This week on Grimgar, it’s all about getting to know Mary better, and the efforts of the party to come to terms with the changes they are going through.
Pretty much everything I really want to say about this episode is going to be relegated to my afterthoughts, as it’s all based in understanding Mary, so lets go ahead and dive in.
Before anything, we need to deal with the aftermath of Haru and Yume’s bonding moment, and Shihoru’s misunderstanding of it. Which is to say Ranta has a freak out over discovering that two of his friends may be involved. Mostly, the fact that he didn’t know anything about it.
There’s this undercurrent to the whole thing that kind of surprised me, as Ranta seems more interested in finding out the hows and whys of when they fell for each other, making him seem a bit like a romantic. Of course, it’s Ranta, so mostly he just makes an ass of himself. Yume doesn’t help when she tries to explain and makes it sound like it was more a post coital embrace than anything.
We get some slightly different opening credits, with everyone in black spandex or something. It’s weird, and I’m not sure if it means anything or not, but there it is. Ranta is kinda buff, though, isn’t he? Weird.
Over breakfast, Ranta has figured out what really happened, and seems kind of disappointed. The conversation quickly changes to Mary, with Haru playing party leader by pointing out that they can’t ever expect her to be part of the team if they always treat her like an outsider. Ranta, naturally, assumes that treating her better may lead to her fawning on him, which Moguzo shoots down. In an even more odd turn, Ranta seems thrilled that Moguzo had a comeback.
Ranta is just plain weird.
The party heads out for the day, meeting up with Mary, and actually getting a good morning from her to everyone’s surprise. This leads to Yume and Shihoru trying to engage her in conversation to ill effect. Mary isn’t interested in sharing her thoughts and feelings.
Later, after a brief battle during which Moguzo got a mild head injury, Mary tends to it with considerably more tenderness than we’ve seen her show before. Ranta naturally wants her to tend to his injury as well, only for her to tell him it wasn’t worth her expending magic on. He gets snippy, before noticing that she’s right, and tries to recover, but this just irritates her more.
Honestly, it’s refreshing to see Ranta constantly on the defensive. He’s usually the most antagonistic of the group, so watching him try to deal with being second banana on that front is fun.
After the fight, while the party rests, Haru tries to get Mary to open up a bit by talking to her about how there are different kinds of Priests. He brings up Manato, and his heal everything immediately approach, but this just causes Mary to be even colder.
In a lot of ways, I can get her attitude here, even before I knew her backstory. Nobody likes to be compared to a person that is almost a saint in the eyes of everyone around them, and even though he didn’t mean it to come out that way, that’s how Haru was presenting it.
From his perspective, he’s just trying to engage her in a conversation about her role as Priest, and how she sees things. From her’s, he’s basically comparing her to Manato, and five minutes with this bunch will tell you, they all but worship the memory of him. Not that I don’t get that. He was more than their Priest. he was their leader, parent, and hero.
Mary isn’t Manato, though, and I can well imagine she doesn’t like being reminded of that constantly.
This ends up going about as well as you’d expect, with her more or less telling him to drop it. Haru is left trying to figure out how to make her part of their party, and by extension, part of their family, without the first clue how to go about it. For her part, she isn’t making it easy, but we’ll learn why soon enough.
That evening, the party heads to the tavern, taking Yume and Shihoru for the first time. Their reaction kind of says it all.
It is good that the guys are trying to bridge the gap that grew up between them and the girls after Manato’s death. I’m just not sure taking them to a seedy tavern is the best way to go about it. Regardless, they settle in, and soon after, Mary arrives. They stare at each other for a minute, until Mary heads over to sit alone.
Ranta, of course, thinks she’s being stuck up, but Shihoru nails it when she points out that it wasn’t like they were overly friendly, either. They didn’t wave, say hi, or call her over. One could say that Mary was preparing herself for that, and when it happened, didn’t let it show that it bothered her. Ranta thinks that’s crap, and Yume handles him in the way everyone should.
This leads to another of Ranta and Yume’s somewhat famous arguments, as they just yell insults at each other. At least, until Moguzo notices someone is talking to Mary. That someone is Shinohara, from a group called Orion, both of which are pretty famous. I’m not sure why, but based on the context, it seems as if Orion is a large group of multiple parties that have joined forces in what would usually be considered a guild. Different from the class based guilds of the world of Grimgar, but a guild all the same. Or a clan, as they are called here.
Anyway, they try to figure out why someone like him would be talking to someone like her, but these guys are all pretty clueless, so can’t figure it out.
Later still, after everyone has gone to bed, Haru is sitting outside trying to come to terms with the fact that Manato more or less left him in charge. Haru doesn’t want to be party leader, and thinks he is a terrible choice, leading to him having a conversation with an imaginary Manato, who simply asks that Haru show him the future of the party they both love. This, in effect, is how Haru is coping with it all, by trying to uphold the memory of Manato, and make him proud.
Really, there isn’t much other way for him to deal with it.
The next day, as they fight some Goblins, Haru starts really paying attention to things, and notices a lot of issues he didn’t before. Specifically, Moguzo doesn’t have a helmet, and after getting dinged in the head the day before, that lack of decent head protection is causing him to hold back in his fighting style.
