|A good looking show, some good emotional scenes, very grounded and difficult combat
|Can be too slow for some, last few episodes not quite as strong, one frustrating character
Truly it is a great thing when a show just manages to be exactly what you hoped it would be. Hai to Gensou no Grimgar didn’t fall short of what I hoped we were getting with this show. A very enjoyable fantasy show with characters who didn’t have any crazy powers or knowledge. Just people dropped into a very difficult situation and having to try and survive. Not a fast paced show, but one that takes the time to show the difficulties this group of characters had to face. Getting dropped into a fantasy world and having to fight for survival isn’t a simple thing. It’s going to involve a lot of slow going and incremental improvements. As a whole the cast wasn’t gifted with super powers, but rather had to get by based on the skills they could pick up along the way. Life or death was very much a constant struggle for the group, having to just worry about even the smallest things at the start like earning enough money to buy food and survive.
This show did a really good job of easing people into it. Maybe for some it was too much easing and not fast enough progress, but I think Hai to Gensou no Grimgar made the right choice. There was time to allow the seriousness of the situation to sink in. It’s easy to make light of people being dumped into a fantasy word/game world/parallel world/whatever. This show allows us to see how hard it would be for a normal person to survive. All the more so because these normal people, don’t even have the memories of where they came from. They are dropped into this world with a blank slate. No memories of friends, family, technology, not much of anything. They know who they are by name, but that’s about it. The basic language skills tossed in there so they can of course communicate. In the end they have to do what is asked of them because they don’t know anything else. Told to become these volunteer soldiers and fight monsters around the region in order to earn money. That is their situation and the option for survival given to them.
The really enjoyable thing for Grimgar is that the show makes life or death struggles feel as intense as they should. Most people haven’t killed someone or taken any life (outside of poor pet care). These people have to face the ugly reality of it. Killing with swords, knives, arrows, (and magic for the mage of the group). Fighting creatures that do appear self-aware and sentient. It’s not just killing some chickens or something, but rather creatures that don’t care to die and will kill you if they can. The early episodes showed some real intensity with the cast having to face getting hurt themselves and the disturbing nature of cutting into a living being in order to try and kill them. Everyone is desperate. Realism may not always be a necessity, but I do think it’s interesting to show how people would start out extremely shaken up by what they are doing and slowly get adjusted to it over time.
Overall the story is a pretty straight forward one. This group dropped into a strange world have to stand together, learn abilities and skills from respective class guilds and use those abilities to make a living. There isn’t a goal outside of buying their way to professional status as volunteer soldiers and simply surviving. Making a living so they can buy food, equipment, additional training, and a place to live. It’s a very realistic outlook in some ways for what would happen to people tossed into this situation. They have to do the dirty work in order to survive. You can’t live without food, water and shelter and in order to acquire those things this group has to fight.
It’s not entirely depressing, but it’s just very grounded. In a sense like a game or maybe old craft guilds, they have to pay for membership within that “class” and pay for training for different abilities. These people start out as strangers and have to learn how to get along and cooperate in a life or death struggle. I honestly enjoyed seeing the fruits of their labors. The little steps forward, the incremental learning of new skills and slowly becoming a much more capable team. There were ups and downs along the way, but it just was very appealing to see how far they had come by the end.
One thing with the cast of this show is that some characters just plain got more focus than others. Haruhiro “Haru” is without a doubt the main character. Taking on a thief class which leaves him a more mobile member of the team, almost playing an assassin type role. Not often going to be fighting head on, but rather moving around and getting stabs in to the vital areas. He’s someone who has to grow into the role of a lead character. Always the type to be a bit hesitant and not the best with expressing himself. Very much a flawed person with his good qualities and bad. But he is someone who definitely cares a lot about his allies. And while he stumbles to the point of expressing that care, he does get it across. A bit awkward and often just walking around by himself when having free time, he does mature a lot through the show.
One of my favorite members of the cast was definitely Yume. By far the most upbeat and energetic character in the mix. She starts out as a hunter who is pretty poor with the bow. Kind of a given thing though since these are people who probably haven’t used weapons ever before in their lives. Learning how to properly aim and fire a bow isn’t that easy. But she’s the kind of energized person who doesn’t mind just going on random tangents about dreams and just keeping things light. Very much protective on her friend Shihoru. Though despite all that positive energy…Yume is also sometimes awkward in saying what she really wants to say. Not always 100% cheer and does have her moments of weakness. She and Haru to me are the heart of this group. The two people who are necessary to keep things going.
