For a couple weeks there, I did pretty good, getting these recaps up by Tuesday. This week, not so much. Mostly because I’ve had a really shitty week. Still, better late than never, or so I’ve always heard, so here we are, back to the world of Grimgar.
And what a week it is. Let’s dive right in and get to the thoughtful stuff later.
What was implied last week is implicitly stated this week, that when Mary’s party ran across the Kobold known as Death Spots, Michiki held it back so she and Hayashi could escape alive. Having watched two of her friends fall to the creature, while she had no magic to heal them was bad enough, but for a third to die so she might live is what must weigh the most heavily.
There is little doubt Mary doesn’t believe herself worthy of the sacrifice Michiki made, and is at the root of her difficulties. To survive when others you see as more worthy of life have died is a heavy burden to carry. I don’t doubt for a moment that she can’t see that for Michii, it was a sacrifice worth making.
Dude’s long dead, and I love him.
Hayashi explains that after that, Shinohara took them in and they became part of Orion, but Mary left soon after. He believes she couldn’t stand to be near him, as it was he who made the call to leave Michiki behind, and carried her away as she screamed, desperate to save her friend, yet helpless to do it. It is painfully obvious he blames himself more than enough, and despite how close they once were, he leaves Mary be, no more able to face her than she is him.
This is one of the things this show does so incredibly right. The trauma of what they experienced didn’t bring them closer together. It drove them apart, both blaming themselves, believing the other blamed them as well. It doesn’t matter if they do blame each other, it’s that belief they deserve it, the inability to look each other in the eye, that creates a gulf that can’t be bridged.
This is what trauma looks like.
Hayashi explains that Mary drifted around, never staying with any party for long. He can’t help but feel part of her, the best part of her, never came up from that mine. That in many ways, Mary died down there as surely as their party did. In many ways, he isn’t wrong, but there is nothing he can do for her now, too weighted down by his own grief and failure. All he can do is ask Haru’s party to help her, to find some way to bring her back to life.
To bring her back from that dark pit.
With Mary’s story fully told, Shinohara asks that they not forget the pain of losing a friend. He’s known it as surely as they have, and never forgetting that pain, that grief and loss, is what will keep them from getting cocky, arrogant, and making the same mistakes again.
After leaving Orion, the party pauses to think on what they’ve learned. Ranta points out, in his usual crass manner, that just because Mary’s had it rough doesn’t mean anything. They’ve had it rough as well, after all, so it should be their responsibility to use kid gloves with Mary. While he may have a point, in many respects, it is Shihoru who lays it all out there.
Yes, shy Shihoru speaks up and puts all the cards on the table. Just like Mary, they’ve had it rough, and lost someone they cared for. They understand her pain, for they have shared it. What other reason could there be to be kind? They are the same, after all.
While she doesn’t get her point across quite that clear, Haru gets it well enough. Someone has to make the first step. If no one does, then nothing will change. Since they are already a party with a history, it should be them who makes that step. If they never treat her as a friend, try to get to know her, then she will never do it either, because she’s the outsider.
Ranta blows this off, though, pointing out that none of them have ever tried to know him better. This sets Haru back a step, sine he’d never seen it that way. The fact is, however, that everyone does more or less blow him off and ignore him, even when he has a valid point. Much of that comes from his crass behavior, as Yume points out. She’s not wrong, either. His attitude makes it hard for them to take him seriously. Yet, as Haru just said, if no one makes that first step, nothing will ever change, and Ranta isn’t the kind of person who knows how to make that step, leaving it to the others.
Haru realizes this, and makes that first effort, apologizing for not paying attention to Ranta’s thoughts and feelings, because, as he says, he does see Ranta as a friend. This throws Ranta off badly, and after a bit of bluster, he goes to leave, saying he needs to think about how to face Mary tomorrow. This gets a general bit of joking, since Ranta said he had to think. Having had someone make the effort, however, Ranta decides to do the same, and apologizes to Shihoru.
Yume gives him a bit of shit, but he takes it well enough, and heads out. His statement of needing to think about how to face Mary makes Haru realize he needs to do the same, since they now know something about her that she isn’t aware they know. It changes things, and how they behave around her will change as a result.
The next day as they hunting in the abandoned city, and in the rain as well, Haru and Yume go scouting for targets and happen to spot a Goblin carrying the dagger Haru dropped when Manato died. Haru gets angry and starts to go after it, but Yume stops him, and after a moment, he realizes the mistake he almost made. Thanking her, the two head back to camp to rejoin the others.
They decide to call it a day because of the rain, but before heading home, Haru decides to talk to Mary. She thinks he wants to kick her out of the party, but Haru has decided it’s time to be up front with her, and tell her everything about how Manato died. The similarities between how she was in her former party, and how Manato was in theirs wasn’t lost on Haru it seems, and he just lays it all out there, how they relied on him too much, and how that ultimately led to his death.
