In Nobunaga no Chef (信長のシェフ), modern chef Ken (Tamamori Yuta) is thrown back in time to Japan’s Warring States period (戦国時代 – sengoku jidai) in the 16th century, and becomes head chef to the leading warlord of the era – Oda Nobunaga (Oikawa Mitsuhiro). Nobunaga has already put Ken to all sorts of strategic uses.

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At the beginning of the episode, Ken has a bit of trouble convincing constant companion Natsu (Shida Mirai) to stay behind when he leaves for the battlefield on the basis that she’s a girl. She points out that Nobunaga’s shinobi Kaede (Ashina Sei) is a woman who fairs quite well in battle, but the mere mention of Kaede puts Ken into a reverie, making Natsu even more irritated.

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It looks like it’s 1570, and the focus is on Nobunaga’s campaign against the Asakura clan – an ally of the Ashikaga shogun we met in the previous episode.

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After the credits roll, Ken introduces instant yuzuke to Nobunaga’s council.

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But any delight in that was cut short by a letter from Azai, Nobunaga’s brother-in-law, which breaks his alliance with Nobunaga. Since it was an alliance by marriage – about as tight an alliance as could be forged in those days –  Nobunaga was shocked by this development.

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Hideyoshi doesn’t believe it’s possible . . .

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. . . and Nobunaga agrees, deciding that it must be an Asakura plot to confuse them. But then there’s a second letter, and this one is in Nobunaga’s own handwriting. It’s the original alliance contract that he wrote up, so that there’s no doubt now that Azai is defecting.

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Then there’s a mysterious package with five fish:

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Ken’s explanation of its symbolism (which was not credibly something he should have known) infuriates Nobunaga (though thankfully the warlord doesn’t take it out on his chef – he kills the messenger from Azai instead).

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He realizes that he’s caught in a trap, just like the fish were, and immediately orders a retreat. It’s a famous retreat, so it looks like rather than disrupting history, Ken is actually helping to move it along in the direction it’s supposed to go. That’s a safe way to play the time travel game, but other occasions in this series run counter to that tactic (when he introduces food that definitely wasn’t supposed to be in Japan until centuries later, for instance).

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Anyway, Ken gets rather upset that Nobunaga killed the messenger.

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Mori Yoshinari (Ukaji Takashi) gives him solid slap to knock some sense into him. This is a brutal time, after all, and to achieve what he did, Nobunaga had to outdo everyone else in the nastiness department.

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But Yoshinari has a better explanation – the messenger would know of their plans to retreat, so letting him leave alive was not an option, and keeping him prisoner while on the run was not practical.

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While Nobunaga orders . . .

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. . . Tokugawa Ieyasu (Cunning Takeyama), the man who would eventually become shogun, has misgivings about Nobunaga’s prospects now that such a strong ally has betrayed him.

Nobunaga decides to flee on foot discretely, following Kaede’s advice about the route. He naturally drags Ken along with him. At least Ken can cook up some comfort food to ease the depression of having to make such a humiliating retreat.

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Ken as trouble keeping up with Nobunaga in their trek through the forest . . .

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.  . . but that pace slows after Nobunaga tumbles and sprains his leg.

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With suspicious folk about, they find a place to bed down for the night – offering rice in exchange for a berth in a barn.

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Nobunaga doesn’t mind the accommodations, but they still have to be on watch for enemies. Kaede nearly pounces on the master of the household when he comes in before Ken stops her. Ken speaks to the man on everyone’s behalf.

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He asks them to come into the house, and Nobunaga remarks upon Ken’s strange luck.

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There’s a sick son at the center of this household’s drama, and the parents try to feed the rice given by Ken to their son. He hasn’t eaten for days.

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When it’s clear that the kid isn’t eating, Ken steps in to help.

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He gets an idea and sends Natsu out to gather snow.

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I think you can see where this is going . . .

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. . . Ken cooks something up to make it all better, right?

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While he’s at it, there’s a rivalry between Kaede and Natsu to gather snow.

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But what exactly is it that he’s made?

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You’ll have to watch to figure out (unless you can guess from the screenshots).

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He offers the result to the family, but will it be this simple? There’s almost half the episode left.

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There’s trouble on a totally different front, though, as Tokugawa seeks divine guidance about whether he should sever his ties to Nobunaga.

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In this case, we already know what Tokugawa will do, because the title at the beginning of the episode told us that this hour was going to be about Tokugawa’s betrayal.

I’ll leave the rest of the episode a surprise for your enjoyment. Will it follow the pattern of the previous episodes – that is, with Nobunaga sending Ken to cook something for Tokugawa that will make him reconsider?

And who are these two kids?

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Well, I have to say I wasn’t too happy with how the Tokugawa thing turned out, and the entire episode sold the conflicts way too cheaply. Tokugawa himself was allied with and betrayed all sorts of people – he was even allied to Takeda Shingen and then to his sworn enemy Uesugi Kenshin. The idea that he was somehow tied to Nobunaga by any sense of loyalty is ludicrous – he was a master of figuring out who had the upper hand and making sure he was on their side.

This is one time Ken’s cooking shouldn’t have worked, but then there would have had to be another excuse for Tokugawa’s reconciliation with Nobunaga. You see, the first time Tokugawa and Nobunaga fight together against a common foe is in the Battle of Anegawa in July of 1570 where they confront Asakura and Azai, so they can’t be at odds with each other at this point. Mind you, Tokugawa was also in the midst of his conflict with Takeda Shingen at this time. Warlord in the Sengoku period had to be able to multitask. Nobuanga would later send troops to help Tokugawa out with Takeda.

Anyway, at least I got a chance to brush up on some history. Acting-wise where weren’t any problems with this episode. All the problems were with the plot and the resolutions to the conflicts.

On the bright side, the end of the episode left Ken in a very interesting situation – perhaps one that he can’t deal with while smiling confidently.