Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion
Episode 7

by Paul Jensen,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion ?

In this episode, Angolmois manages to advance the plot without a major battle scene for once. Kuchii continues his mountaintop conversation with Antoku, who was the Emperor of Japan before fleeing to Tsushima many years ago. When Teruhi also makes her way up the mountain, Antoku gives her a message to carry to the Toibarai. That message turns out to be sufficient to convince Toibarai leader Nagamine to offer Teruhi's people shelter in the fortified castle of Kanatanoki. Surrounded by a massive wall and guarded by skilled Toibarai warriors, it seems like an ideal sanctuary, but Kuchii isn't ready to relax just yet. He points out that there simply aren't enough soldiers to secure the walls, and that they aren't as safe from the Mongols as they think.

For viewers who enjoy the “historical” half of historical fiction, Antoku's appearance in this time and place has some interesting implications. My admittedly brief research suggests that the real Antoku was indeed declared Emperor at a young age, but he died in the battle featured in this episode's early flashback scene. By having him instead escape to Tsushima, Angolmois has drawn an intriguing connection between the now-elderly Antoku and Kuchii: while one was a ruler and the other was a general, they both find themselves living in some form of exile on Tsushima. Teruhi's ancestral connection to Antoku is also worth noting, since it explains why the other members of the Sou clan treated her differently from the rest of the family earlier in the series. This all seems geared towards reinforcing the idea that Tsushima is part of Japan, not just its own little island. That, in turn, lends some big-picture perspective to Kuchii's mission; he's fighting to defend a country, not just an isolated piece of territory. All that may not sound terribly important if you're just here for the action, but it's an interesting articulation of the show's themes.

We do get a brief moment of action as the Toibarai mow down a group of Mongol scouts, but for the most part this episode sticks to a slower pace throughout its running time. I wasn't exactly blown away by Nagamine and friends when they first showed up in episode four, where they were an all-too-convenient source of support for Kuchii in a battle that should have been more of a challenge. This time around, the Toibarai make a better impression, since they get to do more than just save the day and disappear into the night. The tour around Kanatanoki gives us a better sense of who these people are, and the mild tension between them and the rest of Tsushima's population plays into the theme of unlikely allies facing a common threat. The budding friendship between exile scout Amushi and Toibarai girl Sana lends some heart to the “getting to know you” process, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Angolmois use that relationship to add some extra emotion to the mix when the fighting resumes.

Once the characters have had a chance to unwind after several episodes of running and fighting, Kuchii steps back into the frame to deliver his proclamation of gloom and doom. This goes over about as well as his criticism of Sukekuni earlier in the series, but we all know how that prediction turned out. The issue of having too few soldiers to defend such a large fort is an interesting problem to have, since it essentially turns what should be an advantage for the protagonists into a critical weakness. It also serves as another example of Kuchii's sharp military instincts, since he comes to this realization while everyone else is busy drooling over how strong the fortifications look. In its final moments, this episode drops another tantalizing little hook with the suggestion that there may be a way for the exiles to escape Tsushima before the Mongols catch up. If that does turn out to be the case, it should set up a compelling crisis of conscience by forcing Kuchii and company to choose between saving Tsushima and saving their own necks.

With this episode, Angolmois manages to make a reasonably smooth transition into the next stage of the story. The Toibarai serve their purpose of offering the main characters a safe haven without making that haven too safe, and along the way the stage is set for the next big conflict. For all its walls and catapults, Kanatanoki seems like it may present just as many challenges as advantages. That's a nice balance of good news and bad news to throw at the protagonists, and the extra context offered by Kuchii's meeting with Antoku adds some fuel to the “hold the line” fire. As long as Angolmois is smart about how it brings the main Mongol force back into the picture, the prospects for the next big battle are looking pretty good.

Rating: B

Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.


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