Sengoku Collection is an obscure anime series known by few, loved by less, and yet, it’s amazing. An unknown treasure of animation, it revolves around classical Japanese Warring States figures moved into modern times and faced with drastic contrasts of the life they once knew with the one they now face.
At its heart, this doesn’t come off as anything new when purely reading the synopsis. The ideas are common to the anime industry as the Japanese unsurprisingly seem fond of it.
However, that’s where the commonalities end, as the anime proves anything but ordinary in its groundbreaking assortment of diverging stories and superb characters.
True to the trend, the better historical anime are always forgotten, with this one falling to the same fate as works like Hyouge Mono, if not suffering much worse. The story begins when Nobunaga, now a gender shuffled cute yet sexy bishoujo, is magically teleported into a modern world as a result of a mysterious phenomenon.
As she meets a young man nearby at a convenience store, she’s introduced to a new way of life and first world problems aplenty.
She initially has no intention to stay in this world, but the longer she’s there, she starts to reconsider as she finds it’s not at all unpleasant. Her experience mirrors every other hot girl historical figure that the anime comes to follow, and it follows many of them.
Each episode focuses on a womanized figure telling her own life and how she ended up in the modern world, while also displaying her visibly adapting to the environment through comical and oft-lighthearted survival, all of which transpires in fantastically absurd scenarios.
Sengoku Collection’s structure revolves around a girl’s day-by-day life. It’s an easygoing slice of life style of presentation, which can range from Nobunaga’s humorously straightforward lifestyle, to Masamune Date’s shivering dark-themed vigilante story, to a rather depressing tale centering around Yoshitsugu Otani.
A key feature of this series’ splendor is the immense variety in the lives of the ladies, with some going on to forget the past and become idols, others finding themselves in school battles, and others yet who reside in supernatural locales which we cannot quite explain. Sengoku Collection can effectively satiate every taste with its broad brush of genres and events.
While the series’ cast generally consists of female characters from the Warring States period, occasionally others are added who hail from the Bakumatsu period and the Han dynasty, for those who are particular about their history.
Nonetheless, even though the anime tags along with many different females from across history, the focus always comes back to Oda Nobunaga, who keeps a conviction to return to the time she’s from in spite of all else.
Fortunately for her, three young half-animal shrine maidens one day manifest to explain to her how to bring herself back where she belongs. She must collect the ambiguous “secret treasures” of other famous figures of her era, who were also genderbent as slender women with diverse personalities.
Complications ensue as all the others face the same challenge if they wish to return, and so it becomes a contest and point of decision. Some girls are perfectly happy with the idea of staying for reasons expressed in their respective episodes, whilst others opt to fight it out till the end.
Originally born as a mobile phone game from Konami, you’d never expect the characters to be so rich in personality. This anime is overflowing with female characters, yet all are as different in their ambitions as they are in their visual style.
Traversing the anime, you will find yourself descending to depths of detailed story beyond what is suggested when skimming the horizon of the anime from afar.
That’s likely as the anime adaptation is directed by the highly-acclaimed Keiji Goto, in the business since 1985, who chose to create a new and mostly non-linear plot thread that revolves around Nobunaga finding a way to go back to her world through the aforementioned secret treasures.
These episodes have more going for them than just simple stories, unexpectedly unfolding into deep contemplation and thematic devices expressed in satirical yet intriguing ways told by the individual female characters in their own episodes.
What’s more amusing is that many of these episodes pay homage to other fictional works. Most of them happen to be equally obscure movies aimed at the western audience.
Particularly intricate are the characterization and dialogue that ensue between characters. This goes especially exemplified by how some of the characters’ personality traits are tribute to their original counterparts, such as Yoshitsugu suffering a major illness while heavily bandaged, or Matsuo Basho being known for travelling across Japan for his haiku poems.
While the collective story of Sengoku Collection on a whole isn’t too heavy, the characters’ own episodic adventures make it enjoyable for a lot of great reasons – including its strange storytelling and ”meta” atmosphere.
All characters are beautifully illustrated and express their emotions strongly by means of distinctive art choices that convey them. Every episode, the aesthetic is altered to accommodate the setting and mood of the story, looking like any other gorgeous anime one episode, then possessing a crazy water-colored style the next.
Though the series revolves around cute girls and their skimpy yet stylistic outfits, the level of sexual fanservice is surprisingly sparse. The animation is fluid and consistent in spite of the uncomplicated character designs and the music is rather varied as it executes different musical themes for each character-based episode.
Sengoku Collection is overall a character-focused series that portrays the Warring States in a different light than similar titles, and while the idea of replacing everyone with an attractive girl typically might suggest a recipe for failure, this anime is anything but. It’s an undeniably astounding work of art.