Hai To Gensou no Grimgar

July 17, 2016

You thought if you are ever sucked into a fantasy realm, it would be just easy to live the life of an adventurer there. Especially for those who have played RPG and MMORPG games and waste spend their time levelling up their characters with all the hours of grinding, it will be a piece of cake. You think so? Well, certainly not in Hai To Gensou no Grimgar. Another fantasy setting whereby our main group of characters are a bunch of amnesiacs, not sure how they got into this world so you can’t really accuse this of being yet another virtual reality MMORPG like Sword Art Online, Log Horizon or even Overlord. Life is tough when you start out as an adventurer with nothing. Yeah, much worse when you don’t have memories of your origins. So what to do but to work hard, trial by error and earn enough day by day, save enough to buy better equipment, weapons and learn new skills. And if that is they are lucky enough not to get killed along the way. Uh huh. Feels like a poor man’s version of realistic RPG gaming. If this was a game…

Episode 1
Get this. A small party is having trouble defeating a single goblin! They’re fumbling and being outsmarted by the little green creature! Not too sure if it is that smart or they are just dumb and unlucky. And aren’t goblins the weakest creature in Grimgar? I’m sure they defeat it eventually since the next morning they are talking about the difficulties in just handling them. As they talk over things, Manato mentions the word game but he doesn’t understand what it means. This prompts Haruhiro to narrate how they tend to use seemingly familiar words but yet do not know its meaning. He adds he only came to this world and has no memories of prior to that. And that was just a few days ago. He woke up in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. People who seem as lost as him. So they head to ask this effeminate guy some questions. Brittany is the chief of this Red Moon office of this little Ortana town of Grimgar. He is also part of the Volunteer Soldier Squad for Ortana’s Borderland Brigade. Tough guy Renji wants immediate answers and is not scared by Brittany’s challenge and in fact dares him. To summarise, Brittany wants them to join the Volunteer Soldier Squad by becoming trainees. Here’s a badge at 20 silver coins. First lesson to get to know this world better is that they have to fight and think for themselves. Yeah. Great survival tip. Oh, here is another tip: Don’t quit. Otherwise you die. Thanks Brittany. I’ll keep that in mind. Renji stormed off with a handful of strong members. I guess this leaves Haruhiro with the weak ones, eh? He continues narrating a few more workings about this world. Like this Borderland Brigade is needed because there are other races hostile to humans. You can also trade monster items for a high price.

Part of the rule to work, one must join a guild. So as advised by Manato, Haruhiro went to join a thief guild. Not too sure if he will regret this one but since Barbara is such a hot sexy teacher, I’m sure he doesn’t mind the strict sadistic training. Yeah, it will be all worth it in 7 days… Hey, at least she gave him his nickname: Old Cat. It’s his face… After completing their training in their respective guilds, they meet up. Manato is a priest, Yume a hunter, Shihoru a magician, Moguzo a warrior and Ranta a dark knight. Complete with RPG-like cosplay outfits. I’m not sure what Ranta’s problem is but it is like he has got a bone to pick with everyone. Like how he chides Shihoru about her boobs and being fat. Huh? Then he blames Haruhiro for even looking at them. What? I don’t even… See? You made her cry! Lucky Yume threatens to shoot him if he steps further out of line. And probably incite more jealousy as she gets a little yuri with her. The group then goes to hunt monsters but they come back empty handed and their wallets are getting dangerously empty. Yeah, they haven’t eaten anything decent. A bigger insult when they see the goblins eating yummier food! Curses! It’s really a dog eat dog world out here too.

