Here they come!
Wow. There will be blood.
If I were the general, I would get my gunners to flank the unsuspecting soldiers.
Arquebuses or muskets (whichever weapon is being shown here) don’t do particularly well in forests as dense as this one seems to be. Thick vegetation (and the hilly terrain) radically reduces sight range, and these are awkward, slow-firing weapons without bayonets. Basically clubs up close.
Archers can flank better, because bows shoot faster, although the other problems mentioned will hinder them too. Melee troops will flank better still. “With the naginata!” Any flanking move will, of course, be hard to time correctly.
In an offensive situation, you might try Russian “moving wall” tactics, use melee troops to fix the enemy and then bring up the handgunners as small, flexible groups in support, or just use the handgunners to distract attention away from a charge to melee. In the last case, mix in some mild suppressing fire, plus loud bangs and thick clouds of smoke, plus too much enemy attention paid to the Scary New Weapon or the “wonder weapon we see being ineffective, and the enemy we therefore now don’t respect enough.”).
The problem there is that Japanese military tactics generally neglect the importance of defense. Notice their weaponry – the almost total absence of shields. They’d rather use both hands for offense, with an utter emphasis on attack. It can be effective… but it also has its drawbacks. For one thing, they’re about to have a bunch of mini-spears falling out of the sky with enough kinetic energy to penetrate flesh, leather, and even the metal plates of their armor (on a direct hit, anyway). Mini-spears that would have been stopped cold by a thick plank of wood and/or metal.
One of the reasons why Samurai were so effective was because they were mounted. Specifically, they were mounted archers – they could shoot while dodging incoming fire. The infantry have no such defense… this is going to be bad.
I propose that the claim of Japanese offensive orientation is overstated, at least for this time period.
Firstly, Japanese armor (and fortifications) were both excellent, and both also abundant. Pictures of the era show that even common soldiers frequently had at least some protection.
Secondly, the lack of shields was also a feature of European warfare of the early modern era. Swiss pikemen didn’t use them, and the Spanish were swapping out the last of the old sword and buckler men in their tercios and experimenting with two-handed swordsmen to help the pike and shot. The German Landsknecht is almost never shown with a shield in this era, preferring the pike, the halberd, the handgun, or twin swords (Zweihänder-Katzbalger).
Thirdly, the Japanese DID provide protection for their handgunners, in the form of field fortifications for soldiers without their own means of defence – as shown for archers in the comic. On a tactical level, the Europeans tended to mix arms in formations (handgunners skirmishing around the masses of pikes and retreating into or behind them when charged) while the Japanese more often appear to have massed their handgunners behind field fortifications and doubtless coordinated both with the movements of nearby melee troops.
I’ve trained in a number of styles over the years… starting back in the 1980s when Japanese martial arts were some of the Ultimate Martial Arts over the course of the decade (i.e. the style that just came out and is the latest big fad and is superior to all other styles, hands down, no contest, you’re a fool for even questioning it, blah blah blah, and then all the McDojos start claiming to teach said style and the instructors claim to have studied for years in the foreign country that created said Ultimate Martial Art). Japanese styles emphasize offense. The emphasis is always on attacking, to a lesser or greater extent (there’s even one style of swordsmanship that basically consists of screaming and then delivering a series of fast, powerful overhead chops like with an axe, trying to overwhelm the enemy with sheer aggression. Not to mention the style of Karate developed by Mas Oyama, who was known for being able to kill bulls with his bare hands in demonstrations (Also for crippling arthritis in his last few years of life).
I’m not saying there isn’t SOME defensive training and work. But it pales before that of European mindsets (“fencing” is a shortened derivative of “the noble arte of defensing with the sword,” then “defensing,” then finally “fencing.”). Japanese armor was okay… but then again, armor in general was invariably better than nothing at all (check out Shadiversity’s youtube channel where he talks about the incredible effectiveness of a padded gambeson at stopping sword slashes). But there’s still going to be gaps, there’s still going to be less protection than a shield (let alone one of the Italian Pavilions, or the incredible Hungarian “War Wagons” that were literally medieval tanks, mobile fortifications for archers and cannoneers).
