「剣豪」 (Kengou)
“Blade Master”

A good, if a touch wonky, first battle between the peoples of Yamato and the Uzuurussha.

Maroro, The Ignored Voice of Reason

Now we know why they took the time to introduce Maroro back in episode two. It was nice to have a voice of reason in Dekoponpo’s camp, especially as Maroro proved that he actually has a decent tactical mind. My favorite moment though, was when Maroro was like “I told you do.” He’s a goofy character, but I couldn’t help cheer for him then. You go, Maroro! You did tell him so! Now get the hell out of his camp before that idiot gets you killed.

The Uzuurussha Fight Like Barbarians, Almost

I liked how the Uzuurussha fought, mostly. They really do feel like barbarians, but not in the insulting sense—like their upbringing has made them willing to employ more brutal tactics, and like they’re far more clever than the civilized society they’re facing gives them credit for. To wit: The Nakuan. While I don’t want to praise someone for taking women hostage to force their men to fight, damn if it didn’t work. And for most of the episode I was wondering why the hell these citizens of Yamato weren’t immediately switching sides when they met the Yamato armies—I had originally assumed the Uzuurussha would be right behind them with spears, ready to gut them if they didn’t fight, but the hostages worked a lot better.

I am disappointed that the Uzuurussha didn’t make more use of cavalry; if they had been primarily mounted archers, I would be gushing about all the historical parallels again. But then they did a feinted flight to draw Dekoponpo’s forces into an ambush, which is a vintage barbarian tactic, and not easy to pull off when you can’t communicate well in battle. The only thing I can say that I absolutely didn’t like was how they lined up in columns. Ain’t nothin’ barbarian about that. Though, being that it’s effective and they were using infantry, it’s quite possibly correct. I just can’t imagine the Goths or Gauls or Celts forming up in columns to face off against the Romans. The Roman’s comparative organization was one of the reasons they kicked so much ass. So I’m not sure whether that’s a mistake or not, but I noticed it.

Passive Voice

Here’s a fiction writing tip for ya: Avoid the passive voice. To paraphrase Stephen King, don’t write The meeting will be held at seven o’clock. Throw back your shoulders, stick out your chin, and put that meeting in charge! Write The meeting’s at seven. It’s The writer threw the rope, not The rope was thrown by the writer. Avoid the passive in favor of the active, because while the passive feels timid and safe, the active lends a direct and forceful flavor to your prose. Passive voice belays weakness, while active shows strength.

What about with characters?

From Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling:

13. Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

This is a frequent problem with VN protagonists, and it’s the problem with Haku as well. He’s passive. He’s led around by the other characters. He doesn’t appear to have strong opinions of his own. Opinions, certainly—but when Rurutie decides she wants to save the captured women, he discards his own preference for not getting riddled full of arrows and agrees to help. I can’t say I’d have been happier if he’d stuck to his guns, but at least he would have stood for something. Probably better if he weren’t so ready to run (before they even did anything) in the first place.

To be fair, Haku is better than many VN protagonists in that his entire character is built around a laid back attitude—he actually has character to speak of, it just so happens to be a chill, passive one. But even with that excuse, it’s still poison to the audience on occasion. A lot of people are passive in real life, but here’s the rub: They’re not the kind of people we tell stories about. For better or worse, that’s the truth. We tell stories about people who act, not those who are tugged along by the tide. To steal a line from Luck and Logic, they end up was Villager A. Haku is a good example of why. He’s a likable guy, but he’s also deeply frustrating at times.

The Will To Fight

For all my criticism of Haku this episode, the tension between his lack of desire to fight and the episode’s seeming support for it didn’t end up being a straight case of “Haku is wrong, Rurutie needs to learn when to fight.” That’s the thrust the episode took, but I don’t disagree with Haku entirely—not being able to fight (and kill) is normal, or at least it should be. It was even discomfitting to see the young-girl-in-love-with-being-in-love Atui start ending lives. I still think Rurutie and the people of Yamato are in the right here—they’re being attacked, and they need to repel the invaders and rescue their people. (This is in the absence of knowing whether Yamato did anything to provoke the attack, which could make the situation more gray.) Still, it’s an interesting thought.

