OP Sequence

OP: 「Straightener」 by Braver

「率土の最果て」 (Sotto no Saihate)
“The Far End of Japan”

Here’s the one thing you need to know: the action is awesome!

Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki is the story of the Mongol invasion of Japan. The first one, seeing as how several of the characters are initially dismissive of the Mongols invading Japan, something the Japanese of 1281 wouldn’t have scoffed at. But this is 1274, and though Kublai Khan did send that envoy a few years back, it was ignored.

That, it turns out, wasn’t a smart idea.

Our main character for this tale is Kuchii Jinzaburou (Ono Yuuki), a disgraced samurai exiled to Tsushima Island because the local princess, Teruhi (Lynn), asked the military government in Kamakura for some death row inmates to defend the island. The Battle of Tsushima Island in 1274 was, as you will recall—or likely not—a swift Mongol victory, which makes it an odd setting for what I’m sure will be a typical Japanese bout of historical revisionism. Which I don’t love—it’s a bad habit for anyone to get into, but especially countries like Japan, who have done some shit a time or two, and so should be very clear about when they were the villains of history. But this wasn’t one of those times, and if I have to stomach some historical revisionism to get some Mongol Empire Anime in my life, I will do that by gods! Besides, the intro seems to hint that the historical revisionism will all be in the realm of characters, scale, and tactics, rather than outcome—because, spoiler alert, the Japanese don’t fare well. I guess I already spoiled that when I said it was a Mongol victory? There it is. If Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki does things right, I wouldn’t expect most of these characters to get out alive.

Not that the main characters dying makes for a bad story. I’m Texan, and we still go on about the Alamo to this day, which didn’t end well for its defenders. Went well for their side in the end, though, just as with Japan and the Mongols. Let ’em all die! I’m here to see how it happens.

Speaking of the characters, they’re instant winners. Jinzaburou is a bit of a stick in the mud, but not too much, as befitting from a samurai-turned-criminal. Onitakemaru (Koyama Rikiya) is probably my favorite character initially, he’s a ton of fun in a straight-forward, hot-blooded way. But there are plenty of other instantly recognizable characters as well, from the merchant to the scout to the monk and all sorts. That’s good, because—do I really need to even say why instantly memorable and enjoyable characters are a good thing? Of course it’s good! Moving on.

But by far and away the most important thing is that the action is awesome. I don’t love the parchment filter over everything—or rather, I do like it, but I don’t like how it doesn’t mvoe with the scene, which means it becomes way too obvious on slow pans and yanks me out of immersion. That aside though, the action is fast-paced and delightfully physical, and it’s just a treat to watch. I’d be surprised if the anime shows the Mongol’s military tactics properly—in fact, they’ve likely already screwed it up, since I can’t imagine the Mongols sending six chaps to kidnap a girl when they can send 1,000 and slaughter everybody, though the Japanese-speaking chap puts an interesting wrinkle in that—but then again, there was that storm of arrows at the beginning. Maybe it will? I can’t imagine the anime|Mongols laughing at the Japanese’s silly tactics—something the historical Mongols allegedly did—tactics such as “Fight one dude at a time in single combat!” and “Aim each arrow at one person instead of blanketing the sky!”, all of which seem dumb to our modern sensibilities as well. Then again, they’ve already shown a samurai killing people in rapid succession, so if we’re going for historical revisionism to make the Japanese more effective? Once again, I’m on board. (Also they didn’t have katanas during the first war.)

In short, don’t go expecting a faithful adaptation of what really happened. But if you want some kickass historical action, this is a promising initial episode. And for that, I’m supremely glad.

My SECOND novel, Freelance Heroics, is available now! (Now in print!) (Also available: Firesign #1 Wage Slave Rebellion.) Sign up for my email list for updates. At stephenwgee.com, the latest post: Risk Tolerance in the Creative Life.


ED Sequence

ED: 「Upside Down」 by SHE’S


  1. I guess they’re running with that legend that Minamoto Yoshitsune (whose sword style is used by two characters in the anime) fled from Japan and became Genghis Khan. Interesting.

      1. It’s a somewhat well-known Edo-period legend/theory, of course no one actually believe it seriously nowadays, but it can be interesting in a semi-fictional setting (that said, this isn’t confirmed in the anime yet).

  2. How to try and ruin an otherwise excellent anime:

    1) Make an anime with a compelling story, instantly empathetic characters with striking designs, a gritty charcoal-like artstyle and beautifully choreographed and fluid fight scenes (even though they’re still mostly done on 2’s)

    2) Stick a friggin’ filter in front of everything to totally distract from the wonderful work underneath it

    I agree totally about how if the filter moved with the background it wouldn’t be so bad. But anyway, it’s so good apart from that I’ll try not to let it put me off too much because it oozes quality right from the start. That establishing shot, if you had the right knowledge (which I only did afterwards), would immediately give you the date of October 5th, 1274 and the location of Tsushima simply because of the battle setting and the tattered nobori with the mon of the Shou clan, which ruled Tsushima at the time.

    1. It a shame when they lose the chance to be historically accurate I think it makes thing cooler. Especially when a modern fighting girls anime “Katana Maidens” can have a girl using a Tachi which would be the weapon of this period. Her’s is easier to tell as it is the double-bladed Kissaki Moro Ha Zukuri. Now the artistic nature of this show makes it hard for me to tell they could be using Tachi not Katana as to a layperson like me the differences are not that much.

  3. Well.. Nations going into war because of Woman.. Well Arslan Senki is an good explanation and others, but your right.. only 6 mens going kidnapping an Woman when they could send 1000… Well, these 1000 needs Ships, good weather and other bigger obstacles, where an 6 men commando (Did i hear Vikings raids!!) could be more effective

    1. They ain’t going to war because of a woman. They’re going to war because Kublai wants to conquer Japan. The girl might be important to this fictional rendition, but she isn’t in any way the focus of the invasion even then. Maybe just a useful bargaining chip, if that’s what the blond dude was going for.

  4. The blades they are using in Angolmois are most likely tachi – the predecessor to katana. They are very similar in shape to katana (especially Koto era versions), but being a bit thinner, longer, and a bit different curvature. The big way to tell the difference between the two is the location of swordmaker’s signature and what direction the edge of the blade is facing when sheathed. Katanas were sheathed edge up to allow samurai a single fluid motion to draw and attack while tachi were sheathed edge down to make them easier to use in horseback combat. At 4:05, you can see a blade being unsheathed with it’s edge facing down, implying the blades they are use are tachi.

    1. Good point. Though, another problem with the tachi was that they couldn’t cut through the Mongolians’ armor without chipping and breaking, and Jinzaburou was doing that with no problem. So they’re still taking liberties, but it’s once again in a way I don’t mind. That’d be a tedious problem to deal with in a story.

      1. I don’t buy the “tachi couldn’t cut through Mongol armor” theory in the fist place. Any sword from any period would have trouble cutting through metal armor anyway.

      2. The Mongols didn’t use metal armor, or at least, not the full mail or plate sort. That was a European knight thing. Mongols were primarily mounted archers that depended on the superior speed and coordination to destroy their enemies (until they started knocking off the Chinese back in Ghengis’ time, and brought on a bunch of Chinese engineers to help ’em siege cities). Why wear heavy armor when one of your primary tactics was firing your bow a bunch and then running away? They used hardened leather and some iron (so yes, some metal). The tachi could get through that.

        A time or two. The problem wasn’t that the tachi couldn’t get through Mongol armor, it’s that they’d chip and break too easily. The katana was created for a reason. Historians agree that this was the reason, so I’m inclined to believe them until other evidence is revealed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *