Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 3 of
Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions ?
I'm not sure if I would like how you get there, but I would absolutely visit the world of Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash. This week takes us to a ruined city, once the second largest in the land, now occupied by goblin forces, and it is a truly beautiful landscape. Crumbling houses, cockeyed signs, evidence of long-vanished humanity...the show captures both the beauty and the sadness of an abandoned town, igniting the urge to explore it in the same way that stumbling upon an old barn makes you want to go in and see what you can find. The atmosphere of this show really makes it worth watching, even if the slow pace of the story doesn't quite work for you.
It really is still very slow in terms of the plot, with fights taking a back seat, or maybe even a back back seat, to quiet character development and views of the world. While this may prove a disappointment for some viewers more used to the hack-and-slash form that sword and sorcery anime usually takes, it's actually allowing us to really get to know the characters while considering the day-to-day problems of living in a medieval fantasy world. For example, how many of you have ever thought about not being able to buy new underwear if yours was wearing out? That's a prime concern for at least the boys now, as almost a full month of continuous washing and wearing has them picking specific times to put their boxers on in hopes of preserving them. It's a modern to medieval transition that doesn't come up very often, and in this case largely stems from the fact that they're actually bathing and washing their clothes much more frequently than the average medieval European. It's the sort of adjustment that you don't tend to think about, and that Grimgar does is a mark of how much attention its paying to the little things.
On that note, has anyone else noticed that it looks as if when the (red) moon is full, it will have a pattern on it? This feels like one of those small but important details that could help us to figure out the backstory. It is becoming increasingly clear that at least Manato and Shihoru had difficult, if not outright abusive, realities before their transportation, with Shihoru's intense fear of the boys after Ranta's attempt at bath-peeking feeling like an over-reaction to the act; there must be some basis for her extreme fear. Meanwhile Manato makes more comments about not feeling like people liked him and his surprise at Haruhiro's comments about how well he's keeping the group together. As Haru says towards the end of the episode, people can adjust to just about any world, and that includes one where abuse and bullying are the norms. It sounds like Manato just accepted his lot, much as he's doing now – he was the party member who seemed to have the fastest adjustment time. We also seem to get a hint (beyond last week's airplane carving) for Mogozu, who mentions that he enjoyed cooking for people “even if it didn't make them happy,” marking him as another potentially undervalued person in their former reality. In fact, Haruhiro and Yume seem to the two we've had the fewest hints about, which may indicate that it was no coincidence that they both chose classes that rely on staying out of the fray in the main: a thief/rogue, who sneaks along the sidelines, and a hunter, who attacks from a distance.
As with last week, there is a scene where the whole party gangs up on a single goblin, this time one who is sleeping. Much less is made of the fight, which is essentially ended by Manato breaking the goblin's skull with his staff, which is unusual both for him and for the healer in a group. More important is the fact that this is less of a focus – it shows how they're becoming numb to the process, a fact driven home by the fact that they have little to no reaction to the clearly crushed skull and that they divide up the goblin's purse contents in the room with the corpse rather than taking it away.
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash is a slow burn, but if it's still holding your interest, I feel like we're going to be rewarded. Next week apparently they meet an elf, which has promise, but more than that, the details really do make this an interesting experience, like how as their old clothes from their first world wear out they begin to mix and match their outfits, or who is becoming more comfortable with whom. This isn't a traditional fantasy adventure by any means, and yes, it can feel like it drags at times, but as this week's episode shows, this is a story that's about the little things that make up the fantasy life, not just the big ones.
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash is currently streaming on Funimation.
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