This first season of 2016 anime really has some great looking shows and Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash is definitely my favorite. Right now we are 3 episodes into the 12 episode season so I think at this point I can do a review on where we’re at so far. This is a high fantasy setting with a very Dungeons & Dragons feel but also with a bit of a twist, the characters find themselves in this world that feels almost like a game and they have no idea how they got there. They kind of know that something weird happened and that they haven’t always lived here but either way this is their current reality and they quickly learn that living here is no picnic. Our group of heroes meet up early on and form an adventuring party that will take on tasks to earn money. They are given a small starting allowance to buy some equipment and they all go off to train for a week with their respective guilds, effectively giving them ‘classes’. Sound familiar? We have a basic opening to many JRPG style games and though there is nothing groundbreaking so far I’m really into it given that I am a big RPG fan.
One of the things that immediately struck me as a bit different than a lot of anime is that no one in the group is really overpowered. They are all starting out effectively “level 1” and are all learning the ropes of their classes and how they can help each other in battle. The opening episode shows our group of 6 heroes battling 2 goblins in a forest, now with any RPG knowledge you would know goblins are the cannon fodder of fantasy worlds and are easily dispatched by even low level adventurers. Well our group is basically getting wrecked by these 2 goblins and cant even land a solid blow, nearly hitting each other with some friendly fire in the process. They end up having to flee the fight and realize this isnt just like clicking the attack button in a game, this is real, and it is hard. The group is now running low on cash, their equipment is getting worn, and they are getting desperate.
Now as much as I love seeing some overpowered Kirito type just straight up wreck some giant boss monster there is a refreshing realism here. I think a lot of the fun in this anime is going to be watching the team grow together and seeing these early struggles will really make things more rewarding later on. There doesn’t always need to be a giant ‘save the world’ plot if the execution and character development is there to make it enjoyable. That said I feel there is a bit of a pacing issue but I am so interested in the show already through the fun character interactions and the art style that I am still having fun watching and that is all that really matters.
The art style in this show is a bit different than your usual anime and I think it is fantastic. The characters are crisply animated and the few fight scenes so far are really action packed and fast moving. Though the thing you will likely notice immediately is how beautiful the background art is. The backgrounds have this painted look to them with bright pastel colors that really enhance the feel of this being a distant fantasy world. The contrast of the sharp character art versus the static background really looks great. I am hoping to see some large beautifully drawn monsters in this art style as all we have seen so far are goblins.
Now I’m going to rant a little as we come to an issue plaguing a lot of modern anime, the fan service. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with fan service when it is worked into the show naturally, or if the show is just literally designed for it. But here you have a show trying to set a serious premise up and then they really shoehorn in some strange stuff out of nowhere. For example there is a scene where our classic hothead character Ranta is talking with the group and basically says something like “Well I’d forgive Shihoru cause she has huge boobs but tries to hide them, you’re just flat chested so I won’t forgive you” to our ranger Yume. This on it’s own is fine, ok classic anime tropes whatever, but then it launches into a 4 minute segment of everyone talking about boobs. I mean really there are shows that if this happened I wouldn’t blink an eye, but here they are after a serious battle 5 minutes earlier now ranting about boobs.
That said I still am loving the show and will continue watching every week. It’s fun, the artwork is beautiful, and I am intrigued by the setting. Will we learn more about why they were transported to this world? If you are an RPG fan or just into the high fantasy D&D style setting I think you will really enjoy this show.
Are you guys enjoying the show so far? Let me know in the comments and if you enjoy this blog please join my newsletter and follow on social media. =)