It’s hard to believe that after only three episodes, I could be so heavily invested in these characters. Yet, here I am, not just excited for the next episode, but deeply worried for this band of would be heroes. It’s a testament to the writing, to be certain.
One of the things about this series that has managed to really stand out is how well the characters have developed in such a short span of time. From the initial impressions to a deeper understanding of what is really going on with them, the character beats have been smooth, natural, and unhurried, yet deeply profound at every turn.
Take Ranta as the prime example. While he first appeared as a loud mouthed braggart, we soon saw that this was he he kept his own fears at bay. He worries for his new friends and allies, and is doing what he can to help them, in whatever ways he can. His attitude, brash and annoying as it is, is his way of trying to make them feel safe in this frightening new world. We see, through excellent use of framing and subtext, that he simply knows no other way to act, and while his personality grates, it’s coming from a good place.
Like I said last week, this is the sort of character development that is usually saved for middle of the series episodes. Grimgar, however, is all about the characters, and wastes no time exploring them. This allows it to be a character study first, and a fantasy epic later. It’s fairly different from what we usually see in anime these days, and to me, it’s very refreshing.
This week, much of the focus is on Manato, and the writers both alleviate my biggest fears where he is concerned, while raising all new ones. It’s a masterful bit of work, really, and the kind of thing I deeply wish was more common in not just anime, but television in general.
So, let’s dive in and see what our little band of adventurers is up this week.
The episode opens on the wee hours of the morning as Moguzo, the gentle giant of the band, prepares breakfast for the party. Haru shows up with some eggs, and the two talk a bit about Moguzo and his love of cooking. Seems he believes that in his previous life, he loved to cook for people, whether they liked it or not aside. Haru assures him everyone loves his cooking, and he seems genuinely relieved by that.
It’s an interesting little moment, as it shows us a lot about Moguzo, who is usually in the background of the group. That he isn’t even on breakfast duty this morning, yet is still up and preparing the morning meal, is telling. Like the rest, he is in an unfamiliar world, and lost, searching for something that gives him a sense of purpose. In cooking, he has found it, and having it affirmed that he is doing well gives him a sense of place.
Really, all the best things in this show happen in the facial expressions, body language, and little peeks at deeper character motives and needs. With a brief scene, the episode has established a lot about Moguzo, and made me worry for him even more. A harsh life such as this is a poor fit for a soul such as him.
After the opening credits, we join the whole gang as Haru, Manato and Moguzo try to make peace with Yume and Shihoru over the whole peeping disaster from last week. Why Moguzo is apologizing when he wasn’t even there is beyond me, but I figure he thinks it best to be team player in this instance. Not apologizing, naturally, is Ranta, who is claiming it was all an accident.
Shihoru runs off, while Yume just glares. I can get both reactions really, as it was established that Shihoru has a terrible self image, and Yume is… well… Yume. She isn’t buying Ranta’s story, either, since his efforts lead to one of the walls around the bath house being broken. I’m guessing these guys aren’t getting their deposit back.
Yume ends up telling him she won’t get mad if he admits to the truth, after catching him in his lie. Giving it up, Ranta admits it, and get’s slapped. For some reason, he seems surprised by this. Why, I can’t guess. Yume was obviously just tricking him into fessing up. Then again, Ranta isn’t the brightest guy around, so there ya go.
With that settled, at least for now, the party tries to go hunting, but rain ends up making the day a total loss. What’s worse, Ranta’s actions have caused a divide in the group. Shihoru’s already bad self image has gotten worse, Yume is pissed, and the guys are barely talking to each other over the bath house fiasco. Add to that their decreasing funds and inability to fix that, and the whole party is almost at the breaking point.
Haru and Yume go to scout a bit, but with no luck. The smallest number of prey they find is at least two, possibly three, which is more than they can handle. Yume calls them boblins, prompting Haru to correct her, which leads to Yume fumbling around as she tries to talk about what happened.
For all that she sometimes seems like a ditz, Yume is actually pretty bright. She just doesn’t always know how to say what she means. As the two head back to camp, she explains to Haru that while what happened wasn’t okay, it wouldn’t have been so bad if it had really been an accident. That, at least, she could easily forgive. This, though, is different. It hurts the trust they need to have in one another to survive.
Of course, she muddles her way through this, not making herself terribly clear, but Haru seems to get it anyway. She smiles, and things are a little better, at least between the two of them. Shihoru, however, will take a good bit longer, something even Yume admits.
