Following her victory over Yamamoto and the sealing of an alliance between Owari and Mikawa, Nobuna finds herself faced with Yoshiharu demanding that he be rewarded for his part in it, requesting none other than the most prettiest girl in Japan.
Continuing their campaign against Yoshiatsu however, they find themselves caught within a trap devised by the famous tactician Zhuge Liang of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, where the area that the opposing army is marching through is obstructed with a series of barriers and in they risk being swept away by a nearby dam if they attempt to move through it. By Nagahide and Yoshiharu picking up on it, and Goemon’s bombs however, they’re able to fall back unharmed. This doesn’t sit well with Nobuna however, and as Dousan talks about a genius tactician within Mino, Yoshiharu up and states that it’s none other than Takenaba Hanbei. Furthermore he offers to sway Hanbei to their side and recruit him, but in exchange he requests the prettiest girl in Japan, giving Nobuna the idea that he means her.
However it would seem as if he’s got some competition in doing this in Mitsuhide, who doesn’t sit well with his cavalier attitude to the job. In order to do this they head to Yoshitatsu’s base and run into one of Mino’s retainers, Andou on their way in, however they also run into Nagamasa again who intends to recruit Hanbei in order to get Nobuna to marry him. As such they meet an omnyouji who appears to be Hanbei and puts forth a challenge as to who will recruit him, both Yoshiharu and Nagamasa running right into it, the omnyouji however happens to be the real Hanbei’s shikigami familiar with Toshiie sniffing out the real Hanbei. Who’s revealed to be an incredibly shy girl who uses her shikigami as a public face and for finding out if people are mean before she meets them.
By this point Yoshitatsu is growing paranoid towards potential usurpers and has Andou imprisoned, threatening his other retainers with the same, and suspecting Hanbei of being against him. To this Nagamasa intends to let Andou die, who being Hanbei’s uncle would place her directly against Yoshitatsu, Yoshiharu is against this and intends to go along with Hanbei to convince Yoshitatsu of her loyalty. During this however Yoshitatsu regards all the failed attempts to defeat Nobuna as treason while Goemon and the others rescue Andou, forcing Yoshiharu to step forth but his attempts to affirm her loyalty are shut down with things turning sour soon afterward. Nagamasa trying to switch sides but being caught out before they try to make their escape, however Yoshitatsu doesn’t intend to let Hanbei go so easily, forcing her to use her shikigami to blast him and his men away. While they may have captured Inabayama castle as a result of this, Yoshiharu refuses to put the exhausted Hanbei at risk and falls back, Hanbei eventually deciding to follow him after hearing him talk about Nobuna.
In the next episode a plan to take hold of Sunomata by building a castle in the area, thus taking control of Mino, is put forth to defeat Yoshitatsu but its close proximity to Inabayama Castle makes doing so near impossible. So for this Nobuna calls upon Hanbei only to find that her loyalty lies with Yoshiharu, who despite eagerly looking forward to building Sunomata Castle within a single night finds the job entrusted to Katsuie instead. However her efforts to complete the construction are hampered by a fierce defence from Yoshitatsu, and as such Yoshiharu steps forth to take over, being entrusted with Nobuna’s gourd to serve as his sigil.
Following this Nobuna marches out according to Yoshiharu’s plan to divide Yoshitatsu’s forces, the two retainers that he dispatched however decide to lie in wait and when Nobuna moves to face them the area is set ablaze, Yoshitatsu’s actions shocking even them as his intentions are revealed to be sacrificing them in order to defeat Nobuna. In doing this any support that Yoshiharu would have in hurriedly building the castle have been cut off and Yoshitatsu has all but won, but come morning the castle is revealed to have been completed. In response to this Yoshitatsu launches and attack to destroy it but finds his efforts thwarted by Hanbei’s tactics. At the same time his retainers attempt to take their fate with honour but Nobuna declares that there’s nothing to be proud of in their situation and sets about putting down the flames, and eventually escapes having had the same impact on them as she had on Dousan and Andou.
Having repelled the first attack Yoshiharu intends to hold on however when a rifleman fires at him, Goemon throws herself between them, and with his castle slowly being destroyed he screams for help. Nobuna arriving just in time to see the castle collapse, her fears in regards to his fate cast down as he waves the gourd she gave him, and launches a counterattack against Yoshitatsu alongside his former retainers. As the battle draws to a close Nagahide intercepts Nagamasa and his forces, and Goemon is revealed to still be alive, having been trying to teach Yoshiharu a lesson. As such Nobuna eventually defeats Yoshitatsu but refuses to kill him, a decision that doesn’t sit well with Dousan, who feels that he should have already died so saving his son shouldn’t matter. To this however Yoshiharu declares the sentiments that Nobuna put into renaming Inabayama Castle, Gifu Castle in his honour.
This show just keeps getting better and better, after the brief interruption that was the Battle of Okehazama, Nobuna’s campaign against Yoshitatsu’s coup has resumed and been concluded. Expanding the cast while Yoshiharu had some interesting things to do in both of these two episodes.
For the former of the two I can’t exactly say Hanbei is my favourite but I still like her character. The part about her sending out her familiar to gauge the friendliness of those she meets is cute, and her loyalty towards Yoshiharu is admirable, but her shyness seems a little overdone for my liking. She’s cute but I still wouldn’t say that she’s my overall favourite so far. That being said it’s still interesting to see Yoshiharu build up his own group of retainers and followers beneath Nobuna, both Goemon and Hanbei’s character bases being followers of Hideyoshi and Nene’s even being his wife, knowing Yoshiharu things won’t turn out exactly as they did but it’s still interesting to note.
Along with that it’s also interesting that he actually had to work to recruit Hanbei, or at least a lot more than he was expecting to as it wasn’t a matter of simply going up to Hanbei, asking and giving specific set of questions and answers, and then offering him the chance to join his side. He had to go out of his comfort zone and into Inabayama Castle, where one wrong move or hint of where his allegiance lied would have cost him his head, and then confront Yoshitatsu himself, who at that point was growing increasingly paranoid. It gave him a great moment to step up and once again prove himself as the protagonist with a nice way to woo Hanbei over, but it also proved another instance where his game experience/history knowledge didn’t prove everything.
Other than that the second episode had quite a few fun things as well, we once more saw Yoshiharu distinguish himself while Nobuna took to the field and managed to sway Yoshitatsu’s remaining yet alienated retainers. Ensuring not only reinforcements but also the loyalty and approval of the nobility within Mino while the former simply did it in a particularly bold manner, following in the Hideyoshi’s footsteps by establishing a makeshift fort within attacking distance and maintaining it until she could arrive. Aside from that it also maintained a good amount of tension between their two plots as to whether she would arrive in time and he would be able to hold on long enough, with Goemon’s actions taking advantage of that. Though I would not trust chainmail as an absolute protection from bullets.
In all though this was a nice end to this arc for a point in the story that is relatively overlooked in these sorts of shows, a point that saw Nobuna unify, consolidate, and distinguish herself before stepping onto the main stage. That seems to be generally skipped over in favour of having Nobunaga come into the story already a prominent figure without establishing what led him to that point. Not only is it crucial but it also makes Nobunaga’s, and eventually Nobuna’s, actions all the more impressive when you consider that they started on a knife-edge, forced to defend from threats within his own family and any warlord that thought Owari was ripe for the picking, and eventually ended up controlling two thirds of Japan. Along with that it also provided a rather nice ending for Dousan‘s character by twisting what had been a political and symbolic declaration to one of endearment on Nobuna’s part that showed that with his time nearing its end he still had something to live for.