A bunch of teenagers all woke up one day with no memory of where they are, where they came from or how they got here, but they realise that all they can really do is band together and try to figure it out. All they know is that every now and then they someone ‘accidentally’ say words that they don’t know the meaning of, words like ‘phone’ and ‘game’, despite not actually knowing these words.
They begin to learn that in order to prosper in the fantasy world they’ve found themselves in, they first of all need to eat – which they can’t do without money or ingredients, so they are tasked with trying to defeat small enemies like goblins in order to sell the spoils for gold. They also visit a tavern and learn a lot about how things work in Grimgar, or specifically the area called Ortana, and get appointed as Volunteer Soldiers. Each kid joins a guild to develop a specific skill – be it thieving, magic, archery etc, and they work to help protect people in the towns from monsters.
Sound familiar? Yeah, it should.
People have been going on and on about how great this newfangled Grimgar show is, and how its a very different take on the ‘kids are trapped inside a video game’ cliche that I wish would up and die already. But I honestly feel like I watched a different show here, because I’m just not that impressed.
There are some things to be impressed with, though – the animation is quite good, and I like that the characters themselves are all pretty distinct and seem to have their own little quirks in the animation that give them a little more life. The watercolor effect on the background is also rather beautiful and certainly makes the show pleasant on the eye. I like the idea of this more realistic take on ending up in a fantasy world with no job, money or food. I also like how none of these kids are remotely good at the RPG classes they decided to be due to not being used to it; the magician fumbles around, the warrior has trouble with his sword.
But other than that…I’ve seen this before. I’ve seen it so, so many times. Grimgar may look pleasant, but it’s boring. There’s nothing to distinguish it from the hundreds of generic Tolkien-inspired fantasy worlds I’ve seen over and over again. The characters are boring. Maybe I just need more time to get to know them, but as far as first impressions go, they’re either boring or aggressively unlikeable. The writing seems to be taking this attempt at a realistic approach where the teenagers act as much like real teenagers unsuited to their surroundings as possible, but it does it in a way that is either dull or weirdly awkward. An example is a scene where everyone is sitting around talking, and eventually the conversation turns to the contrasting bust size of the two girls (because you can apparently not have two girls of differing bust size without this being pointed out.). In most other anime where this kind of banality occurs, it’s played for ‘comedy’, there might be zany sound effects, the girls might get mad and yell and it’s all very unfunny. But in Grimgar there’s the sense that the whole conversation is dead serious. It soon turns into Shihoru, the timid girl with the large bust in question, pointing out that the only reason she has a large bust is because she’s fat. We then get treated to a painful conversation about how other girls must hate Shihoru for the way she says she’s fat when she obviously isn’t, and Shihoru being reduced to tears about how fat she is. And this scene goes forever. I have no idea what the everloving hell they were even going for with this, but it’s incredibly uncomfortable. Shihoru obviously has a lot of anxiety and self-image issues, and there’s nothing wrong with a character like that. In fact, knowing this makes me think she could actually end up an interesting character. But contrasting it all with the male characters being all ‘hyuk hyuk she do got some big titties don’t she’ is just…terrible. This scene was terrible. Even if the rest of the show ends up good, this scene was fucking awful.
I don’t know if I can be bothered to watch more of this one, to be honest. I would like to give it another chance just because it looks pretty and even people who hated on Sword Art Online are saying good things about it. But this first episode really didn’t do much for me except make me kind of bored and angry.