Episode 2
Haruhiro couldn’t sleep that night so he goes to chat with Manato who just came back from drinking. I guess he earned it since he is like the big brother of the pack trying to take care of the rest. They look up at the red moon and find it weird even though they don’t remember the moon of their own world but they have a feeling it shouldn’t be red. What a beautiful day to hunt a goblin. One spotted down by the river. I’m not sure about their strategy to surprise attack it but Ranta being an idiot starts screaming and dashing. And I don’t know what he is swinging the sword at. Of course the goblin is alerted and tries to run. But Haruhiro tumbles his way down and inadvertently engages in melee combat. The farce continues because despite the party surrounding and even wounding the goblin, it still outsmarts them! With the goblin screaming, everyone is just as hell mad and scared. The climatic end came when the goblin throws its sword into Haruhiro’s shoulder and then tries to kill him. Haruhiro becomes scared that he stabs its neck. It still won’t die? Ranta fights it before Moguzo finishes it off with a head blow. Manato heals Ranta’s wound. Ranta is searching to goblin for the spoils and he isn’t too appreciative that Moguzo dealt the final blow because it meant the kill was his. Then a jump scare for everybody because the goblin is still alive! WTF?! Is it on God mode?! It tries to run away but Ranta chases it down and violently stabs it to death like a mad killer! OMG! We’ve seen enough violence for today. I suppose you can call that their victory so they trade its wolf fang for a high price. And since the sun is still high, they hang out in town and enjoy themselves. I guess they deserve it. Ranta is satisfied with his first kill because he accumulated enough Vice to summon a demon familiar. That night, Haruhiro wanted to ask Manato some serious questions but the words just couldn’t come out his mouth. Then Ranta decides to go spy on the girls bathing since it is his manly destiny or something. As expected, he got what he deserves as the girls beat him up. Just sad for the other guys who tried to stop him got dragged into this mess and had to apologize.

Episode 3
All the guys are kneeling and apologizing. Except for Ranta of course. He even states he didn’t want to see their flat chests (liar!) so Yume promises not to get mad if he comes clean. Apparently the wall gave way when he tried to peep on them. Then Yume just beats him down. Promise or no promise… A rainy day, a gloomy day… Because our party isn’t finding anything to earn. This continues for a few days as Haruhiro narrates they are so poor that they can’t even afford to buy underwear! Yeah, clothes must be that expensive. Then the thought if the guys don’t wear them while they are sleeping, what about the girls? Are you sinking as low as Ranta? I suppose he tries to cover this up by disallowing Ranta to go wash his clothes at the same time with the girls. You’ll never know. Next day, the gang head to Damuro. It was the second city of Arabakia Kingdom but now a base for goblins. Because goblins separated from their groups tend to end up in old cities, that is where the gang will try their luck. They spot a sleeping goblin and immediately strike it down. Well, this was easy. They continue their hunt for goblins this way till they have enough money. Yes, enough money for Haruhiro to buy new underwear! With extra money, they also splash them on food. Manato suggests saving some to learn new skills. Then there is this heart to heart talk between Haruhiro and Manato about being here and friends alike. But it’s just so boring that I couldn’t give a damn.

Episode 4
What the heck is this opener. Almost 3 minutes of Manato feeding animals and when he invites Shihoru to do it, she flusters and falls. He catches her. That’s about it. Like as though it is foreboding something… The party now has learnt new skills to take on more goblins and at more effective pace. They’re really getting into the groove. During the break, Manato talks how everyone has gotten along well with each other and mentions their good points. Yes, even Ranta has his good points. But did he forget to mention Haruhiro? Oh well. There will be many chances to ask him after that. Suddenly they are under attack by a group of goblins. Revenge? Haruhiro takes arrow hits meant for Manato. Very painful but luckily Manato heals them. As they make their escape, Manato gets shot in the back. Unfortunately I’m not sure why his magic cannot work. He is dying. His friends are panicking on what to do next. All Manato can do is say sorry. When they bring him to his chief priest, he offers his condolences that the dead cannot be brought back to life. Manato… Dead???!!! Haruhiro goes crazy being unable to accept reality. The priest tells him all they can do and must do is give him a proper burial. Because in this land without so, the dead become cursed zombies after 5 days. And that only way is to cremate. Sure, it costs money but Haruhiro will do it. Because Manato is their friend. Cue for heartbreaking cry from Shihoru. A gloomy outlook for them as they scatter his ashes into the wilderness.

