Wednesday, 11 January 2017

What Would Nobunaga Do?

The idea for this post came from fellow Nobu-enthusiast Davide who contacted me asking for an illustration about Nobunaga coming back to our age and dealing with current events.
What would be his reaction, what would he do to "fix" things..?
This isn't a new question, as we can see from the thousand time-travelling anime that feature Nobunaga in the present in various forms and situations. There's an anime where Nobunaga was revived in the body of a cute teenager girl, for example, or a manga where he is the current Prime Minister of Japan.
Even Les on his book about Okehazama wonders about Nobunaga's strategy against international terrorism that he feels so similar to Ikko Ikki dudes, and I can see the standard Japanese getting nostalgic about Sengoku Era and its genuine lifestyle, even if it meant dying young and in miserable conditions, maybe by the hands of their own kin.

So, you know, while drawing, I wondered. And going past the stereotypes of the ruthless conqueror and the demonic warlord, I seriously asked myself: "What would Nobunaga do?"
And I found my very own answer: he would enjoy himself.

It's common for human beings to believe that older times were definitely better than actual ones. In Italy we have a saying, "It was better when it was worse", to describe this feeling.
Japaneses found themselves enthusiasts of history exactly during the 80s, with the start of the so called "Lost Decade", fueled by feelings of disapprovement and delusion for the recent social and cultural developments. Even now many loves to point their finger towards globalization and "Western Corruption" if Japan is losing its roots, turning their culture into a themed park of sort.
But what was Nobunaga fighting for during his years? What are his reforms telling us about his mindset? And why does everyone like to talk about Nobunaga as "the guy who changed the world", when both his successors did exactly the opposite of what he fought so hard for, throwing Japan into 200 years of a cultural dictatorship that, literally, made Japaneses forget who they were and from where they came with its infinite fabrications?

Long story short: Nobunaga would have gladly opened the gates of his country to others, as it meant just one thing: DEVELOPMENT.
We all know, after all, that progress is the result of communication and collaboration between different cultures: look at what once was the Middle East with its Persian and Turkish Empires, what the Roman Empire was, and why. They didn't collapse because of the "contaminations" of other cultures, the opposite, they just developed into something else: it's the survival of the fittest, when we know it's never a "survival" but a "transformation". Those who don't change, those who can't adapt, die.

Nobunaga would gladly place trading and commerce on top of his cities' activities, as it meant more people, more work, more circulation of ideas, arts and culture.
When Japaneses entered the Meiji era, all those "repressed feelings", their innate competition and curiousity bloomed free: it wasn't because of the "Hagakure", "The Book of Five Rings" or "The Art of War", as they like to believe, if in few years after nuclear bombing they turned into one of the most developed country of the world. It's because, I like to think, of that "Nobunaga heritage" that charms us so much.
So, well-- Despite Isis, Trump and this freakin' financial crisis, I believe that Nobunaga would really enjoy himself, now... As he would recognize the traces of that world that he dreamed of.

...Isn't that so?

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