Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki

January 6, 2019

Remember a time when the Mongols were once one of the greatest, if not the greatest and deadliest empires in the world? So great and deadly that even the historians studied and analysed that with so many people killed under their history, they actually helped in conserving the world environment by eliminating all those carbon and letting the land to return to its original forest roots. And that was when the world wasn’t even billions of people yet. And now, we go back in history to see one of their exploits. A time when they first invaded Japan. Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki is based on that first invasion back in 1274. Historical animes aren’t my cup of tea but if they’re going way back before all that Tokugawa and Meiji era setting that most probably has been done to death in so many other period and historical animes, this sounds like a refreshing idea.

Episode 1
A boat is carrying a group of exiled men. Among them is Jinzaburou Kuchii who was once a retainer for the Kamakura Shogunate. Several disgruntled men complain about being tied up as the sea is rough. They want to be set free because where else could they run? But upon releasing some of them, they rebel and kill the authorities off. They didn’t stop there, though. They try to dispose the other prisoners but Jinzaburou slices them apart. Also on board is Onitakemaru, a former pirate who was captured by Jinzaburou. He is made to steer the ship until it reaches Tsushima, supposedly an island at the edge of Japan. Upon arrival, they are welcomed by the beautiful princess, Teruhi. Is this some sort of dream come true as they are treated to a banquet. Suspicious Jinzaburou questions the point of all this as Teruhi claims they will all fight and lay down their lives for Tsushima. Rumours have it that the Mukuri (Mongolians) are going to invade Japan and are gathering at Goryeo (Korea). If so, Tsushima is the first place they will invade. She claims she has officially enlisted them for this and technically she saved their lives. The prisoners protest that this is no different than a death wish. Those who oppose, swift death comes upon them. This doesn’t come as a surprise to Jinzaburou because exiling is not what he is supposed to get for the things he has done. Teruhi might have sounded brave but in actually fact she was just putting up a brave front and dislikes the idea of war as she hates to see people dying. With some prisoners asking about Tsushima, former wealthy merchant, Zhang Mingfu could easily explain about Tsushima and Goryeo. This island serves as the gateway to Japan and it is only right if foreigners were to invade from Goryeo, Tsushima would be their first stop.

Deep into the night, a small group of bandits kidnap Teruhi. Uhm, that kind of ‘futuristic’ mask, is he like from the future? With the disorganized guards all abuzz trying to save Teruhi, the prisoners easily break out from their prison. Jinzaburou believes they have a better chance of survival if they stay to fight the Mongols rather than steal a flimsy fisherman’s boat back to the mainland. But some part ways into the mountains. Jinzaburou kills some time by burning the entire prison down. Despite the bandits being few in numbers, they are skilled enough to kill many of Teruhi’s guards. I guess Jinzaburou got bored so he decides to join in and slices the baddies with his Gikei style sword technique. Facing off with the bandit boss who seems to hint he is a foreigner with blonde hair, I can’t believe he could jump so far and high back to his own ship to escape. I know this is fantasy in some ways but this feels too much. Next morning, Teruhi hopes to give all those who died a decent burial. Jinzaburou lectures her that this doesn’t even cut it as war as the real deal is a brutal nightmare. Inadvertently he inspires her to vow and protect the people of this land. That’s why he is going to work hard for her. Teruhi’s servant, Kano returns to relay the bad news. The Mongols have begun their invasion as their 900 strong warships have left Goryeo for Tsushima.

Episode 2
As narrated, the Mongols conquered all of Eurasia and became something of what Nostradamus predicted them as Angolmois, the place where the king who destroys the world will be born. Jinzaburou is invited to attend a war strategy meeting conducted by Teruhi’s father, Sukekuni Sou and his adopted son, Yajirou Abiru. Sounds more like a storytelling party. Getting down to business, it seems they have ‘credible’ information that the Mongols will not attack Tsushima and go straight to the mainland. What is this about past alliance and this place breeds strong warriors? Jinzaburou brushes it off that this isn’t some pirate attack and the enemy army won’t just pass by an important base. He is thrown out of the meeting. In the streets, he has the villagers describe Tsushima and he finds it a lot bigger than it is. Enough to be its own country than an island. A monk is interested in this ‘3D map’ Jinzaburou created and wants it copied. But he knows Jinzaburou. Kagesuke Shouni also served the Kamakura Shogunate as a high ranking general. He is here to find out more about the Mongols. He has decided to send 3000 strong men as reinforcements. However they will only arrive in 7 days and he hopes Jinzaburou can hold out by then. He gives him a short blade supposedly belonging to Yoshitsune whom the Gikei style originated. Teruhi fears Jinzaburou leaving with Shouni so she acts out a cheesy nervous flirting for him just so he could promise and stay by her side. But Jinzaburou is worried that he is now forced to rely on Shouni, something he knows he can’t count on.

