Shelf Life
Grimoire of Zero

by Paul Jensen, Gabriella Ekens,

The library I work in is going through some renovations this summer, which sets up an interesting quandary: is there any point in telling people to be quiet when there's a bunch of dudes with power tools tearing up the lobby? Just another gripping existential question to deal with. Welcome to Shelf Life.

Jump to this week's review:
Grimoire of Zero

On Shelves This Week

Bananya - Complete Collection BD
Discotek - 39 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $24.95
Currently cheapest at: $16.22 Right Stuf

Synopsis: A group of tiny cats who hide inside bananas come out to play and have adventures when people aren't watching.

Extra: We covered this short-format series briefly as part of the Preview Guide. If banana cats sound like your idea of a good time, you'll find it streaming on Crunchyroll.

Clockwork Planet - Complete Collection BD+DVD
Funimation - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $64.98
Currently cheapest at: $48.74 Right Stuf

Synopsis: On a world built entirely from clockwork machine parts, a mechanical genius and a beautiful automaton become embroiled in a government conspiracy.

Extra: We have episode reviews for this clockwork-themed action series, and it's available streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Eat-Man - Complete Collection BD
Discotek - 520 min - Sub - MSRP $39.95
Currently cheapest at: $25.97 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Professional mercenary Bolt Crank uses his ability to eat and recreate any item to take on dangerous jobs in a desolate future world.

Extra: This set includes both the 1997 Eat-Man TV series and Eat-Man '98. The former was covered in Buried Treasure, and we have a review of the latter.

Grimoire of Zero - Complete Collection BD, Limited Edition
Sentai - 300 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $69.98|$99.98
Currently cheapest at: $45.49 Right Stuf|$64.99 Right Stuf

Synopsis: A witch recruits a half-beast soldier to help her recover a powerful magical book, promising to make him human if they succeed.

Extra: James wrote the episode reviews for this series and Gabriella reviewed this release for this week's column, so I'm now the only member of the Shelf Life crew who hasn't reviewed it. You can stream it on Amazon Prime and HIDIVE.

Haruka Nogizaka's Secret - Season 1 BD
Discotek - 300 min - Sub - MSRP $44.95
Currently cheapest at: $29.22 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Regular guy Yuuto Ayase discovers that Haruka Nogizaka, the most popular girl at his school, is secretly an anime otaku.

Extra: No formal reviews for this 2008 romantic comedy, but our user ratings are reasonably positive with an average of 7.2 out of 10. It's available streaming on Crunchyroll.

Haruka Nogizaka's Secret: Purezza - Season 2 BD
Discotek - 300 min - Sub - MSRP $44.95
Currently cheapest at: $29.22 Right Stuf

Synopsis: The budding relationship between Yuuto and Haruka is tested when Haruka is scouted to be an idol and her new managers try to push Yuuto out of the picture.

Extra: We have a little bit of Preview Guide coverage for this sequel season. Much like its predecessor, it's available on Crunchyroll.

Hunter X Hunter - Part 4 BD, DVD
Viz - 600 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $49.99|$39.99
Currently cheapest at: $35.49 Amazon|$26.89 Amazon

Synopsis: Kurapika's mission to eliminate the Phantom Troupe takes an unexpected turn, and Gon and Killua begin their adventure at Greed Island.

Extra: We have a streaming review of the first half of this set's episodes. The full series is available on Crunchyroll, and Hulu has the first 79 episodes.

Kenka Bancho Otome: Girl Beats Boys - Complete Collection BD+DVD
Funimation - 96 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $34.98
Currently cheapest at: $26.24 Right Stuf

Synopsis: After taking the place of a male student at a school full of delinquents, a girl named Hinako fights to take over the school.

Extra: Another short-format series, and much like Bananya we have some Preview Guide coverage but no reviews beyond that. You can watch it on Crunchyroll in some regions, and it's also available on Funimation.

Like the Clouds, Like the Wind DVD
Discotek - 79 min - Sub - MSRP $19.95
Currently cheapest at: $12.97 Right Stuf

Synopsis: As the nation of Sokan is gripped by a power struggle over the throne, a country girl named Ginga sets out to marry the crown prince.