If I have any complaint, it’s the convenient nature of Haku and Rurutie stumbling across a situation where Rurutie felt she had to fight, and where they just so happened to rescue the master swordsman’s daughter, so he wouldn’t, ya know, kill Atui. I’m happy, since Atui is awesome (and a lot more powerful than I thought—damn, girl), but it was convenient.

Looking Ahead

Overall I enjoyed this episode. The underlying theme came across well enough, and the fighting was good. Next time it looks like the more competent generals are going to get involved, which should be fun. Maybe we’ll get to hear more about these Akuruturuka—the masked (wo)men. I’d like to know more.

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – The fighting was nice, Atui is awesome, & Rurutie made her decision, even if Haku’s passivity rankled somewhat #utaware s2e14

Random thoughts:

  • Did Kuon just blush over Haku? Shipping furiously!!
  • Another ding to Dekoponpo’s shitty military strategies: How do you expect to chase down infantry with infantry? They travel at the same speed. That’s what cavalry is for. That’s one of the (many) reasons that WWI was such a mess—modern weaponry destroyed the ability of horse cavalry to pursue running enemies (which is where most of the casualties happened in ancient battles), but mechanized cavalry didn’t start to appear until the end of the war. No one could deliver a knockout blow. Dekoponpo was just asking for his forces to be stretched out at best.
  • I didn’t expect Kuon to be so good at martial arts. I thought she was more of an explosives and mobility kind of gal. Though I guess her mothers are pretty badass, so not surprising.

My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info—now in paperback!) Sign up for my email list for a FREE sequel novella. Over at stephenwgee.com, the last four posts: $%&@* cuss words, Stephen, what is best in life?, It depends, and Momentum & mental space.




  1. This series is a gem to watch. My only gripes are that too many of the characters look alike (especially the girls) and I get confused as to who is who. Also wanted to see Dekoponpo’s head on a spike but I guess we will have to settle for more of his stupidity before he gets whats coming to him. Every series needs a Dr. Smith I guess.

  2. I see dark times ahead… I wouldn’t be surprised if Vurai ends up executing the men who sided with the enemies. Regardless of their reasons, he probably would still see it as high treason. Although I could be wrong. This anime is Utawarerumono undoubtedly, but definitely is not the first season of Utawarerumono. Still trying to justify why I saw Kuroro and Benawi fighting Yamato troops in the game opening.

    And the animation, I will admit, at first I was a bit disappointed in the battle. But in hindsight, White Fox is spacing out their budget quite well. I highly doubt this anime would have had the best of budgets, considering it is 2 cours. But I am impressed by the balance they have struck. Although I get a real Ufotable vibe from the fights. It’s lower quality, but what I find similar is that every strike they do is like literally, 4 frames long. Which is fairly similar to how Ufotable animates it’s fights. Just without all the glowy, glowy, motion blur, lighting effects etc…

    Goodwill Wright
    1. I agree. The combat animation isn’t the best, but it’s all there, so it gives a sense of weight to it that other shows don’t necessarily have (because they cut out a couple of the middle frames you mentioned). It’s still good, even if I’m not going to pitch it on the animation.

  3. I didn’t expect Kuon to be so good at martial arts. I thought she was more of an explosives and mobility kind of gal. Though I guess her mothers are pretty badass, so not surprising.

    I just sort of take it as a given that she’s gotten training from the entirety of Hakuoro’s harem. Which means she would have learned fighting from Touka and Karula: two of the most badass warriors ever.

  4. Stilts,
    Many “barbarian” nations were capable of a good deal more advanced tactics than the typical Roman writer gave the credit for. (The Romans loved to rely on stereotypical descriptions when describing “barbarians” at war) Yet writers who were more honest (like Tacitus) noted that certain tribes behaved in a rather unbarbarian manner, they obey their commanders, kept the place in the ranks and valued desciplined steady advances rather than rushes at speed by disorderly or individual warriors. The Strategicon of Maurice expressly speaks of the German nations fighting in formation as well.

    “Barbarians” also served Rome as auxiliaries and mercenaries and the surviving veterans brought home considerable military knowledge. This led to serious defeats for the Romans such as that in the Teutoburg forrest or those during the revolt of the Batavii.

    So the formations seen so far in this episode does not stretch the abilities of the Uzuurussha that far.

    Kn Gars
    1. Yeah, that’s why I walked it back by the end of that paragraph. Originally I thought it seemed wrong, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t really know. Hence it being something I just took notice of.

