After 240 years the Ashikaga or Muromachi Shogunate collapses as a result of factional warfare as the reigning Shogun narrowly avoids an assassination attempt by the Miyoshi, diverting from history as Ashikaga Yoshiteru and his younger sister flee from Japan. To this however Mitsuhide suggests that Nobuna invest Yoshimoto as the new Shogun.
Before they can march on Kyoto however they’re met by a desperate Nagamasa who refuses to head back without a bride, but now having the upper hand Nobuna declines the offer but gives him a Princess of Owari, forcing her brother Nobutsugu to take the role of Oichi as well. Aside from this Yoshiharu stands by his previous request, however as he fantasises about who Nobuna will send him, Nene bursts in as his reward.
Having sealed an alliance with the Asai in Oumi, Nobuna then begins to march on the imperial capital of Kyoto, then known as Kyo, however Yoshiharu arrives he finds that the city now lies in ruins and has fallen into debauchery after the collapse of the Shogunate. At this point Hanbei and Goemon split up with Yoshiharu and Toshiie to gather information while they meet the reigning Empress Himiko, and shortly after this Yoshiharu and Toshiie spot some bandits running off with a girl and save her. Elsewhere at this point the leader of the Miyoshi faction Konoe Sakihisa, an Imperial advisor, punishes his underlings after the abduction of the Empress, the other members Tsuda Soukyuu, a powerful merchant, Shoukakuin Gousei, a Buddhist monk against the influence of Western ideas, and the witch Matsunaga Danjo Hisehide commenting on such. With the girl rescued she, Yoshiharu, and Toshiie see further signs of Kyo’s fall when they come across a European nun protected by young girl parading herself around as Bontenmaru surrounded by bandits, the girl attempting to intervene before giving Toshiie the chance to team up with Bontenmaru and take care of them.
With this done the nun introduces herself as Louise Frois, a Portuguese Jesuit and joyfully explains that she would like to meet the Empress in order to gain permission to expand her missionary work throughout Japan, but finds that all foreign influences are banned from the imperial court. By this point the Miyoshi find their attempts to block Nobuna’s path, and with it maintain control, thwarted with a Daimyo favourable to their cause Asakura Yoshikage of Echizen and a mysterious new member stepping forward, their leader Konoe proposing that they ally themselves with either Takeda or Uesugi while the Miyoshi Three buy them some time. After seeing more of Kyo’s current state the girl is revealed to be the Empress herself, now distraught at its current state but Yoshiharu tells her that Nobuna will change it before they see her off.
By the next episode Nobuna has arrived in Kyo and has restored order but finds that 120,000 Kan is required to invest Yoshimoto as Shogun, as they set about acquiring this however Nobuna spends some time with Yoshiharu in Kyo’s international city of Sakai. A neutral centre which has grown as a result of allowing European merchants to act as middlemen between Japan and China, ruled by an oligarchy of merchants with Imai Soukyuu as their leader, who they meet with to obtain a loan but find that this amount is a little too much for him to cover alone. To make matters worse Konoe sets a deadline and the others find themselves faced with a horde of war elephants and Persian mercenaries under Matsunaga Danjo, while Katsuie faces off with the mysterious new member however through Hanbei’s clever tactics they’re able to overcome them.
To solve their current problem however Mitsuhide suggests that they raze and loot Sakai but finds Nobuna directly against the idea, later remembering the things her mother had told her and what she felt when she first met Nobuna. Following this Nobuna and Imai meet with the other merchants of Sakai but find Tsuda Soukyuu against them, surrounding their cause with doubt and attacking Imai personally, however from this they decide to make a competition of the matter by having Yoshiharu and Mitsuhide make takoyaki, Imai backing the former and Tsuda the latter over the head position. However while Yoshiharu intended to be friendly about the competition, Mitsuhide takes it a lot more seriously, wishing to serve Nobuna in such a way that would make her mother proud by winning. For his takoyaki Yoshiharu meets up with Louise at her church, intending to obtain some European spices and ingredients that are common in the present yet rare when he is now, telling her about the current peaceful state of the world and how he believes it’s thanks to those like Nobuna who built it.
