信長協奏曲 (Nobunaga Concerto)

Fortunately, I don’t have to dwell on my Nube live action disappointment for too long as I found the premiere of Nobunaga Concerto, the Oguri Shun-Takayuki Yamada reunion that I’ve been anticipating for quite a while now.

Nobunaga Concerto is an ongoing historical manga by Ayumi Ishii that began in 2009. It is the story of Saburo, a typical carefree high school boy with a sketchy knowledge on Japanese history who travels back in time and in a sort of The Prince and the Pauper kind of tale, takes the place of one of the most prominent figures in the Sengoku Period – Oda Nobunaga.

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Oguri Shun plays both Saburo and Oda Nobunaga. Yes I know what you’re thinking and I agree – he totally wouldn’t pass off as a high school student anymore! The dark circles aren’t helping. I think this is better than casting a younger actor with no acting chops. Oguri will play a dual role and his versatility certainly comes in handy.

I enjoyed the anime even with an animation style that looks a bit old fashioned and unconventional. It’s a feel-good experience for someone who’s a sucker for anything about Japanese history like me. This is like watching a lighter version of a usually hard-hitting Taiga dorama. However, there are plenty of changes between the anime and the live action series so it becomes pretty much subjective from hereon. A more mature cast created deeper character developments and bigger plot conflicts.

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Anime Saburo is more assertive and in control. He accepted his fate way too easily and is determined to win. His seiyuu, the popular Mamoru Miyano who is also the voice of Death Note‘s Yagami Light, gave this character an air of confidence and coolness despite the limitations of the anime’s movements due to its art style.

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Live action Saburo is a bit more childish and confused. This version gives Oguri Shun a chance to flesh out his character. He showed his inner child as he amusingly took pictures in the middle of an actual war. The drama explores his character’s progress from the initial naiveté in clamoring for peace to his eventual growth as he comes to terms with his new identity and responsibilities.

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Some may not agree but I liked the changes in Tsuneoki and Kichou. Osamu Mukai’s modern ikemen appeal radiates even when he’s donning historical clothes and hairstyle. His Tsune-chan is more than just a blind follower. He has a clear view of what needs to be done for the glory of the Oda family and in the process has become a confidant and a voice of reason amidst all the craziness Saburo has gotten himself into. I like a series that has a dose of bromance.

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Shibasaki Kou plays the toughened up version of the all-too delicate Kichou. Her tsundere live action persona provided a funnier, more interesting and more romantic relationship than Saburo and Kichou’s “dates” in the anime. Going on a date was pretty sweet in the anime but considering both lead actors’ age it would probably look cheesy in a live action so I guess the whole bickering thing is meant for comic relief and for a different take on their dynamics.

Today is Takayuki Yamada’s 31st birthday. He briefly appeared with his good-looking somber face perfect for what seemed to be a merciless assassin character. He plays Denjiro, a man who is harboring a grudge on Nobunaga. I can’t wait to see more of him.

The series also includes some of my favorite actors: Yuya Yagira, Shotaro Mamiya, and Naohito Fujuki. I am looking forward to their performances.

Nobunaga Concerto exceeded my expectations with a solid premiere episode and I’m hoping that this live action series will be able to give us a more satisfying ending than the anime. Judging by the first episode alone, it’s already apparent why Oguri Shun was chosen to play Saburo. His star power and his chemistry with his co-stars can actually create a huge impact on this amazing yet underrated franchise.

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