularly notable aversion considering that the real Oda Nobunaga gave one of the most badass rousing speeches in Japanese history to his followers at this point... which Saburo then completely fails to live up to. Later scribes apparently "touched up" Saburo's speech quite a bit...
  • Scary Black Man: Completely subverted with Yasuke, who is revealed to be an American baseball player transported to the Sengoku era from Saburo's time. He is understandably scared out of his wits when he finds himself in such a strange time and place, and only calms down when he realizes that Saburo is also from his time. Afterwards he is very much a gentle giant who is often ordered around by the much more aggressive samurai.
  • Scenery Porn: Noticeably way more beautiful than the character models.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Saburo knows when to pull a strategic retreat.
  • Secret Identity: Akechi Mitsuhide is actually the real Oda Nobunaga. There's a reason why he's wearing a mask - and it's not because of tuberculosis. The only ones aware of this are Saburo, Mitsuhide himself, Mitsuhide's old teacher Takugen, and Oyuki... and much, much later, Kichou.
  • Ship Tease: Saburo and Kichou have this in spades, but their relationship is never more specifically romantic than emotionally very close. It's a lot more obviously romantic in the manga.
  • Shirtless Scene: Not exactly Fanservice, but Saburo does wrestle shirtless on several occasions.
    • He's also very fond of baths, and after getting an ofuro bathtub made for himself, he's occasionally seen relaxing in it (naked, of course).
  • The Siege: On Enryaku-ji, which Mori Nagayoshi revels in.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: And how! Saburo screws around a lot, but there are plenty of serious moments in the show, and Tear Jerker or two.
  • Spoiler Credits The prominence of the original Nobunaga in the credits hints that he will return as Akechi Mitsuhide (See Evolving Credits).
  • The Stoic: Niwa Nagahide's face rarely changes, and he's never shown losing his cool.
    • In the manga Hosokawa Fujitaka turns this into an art form. His face rarely ever flinches.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The fact that Saburo has to appeal to court instead of just declaring Ashikaga Yoshiaki the shogun. In the end he finds it easier to just send Mitsuhide to handle it.
  • Third-Person Person: What Saburo sounds like to anybody except himself. (Of course he'd refer to Nobunaga as a separate person, he's Nobunaga's Identical Stranger, but whenever he does so it confuses everyone else.)
  • Those Two Guys: Maeda Toshiie and Sassa Narimasa.
    • On the Tokugawa side, Honda Tadakatsu and Sakakibara Yasumasa.
  • Unfit for Greatness: the shogun Ashikaga Yoshiaki.
    • Surrounded by Idiots: Yoshiaki's mentor and right-hand man, Hosokawa Fujitaka. He puts up with Yoshiaki as long as he can, but eventually betrays him as a kind of self-preservation.
  • Yes-Man: Tokichiro used this persona to ingratiate himself to Saburo and rise through the clan's ranks while plotting his revenge.
  • Title Drop: In the closing narration of episode 6.
  • Undying Loyalty: Oda retainers and people of Owari to Nobunaga (Saburo)
    • His sister and wife included, the latter even wants to protect him from her own father. Oichi stays with her husband because it's her duty as Nobunaga's sister to preserve Oda-Azai alliance, and insist to persuading Nagamasa to stop fighting her brother.
  • Walking Spoiler: Akechi Mitsuhide, given his actual identity.
  • Wardrobe Flaw of Characterization: Hakama, for Saburo, since he thought they are hard to move around in. He eventually does wear them, however, when he realizes they're necessary for others to take you seriously.
  • Wham Episode: Not exactly as hard-hitting as your average shonen manga or anime, but episode 5 marks the return of the real Oda Nobunaga, who adopts the identity of Akechi Mitsuhide.
  • Wham Shot: After his formal clothes are mucked up by his bumbling retainers, Saburo attends his meeting with the dangerous Saito Dosan, the "Viper of Mino" and his father-in-law, dressed in his scruffy school uniform. Dosan orders everyone else out of the room so he can talk with Saburo alone and Tsuneoki starts to panic about how Dosan is going to kill Nobunaga. The next shot is of Saburo calmly sharing a meal with Dosan, who is dressed in a modern Japanese policeman's uniform. Saburo isn't the only person from his time who's time-slipped back to this era after all.
  • Yakuza: Matsunaga Hisahide used to be one, before he timeslipped into the Sengoku era.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Apparently. Some people, like Saito Dousan, have lived in the Sengoku era for decades without, apparently, any opportunity to return. Matsunaga Hisahide claims that time travelers like them should be prepared to die there, and in Saito Dosan's case, he does in fact die there.