OP: 「Knew day」 by (K)NoW_NAME
“Long Day of the Trainee Volunteer Soldier”
First Half – Brutal Fighting Treated Like Murder:
Hai to Gensou no Grimgar is a tale of two halves – of bloody murder and casual slice of life. While I expected some action in this episode, I didn’t think it would be as great as it ended up being. The art and animation wasn’t as polished this time around, but that worked in its favour when it came to this 6 vs 1 match with the main party against a lone goblin, who was just minding his own business. It’s a funny thing, because killing creeps in your typical MMORPG doesn’t stir much emotion out of you – you kill some low-level monster, you collect your reward, and it spawns in a few minutes’ time for another player to get his loot. Grimgar throws away that mindset and shows what it would be like for everyday teens (or adults, if they’ve been drinking?) would do if they had to kill to make ends meet.
While the fight choreography wasn’t the most extravagant, and the many misses and failed strikes showed how bad these noobs are at this, it totally worked; it made the action seem desperate, raw, and stressful. Characters got stabbed, slashed, pinned down, their seemingly dead bodies kicked to the ground, strangled, or stabbed in the face. It was messy. It was bloody. And it was fucking awesome. Unless memory fails me, I cannot think of an anime of this sub-genre that was this brutal when confronted with the reality for killing someone/something else. That little goblin was essentially a neutral creep – he wasn’t harming anyone, but because he had loot that our main characters needed, it became survival of the fittest. Back in the first episode the whole group was told that when you die, you die. That was sort of brushed under the rug, perhaps because that’s how it is in real life. Yet after this episode it’s clear that if something were to go wrong, you may not revive a few seconds later with your memories wiped or with your armour damaged. The threat of death feels very real now, and I can’t wait to see how that is explored in later episodes.
Second Half – The Slow Paced, Little Details of Life in Grimgar:
The other half to Grimgar is the slice of life – the slow, gradual moments that are drawn out and help set the scene and establish the world these characters inhabit. Personally, I love it. It think it does wonders for the world of Grimgar, and if anyone has read my posts over the the past year or so you will know that I love the little details, and this episode had plenty. As Haruhiro walks through streets of Altana we get a real sense of what life is like for its inhabitants; like seeing the tired warriors sleeping in the shade, the merchants explaining the value of different loots, Mogzo cleaning his blade by the river, or Ranta reflecting on taking his first life. There’s a certain honesty to these moments of downtime, though I must admit, I wasn’t too fond of the episode ending on your typical ‘peeking on the girls in the bathhouse‘ scene. At least we never got to see it on-screen (though perhaps the new OVA – titled Episode 2.5 – will focus on that).
If you felt that last week’s episode was too slow, I expect you’ll feel much the same once again. I don’t ever mind a slow-paced show, especially when it’s as picturesque and detailed as this. Heck, how many light novels get a worthy and well-paced adaptation? Rokka no Yuusha is the only example I can think of, but it seems Grimgar may be joining that camp. People are bound to complain that it’s boring and claim that the scene with the insert song was pointless padding, but I love that those making Grimgar are confident in what they’re doing. It’s well crafted, beautiful to watch, and it feels like this is going to be the most realistic and down-to-earth take on the ‘Trapped in the MMO/Fantasy World’ sub-genre that we’ve seen so far.
Overview – What’s Next?:
Grimgar has definitely divided anime fans. I’ve seen lovers of these sorts of shows claim it’s bland and boring, while others (like myself) appreciate this refreshing approach. But then I’ve seen skeptics enjoying it, while others still think it’s as bad as the rest. Everyone seems to have their own opinion, and though it’s likely to be one of the most popular anime of the winter season, I suspect it will also be one of the more divisive titles. All I know is I’m digging this a lot more than I did for other anime of this sort. And I never expected the fights in this series to be treated like nothing less than murder, giving us the opportunity to focus on the psychological effects that has on the characters. I’m genuinely excited to see what comes next, so you can almost certainly expect to see a post for the third episode this time next week.
Full-length images: 01.