The Mongols will soon arrive on Tsushima. Sukekuni rallies the men to go fight them and they will hike for days and nights across the mountain to face battle. Teruhi wants to join in but is slapped by Sukekuni to know her place and bloodline. Jinzaburou thinks this indicates that Teruhi isn’t his real daughter or part of his clan. Upon reaching the bay, it must be a shocker to see the numerous invading fleet anchored there. Jinzaburou offers his advice on how to tackle but they will not hear a word of it. Especially Sukekuni who still feels he had been embarrassed during the meeting and should have killed him. But he made him remember his passion for fighting and his past glories are no more than just that. He orders him to the rear to protect Teruhi and is given an armour supposedly worn by their clan’s founder. He battle begins as Jinzaburou observes the battle tactics of the Mongols. He is impressed by the archer’s tactics of just shooting their arrow into the air because they don’t need to be highly trained and it also shows that all the men are from different places. Then the inevitable melee combat. Sukekuni and Yajirou do well enough to slay many guards and even a high ranking general to break through their ranks. However the tide will soon turn when they reach the bay. They see the coastal villages massacred and their corpses piled up. The Mongols then start using the mini trebuchet to throw bombs from their warship! With casualties running high, Yajirou is forced to sound for retreat. Unfortunately Sukekuni gets surrounded and killed by the enemy. No regrets.

Episode 3
Jinzaburou takes command of the fleeing soldiers and he tells them to fight back as the Mongols have decided to pursue them, their resources wear thin. The locals are split and some agree to fight with Jinzaburou while others especially under Yajirou’s command decide not to and continue retreating. Jinzaburou takes the Mongols head on and turns the battlefield bloody. He is aided by other fellow prisoners, Saburou Obusuma, Kazuhisa Shiraishi and Hitari. When Jinzaburou spots the main base of the Mongols, he takes a gamble and rides into it. Meanwhile Teruhi has come to the frontlines to tend to the wounded. She silences all those who oppose her and will take command in her father’s stead. Jinzaburou and his little merry men return and they surprised the rest with their victory. Jinzaburou returns with some package and wants Teruhi to identify. It is not the head of the enemy general but Sukekuni and his son! Jinzaburou risked getting them before they are put up on the enemy’s spear tomorrow as it would really demoralize them. Even though Jinzaburou calls Sukekuni’s attempts at victory as failure, he died a proud death. At night when they are resting, Jinzaburou devises a plan to attack the Mongols while they are sleeping. This is the best strategy to attack a large army with few numbers since they are not familiar with the land. All he needs is a guide. Some of them volunteer like Ginshichi so Jinzaburou has them eat and rest until the moon is at its peak before their night raid. Teruhi is not impressed with all this. As she even thinks of killing him for fear he will drag everyone to hell in his fight. Hey, you’re the one who brought him in to fight! Of course she can’t and it is hinted she did something shady to him while he sleeps. I believe it is a kiss… When it is time to raid, it looks like Yajirou’s faction has decided not to fight and return to the capital to regroup. Thanks to the excellent night vision of fellow prisoner, Amushi, Jinzaburou is able to strategize more. This includes how the Mongols’ goal is Kyushu and they don’t want to spend months fighting on this island. Hence everyone will hide deep in the island where they can’t reach them. Upon reaching the camp, a skeleton Mongol crew is keeping watch. Suddenly a few of the guides start running towards the enemy camp and shouting. Betrayal? Ginshichi is about to strike Jinzaburou from behind but Teruhi spots this and when she tries to warn him, she gets slashed.

Episode 4
Jinzaburou kills Ginshichi as he believes his family was held hostage by the Mongols. The Mongols are now on alert as they shoot fire arrows into the forest. After seeing dead villagers and some killed as examples, Jinzaburou can’t pull out from this now. They barge straight in to attack. Onitakemaru didn’t’ want to fight but after the arrows destroyed his sake, it’s bludgeoning time. When a Mongol commander reports to Kin Houkei, the high inspector of the army, he is not pleased he got scared by a few Japanese and used this reason to flee. He uses his own hearing and sounds from the battle to deduce their actual numbers. Houkei is surprised with the arrival of Ryuu Fukukou, the vice marshal of the Mongol army. He heard there is a wolf on this island who slew one of their mingghan commander and wants to hunt him down. Jinzaburou gives the signal to retreat as their mission is just to show their might. However they here screams. Women and children of the village are being transported to the Mongol ship. Some want to save them but Jinzaburou orders the retreat or else they will be surrounded. Thankfully they are helped by a group called Toibarai who were originally sent to protect Japan from invaders. With their help slaying the Mongols, Jinzaburou and his men are able to save the women and children before retreating. Jinzaburou is then met with the commander of Toibarai, Hangan Nagamine. He tells him they are going to leave now and will not risk losing any more of his men. They didn’t volunteer for this job but a noble requested them. If he is worthy, one day he will meet them. Ryuu stumbles into Onitakemaru. They fight and he finds this pirate a worthy foe. Onitakemaru loses but before he gets killed, Jinzaburou intervenes. They clash swords for a while and Ryuu realizes he is the wolf. Jinzaburou retreats and despite Ryuu would love to chase him, he has orders by the marshal, Hindun to return. The big man hears from his priest the auspicious date to set sail for Hakata and that will be in 7 days. Jinzaburou and his men take a break as they retreat to the capital. Teruhi can’t stop blushing at him but she might turn into a tsundere after Jinzaburou crudely puts some of his traditional grass medicine on her wound. Some of the men mistreat Sasamaru, the child of Ginshichi who was rescued. They view that dead man a traitor. Jinzaburou steps in. He admits he killed his father and gives him a chance to avenge him. Sasamaru is scared but after Jinzaburou explains how Ginshichi was a brave man challenging somebody stronger to save his family, Sasamaru is motivated to become stronger to kill him one day.

