Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
Episode 10

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 10 of
Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions ?

Ostensibly, this week's episode, which I found myself thinking of as Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash from its rather familiar-looking dungeon setting, is about the group's first foray into the Cyrene Mines to hunt kobolds. (For those of you not familiar with fantasy terminology, those are doglike monsters.) And that does happen – most of the episode is spent underground picking off kobolds instead of goblins and showing us everyone's new fighting techniques. But at its heart, this episode is really about Haruhiro trying to understand Ranta, the almost literal squeaky wheel in the group. Ranta far outdoes the other party members in rashness, stubbornness, and even noise level, and Haru is starting to wonder if this is really okay. He's finally prompted to say something when Ranta slams into him from behind during a fight – while he doesn't necessarily say it, the implication is that he's afraid that Ranta may be out of control and thus jeopardizing the group in a very dangerous situation.

Ranta has been a fairly divisive character from episode one. His brashness may speak to his youth and insecurities over his own masculinity (or just his place in this new world), and he's consistently been the one to make offensive comments about the girls or run headlong into a situation without assessing it first. We do know that there's a regular guy in there somewhere – he genuinely mourned Manato and on his day off he opted to go fishing, which requires more patience and silence than we've generally seen him exhibit. (He also didn't yell out to Yume when he saw her rock climbing nearby, another sign that he does, in fact, think sometimes.) But put him with the rest of the group and he becomes someone else entirely, fueled by violence and generally reckless behavior. I would guess that a lot of that comes from him “role-playing,” so to speak – he perhaps hasn't fully accepted that this world is real, so acting like it's a fantasy RPG may be his way of coping, even if he can't really understand or remember what he's doing or why. This theory feels supported by his statements about “us” referring to his class, Dark Knight. Dark Knights thrive on blood, battle, and vice, and that might make him feel more secure. He's had ample proof that just being in a party can't save you, so it would make sense that he'd choose to align himself with a group he feels is more powerful. He also protects himself emotionally by saying that he doesn't care about his party as more than just other fighters – if he's not friends with them, he can't be hurt if they die. He seems to have solidified this attitude post-Manato, which helps the theory.

Haruhiro, not having the benefit of seeing the story from the outside, can't quite understand this, and he seems to think that it's his leadership style that's causing him to lose Ranta. His monologue for most of the episode (it feels too personal to be narration) is about his insecurities at filling Manato's shoes, but with the significant absence of any ghostly visits or visions from the deceased. This may be the biggest sign that he's been able to move on, even as Ranta's behavior suggests that he maybe hasn't yet. It does feel repetitive to keep going back to Manato's death as the moment that defines everything that comes after, but that really does seem to be the way the show functions, and if Mary was the point-of-view character, I suspect the same structure would hold true. In some ways it serves to highlight how out of place the cast is in their current medieval world. In other ways, it just feels kind of dragged out, no matter how realistic it might be.

As the episode closes with the appearance of Death Spots, the giant kobold who wiped out Mary's party (and if you look at the fields when the group first gets there, you can see a huge footprint foreshadowing his arrival) you get the feeling that this week had two goals: to actually get everyone face-to-face with Mary's special monster and to show us that Ranta may prove to be a major problem in taking him down if teamwork is required. That latter seems to be what Haru fears – and I have a nasty suspicion that he may be right.

Rating: B

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash is currently streaming on Funimation.

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