  5. Haku is supposed to be a lot more active in the game, but since so many of those scenes have already been cut, it wouldn’t make sense for him to just suddenly take an dominant role. It doesn’t change the fact that I would have liked him to be more active during the first half though.

    Also, did the Yamato soldiers suddenly disappear when the four started fighting the Uzuurussha and Nakuan? It kind of broke my immersion, since it literally looked like they managed to defeat an army all on their own. Really wished the Whitefox could have had the soldiers in the background at least.

    1. One last note:

      The hostage situation crisis did feel awfully convenient. Atui was saved last second out of sheer luck on Haku and Rurutie’s part.

      The sequence of events is different in the game. It was supposed to be Rescue Nakuan -> Defeat Uzuurussha and Yakutowaruto -> Yakutowaruto begs Haku and co. to save his daughter -> They sneak into the Uzuurussha camp and save her, confronting Entua in the process.

  6. With the whole lining up in columns issue, I do think that it was fine because as the hostage tactics showed, whilst they may be barbarians they aren’t the screaming naked woad covered kind. As for referencing the goths Stilts, they were actually very tactically sound and used cavalry and infantry columns as good if not better than the late Romans (who were admittedly kinda bad), but neevr the less it was the Goths discipline and tactics that won them the battle of Adrianople, slaughtering most of the eastern empire field army.

    Basically barbarians are awesome!!!

  7. https://randomc.net/image/Utawarerumono/Utawarerumono%20Itsuwari%20no%20Kamen%20-%2014%20-%20Large%2036.jpg
    Sometimes I wonder…the rest of the Generals have already come to an agreement,
    that Dekonponpo is a liability and the weakest among them;
    even if none of them would dirty their hands directly by getting rid of him,
    there shouldn’t be anything stopping them from leaving him to his fate (instead of saving him).

    Surely they can foretell that its better to cut their losses instead of keeping Dekonponpo around for the long term.

    1. In this case, there’s a downside to letting Dekoponpo hang himself out to dry. If it were an internal matter it would be fine, but here he’s making Yamato look bad on the international stage, and in front of their enemies. They need to win with strength, to discourage these kinds of shenanigans from other enemies—while Dekoponpo, who has embarrassed himself in front of the empire, may have done enough damage to himself to get ousted from his position. We’ll see.

  8. Last week I thought Ep. 13 was one of the better episodes of the season – certainly better than the last few of the first cour, and Ep. 14 was probably better than that. Definitely a tale of two cours here, and almost like a different show. On the whole I thought the positives definitely outweighed the negatives. Even some of the comedy moments worked better for me than in previous episodes.

    Not my favorite character, but I did like how they handled Rurutie’s first battle. I feared that the show would just have her rush into battle and easily defeat a hand-full of mooks/cannon fodder with easy which would have been a jarring combat power-up given how she’s been portrayed thus far. So I was happy that the show went with a more realistic (IMO) and character consistent portrayal of her being nervous, even scared for her first battle. Her wanting to save the hostages and using that as way to fix her resolve to fight also felt natural.

    Though I still maintain that the show could have done better with illustrating the combat prowess of some of the characters (e.g. Atui/Haku), I must admit that the previous glimpses we got were good enough for those two if less than ideal. Watching Atui kick ass didn’t feel out of place, and same for Haku. Kuon though, I think could have used a little better setup on that front, but not a huge deal.

    Haku was a mixed bag as Stilts notes. I did like how he was perceptive enough to realize Rurutie’s pre-battle anxiety. He may have ML Oblivious to Romance disease (this time because he was “too tired to notice”. Meh), but he’s been pretty sharp when it comes to observing people otherwise. On the downside, “Hostages, huh. Welp, nothing we can do about” might have fit with him being “laid back”, but there are limits to being laid back. Not like he could easily takes out two guards in a matter of seconds. Oh wait. Just not a good look for his character IMO even if he did acquiesce to Rurutie’s desire to help.

    TL:DR = So far so good for the second cour.


