Grimgar: Stronger Together, Now & Forever | OWLS “Strength”

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, then you might be new. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, welcome to my anime cafe!” As part of the OWLS blog tour’s  fifth monthly topic, “Strength,” I decided to incorporate what would have been my standard Grimgar review into this pep talk about keeping your chin up. I’m also celebrating its recent release, which includes a strong English dub by a set of newbie-ish VAs!

“Your greatest weakness can become your greatest strength.” In anime, characters struggle with inner demons or physical weaknesses that make them feel insecure and prevent them from achieving goals, which makes viewers feel empathetic toward their battle. Yet when these characters overcome their adversity, they can finally be able to express who they are, or in other words, “Free to be Me.” 

I’m also gonna try a new, shorter, more poetic form of writing, since I seem to have been named such a writer by blogger buddy LitaKino and the OWLS YT squad. Let me know if you prefer this, oh, and thanks Lyn for the prompt!


A brief discussion on the 12-episode winter 2016 anime “Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions,” produced by A-1 Pictures, directed by Ryousuke Nakamura, based on the light novel by Ao Jyumonji.

The Past is Irrelevant

Waking up in an alternate world not too far off from a fantasy, a group of strangers with no recollection of their past lives are welcomed to Grimgar, a vast magical landscape that spans as far as the eye can see. Much like an RPG system, parties, guilds, and other factions exist in packs to ensure survival and decent living conditions.

With no home to call their own, six teenagers bound by the simple wish to live in this bizarre landscape form their own party. Unbeknownst to them, what awaits their poor squad in this harsh new world is nothing but grief, loss, misfortune, and tragedy at every bend in the beaten dirt path.

Image result for grimgar party

Grimgar‘s greatest appeal is its attention to the realities of living in a fantasy world. From finding a place to sleep to having enough copper pieces to afford simple luxuries like a fresh pair of underwear after using the same one for days on end, the anime never fails to appeal to logic and frugality. This comes with a downside—dreadfully slow pacing—but a show like this shouldn’t be rushed. Otherwise we’d miss out on another uneventful tidbit of coping with life’s pain, a quality that, where other trapped-in-an-RPG anime stumble, Grimgar excels.

Image result for grimgar crying

Being primarily main character Haruhiro’s story, I only wish we got to see through the eyes of the other party members. They’re all unique, classes and stats aside, and it could’ve been the cherry on top to understand what the Ranta the dark knight or Moguzo the tank thought before they went to bed each night.

A World Painted Unlike Any Other

Surprisingly, A-1 Pictures paints a glorious watercolor backdrop to accompany our volunteer soldier trainees as they run across the ruins of old attempting to slay a single goblin. If this anime has a winning feature, it’s the artwork. Reminiscent of the quiet world of Maoyu, it’s rare to find such wallpaper-worthy scenery at every shot, every frame. Exquisite and personalized, yet very simplistic, and it all works magically in Grimgar. 

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Also fantastic is the soundtrack, more specifically the joyous and exciting violin hoedown of the opening, “Knew day” by (K)NoW_NAME, along with the bittersweet ending, “Harvest,” a song by the same band, which frequently cues in early to accent a feeling of mourning and memorial. Both are equally enjoyable and very appropriate.

Strength is More Than Good Stats

When you think RPG stats, STRENGTH or TOUGHNESS are what jump at you first, naturally.

Now, when I say STRONGEST, having the best weapons, armor, or other gear is essential, right?

In Grimgar, that’s what Haruhiro and the gang thought, too. But they couldn’t have been more wrong.

You see, outfitting oneself with top-notch equipment sure does help, but there’s one part of your body you forget to protect most of all.

You heart.

?

When sleeping, eating, or socializing are the only forms of relaxation and entertainment, you can bet much of your time is spent on the battlefield, a land where your life is always on the line. At any moment, you could get slashed on your side with a dagger, or

Struck in the back with an arrow.

Tragedy follows the pathetic party everywhere they go, and when they first experienced loss, none of them could handle themselves. It was almost as if one member meant the lives of all six.

With no one to comfort them, they all experienced petty conflict with one another—they all tore themselves up for not being cautious enough. Day by day, they milled around in the doldrums, incapable of moving forward from the horrors of their last fight.

It wasn’t until they openly cried and poured their hearts out in front of one another that they realized how each member felt. You could almost say that the wound in their hearts finally bled out.

But like scars, sadness heals itself with time, comfort, and care. But also like scars, they will never fully heal. And that’s okay.

For the Grimgar crew, strength blossomed from the heartache they experienced. Loss, tragedy, and depression, poisons that normally corrupt the body, became ironclad armor to protect them from whatever came next—as best as armor could, that is.

They came to understand just what “ashes” meant, and used their tears, innate weaknesses, and unfamiliarity to bond closer with one another. Slowly but surely, they worked harder on the field and with one another to grow as people, and to move on from that day.

For they had endured a torn heart, and what doesn’t kill you DOES make you stronger.

They learned that true strength lies not in good stats, but in their faith in one another—in overcoming adversity and misfortune TOGETHER.

You are only alone if you choose to be. Similarly, one may be strong, but a team is stronger.

All you have to do is grit your teeth and keep on rolling with the punches.

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“Living has its own challenges. I’ll give you just one piece of advice. Don’t quit. Yes, when you die, you die. But if you give up, you’re definitely going to die. That, I am sure of.” – Brittany


Fortune favors the bold, right?! Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions is full of unfortunate pitfalls for a cast of endearing teens, but so long as they stick together, they can overcome any challenge. A special shoutout goes to Rocco B (In the Cubbyhole) and Jamie (Jamie Talks Anime), two very special people who shouldn’t have had to wait so long for my thoughts on this series! I give it the certified “Cake” rating! Everyone, let me know what you thought about this series in the comments!!

