Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion
by Paul Jensen,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion ?
Outnumbered or not, it looks like our heroes are committed to holding the castle. Kuchii reluctantly agrees to help defend Kanatanoki, despite his concerns about the lack of soldiers. Meanwhile, a conversation between two other exiles turns out to have some pretty major consequences. Obusuma tells Shiraishi that he's been offered a chance to switch sides and work for the Mongols, and he asks Shiraishi to join him. Shiraishi kills both Obusuma and a Toibarai diver who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, then arranges the murder scene to make it look like they killed one another. He then slips away to reveal the location and weaknesses of Kanatanoki to the Mongols. Nagamine seems to realize something strange is going on, but with Mongol troops already approaching, it may be too late.
Getting Kuchii to stick around is necessary for the plot, but I'm not overly impressed with the way Angolmois goes about changing his mind. Without so much as a single snowflake in the sky, the challenge of enduring winter without a permanent shelter seems entirely too distant to sway Kuchii from a strategic standpoint. On the more personal side of the argument, the audience is apparently supposed to buy into the idea that a sparring match with a couple of Toibarai soldiers is enough to convince Kuchii that the locals will be able to fight harder on home ground. While there's some credibility to that notion, it comes across as a pretty shaky prospect when Kuchii is able to easily beat the crap out of four fully armored dudes with his bare hands. If that fight is supposed to show how tough the Toibarai are, then color me unconvinced. Angolmois has made a big point of portraying Kuchii as a smart and pragmatic leader, so having him shrug and go along with the idea of defending Kanatanoki after these scenes feels more like a forced plot point than a decision he'd actually make.
On the other hand, I like the way this episode handles the conversation between Shiraishi and Obusuma. At first, it seems like the usual clash of perspectives, with Shiraishi playing the dutiful samurai while Obusuma embodies personal ambition and opportunism. There's no real surprise in seeing Shiraishi turn Obusuma down, nor is it unexpected for him to anticipate the attempted backstab and counter it. After that, though, the show manages to deliver a pretty strong twist with the arrival of the Toibarai girl. Suddenly Shiraishi's loyalty isn't nearly as ironclad as it appeared to be, and we realize that his refusal to work with Obusuma came more out of personal mistrust than out of any sense of duty. Having him be the one to defect makes for a more nuanced betrayal while still achieving the necessary effect of bringing the Mongols to Kanatanoki.
Shiraishi's defection also gets us another look at Mongol general Edei, who last appeared a couple weeks ago during the battle where Yajirou got killed off. Once again, he seems to present an intriguing blend of strengths and weaknesses. He's still unreasonably fixated on the prospect of getting more treasure and obsessing over his brief glimpse of Teruhi, but once again the guy has some intelligent things to say. Edei's explanation that he's willing to trust Shiraishi's information because of the look of regret on his face is an interesting one, especially since Angolmois probably could've gotten away with just having him take the information at face value immediately. One has to assume that the series is still setting Edei up for failure, but I'll give the show points for making him more than just a generic, incompetent antagonist. On the other side of the battlefield, Angolmois is keeping its cards close to its chest regarding whether or not Kuchii and Nagamine are wise to Shiraishi's betrayal. That means we don't yet know how prepared the Japanese are for the upcoming battle, and that uncertainty cranks the dramatic tension up a notch.
Angolmois keeps its streak of “good but not great” performances going with this episode, even though this marks the show's second consecutive week without a proper battle scene. As much as I would've liked to see the series make a more convincing case for having Kuchii agree to defend the castle, that shortcoming is outweighed by the smart presentation of Shiraishi's betrayal. The twists and turns of that defection are handled nicely, adding some welcome intrigue to the necessary but dry process of bringing all the major players together for the next big conflict. With the stage finally set, I'm hoping that Angolmois will be able to cut loose and deliver some gripping action scenes next week.
Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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