I’ve been a big fan of Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions for a while now, and I’ve been following J-Novel Club’s English releases of the light novels. Its melancholic and bittersweet tones are perfectly captured in the anime, and it’s a shame that we’ve yet to see a second season. Sadly, I very much doubt we will.
Similar to isekai shows, a group of people wake up and find themselves in another world with no memories of their past. Forced to become adventurers so that they can earn money, they all break up into smaller parties. Haruhiro, and those who he partners up with, were the only ones who weren’t picked to join other parties, and so they create a party of misfits between them. With little expectations of them, they set out to explore this new world.
It’s a constant battle of morality and life, and it’s handled spectacularly.
Grimgar might share some of the same themes as its siblings in the genre, but it consistently feels as if their lives are genuinely at stake. The author isn’t afraid to have characters killed, and it’s never clean. The weight of life, in both humans and monsters, is on display here, and that’s what makes Grimgar so appealing. You want to see the main characters survive, but you also don’t want to see any of the monsters die. It’s a constant battle of morality and life, and it’s handled spectacularly.
A lovely, pleasing mixture of colours.
Not only does Grimgar have an engaging narrative, but it also has one of the most distinctive art styles I’ve seen in an anime. It looks like a watercolour painting in motion, and much of the environment is clearly painted or left looking sketched — this might sound lazy, but it fits so incredibly well.
It’s a lovely, pleasing mixture of colours, and there’s a soft glow to everything. It works perfectly with the show’s atmosphere, making deaths poignant and a number of interactions wistful. Everybody wants to know why they’re here and to get their memories back but, sadly, they have to fight daily just so they can live. The English and Japanese voice-overs are both excellent, and the English dubs cast does a good job in bringing these characters to life in a way that I envisioned.
I recommend picking up the light novels too, but the anime makes for a fantastic introduction to the series.
Grimgar: Ashes and Illusion (also known as Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash) shouldn’t be slept on, even if you are tired of amnesiac people being whisked away to another world. Underneath its tropey sounding synopsis is a rich world with conflicting characters and morals, and each moment and decision has real weight to it.
It’s a shame that there isn’t a second season, because the light novels only truly get better as they go along, and something this beautiful deserves more attention. I recommend picking up the light novels too, but the anime makes for a fantastic introduction to the series.