The Ambition of Oda Nobuna is based on a light novel series written by Mikage Kasuga and illustrated by Miyama-Zero. The anime was produced by Studio Gokumi and Madhouse, and aired on Japanese television from July 9-September 24, 2012. As of this writing, Sentai Filmworks holds the North American license for The Ambition of Oda Nobuna.
The series begins with a modern-day high schooler named Yoshiharu Sagara being in the middle of a battlefield in the Warring States Period. At first, he thinks he’s in the middle of a dream about the period because he’s such a big fan of the game, Lord Oda Nobunaga’s Ambition. A man near him is shot, and from talking to the man before his death, Yoshiharu realizes that he’s talking to Hideyoshi Toyotomi.
Suddenly, a young woman appears on the battlefield, and it turns out she is Oda Nobuna, a cute girl version of Oda Nobunaga. Yoshiharu quickly discovers that he is an alternate history, where the first-born of the family, regardless of gender, is the heir. So the warlords that he is familiar with from our world are female in this alternate history.
Yoshiharu decides to take on the role that Hideyoshi Toyotomi served in the real version of the Warrning States Period. Nobuna gives him the nickname of Monkey, which is the nickname given to Toyotomi. With his knowledge of Oda Nobunaga and his exploits, Yoshiharu is able to help guide Nobuna to make the right decisions… until, over time, he inadvertently starts changing history and can no longer reliably guide Nobuna as to what to do next in order to assure victory.
I watched the first episode of The Ambition of Oda Nobuna when it was streaming as a simulcast on Crunchyroll back in Summer 2012. I never continued after that first episode, and I think at the time, it had to do with the fact that it came across as just another story of a modern day kid coming to an earlier time period in Japan. Also, the first episode gave the impression that The Ambition of Oda Nobuna was going to have a strong focus on “fanservice.”
Well, after watching the series in its entirety nearly five years later, I learned a valuable lesson: don’t judge an anime solely on its first episode. While, yes, there is some “fanservice” that appears in The Ambition of Oda Nobuna, it’s nowhere near as prevalent as the first episode made it seem like. Also, by watching the entirety of the series, I discovered there’s actually a decent story here that warns about the dangers of trying to alter history in order to achieve the results you want. It’s made pretty clear that Sagara has feelings for Oda, and that Oda has feelings for Sagara (although Oda keeps trying to deny it). Also, Segara becomes attached to those he meets and befriends in this version of the Warring States Period, and wants to keep them safe. It doesn’t hit him until near the end of the series that his actions have caused this timeline to be changed.
Overall, I enjoyed The Ambition of Oda Nobuna. My only real complaint with the series is that it truly doesn’t end. There’s enough hints dropped that make a future season possible; however, seeing as it’s already been five years since this series aired, it’s not likely we’ll ever see a continuation. Of course, this is a problem that comes up a lot when an anime is being produced while the source material is still ongoing.
While I’m glad I finally saw The Ambition of Oda Nobuna in its entirety and that I liked what I saw, it’s not an anime that I’ll personally rush to watch again anytime in the near future. It’s not a bad series, but it’s not a title that I’m in a rush to add to my anime home video collection.