The scary great king comes from the other side of the sea... The big incident "Genkou" that shook medieval Japan is being drawn in an original way in this historical anime, along with the beginning of the Samurai!
I like samurai stuff and this one looked specially interesting at first sight because there's no Shinsengumi, no Tokugawa Ieyasu, Edo, Musashi, Jubei and others we've already seen hundred of times. Not that I don't like them but it adds some freshness.
However, there's two things that chocked me very early, the cruelty of war against women, and the cruelty of the animation against my eyes.
Even the filter supposedly hiding the misery of their graphics is cheap, it ruins everything.
I can't remember any scene that gives me the vibes, there's no well choreographed action, no highlight, it's constantly mediocre.
Representing a historical fiction of war and cruelty, I decided to watch Angolmois with one goal in mind: to embrace a war story and accept exactly for what this show is. To my pleasant surprise, Angolmois not only succeeded in bringing a war story to life but also reminds me that we need more creative shows like this in our generation.
I’m not going to lie, shows with a historical genre tag isn’t really my cup of tea. I’m more used to the traditional live action style of historical storytelling than those made into anime medium. Still, there’s something exceptionally intriguing about this series. Angolmois: Genkou
Kassenki (also known as Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion) sounds about as straightforward as it gets. Taking place during the 13th century, it deals with a war drama as the Mongolian Empire makes their presence in the world. Japan became a target of this almighty empire and thus begins the Mongolian Invasion.
Angolmois has confidence to be its own story. It takes a realistic approach at historical fiction with the war themes as the first episode introduces us to a variety of characters, the setting, and the plot. The show reveals a group of exiles on their way to Tsushima Island. We are introduced to Kuchii Jinzaburou, a swordsman and former trainer of the Kamakura Shogunate. As a former prisoner of Hakozaki, he also saves Chou Minpuku, another exile. My impression of just the first 10 minutes of the series made me realize that Jinzaburou is not ordinary man. He’s more of a daredevil hero who isn’t afraid of taking action or holding back. After arriving on the island, the exiles are given the task of defending it from Mongols. Joining them also include a former pirate named Onitakemaru, former noble Shirashi Kazuhisa, among others. Due to such a pilot episode, it felt like Angolmois may be taking the risk of jumping the gun too fast. However, I would also mention that by doing so, it had me intrigued at just how far these characters will be able to carry their roles.
At the centerpiece of the cast is Jinzaburou. I already mentioned that he isn’t a traditional protagonist but more of a thriller seeker. He enjoys the sheer thrill of the fight even though he’s not a malevolent person. Thanks to his samurai experience and swordsman skills, he is able to hold his own against powerful foes. What’s important is to realize that Jinzaburou also possesses leadership skills. This is a man that plays with calculated strategies, tricks, and gambling circumstances into his plans. While he’s not a master strategist, I came to realize that the show gave him a balance of brain and brawn. He has a somewhat creative mind and isn’t afraid to express his feelings. Thanks to some help with his allies, he is able to accomplish some near impossible feats including being able to defend against the Mongols. Other characters in the series vary a bit more such as Onitakemaru who acts more as the pure muscle with his large size and strength. The princess of Sou Clan, Teruhi also shows talent in archery as part of the group. At first glance, I wasn’t too impressed by her character as she played the role of a generic princess. However, my stance changed once I saw her courage. In one particular episode, she takes a bullet for the team and protects someone from an assassination. Not only did this impress me but it also established her as genuine heroine who puts others before herself. Still, the show puts her in an awkward position at times. It became obvious that she has a girly crush on Jinzaburou and the show doesn’t do a clever job at exploring their relationship. Needless to say but I’ll say it anyways, this anime does not work well with relationship building.
