Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki – Anime Review
Synopsis: In the 13th century, the Mongolian Empire rapidly expands across the globe. Later historians who studied the prophecies of Nostradamus would say that Mongolia was the birthplace of the “Great King of Terror”, Angolmois. And at last, the force of the Mongolian Empire would turn their attention toward Japan… 1274: The Bun’ei Invasion. This story is a fresh look at the great battle that rocked all of medieval Japan: the Mongol Invasion. It shows how the people of Tsushima panicked, struggled, and eventually rose up against the overwhelming forces of their enemy. (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Summer 2018 seems to be the summer of rushed/cramped pacing and Angolmois is no exception. It rushes through its story at breakneck speed, attempting to tell its grandiose tale of fictionalized history in 12 episodes, while including a plethora of characters and a heavy plot. This overcrowded story telling leaves much to be desired and causes character development and emotional build up to take an extreme backseat to plot moving events.Things develop extremely quickly, which keeps the action going but ultimately does the show more harm than good as you struggle to understand and absorb everything that’s happening onscreen. Angolmois also does a terrible job of trying to tease future plot twists and a particular late series event really showcases that flaw. A traitor emerges among the ‘good guys’ and is almost discovered because of some discrepancies in his story, along with the actual evidence of his misdeeds, yet the second he returns with a slain boar and claims his mysterious and prolonged disappearance was because of hunting, everyone cheerfully and immediately accepts his explanation. What makes this so baffling is that characters who are showcased as smart and capable immediately brush off their suspicions and observations so quickly and completely it makes you wonder why the show bothered to make such a big deal of their suspicions in the first place.
Tom: Angolmois’ more overt problem is its art. Angolmois is a series that quickly crashes from its opener; characters frequently off-model, tight framing to avoid too much additional animation, and poor direction that can make certain sequences confusing.There’s the rare high, where the art improves dramatically for a few sword swings here, and an epic fight there, but these moments are fleeting and more often than not the art beneath the nasty grain/mud filter is no better than the distracting filter itself. Sequences that should be compelling land flat, and the show begins to suffer from ‘If someone isn’t on camera than they’re not doing anything’ logic, where the enemy holds its attack so main characters can get a noble death. But these moments become laughable, and whatever emotional punch we’re supposed to feel just isn’t there.
Linny: To its credit, Angolmois is definitely not scared to off its principle cast and almost every episode, particularly as the series hits its final episode, features a prominent death or two. But at the same time, those it deems its true ‘main characters’ become ridiculously invincible. Also the rushed pacing means we once again do not get to bond with any of the characters save Jinzaburou and Princess Teruhi (and even these two still end up feeling anemic). So when the show tries to make a big and shocking deal out of the deaths of its other characters, you’ll likely be too busy trying to remember who exactly they are/were to feel any pangs of heartache.
Tom: Part of the trouble is simply the art. Designs are forgettable, and certain sequences can be so distractingly bad that it’s hard to remain fully engaged. But the series also introduces a wealth of characters at the start, who are used so sparingly in favor of introducing even more new faces, that you’d be forgiven for forgetting if you’d even met them already when they reappear. Princess Teruhi is so wishy washy as a character, constantly flitting between a damsel in distress and warrior princess, that she remains hard to grow attached to. This leaves really only Jinzaburou and in a show that often wants to craft an ensemble group, that means he simply doesn’t work as the only driving force for our emotion.
Linny: Angolmois’ plot heavy and dense story feels like it requires a deep interest in Japanese history and in particular the Mongol invasion, to truly become engaged thanks to the middling characters. Add to all that a really experimental and visually distracting ‘dirty parchment’ like filter, several episodes filled with failing animation and Angolmois becomes harder and harder to recommend to anyone except a very specific group of viewers, i.e, one that’s well read and educated on Japanese history and the Mongol invasion and would like to see a highly fictionalized take of the entire thing.
Tom: Ultimately, even if Angolmois had stronger visuals, I think there’s a lot of flaws that constantly gnaw at the quality of the series. It’s a shame because I loved the idea behind Angolmois, but feel the execution lacks stronger characterization. Seeing as Angolmois is based off a manga I do wonder how the two compare, but without a proper Western release comparing the two is difficult. Still, Angolmois’ anime sits as one of the more disappointing entries in the summer line up and not something I feel is worth recommending.
Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.