Episode 5
Gloomy… Even gloomier, it costs money to live, it costs money to die… The guys are drinking at the bar. It seems Ranta is blaming Haruhiro for making Manato use up his magic that is why he ran out of it. The argument could have escalated further had not the gentle giant Moguzo put his foot down and told them off not to fight each other. As they think of their next step, here comes Kikkawa all happy and drunk. Then he learns about Manato’s death so he tells them how priests have high fatality rate and is targeted by enemies. That is why a warrior is always there to protect them. Kikkawa knows a few people who are of priest class to join them. So this Mary girl… Unfriendly and uncooperative. I think Ranta could even lose to her in any argument and ironically he is the one to say about her attitude! She won’t even fight in the front lines because she values herself as a priest and when some members get injured she won’t heal because it is not a big deal so deal with it! Oh my… If that is not bad enough, there seems to be silent animosity from Yume and Shihoru and Haruhiro thinks it is because he got Mary as their priest without their consultation. Sure, Mary looks pretty and could have been if not for that attitude… Renji (looks like he is promoted) visits them and gives a gold coin as a gift after hearing Manato’s death. However Haruhiro gives it back and can’t accept it. While Ranta is cursing they could have bought their official badges with that, Haruhiro thinks this isn’t what Manato would have wanted. You think so? Haruhiro realizes the group is in disarray and that is nothing to do with Mary itself. Haruhiro goes talk to Yume if she is mad because they hired Mary without their talking to them first. When a woman says she is not mad at that tone… Plus, she won’t tell you what is wrong too… You have to guess… Oh my, doesn’t this seem freaking familiar?! While they are hugging and crying, each consoling the other, Haruhiro realizes how Manato placed importance in their party. Even though he was their leader, he didn’t do everything by himself. Haruhiro is now crying harder than Yume. This is the perfect mood for them to hold each other in such romantic way. Yeah, I didn’t know holding each other like that could be so much warmer. Maybe it’s because they’re hugging in the rain? Then Shihoru spots this and gets the wrong idea. It took a while for Yume to realize what she had done but she brushes it off. So Haruhiro wanted her to take it seriously?

Episode 6
Shihoru apologizes for the misunderstanding. Ranta is bursting with energy trying to find out what happened! Made even worse when Yume bluntly tells him what happened. Now this guy is even more energetic to hear every piece of detail. On the way to their next mission, the girls try to be friendly with Mary but she is still unresponsive. Haruhiro also tries to talk to her but she is as tight as an airbag. When the girls join the guys for the first time at the bar, Mary ignores them and sits by herself. They see her talking to Shinohara from a very famous group, Orion. Haruhiro has this dilemma to play the reluctant leader. Somebody has to do it. So much so he even sees visions of Manato asking him how the party will turn out. So Haruhiro observes his teammates in battle. Like how Moguzo is careful with his attacks because he doesn’t wear helmet. He suggests he go buy one so he can fight all out. He also observes Mary that she does heal but only after the fight. She might claim her staff is for aesthetics but she has learnt some skills for it. Despite not fighting in the front lines, she is at the back protecting Shihoru. As Mary doesn’t want to join them as usual after another mission, they go to the bar to talk to Shinohara to ask more about Mary. But he refers them to Hayashi who knows her better for they were in the same party. They started out just like them as Volunteer Soldiers and everything was smooth sailing. It is surprising to learn Mary was a very cheerful and helpful person. Thanks to her help, their confidence in battles grew and this only made them arrogant. Till that incident at Cyrene Mine. They were trying to hunt down a kobold and beat other parties to it. They went deeper and deeper till they found it. Hayashi was knocked unconscious during the fight. When he woke up, a couple of his comrades have died. One is still standing and trying to fend it off. Hayashi told Mary to quickly heal him but she was crying and apologizing that she had run out of magic. After that she stopped smiling and blamed herself for letting 3 of her friends die and had no right to be a healer.

