Anime Title: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash 灰と幻想のグリムガル “Hai to Gensou no Grimgar”
Production Studio: A-1 Pictures
Director: Ryousuke Nakamura
Air Date: Winter 2016
Episode Count: 12 + English Dub
Genres: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Every team must work together with one another all while being able to play off of each others strengths and weaknesses. Well, this just so happens to be one of the keep components of why Grimgar could be considered to be one of the Winter 2016 season and is one of the major factors as to why I decided to make this review in the first place. So instead of waiting around, why don’t we go ahead and jump right into the review!
The story of Grimgar is something that I feel as if is hard to get a grasp of due to it being heavily character focused rather than story focused. In the long run the story goes pretty much nowhere. A thing that bothers me about the start of this show is how we the viewer are introduced to the characters by seeing them wake up with amnesia in the sense that they can remember their names but can’t remember their past, yet they can remember their names. Aside from that, I enjoy seeing the realism in the fantasy world that our characters live in one where death is permanent instead of simply being respawned back into the world time and time again which just so happens to be unlike some other shows that I have in mind *cough* Re:Zero *cough*. Other than that I personally really enjoyed it quite a lot more than I originally expected, although it did take me a few episodes of convincing which I believe is due to the show’s extremely slow pacing.
Alright now that I think I got a little bit off hand how about I get back into talking about the plot of the show.
The first four episodes is pretty much just seeing the characters interact with one another while struggling with being able to keep a roof over their heads, buy food to eat, or even purchase a spare pair of clothes. Throughout the duration of the show you will soon begin to notice how at first the gang is so weak that they can’t even defeat the weakest monster in the game, but slowly the group learns to get stronger and learns how to cover each others strengths and weaknesses to their highest potential. But the thing that surprised me the most about this series is how there is an underlying message about being able to work together as a team yet when something doesn’t go their way they always end up getting up and moving on, this is best shown through the way how each of the characters end up going through the stages of loss throughout the series.
As I explained earlier on in the review about how Grimgar is more character driven rather than a story driven, then you might notice how these characters happen to be working together all for the same goal yet they all have vastly different personalities. With this being said I decided to take inspiration from my Osomatsu-san review and keep these character descriptions fairly short all while saying my personal issues with the character.
Haruhiro is an awkward yet reliable member of the Thief Class to whom of which is forced to grow the most throughout the series which I appreciate. He annoys me at times due to his inability to make quick decisions without risk of harming another member. I just wish I could see more of him because he felt like his character was nothing but wasted potential. In the end he turned out to be the cliched main character show seems the weakest of the bunch but ends up having to rise to the occasion to save everyone else he knows, some examples of this type of trope-like character are as follows: Eren from Attack on Titan, Yuu from Owari no Seraph, and Tatsumi from Akame ga Kill. Luckily for Haruhiro, he just so happens to be better written than all three of those characters combined.
Manato is considered the observant leader of the group who just so happens to be a part of the Priest Class and is the one who is calling the shots for the group. My major problem with him is how he seems so perfect in the series yet you soon realize how he is a fool that resulted in him making a massive mistake that ended up shaking the entire dynamics of the team.
Ranta is a strong character how has an undying willingness to attack yet he happens to also be a quite sensitive member of the Dark Knight Class. Over all this character annoyed me at times to the point where I just wanted to punch him in the nose yet there were also some points in time where he really impressed me with his willingness to go on and never give up. Too bad this can’t save him from the fact about how he is a male tsundere.
Mogzo is the tank of the team due to the fact of him being part of the Warrior Class. He is large and stature yet kind at heart which just so happens to be one of my favorite types of character traits in anime, an example of this type of character in anime is Gouda from Ore Monogatari. One thing that I love about him is how he looks like someone who should belong on an American Football team, he is really the type of person who enjoys doing more detailed work like cooking and paintings instead of being head honcho in the group. It saddens me how Mogzo’s character is pushed to the side a lot in the show and I feel like he could have needed more screen time than what he ended up getting.
Yume is the fun and lovable Hunter Class member of the team. She is debatably the bravest of the entire team yet she struggles to reveal her true emotions at times. The thing that just so happens to annoy me or more specifically her fans is how she is seen more as a ploy to insert some fanservice into the series. I honestly do not know what it is about her but I just never ended up growing a liking to her. Although I must admit, dat ass action is on point.