Speaking of Shihoru, I’d say she’s one of the characters with less character development and focus than others. She’s mostly characterized by her shyness towards guys (which limits interactions when almost the entire group is male) and crush she has on a guy who is not the main character. She does grow in terms of ability and personality. It’s just kept to a handful of scenes. In the end she’s not a main love interest for the MC and thus kind of left to the sidelines in terms of focus.
Another character somewhat left off to the side is Moguzo. Moguzo….is a nice guy. He enjoys cooking for the group, crafting, and taking care of his gear. But he’s another pretty quiet person overall. He only really raises his voice to the group once. The kind of person who only really speaks up when he has to. Somewhat ironic since he’s the front line fighter of the group, the tank that will hold the lines and take the hits needed to keep everyone safe. It’s just that he doesn’t really have any character arc to speak of. He just improves on his skills.
Ranta is the character you can argue has too much presence at times. The loudmouth character who is probably covering up his insecurities and frustrations by just making himself as obnoxious as he can. The Dark Knight of the group who generally just pushes everyone’s buttons. Not sure what to say about the fact, but he does get a character arc in this show and is fairly important in the last few episodes. Not a guy I honestly liked though he was an interesting person to just dissect as a character. Very frustrating, but not all bad. At least his intentions can be argued to be….relatively good.
Manato is a character who gets some early focus. A more natural leader type or at least the type willing to take on responsibilities for a group of misfits. Planning things out, budgeting their funds when they are pretty poor and giving encouragement where he can. A guy who likes to feed animals he sees in the local town and does reach out to some people like Haru. Kind of a central pillar who everyone counts on.
Mary comes into the show a bit later, but is definitely an impactful character. She also gets a focused character arc and you can see her grow and change along the way. Her personality starts out rough and develops as the show goes along. Her focus takes up a lot of the latter half of the show and she does end up one of the more likable characters in the end.
The side cast is pretty small, but fine. There are a few random adventurers that Haru and the group interact with in town, the leader of the volunteer soldiers, Haru’s Thief Trainer, etc. Honestly the focus is mostly just on the main cast, the world itself and what troubles the main cast deals with.
One big strength for this show was the visuals and the art style. The world of Grimgar had a very watercolor visual style. It did make the world stand out honestly. Seeing these characters move through that world was interesting from the start and just became a very nice backdrop. Just the slower moments of the series that showed the town and the environment in an arguably beautiful way. Despite how tough life for the characters is in this show, the world itself looked great. You can also see the passage of time, the change of the seasons. It really is a very good looking show.
The characters looked great, the skills and spells looked nice and the environment stood out. The animation was pretty smooth. For a show with combat there is a fair amount of stabbing, arrow hits, etc. But the show does have some creative angles for anything that is too messy. Maybe visually you could argue the show particularly enjoyed showing off Yume a bit too much, but she was a likable character and honestly the fanservice in the show is pretty limited.
The audio side of the show is kind of interesting. The group (K)NoW_NAME has their music spread throughout the whole darn show. The OP/ED and a lot of insert songs. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot of them. I think a lot of the songs do fit with the scenes so it isn’t a bad thing, but sometimes they got to the point where I was expecting an insert song segment. Some of them were silent moments for the dialogue which worked on occasion, but sometimes you just wanted to hear the characters speak XD. Still, I think it did add something to the show and made some emotional scenes all the better thanks to some good songs. It’s just something that stood out.
The voice acting is pretty good in the show. No one had an obnoxious voice (that wasn’t trying to have one). Again props to Yume since her voice actor did a very good job making her character extremely likable. The voice work for the various creatures worked pretty well also. While the monsters didn’t speak an understandable language, they did get personality.
In the end I can’t say a lot of bad things about this show. The last few episodes didn’t get me as much as the rest of them. Maybe it was the focus though. For most of the show though it does have a very solid base setup for the abilities and how the cast overcomes their challenges. Not a character going into a hero mode, but as a group and with thinking through their situations. When the show sticks to this, it really is at its best. It is a fairly slow paced show so it won’t appeal to everyone. Though I think most will know whether they can get behind the style and pacing within a couple episodes. It is just focused on a small group of misfits as they grow and develop into a competent team. They won’t be saving the world, just keeping themselves alive.
I would say that A-1 did a great job with this show. They didn’t rush it and delivered one of the best shows of the season. It’s almost a shame that this is only a one-cour show, but I can live with how this series ends. It has some very strong emotional moments that is reflected through the main cast. Both in their successes and failures. A good ride for those who enjoy a kind of fantasy show with a cast just trying to make their way through it. Some good action, some downtime, and a show that rarely disappointed.
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