Episode 7
Hayashi dragged Mary away as she watched in horror the last member of her party gets killed. After they resurface, Shinohara took them into Orion but Mary soon left. Being with him reminded her of her past and it was painful. Mary joined many parties but never stayed long. Sometimes Hayashi thought he only brought back an empty shell of her and the real one is still stuck down there. He hopes Haruhiro and co can save her. After learning her past, Ranta still isn’t so forgiving. So what they know more about her? Does her tragic past make it less than them? But Haruhiro says that even if she is no different than them, if they don’t try to be friends with her, she won’t be friends with them either. If that is the case, Ranta wonders why they don’t be friends with him. Is it because he always says unnecessary things? Yup. I guess things can change because Ranta actually apologize! Yeah, it might snow tomorrow. Next day when they find no suitable goblins to hunt, Haruhiro talks to Mary about Manato. He talks about their ex-priest in a way that pretty much sounds similar to what she had experienced. You know, Manato the leader and mood maker of the team that everybody takes for granted until he is gone. Eventually, everyone thinks of Mary as their friend. Even if Mary still doesn’t join them after missions, at least she opened up a bit. The more missions they go, Haruhiro could feel they are slow getting closer to Mary. They have gone to hunt goblins for so many times that they have been nicknamed and taunted by others Goblin Slayers, though they pay no heed. But hey, at least they can now tell apart goblins and know their habits very well. They also save well and invest in equipment and weapons while learning more skills to level themselves up. Killing goblins has become a whole lot easier. And what do you know? Mary joins them at the bar too. Things are going well that Haruhiro even has his calming talk with Manato. He wants to show him how the party has become now.

Episode 8
Haruhiro and co are going on a revenge mission to kill the pack of goblins that killed Manato that day. You know Manato is such a great guy when his name even crops up in his motivational speech. Because of his death, they vow not to let others die. Unless you’re a goblin. The ambush begins but it seems the boss goblin is no pushover and is a smart one. He knows human skills and magic to avoid them. Even cooperating to fight him or fight him solo is tough because he is one tough mother f*cker. But after a while, they manage to wound him as he retreat. As they chase after him, they see him slumped on his chair like as though he is going to resign to his fate. No more energy to fight? Little do they know it is an ambush because Mary got an arrow to her back! Oh no! Before everybody could panic like history repeating itself, this time they have the experience and more composed. Thankfully Mary’s wound is not critical and she still has magic left. Eventually the big boss is slain and Haruhiro goes after the sneaky goblin that shot Mary at the back. With Yume’s help, they finally avenge Manato. And Haruhiro got back his lost dagger the day Manato died. The friends pay their respects at Manato’s grave. It seems they have earned enough money to buy a badge that makes them full fledge Volunteer Soldiers. I guess it is tough being poor at first since they had to be frugal and save all the money they can on food and lodging. They have even bought Manato’s share as they lay it on his tombstone. Then there is some talk with Haruhiro and Mary. Yeah, about Manato again. The pain of losing friends that will stay in your heart forever, I’m not sure if it is something appropriate to talk right now. But I suppose it is so that Mary can say that there are some wounds that magic cannot heal. Despite a painful topic to talk about, at least they feel better after hearing it.

Episode 9
Haruhiro’s party has their day off. I guess they earned it. So we have Moguzo baking his new bread and carving hobby, Shihoru feeding birds, Ranta fishing and Yume… Rock climbing? Haruhiro walks around town and stumbles upon Mary. They chat… Soon they get word on Damuro that there are new aggressive goblins there ever since they defeated those pack. Rookie Volunteer Soldiers have been injured. As they ponder their next move because if they don’t go for the hunt they won’t earn anything, Moguzo suggests changing their hunting location. Somehow Cyrene Mine pops up in Haruhiro’s head. Seems he wants to go there for a change of pace. It is good that they have gotten better and familiar with Damuro but being complacent they might let their guard down. Naturally, Mary has been having irregular breathing since she heard that place. I am not sure if they don’t remember if this was her traumatic turning point in life. She goes out from some air. Haruhiro talks to her and I think it is a little too late to realize it is a place where she wants to forget where she lost her friends. Because he too has not set foot at the place where Manato died and would like to forget it. Mary admits she cannot be calm at that place but wants to go there to overcome it so she can move on. She is willing to go with them because they consider her their friends. Haruhiro is so happy to hear it that he cried… Don’t laugh… So as everyone prepares their equipment and skills for their new hunting ground, Haruhiro goes to learn a greater skill from Barbara. I guess with all the depression, Yume and Shihoru weren’t sexy enough that is why we have some screen time for Barbara’s sexy-cum-sadistic training. She assures only a few have died in her training. That’s very assuring… Like all flirty masters, she tries to get Haruhiro to spill the beans if there is any girls he is interested but he is more interested in asking her about the strange skill that he could see critical hit points in enemies. People who train well enough and have got enough experience can see it and it differs from person to person. Yeah whatever. It means you have to find more about that yourself. Haruhiro’s party is outside Cyrene Mine. As narrated. It was developed by humans of Arabika Kingdom but was abandoned after a party of kobolds seized and ousted them. They have been living there since.

