Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

Alt title: Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

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Sheex's avatar
Jul 28, 2019

Story:

Following the several years I’ve been out of the loop with anime, my recent return started with watching some of the more prominent shows. Chief among these was the infamous Goblin Slayer which, despite all its undeserved negative press, turned out to be a fantastic balance of drama, parody, and action set in an ostensibly “MMO-style” world. To that point, in the wake of Goblin Slayer I’ve been noticing the “MMO-turned-anime” genre seems to have exploded in popularity, and the once-unique premise of the .Hack series from so many years ago is now plastered about the scene. This creates a challenge for each show in this newly-founded genre to try to establish itself as unique in some way.

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash attempts to parallel a story arc much in the vein of Goblin Slayer, but ostensibly lacks a genuine direction in which it wants to go. The first episode tries to do quite a bit of world building and character introduction, splashing an enormous amount of lore and content for an initial 20-minute run. Where many series would focus on the successful heroes, however, Grimgar focuses instead on the rejects, and sets a fairly strong hook in the viewer with the promise of an interesting story to come. What ends up following, though, is disappointment after disappointment as the show spirals off into a spastic back-and-forth between drama, ecchi humor, action flick, and romance. Ultimately it fails to be competent at delivering any of these things, and the only thing that manages to keep the show afloat is that the characters themselves (with a few minor exceptions) are well-written and interact cogently together on-screen.

The world of Grimgar is just too generic and bland to jump the hurdle of mediocrity. By episode four, the entire arc of the story is essentially explained, and it becomes clear that much of the mystique and intrigue behind the characters’ past and the world’s history are little more than plot devices to move a series of obvious story points forward. This creates the rather pointed issue of the watching the show to devolve into the act of “going through the motions”, as once the viewer is presented exactly what will happen the anticipation of character growth just loses its luster. Once the appeal of the characters begins to dim, the show as a whole rapidly falls apart, and the end result is a decidedly average anime that tries desperately to be something more.

Animation:

Stylistically, Grimgar has a very unique aesthetic. Much of its backdrops are done with a painted-watercolor tone which, while unique, ends up feeling very stagnant for most of the show. The animation budget seems haphazardly thrown together; for example, there’s a snowfall episode toward the middle of the series that’s absolutely gorgeous, but in the middle of it is a very awkward panning CGI scene which harkens me back to the early 2000s. The fluctuation of animation versus stills adds to an overall tacky feeling, and the emphasis of “new skill of the episode” fight scene animations seems to have soaked most of the graphical resources. All in all, it’s unique but definitively average.

Sound:

Both music and voice acting were apt, but generally unremarkable. Ranta’s seiyuu, however, was quite annoying, and the constant shouting and bluster become like nails on a chalkboard after a while. Still, I felt like the music salvaged as much of the dramatic mood as it possibly could, and Haruhiro’s monologues were solid and balanced the right amount of emotion with stoicism that defined his character so well.   

Characters:

The characters are, hands down, what gives Grimgar all its initial appeal. The show opens with twelve young people, who seem to range in age from mid-teens to late twenties, teleported to a strange world with fragmented memories. Almost immediately, the characters are forced into a mercenary-style lifestyle of hunting monsters for survival, and everyone in the world but them seems in on the charade that many people are summoned and only a few survive. Right off the bat, the group of twelve splits into two groups of six, with the first group parsed off by many of the older and more competent kids under the leadership of an archetypical heroic type named Renji. This leaves the remaining six to form together as a rag-tag band under a charismatic-but-uncertain priest by the name of Manato. It sets the stage for an interesting rivalry which rears its head prominently in the first episode but will then never again be touched.

Of the misfits, Haruhiro and Yume are the stars of the show, acting as surprisingly-mature and well-developed leads who react to the circumstances of the show in a believable and genuine fashion. Manato and the rest of the gang supplement them well, and indeed there’s a certain appeal watching the band of rejects work their way from incompetent buffoons to average monster hunters. There’s a lot of splashed character development in the soup of drama, boob jokes, tragedy, and clown-like shouting that follows these two, especially when it seems Haruhiro and Yume start to form a closer bond while trying to deal with the fact that Grimgar isn’t a world of all fun-and-games smashing goblins upside the head. Yet, while the show tries to take itself seriously at times, it constantly throws Ranta, the resident over-the-top class clown, in the middle of the duo to make a flat-chest joke at Yume or create random drama with Haruhiro.

As the show drags on, Ranta takes more and more a prominent role and, as the worst character in the show, sets Grimgar on a voyage destined for failure. The show climaxes with a whirlwind of deus-ex-machina tropes that end up dumbing down all the previous character growth while placing Ranta center stage, which creates a strong souring experience that makes the viewer just glad to be done with the show.

Overall:

While not the worst series I’ve ever watched, Grimgar is formulaic and bland with just enough character to make the viewer not want to drop it outright. It’s worth a once-through if you like the genre and are willing to be unimpressed with a story that fails to live up to its potential, but it’s an average show through-and-through.