    @Stilts: You hit a lot of the points I wanted to make. Good job. 😀

    Agree about the plot convenience of the Sword-Master’s daughter. Don’t forget that one of the villagers made sure to mention the daughter’s existence to Haku as well. Convenient. Also agree about Haku (see above)

    However, the use of initial battle formations by the Uzuurussha barbarians didn’t really bother me. I did find one scene when you had the two armies in formation and like a dozen soldiers fighting way out in front weird. Those guys just run really fast? Back to the formations. The classical perception of “barbarian hordes” may be that they attacked in chaotic waves, but I’m not sure if that’s entirely historically correct. No reason barbarian cultures couldn’t have adapted some basic military formations and even tactics. Uzuurussha does seem to have a competent general in charge. BTW, there’s more to the Roman Empire’s success than just lining up in formations. The Romans integrated tactics with their primary weaponry as well – the gladius (sword), scutum (shield), and pilum (throwing spear).

    So maybe the barbarians line up initially in formation, but they still fight like “barbarians” (uncoordinated individual melee). Then again, both sides in the anime did that.

    1. The small group fighting between the two armies lined up in columns was odd.

      As other commenters mentioned, some barbarians did indeed fight like the settled societies. That’s why I oscillated on that even within the same paragraph. It’s just something I noticed, and wasn’t sure how I felt about.

      1. @Stilts: Nice to know I’m not the only one who found that scene odd. As for the rest, no worries. FWIW, I missed Kn Gars post before I wrote my above comment. Wasn’t trying to belabor the point.

  9. Although there’s no future events, I’ll just use the spoiler tag to be safe. In the game, Show Spoiler ▼

    But I guess there’s just not enough time to put it all in one episode, But the edit made it seem too convenient.

  10. https://randomc.net/image/Utawarerumono/Utawarerumono%20Itsuwari%20no%20Kamen%20-%2014%20-%20Large%2009.jpg
    I thought this was just a poor job of providing support by the left army, then they explained the Nakuan and it actually made sense.

    Not a lot that’s more frustrating then being given an advisory job and not actually having your advice listened to or followed, especially when that job takes you out to the battlefield instead of a cushy office.

    As far as the masks, I think this is the point where we reach major spoiler territory for the first Utawarerumono, though there are still a few other twists in store even if you learn why you don’t piss off the masked ones.

    1. Ugh, I was hoping no one would call me out on that ;_;

      The monthlies killed me last season, and sapped most of my extra animu time into finishing shows I probably woulda dropped otherwise, lol. That + the preview and the Best of post (and the holidays … I was away seeing family for a full week there, and had a friend in town for another week in early December) killed my anime watching time. So I haven’t gotten to watch any of the original Utawarerumono in a while.

      But fear not! Once I finish my last few intro posts, I an zero in on what I want to watch and then restart the marathon. Which I want to do this week or next week, hopefully. The updates will return then.

  11. Atui is awesome (and a lot more powerful than I thought—damn, girl)

    I went back and scanned through episode 8. Not only is she shown to kill insect monsters with a single spear-thrust (despite being panicked and grossed out), she splits the ship apart with a spear-swing that projects force in the same way Oshutoru’s sword-swings do.

    So I think that was sufficiently set up.

    As for Kuon, in episode 2 she volunteers to confront the “Curse” monster and lead it to kill the Boro-Gigiri, from which I inferred she’s quite capable of handling herself in a fight.

    1. I wasn’t surprised that she’s powerful, but I was more surprised that she was so skilled too. In a fantasy setting you can easily have someone who’s capable of blowing unintelligent trash mobs up, but can’t hold their own against a skilled fighter that well, much less multiple in a row. So yes, it was foreshadowed well enough, but I still found myself a little surprised.

      Ditto to Kuon. It makes enough sense that I don’t feel shocked, per say, but she is better at hand to hand than I expected. Though she should probably grab a weapon. It’s always better to fight with a weapon.

  12. The daughter rescue and her stopping the fight with Atui seemed SO rushed. I knew exactly where that scene was heade, after it seemed like the master swordsman wasn’t a bad guy, but the build-up and resolution of this tension just felt like whiplash. Game readers tell me it wasn’t like that originally.

    I wish they hadn’t spent so much of the first 12 episodes of SoL and left more breathing room for all these events.

  13. Don’t make the same mistake a lot of perole made with Last Exile 2. Haku may be protagonist here, but it’s not his story but mainly Kuon’s and Oshutoru’s. Haku just serves as the main POW, so he don’t need to be bright or active.

    And if you finished S1, you should know why Kuon has this much power.


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