Episode 5
When they arrive at the capital, they see it being burnt to the ground. Some of the survivors have fled into the forest. Among them is Yajirou’s group. It seems the Mongols attacked this morning. Yajirou becomes pessimistic with this demoralization so Jinzaburou mocks him for being a pussy. Argument put on hold when reports come in that the Mongols are coming. Hiding behind the bushes, they spot several Mongol scouts. Teruhi is so enraged the Mongols took everything from her, she starts shooting her arrows at them. In no time the rest follow suit and kill all the scouts. The only place left for them now is to retreat to the bay. In order to give the villagers time to escape, Jinzaburou strategizes to build a fort right here on this narrow path. With the Mongols coming around the blind corner, Jinzaburou and go can easily take them out while the archers provide backup from the sides. Some of the men hiding below the valley can pierce the Mongols if they fall off. The strategy is working but Yajirou is still not impressed. He wonders why a guy like Jinzaburou is willing to fight and die for this island. Flashback time. Jinzaburou often visited an acquaintance of his father, Tokiaki Nagoe. The latter warned him not to visit so often as he doesn’t want to give the slightest provocation to other clans. But a few days later, they are attacked by Yorisue Ookura, a servant from the Hojou clan who is close to the shogun. They accuse Tokiaki for rebelling despite without any proof. Jinzaburou intervenes to fight. He got distracted by Tokiaki’s son being a coward while his father was going to be decapitated. Tokiaki’s last words to Jinzaburou was to think of him as his own father since Jinzaburou doesn’t remember much about his own. The moral of the story is that if you throw away your sword and you have one pointing at your throat, you lose everything. Hence learning the hard way, this is how he fights. The Mongols are now using bombs. This causes a little havoc but with Yajirou’s side having experience in dealing them, they manage to surround the Mongols in a valley and kill all of them. Yajirou decides to put his trust in Jinzaburou and wants him to look forward while he protects his back.

Episode 6
Hitari and Teruhi try to take out the commander of this troop, Uriyan Edei. But thanks to his sharp soldiers, he is well protected from behind. Uriyan sees fleeing Teruhi and is captivated by her beauty. He orders his men not to kill her. With another set of Mongol armies seen marching, Jinzaburou believes it is time to abandon their fort. The Mongols at the narrow path fires a gun via gunpowder. It hits Yajirou directly in the guts. Mad Jinzaburou slices them all down. Hey, it will take some time to reload the weapon, right? Yajirou and Jinzaburou exchange final words. The latter promises his death will not be in vain. With Amushi reporting another set of Mongols coming in, this might sound they will be pincered but Jinzaburou believes this is to their advantage. As he noticed both Mongol armies have different uniforms, this means different commanders. If they clash, this will give them more time to run. So as they retreat, it might look despicable that Onitakemaru had looted from the fleeing farmers their items and treasures. But when both Mongol armies arrive, he fights them for a while before running away and leaving his stolen goods behind. The Mongol factions then start to fight each other over the loot. That night as Jinzaburou sleeps, he dreams of all the traumas especially the one on his family. He wakes up only to see Teruhi’s face so close. Nobody panicking. Just checking to see if he is alive. Why does she sound so disappointed? Whatever she was about to steal, was it worse than the stolen loot? An old man appears before Jinzaburou. Reluctantly he invites him to meet the emperor. Man, this old fart can run fast! Jinzaburou chases after him but and it must be a long run because by the time Jinzaburou catches up to him at the top of the mountain peak, this old man is a retainer of the emperor, Tokihito AKA Emperor Antoku. You mean this petite creepy looking fairy is the emperor of Japan?

