“Between Life and Death”

「生と死の間で」 (Sei to Shi no Ma de)

Mary and her Encounter with the Undead:

I distinctively remember the undead being brought up – either in the first episode, the episode when Manato died, or both – and thinking it would end up being relevant to the story. And that’s exactly what happened. The three-day rule took effect with Mary’s old friends, and in a turn of events that I wasn’t expecting, she had to ‘cleanse‘ them out of this world. I thought this episode was going to focus entirely on their battle with the kobolds, but this was much better, allowing Mary’s arc to reach a natural ending as she gets to do what she’s wanted to all along.

We got a brief glimpse of her easygoing life with her old party, which had somewhat similar dynamics to her current one. It was a sweet start to the episode, yet by the end of it I couldn’t help but wish these characters were still alive so we could see more of their adventures together. Instead, we see Mary take them on one by one, embrace them in a hug, and giving them all a final farewell. Considering we know next to nothing about these characters, it’s impressive that I got a little emotional over Mary’s scenes with them – I wasn’t quite balling my eyes up, but I felt for her in that moment and was glad she was able to remain strong and get the job done. I’m sure them being undead has weakened them considerably, but the fact that everyone could hold them off while Mary did what she had to do goes to show how much they’ve improved over these 11 episodes. It may have been a slow journey, but it was definitely a deserved and fulfilling one.

Surprising Developments – Ranta Left Behind:

And suddenly, Moria! The second half of the episode was what I expected the whole thing would be, yet it also managed to surprise me. I’ve got to be honest and say I didn’t expect a chase scene through the inner parts of the Kobold Mine to have a distinct Lord of the Rings flavour to it. Perhaps that was director Nakamura Ryousuke’s inspiration? If not, talk about coincidences. The good thing about this is LOTR is awesome (The Hobbit not so much – though I adore the book!) and that translated here. While the art wasn’t as impressive as it could have been – a quick look at the staff list shows an abundance of animation directors, which indicates things were probably crazy behind the scenes; imagine Musashino Animation at their most chaotic – the tension was high and there was a real sense of danger, as Grimgar has successfully maintained throughout its run.

Perhaps most shocking was how Ranta wasn’t a complete asshole this week. In fact, I quite liked his scenes. It almost seems like Haru’s worries were a red herring, though I still think Ranta has a lot to work on. But he was fine here, co-operating with his team and sacrificing himself in order to save Haru. I joked that perhaps someone would die Manato style, but do we really think this is the end of Ranta? I’d say no, and not only because he shows up in the preview, but because I think we’re going to go for a happy ending here, and Ranta dying like that, while heroic, wouldn’t be for the best. As annoying as he can be, this hints to him getting proper development in future. Whether or not we’ll actually see those developments in a second season is unknown – though Grimgar is one of the better selling titles of this Winter season, so there may be hope.

Overview – What’s Next?:

I had my expectations going into this episode, but nothing that I thought would happen actually happened. We got a few surprises: completing Mary’s character arc, and hinting at Ranta’s developments. The team is still unpolished when it comes to combat, but seeing them flee the with desperation made for the most thrilling episode since Manato’s death. Let’s see what next week brings. It only feels like a few weeks ago that I started blogging this…


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    1. Well the LN consistently describes her as someone really beautiful that she would attract a lot of attention yet at the same time that beauty would intimidate others making it ackward for them to approach her. I think her character design in the Anime is a lot better than the LN though. Not to mention she has the most “picture worthy” screen caps of any character.

  1. I’m by no means a fan of Ranta, in fact most times I find him rather annoying to say the least, but I do kinda feel bad that the adaptation basically deleted his moments from the 2nd Volume of the LN. Some may be there in parts but overall it seem a lot less but there is still 1 episode to go so let’s see.

    Also I kinda feel like the pacing and chronology of events in the LN kept the tension and surprise better than how it was presented in the Anime, which by no means was bad either. It just felt more natural, more roller coaster like and generally more surprising in the LN. But I guess when you spend 8 episodes on Vol 1 and only 3 on Vol 2 then you can’t really expect much

    1. @Juan: “But I guess when you spend 8 episodes on Vol 1 and only 3 on Vol 2 then you can’t really expect much.”

      Appreciate the info. Interesting because IMO pacing for the the first half or so was too slow/dragged a bit too much. Haven’t read the LN, but given how things have played out, seems to me that apportioning the air-time more evenly between the 2 LN volumes would have been the better way to go.

      1. @daikama : You won’t really notice it unless you read the LN but let’s just say that about 75% of the volume was Ranta centric 20% Mary and 5% Death spots.

