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.

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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.

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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!!

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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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End of April/Mid-May Update 5/24/16

Hello cafegoers, ’tis I, Takuto, with a hodgepodge of updates from this last April to now, the middle-end of May. Woah, it’s been that long?

Whew! So April was a pretty busy month – Well, just busy enough to hold up on an end-of-the-month update at least. Like most everyone on the planet, I was occupied with way too much school for my own good. Seriously, all this homework and you’re telling me it only counts for 20% of my total grade?? F this sh*t, and then these daily grade boosters mini quizzes with only 10 points, so if I score a 9/10 it’s still a B? What is wrong with this system (talking to you, math classes)??

I could go on, but you get the drift. School sucks. Homework sucks. Extracurricular activities are draining. And at the end of each day, the last thing I wanted to do was sit at my desk and write reviews. It’s not like I hate doing it – oh no – it’s that a certain level of creativity and time has to spent on each post – each sentence – so that it all flows together in a unique style. To muster that kind of technical level required for a half-decent post, in my experience, requires a nice long weekend, which was sadly few and far between. In the evening, I just want to watch, not write.

Then May comes alone, and by golly, don’t we all just love May? Who doesn’t enjoy the last-minute cram sessions for chapter tests followed by the study review for the FREAKIN’ final next week, or the hustling and bustling of obligatory graduation parties galore, or how about the short evenings spent stressing about summer jobs, more schooling, and when the HELL am I gonna get back on the blog? Good question. That’s why I occupied myself with a few pre-planned activities, which you will find below. It’s update time!

Recently Finished:

. . . Nothing, I’ve been pushing for more writing and reading. That and I have four lovely simulcasts to keep me hot and bothered. That’ll change this summer, just you wait.

Well, actually there are a couple of reviews for March anime I completed. Those are for Cowboy Bebop and Dimension W. I used a different stylistic approach to Bebop just to stand out of the crowd a bit more, and you guys seemed to enjoy it. I stuck to my more traditional approach with my DW rant, and that got just about the same solid reception, so I must be doing something right, haha. My awesome buddy Matthew of Matt-in-the-Hat and I are actually still talking about that one, so it’s never to late to hobnob with the cool guys 🙂

Click on either of their titles to read! I also appreciate those who took the time to check out my old Fairy Dance posts. That’s cool of you.

Currently Watching:

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress – While I’m only five episodes in, I can officially say that even if the story goes under the rails, the plummet will be an exciting one. Being an original source (my favorite kind of anime) with only 12 episodes, it will probably wrap up leaving much of the history unexplained. I suppose that’s fine, because the conclusion will more than likely get me to the edge of my seat. At this point, I’m strongly tapping my foot to intense train action and Hiroyuki Sawano’s beats. And that opening, ooh, I think it’s one of Egoist’s best works yet! Kabaneri is still engaging, still epic, but lacking in direction.

Kiznaiver – This is one of those anime that I really want to call in my figurative “Top Ten,” but so far, it’s falling oh-so short. With five episodes watched, I think the biggest problem lies in the characters themselves, in that they’re only shells of the archetypes they belong to simply for the cause of contrasting each other, much like the seven deadly sins do. In theory, Kiznaiver should be great (I am especially captivated by the lead character’s personality for some reason, IDK, maybe it’s his hair, yeah, probably), but unless it really digs deep with its cast, it’ll be nothing more than another pretty piece recycling the same old themes.

My Hero Academia – So I just claimed that the downfall of Kiznaiver would be it’s tropish characters, but then there’s this little gem that is guilty of the same crime, yet gets away with it superbly. MHA is one of those go get ’em, feel good anime. It’s a cliché clash of heroes and an underdog, though it all works because Izuku, the main character, is such a keep-on-keepin’-on youngster, and that’s both heartwarming and exciting. Full of relatable feelings and flashy animation, six episodes is enough to judge that MHA is a good adaptation of its source material. It’s also, and I rarely use this word on action anime, cute.

