Record of Grancrest War
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 19 of
Record of Grancrest War ?
Last week on Record of Grancrest War, Theo and Siluca took a trip to Jalucia and made a point of observing the province's iron-sided warships. “The locals call them 'peace ships,'” Siluca explained. So when one of those same ships appeared in a naval battle, I was all set for there to be some kind of twist—and there wasn't. It's just another example of how this show keeps dropping the ball in both storytelling and animation. “The Awakening of a Noble” was hands-down one of the worst looking episodes yet.
By episode 19, I thought I'd have some understanding of Alexis as a person. From Marrine's first impression of him admiring the pavement to his frequently telegraphed foppish ways, nothing prepared me for him being such a capable general, commanding his troops as easily as if he were mixing paint on a palette. He's equally competent on land and sea, and he even has the courage to go up against the Sea King, Erik. (I noted how Erik invoked Valhalla before heading into battle. It feels lazy that this fantasy world has an identical Viking religion to the one in our world.) I kept waiting for the fact that Alexis sent one of Jalucia's famous “peace ships” into war to pay off, but I shouldn't have bothered. Just like Alexis's new personality that didn't evolve from any character development, this point never comes up again.
Instead, we got a weird battle in which Alexis throws his level one grunts at a quickly enlarging Sea King to no avail. (Why doesn't he send out mages? Or have his soldiers actually fight instead of simply crowding around the enemy?) All the proportions are off, and I don't just mean Erik—it's certainly possible that one of the effects of his crest is making his body swell in size, even though that power is never mentioned. Every other keyframe was drawn in a different style, with different line thicknesses and even face shapes. In earlier episodes, I was impressed by the way the animation style sometimes gave way to a more experimentally fluid look—but that was back when this style would stay consistent for a full battle sequence. Now the back-and-forth is making me nauseous. It's not that they're adding an interesting new style for creative reasons, but because they're rushing to get this thing out the door. And then, when an ocean of blood pours out of the Sea King, forcing Alexis to splash through to get to the chaos core, it's so dramatic that it became comical. I burst out laughing and I'm sure that wasn't their intention.
As Marrine broods in her chambers, her hair lengthening or shortening in size with every frame, it becomes clear that this is the nadir of Record of Grancrest War. Both in storytelling and animation, consistency has been thrown out the window. Without the nuance of a thoughtful plot, the tabletop RPG machinations of the show are left to carry it alone, and when that's the case, I'd rather be playing it myself instead of watching the obvious mistakes Marrine keeps making. As we approach the show's conclusion, I'm hesitant to get too excited.
Record of Grancrest War is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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