Monday, May 16, 2016

Anime Review: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

Okay, let's try this again, life isn't any less crazy but not blogging drives me crazier. Although I'm a little alarmed that I'm running out of anime to review faster than I expected. Guess that shows that I'm really watching fewer shows this year....

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash (Hai To Gensou No Grimgar)

A teenager named Haruhiro wakes up in a strange place with a number of strangers. No one remembers anything prior to this moment, even their names are a struggle and as a result everyone is unsure of even their personalities. All they know is that this place is not where they came from. Now they're forming teams, slaying monsters, and saying to each other yeah, I don't think that the moon is supposed to be a red gem in the sky.

Prior to the show airing, I saw a lot of people categorizing it as a "people fall into a video game" series but I actually don't think that's what this was. While there are a few video gamesque aspects, honestly if this show had come out in the 90s people would have instead said "the characters fell into a fantasy world" since it lacks explicit confirmation that it is a game. Honestly I think that's more of a sign of the times and the trends than anything else. So if that detail was holding you back from trying out the show don't worry, the conflicts wouldn't feel out of place in a D&D campaign (well, it's not silly enough for that really) but it's just fantasy!

Just like a D&D game, this story moves a little slowly and it took me some time to warm up to it. By sheer coincidence, I felt as if the show hit its stride around the surprise so I would like to make it clear, no I don't think that moment made the show better/worse, in fact I thought it was a bit emotionally over the top, but I think that's when the staff started to get a handle on the show. I believe I read that this is the first time the director has done a show with a lot of action in it before and it showed a bit early on, while you would expect newbies to be unskilled at fighting the set-up of some of the fights felt messy in a rather unintentional way. The show had a few odd hiccups like that, such as the fact that it features a lot of segments which play as more of a music video for an insert song than anything else (I know there was some driving reason behind this but I can't figure out why since these parts are still fully animated). There is apparently a re-airing of the show on NicoNico that says it is remaking some parts, my only hope is that it fixes the fight in the last episode where, no joke, the very climax is literally unfinished key frames*.

I doubt that this re-airing means they will change the show that much but if I had a choice, I would love for them to spend that time fleshing out the side characters a tad more. Yume and Moguzo got the short end of the stick and so far I would describe their main character traits as "quiet" which isn't really a personality descriptor. We've seen enough of them to see that they aren't two dimensional, Yume is shy but clearly has feelings, Moguzo enjoys a few hobbies, but they're just shadows compared to some of the other characters. It would certainly have been more interesting than the show's focus on Ranta as it wrangles with itself over whether or not he should be just an asshole or an asshole ~for reasons~.^

I'm torn over whether or not I want more of the series, on the one hand it wasn't terrible but I'm more likely to remember it for the visuals than anything else. Plus, while I was double checking a few facts for the review online I came across some spoilers (apparently the novel covered more details about the character's origins and the readers aren't yelling spoilers about it all across the internet!) and it sounds rather mean-spirited. It sounds even harsher and I don't like the sound of some of the future events, grimdark for the sake of being grimdark and I prefer my "edgy" to have a reason. I have no idea how the anime sold however, or if there was a novel bump, so I guess I'll just wait and see if an announcement like that ever comes. 

*I would joke that this is the worst I've seen in a while and while it's the worst I've seen, apparently Yatterman Night last year had far more than just 15-30 seconds of unfinished animation etc during it's climax....
^I did find it funny that he shares a VA with Tarou in Shirobako and Favaro in Rage of Bahamut since not only are all three voices similar but they're similar types too, guess the VA has a type!

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