He decides that Moguzo should buy at least a basic helmet, and that he’ll help pay for it. This leads to the rest of the party wanting to chip in as well, since Moguzo is their tank, and him having proper gear is good for the party as a whole. Moguzo is touched, and Mary looks somewhat impressed with Haru for thinking of this, and being proactive in dealing with it.
The party gets ambushed by a small group of Goblins while they are talking and passing through a narrow space. As soon as the attack begins, Mary moves to shield Shihoru, in a rather surprising act.
Even more surprising is how quickly Mary jumps into the fight. Despite Ranta telling her not to just stand there, we see that she isn’t, and actively covers Ranta’s exposed backside.
What makes this surprising is that Mary insisted her staff was just for show before, and that she wouldn’t engage in actual combat. Yet here, we see that not only will she, she can with considerable skill. It’s a contradiction that leaves a lot of questions as to why she refused previously. Questions that will soon be answered.
After the fight, Haru thanks her, and when she asks for what, he just smiles and walks away, leaving her off balance for a change.
That evening, when they return to town and are parting ways, Haru asks her if she’s like to join them for a meal, and Mary refuses, though it seems it is only reluctantly. After she heads off, Haru asks the party to come with him to Orion. He wants to ask Shinohara about Mary.
At Orion’s headquarters, Shinohara is a very welcoming host, but defers any questions about Mary to another member of the clan, Hayashi, who use to be in the same party as Mary. With obvious reluctance, Hayahi joins them, and relates the story of why Mary is standoffish.
Some time ago, Hayashi and Mary became Trainee Volunteer Soldiers at the same time, and were part of a party with three other people, Michiki, Mutsumi, and Ogu. Together, they had a pretty easy run of things, and advanced quickly, gaining their official badges with little effort. During that time, Mary was more or less the heart of their group, always smiling and cheerful, but carrying more than she should. More than any of them realized.
It seems Mary was like Manato back then, always tending to every little cut and bruise instantly, fighting on the front lines, and being the moral of the party. It was too much for one person to carry, but none of them realized she was under such a heavy burden. Not until it was too late, much like with Manato.
Because of how easy they’d had it, and Mary doing the work of three people, the party was not prepared for what happened when, during a dive into some dangerous, Kobold infested mines, they encountered a particular Kobold with a deadly reputation. A massive black spotted creature, it had taken the lives of many Volunteer Soldiers, and when the party encountered it, Hayashi was knocked unconscious almost immediately. When he woke, it was to see Michiki just trying to hold the monster back. Ogu and and Mustsumi were already dead, and Michiki wasn’t going to survive much longer.
Then, there was Mary, who was simply sitting, holding one of her dead friends. Hayashi screamed at her to heal Michiki, but there was nothing she could do. She had expended all of her magic tending to their cuts and bruises. She had nothing left. It had run out, leaving her to watch, helpless, as two of her friends died before her eyes, with a third joining them so she and Hayashi could escape with their lives.
Mary never smiled again.
With that, the episode ends.
First thing I want to touch on here is how heavily this changes everything regarding Mary’s actions and attitudes towards the party. Her refusal to fight on the front lines, despite her capabilities, and not wanting to heal every little cut they get. Simply knowing what happened makes it all so clear.
Never again. For her, it is as simple as that. Never again will she fail to have the magic she needs to save the lives of the people around her, when they need it most. Next time, she will be ready, and she will not fail.
More than that, though, is her refusal to allow herself to be close to others. The grief and pain she must have felt at watching three people she loved, that were part of her family, die while was helpless, as a healer, to save them is impossible to understand. To really grasp it, one would have had to live through it, and that is something no one should have to experience. Rather than allow herself to feel close to others again, she keeps herself at a distance, to protect herself from ever feeling that kind of pain a second time.
It’s understandable, really, as is her unwillingness to cut Ranta slack. Like her friends who fell, he thinks himself stronger than he really is, or at least, acts like it. He’s cocky, just as they were, and it led to their deaths. Watching him with his macho attitude must be like a knife in the heart, knowing he will go down the same road as they did. In her own way, she is trying to protect him by knocking him down every chance she gets.
In a lot of ways, she’s right to do it.
I’ve said before that much of Ranta’s attitude is a front he puts up. His macho attitude is a shield, a mask he wears to hide how scared he is. It’s a clumsy attempt to make the people around him feel safe. Yet, to Mary, it is arrogance, the kind that will get not just him, but the people around him killed. She isn’t wrong.
The thing about it that really strikes me the hardest, though, is that deep down, Ranta knows it, too. That’s part of why he tries to reign it in around her. He doesn’t know how else to act, though, just as Haru doesn’t know how to properly lead. It’s a learning experience, and Mary may well be just what Ranta needs to get past his own insecurities and fears.
Just as he may be what she needs to move beyond her grief. Of them all, only Ranta actually manages to get her to drop her cold indifference, even for a second. Between the two, they may just be able to push each other into dealing with their fears and grief, and becoming better people.
The real question now, though, falls to Haru. How does he help her become part of a family again? For that, we’ll have to wait until next week, episode seven, “They Were Called Goblin Slayers”