You look at the comic’s page, you’re seeing some wooden covers for a few, and trenches for others (so that incoming infantry will be slowed down getting past said trench). What you don’t have is archers IN the trenches. Or on top of hills behind plenty of cover. Or behind defensive walls complete with “matriculation” (Shadiversity’s favorite thing in the world, it refers to having the battlements on top of the walls and towers extend over the edge, with holes and slits underneath. Making it harder to scale the walls, and allowing archers to fire directly down at the enemy at the gates. Whenever he reviews a fictional castle and it has genuine matriculations, he sounds as if he’s experiencing sexual release – it’s hilarious. “Matriculaaaatiiiiiooooons…!”)
The big issue here is that there are two types of soldiers on that Japanese battlefield. The first are the samurai, who have trained themselves to be prepared to die at a moment’s notice, until they’re pretty much eager to die a glorious death like the Spartans. And the other are… essentially conscripts, who don’t get much of a choice. It should be noted that one side is mostly farmers and villagers who found out their neighbors over the next hill are coming to murder them all, while the other side is mostly conscripted villagers who got told, “all right, let’s go, time to go murder all your neighbors on the other side of that hill.” So the defensive fortifications are kinda… rushed.
Make no mistake. These aren’t your typical farmers like you saw in the previous battle. The spearmen and archers might be conscripts, but the Wataro clan appears to have a standing army. After all, they have generals with battle history, and a legacy of conquest and expansion.
It makes sense for their wealthiest neighbour to have a standing defensive army as well. At least, in nn4b-verse which isn’t dedicated to faithfully depict Japanese martial arts and lifestyle, but handpicked the best tropes and imagery popular fiction has to offer (and as a source of entertainment, I don’t think they could’ve done much better). These characters are depicted as well trained and disciplined, and were brought in by Tanaka. Were they farmers, potters and blacksmiths, then you could count on it that they don’t want to die for their clan, or kill for it, for that matter. You could almost say the same for conscripts, but they at least have a sense of loyalty and honor, but also want to avoid death if it’s not necessary. Either way, throughout history two things have proven reliable: 1. the best organized army usually wins, and 2. the estimated death toll during most skirmishes is about 6%. Now I’m not nearly the type of boffin Arkone is (no offense), but I think both generals want to live to fight another day.
Nataku is ruthless and genius. While the guns are a mere gimmick in the grander scheme of plans, he’ll put them to offensive use to turn the tide, while Tanaka’s army will stop the Wataro army from not dying. Tanaka’s strongheadedness tells me he’s reluctant to admit he underestimates Nataku. And I’m eager to find out who’ll have to pay for this mistake.
You make some excellent points… however, we’ve already seen that the defenders at least literally are farmers, potters, and blacksmiths. They’ve been put through boot camp in a hurry because the Wataro clan is showing up to commit mass murder. The Wataro’s forces might be better trained… but at the end of the day, the real issue is, as you say, organization. In the forward to most translations of “Art of War,” the story of Sun Tzu’s “job interview” is related. How he organized the king’s concubines into a standing army capable of going into battle… and what he had to do in order to accomplish this task. So on the one hand you have Nataku (who has already proven he’s prepared to murder subordinates in order to maintain the offensive). On the other hand you have charismatic leadership organizing a group who are literally fighting for their lives.
Make no mistake: this is not a skirmish. A skirmish is two armed forces out in the field engaging each other. The Wataros have shown up at the outskirts of a village looking to commit a massacre. The infantry are being led by officers who are prepared to kill them to keep them moving forward (Like the Soviet offensive in WWII. “If you have to step over the bodies of the people who were marching in front of you, be sure and grab their weapon. And don’t worry, we’ll be right behind you.”). So… it’s likely to be bad. Our heroes are in for a tough time, because even if the troops don’t want to kill or die, they’ve been put in a “kill or die” situation.
Be they rookie soldiers or motivated farmers, if they’re strong, follow orders and know where the pointy end goes, they have a chance. Normally I’d give it to Nataku outmanning, outgunning and outthinking the opposition, especially with the heavy samurai dude at his side, but the defensive force effectively turned the village into a castle, and they have at least seven heroes I can think of.
