“Sky Dancing with Ash”
Tense Fights, Learning New Skills:
This episode is a game changer. There’s one moment we’re all going to be talking about, but before that there’s some other details worth mentioning. For one, the casual slice of life element of the show is still present, although less so compared to the previous episodes. The opening scene with Manato and Shihoru was apparently anime-original, but it served as a pleasant starter for the meaty main course that was to follow. We’ve seen hints of these two liking one another, and that is pretty much confirmed when they tripped and fell (without a boob grab!) and they had their first proper conversation. It was sweet, slow, and very pretty. The other moment like it was when Yume talked about her wolf god. Ranta stopped her to ask what the point of the story was, and it turned out there wasn’t, which I found amusing. Like Miyazaki Hayao once said, you need breathing space – you need moments of quiet so you can understand the characters more. Not every conversation has to be contrived to fit in X amount of exposition; sometimes people just ramble aimlessly, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In saying that, we did get plenty of exposition as well, as Haruhiro went over the new skills that everyone was learning as they each got their chance to show off their abilities. If Grimgar were paced like most LN anime adaptations, I would have expected this scene in the first episode, which would have been too much, too soon. But four episodes in, this feels like the right time to get told these worthwhile details. Everyone’s getting better (Shihoru stood out the most to me) and we were subject to some crisp animation and lovely panning shots during the action scenes, in what I’d say was the second best-looking episode after the premiere.
Death of the Healer:
Now, let’s talk about it: Manato’s death. I noticed some LN readers couldn’t contain themselves, while plenty of us anime-only viewers already saw it coming. The death flags were aplenty from the premiere. After all, Manato was the leader of the group (presumably the oldest) who took care of everyone and seemed to keep everything afloat. Last week’s preview was too much of a giveaway for this to be a complete surprise, but that doesn’t matter. I’ve read people say they felt his death lacked impact or they didn’t get emotional over it, to which I say: exactly! I’m pretty sure that’s just how we’re supposed to feel. This isn’t a beloved character we’ve been following for years; this is someone we know barely anything about – just as much as his fellow teammates – and so his death serves more as a reminder of the grim reality of Grimgar. In many series like this, when a character bites the dust they usually respawn a few miles away with some damaged armour or lost memories. Here, there’s a real sense of danger whenever things get action packed. Simply put: people die when they are killed.
The whole scene with the goblin ambush was brilliant, as the OST got louder and more dramatic as things got worse. By the looks of it, there’s a goblin party with a similar makeup to our main characters, which makes this whole thing rather ironic. The last two episodes we saw goblins being killed by the river or in their sleep, whereas this time around we have the humans caught off guard, and just like with the goblins, it results in death. Manato always seemed to be too involved in the action (considering he was the healer), and he appeared to heal the most minor wounds, which likely weakened his stamina and aided in his demise.
I found it interesting that the enemy archer didn’t shoot him in the head when he had the opportunity, but instead got him in the back and made him suffer. The desperate attempts to save him in the forest were just as intense as the fight sequences; Manato was too weak and unable to reach his back to heal himself. Everyone was in a panic, and before they could do anything, he was gone. If anything, Manato’s death was perfectly fitting to the pace we’ve come to expect from Grimgar. It could have been a dramatic, tear jerking moment, but instead it just kind of happened. He suffered, they were too late to do anything about it, and just like that… he died.
Dealing with Loss – How Will They Move Forward?:
For me, the true impact came when Manato’s lifeless body was brought to the Head Priest. It was a sombre to watch him stroke his face and declare him dead, as his teammates begged desperately for a way to bring him back. This calls back to the first episode when everyone was told that death was final; it was a subtle line caught in the middle of a longer speech, so I suspect not many people picked up on it or thought much of it. But now we know for certain that there’s no coming back from the grave. With that, having a healer is more important than ever – just as important as having a leader. Right now, Haruhiro and company have neither. It will be very interesting to see how this affects them all, as each had their own relationship with Manato. Haruhiro’s desperation and anger was brilliant to watch, whilst Shihoru’s despair was saddening. Just as she was opening up to him, she was left alone again. Perhaps this is my bias for magic classes showing, but I’m most keen to see how she grows from this. She’s been fairly timid and underused so far, but this could be the chance for her – and everyone else – to get some proper development.
Overview – What’s Next?:
I knew it was coming, but it still hurt. The first half of the episode was both informative and exciting; the art has improved, and it’s good to see them taking down three goblins at once. This is bound to be the turning point of the series as everything has been building up to this moment. It will be interesting to see how everyone reacts to this unfortunate event, and I’m thrilled to be blogging it!