4/10 story
5/10 animation
7/10 sound
7/10 characters
6/10 overall
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Grootloops's avatar
Jan 31, 2016

Only writting this review on account of all the hate it seems to be getting.

Yes of course this story has been done into the ground but I have to say from watching the first couple episodes this one sets out to be diffrent

I'm not sure if it was just me but it makes a lot more sense to me that kids from another world would be scared to fight creatures knowing very well they can die. Also having no expereince in combat makes a lot more sense compared to others that make the MC op becasue he can use a keyboard well.

I think the thing that stood out to me the most was when they began to consider the life of the gobling. The scene where they trap him  and he desperatly tries to survive and the chaacters take note was really intersting.

Honestly its not some super fast paced hack and slash liek most of the the other anime in this genre and if it continues like this i think it will be great

7/10 story
10/10 animation
8/10 sound
8/10 characters
8/10 overall
apoc9's avatar
Jan 17, 2016

In a beautiful RPG fantasy world ... nice art ... full of goblins, adventures, brave heroes ... Who are conveniently pulled out of our world with amnesia... prepare for many long slice-of-life scenes. Like preparing fire, cooking, eating, shopping, making tea, watching the sunset, talking with your party buddies about your feelings and stuff. Then jump right into the action as bunch of six supposedly trained adventures stumble, miss at point blank range, get scared of single goblin, stand and watch as their buddy is getting murdered. Instead of watching those other six, who are much more skilled or it is said so.

Why those wimps don't find for themselves other job. It's not like everyone in the city is soldier.

Ok, now here is the longer version with explanation for those who did not understand my "Honest trailer" style review. I have also bumped up score, because the show was not so horrible in the end and overall was much better than usual 3/10 anime.

The first problem I had with this anime that it has tendency to be very dull. When you start time-skipping on the first watch surely something is rotten in the state of Denmark. There is action, but it is overshadowed by seemingly endless slice-of-life. The characters are bland. They have no past. They are too average. Watching them to interact is most of the time tedious.
The story has almost zero world building and the writer didn't even bother to give an excuse why humans are fighting the goblins and other creatures. That is why Spoiler: [I had no sympathy for protagonists who died].
After all they were walking around, attacking and killing goblins for no reason. This is most clear in the episode, where they kill goblins in their sleep. There is also no explanation why they have to be adventurers in the first place. There is lot of people in the city who are not adventurers. For example It's established that the big guy in the party likes to cook and he is quite good at it. Why he does not tries to find a job in some pub/restaurant in the city to make some money? That is how the realistic aproach to this situation would work.
Luckily the group will gradually get somewhat better in fighting. Info-dumping of the new skills also did not help either. I liked interaction between the main protagonist, the guy internally monologuing all the way through the story, and the girls. There were few good moments. However that is very little to cover glaring holes in the story.

What the story really was about then? It was mostly about copping with hardship, grief and loss (death). Resolution conveniently supported by the dead changing into zombies. It provides an average approach to the mentioned "morale message of the story" and as such it deserves an average score at best.

4/10 story
7/10 animation
5/10 sound
3/10 characters
4/10 overall
Gosick's avatar
Jan 10, 2016

You've done it again A-1. You've managed to somehow build a little hype around seemingly the exact same premise you've been milking for years. While A-1 does tend to milk things dry and copy ideas, even if they are their own, I cannot deny their skill. A-1 has always been able to give an array of art types, and story telling. While many studios such as Kyoto stick to one style, A-1 experiments. While a bold move, it has payed off. This season they are pumping out 3 new animes, and 3 new movies. Just under ERASED in terms of hype and quality is 'Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash'.

This anime could easily get gruesome and start mowing down characters. If that happens, I will most likey love it as long as my waifu is safe and sound.

*Edit*: Boom I fucking called it. Avoid character section for slight spoilers. There's no good way to talk about all of them without spoiling something. 

Story: The story is nothing new and over used. A group of 12(I think?) wake up in the unknown world of Grimgar. Once there, they discover they must(why..?) choose a class, and survive in this new world by slaying monsters, thus earning money and advancing in the world. The group of comparatively unfit kids form one group of 6, while the toned and badass looking ones form another group of 6 because of plot.

While I am sick and tired of this plot, this anime does try to throw new things into the mix. None of the people remember anything about where they came from, however from time to time use words they once knew, such as cell phone, and then question what that even means. This is a quickly forgotten premise though. A-1 has also realized that OP characters are boring, and have made our main characters almost worthless. In the beginning they are unable to beat even 2 goblins against their 6. The other group however has already advanced to the next 'rank', though this doesn't show they are OP, just not idiots.

Now before you jump into this anime know this. This anime, in the beginning, focuses mostly on characters and their interactions than on story. It's quite slow paced for a bit, but not in a bad way. If you enjoy seeing characters and relations develop, and don't mind a plot that's slow and steady, this is for you. Around mid-way we see the plot start chugging along more briskly, and eventually throws some pretty unexpected curves.

