Record of Grancrest War
by Lauren Orsini,
How would you rate episode 24 of
Record of Grancrest War ?
This week, Record of Grancrest War finally culminated in an unexpectedly beautiful ending. Through varying styles by a number of different key animators, scene after gorgeous scene somehow got us where we were going. The wrap-up was iffy on the details but nothing if not a conclusive end to this whirlwind plot. What surprised me most was its succinct stopping point. “Grancrest” was the right place to finally get off this ride.
There's not much consistency in Record of Grancrest War's animation, and the sudden art style swaps only got more common and jarring as the series progressed. However, in its final episode, Grancrest War made up for cohesion with style. I loved the illusory format of the final battle with the vampire lord, from the digital rose petal storm to the prismatic cosmos in the backdrop. Through his Art, the vampire ripped through reality, adding a plot-supported reason for Siluca and Theo to be shown in different art styles, including a high-contrast, red-outlined look. Part of the inconsistency comes from cutting corners—there are scenes where Aishela's armor hasn't been filled in, and the twins' werewolf forms look hilariously janky. Still, these kinds of episodes make the shift forgivable because it's taking respectable risks. I just wish Grancrest had committed more consistently to this experimental animation instead of switching back and forth all the time. Nakaya Onsen's fluid animation style in key action scenes is fantastic. Base the show's style around this guy's talent rather than bringing him in to just animate key scenes every now and then.
When it's over, Siluca and Theo meet the head mage Hubertus and ask him three questions, “We don't have time to answer all three,” he doesn't say, “So just touch this weird orb.” It's true that Grancrest War simply sidesteps much of its wrap-up in this way, so viewers never learn how the Grail and the Grancrest are connected, among other details. I didn't have much time to worry about that, because Pandora's memories changed the game—I can easily see this revelation taking up a whole episode in a less fast-paced series. The past, which looks more like the future, has airships and skyscrapers and looks to be the spitting image of the Kaladesh plane in Magic: The Gathering. This distant civilization proves Pandora's low view of humanity. Basically, the same way humans are destroying each other with Magic and Art, they would eventually create weapons and destroy each other with technology, so why bother exchanging the Age of Chaos for the Age of Cosmos? Given our own civilization, I can't refute this gloomy perspective.
But to Theo, our bland straightforward protagonist who has always marched toward the future without looking back, it's a no-brainer. Just as Siluca is late to her Great Hall wedding in the conclusion (paralleling her lateness to the first wedding in the first episode), it's clear that if anything in this show has been steadfast, its Siluca and Theo's character arcs. I find Theo to be fairly cliché, a typical JRPG protagonist, and Siluca's brilliance often skimmed so we can focus on Theo instead, but I have to admit this couple has been well-established in spite of the rushed pace and revolving door cast of characters. One example of this tumult in the final episode is when the werewolf twins' brother Aeon shows up to face the brunt of the vampire battle (and pay the biggest price), even though we haven't seen him in ages.
Somehow, Record of Grancrest War manages to either pick up or gloss over all of its remaining plot threads to conclude with a satisfying finish. With the “three years later” conclusion, we see just about every character's ultimate fate. The double wedding was another example of the show bookending its first episode. Everybody (except Sir Cat, who doesn't feel so good) lives happily ever after in an irrefutable way that begs no further explanation. I didn't think they would be able to do it! Record of Grancrest War had a gargantuan task to convert ten entire light novels into one 24-episode series. It was overly fast, it swapped art and animation styles on a whim, but it really did finish on a high note.
Record of Grancrest War is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
Lauren writes about geek careers at Otaku Journalist.
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