First of all, the series’ focus on its world fiction is fantastic. By all means, it is rich in resources from the dense forests to the lush landscapes with a decent amount of wildlife. Plus, civilization is exactly what people may picture from a fantasy game. There’s old fashioned towns, rural caves, mountainous regions, and starry skies crafted with high fantasy elements in this imaginary world. Whatever the author was thinking at the time definitely got the general ideas right for the show. Secondly, the story is what I’d describe more as fusion of fantasy, action, adventure, but also feeling that borderlines slice of life. To sum it up clearly, the slice of life part depicts the every day adventures of the party. Of course, this includes forging new weapons, fighting new enemies, and unlocking new skills to survive. It also adapts character interactions which seems to be a pivotal part of the show. It’s easy to see that the party members become close as time passes on.
In the beginning, they’re complete strangers with little memory about themselves besides their first name. After living in the new world for a few days, we can see the chemistry building between certain characters. Haruhiro’s relationship with Yume and Manato is prominent as they treat each other like close friends. Manato, the leader of the party is also a role model with his charismatic personality and is able to see the positives in people. Even Ranta seems to follow his lead despite being the hotheaded guy of the group, often known for causing troubles especially with Haruhiro and Yume. Speaking of which, Yume is the brave girl. She has confidence and builds a close friendship with Shihoru, a shy mage who struggles to open to others. Then there’s Mogzo, the silent giant who often supports the party in whatever means he can. See the diverse range of character personas here? It’s hard to imagine how they can all get along at first but as time passes, the show is able to capitalize on these characters both individually and collectively as a group. Later on, they even gains new member whom they have a hard time to accept at first but still welcomes her as a valuable member of the team especially upon learning their background story.
Now, the show is pretty repetitive with a sluggish pacing. It shouldn’t take long for anyone to recognize this especially with the nature of the story. The formulaic structure is basically the group learning new skills, occasionally gaining new equipment, while trying to improve their inner relationships. Sadly, monsters are limited to goblins and kobalds in the show and doesn’t get far in that territory. If you realized this and it’s not the type of feeling up your alley, then turn back now because this show will feel like a snoozefest to you. Otherwise for sheer entertainment value, it’s actually an emotional drive after the first half of the show. The concept of death becomes reality for a certain member of the party while the show exploits interpersonal conflicts.
While the series does this well, I feel like it’s spending far too much time investing on certain plot mechanics at the expense of other potentials. Given the way this series is adapted (1 cour) and limited volumes, it’s not really impressive. Furthermore, the show‘s relationship dynamics can quickly become a bore once you see how much the show pushes that every episode. Don’t expect any legitimate romance to develop either despite some obvious hints. The show seems to tease that almost every episode especially between Haruhiro and Yume but nothing really comes into fruition. And if you’re not a fan of melancholic songs, then this show could be a nightmare. As a fantasy adventure, Grimgar often feels like a mixed bag; sometimes quite impressive while other times makes you wonder if it’s worth watching.
In the meantime, the show does a fair job at demonstrating how a fantasy series should be about with its mechanics. There’s other adventurer guilds that looks credible, weapons that actually looks like it’s from a fictional world, and also various classes. While the series isn’t like Sword Art Online with heavy game mechanics, it still knows how to execute some of them. However, the key keyword here is ‘some’. The mage class is one of the more underwhelming roles in the show with its limited spell set from what’s shown. From an objective point, I think the priest also plays an underwhelming role despite being invaluable for any party. Luckily, the action aspects saves that as it delivers some classic entertainment. It’s pretty fluid once you get used to it with a surprising amount of violence. On the other hand, the comedy is woodenly made. I forget the amount of time when the show makes lewd jokes. From extended dialogues about boobs to awkward misunderstandings, the show still falls into the formulaic light novel adaptations we see so often.
One of the main highlights of the series is the fantastic artwork. It’s not just elegant but feels excitingly mythical that’s painted by colorful water paint. From mountainous landscapes to old fashioned towns, the show capitalizes every detail to precision. Even character designs looks vividly convincing as the guys and girls wear gear appropriate for their class. If you’re also familiar with shows like Aiura, then it’s recognizable at who worked on these designs. The show’s action is coordinated well with a nice amount of focus on teamwork and body movements. But like almost every light novel adaptations, it’s still vulnerable to some subtle fan service like Shirou.
Music is one of the stronger dynamics of the series as well. While some say that the show’s tendency to constantly use insert songs can be an annoyance, it’s actually quite important to highlight the emotional values of the story. Character expressions matches in unison with the insert songs to show what they feel. This can be a hit or miss to viewers depending on how you take it by storytelling standards. Furthermore, character voice mannerisms aren’t too impressive in general. The most recognizable would be Yume though with her kansai-like dialect.