Extra: This TV special saw a Blu-Ray release earlier this year, and as was the case back then, our coverage is limited to a Buried Treasure article from 2007.

Lupin the Third: Bye Bye, Lady Liberty BD
Discotek - 97 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $24.95
Currently cheapest at: $16.22 Right Stuf

Synopsis: As a supercomputer works to predict his every move, Lupin must find a way to steal an enormous diamond hidden inside the Statue of Liberty.

Extra: No formal reviews for this 1989 TV special, but we do have some user ratings that average out to a so-so 6.5 out of 10.

Lupin the Third Part 4 - Complete Collection DVD
Discotek - 600 min - Dub - MSRP $49.95
Currently cheapest at: $32.47 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Lupin and his team of thieves pull off a series of daring heists across Italy while being pursued by Inspector Zenigata.

Extra: Another DVD release of a title that recently came out on Blu-Ray. We have episode reviews for this one, and it's available streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Owarimonogatari - Part 3 BD
Aniplex - 170 min - Sub - MSRP $89.98
Currently cheapest at: $69.98 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Koyomi awakens and encounters Mayoi Hachikuji, who tells him that he is in the afterlife and she has been sent to pick him up.

Extra: We have reviews for the part 1 and part 2 releases, and the series is available streaming on Crunchyroll.

Sakura Quest - Part 1 BD+DVD
Funimation - 325 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $64.98
Currently cheapest at: $48.74 Right Stuf

Synopsis: After a seemingly endless series of failed job interviews, Yoshino Koharu accepts a year-long contract to become the "queen" of a sleepy rural town.

Extra: We have a full set of episode reviews for this series, along with a feature article. You can stream it on Crunchyroll and Funimation.

Sister Princess - Season 1 BD
Discotek - 600 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $59.95
Currently cheapest at: $38.97 Right Stuf

Synopsis: After being sent to attend high school on a mysterious island, Wataru Minakami encounters a crowd of girls who all claim to be his sisters.

Extra: Oreimo may be the modern standard-bearer for "little sister" shows, but the genre goes back at least as far as this series. We don't have any formal reviews for this season, but it does factor into a feature article on this romantic comedy niche.

Sister Princess: Re Pure - Season 2 BD
Discotek - 300 min - Sub - MSRP $39.95
Currently cheapest at: $25.97 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Now living apart from one another, each of a dozen different sisters all pursue their own relationships with their brother.

Extra: While the first season has appeared in the US before, it appears that this is the first official stateside release for this sequel. With an average user rating of 5.8 out of 10, that may or may not be a good thing.

Skip Beat! - Complete Collection BD
Pied Piper - 600 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $59.95
Currently cheapest at: $59.95

Synopsis: After following her childhood friend to Tokyo only to discover that he has no interest in her, Kyoko Mogami decides to pursue her own career in acting.

Extra: This release is apparently the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign from back in 2016. We have reviews here and here, and you can stream the series on Crunchyroll.

Space Warrior Baldios: The Movie DVD
Discotek - 117 min - Sub+Dub - MSRP $24.99
Currently cheapest at: $16.22 Right Stuf

Synopsis: When Earth is attacked by a civilization fleeing its own dying planet, humanity's chances of survival depend on a rebel within the invading force.

Extra: One last "DVD to match the Blu-Ray" release for this week. This one's a compilation film of a sci-fi TV series, sporting an average user rating of 6.7 out of 10.

Strawberry Panic - Complete Collection BD
Media Blasters - 650 min - Sub - MSRP $49.99
Currently cheapest at: $36.71 Right Stuf

Synopsis: Nagiza Aoi transfers to a new school with a complex social hierarchy, where she meets an enigmatic and enchanting girl named Shuzuma Hanazono.

Extra: This yuri series was released as a group of single volume DVDs around a decade ago, and you'll find some of our reviews of those here, here, and here.

Shelf Life Reviews

Shelf Worthy
Nothing this week.
Grimoire of Zero
Nothing this week.