Episode 7
When Antoku was young, he was saved by Yoshitsune. But instead of following him back to the capital, he gave him a short blade. Now he is glad to see it with Jinzaburou. Slowpoke Teruhi arrives. Long time no see great grandpa. He gives her a message to be given to Nagamine. Orders to protect the people. On the way down, Teruhi explains how her ancestors saved the emperor and brought him to this island, making their clan was part of the Heike when the emperor presented his granddaughter to marry her father. That was how she was born. They reach the bay and since Jinzaburou has a good look of it, he noticed the maze-like inlets that make it hard for the Mongols to navigate. Don’t say now but a small group on a boat is chasing down a group of women on a raft! Before they could do anything, when the Mongols get too close, the women dive into the waters before the hidden Toibarai slaughter them all. Those who dive into the sea are then slaughtered by the woman divers. On land as they rest, Jinzaburou once again notices the different attire of this Mongol army. This unit uses poison arrows but don’t worry, those who got hit are treated by future doctor, Douen. Nagamine meets Teruhi and is given the letter. With his orders, he welcomes all of them and brings them to his huge hideout that was made hundreds of years ago by their Toibarai predecessors. After all, they are the ones who have been fighting to defend Japan. Amushi ‘befriends’ a local girl, Sana as he explores the long run of the wall. It’s like the mini version of China’s Great Wall. Jinzaburou feels this is a flaw and checks it out. Everyone is treated with great hospitality inside this base. They sing praises of their deeds until Jinzaburou becomes the wet blanket that has his detractors pointing their blades at his neck. He mentions how their big castle is a liability. Because of its size, there are not enough guards to protect it and if the Mongols invade, they’ll be overrun in no time.

Episode 8
Nagamine replies that Toibarai will fight to the death here without abandoning it, causing Jinzaburou to believe the reason he protects this place not because the emperor told him so but to recruit more men. Jinzaburou is told he is free to leave. Even if he escapes from the Mongols, can he survive the harsh winter? Outside, a few guards spar with Jinzaburou in an attempt to mock him but he overwhelms them. He as them take off their helmet and tell their names because if they’re fighting the Mongols, can they trust their lives to people whose faces and names you don’t know? Jinzaburou changes his thinking. He thought it was okay to abandon a place to protect the people. But now he believes both can be protected. He wants to help strengthen the walls if he is to stay and protect this place. Obusuma calls Shiraishi to speak to him alone. He hints of fighting for the Mongols. You see, after the first battle at the beach, he fled and tried to ransack some villagers but got caught. That is when a small Mongol group invaded and killed the villagers. Nergui saw potential in him and gave him his Mongol pass to come see him. Speaking of Nergui, he speaks to Uriyan who is about to give up looking for the Japanese since they don’t know where they are hiding. Nergui has been planting spies all around the island and they need just one guy to come forth. Hence Obusuma suggests Shiraishi defect with him as they will be greatly rewarded and return to their glory times. But Shiraishi won’t lose his soul and refuses. Too bad Obusuma tries to cut him down but Shiraishi is faster. When a woman comes by and learns how Shiraishi took care of the traitor and wants to go tell others, Shiraishi kills her and makes it look like she killed Obusuma for trying to rape her.

Jinzaburou has second thoughts about Shouni’s promise. It is that promise that is keeping everyone’s spirits high but he doubts the army giving up the advantage of the terrain in Kyushu they know so well. On the positive note, if they do come, they can do more. Nagamine and co examine the slain bodies but he believes something is wrong. Jinzaburou also smells something wrong with Shiraishi not seen since afternoon. Plus, it is just fishy that a skilled samurai like Obusuma is easily killed by a diver woman. Shiraishi goes to see Uriyan. Nergui is suspicious as this isn’t the person he gave the pass to. Shiraishi tells of the base’s weaknesses and when asked if there are treasures and live slaves, Shiraishi regrets this betrayal but cannot turn back. Uriyan relishes seeing his despair face. Because of that, he is willing to trust him and bring him into his ranks. How does it sound to have the title of the first Japanese to defect to them? Night falls as Nagamine tells Jinzaburou about the strange death of Obusuma. For the little dagger the diver woman had, it is impossible for her to make a clean cut across his collar bone. As suspicions on Shiraishi’s whereabouts grow, the man returns. His excuse? He went hunting for some wild boar meat. Next morning, a report is received that the Mongols are coming to attack this base at full force.