The Lost Village – AKA Mayoiga, this is the odd egg in the batch of simulcasts this season. It’s really bad – like from a review perspective, the characters are complete one-lined garbage – yet it’s so fun to watch. Isn’t that what all anime strive to be? Fun? With six episodes in, I can’t tell if this anime is trying to pull my leg or be genuinely creepy. Whatever happens, it’s still engaging enough to pull me back each week. That alone is enough to give me a mini heart attack during the nights I watch.

But wait, THERE’S MORE!

As with my Revisit of Evangelion and In Defense of Fairy Dance, I recently tacked another HUGE project called the Heroic Spirit Manifesto or “Hero Week” for short. While I consider it a somewhat ‘failed’ project (huge gap in start and finish), it still was an undertaking that I was proud of accomplishing. If you’re interested in the following anime, click each title because I wrote my thoughts on each one in a specialized format with a heroism section specific to each show. Please enjoy these amazing anime to your heart’s content!

ERASED

One Punch Man

Yuki Yuna is a Hero

My Hero Academia

Café Talk Wrap-Up Segment

So what can we look forward to from me the rest of May? My comments. Lots, and lots, and lots, and lots, and lots of catching up to do on all of the posts you guys have written during my sporadic absences! Don’t expect a review anytime soon, as the only anime I am currently watching are simulcasts. I do, however, have a couple of café talks planned and even an unboxing post (ooh ooh~), so stay tuned for my gradual slide back into the community. I also got a summer job . . . outside . . . as a pool lifeguard. I already have mad sunburns on my shoulders from two days of training. Why do I hate myself? Hahaha, thanks for keeping my seat warm, like ya do, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Oh yeah, Twitter? It will happen. Soon. Hopefully. Muah.

End of May Update 6/3/15

Mina-san, konnichiwa (sorry about that gif, I just had to) ~

First off, good God – it’s already June. Where did the time go?? Secondly, a warm welcome to all of my new followers and viewers, and a welcome back to my usual guests. I hit the most likes yesterday, and it’s all thanks to you guys. Thanks so much!

I’ve been scavenging for a new anime just to buy, sit down, and watch, but my pockets are empty 😦 On another note, I have a ton of shows on my list (like everyone else), so the river never runs dry!

Onto the usual anime update:

Recently finished:

Love Live! School Idol Project (1st and 2nd Season Review) – such a joyride! I am a μ’s fanboy! For a fun review under “Cakes,” look no further

Bakemonogatari – hmm, I’m not sure what to think of the Monogatari series yet, not as epic as I heard it’d be, but still an enjoyable watch, a “Coffee” review here!

Currently watching:

The Heroic Legend of Arslan – while extremely slow and dragging at first, the latest episode (was it 8 or so?) really started to kick it in, mildly interested

Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign – ugh, little by little we’re uncovering more info regarding the setting, but the characters and the story are so weak, that car scene with Yuu, Shinoa, and the guy with glasses was hilarious, though!

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? – not really sure where this show is even going, the villain better make a move soon, Bell, Hestia, and Lili are still fairly enjoyable to watch, latest episode with Bell really shocked me, though

Fate/ stay night: Unlimited Blade Works 2nd Season – while I’m getting lost in some of the heroic dialogue, the action is still phenomenal, Lancer in UBW is X10 more loveable than the original series

Sound! Euphonium – with that last episode featuring relationships and Kosaka, everything is reallly coming together, one of the best shows this season!

Plastic Memories – it waddles around playfully with Tsukasa and Isla’s relationship; not its strongest point, cases with taking back more Giftias are still very emotional, wishing for more of that before Isla’s time expires

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma – still food porn, though everyone says otherwise, I’m having the best time with this show, love it so much!

I would write a review but I haven’t finished anything else, so I’ll get started on something soon. For those interested, I am writing another “Cafe Talk” because it was fun to write and the first one received a lot of positive feedback – Thanks! I was also recently nominated for the Sunshine Award, and you can check out my responses here! How are all of you doing? What simulcasts this spring season do you enjoy watching? Comment down below, I appreciate you reading and liking my posts, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host