        Like I said I dont think they did a bad job, but when you know that much relevant content is missing it just feels a bit wrong. You expect things to bw cut given the different medium but thats a bit much

      2. @Juan: Reason I replied is due to what I wrote below re. Ranta’s (IMO) 180 change from last episode to this one in terms of attitude. Maybe just me, but yeesh, you go from “Eh, if I accidentally kill you whatever” to jumping on the proverbial hand grenade in one episode. So if LN 2 is 75% Ranta, then seems to me that there’s a lot of character development getting left out = the transition between what we saw between this episode and last with Ranta I imagine was less abrupt of a transition in the LN. Speculation on my part though.

        Also, yes, I don’t know what I’m missing, but that doesn’t mean it may not feel like something material was cut while watching. Had that happened with other shows. Pacing now still isn’t quick (which is fine), but I think it’s fair to say it’s not as (too IMO) slow as it was the first 7-8 episodes. I agree they are not doing a bad job, but I do wonder whether a more even split of time between LN volumes would have produced a better result. Since you’ve read the LN, you’ll have a better idea whether that’s correct than I.

      3. @daikama: I think the implication here is that anime!Ranta is a classic tsundere. He acts all unfriendly and abrasive, but he really does care about his teammates in spite of what he says. If someone’s gonna die, he’ll be the first to jump in if he can. So either his development was “hidden” under his facade, or he’s been like that from the start. Perhaps our first clue was him crying (and trying to hide it) at Manato’s grave.

      4. @Hanabira.Kage: That’s a fair point, and quite possibly accurate. I tend to think of tsundere on romantic terms rather than a more encompassing “friends” type of deal. However, I also think you can take your “tsun” too far which IMO Ranta has at times up until this episode. It’s NOT all or nothing. He does contribute, and certainly he made a party sacrifice this episode, but it also doesn’t whitewash the unnecessary party friction/discord, and arguably at times endangerment either. Up until the last two episodes (10 & 11), Ranta was starting to chill out a bit and the party getting used to his personality as well. Not a huge change, but enough to be perceptible.

        Sorry to beat the proverbial dead horse, but I simply cannot reconcile last episode Ranta almost stabbing (quite possibly killing) Haru and just fluffing it off as “Whatever. On the plus side more vice for me”. It’s far, far too extreme. It’s not “tsundere”, it’s literally reckless endangerment coupled with “don’t give a shit”. That’s why I asked if that scene was anime only because it was IMO extreme even for Ranta – to a literally surprising degree for me. Even if it was in the LN, it’s still too extreme IMO as it played out (i.e. different story if Ranta’s like “OMG, Haru so sorry about that”).

        But yeah, putting that aside, I can see your point even if I think Ranta takes “tsun” too far. It will be interesting going forward in terms of how Ranta acts. I have a feeling this is a watershed moment in terms of his relationship with the party and Haru in particular (maybe also Yume given romance hints).

  2. I’ve known a number of people like Ranta. Abrasive, annoying, ‘does not play well with others’, but sometimes when the chips are down they’ll rise up and do something that is unexpected and even noble.

    Storywise, I think this show is not going to be sweetness and light. Casualties are going to happen. If not to Haru’s party then to others that will have an emotional impact on them. Konosuba it ain’t.

  3. Damn! The music was so good in this episode.

    Mary’s scenes with her undead comrades were very emotional. The emotional moments in Grimgar are always handled well.

    As for Ranta, I have to admit it: he was pretty cool in this episode.

  4. Like Samu, I had some general expectations and things did not play out as I thought. Overall, I think this is one of the strongest episodes for the show. So while I still had some issues (one primarily), on the whole it was good and entertaining.

    To me the biggest surprise was Ranta 2.0. I’ve been critical of his character before, but I must give credit where credit is due. Cooperative/”team player”, and to my surprise, self-sacrificing in the end. I REALLY wonder if that bit in the last episode where he almost stabs Haru and is like “Eh, no big deal. More vice for me” is anime original because it’s such a jarring 180 to what he did this episode. Anyway, Ranta 2.0 is certainly a better person and party member. We even got a hint of possible romance with Yume x Ranta. Also kudos to Ranta as well for telling Haru he (Haru) is NOT Manato. Better late than never. A few points deducted though for timing. Uh, might want to concentrate on finishing the battle first guys (see below). I DO think Ranta will survive. Just can’t see him getting killed off here, but I’m not sure how he will survive (escape? rescued somehow?). So kudos to the show for keeping some suspense.

