Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion (アンゴルモア 元寇合戦記) is the anime adaptation of the seinen, historical manga series written by Nanahiko Takagi. It is being produced by studio NAZ and directed by Takayuki Kuriyama. This is one of my most-anticipated anime serials for the season because everything about it sounded so wonderfully amazing. Upon finishing the first episode, I feel the series has potential to become one of the greatest historical adaptations in anime to date.
Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion revolves around a small group of criminals who end up washing ashore on Tsushima island after surviving a typhoon in the middle of the ocean. Upon arriving, they learn that they were being brought to the island to fight against the rumoured Mongol invasion in exchange for the death sentences that they were going to face. Feeling they have little choice in the matter, they decide to stick around and help out. The anime itself is about the first Mongol invasion into Japan during the Kamakura Era of Japanese history (specifically in the year 1274), as well as the origination of the samurai sword-fighting styles.
I would like to mention right off the bat that the Mongols fascinate me to no avail. Their military tactics and battle finesse is absolutely brilliant, not to mention their way of life and cultural practises. They were a sensationally powerful force to be reckoned with, for a good reason, and their successes at conquering such vast chunks of land is legendary. Their invasion of Japan during the Kamakura Era is something that I really enjoyed studying for many reasons. To finally be able to see it portrayed in anime is a bit of a dream come true.
My entry into the pilot was done so with great hesitation because I really didn’t want to be disappointed, however, by the time I finished, I was so beyond ready for the next episode. This anime, if developed well with portrayal and storytelling, is going to be a hit!
Due to the time period that the show takes place in, the producers have gone to great lengths to create a fully historical ambiance that engages the watcher completely. I saw this mostly in the animation style and technique and was one of the first details that caught my eye while I was watching. There is a distressed overlay in the cinematography, a bit akin to lightly wrinkled paper, that when combined with the sepia-style colours and muted tones, creates that sort of historical and medieval aesthetic that it was shooting for. It puts into perspective that we are watching a story about something that is very fucking old. Not only that, but it also helps to capture the traditional Japanese cultural atmosphere of the time period as well. The design and drawings utilise thick black lines with lots of sharp and crisp details, making the characters really stand out. This is an indication that while the story is about a historical battle, the girth of it will be character focused.
We learn the bare essentials about the main cast of characters and a couple of the minor ones; enough to whet the appetite, but not too much to where the mystery completely evaporates. The subtle references to prominent historical figures also helps to craft some authenticity and intrigue, which works to hook the interest of history buffs, like me. I do like that there is one character who seems like he is mostly there to be big and intimidating, as well as to provide an air of comic relief. His jests are super limited and never out of place, and also a bit crude (I love crude humour, so woot). My feeling is that he will inevitably become a favourite of mine later down the road.
The action is breath-takingly smooth and highly engaging. It uses some 3D enhancements, but it never detracts from that old-style vibe that it has going on. You honestly cannot even notice the use of 3D enhancements too much, unless you are really trying to find it. The action does come with bloodshed, as is expected from a narrative about war, but nothing too gory has been disclosed quite yet. I suspect (wish) that may come in later episodes. The non-stop action also makes everything superbly fast-paced. I was never, ever bored while watching the pilot and found myself wholly saddened when the end credits began to roll.
If I could think of any shortcomings for this introduction, I would have to mention my concerns for authenticity in terms of how the Mongols are portrayed. In many, many mediums, Mongols are almost never portrayed correctly, and it always frustrates me. If more care and attention is given to a genuine incorporation of their strategies, lifestyles, etc., I feel it would just make the stories involving them so much better. Angolmois has all of the fixings to be pretty close to perfect, and may actually nail it if they can get this one bit down. I’m also going to hope that the story doesn’t begin to include unnecessary plot enhancements, like the use of supernatural facets, or the like. That will kill the quality very quickly.
All in all, Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion is probably one of the few serials I’ve seen in the last week or so to have an almost perfect first episode, and I cannot wait to see how the season will unfold.
You can watch Angolmois: Record of Mongol Invasion on Wednesday mornings over at CrunchyRoll.