Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash is a fantasy drama shonen animated by A-1 Pictures and directed by Ryosuke Nakamura. A group of strangers find themselves unconscious and in a strange land. With no recollection of how they arrived and faint memories of the past, they must navigate together to survive in this fantasy world. Parties made up of the strongest people have banded together leaving only stragglers behind. The series follows the last group of those stragglers as they struggle to advance past the starting area. This new land is harder to live in than it seems. The party is led by Manato, a priest that has healing abilities; second in command is Haruhiro, thief class; a hunter with bad aim, Yume; shy mage that uses support mage, Shihoru; their kind trustworthy tank, Mogzor; and an obnoxiously pervy wild dark knight, Ranta. They must work hard to overcome their weaknesses in this kill or be killed world known as Grimgar.
This is another anime that is based on the premise of people stuck in an mmorpg setting. Not entirely positive as I have not read the manga, but just based on the clues that’s the premise. Grimgar is a bit different with its approach and that sets it apart. Instead of focusing on the why or how, the opt to focus more on the human drama that would unfold between having to work with strangers to survive. There is also a more realistic approach to the world and the interactions that take place. Even the fights go the same route. Life is tough in this world and unlike a video game people can and will die easily. That adds some stakes and tension to the series whenever there is a battle taking place. The most I enjoyed were the quieter moments of watching the characters interact with each other as that was more compelling to me then the action.
The characters all are pretty laid out with the time that they had to set things up. The further the series moves along, the more they either reveal or change with growth. The pacing of the series was slower than I imagined for a 12-episode season. There were a few time skips, but it made sense and it didn’t deviate from the slower pace that worked with this narrative.
The first thing that noticed right away that made me love this Grimgar was the artwork. The watercolor backgrounds are just amazing. It immediately reminded me of SaGa Frontier 2, one of my favorite jrpgs. The music was nice and added to the immersion. It suited the tone and the setting.
There were only a few negatives points I had with Grimgar. The lack of information and that no one questioned enough about being there predicament. Everyone there seemed to be moving forward and not stuck on how or why they had these memories of another world. The series would have benefited to have at least a 24 episode count to better explain the premise and characters. They maybe could have injected a bit more humor as they had time to include obligatory fan service pervy moments.
I’ll always have bias to mmorpg premises as I have played a couple mmorpgs in the past. That being said, I’m still impressed with Grimgar outside of the premise. I’m left disappointed that this might be another anime with no more seasons. It’s still great enough that I’d like to get into the manga at some point, as it left me wanting more. The story, presentation, and pacing make this series worth watching.
Episodes: 12 (1st season)
Director: Ryosuke Nakamura
Writing: Ryosuke Nakamura
Yoshimasa Hosoya as Haruhiro
Fukushi Ochiai as Moguzo
Mikako Komatsu as Yume
Hiroyuki Yoshino as Ranta
Haruka Terui as Shihoru
Chika Anzai as Mary
Nobunaga Shimazaki as Manato
Producers: Masaya Saito, Naoki Harada and Shigetoshi Sato
Music: R.O.N ([K]NoW_NAME)
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Background: Atelier BWCA