Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions ?
Have you ever heard two animals yowling or chittering at each other and thought that they were talking? Just because we can't understand the “words” doesn't mean that there isn't a conversation going on, and this week's episode of Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash makes it abundantly clear that while the goblins may converse in growls and other guttural noises, they absolutely are conversing – in fact, they aren't nearly as sub-human as the set-up of the story would suggest.
There have been some fairly obvious hints at this from episode one, from the frightened goblin the party fights early on to a serialized story about the goblins on the official Japanese website, but this week makes it abundantly clear that this is not the low-intelligence animalistic horde that fantasy tales typically provide. Not only do we see the goblin who took Haruhiro's dagger gloating over his prize, but we also witness a definite hierarchy among the goblins living in the ruins, not to mention two elder goblins playing chess – hardly a game that you'd associate with unintelligent beings. More striking, however, is the scene where the crossbow-wielding goblin who killed Manato shoots Mary. She's dressed very much as Manato was and was clearly posing the least threat to the other goblins in that particular phase of the fight, so the fact that she was targeted rather than one of the others suggests that the goblin not only knew she was a healer, but specifically tried to kill her in order to cripple the group. That's not just higher order thinking, it is deliberate strategy. This implies that Manato's death was a clearly thought-out act by this particular goblin and the goblin team as a whole – he wasn't simply unlucky, he was targeted because of his class. The goblins turned out to be the unlucky ones when Manato's death didn't destroy the rest of the group entirely, but instead motivated them to get revenge. The implications of this for the story's world, that the humans may be the invading species and the goblins are just trying to retake their homeland, are both interesting and a bit disturbing.
Revenge itself is a tricky subject. There's always this conviction that after the perpetrator of the misdeed has been punished, a weight will lift from the protagonists' collective shoulders. That doesn't seem to be the case for Haruhiro and the rest, however – the goblins have been punished, but killing them didn't bring Manato back. The scene at his grave is striking not just because they've come to more officially say goodbye, but because it is clear that they aren't getting any solace from having punished his killers. He's still gone. He always will be. As usual, the show does a good job of showing everyone coping with their grief individually, and the use of snow rather than rain was a nice symbolic touch – snow is softer than rain but only hides things; rain washes them away.
On the more positive side, Mary is clearly growing more comfortable with the group and Haruhiro specifically. Yume seems a little put off by this, perhaps fearing being “replaced,” but it doesn't seem like there's any romantic attachment on Mary's part; rather, I think she recognizes that Haruhiro had a similar reaction to losing a party member that she did. Magic, she comments, can't fix clothing, and Haru further remarks that it can't cure sadness either. Essentially they're both saying, as the poet Anne Lindbergh put it, “there is no armor for the heart.” Emotionally, this is the moment when Haru realizes that he'll never really get over losing Manato, as Mary will never get past her losses. But in acknowledging this, both can now move on, and that's what I hope to see in the remaining episodes – hopefully with less off-model animation than this week featured.
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash is currently streaming on Funimation.
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