Episode 10
Fighting the kobolds use a different strategy. Ranta seems to be having trouble with his and he refuses help so he could kill it on his own. But as explained by Mary, these kobolds are low levels and live nearer to the surface. The tougher and stronger ones live deeper below. As the party goes deeper, we see them use more skills they have learnt. After a while, Haruhiro suggests this has been enough kobold killing for today and to head back. That night, Haruhiro calls Ranta to talk about his attitude. It seems he doesn’t like teamwork. He also warns him about his attitude that could be easily misunderstood by others. So is he trying to blame something? However Ranta fires back that Haruhiro too has his weak points but do you see him talk about it openly? Besides, Ranta reveals he doesn’t intend to get friendly with everybody. He is only fulfilling his role as needed in the party and thus it fits on how he sees as working as a team. The next day, the party continues to hunt more kobolds deeper. Ranta is still reckless, almost killing Haruhiro and he doesn’t even care! Haruhiro wants to be angry but he realizes this is just Ranta being how he used to be. Arriving at a level that has its own underground farming and sunlight, they have to lie low after spotting a pack of kobolds. It would be tough fighting them as the open space gives them the advantage. Ranta accidentally triggers an alarm mechanism and all the kobolds go into alert mode. Then the big kobold boss pops up to help search. Mary recognizes this big bad wolf. Her trauma kicks up, paralyzing her.

Episode 11
Mary dreams of her friends but is snapped back to reality by Haruhiro. Still playing hide and seek with the wolves? She composes herself to lead her party to the lower levels undetected as she knows the area well. The next level is hot because of the smelting mines. They manage to sneak through and rest at an abandoned temple since kobolds don’t worship gods. Then zombies pop up… Oh look, they are Mary’s ex-teammates. I guess this is how you would look like when you didn’t get cremated. Looks like they don’t miss her and start attacking. Everybody starts engaging them and Mary wants to go into the frontlines for the first time because she has learnt a dispel move that will break their curse. It is going to be tough since the zombies are stronger, faster and have the brains to use tactic. Just like when they were alive. Only now they’re dead. Mary manages to dispel one of them and turns it into ash. It takes a whole lot of cooperation before Mary could dispel the rest. Each with an emotional hug of goodbye (which I think is part of the spell too). They take a break noting the ashes the zombies have become and realize the need to get stronger or learn better skills. Ranta? He just needs to create an original finishing move for himself… Break time is over when the big kobold boss bursts in and just attacks them like a hulk. Time to run. It is a mad dash for the exit since big bad wolf has howled for his underlings. Why, wolf dude is just going berserk in smashing everything in hopes of bringing down Haruhiro’s party. So there is this scaffolding they’re trying to climb and he breaks it down even if it collapses on himself. But don’t worry, he’ll burst out of that in no time. Ranta grabs Haruhiro by the hand and won’t abandon him. After all their bickering, he won’t let his leader die. Manato is Manato. Haruhiro is Haruhiro. He is not Manato. The roles are switched when Haruhiro gets to safety but Ranta falls down. Ranta tells him to move own and will be fine on his own. You’ll just have to believe in his confidence. Haruhiro reunites with the rest and tells about Ranta’s circumstances. They will have to regroup in the higher levels and go down a different route to save him. Let’s hope he can hold out till then. Nobody wants to go through another round of depression again.