This anime is also based off the apparently successful light novel that I've unfortunately not been able to read. Light novel to anime adaptations are usually either very good or very bad, with the majority being bad. I'd say it was on the good spectrum, though like every other LN adaption it needs another season. At least it wasn't SAO.

Animation: As I said, A-1 loves to experiment. This time around, they've gone with a style that reminds me of Feel, or maybe even I.G. . That said, the animation is done very well. The little fight scenes we've seen have been fairly fluid and engaging. The magic system is also interesting, with beautifully drawn spells and effects. Not only the fighting, but the world itself is pretty well made. Detail is spread throughout equally, and though you won't get ufotable or Comix, it's very nice to look at.

 Sound: Have to say I'm slightly let down.The opening song isn't bad, though slightly generic, and the ending is a bit worse than the opening. There hasn't been very noticable BGM either, though this could be good or bad. They tone down BGM considerably during tense scenes and idle chat, and let loose during montages or fight scenes. Maybe I've been spoiled lately from all the above average soundtracks though.

Characters: *light spoilerino ahead*

Haruhiro: This guy is alright in my book. He's not a beta fag from what we've seen(Just fuck Mary already), and is the Thief class of the group. He is the fairly chill type of the group, and our main protagonist(though everyone is a main, but he narrates). Seems to be some possible romance in the future between my boy and Yume/Mary hopefully.

Manato: He's the(was, kappa) Cleric of the party, and takes the leader personality. He's an all around nice guy, though he gets too close to my girls from time to time. While I dislike his type of character, I can tolerate him simply because of how much of a bro he is. He's considerate of everyone, and loved by them all, which is very aparent after ep 5(I think thats right).

Mogzo: The fat(well, muscley fat) unspoken type. I say unspoken but it's more of just quiet. He's the Warrior(tank) of the party, and does a great job of keeping his grubby little hands away from my harem. He's able to take charge if needed, and is a pretty good tank.

Ranta: Usually I'm ok with his type but so far I dislike him. He's the perv type, he made Shihiro cry, and chose the edgy class. He's Yuuta when he had chuuni syndrome. Honestly I liked him before he fucked with my girl, so maybe I'm overreacting. He chose Dark Knight or some shit, and is more or less the off tank I assume. He gets a lot more tolerable as he develops, but I still dislike him. Whatever 6/10.

Shihiro: I have a soft spot for helpless maidens, and Shihiro fits the bill. From the get go she's fumbling around trying to use magic and failing miserably. Unfortunately for me, that type of character always dies if the show mows down characters like it's going out of style. Luckily I can only see one more dying as of now though. She's the mage of the group, and has a very shy personality and low self esteem. Though she has a large bosom, I can overlook this flaw because of her personality. Hopefully she avoids the death flag she has on her. 

Yume: The older sister type and best grill, though she's got competition now. Also the clumsy type. And the touchy type... She's definitely a good contender for waifu of the year. She chose the Hunter, and wields a bow, though her aim is horrid so she sticks with close range for a while. Through what we've seen I assume she has tracking skills and super human vision or some shit.

Mary: She's the new addition to the group, taking Manato's spot as Priest. From the get-go it's obvious she's the silent lonely type with a harsh backstory. She heals well though, not like an idiot Manato was. As scooby and the gang get to know her, she slowly opens up, revealing herself to be almost as good a waifu as Yume.

*edit: She's better.

There are many other characters that I dont care about yet. If the two other grills excite me I'll add them, but until then this is good enough.

8/10 story
7/10 animation
7/10 sound
8/10 characters
7.5/10 overall
FlyingBaron's avatar
Feb 3, 2016

Another crap anime ... With ultra weak and stupid character, the guy wich have the more balls of all the team is called a coward by the others. (Hypocrisy is everywhere, even in animes !!)

With those shity character, we got :

- The useless crying big tits slut that will always cry for nothing.

- The little Tsundere piece of shit who punch every guy of the team, only because they seen her in her bath (By accident, fuckin stupid otaku gimik) <== STOP THIS, OK ?!

- The guy who think he's the best of all time, even if he sucks ballz (But in this anime, it's REALLY the strongest character of the team ...)

- The shity main character that have no personnality, he's just as stupid as the others.

- The dumb big guy that chose warrior to be stupid, big muscles, but no head.

Really, i love animes like this !! Why we can't see some good character and main character ? Like Ichigo ? Just a sample character like Ichigo would be good !!

It's just a Slice of Life, with boobs and perverted situations, but they added some RPG things to make you think : "Hey, look !! It's a new design !!"

You're really far away from the quality of Log Horizon ... Or No Game No Life, better go back to school to learn how to not make shity characters.

Animation is OK, SOUNDTRACK is crap.

2/10 story
8/10 animation
3/10 sound
1/10 characters
2.5/10 overall