Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion ?
A word of advice for supporting characters in war stories: if you have a moment of personal growth halfway through the episode, you should probably spend the next half hour hiding behind something solid. Just as the battle on the mountain path nears its end, Yajirou is hit by a gunshot and killed. More bad news arrives with a report that the other Mongol army is closing in, but Kuchii sees this as an opportunity to escape. With the meeting of the two armies likely to result in confusion, the Japanese troops can put some distance between themselves and their pursuers. Onitakemaru takes the idea a step further by gathering some valuables for the enemy soldiers to fight over. The delay tactics work well enough to buy our heroes a peaceful night, but a moonlit encounter with a mysterious old man leads Kuchii to a mountaintop that the Toibarai refer to as their capital. Face to face with a man claiming to be an emperor, the exiled general will have to choose his next moves carefully.
In hindsight, Yajirou's death seems all but inevitable. The guy went through a complete character arc last week, making him a prime candidate for Angolmois to kill off for dramatic effect. While it's an obvious choice to make, it still comes as a bit of a surprise in the moment. The poor guy is finally coming into his own as a commander, and suddenly he gets blown away by a team of no-name baddies with an unwieldy hand cannon. As one might expect, that swift change in fortune carries some emotional weight. Circumstances aside, perhaps the most compelling part of Yajirou's death scene is his own feeling of uncertainty. It's a classic tearjerker tactic, especially in war stories; a formerly unreliable member of the squad bites the bullet after redeeming himself, and his last words end up being something along the lines of, “Did I do good, Sarge?” It's been done a thousand times, but it's a common plot point because it works.
Narrative significance aside, the use of the gun is also one of several interesting moments in this episode in terms of the tactics employed by both sides. With the second Mongol army approaching, it's curious, and most likely deliberate, that Kuchii and Onitakemaru come up with slightly different versions of the same plan. Both characters see the value of slowing the enemy down further without having to fight another battle, but the way they go about doing it says a lot about their personalities. Kuchii continues to play the part of the clever soldier, recognizing that the differences between the two pursuing armies will cause confusion if they run into one another. Onitakemaru, on the other hand, just follows his pirate instincts; lure the baddies in with a big pile of stolen treasure, then run away and let them fight each other for it. It's another case of Onitakemaru playing a smart but uncivilized foil to Kuchii. The portrayal of Mongol general Edei is also interesting, as he seems to alternate between being a comical buffoon and being a surprisingly competent leader. One minute he's weighing his options for pushing the Japanese off the mountain path, the next he's swooning over Teruhi, and then he's back to expressing remorse for his dead soldiers. It's an unusual mix of personality traits, and I can't quite tell if Angolmois is trying to give him some depth as a character or just being inconsistent in its writing.
The night after the battle offers a low-key scene for the main characters to catch their breath and reflect on everything they've been through, although the results are mixed. The visual of Kuchii being haunted by the faces of the dead in his sleep is significant, if not exactly subtle; he spends so much time telling other characters to suck it up and keep fighting that Angolmois needs an occasional moment like this to keep him human. Teruhi's stroll amongst the fireflies is even less subtle, to the point where she directly compares the glowing bugs to the souls of the dead in case the visuals didn't make it obvious enough. That brings us up to the old man and Kuchii's trip up the mountain, which is easily the strangest part of this episode. Between the nighttime fog, the shots of chanting bystanders, and the mountaintop sunrise, the scene almost has a mystical quality to it. It's a bit too early to know what exactly our new emperor friend is up to, but my guess is that Kuchii and company are about to get some much-needed assistance.
Overall, this episode does a reasonable job of picking up where its predecessor left off. It doesn't do anything particularly special, but it delivers some familiar genre moments in a competent manner. Most importantly, it maintains the sense of narrative momentum that Angolmois managed to establish last week. The show now finds itself in decent shape as we hit the mid-season mark, and Yajirou's untimely demise implies that the battle scenes will be more consequential from this point forward. As a genre piece, I like where Angolmois seems to be headed. Even if it doesn't hit the loftiest heights of wartime drama, it has enough going on to keep me engaged.
Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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