Episode 9
Jinzaburou draws a map of the base. From where the Mongols are coming, it looks like they will be coming up from the south. With their main forces here, Shiraishi offers to guard the west side. Jinzaburou? He’ll be outside. And by that he means doing a skirmish on the vanguard just to make them panic before running back behind the walls. With the Mongols now focusing all their efforts on the south gate, a full assault begins. To keep the Mongols from inching closer, behind the walls are stone catapults used to keep them at bay. Shiraishi tries to have the few men return to the south while he patrols here alone. For those who stayed, the Mongols who have snuck in, killed them. This is part of Uriyan’s plan to concentrate the fighting on the south while they quietly sneak in at other points. Nagamine and Jinzaburou could pick up that the Mongols are not really advancing despite their numbers increased. Like as though they don’t want to take this base. Like as though this is just a distraction. Suddenly the main citadel is on fire. Have the Mongols invaded? Actually, it is their own men who made a fire trap to burn the sneaky Mongols. So when one of Uriyan’s commanders dies from this, he becomes angry and orders a full scale attack on the base as revenge and ignores pleas to retreat and not lose any more men since their main goal is to invade Kyushu. Jinzaburou rides out with his few men for another skirmish to panic the Mongols before heading back. This time Jinzaburou fires an arrow directly at Uriyan. Thanks to his guard’s damn good reflex at blocking it with a shield, he survives but is in total shock. That is when he realizes even if they conquer this place, they have to deal with people like him. Considering it depressing, he calls off the attack. In the aftermath, soldiers who abandoned the west gate explained Shiraishi offered to guard it himself. This has the rest suspicious if he is a traitor. The best way is to go there and see if his corpse is lying there or he has fled with the Mongols. Jinzaburou arrives to see a dejected Shiraishi sitting alone. He asks if he had not retreated with the Mongols. That is when Shiraishi draws his sword at him. If he does not present Jinzaburou’s head to the Mongols, he cannot return.

Episode 10
Shiraishi explains how he was framed by a close one and lost everything and driven away. So he is fighting to get back his clan and lands. As they fight, Shiraishi loses to his Gikei style. He offers to be killed as Jinzaburou gives his last sermon how the last time they fought together was genuine. They were fighting their own wars. After he decapitates him, he passes his head to Teruhi who wish to make an example out of this. That night as Jinzaburou is sleeping, Teruhi again is going to ‘ambush’ him. But she sees Sasamaru wanting to kill him in his sleep. She tells him to not do something so cowardly and become stronger to challenge him. I want to tell the same thing to her. Once he is gone, she does the ‘cowardly’ act of stealing his lips but realizes Sasamaru is watching. That death stare warns him never to tell this or else! Oh, Jinzaburou is awake. Whatcha doing? But they hear a commotion from the south. A large number of deer and wild boars. It seems they have been driven by their land and this only indicates the size of the Mongols coming to crush this place. The Toibarai elder prays to God for a path to success. Probably God showed him a prank because some ominous thing happened and he died on the spot! However Nagamine interprets this as the worst is over as the elder sacrificed himself for the bad omen to pass. WTF. I hope he didn’t read it wrongly just to boost some false morale.

Meanwhile Zhang shows the other prisoners a boat he found near the coast and has packed it with stuff and is seaworthy to the mainland. At first nobody seems interested to defect with him but with the winds in their favour, Onitakemaru is considering. Amushi too but upon noticing Sana is watching, he changes his mind. In the end, only Onitakemaru goes with him. The Mongols kill the Toibarai scouts in the forest. As show of strength, they light up and you can see them covering the entire mountain range. It is probably a scare tactic to make them retreat before they fight. But with Nagamine determined to stay put and fight, Jinzaburou wants to make a compromise. Temporarily retreat until reinforcements come. They can survive in the mountains till they come. With Teruhi reminding about Antoku’s words to survive, Nagamine gives the orders to retreat. But a report soon arrive that what it looks like a large fleet coming from the sea. Are these the reinforcements Jinzaburou is talking about? Meanwhile Shouni is about to finish preparing his men for Tsushima. However his father did not hear of this expedition and cancels it. He believes the Mongols are not their only enemy. When the war is over, there will be clans who will try to claim glory for it and it will change who runs Kyushu. Shouni tries to convince him that Tsushima is under their protection but ultimately the patriarch’s words are final. Hence the large fleet our Tsushima people are seeing isn’t that of Japan but the Mongols. As they are arriving from the north, this means they are surrounded and trapped like rats.

