Gorgeous Butterfly: Young Nobunaga

Gorgeous Butterfly: Young Nobunaga

Gorgeous Butterfly: Young Nobunaga anime series cover art
Gorgeous Butterfly: Young Nobunaga

Overview

Gorgeous Butterfly: Young Nobunaga (Kochouki: Wakaki Nobunaga / 胡蝶綺 ~若き信長~) is just one of many anime staring Japan’s favorite historical figure — Nobunaga Oda. But despite how many anime feature Nobunaga, this is surprisingly only the second Nobunaga-centric anime I’ve watched.

The first was Nobunaga-sensei’s Young Bride, which is nothing like Gorgeous Butterfly: Young Nobunaga. That was an ecchi series which just happened to use historical figures surrounding Nobunaga Oda for comedic purposes. This is more of a true historical series about Nobunaga during his rise to prominence.

On the animation studio front, Young Nobunaga was made by Studio Deen, who I don’t think really needs any introduction. They’ve made some really good anime and some really bad anime in the past. Luckily, this series wasn’t one they completely destroyed, but it definitely wasn’t one of their better anime.

The second half of the series was pretty good. That’s when Nobunaga is older, maybe in his twenties to thirties, and is leading his armies into battle. The first half, however, was pretty bad. I know that the series is called Young Nobunaga, but I don’t think we really needed as much child and teenage Nobunaga content as we got.

And it didn’t help that the character designs and art direction of this series didn’t give it a very serious feel for most of the series. As you’ll see from the second screenshot in this review, it did get better as Nobunaga got older, but the first half of the anime just didn’t feel like the historical drama it is.

Japan’s Favorite Historical Figure

I’d like to think that you all know who Nobunaga Oda was, but in case you don’t, here’s a crash course on him. Nobunaga was a daimyō (feudal lord) during Japan’s Sengoku period, specifically in the 1500s. During his rule, he had to fight off all sorts of invasions of his land, even by members of his own family.

However, that’s not why Nobunaga is famous. If I had to point to one thing which resulted in Nobunaga’s fame which continues to the present day, it’s how he revolutionized Japanese warfare. And this is something that Young Nobunaga does a pretty good job of illustrating.

A teenage Nobunaga aiming a musket from the anime series Gorgeous Butterfly: Young Nobunaga
A teenage Nobunaga aiming a musket

During his time, muskets were newly introduced in Japan. And if you know anything about muskets, especially cheap muskets, you’ll know they aren’t exactly the most accurate weapons. This is before rifling existed — the spiral grooves down a gun barrel which make the bullets fly straighter.

But, Nobunaga recognized the potential that muskets had. They were more powerful, had longer range, and most importantly, were more intimidating than bows. There were just three problems: the aforementioned accuracy, the reload time, and the price.

Fortunately for Nobunaga, he found a solution to all three problems — the mass production of cheap muskets. The price was reduced because they were low quality, and the vast number of muskets solved the other two issues.

To solve the issue of reloading, Nobunaga had his men line up in rows with the front man firing a musket, then passing it off to the man behind him. The second man would pass forward a loaded musket and reload the previously fired one. Also, when you’re firing thousands of muskets at once, they don’t need to be accurate.

Characters

Obviously the protagonist of this series is Nobunaga Oda himself. It follows him from childhood all the way into adulthood (I believe into his thirties). Over that course of time, we see how despite being renowned today as an excellent military leader, war was often his last resort.

When he needed to go to war, Nobunaga wasn’t one to shy away from it, even when it meant fighting his family. But at the same time, he always first sought to make peace through other means such as trade deals or arranged marriages.

An older Nobunaga leading his army in the rain from the anime series Gorgeous Butterfly: Young Nobunaga
An older Nobunaga leading his army in the rain

Nobunaga’s right hand man was Tsuneoki Ikeda. He not only led a portion of Nobunaga’s army into battle, but also served at his side for all important matters of state. Even when everyone else thought that Nobunaga was making rash decisions, Tsuneoki stood by him.

There’s also Nobukatsu Oda, one of Nobunaga’s younger brothers. For the second half of the series Nobukatsu is the major antagonist. Like I’ve mentioned, Nobunaga often had to fight against members of his own family, and this was because of various splits within the family.

First of all there was the main Oda clan and the side branches who were competing for power. Then, even among the main clan there were different factions formed depending on who they believed should become the next head of the clan.

The final character I want to mention is Nobunaga’s wife, Kichou — who also made an appearance in Nobunaga-sensei’s Young bride. Despite originally being married off to Nobunaga by her father as a way to take control of Nobunaga’s territory, Kichou eventually becomes one of his most loyal followers.

Conclusion

I ended up giving Gorgeous Butterfly: Young Nobunaga a 4/10. It’s not a very good anime despite the fact that the second half of the series picks up and becomes much more interesting. And even if the entire series was like the second half, I still think it would only be up to a 6.

The OP and ED for this series were both actually better than the series itself as far as I’m concerned. Neither were really all that great, but they had good songs and pretty decent visuals. You can’t really ask for much more from a 4/10 series.

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