Eventually the day of the competition arrives with Nobuna acting as the announcer and throwing in a new condition that while the winner will win the 120,000 Kan the loser will be vanquished to Gifu Castle’s dungeon. For her takoyaki, Mitsuhide takes a traditional approach by using top class ingredients, easily winning over the judges with her elegance while Yoshiharu struggles. From his and Goemon’s attempts to fix it however he comes up with the idea of deepfrying it before adding his secret ingredient of mayonnaise. From this he easily reduces the judges to tears and appears to have won, with a jealous Mitsuhide presenting hers only to find that she messed up on actually putting it together. However Tsuda has a trick up his sleeve and when the votes are counted Mitsuhide is declared the winner, gaining him control of Saki and the monopoly over takoyaki while Imai snatches up Yoshiharu’s recipe. And having won Mitsuhide wastes little time in rubbing Yoshiharu’s fate in his defeat, Nobuna and the others expecting better of her. With this done Konoe will be forced to accept Yoshimoto as the new Shogun and as such they hire an assassin.
An interesting start to the new arc that covers another comparably overlooked point in Nobunaga’s life in anime set in the Sengoku period, the installment of a puppet Shogun, done in a rather detailed way. As opposed to skipping to the epic battles this arc seems to be heading in the opposite direction by actually exploring the politics surrounding it instead.
It’s simply just an interesting approach to it, most series would rush to introduce Takeda Shingen and Uesugi Kenshin in order to play up their rivalry and the connotations that the latter was genderbent in real life, however instead the other factors are being explored in regards to what led up to this point and the other details to it. Taking a cloak and dagger approach as opposed to one of continuous chaotic battles with cascading alliances. Secondly while it’s been your standard villain and accomplices meet secretly in the shadows so far I still like it, already the preludes to some of the later events can be seen and it just feels a lot more orderly and long reaching, the new villain Konoe having many favourable to his cause and being one that can’t be taken down by force alone. Furthermore it’s almost as if the conflict itself is portrayed as one between traditionalism and westernisation, whereby Nobuna’s side is characterised by open minded and diverse individuals while Konoe’s is one of traditional ideals and apparent isolation from the rest of the world focused on maintaining Japan in it’s present state.
Other than that I must say that I always find Japan’s uninformed depictions of Christianity amusing. For a religion founded on the belief of salvation through suffering, that at that point was going through something that was quite literally tearing Europe apart, it’s depicted as being about spreading love and joy across the world as well as being entirely peaceful. If anything a direct contradiction to what it really was at the time. That said however it was interesting to see some European influences come into the series with the introduction of Louise Frois along with our first look at the incredibly awesome Date Masamune‘s rendition, now a strangely appropriate eccentric heterochromatic half-Japanese loli. Louise’s basis also being a genderbent representation also has me wondering whether these changes have spread out further across the world. Just imagine tsundere Richard the Lionheart and Philippe II Augustus battling Saladin in the Third Crusade and all the shenanigans that followed, let alone Frederick II and all the awesome stuff he did.
The Takoyaki making competition was also pretty fun and it gave some nice development to Mitsuhide‘s character in this show, and considering that Yoshiharu main goal at this point seems to be to avoid a certain event it should be interesting to see what’s done with her character. So far I kind of like it though, the sort of one-sided rivalry that she has with Yoshiharu that shatters the instant something unexpected happens is pretty fun and the development we saw her get in this episode was good. Out of a need to make her mother proud we saw her take this rivalry to it’s extremes, as such neglect their goal and take on an ugly sort of appearance as she aimed to be Nobuna’s number one, though I must admit at the same time they treated her a little too harshly because of it. Either way with the sheer potential that her character has, her relationship with Nobuna should be pretty interesting.