After joining back up, Manato decides to call it quits. Between groups of Goblins too big for them to tackle and the rain, they aren’t getting anywhere but wet and cold. Yume misquotes something, and is again corrected by Haru, who points out that she sometimes remembers things wrong. A possible side effect of whatever erased their memories, or Yume just has a bad memory to begin with, it’s hard to tell which. Yet, the episode makes a point to show us this, so it seems like something we should remember.
We soon learn that things have been worse than we knew as Haru admits in voice over that the party hasn’t earned anything for several days, leading to another problem you never see in fiction. Their clothes are wearing out. Not their combat gear, but their every day clothes, especially what they had when they arrived. Obviously, their combat gear is saved for when they go out hunting, but even so, it can’t hold up forever, and this is the first indicator of a much larger problem they will soon face.
To be blunt, they are on the verge of being naked. Of particular concern is their underwear, which we soon see can only be stitched up for so long.
While this might seem like a small thing, when you are broke as hell and have to chose between having underwear and food, you really begin to notice how much underwear matters. I can’t even imagine what the girls are going through on this front. I somehow doubt a good bra is readily available in the world of Grimgar to begin with, but just something that offers basic support and comfort is going to cost more than they are making.
Haru finishes up washing what’s left of his clothes when Shihoru arrives. He tries to bail for her sake, but out of young male curiosity, he pauses to check and see if her underwear is faring as poorly as well, then realizes what he’s doing, what he almost sees, and realizes an even bigger problem. One that he realizes can’t be ignored when he runs into Yume on the way to wash her own clothes.
Before long, the girls really will have nothing to wear under their own clothes, and what little they have left doesn’t leave much to the imagination on either end. If they were mature, rational adults, they could probably deal with it, but they aren’t. They’re teenagers. Hormone addled teenagers. This is something that is going to make an already tense situation way, way worse before long.
To drive the point home, Haru runs into Ranta, who is heading down to do his own laundry, and after a bit of fumbling, manages to talk him out of it. Having him walk in while the girls are washing their underwear, meaning they aren’t wearing it, will just make their present distrust over the whole peeping thing that much worse. Since party trust is already at all time low, this could fracture the group.
Fortunately, Ranta gives in and they head back upstairs, Haru deciding he should talk to Yume about this. The last thing this bunch needs is to have an already delicate situation made worse by an actual accident. Or Ranta taking advantage of the situation to be a perv.
Now, I’m sure there are those who would say the guys just need to get a grip, and while those people are right, the situation this bunch finds themselves in is in every way bad. While I doubt Ranta would take his pervey behavior to any level above peeping, the possibility exists, and that’s enough to make Yume and Shihoru afraid of the people they need to trust. It also puts Ranta on bad footing with the other guys, making the trust issues escalate. It’s the kind of thing that could get them all killed, is what I’m getting at.
So, Haru deciding to talk to Yume about the situation is the most sensible and mature thing he can do. It doesn’t change the situation, of course, and it doesn’t take away that Ranta is behaving badly, but it is a step towards keeping things from getting out of hand. Sadly, this is the kind of thing that people in their situation actually would have to deal with, and how it is handled is used to continue fleshing out the characters.
It isn’t often you see a show take a cliche like peeping and use it to develop characters in a believable way. My hat is off to you, Grimgar, for knowing how to use a cliche properly.
Later, after the rain finally stops, the party heads to an abandoned city that is long gone to ruin. The Goblins that roam near Ortana, their home base, are often numerous and fairly tough, but in the ruins, which the Goblins have claimed as their own, it’s a lot easier to find stragglers. They run into more single Goblins, but there are rarely groups, making it both easier to hunt, and more dangerous due to the increased numbers.
Haru sneaks around, finding a single Goblin napping in an old building and goes back to tell the rest of the party, leading to a quick and brutal fight that is over much quicker than their last battle with a sole Goblin. It helps that they caught this one sleeping, but that this is the only way they can finish a fight quickly isn’t lost on them either.
One thing we do see is that they have at least worked out some basic hand singles and a battle strategy that utilizes their various strengths and compensates for their weaknesses. This is a big step for this bunch, as it shows they are figuring out how to not only hunt, but do so successfully. Sure enough, they take out the sleeping Goblin, manage to make a profit, and don’t have to exhaust themselves in the process.
Before everyone can get too excited, Manato reminds them that they have to be able to do this a lot. Ranta thinks he’s being a killjoy, and while I can certainly get where he’s coming from, Manato is clearly in the right here. This is only their second kill, so it is way too early to be celebrating. Yet, some celebration is in order, because they managed this one without anyone getting stabbed.
