From now on, we're through with the whole "survival" angle.
Really, this season feels like "survival" applies more to the viewers than the actual shows themselves. Shows like Dakara Boku wa H ga Dekinai will be there when the season ends, but our resolve to endure all the harem shows absent from Spring 2012 won't be there. Many have already tapped out from the Boston Crab that the second season of Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere slapped on us. Those who have survived that wringer just for the sake of a happy ending in Natsuyuki Rendezvous will have to gut this one out.
That being said, it's going to be much more difficult this time around to get to the cream of this crop, but one thing still applies—a show that involves a gender-swapped ruler of Japan from the past can never be seen as a truly noteworthy accomplishment.
Ninth place in Summer 2012's Anime Survivor is The Ambition of Nobuna Oda.
Divine Conquest: This story about Yoshiharu Sagara, he of the tribe of Untalented Anime Heroes, and his time-slip trip to Sengoku-Era Japan probably has been waiting on the backburner of many anime producers' minds. Yes, Nobunaga Oda has been redrawn with various moe hairstyles and bra cups within the past few years, but no one has had the brass in their pants to actually have a female Oda go all heart-melt tsundere over the main male.
That in itself is a dangerous risk to...oh, you know...the entire structure of Japan's history as we know it, but Yoshiharu has a plan! See, he's a huge history fan, having learned everything from video games about Nobunaga and his plights. Everything he says becomes true, since history books are so doggone accurate in Japan.
Before I get too deep in sarcasm, let's admit something off the top; there are genuinely good sections to Nobuna Oda. Studio Gokumi (A-Channel, Saki: Achiga-hen) must be learning something from their collaboration with Madhouse, because there are at times decent displays of animation. The story itself hasn't deteriorated from the gender-swap concept, as screenwriter Masashi Suzuki (SHUFFLE!, The Sacred Blacksmith) has at least produced a decent script that manages to keep what's left of historical accuracy and bravery.
In fact, The Ambition of Nobuna Oda might be the best story that involves a gender-swapped Oda. The characters aren't playing volleyball or practicing to become an idol singer; they're actually in a war! What a concept! (Are you listening, Sengoku Collection?!)
Civil Unrest: Now that all of the good stuff is out of the way, we can officially destroy the directors and producers for trying to pass over another one of these "What-if-they-were-female?" messes on the audience. Yes, you did well to get some drama out of the show, but for every heroic act Yoshiharu accomplishes, there's a scene with him waxing poetic about breasts. Really, there is no real reason to have to fall back onto the oppai jokes when we're talking about the fate of a nation.
In the end, the characters are what really end up murdering this show. Yes, you actually get male characters, some of theme strongly portrayed in the likes of Dôsan Saitô and Hanzô Hattori (yes, the ninja's a man, folks!), but for every solid character you get whiny flakes. Motoyasu Matsudaira (the future Ieyasu Tokugawa) is portrayed as a meek teddy-bear-eared meganekko, and Goemon Hachisuka is a ninja loli who can't speak straight.
You could have had a great story, guys, but instead this is just Yoshiharu standing in his school uniform with a bunch of cute girls in glamorized battle gear without a single shred of accuracy. At this point, I think I've had enough. Just stop trying to make Japan's history your own personal self-insertion fanfic, light-novel writers.
Exile: The Ambition of Nobuna Oda's inability to separate itself from the definitions that spring from light-novels ultimately force it to fall on its sword. The show already had a strike against it for trying the same tired schtick, no matter how much they try to convince us with male characters filling the voids. It certainly doesn't help with Sengoku Collection running at the same time.
I have a pretty good guess on how the show ends. Yoshiharu manages to do enough to capture Nobuna's heart, only for situations to develop where he's found with his hands on breasts unintentionally, leading to some sort of punishment. The ultimate twist would be that he discovers that he is destined to be the next Hideyoshi Toyotomi, but at this point I really don't care. The show will just end up showing how the untalented males are destined to make the strong females toys in a collection.
I hope this teaches the anime industry a lesson at some point. If you try to make history into a dump of cute anime retreads like The Ambition of Nobuna Oda, you're only bound to repeat the mistakes made by past failures.