    My biggest complaint is Haru’s non-stop exposition during the first battle. IMO it KILLED the flow of the battle and took away a LOT of the tension. Despite some struggle, I never felt the issue was in doubt against Mary’s former party. Other dialog/ breaks did not help matters, but Haru non-stop inner dialog was the primary factor here. NOTE: I actually like some exposition when warranted. Do not think it’s “evil”/bad for anime, or that you can just “show” everything. You can’t. However, you can go too far either way (too much/too little). IMO the show already has too much exposition/commentary during battles as it is, but this battle seemed worse in that regard. Be judicious and don’t comment on every single thing. *Watches Ranta struggling* Haru:”Ranta’s struggling”. Uh, thanks, got that already. Contrast the first battle with the one at the end (fleeing from Death Spots). The latter is much more fluid, dynamic and exciting with some actual, good tension.

    Closure on Mary’s PTSD was necessary and handled fine. Honestly I had forgotten about the “3-day rule” with corpses until Mary’s old party showed up, and I liked how she came prepared. Per above, I’m not a big fan of taking breaks in the midst of what’s supposed to be a life & death battle. Still, her good-byes were succinct enough and warranted though my preference is finish the battle first, and then do that stuff afterwards.

    One question I have concerns the “sudden” appearance of Death Spots in the former temple. I realize an excuse for the old temple being a supposed “safe haven” was given (though I thought it was a bit weak), but what I’m trying to figure out is this. Seems to me that Mary’s party was killed battling Death Spots in that same location -> She finds her old staff there, and her former party members are there (who she expected to meet & prepared accordingly). Why her zombie party members didn’t just wander around randomly fighting anything that moved is another issue, but let’s put that aside. So if this is indeed the place where Mary last battled Death Spots, and Death Spots is looking for them now… why doesn’t Mary (and possibly the rest of the party) add up 2+2 here and be on guard after the battle (a fairly noisy, flashy battle (fire walls) at that)? It’s the same situational awareness issue that has plagued the party off and on. As a whole they are getting better, but I’m not sure why that hasn’t improved more. Plenty of time when they get back to talk about those things. In the dungeon, you have to be on guard 24/7.

  5. I’m really glad to hear Grimgar is selling well, since I really wasn’t sure how the Japanese market was going to take to it. Considering they only tapped 2 volumes of the LN for this season, it would not be hard at all to put together enough material for a second season if the money’s there.

    Purple Bomber
    1. I’m glad it’s been somewhat of a success as well, but it’s worth noting that it only started selling good in the past month or so. I expected there to be a boost after Manato’s death, but it seems Mary did the trick. I do hope we get a S2 at some point – it feels like there’s a whole world yet to explore, and there’s more than enough LNs to justify a continuation.

  6. This episode left me anxious. I suspect that Ranta might not survive this dungeon. However, on the other hand, Ranta’s been working on being more independent (solo player), which makes me hope that maybe all of that work trying to be independent will finally pay off and he scraped his way out, wounded and in need of medical attention but still alive.

    1. As I said, I expect him to survive, but it certainly would be something if he did die. My prediction is next week’s episode will focus on rescuing him before they all make it out of the cave.

  7. The first half caught me off guard, I didn’t think they would actually fight Mary’s old companions as the undead. That was actually really interesting, since not only does Mary find closure, but the fights themselves were great because the undead party used similar skills to Haru’s party, and it also motivated the rest of the party to improve themselves.

    And second half was tense, It was abrupt and you knew shit was hitting the fan when Dead Spots appeared right after their fight. The soundtrack throughout the episode also complemented well with all the action.

    Personally, I’m glad Ranta is finally showing off some of his good traits. It reiterates my previous point in how Ranta is actually quite selfless beneath his annoying and uncooperative demeanor, and cares a lot about his companions. He doesn’t hesitate to help his friends when they’re in real danger, and he doesn’t get too prideful when he realizes he does need help, like how he coordinated perfectly with Haru when they were fighting the undead thief. It’s unfortunate with the pacing, we didn’t get as much development with Ranta prior to his heroic moment this episode, but I’m still pretty okay with this.

    Next episode would be hype, and I expect them to the blow their remaining budget to make the fight as epic as possible with Dead Spots and Kobold Army!

  8. Horrible, just horrible anime adaptation of the original light novel.

    Just one example.

    That laughable and silly rock music which began when Haru and his party members faced a life-death critical moment. The music alone made me feel less than 1% of the suspense and thrill I felt when I read the corresponding chapter of the original novel.

    Yet another problem I found with the series is so many pointless close-up shots of boobs and ass of female characters. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against Fan-service, ecchi scenes of themselves. It’s ok (more honestly, I tend to enjoy them) as long as it does not hurt the overall atmosphere and flow of the story. But they are so poorly done in this show to the point being intentional comedy.

    I admit that the anime is not that bad as a stand-alone anime work, and it has its own strengths.

    But it will be remembered as one of the worst anime adaptation of LN I have ever watched. Compared to the original novel, the anime is really a let-down.


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