Episode 12
Ranta manages to get back up to the farm level. Thanks to the farm level, he manages to hide within them. Haruhiro goes over his plan to rescue Ranta and for all of them to come out alive. Yume says her piece of mind that she doesn’t like Ranta as he keeps teasing her boobs but the thought of him surviving alone is pretty scary. Ranta summons his familiar for help but it is just teasing and telling him to die! He is regretting He should have groped Yume’s boobs?! WTF is he thinking right now?! It isn’t long before he is spotted and the chase is on again. This time Haruhiro and co are ready to deal with the kobolds. Yume blinds an eye of the big boss as everyone barely makes their escape. While resting, Yume teases Ranta for crying. He denies everything except that pain in his chest whenever he thinks about never seeing them again. So Yume teases about his chest, he teases about her boobs. Till Mary puts down her foot to stop moving or she’ll stop his healing. They are on the home stretch out but the big boss just doesn’t give up. They attack and this is when Mary warns them about this video game logic: The more damage it takes, the stronger it gets! WTF?! Haruhiro knows one must stay behind for the others to escape. His body moves on his on to tackle to big boss and bring him down the chasm with him. Now he leaves it to Ranta to play leader to lead the rest to safety. After that fall, Haruhiro is in a daze. He could see Mary trying to come back to get him and crying but Ranta and the rest took her away. What is worse than facing a big bad kobold? Fighting it with a broken arm. Looks like Haruhiro has resigned to his fate of not making it back alive.

As he prepares to fight, suddenly time slows down. He can’t be at awed with this new ability as he follows to flow to blind its other eye before striking the critical hit. Game over. Next time Haruhiro wakes up, he is back home and Mary by his side. He wonders if this is heaven but she laughs and then welcomes him home. Everyone is glad Haruhiro has awakened. He doesn’t remember what happened to the big bad wolf. He killed it and as proof, they got a whopping 30 gold coins as reward! Ranta said to wait for Haruhiro to wake up so they can split the money because he is their leader. Haruhiro’s name spreads as the man who killed the kobold boss. Or maybe it is because the group is buying everyone drinks at the bar? Hayashi is glad Mary has gotten used to her new group. Renji comes to visit Haruhiro to apologize for what he died after Manato died. Don’t be. At that time Haruhiro wasn’t ready to accept his death yet. That’s why he wants to say thanks now. Haruhiro is alone at Manato’s grave. Another vision of him. He always wanted to ask if being a leader was tough for him. Was it for Haruhiro? Don’t know. There you go. Manato notes he has grown. Haruhiro continues to have vague memories of his former world as each day passes. It makes him irritated that it is as though he forgot something important. But knowing the solid ground he is standing and the air he is breathing right now assures him that all that exists now are real. There are many things he doesn’t want to forget. He heads out on another adventure with his party.

Grim Reality Of Fantasy
It wasn’t that bad. I guess what sets this series apart from the rest of its RPG genre counterparts is that it relies heavily on the drama and building the characters instead of flashy fights, fancy over the top characters or other convoluted plots. It might feel a little disappointing that it fails to answer some of the questions that had been bugging me since but I suppose that is the reality when you have a series that only lasts for a single cour.

My thoughts were this was going to be a boring and draggy show after a couple of episodes. I thought it was going to be a yawn fest seeing there isn’t anything exciting besides the party’s ‘grinding obligation’ of fighting goblins every episode. Then they shake things up with Manato’s death and I too was jolt from my slumber because they really killed him off. With all the depression that comes after that, it is hard to ‘stay bored’ although I could say that Manato’s death is the peak of emotions that one will experience. Mary and Ranta’s near death experience weren’t that shocking because Manato’s death might have numbed some of our feelings and unconsciously still weigh at the back of our heads. Even the initial fight with a single goblin when they were rookies looks more comical than heart pounding. Basically the entire series can be summed up into 3 mini arcs: 1/3 for Manato, 1/3 for accepting and understanding Mary as the new comrade, and the final 1/3 Haruhiro and his new team working together under a new challenge.

Now, one of the things that I said that bugged me is the fact that if this world is actually a game or an alternate dimension. Right in the first episodes, the characters have been spewing a few words of modern technology like game and handphone. This was never really addressed again till the final scene of the last episode when Haruhiro again hinted something about the world he came from. Over the course of the series with your focus on the small party, you won’t be thinking about this petty stuff unlike if you are me, having it right at the back of my head. Therefore we are unsure if this is a game in which the players dived in using some virtual reality helmet or they have been transported to another world as some sort of punishment to play a game and can only return if they are successful. This little issue also serves as a setting so that we will stop asking how these new characters get into this world and what must be done next. It’s like a mystery, right?