Episode 11
With the final battle at hand, I guess they really need the rally from Jinzaburou as of why he is fighting for Tsushima. The Mongols’ attack this time is deadlier since their commander has put up a competition to see who can steal the most loot. Those who failed will be punished! With the Mongols overwhelming on the east gate, Nagamine sends Jinzaburou to help out there. Good thing, right? Because Teruhi can now be saved by him. Although Nagamine destroys the watchtower at the south gate to buy time for everyone to escape, do we have time for a cheesy romance between Nagamine and Tatsu? Had she not bug to stay with him and probably stutter to say what I think she wants to stay, she wouldn’t have died from the bomb shrapnel when the Mongols bombed the gate. Then Nagamine becomes a mad man and kills as many Mongols he can before he too succumbs to fate. With the Mongols now ambushing from within, Amushi reports that the south gate has fallen and everyone defending there is dead. He then takes his leaves and escapes with Sana along with the other women. Jinzaburou and the others also flee but with the Mongols hot on their tail, Jinzaburou will buy time while Teruhi and her villagers head up to the peak. Kano had to forcefully take Teruhi away. Yeah, like as though she won’t see her man ever again. Jinzaburou is about to fall too but Onitakemaru returns and ‘saves’ him. His excuse is he remembered a score they’re supposed to settle. However he notes Jinzaburou has changed and doesn’t like this face now. But Jinzaburou tells him that it is his own heart change if he has seen others differently. Onitakemaru offers to stay here and fight to let Jinzaburou regroup with the rest. I suppose Onitakemaru wants a rematch with Ryuu. Meanwhile Douen is treating injured people left behind. He will not leave them for he views this as repentance for killing many in the past. He even protects them when the Mongols fire their gun. Hitari manages to easily take those gun wielding Mongols with his bow and arrow but is no match for those with his similar weapon. He too falls. With the Mongols making more ground and breaking through, we see more of Teruhi’s people die trying to defend their ground. Teruhi then hears Jinzaburou’s voice. Yeah, it’s like the voice of God. He is trying to lead them to where he is. Why does it look like Teruhi is running the fastest to go greet him? He is still fighting some Mongols, isn’t he? But then, damn the Mongol bomb blasts Jinzaburou out as he falls off the cliff into the sea. There goes your reunion.

Episode 12
Teruhi falls into despair seeing her men die one by one. But just knowing the fact that Jinzaburou is not confirmed dead as he fell into the sea, gives her the much needed motivation to press on. But soon she’ll be in despair with more Mongols up ahead. While the last of her men fight, Kano devises this twisted idea to strangle Teruhi to death. At least she won’t die by the Mongols’ hands. And all Teruhi could think of is to meet Jinzaburou. Man, she has fallen real hard for him, huh? Kano distracts the Mongols but eventually got raped and killed. Amushi and the women have been surrounding by Mongols. Amushi uses the bomb he earlier stole as distraction. Too bad he got stabbed and Kana’s efforts to save him were all in vain. Jinzaburou continues sinking. Time to go back to his past where he still had his title, land and family. He reprimanded his daughter for trying to plant a tree but because she is so adamant she will protect it, he makes her stay at that spot to prove her point. And so she did. But that night, intruders come in and luckily Jinzaburou defeated them all. The reason he doesn’t want trees on his land is because it makes a great place for intruders to hide. He relaxes on his rules a bit and lets his daughter take care of the tree. Time passed and it is growing well and he could see the beaming smile on her face that she did her best. This wakes him up from his slumber but as he tries to reach the surface, he is exhausted. Hence the need for this whale shark god to save him?!

He finds himself washed ashore. Knowing he is still alive, he can still fight. As he walks through the forest, he sees corpses from both sides. But only Sasamaru lives. He was hiding among the corpses? But all Sasamaru can think of is getting his revenge. Too bad he doesn’t know how to use a sword and can’t even cut him. Jinzaburou is going to show him how it is done. Yeah, those few Mongols behind looting became Jinzaburou’s victim while Sasamaru frees the captured women and children. He is then confronted by Ryuu who is eager to fight him. But first he throws down the broken weapon of Onitakemaru, a sign he had died in his fight. Ryuu wants to see if there is still the wolf spirit in him and mocks him that he has no one left to fight for. Is this petty revenge he is gunning for? But don’t underestimate a mad dog because Jinzaburou gets the better of him. When his guards defend him, Jinzaburou gives off this death stare that scares them! So much so they open a path to Ryuu! WTF?! The Mongols are afraid of him?! Jinzaburou answers him that he fights for himself before walking away. That’s it?! He doesn’t kill him? I guess it won’t be worth it because the Mongols might just kill him where they stand. At the end of the day, Tsushima has fallen. Hindun celebrates their victory although it took a bit longer than expected. Now setting sights on Kyushu, Uriyan is not happy to think there may be more madmen like Jinzaburou on the mainland. As expected, Kano didn’t make sure Teruhi is dead so here she wakes up from ‘death’. After all, how can she kill her own princess? She walks through the forest and sees corpses. Until she sees Jinzaburou before her eyes. It’s really him. The kind of reunion you want now that everybody is dead? She notes she is the only survivor but Jinzaburou is glad because to survive is to win. Sasamaru and the other rescued villagers are also glad she is alive. With this, they take it is a sign that they can still fight and Tsushima isn’t done yet. Too bad this series is :’(.

Battlefield: Mongol Warfare
As history dictates, it would be a sad end for the people of Tsushima since they will eventually lose to the Mongols who will march on to score on a few more decisive battle victories before their withdrawal and eventual annihilation in 1281. And that was due to the weather factor. Oops. Forgot to warn you spoiler alert. But as far as this anime is concerned, although I loved every second of this series, I can’t help feel that there is no conclusion despite knowing that eventually they will lose. Jinzaburou, Teruhi and what is left of the remaining survivors trying to fight more Mongols? It is like playing a game of endurance survival. Therefore with the way they ended this series like as though they want to give us (false) hope, personally this feels worse than if it had ended on a truly tragic note whereby everybody lost and died. I might not like the latter ending either but at least there is closure. With Jinzaburou still alive and having the strength to fight on doesn’t bode well if you’re talking about ending an anime season. It’s not like there will be a second season and Jinzaburou would continue and take his fight to Kyushu, right?!