This is because war is essentially death. It’s simple as that really. People are going to die and there are even foreshadowing of this (for instance, the ED theme song). The anime doesn’t fool around with character deaths either and some are rather violent. This came to me as a positive in the show as it continues to demonstrate the reality of war. Blood is spilled, body parts are scattered, and even heads comes off from necks. If you’re not prepared, then be ready to turn back. I should also mention to not get overly attached to certain characters in the series because not everyone will make it. Or even, there are betrayals in this show. That’s right. The character cast are humans so everyone has their own will to commit sins. On the other hand, I wish the series committed more time to develop the antagonists. There’s much more emphasis on the main characters than the antagonists. While this makes sense, I would’ve appreciated if the anime made me care about the Mongols more than just their reputation. It seems at times, they look like fools who falls under obvious traps. On the other hand, I am satisfied by how this series makes me hate them as the villains. Some of their roles includes abducting families and committing atrocities just to prove their reputation. As such, I often rooted for Jinzaburou and his comrades. There are also some moments in the series where characters go down fighting to the last breath. And that really paints how far characters are motivated to defend their honor.
A show like Angolmois really has a distinctive style from its visual and production. The action scenes is bloody with realistic body movements. There’s an abundance of violence that convinced me this as a war story. Speaking of war, the character designs looked cruel but also dynamic. Most of the main cast are dressed like warriors while characters such as Teruhi gave me a strong action heroine impression. The one person that stands out most would still be Jinzaburou. His expressions during fighting is exceptionally real and some of his body features represents his character. (more evident being a visible scar on his face) The setting also gives a vivid look of these old times with the historical buildings and landscapes. Even during some static scenes, it paints the show like a work of art.
If you want a show like this to be realistic, you’d need a talented voice cast. Thankfully, characters like Jinzaburou represents a warrior with his masculinity when he speaks. The exiles in the series prove themselves as independent characters striving to be free. Their voice expresses their feelings when fighting and it’s definitely not an understatement. The theme songs in the series are also refreshingly beautiful. I don’t see people talking about it often but “Braver” by Starightener sounds so smoothing to the ears. It’s one of those theme songs that fits perfectly for this historical fiction. Likewise, I’m also more than impressed by the soundtrack being able to keep up with the fighting action at all times.
I said it before but I’ll say it again. I decided to watch Angolmois for exactly what it is and thankfully, that’s what I got. It’s a story that meets expectations of being realistic and showing the cruelty of war. Even as predictable as the plot gets at times, I felt that the anime was able to keep me at the edge of my seat. War has consequences and we got Angolmois to prove that. Against all odds, this is an anime that knew what it was doing and what the audience wanted.
Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki, or the Record of Mongol Invasion, speaks entirely for itself: The samurai-ish historical action-drama about a ravaging war that broke out with the invasion of the Mongols in its time (when the Mongols were the most powerful army on the planet), or more specifically, the real-time events timeline of 1274 with the very first Battle pf Bun'ei: The battle for Tsushima Island (Spoiler: Mongol victory).
The series starts off unorthodoxly similar-sounding to the events of the Mongolian Invasion with a twist: a group of exiles, banished from the mainland, and are headed the way to Tsushima Island to protect the people there from
the upcoming invasion. Led by the brave Samurai and calm but composed strategist who goes by the name of Kuchii Jinzaburoh, and his band of exile mercenaries with unique characteristics and roles to play with, these exiles were given a death sentence to boot, and it's primarily their choice to either help or sabotage the entire operation.
Upon reaching Tsushima Island, they are confronted with the upheaval task ahead of giving their resources, be it brain or brawn to help educate the people about the war, equip them with war knowledge to fight back, all at the helm of Princess Teruhi, the woman with a kind heart but unrequited "love" for Jinzaburoh. Upon the many scenes of the Mongolian Invasion, one army after another, both the exiles and Princess Teruhi's men and villagers must somehow diverge the many loopholes they have regarding the foundation of Tsushima Island and its defenses in order to push back the Mongolians just enough to ensure everyone's safety.
For the story to work, the character cast VAs must be assigned to play the roles well, because the context of war is one that cannot be underestimated, and the sense of realism must be executed well. And with Angolmois, you won't be disappointed as every point, be it with the many hidden agendas or secrets it has, all portray the feelings of war with ruggedness, with scary emotions and whatnot to the point of believable-ness.
The art and animation is somewhat interesting. Studio NAZ incorporated a paper filter into the artwork, which explains why the historical art aspect is kept consistent and true to the real events past. The animation doesn't disappoint as many historical-action series does with all of the blood and gore of exterminating enemies and the such, and it all incorporates to give the realism of war, that when confronted, it is right at your face and you can do nothing about it, but just to adapt and fight your way out of this massacre (male army veterans can liaise with this).