Gabriella takes a look at fantasy series Grimoire of Zero this week. Is its combination of a witch and a tiger-man enough to stand out from the pack?

Tiger tiger, abs so tight / crop-top short, skin-fur white… Ahem, excuse me. I was just thinking about the show I've been tasked with reviewing this week, 2017's Grimoire of Zero, which stars the be-midriffed offspring of Berserk's Guts with a plush rug, as well as his other, more generic DnD character friends.

Grimoire of Zero stars Mercenary, an aptly-named giant tiger man who dreams of becoming a regular human. One day, he meets a witch named Zero who promises to do just this if he accompanies her on a journey to recover her lost grimoire. (Aka the Grimoire of Zero, the grimoire belonging to Zero, Zero's grimoire. That grimoire.) While Mercenary normally hates witches (they're widely blamed for making people be born furries – just like in real life) he agrees to her deal, and they set off. The ensuing adventure will be full of surprises for both of them, as the two form a bond exceeding their business relationship, and also find themselves tasked with saving the world, or at least the kingdom, or something like that.

All things considered, Grimoire of Zero's main cast is fairly lean for its genre, amounting to three – eventually four – principle characters. The main hero is our aforementioned giant tiger man, Mercenary, who comes off as a sort of G-rated version of Guts from Berserk in his general demeanor and personality. He's gruff, antisocial, easily befriended by children, uses a giant slab of steel as a sword, and keeps being lured into acts of immense heroism. He's easily my favorite part of the show, especially in light of how easily he could have been replaced by a fully generic self-insert MC-kun. This is probably just my lizard-brain talking, but I'll take a kitty-daddy over a brown-haired high school boy any day of the week, thank you very much. Zero, meanwhile, is more fully stock as a light novel heroine. A childlike (and also childish-looking) young woman who's both an immensely powerful magic user and totally ignorant of how the real world works, she's best-used when she's bullying Mercenary, and worst-used when she's asking him to teach her what kissing is. The show does ship them, which is pretty awkward since Mercenary appears to have a good 10x her body mass, but it's (usually) pretty chaste about it, so I don't mind too much. The pair is also followed around by Albus, a bratty wizard boy, and eventually Holdem, a blue-blooded dog-man. They mostly come in alongside the plot, which involves the conflict between a cabal of oppressed magic users and the muggle order that oppresses them. You know, the usual. This conflict does feel suitably epic by the end, with a couple of neat reversals, as well as a climactic battle in which our hero piledrives a giant bear.

In terms of aesthetics, Grimoire of Zero is about average for the dumpy end of modern-day anime productions. As one of these, the show usually manages to avoid embarrassing itself, but you should still expect a lot of angular background derpface over bright plastic KONOSUBA-esque colors. Mercenary's tiger-face is, at least, consistently cute, and that's most of what I care about. The music is about as good as the visuals, and the dub is fully passable. Really, the main thing that I can object to in the show is that it makes a few off-key jokes (it's funny that Zero and Albus were mistaken for Mercenary's concubine-slaves?) and shows grown men slavering over a pubescent-looking Zero. These moments, at least, pass quickly, and are mild compared to what happens in other, similar anime.

One adorable tiger man here, a few unfortunate slavery gags there lead to a fairly balanced slate in terms of quality. Overall, the show is more bland than anything, but that might not be such a bad thing in an environment where escapist fantasy entertainment keeps going out of its way to fetishize slave ownership and similar grossness (looking at you GATE, The Saga of Tanya the Evil, Death March in a Parallel World… the list goes on). There are a few bad gags, but as a whole, Grimoire of Zero is largely inoffensive as stock fantasy entertainment in the vein of Record of Grancrest War and Chaika the Coffin Princess. While I wouldn't recommend this anime to anyone looking for something standout, if you're a sucker for the genre and have already exhausted most of some streaming site's fantasy tag, then Grimoire of Zero is entirely serviceable as an evening or two of entertainment. In the words of Mercenary's fellow fit feline, Grrrrrrrimoire of Zero isn't good, it's… alright.

That wraps things up for this week. Thanks for reading, and remember to send your Shelf Obsessed entries to [email protected]!

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