Whatever’s going to happen, Yori has to learn to delegate. Why? The Sacrifice arc says so.
They’d probably say ‘loose’ or ‘shoot’ rather than ‘fire’ because…they’re not using firearms.
Yeah, telling old-timey archers to “fire” will just get you confused archers.
Well in all fairness, the traditional Japanese equivalent of either “fire” or “shoot” would all fall under the heading of “ute” which basically translates to “attack,” which covers a myriad of equivalent English military phrases. The general is probably actually saying this. And since all things Japanese in this comic are translated into modern English for our benefit, “fire” gets the intent across.
Maybe it sounded like he was saying it in a Southern accent: “FAHR!” Then in the first panel of the next comic, we’ll see him finish: “-MERS RULE!”
Or “MAKE THEM STOP NOT DYING… RIGHT ABOUT… NOW!”
… yeah… a bit long for a military order, but works nevertheless.
Actually… they weren’t telling their archers to fire. They were trying to summon Captain Planet.
“We’ll trust in Tanaka’s plan…and if all else fails, we’ll send out Team Ina and let them go crazy!” 😎
Alright folks! Que up the Howard Shore music!
Sir the odds of surviving a rain of arrows sound effect is 20 million to one!!!
“Never tell me the odds!” 😎
Unless you’re accompanied by a MARCHMARCH sound effect.
Ballistic weapons, trenches, and protective barriers for the bulk of the troops… Tanaka’s plan actually looks reasonably sound. Even if there’s no delay between volleys, it would at most lead to a stalemate, as it would be impossible for either side to move with bullets flying all over, while the archers could still conceivably fire from inside the trenches. Eventually, the bullets and gunpowder would run out, removing the advantage of the guns.
The only remaining wildcard is the anachronistic accuracy of Ricardo’s guns. Although we haven’t seen how they perform in long range yet.
Even if a swordsman would have to get up close, I’d say you’d have a more than decent chance.
Honestly, I’d giddy like a kid at the prospect of Yori and gang zooming through the infantry ranks ‘300’-style (or like the Age of Ultron opening). But that would bring them out into the open way too much.
Just because Uso is dead, doesn’t mean they can’t be tricked with smoke and mirrors anymore. Tanaka (anagram for Katana?) is putting way too much emphasis on these guns.
For a moment I thought that the soldiers at the fourth panel had animal ears
“An Alliance once existed between Elves and Men. Long ago we fought and died together. We come to honor that allegiance.”
I think the discussion on Archery vs Crossbows is applicable to Archery vs handcannons/muskets, with the caveat that the guns in the comic probably had greater penetrating force and longer reload times than even crossbows. Also note that I’m comparing the english longbow which may not be equivalent to the bows of the Samari in the comic.
For a time, Longbowmen and Crossbowmen were both used on the battlefield during the hundred years war. Longbowmen were superior, as they had greater range and greater rate of fire. The reason crossbows were employed by the French was simple: Bows required a lifetime of practice to master. The longbowman had been training for combat for 15 to 20 years. But the crossbowman had trained for a matter of weeks or months. The English set up their conscription policies to encourage longbowmen (they took great measures to encourage the sport, such as archery tournaments, banning golf, etc). The French liked to recruit soldiers when they needed to fight and train them quickly, which is much cheaper. Longbows were weapons only professional lifetime soldiers could use, but you could give any old farmer a crossbow and he’d be able to master the basics of aiming and loading in an afternoon.
Basically, the advantage of firearms wasn’t that they could do more damage to your enemy. It was in cost savings. Not that the weapons costed less than bows, but that the soldier firing the weapon didn’t need to be trained for as long, and hence could be paid less. The same amount of money could let you train 100 bowmen or 2000 crossbowmen.
So, it seems like a bit of an odd strategy that the Wataro is giving their skilled soldiers (who are already archers, presumably) firearms. A better strategy would be to conscript a hundred peasants, train them exclusively on the firearms, and then append them to your existing forces. However given their limited knowledge of the weapons, as well as their current cultural biases, it’s easy to see why they’re giving the weapons to their trained soldiers first.
“Top Photos Taken Seconds Before Disaster”
There’s no time to develop plan B.