Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 9 of
Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions ?
There's an art to transition episodes. The trick is to make them just as interesting as the meatier ones through character interaction while not having a whole lot actually happen. Since quiet character development is one of the things Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash excels at, you'd think this would be a pretty easy feat for it to accomplish. Sadly it proves not to be, and this episode, while it does have some important moments and nice character exchanges, just feels a little blah.
After laying Manato to rest, both emotionally and in terms of “driving plot device,” it is time for Haruhiro and his party to take a breath and decide where to go next, especially since there are some nasty rumors about more difficult goblins showing up in their old hunting grounds. Before they make that decision, however, they decide to take a day off: Shihoru feeds the birds, Yume goes mountain climbing, Ranta fishes, and Moguzo carves. Haruhiro, meanwhile, takes a walk around the city and finds himself following an aardvark-cat to Mary. The two of them apparently spend the day hanging out, but we don't see much of it beyond the initial cup of tea they drink, which feels like a wasted opportunity. Up to this point we've seen Mary as the tragic but largely closed off priestess, and this would have been a good chance to explore her character a little more and allow the viewers to get a better sense of who she is underneath the layers of tragedy. It is nice to have more confirmation of her growing comfort around Haruhiro and their burgeoning closeness, but it would have been better to spend more time on them instead of what felt like way too long watching Haruhiro's thief trainer torment him while offering up the most fanservice the series has had thus far.
I've said before that there's really nothing wrong with having tasteful fanservice in a show (I don't think I said it about this series, but I stand by it), and if it doesn't devalue the characters or disrupt the narrative, I'm not likely to mind, because sex does sell. But Haru's trainer seems to exist only to be fanservice, making innuendos and squirming around on top of him as “training” in a way that rings false in terms of actually serving the plot. When we see Yume presented bottom-first, it's usually a matter of looking through the eyes of the character behind her or at least doesn't suggest in context that all she's good for is being the ass of the operation; she's always presented as competent. In a training context, however, there's no reason for the way the thief lady is depicted. From her boob-band which can't offer any actual support since there's no fabric under her breasts to her grinding her hip into Haruhiro's groin while she talks about making one of the girls in the party “his,” she's just an annoyance. As far as attempts to lighten the mood go, this one doesn't cut it.
On the subject of “attempts,” Haru's suggestion that the next place the party goes hunting is Cyrene Mine, where Mary's party died, feels short-sighted. He's just spent the day with Mary, he knows her history with the place, and he admits that he hasn't been back to where Manato died, so why would he be so insensitive as to suggest they go there? Even if we look at his mention of the mine as just being musing out loud, why didn't he shut Ranta down when he seized on the idea? It feels uncharacteristically insensitive for the character Haruhiro has become, reading more like a device to move the plot forward than an organic decision.
Be that as it may, the mine is where they're headed next week. With Mary believably shaken (the shot of Yume comforting her with a hand on her back is lovely) and the knowledge of the kobold lurking in the depths, this is either shaping up to be another tragic event or a hurdle for the group to overcome in their training and development. Either way, I hope it is less lackluster than this week.
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash is currently streaming on Funimation.
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