The music, especially the OST, is more mellow but yet still holds out strong. Never have I expected anything from a war-ravaged anime OST to stand out, but yet this does with the gradual-eclipse of the OP and the all-purposes illustration of the ED about not just the main cast, but their silhouettes showcasing their efforts to stand together as one.
All in all, Angolmois is not a groundbreaking show, but yet it still manages to strike a chord all the way through from beginning to end. As is for a war-centric series, there is foreseen plot prediction, but with the kicker being the unexplained events of dire consequences of the dangerous war, it's always satisfying to learn as of such that war forces us, the viewers to learn to think twice and not just be strategic, for demise can come at an easy cost.
I enjoyed this series much, and you should too, so go catch up on this series, it's brutal yet entertaining.
Please note this review is intended to be read by those that have finished watching Angolmois and while care has been taken to minimize story related spoilers there may still be spoilers within character analysis. You have been warned.
Based off a popular manga of the same name Angolmois Genkou Kassenki is an action, military and historical anime that gives us the unique opportunity to go back in time and see the events that transpired during the standout moment that serves as the series main premise which was the first Mongol invasion of Japan which took place in the year 1274 and the attempts by
its defenders to hold the line against impossible odds. While military and actioned themed anime are relatively common within the anime industry as shown in brilliant series like the Gate and Valkrie chronicles series that featured a true historical event as its main premise is something of a rarity and indeed this is the first time I seen an anime that made use of this. As a fan of not just the genre’s but also of the samurai as well I was drawn to the anime after reading through the summary of the anime’s plot and was impressed enough to add it to my watch list for this season. The first episode of the series made a pretty good impression on me as it not only introduced the unique characters that would later take center stage in the war but also the unique setting that existed in that time period both of which served to motivate me to watch the series to the very end a move that I felt was now worth it.
Taking place on the island of Tsushima in the year 1274 in a land far removed from the bloodshed and fierce battles that had taken place on the mainland. Here rather than match wits against each other and fight against each other on the fields of battle for things like honor, glory and wealth the people of Tsushima island exist in a simple peaceful society one where the people only worry about whether their next harvests and fishing fleets will be able to find enough food to survive another week and one where conflict is tightly controlled by its ruling clan the So clan. However unknown to the general population this peace is about to be shattered for a large threat that’s akin to an invasion from one of the sengoku’s periods greatest warlords was approaching in the form of a vast invasion fleet from the newly awakened Mongol empire that’s determined to make Tsushima the first step in its eventual invasion of Japan.
The overall story for the series using this setting as its canvas follows a group of samurai that thanks to the peace that now reigns within Japan was released from their imprisonment and sent to Tsushima island as exiles never to return from there. Among their number was Kuchii Jinzaburo a veteran samurai and a former retainer of the Kamakura shogunate who while accepting his fate still aspires to one day be able to return to his homeland and reunite with his family. But rather than being exiled to a remote location and to live out an existence far from people Kuchii and his fellow exiles soon find themselves placed once more on the frontlines as the Mongols begin their invasion of the island. As the armies of the island’s reigning Sol clan are decimated and as the Mongols advance into the heart of the island Kuchii reawakens within him a sense of determination that he had thought forgotten a determination to not just protect the innocents but also to fight against worthy foes. Taking up the signature samurai armour and katana that symbolises his old role once more Kuchii begins to once more become not just a samurai but a leader as well as he begins to orchestrate the desperate resistance of the island’s inhabitants and protect them from the Mongols by giving them their first taste of something that they have not encountered until now which is defeat.
Joining Kuchii in this desperate defence of the island is the island’s sole remaining representative the kind but determined Princess Teruhi that despite being a princess is a capable fighter that’s both brave and cunning and while not close to Kuchii’s fighting abilities more than makes up for it in her ability to inspire loyalty and determination within her people. Together these two along with their allies would fight hard to stop the Mongols and protect the island’s inhabitants and buy time for the mainland to ready their defenses.