In short order, the ruins became their favored hunting ground, allowing the party to hone their skills. Taking out single Goblins proves easy, and the ruins provided plenty of places for them to hide from large groups, avoiding fights they couldn’t win. Everyone is seen improving, especially Yume with her bow and Shihoru with her magic, hitting targets from a distance, and even while moving. Haru, Ranta, and Moguzo even develop solid enough team work they can take out a Goblin with much more ease.
After their initial kill left them all rattled, they have settled into their new lifestyle, understanding it, and themselves, much better. They soon grow comfortable enough with it to have fun exploring the ruins, sketching out a map, and feeling at ease moving through the places they have been before. There is still trepidation when they enter an unexplored area, of course, but in all, they seem to be finally settling into their new lives, and even making a profit from it.
Enough so that Haru can buy some new underwear, though he appreciates how hard it was to earn, and haggles the shopkeeper down like a pro. Ranta and Moguzo get to stuff their faces with food Moguzo didn’t have to cook, for a change of pace. Yume and Shihoru get to do some actual shopping, though Shihoru is still too nervous to talk to anyone, especially Manato, though Yume picks up on the fact she really wants to. She even seems okay with it.
Back at the house, Manato notices that Haru tended to his dagger, and Haru replies that he has to keep his gear in proper shape or he feels uneasy. Hell, he even says this like a professional adventurer. There’s hope for this bunch after all, it seems.
Part way through their conversation, Ranta and Moguzo return with enough food to feed an army, meaning that for a while at least, they won’t have to worry about being hungry. Ranta also spots a wooden carving of a Goblin and learns that Moguzo made it. It’s good enough he might could even sell it for a bit of extra money, though he claims carving just relaxes him, and that he didn’t think it good enough to sell. Ranta suggests that Yume might like it, and Haru gives him shit for thinking of Yume in a not pervert way, prompting him to get huffy.
Speaking of Yume, we see that she’s gotten to buy a new outfit, and learn that Haru did talk to her about the clothing situation as she tells Shihoru how nice it would be to have clothes for wearing indoors as well, which Shihoru would definitely like.
Yume sees her fiddling with the hairclip Manato got her last week, and encourages her to try and let go of the peeping incident. She knows Shihoru is having a rough time with talking to the guys, due to her own issues, and does her best to be supportive, while moving her towards talking to them again, especially Manato.
Turning back to him, we see him making notes in a book that night before bed as Haru watches. After minute, Haru tries to say something, but fumbles around with it, and finally just says thanks. Manato finds that unexpected, since he feels he is the one who should be grateful that these people are willing to be friends with him.
The show then takes a turn into what I can only call mind reading. Last week, I expressed a worry that Manato might be looking to ditch the group, thinking he could fare better with others. Either they really did project that, or they can read my thoughts from the past, because they directly address this.
Haru is aware that without Manato, they’d all likely be dead. Manato counters by pointing out that without the group, he’d be dead as well. No one can survive on their own in this world, after all. Haru points out he could have made other friends, and asked to join their party, as a favor. Manato responds that the thought never crossed his mind, as he feels he was never the sort of person who liked asking for favors, and didn’t work well in relationships that were based on that.
Haru understands that, as he’s had the same feeling about himself. Manato goes on to explain that he also feels he wasn’t the kind of person that had a lot of friends before, that maybe people didn’t like being around him. Haru doesn’t really buy that, even though he only knows Manato as he is now. Their friend, their leader, and the person they cannot survive without.
Manato is obviously deeply moved by this, and at a loss for words. He urges Haru to get some sleep, as they have an early day tomorrow. After the lights are out, Haru is grateful he can’t see Manato’s face, as he isn’t sure he would know how to handle whatever expression he may have.
Over in the girls room, Shihoru gazes at the hairclip for a bit before putting it away, leaving it near the window to reflect the red moon that Haru tells us he has finally gotten sue to.
People can adapt to any situation, he says, and he is not wrong.
As I said at the top, this episode is really about Manato, as the set up the writers gave us last week leads to a payoff this week when we learn that Manato never had any intention of abandoning the group for greener pastures. More over, it is because he feels they are his family, and the sensation is foreign enough to him he wants to cherish it.
While this does make me breath a sigh of relief, it is that the show is directly addressing how bad off the party would be without him that worries me. It feels almost like a warning, especially when coupled with a brief image from the preview for next week.
Damn it, Grimgar. Don’t do this to me.
Next week: Sky Dancing with Ash
As a side note, anyone else notice there’s a design in the moon? How weird is that?