The world of Grimgar is perhaps one of the most backwater fantasy locations ever in all the fantasy genres I have watched. Sometimes it feels like they have gone back in time to the Middle Ages where everything just feels so backward. From the weapons they use to the clothes they wear and even the town they are in just have this primitive feel to it and lack any sort of high technology that you would expect in fantasy genres with sci-fi elements. No floating islands and no dark complicated dungeons and mazes. At least not yet at this point in the story. You just add dangerous monsters to the world. Seeing how our heroes struggle to make ends meet just to live from day to day, this is one world where I wouldn’t want to be adventuring in. Yeah, what is the point of playing an RPG game when there are no treasures to be found! And you have to kill goblins for a meagre reward. Lest you kill big monster bosses, that is a different story. But imagine how times you have to level up just to fight on par. Definitely would give this world a skip.

Although character development is heavy here, the way I see it is mainly focused on Haruhiro as he is going through a period of becoming the party’s next leader. Despite that, Manato has got to be one of the most prominent dead characters in all of anime. Even after his death, he is still greatly talked about, still greatly referred to. This guy really left a lasting impression so much so he isn’t really ‘dead’ so to speak. He lives on in the hearts and memories of his party and he is perhaps the sole reason why the team still sticks together and continue to live. But I guess that is the thing with life even in this fantasy world. He is already a great guy while still alive that everybody took for granted until he is gone. A very good lesson for real life too. Always appreciate what you have.

After Manato’s death, it is basically about Haruhiro in a dilemma trying to live up to Manato’s expectations because the latter’s dying words were to pass the baton to him. It is a huge responsibility because eventually no matter how much Haruhiro tries, the ups and downs he has been through with his team, Haruhiro cannot be compared with Manato. They are both entirely different people with different personality. So instead of trying to be him, Haruhiro realizes that he needs to be more of himself first before he could be the leader of his ragtag party. Mary gets her fair share of much needed development as the new member to the party. So if it isn’t about Haruhiro trying to figure out being a good leader, it is about Mary trying to redeem herself to save herself from her past and move forward. Towards the end, it seems hinted Mary might have feelings for Haruhiro thanks to how he tries to accept her but I think it’ll be taking things too far so let’s leave it as it is now.

The rest of the other party members are rather okay but this season doesn’t go deep enough about them seeing Haruhiro is the main focus. You’d probably know a thing or two about them, that’s all. Like Moguzo is the big gentle giant and strength of the group and his hobby is carving. Ranta is probably the liveliest character in the series which would otherwise make this series even duller. I suppose every group needs to have a hot headed guy and some sort of troublemaker. At least this guy is being true to himself and not trying to be others like Haruhiro trying to be Manato. I don’t know about Shihoru. To me, if she is not being quiet or shy, she is crying. And boy, her crying is infectious. When she cries, it makes you want to cry too. The emotional baggage of the series.

Here is the other issue that bugged me. Renji’s team. At the start of the series, we see a whole bunch of new characters new to this world. I thought they would clash or cross each other’s path somewhere but that never happened. Renji looked like the guy who is no nonsense and no compromise and that is why he rose up the ranks very fast. I am not sure about his agenda because why didn’t he take the weaker leftovers? Perhaps not enough cash for his circumstances at that time? The people he has taken with him into his group are also another interesting bunch and from this point of view, they look like weirdoes. This is just personal opinion seeing that we don’t know anything about them.

The fighting scenes feel like supplementary to the drama. It isn’t something that you should look forward too. After all, if this is like an RPG theme with character classes and monster classes, you need to incorporate some party combat for the overall complete feel. I think. Despite Haruhiro has narrated well explaining some of the newly learnt skills by his members, I still can’t really tell the difference. Because like Shihoru who is just chanting her same magic line and materializing the same magic ball. Then you have Moguzo who just swings his giant sword while howling out his move’s name although different actions do have different effects. Yume can switch between long distance arrow shooting and close quarter knife combat, Haruhiro with his stealthy and quick knife attacks and Ranta other than always rushing in to strike first later picks useful skills to avoid enemy attacks.