Kuchii Jinzaburo voiced by veteran voice actor Yuuki Ono of Food Wars and Strike the Blood fame is one of the main characters of the series and is the main protagonist of the series. A former retainer of the Kamakura shogunate that was exiled to the island as a result of the advent of peace on the mainland Kuchii from the onset was shown to be someone that was quiet, level-headed and calm and while his manner of speech was rather direct he was someone that was honorable and knew when to rein this nature in. An intelligent and rational person by nature Kuchii was someone that was noted to be quite perceptive able to both sense and see the subtle shifts of people’s behavior quite easily a trait that is no doubt born from his long career as a samurai. However while a quiet person Kuchii was someone that was noted to have a strong sense of duty and responsibility and while initially not interested in helping the Islanders in their defence soon changed as his mind as he began to realize that the Islanders just like the people back in homeland are innocents that were caught in the middle of a war that they didn’t want and as a result decided to do his best to protect them. While somewhat brooding and difficult to approach by many it can be seen that beneath this Kuchii is someone that’s not just kind and caring towards his friends and allies but also understanding, confident and inspirational traits that are bolstered by Kuchii’s natural sense of perception which enables him to easily notice and understand the key reasons that his men are fighting for and inspire them by using these very reasons. Unlike most other samurai who would prefer to take to the field at once and face the enemy on the field with all their might and skill Kuchii was someone that can be seen to something of a rarity in that he prefers to gather info on his enemies first and determine not just their tactics but also their ideology and motivations before making a decision on his actions which shows that while Kuchii was a capable samurai he was also a capable strategist as well that looks at the long view something that will be crucial for a sustained defensive war.
As the series goes on and as Kuchii’s personality is gradually expanded upon his personality starts to change as we get to see the effects that the war has on him. After the destruction of much of the Sol clan’s forces in the initial defense command of the defensive war was soon passed to Kuchii a role that while he excelled at was also one that placed a heavy burden on him. While possessing boundless amounts of confidence Kuchii was someone that respected the soldiers that served him a great deal seeing them as brothers in arms and as a result he is someone that will remember the deeds and names of each of them that died under his command and use this as a source of his courage something that I felt really matched the idea of a compassionate samurai that the character of Kuchii was modeled as. Unlike the islanders who have a valid reason to fight as they are fighting to protect their homes and also for justice for loved ones that were killed by the Mongols Kuchii, in the beginning, did not have a valid reason for taking up the katana once more a reason that some of his fellow exiles ridicule him over.
Indeed, while Kuchii does not fight for their homes or for justice as neither were things that he had to concern over when fighting in the bloody battles on the mainland he does, however, believe that one must not surrender to their fate and instead if you want to be able to live you must live your life your way and defy fate by standing up and fighting against it. It is this fierce sense of wanting to defy fate that Kuchii fights so hard and why he is able to inspire such loyalty among his fellow defenders something that I felt matched well with his inspirational nature. The character of Kuchii I felt was a character that was both well designed and developed with his evolution from a quiet, blunt and brooding ex-samurai to one that was kind, understanding and inspirational being particularly interesting. The evolution from an exile and a former samurai to becoming both the field commander and the savior of Tsushima island and its people was something that I really liked about the character of Kuchii. I felt that his voice actor Yuuki Ono really did an excellent job at portraying the character of Kuchii.
Teruhi voiced by veteran seiyuu Lynn of Fuuka and ElDLIVE fame is one of the main characters of the series and is one of Kuchii’s main allies within the series. A 17-year-old-year-old girl and the only daughter of the ruler of Tsushima island and patriarch of the Sol clan Sukekuni So Teruhi is one of the first people that receive and welcome the exiles and Kuchii to the island. From the onset, it can be seen that Teruhi despite being a princess and the sole daughter of the island’s reigning clan is someone that’s kind, compassionate and dutiful and was seen to have great pride as a member of that clan. Unlike most princesses, Teruhi was shown to be a caring and responsible person that treated all with humility and respect and as a result, had the loyalty and respect from much of the island’s inhabitants. However, while kind and compassionate Teruhi was also someone that was both intelligent, perceptive and cunning and was one of the first to realize that the upcoming Mongol invasion will be something that will be difficult to stop without help which resulted in her enlisting of the help of the exiles despite the risks that can be born from it. At the beginning of the series while shown as intelligent, calm, determined and cunning it can be seen that this is only what she projects on the surface for beneath this it can be seen that Teruhi is someone that’s emotionally fragile and is one that dislikes fighting and killing and as a result of the coming storm worries greatly about her home and her friends. A realization that unfortunately turned out to be true for her.