At first when I started watching this series, I was thinking that everything, if not like 99% of everything here was based on true events. But as I watched the series, it dawned to me it was just historical fiction. For one, I Google and cannot find the characters’ names to pop up anywhere near the real thing. So do they really exist or not? Save for a few characters like Sukekuni. Maybe I don’t know how to Google or because the series is recent and hence pops up at the top of recent searches. Sure, the series is based on this first Mongol invasion event but not on what happened. See the difference? I guess it is easy to be deceived when we hear movies and series based on real historical events. Based, people. Based. Meaning, inspiration is drawn from there and it is not retelling of actual events. After all, when you are producing a movie, you want to make it as interesting as possible and there would be some weird and impossible stuffs that would happen in the reel life rather than real life. In this case, the war. I mean, you see so many people cleanly cut in half like as though their swords are lightsabers! But thankfully, still some realism because no over the top exaggerated moves like throwing fireballs. Yeah…

The best parts of this anime are of course the action sequences. There is no short of it in every episode. And if you like your anime series bloodied to the bone, barbarically violent and people dying like flies, this is your cup of tea. Even if most of the action is hack and slash, it doesn’t feel boring nor repetitious. Perhaps it is shown in a way that the few Japanese people are desperate and like cornered rats, they fight to the teeth and nail with all they’ve got. Because so, we can’t help root for them each time they face off with the indomitable Mongols. We want to see them pull through and survive another day. Of course some minimal strategies are also involved but when it comes to melee combat, nothing beats trying to poke a sharp object into your enemy’s body first. It’s either you or him. I am not sure if this kind of TV violence is okay but it does send you the signal about the atrocities of war and no one, young or old, women or children will be spared from it. But I guess back then, that is the mentality of the people. The strong shall conquer and the weak will either submit or die. But as far as this series is concerned, the few people on Tsushima against the large horde of Mongol army, it is like the Japanese version of 300! Everything so manly! Everything so GAR!!!

Having said that, the other segments of the series aren’t really that much interesting. Already it is based on history so even with this plot to work along, there is only so much you can stray if you want to be as faithful to the real thing. One of the cheesy parts I find is the seemingly romance factor they try to insert in when they are not fighting. Especially Teruhi’s annoying crush on Jinzaburou. Japanese girls are really good being tsundere even for one back then. She gives excuses of needing him to be alive and the likes but in real life she just wants to be with this dude. I don’t blame her since it is women’s dream of falling for a strong and capable men. It’s only natural. But still, this cheesiness of her trying to steal a kiss (which is never properly shown if their lips ever met), it feels very disjointed from the whole war and action theme of the series. I know you can’t be fighting all the time but do we have time for all this? Maybe when you’re living every day like the last. Even so, Teruhi should just straight up tell it to his face she loves him. Or maybe that would make the rest see her in a different light. After all, she is a princess and still has her own responsibility and burden to shoulder. She isn’t particularly a damsel in distress as she showed her mettle in archery with some head shots to her count but too bad I’ll remember her mostly for this cheesy tsundere act more than anything else. In the final stages of the series, they try to put in more cheesy romance in Nagamine x Tatsu and Amushi x Sana. Too bad all ended in tragedy and I am wondering why the need to even have this. Feels so weird.

The characters themselves aren’t interesting either. Even with Jinzaburou as the main character, he is interesting because of the different way he thinks when he is on the battlefield. But if you want to know more about him, his past seems to be very much shrouded in mystery even if that final episode sheds some light, it still doesn’t tell us why he got exiled in the first place. What kind of atrocities did he do to get him here in the first place. Maybe it is that incident at Tokiaki’s residence but nothing of that was confirmed. Perhaps if this series had another cour to run, it would flesh out Jinzaburou’s character. Then again, the reason why this series is exciting is because of the fast action and to slow it down with multiple character flashbacks and develop them would have diluted the interest and worth. So it is a catch-22 situation. Fast and furious action or better character development. I’m glad it was the former.

So it sounds like I am going to complain more about the other characters especially those who are of the same exiled party as Jinzaburou. They do play their small roles and each has their own characteristics you could remember them by like Hitari’s skilled hunting arrow skills, Amushi’s great vision and Onitakemaru’s strength (damn we didn’t get to see this guy get killed – only to speculate that he might not be really dead). But ultimately to solve everything, everybody got killed off. Therefore like the character Douen, I am wondering why they need this character around since he has no fighting abilities and his only worth is to help heal others with his medicinal knowledge. I’m sure it is to assure that the injured villagers have someone in capable hands to deal with their wounds but aren’t there any other decent doctors around on Tsushima?

