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.

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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

The Revisit of Evangelion: We Have Begun Third Impact | Cafe Talk

Ladies and gents, children of all ages, welcome to a very special week here in the cafe (and to another wonderful cafe talk!). One fateful year ago from this upcoming Valentine’s Day, I was (not) alone (click to read the backstory). I had previously spent the first two weeks of the month building up to this day: Canceling holiday meetups, telling my family “see ya,” leaving my girlfriend (HAH, no such thing exists now and then :/), and even preparing snacks. To what end? I was determined to introduce myself into the fantastical world of the (in)famous mecha anime Neon Genesis Evangelion (click on link for my thoughts!!!!!). Primarily, I just wanted to watch the Rebuild films, but seeing as I didn’t know what they were (and that they were just tempting me at the store since childhood), I thought I’d just sit through the series so that I could get to the meat.

Well, I got myself into much more than a robot fight, mind you.

I ABSOLUTELY fell in love with everything the franchise had to offer. For days-weeks-heck, this whole YEAR after, I spent my time endorsing myself into whatever I could get my grubby little paws on. I finally got to buy those two films, went eBay dumpster diving for the original Platinum litebox release of the series, and even dipped my toes in picking up that controversial movie we all love but don’t understand (some hate it for that mere factor): The End of Evangelion (click link for my cool thoughts on it!!!) . And you know what? I even got (well, my cool bro picked them up for me on a music trip of his :D) the last two volumes of the manga, 13 and 14, just to coincide my experience with the last volume’s release. That’s right. I’m edgy~

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I even formatted some pictures on Google (thank you respective artists) and printed posters!!! Wow, not sure if that’s cool or lame . . . I think I’m pretty cool . . . o_o

Flash forward one crazy year, and here I am again, (not) alone. But I have other plans for this V-Day which I’ll advertise in a future post. This week is Evangelion week in the cafe – Specifically, my “Revisit” (get it, Rebuild, Revival, “Revisit,” oh I am so damn clever) to the beloved Tokyo-3. After what, 3 or 4 years of waiting, coincidentally, FUNimation finally decided to release the third installment of the Rebuild franchise: Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo. It was officially released this past Tuesday, February 2nd (yes, a fan such as myself had it on pre-order ;)), and in celebration of its release and my anniversary of uncovering the franchise for myself, I declared this Eva week, and spent a good chunk of Monday and Tuesday rewatching my favorite episodes (“The Day Tokyo-3 Stood Still”).

Aren’t you loving how this all pans out for me? Coincidence after coincidence, lucky me ~

Here is how the week’s been running so far, and will proceed as planned:

2/1 Monday – Rewatch favorite episodes of NGE between 1-13

2/2 Tuesday – Rewatch favorite episodes of NGE between 14-26

2/3 Wednesday – Rewatch Evangelion 1.11

2/4 Thursday – Rewatch Evangelion 2.22

2/5 Friday – Watch Death & Rebirth

2/6 Saturday – Watch Evangelion 3.33

2/7 Sunday – Rewatch Evangelion 3.33, with siblings (movie theater, click here for backstory)

You’re probably sittin’ there gagging, “Takuto, why bother with Death & Rebirth? Isn’t it just a sh*tty retelling of the series followed by the first episode of The End of Evangelion?” 

Why yes . . . well, apparently, I suppose? I never included D&R during the grand binge of ’15, so I’ve only been going by speculation. It’s time I grow a pair and see what I think, though, right? Can a true HUGE fan of the franchise say they love it to death if they haven’t absorbed all of it? That’s my thinking at this point, at least, so I paid the $15 bucks just to have it in my collection (because collecting is fun).

I’ve rambled enough! Won’t you join me on this epic conquest to reestablish, reaffirm, rekindle, and revisit this anime classic (gosh, one would think we were about to do something again, wouldn’t they, sheesh)??!! If not, well, the door’s right over there (just kiddin,’ go find another one of my reviews to munch on until the cool kids are done partying LOL)! I mean, we’ve been with each other since the beginning, so let’s finish the third lap on the track that has been etched in anime history: 3.33, here we come!! You can expect a review of both Death & Rebirth and Evangelion 3.33 at the end of the celebration, and hey, if you haven’t already checked out my old reviews of parts in the franchise, click on the links scattered above. They could sure use some lovin.’ 🙂

I’ve already changed my wallpapers, blocked out the world, and prepared tons of snacks. Oh wait, SHHHH, the movie is starting!!!!!!!!

We have begun Third Impact once again, everyone. Join me in this segue so the End. “The end of every world has a beginning, and this is (not) the world we thought we knew.” It’s time to Revisit and Redo.

– Takuto, your host