As the series progressed and as the war began to slowly turn against the defenders Teruhi’s personality gradually began to change. At the beginning of the series though very determined to be of use to both her clan and the people of the island Teruhi due to her father’s wishes was prevented from taking to the field. However, after his death and Teruhi succeeding the role as clan leader this barrier was removed and Teruhi began to take to the field and fight on the frontlines in order to protect her people. At the beginning of the series, Teruhi due to her position as a princess was someone that was noted to have a strong sense of pride that also caused her to develop a degree of overconfidence in her traits that often caused Kuchii and the defensive effort more trouble than needed. However, as a result of successive tragedies that created a heavy emotional toll on Teruhi this side of her gradually vanishes as the series went on and is replaced by a sense of not just a determination to learn how to fight effectively but also instilled within her the realization that they cannot fight this threat alone any longer and that maybe its time to ask for help rather than being stubborn about it if she wants to be able to protect the people that she so values. This latter point is seen in the humility that she displays when seeking to ask for the assistance of the Toribarai.
At the beginning of the series, Teruhi and Kuchii had a rather tense first meeting due to her intention to make use of the exiles as soldiers in her desire to use them to protect the island from harm. As a result of this relations between the two were rather tense but as the series went on and Teruhi bore witness to not just Kuchii’s skills as a warrior but also his ability to not just inspire others but also come up with creative strategy and tactics that dealt with the Mongols in devastating ways this view gradually changed as Teruhi began to realize that he was exactly the type of person that they needed. Arguably one of the central reasons that caused Teruhi to change her opinion on Kuchii was that unlike what his usual gruff and brooding attitude would have suggested Kuchii was someone that was not just kind but also understanding of the plights of others a type of person that Teruhi had only seen rarely and contributed to her gradual bonding with him. At the same time, he was also one of the first people that defied her orders something that Teruhi paid him back within the series by insisting on joining him in battle and in the process not just keeping an eye on him but also gaining valuable insight into how battles are fought and how effective use of tactics can level the playing field even against overwhelming force skills that proved to be useful as the series progressed.
The character of Teruhi I felt was an interesting one that was both well designed and developed with her evolution from a prideful but surprisingly fragile princess to one that was not just brave and determined but also more humble being one of the best aspects of her character. Seeing Teruhi not just overcome her initial fear of killing and combat but also be willing to fight on the very frontlines and learn to use the tactics and teachings that she learned from Kuchii to protect those that she cares about was something that I thought was really well done. I thought that her seiyuu Lynn did an excellent job at portraying the character of Teruhi.
In terms of animation, I felt that the character designs for the series main characters were really well done and I felt that the outfits that were worn by the cast matched well with the time period that the series made use of. In particular, I felt that the outfits that were worn by both the nobles and retainers like Teruhi and her servants and the ones worn by the exiles and the peasants did a good job of defining the social class that they belonged too. In terms of combat armour that was worn by Kuchii and his men as well as the soldiers of the Toribarai I really loved the variation of the armor that is shown as these while also showing the different roles that they would play on the field also showed the kind of tactics that both factions use which within the series are polar opposites of each other. The armor that was passed on to Kuchii and one that he subsequently adapted as his main set I felt was both designed and showed well Kuchii’s advancement in role within the series as at that point Kuchii went from being an exile to one of the foremost defenders against the upcoming invasion. Location wise I thought that the island of Tsushima featured quite a variety of terrain that while pretty to look at also served to be effective terrain for the defenders as they continued their resistance against the Mongol armies. Of these locations, I thought that the castle that was used as the Toribarai was probably my favorite one as that castle while large and hard to defend was one that was both impressive visually but also as an effective defense.
As an anime focused on action and war it was important that Angolmois managed to get the combat animation right and at the same time make the battles that feature them easy to read and understand. In this, I felt that the series did relatively well. While the combat animations were relatively smooth I felt that the combat scenes were not just bloody but also brutally so and did a great job of showing just how well stepped the samurai actually were when they fought on the battlefield. Whether it was one vs one or one vs many I thought that the combat scenes within the anime were well done and did a great job of showing the desperate fights that the defenders had to fight in in order to protect their loved ones from the invaders which were helped greatly by the unique art style that was used for the series. In terms of enemy design while only seen a handful of times I thought that the designs for the Mongol commanders were interesting ones with the best examples being the Mongol spymaster and the Mongol vice marshal Liu Fuheng.