If you have been watching lots of anime for the past few years, you will notice the art and visuals stand out. You will either love it or hate it. That is because unlike a big majority of standard anime art styles you see today, this series has its background in water colour-like painting. So for a person like me who has been watching tons of anime, it is quite refreshing to see the water colour style of this anime. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I like this kind of style but it is good to see something a little different than the ordinary. It could sometimes give an impression that the producers were too lazy in drawing more details and just made a rush job using water colour painting. Although the characters are typically standard anime drawing style, the contrast with the background isn’t so obvious and they somewhat blend in together. That is because the world of Grimgar looks typically primitive and backwater so there are no high-tech sci-fi fantasy elements incorporated. Given the depressing outlook and drama factor, it only serves to enhance and fit the theme and world nicely. Seeing this is fantasy genre, I can’t help notice how weird some of the local animals are. Like that anteater is supposed to be equivalent to our world’s common house cat. Really. And then you have, uhm, pig worms? Really bizarre creatures.

Voice acting wise, nothing really that spectacular. But it seems I am starting to form a certain stereotype that Mikako Komatsu has a voice that makes her character annoying. I know Yume isn’t particularly an annoying character but with her behind it, it is like the character has that potential to become annoying. Just look at Neko from K, Hotaru from Aoharu x Kikanjuu, Tsugumi from Nisekoi and Yayoi from Danchigai. Those characters are somewhat annoying, right? I don’t know how I got the impression that Saori Hayami was behind Mary’s voice but it was Chika Anzai instead (titular character in Hitsugi No Chaika). And of course lifting all that gloomy depression of the series like an anti-depressant pill is the fact that Mamiko Noto has a cameo here as Barbara. Despite making only short appearances for a couple of episodes, at least they didn’t kill her character off… Yeah…

The most surprising to note is Hiroki Yasumoto as Brittany. For countless time I have only heard him in anime roles that sound so similar like his Sado from Bleach. After all, he has got a low voice so it is typical he plays characters that suit his voice. But now he sounds so effeminate fitting Brittany that you wouldn’t really know that it was him. Okay, so it isn’t his first time voicing a less manly character. Remember Agni from Kuroshitsuji? The rest of the other casts comprise of Yoshimasa Hosoya as Haruhiro (Reiner in Shingeki No Kyojin), Hiroyuki Yoshino as Ranta (Bossun in Sket Dance), Haruka Terui as Shihoru (Kobeni in Mikakunin De Shinkoukei), Fukushi Ochiai as Moguzo, Nobunaga Shimazaki as Manato (Sunakawa in Ore Monogatari), Daisuke Namikawa as Kikkawa (Mystogan in Fairy Tail), Hidenobu Kiuchi as Hayashi (Ryouhei in Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn) and Tomokazu Seki as Renji (Gintoki in Gintama – hey, doesn’t both these characters look almost similar with their silver hair? And a cross with Fate’s Archer?).

Every darn song in this series is sung by [K]NoW_NAME. From the opening theme of Knew Day to the ending theme, Harvest, even all the insert songs are sung by theme. And there are quite a number of insert songs in this series. They are either the slow and calming acoustics (which are my favourite as they fit the drama pace) or the rock type (for battle scenes). Especially those background music with nice acoustic playing, at least it helps ease the boringness and draggy parts of the drama. There is a special version of Harvest sung by Shihoru but that only lasts an episode and don’t really leave an impact since it sounds almost similar to the original one.

Overall, this is a different and refreshing take on the RPG genre and it is recommended that lovers of this genre should check this out for a change in pace and broaden their minds with a different concept of adventuring. Yup, it doesn’t mean hack and slashing monsters, going on side quests, go dungeon raiding and then earn big money or rare items at the end of it all. It is no wonder this type of RPG is never made into games. Seeing how everybody spends their time on DOTA or LOL levelling up their characters, nobody has time to play one about the daily life struggle which mirrors close to reality. You spend hours on improving your stats and your reward is to live another day?! Not going to touch this game again! Sometimes fantasy can be harsher than reality.

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