At the end of the last episode of Nobunaga no Chef (信長のシェフ), Oda Nobunaga (Oikawa Mitsuhiro) decided to send his chef from the future Ken (Tamamori Yuta) right into Azai Nagamasa’s castle in the place of one of three Azakura cook-spies they captured in the act of trying to poison the water. But why? What does he want Ken to do there?

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 001

Since the spies were supposed to poison Nobunaga, it seems fair to assume that Nobunaga wants Ken to return the intended favor, but Nobunaga doesn’t say so explicitly. There’s also the issue that Ken doesn’t want to poison anyone – it’s in violation of his art. Good thing, too, since there’s no way Nobunaga would trust Ken to cook for him anymore if he was willing to put poison in a meal. Not that Ken could ever come back from such a mission alive.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 002

There’s no escape, either. Nobunaga has assigned shinobi Kaede (Ashina Sei) to make sure that Ken goes through with his mission.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 003

Ken’s stalwart companion Natsu (Shida Mirai) tries to object to all of this, but it’s no use. And no matter how much she argues, she can’t go with Ken this time.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 004Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 005Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 006

For his own part, Nobunaga seems quite satisfied with the plan he’s concocted. What’s he really up to?

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 007

While Kaede is sure that Nobunaga wants Ken to poison Azai Nagamasa, Ken points out that Nobunaga said no such thing – only telling Ken to give the Azai clan what they deserve. He’s trying to figure out what that really means. There’s the complicating factor that Nobunaga’s own sister is Nagamasa’s wife, and that Nagamasa was Nobunaga’s staunch ally until recently.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 008Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 009

Ken wisely understands that Nobunaga could have sent any cook to poison Nagamasa – why send his best? There must be something else . . . .

When they appear before Nagamasa, I have to wonder why he’s not more curious about them. He right away asks them to cook for him and his family, and it struck me as rather odd – like there were critical steps missing.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 010Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 011Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 012Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 013

Back at Nobunaga’s castle, Natsu discovers that Hideyoshi is distraught. He always had a thing for Nobunaga’s sister, and even if he couldn’t marry her, he doesn’t want to see her come to any harm.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 014Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 015

When the former head cook looks ready to take back his old job on the bet that Ken will die, Natsu bites back and points out to Hideyoshi that if Ken dies, that will probably mean that Nagamasa and his wife had died, too.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 016Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 017

But Ken isn’t at all interested in poisoning anyone, and gives Kaede a piece of his mind when she tries to force the poison into the meal.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 018Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 019Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 020

He has his own idea about what Nobunaga wants. Is he right?

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 021Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 022Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 023

It’s mealtime, and his choice of food already tips off Nobunaga’s sister:

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 024Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 025

But she doesn’t stop her husband from eating. This makes sense because, if Ken had meant to poison Nagamasa, surely he wouldn’t have picked a dish that would make it obvious to Nagamasa’s wife, Oichi.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 026Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 027

The message is clearly for Oichi rather than Nagamasa, and when she gives her answer in the negative, saying that she will not leave Nagamasa, that’s really the end of this ploy. Nagamasa realizes then that the meal was not as it seemed, the other two cook-spies reveal Ken and Kaede despite Kaede’s threats that she would kill them if they did.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 028Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 029

Kaede escapes and returns to Nobunaga to report what happened, including Ken’s capture.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 032

Nobunaga is happy that Ken guessed his motive correctly – he just wanted to know whether his sister would return to him and abandon Nagamasa, now that Nagamasa had betrayed him.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 033Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 034

That leaves Kaede feeling a debt of gratitude to Ken. If they had poisoned Nagamasa and Oichi as she thought they should, Nobunaga would likely have been enraged enough to kill her.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 035

But there’s still the matter of Ken. Natsu begs Nobunaga to rescue Ken . . .

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 036

. . . but Nobunaga seems to want to test out the extent of Ken’s luck. The warlord decides that Ken will have to escape and return on his own to demonstrate his loyalty.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 037

Unfortunately for Ken, Nagamasa is not in a forgiving mood, as Nobunaga has started attacking his towns, razing them to the ground. He wants to send Ken’s head back to Nobunaga.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 038Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 040

Natsu and Kaede are not in a position to save him . . .

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 042Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 043Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 044

. . . Ken himself is rather tied up and weaponless . . .

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 045Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 046Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 047

. . . so the only person left who can keep him from losing his head is Oichi.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 048Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 049Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 050

Ken regales her with all sorts of words that are meaningless to her – like ‘vitamins’ and ‘calcium’. This seems like an odd tactic to use to plead for one’s life – speaking in a language the listener can’t understand. Ken often seems oblivious to the culture gap, but this is rather not the time for that.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 051

As it turns out, though, Oichi is impressed by his strange words. I suspect she is even more impressed by the fact that Nobunaga had entrusted him to figure out what to do and cook instead of giving him the orders explicitly. Her impression is that her brother is rather a control freak (well, what warlord isn’t?).

So, how will Oichi plead for Ken’s life?

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 056

Will Nobunaga continue to leave Ken to fend for himself, even as the meals in the castle go back to the old stuff and his stomach craves Ken’s cooking?

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 060Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 061Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 062

What sort of chance will Ken get to save his own skin?

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 065Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 066

No matter what, it looks like there’s going to be a battle between Nagamasa and Nobunaga. Look forward to that in the next episode.

Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 074Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 075Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 076Nobunaga no Chef Ep 05 077

Altogether, I was quite happy with this episode. The beginning was a bit bumpy, as it took some suspension of disbelief. I was especially puzzled by how Ken could have figured out what Nobunaga wanted him to do. The ending made up for it, though. Ken’s reasoning in the part where he has to save himself is superb and detailed – almost like the solution to a mystery in its attention to detail.

The grander drama between Nobunaga and Nagamasa is also the first compelling one we’ve seen in this series. Before this, the relationships between Nobunaga and others, like the Ashikaga shogun, Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa, have been very superficial and didn’t do as good a job of drawing the viewer in. Mitsuhide and Mori Ranmaru were given token scenes in a single episode and never heard from again (so far). So, it was nice to see a more proper treatment this time.