In terms of music, I felt that the series OST did a pretty good job at providing not just an excellent soundtrack to the many scenes within the series but also helped inject some tension into the many battle scenes that are within the series. The series made use of one opening and ending theme respectively which was Braver by Straightener and Upside Down by She’s both of which was strong songs that I felt complemented the series really well. In terms of voice acting, I felt that both Yuuki Ono and Lynn both did an excellent job portraying the characters of Kuchii and Teruhi. In addition, while I didn’t cover them within this review I also thought that Mikako Komatsu, Shun Horie, Natsuko Hara, Rikiya Koyama and Kensho Ono who portrayed the characters of Kano, Amushi, Sana, Onitakemaru and Hangan respectively all did an excellent job at portraying the supporting cast.
In overall Angolmois was an anime that I really enjoyed with its main strong points being its unique premise, interesting story, well designed and developed characters, well designed and developed battles, excellent voice acting and its inclusion of multiple themes that actually work well in the context of a war.
The overall premise of Angolmois which was the Mongol invasion of Japan and its invasion of Tsushima island as the first step in their master plan was an unusual one as historical events like this aren’t usually used as the premise for an anime but this is what makes the premise of Angolmois a strong one as the desperate situation that this entailed served as the ideal canvas for inserting the band of former samurai, thieves, pirates, and misfits into as no matter how unique their former lives were their skills are now more sorely needed than ever in perhaps the largest battles that any of them has fought in.
The overall story for the series I felt did a great job of taking advantage of this strong premise by not just introducing the island’s foremost clan but also introduce a number of characters that while openly dismissive of the exiles at first gradually grew to respect them as the war between the Islanders and the Mongols rapidly turned against them. As the story progresses and the war between the two factions gradually expands in scale this respect that exists between the Islanders and the exiles while still cold to some extent especially among the more senior retainers and the ones that have an arrogance about them gradually evolves as the exiles most prominently Kuchii begins to not just fight back against the invaders but surprisingly score victory after victory against them. While dealing a major blow to the invader's plans this act also served as an excellent foundation for both the Islanders and the exiles as while both have very different temperaments both factions believe that cooperating with each other would be the best path forward for both of them. Seeing not just Kuchii and the rest of the exiles but also Teruhi and her clanmates gradually learn to respect each other as they fight together was something that I felt was done well and illustrated the fact that even when faced by the cruelty of war the forging of bonds of friendship and comradeship would go a long way in helping them survive and fight another day. This is best shown in the many battles and tactics that were used by Kuchii and his comrades much of which relied upon the trust and respect that the Islanders and the exiles had for each other in order to succeed in them. I felt that the series made great use of a variety of tactics that really served to keep the Mongols guessing on their intentions. These included the use of ambushes, night assaults, explosives, firearms, and psych warfare all of which were devastating to both sides.
While the combat and the learning to unite against the common foe is the series main theme I thought that the series also did a great job of allowing us to look at the human side of a person whether that person is a trained soldier, an ex-samurai or simply a islander that while scared wants to be able to protect his friends and family from the invaders by allowing us to see the kind of motivations that they have for taking to the field, what serves as their main source of motivation and what their deepest fear is both on the field and off it. This latter point I felt was interesting as fear just as it can serve to incapacitate you if you let it control you can also be used as a great source of motivation if you are able to convert it into a source of your strength something that Kuchii within the series excelled at.
Overall Angolmois was a really enjoyable anime that made great use of its strong historical backdrop to give us an interesting tale of how a former samurai that was exiled to die a lonely death in a long forgotten island alongside his fellow exiles were to instead become one of the islands foremost defenders as they fought alongside their fellow islanders and turn what the Mongols thought to be an easy victory to one that will prove costly to the Mongols in terms of casualties and resources and showing them that when faced with the power of the samurai and determined islanders that are intent on defending their home even the Mongols famed numbers may not guarantee them victory. As a final score I would say that it deserves a final score of 9/10.