With the capital in ruins upon the arrival of those who had remained behind for the raid on the Mongol camp, the frightening haze of always being one step behind the enemy settles in. Even so, a few members of the capital survived, including Princess Teruhashi’s brother, Abiru Yajirou, and a few of the soldiers from the first battle that had split off.
Previously, Yajirou left the camp at Sasu to set out for the capital. The capital was attacked nearly immediately upon their arrival by the Mongols, being a concurrent target with Sasu.
After a moment’s rest, a few Mongol scouts arrive to take stock of the situation. Teruhashi takes her anguish out on them, taking out two before her wound from the previous episode reopens. (Yajiro and ace archer Hitari catch the rest of them.)
The mysterious exile scout Amushi reappears, reporting on the movements of the Mongols approaching their group. A handful of soldiers opt to stay behind and cut off the mongols on a mountain pass, using spears. Waiting behind a curve with low visibility for the soldiers approaching, the mountain pass is just the right amount of cover to cut off their movements with a volley of archers across a divide.
Kuuchi and Yajiro take the lead together, old dog and new soldier, fighting as a team into the next episode.
Shiraishi-dono’s backstory snippet was probably my favorite moment in a really great episode. Although we get a longer flashback later from Kuuchi on our favorite exile leader’s backstory, I really hope we get more from Shirahashi on the village that he mentioned. It feels like it’s a prologue to a longer flashback and I really feel like there’s a wider story that they’re foreshadowing.
Speaking of Kuchii’s backstory, Kuchii shares a story with Yajirou where he had grown close to a small family that had been targeted by the Shogun’s aide. Kuchii’s willingness to fight for those that he has a kinship and empathy for is something that he carries with him into the battle against the Mongols: He’s there because he is needed, but also because it’s the right thing to do. Even when he is begged not to by the head of the family, he shows up at their threshold when the Shogun’s aide has come to kill them. His punishment is to watch them die.
The wider politics of what happened between feuding families is brushed on but not tackled fully in this segment – likely because there’s not a lot of time to get into the nuances.
But in this story we see in Kuuchi someone for Yajirou to learn from – a mentor who is already giving his all, even in impossible odds, because making a stand is important.
As a final thought – Teruhashi’s grief and rage turned the collective Heroic BSOD everyone was experiencing around. I want to see that momentum continue. I’m watching for it. I think the series needs it.
- The movement from episode to episode is really nice pacing
- Kuchii playing a poor game of shogi while being a good single competitior is spot-on for his character type.
- It feels like the Mongols are underestimating their enemy.
- I don't trust that spy. I just don't.