Image result for grimgar poster

This concludes my May 26th entry in the OWLS “Strength” blog tour. Please check out Lita (LitaKinoAnimeCorner), who went right before me and wrote about the astounding latest-hit film A Silent Voice. And now, I’ll give you the weekend before we return with Naja (Nice Job Breaking It, Hero) on equally powerful film, Colorful, this Monday, May 29th! Thank you so much for reading, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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34 thoughts on “Grimgar: Stronger Together, Now & Forever | OWLS “Strength”

  1. That was a really beautiful post. I loved Grimgar because of the realistic approach to the whole stuck in a fantasy world and I love how you’ve looked at the resilience of the characters and how they had to deal with tragedy. Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I always had this show up on the list but I didn’t think it was this endearing on paper. I thought it was a mecha show kind of like Aldnoah.Zero but I definitely have more reason to check it out!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had to go check out what the owls blog tour was. Like you guessed in your post, I’m still new to this ani blogging, so I had no idea what it was. I’m genuinely amazed and thankful for people like you who are spreading​ awareness and acceptance through these posts. It’s a wonderful thing to see. This was a great post. I can really tell how passionate you are and how much you put into your writing, highlighting some real important aspects of Grimgar. You earned yourself about follower 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I realize how late I am to this comment (it somehow slipped by me), but I am so very appreciative of the nice things you said right here! OWLS is not only a hardworking group, but they’re also bloggers who, as you said, spread awareness and acceptance through their posts. They’re a wonderful crew, an amazing group of people, and I do hope to see you around more often in the comments of these passionate, emotional posts! Thank you so much, and again, I can’t begin to tell you how much this means to me!

      Like

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    • Thank you so much! I think you’ll really like the watercolor look to it, especially if fantasy action might not be your thing. A lot of work went into this post, and I appreciate your continued kindness. 🙂
      (sorry this was so late!)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow Taku, I had never heard of this anime before, but after reading this I might just add it to the must watch list! I am also a fan of this new poetic style LOL (short and sweet) XD

    Excellent post as always!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and Lita seemed to have thought the same thing about the show and the post, to which I am very pleased! Thank you so much for your thoughts about the new format . . . I might have to stick with it now, cause you’re right—short and sweet is always better. Many thanks again!
      (sorry for the late reply!)

      Like

  9. Just lovely Taku. I always enjoy the idea of finding strength in tragedy because nothing lasts forever. I think that simple idea gives everyone hope and I liked how you brought the idea through in your post. I’ll have to add this to my watch list.

    Liked by 1 person

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  12. Finally got around to reading this!! Great post, it so reminds me what a wonderful show this was!! I’d love to own it one day. I absolute love how it shows the struggles of low ranking “players” like them so realistically. That thrill of new underwear, that was just such a wonderful moment that really stood out!! and THE SADNESS. MY POOR HEART. *cries*. Such a great show, so glad you enjoyed it!!

    And thank you for the shoutout!! ❤

    ~Jamie

    Liked by 1 person

    • WAH! I’m so happy that it finally made its way to you! There was always a looming sense of peril that’s unmatched in other fantasy anime, you sure are right. And the underwear, ahh it’s all in the details. But then there are those realistically depressing moments of loss where no words could describe (RIP MY HEART).

      I enjoyed Grimgar very much, so much in fact that I might have to pick up the novel when it catches up. Thank YOU for being one who recommended it to me!!

      Liked by 1 person

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  14. Oh wow. What a lovely post, Taku. /stands up, big applause/ I haven’t watched Grimgar yet, will definitely add it to my to-watch list. I like this theme of one for all, all for one in shows, especially in anime. It’s just so heartwarming and inspiring, especially for bloggers like us. We have to admit that blogging is essentially a very solitary activity. If we don’t reach out to others, we’ll just be harping all alone into the nothingness of the internet. But look at us now, we have OWLS and the blogging community here. We are definitely stronger together, than we are alone. Great post, Taku. Keep up the great work. Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

    • *very belated yet thankful bowing*
      Looking at it now, Grimgar probably belonged in the OWLS “Team” tour just as well as it did here, but I suppose there’s not much I can do about that now, haha! Blogging is a very lonely hobby, I will admit. So often, I have to ask myself, “How much would my productivity increase if I were just to have another fellow aniblogger right by my side, typing away?” Without others to read, and comment, and like, and share, I’d be nothing, absolutely. I’m so very thankful to have fallen in with the “right bunch” here on the internet, and so often, I take that for granted. “Stronger together, now and forever, right?” Thanks so much for the support throughout this OWLS adventure, Arria!

      Like

  15. What a neat approach to a review!

    This was definitely a unique series. By no means perfect, but amazing on so many points – demonstrating the day-to-day life of a fantasy world (as you point out); the brutality of violence; the watercolor style of animation (though it wasn’t as strong later in the series); the difficulty of maturation. I’m glad to see the release that just came out, and here’s hoping we’ll get another season as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • First off, I know I’m a bit late to this comment, but thank you!

      I always had this feeling that Grimgar was different. Not in a bad way, but it wasn’t “good” for me until I made it about halfway in and realized how far our characters had already come. It is indeed a story that features the hardships of death, growth, and moving on, as well as the horrible aftermath that violence can bring. And it is because of these things that I enjoyed it much more than shows along similar premises, say DanMachi and the ever-compared-to Sword Art Online. It made better use of what it had going for it and stuck with it, never forgetting to exclude the harsh realities that can come with living in a fantasy world. As unlikely as it is, I do hope we get a second season! Thanks so much again!

      Liked by 1 person

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