Shihoru is the quiet and observant Mage Class member of the team. She is seen to be too afraid to fight so she ends up supporting her fellow team members instead through healing them. The thing that bugs me the most about her is how she is too afraid to admit her feelings to the group and is so quiet at times that I even forget how she is even a character in this show.
Mary is the recruit member of the group and at first she is seen to be stubborn and selfish but once you slowly learn her backstory and realize what she has gone through you will probably grow to like her just like how I did. Mary is by far the best character in the entire show and is obviously best girl, Haruhiro x Mary ship is best ship by the way. I was in awe at this character since the minute I was introduced to her and is the sole reason as to why I never gave up on this show because I was close to dropping it.
The Goblins of course these aren’t a part of the team but the interesting thing about them is how they are the main enemy that the group practices on. They also happen to be a mini-civilization of people who want to do nothing but defend their home and each other. They are in a sense a family who has thoughts and emotions. They are a race in a sense, one that is just misunderstood. Seeing them being slaughtered by our party members is just heartbreaking because over time they have really grown on me.
The reason as to what I loved the most about this series is how you can see the characters develop slowly over time. Each of the characters have vastly different personalities and ideologies at the end of the show compared to their previous selves; this change in ideologies occur due to the their previous experiences that they had to conquer and accept over time.
“Everybody’s got something they are not very good at, but we cover for each other because we are a party,” Manato.
The music in this series is a bit off in my mind. Don’t get me wrong, the soundtrack is one of the best to come out of Winter 2016. The problem that I happen to have with this soundtrack is how it just does not fit with the themes of the show. The insert songs are most specifically the biggest problem with the soundtrack due to the way in which they are implemented into the particular scene in of which they are placed in. I remember at one point where I thought it was the end of the episode due to the insert song being played at full blast while having everything in the scene muted, this happened to occur almost every single episode.
The opening I feel as if is extremely fitting for the show it first starts off fairly slow then quite quickly is thrusted into a world of excitement, adventure, and fun. There is a bunch of twists and turns in a sort of panic and disorder than soon comes into a sweet harmony, a song in of which each instrument plays for each others weakness. This song I feel as if is the perfect representation of the show and is personally one of my favorite openings to come out in the year 2016 thus far. Also I love the usage of the violin in this song, an instrument that I personally love listening to in any song.
And finally for the ending theme, I personally enjoy how down to earth it feels and the emotion that it portrays which represents the harsh and grounded realities that the characters in this show are forced to remember day in and day out. I find the simplicity of having an theme song where all they have in the video is a single picture just having the camera slowly panning to every single character in said photo. This is something that I believe might not work for most shows however for this one it works perfectly.
If you were to ask me, my personal favorite insert song from the soundtrack would have to be “Stand on the Ground” by K(N)oW_NAME.
The art and animation for this show is an interesting one to say the least. The thing that sets this show apart from most is the watercolor background that is consistent throughout the entire show. I swear that every five seconds of this show has a new wallpaper which is ripe for the picking. If you are interested in seeing these backgrounds I decided to post them all in a slideshow at the bottom of this review.
The problems I have with this show’s art and animation is how the character designs stick out and just look pasted on top of the screen rather engraved with their surroundings. The other thing that bothered me was how at certain moments in the show you the viewer might be able to see the characters bodies being moved from side to side instead of actual walking which I feel is a cheap cop out from animating a short scene.
Overall, this series really surprised me. I was expecting yet another Danmachi-like series which it kind of is… in a way. The exception here is how realistic and dark the show truly is. At first I hated a lot of the characters however over time they began to grow on me. Also Mary is best girl Winter 2016, and how Grimgar had my #1 favorite opening of the season. The English dub is decent at best however I would recommend you watch it in sub instead; I feel as if the emotion of the vocal performance is lacking in certain scenes in the dub. There is one thing in this entire review that I have neglected to mention… and that one thing is how this series got shafted, in order to be good and reach it’s full potential Grimgar would have ultimately needed at least twenty four episodes. I feel as if with the show being only twelve episodes long that there should be so much more story to tell; I feel as if there is so much more story to tell than what we ultimately ended up getting.
In the end with quite a large amount of thought, I ended up deciding to give this show an 7/10. And would say that it is well worth your time to check out, Grimgar is a series that I would say is not a must watch even tho it is a good one at that.
Stay tuned for next week when I am hopefully able to review Perfect Blue.