The only mystery I am wondering is to what happen to Zhang. Is he dead? Because Onitakemaru only returned on his own. I doubt this midget could sail away passed the Mongol fleets by himself so I am assuming he got killed too since he can’t fight and you only remember him as a sneaky merchant. If he is that memorable in the first place. I thought Kano was going to be a handful helping out in the frontline of the battles. But he kunoichi-like dressing makes it deceiving as she is seen most of the time escorting and protecting Teruhi until her final moments.

If there was something that changed many of the characters in this series in generally, it would be the advancing Mongols that united the people of Tsushima to fight against the invaders. At first you see the arrogance of the locals especially those of higher status and lineage. They don’t accept the exiled prisoners’ help and often look down on them. When things get really bad and they manage to scrap one survival after another, titles and status no longer play a vital role anymore. As long as they are Japanese and love this land, that is the only qualification they need to band together and fight. War really brings out the best and the worst in mankind.

It would have been interesting had we seen the perception from the Mongol side as they too have quite a few commanders and top generals of high calibre. Too bad they are just briefly introduced, participated in a few battles and that’s it. Because it would be nice to hear some explanations or be enlightened by a few things from their side. For example, the different Mongol outfits for different Mongol armies. Jinzaburou may have speculated they come from different places but this part could have been explained in detail a bit more. Instead, with the barrage of different uniformed Mongols, it feels like as though they want to put in some variety of different low level baddies because you’ll perhaps get sick of watching the same yellow dotted ones from Goryeo. Imagine in a beat’em up game where you fight the same looking enemies until you reach the end level boss. Boring! Kublai Khan might not be on this expedition to invade Japan but I wish they would have shown more on Hindun instead of showing his face just to let us know he is the big boss of this expedition. And what’s with that foreigner ninja who served under him? What wasted potential that Jinzaburou clashed with him so early and never again.

Noticing the art and animation, although it seems pretty standard and decent, I can’t help notice that the entire series feels like it is drawn on some old scroll. At least you can see those crumpled lines and shades all over the screen. Although it gives a sketch-like and sometimes water colour feel, at times I just find it annoying as the animation doesn’t seem smooth and this kind of art is distracting you especially in slower moments. But it does give the series its unique feel. Although the animation during action bits are decent, sometimes the animation quality during non-battle scenes take a dip and it is noticeable. Maybe they put all their budget in the fight scenes but some of them too feel like there is drop in standard. I mean, how many Mongols are you going to animate on screen and then let them get killed?

As for the character designs, some of the characters do look weird. Like Antoku I thought he is some sort of ghost or something. Maybe great grandpa is close to going to the next world? Oops, sorry. Some Mongols look weird too. Although many generic ones like the soldiers spot the generic Mongolian look (slant squint eyes, that thin moustache), the commanders are given a distinct look. Sometimes they look more like sub-bosses in a video game. Because many of them are like, uhm, fat. Oh right. Mongols are supposed to be stout. But the oddest looking one is Ryuu whom I feel looks so out of place because he looks like an American punk to me. Seriously. Is it me or does Jinzaburou look almost similar to the titular protagonist of Hajime No Ippo? I suppose he is one of the few main characters who doesn’t have that typical handsome bishonen look. It would so anime-like fantasy weird if he is a pretty boy that has awesome killer skills. This series is animated by NAZ who did the Hamatora series, Hajimete No Gal and Dramatical Murder.

The opening theme is Braver by Straightener. While the piece is generally not bad, the song overall sounds a bit drowsy. Perhaps it is the way the singer sings it in such a manner, preventing it from being a total hard rock outfit which would have totally suited the anime like a glove. The same sentiments for the ending theme, Upside Down by She’s. Again, the singer’s voice sounds drowsy to give this slow-moderate rock piece that feel. Only difference his voice sounds a bit more gay. Yeah… But hearing this piece does invoke some feels because of all the bloody bloodshed and deaths that happened in the episode.

Overall, this is a very highly interesting series and packed with lots of action, blood and gore and had me wanting more. It could have done better in other departments such as the characters and explaining certain parts that were not clearly clarified but as far as for this historical fiction. But on a general level, the historical backdrop and how an exiled samurai is fighting this war to redeem himself is indeed interesting and fascinating. War-centric series like this reminds us of the brutality of war and why we should be thankful living in a time and world where peace mostly reigns. Well, almost. But then again, when you see human stupidity and greed all over again rife in this new digital age, do you sometimes wish the great Mongol army and the great Angolmois would revive and reduce the population for a better future and sustainability? I mean, who does a better genocide than the Mongols? Not even Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Leopold II, Ismail Enver, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong and Hideki Tojo combined could match the slaughtering might of the Mongols. Can they do it? Yes, they Kahn!

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