Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Nobunaga the Demon King

Writing a blog about Nobunaga means that, sooner or later, I had to contemplate the issue of Nobunaga as the devilish villain of fiction.
It's one of these "legends" that always manage to piss me off, and I must say that I'm really disappointed when people approach me to tell me that they love Nobunaga too as in Devil Kings he's absolutely badass. ARGH!

*claps hands* May I have your attention please?
The story has its roots in a letter that Luis Frois compiled as one of his annual reports to the Jesuit Company and that mentioned an exchange of letters between Takeda Shingen and Oda Nobunaga.
The report is dated 1573, so the rivalry between the two daimyo was at its apex (Shingen would join the Anti-Nobunaga Alliance on 1572, and he would die a few days after receiving this letter).
The relationship between Nobunaga and Shingen, former allies, turned sour when Nobunaga attacked and burned to the ground the Enryaku-ji, the "mind" of the Ikko Ikki rebellions together with the Hongan-ji, on 1571.
After this fact, Shingen, a fervent Buddhist, gave protection to the survivors of the massacre, among which was Kakujo (覚恕), the head of the Tendai sect (天台座主, Tendai-no-zasu) based in Enryaku-ji.
According to Frois, Shingen made a boast about his role of protector of this fundamental figure for his religion by signing this further declaration of hostility as "Head of Tendai Sramana Shingen" (天台座主沙門信玄, Tendai-no-zasu Shamon Shingen), probably with the implication that he was focused on protecting the head of Tendai, not that he was declaring himself as that.
To "nickname" oneself after the name of a deity was not so absurd, think of Kenshin that considered himself the incarnation of Bishamonten himself-- Anyway, Nobunaga read this and probably thought that Shingen was out of his mind, so he replied ironically, signing his letter with a sarcastic "Demon King of the Sixth Heaven Nobunaga" (第六天魔王信長, Dairokuten Maou Nobunaga), as a way to mock Shingen's pompous nickname, impersonating his exact opposite.
As usual when it comes to the sources coming from Frois' reports, there are no actual sources to compare them with, but they spread and radicate instantly-- And during the centuries, because Nobunaga was making fun of Shingen, he was stuck the role of Satan in every videogame known to history (well, that and the one of the tsundere loli!).

To illustrate this post, I grabbed an image from this blog, that depicts a modern rendition of this legendary signature of Nobunaga.


  1. What? It's so bad that actually has its own TV Tropes page? HAHAHAHA, THAT'S INCREDIBLE. And then you have the people who bought into the "demon king" idea and compared Nobu to Hitler or something, and refused to listen to reason D:

    Well... I guess Nobu just likes referencing to himself as demon as sarcasm to his Buddhist rivals/enemies? According to Lamers and Elisonas's notes in Shinchoukoki, the hat he wears to the 1581 cavalcade is a reference to Noh actors performing as evil spirits.

    But hey, at least he isn't a demon in Sengoku Musou! XD In fact, at some point he dressed as a woman and performed a dance in the Sagicho festival XD although since they can't remodel him to wear a woman's dress they just replaced his image with an actual woman's image XD



    Then again, Sengoku Musou is one of the first samurai-themed games that I know so I'm obviously biased, haha. I always consider Sengoku Basara to be Sengoku Musou's ripoff. I thought you liked Sengoku Basara, though? Didn't you used to draw Nobu from that series before?

    1. Yeah, I assume that the Demon thing was pure sarcasm, or a way to "show off" to his enemy, you know-- About the note on the Shinchokoki, that was indeed suggestive, but I'm not sure about Nobunaga using that hat with such an intent-- Maybe he just fancied it XD !

      Yeah, I completely agree with you about Sengoku Basara Dx I actually hate it, but the design of the Young Nobu that I found among the illustrations of this videogame, that was the reference of that artwork, was pretty cool XD --I just had to draw it!

    2. Well, okay, the note was there because Gyuichi was making the comparison to Takasago anyway. Maybe Nobu just wants to wear Chinese-themed clothes because they look pretty XD

      LOL ok then. I thought you like it because there were also the one with Nobu and Akechi and everything in the dreamwidth journal... Even I did draw Sengoku Basara Nobu once, though I draw him wearing Kill la Kill costume and not his proper armour.

    3. Yeah, he said that the clothes of Nobu were a reference to Takasago, so in the notes there was that clarification on the costume, and it's indeed wonder inducing!

      --I also own a precious Basara doujinshi featuring Nobu being topped by Ranmaru, if I have to spill the beans XD but that's just because it's Nobu, seriously... After all, at the time it was the only anime that featured Nobu, so I was instantly attracted to it-- But to be honest, I don't ever remember if I watched the whole thing or I just dropped after some episodes (I think that I watched it in full, though-- Mah! I should check XD)...

    4. Eh, you're lucky Nobu/Ran is popular. There will be many variations to choose from. It's so hard to find any Nobu/Hide things XD
      -Even though Hide is often portrayed as such a big fanboy of Nobu... Hmph :(

      I never actually watched Basara though. When it first advertised in a local anime magazine I thought it sounded really stupid so I ignored it. And then after that I started learning about Japanese history and I already hated it because it messed up history XD And now that I know a lot about Nobu I makes me hate it even more LOL. The only thing I like about it is probably Nobu's face.