I didn’t know what to make of Hai To Gensou No Grimgar at first. Originally, it sparked my ire because the idea of yet another RPG centered anime akin to SAO really made me want to cringe. After all, at this point it’s a premise that has been done to death, and there’s really nothing that makes the trope interesting anymore. However, what I found in Grimgar was a much better tale of a real world that a group of folks spent some time exploring, and getting acclimated to. Although the amnesia premise that is the underlying base of the show (it’s really been done to death) is awfully weak, I’m still enjoying the ride that I’ve hesitantly boarded.
To start, the plot is pretty simple. A group of…kids, I think, wake up in a world, and they’re not sure why. Unlike the world they came from, this one is filled with magic, monsters, and a constant war for whats called the “Borderlands”. The new arrivals are shuffled into town, and are immediately enlisted as “Volunteer Soldiers” meaning that the regular soldiers are too busy fighting the real wars. These guys are around to clean up the lands that the soldiers can’t defend. If you’re good, you live and make money. If you’re bad, you die penniless and alone.
It sounds like a pretty cool plot, but unfortunately the plot is pretty cookie cutter. When you get in, you’re introduced to the group. There’s the strong silent type, Moguzo. The annoying (dear God, do I mean ANNOYING) and overconfident Ranta. The ditzy and clumsy Yume. I could go on, but it’s really not that important. All of the characters have their quirks, and they’re all basically useless. The whole point of the plot is that they aren’t the best at what they do. They’re the leftovers who have to learn to get better. After a mission goes wrong, and their friend is murdered by some of the monsters that they were supposed to be defeating, they’re left to their own devices attempting to move on.
What does make Grimgar stand out is its animation. The animation is stellar. The world is beautiful, and colorful. The fight scenes are well drawn and well choreographed. The abilities are interesting and although they’re named, they don’t really matter. Characters have good chemistry, and perhaps the reason they can be so annoying is that they’re so close to real life representations of actual personalities. The good thing about this is that they end up being extremely endearing. When the characters break their usual facade and show a different side, it’s compelling, and fun to watch.
Currently, Grimgar is in its first season. Although there are no definite plans to renew for a second, the show is certainly one of the most highly requested returns of the 2017 lineup. Personally, I think that the show will grow to be excellent. I’m terrified that they’ll end up going with the RPG tropes that SAO fleshed out to death, and kill the vibe. I’m terrified that they’ll continuously fall into writing pitfall traps, and never have the gall to put their characters in real danger. Mostly, I’m terrified that this show with so much potential will die before it ever gets a chance to live. It’s certainly worth a watch, but we’ll have to keep a close eye on this one.
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