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.
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Grimoire of Zero
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Shelf Life Reviews
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?
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 He's easily my favorite part of the show, especially in light of how easily he could have been replaced by a fully generic self-insert MC-kun.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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