But it wasn’t just that, something Haru now knows. It was that none of them ever realized how much Manato was doing. They took him for granted, and when he died, they all felt it was the end for them. They had grown so accustomed to Manato dealing with things, they didn’t know how to carry on without him. All of them were the leftovers that no one else wanted, and it was Manato that made them a party, so in his memory, for him, they carried on, inviting a new Priest into the party just so they could keep surviving.
Yet, the truth is now plain for Haru to see. They are more than a party of people no one wanted. They are what Manato really made them. Friends. Precious and dear to each other. That was his true legacy. Now that Mary is here, Haru wants her to know, she is also a friend, not just a party member. One by one, the others echo his sentiment, calling her a friend, including Ranta.
Mary is obviously affected by this, but says nothing.
What could she say to that right now?
After they get back to town, Haru again invites her to join them for dinner, but instead of saying no, Mary says not yet. They have made the first step, and she sees that. She wants to make that step as well, but it’s still a frightening thing, the idea of opening yourself up to the kind of hurt she experienced. Maybe soon, she will, but not today. As she departs, she thanks them, and tells them she will see them tomorrow.
Haru recognizes this for what it is. Not a step, but an inch forward, and for Mary, a giant leap.
Then it’s time for a montage!
Moguzo gets the helmet he needs, and at a steep discount thanks to Ranta’s haggling skills. With him now properly protected, and Mary properly welcomed to their group, they redouble their efforts in the abandoned city, fighting day in and day out, taking out Goblin after Goblin, to the point they become known all over Ortana as The Goblin Slayers.
More importantly, they soon find the Goblin party that cost Manato his life. They aren’t ready to take them on, not just yet, but feel they will be soon, and keep fighting, getting better, improving their gear, and their skills. All with the goal of facing that bunch, and making them pay for what they did.
Improve they do, as well. They remain as Trainee Volunteer Soldiers, forgoing their official badges in favor of the gear and skills they need, becoming stronger over the countless days that pass. Shihoru expands her spellcasting abilities, Yume develops into a fine sniper with her bow, and Haru soon finds he can see a light that guides his blade to just the right spot to deliver a swift killing blow.
Nor is just them that improves. Ranta and Moguzo do as well, both in terms of their skills and their gear. They take the name of Goblin Slayers and carry the insult with pride. They were the leftovers, the people no one wanted, but together, they will become a force to be reckoned with, and make the Goblins that took Manato from them pay.
They improve in other ways as well, though, for soon, Mary does begin to join them at dinner. While she is still distant, the rest of them treat her as a friend, joking with her, sharing with her, and making her one of them. The big thing is in how she stops resisting it, and despite her distance, welcomes it by allowing it, and being a part of their family.
Perhaps most importantly of all, she begins joining them in battle, no longer hanging back and just healing alone.
With all they have improved, in gear, skills and teamwork, they all agree the time has come to take out the Goblin party. Of them all, only Mary looks concerned, and it’s easy to imagine why. This isn’t something small they are doing. They are taking on some tough enemies, and it could always go badly.
The night before they are to hunt them down, Haru sits up, imagining talking with Manato, hoping that somewhere, he can see what their party has become.
One of the big things I want to touch on here is the scene with the party after they leave Orion. Specifically, that Ranta calls the entire group out on treating him like an outsider as a much as they do Mary. While this isn’t entirely true, he does have a point that they don’t really listen to him, even when he was good ideas, and that makes him feel like he’s not really part of the group.
More importantly, it is as close as he’s ever come to admitting he is afraid, and lonely. He goes about it in typical Ranta fashion, of course, but it’s that he made the step to say it that matters here. His bluster is just that, bluster, and he knows it. Underneath it all, he’s scared and lonely, and wants to be treated as a friend. He just doesn’t know how to climb that wall and drop the macho bullshit to do it, so in his own way, he asks for help.
That isn’t to say Yume wasn’t right to point out that he makes it hard when says hurtful things to the others. she was completely right to say that, and it was something that had to be said. As much as Ranta uses his bluster to make himself feel less afraid, it also pushes him apart from the others, and makes it hard for them be close to him.
The thing that really matters here, though, is that they are saying these things. They are being open with each other, and expressing themselves honestly. This is the big step towards growth, and they are making it, even if it is in small ways.
The thing about it all that really impresses me is how naturally it all comes out of their desire to learn Mary’s history. Knowing what they know, they see now that they all need to try and bridge the gap with her, leading to them discussing the gaps that exist between themselves as well, and making the first inroads to dealing with that as well. It’s just really good writing, and handled so easily it’s pretty impressive.
The other thing is their growth, shown over the little montage. It isn’t dwelt on heavily, but we are informed of it by way of their improved gear, new skills, and even at the end, with Haru wearing some decent threads. Even the catcall of the tavern, calling them Goblin Slayers, shows that they are getting noticed for the abilities, and that they are getting better. All of it is done so naturally, with such ease, that it never feels forced of rushed, but as part of how things should be.
Every week, Grimgar impresses me with how well thought out the plot is, how well written it is, and how well defined the characters are, giving all the growth an almost casual feel to it. I detest the term “organic”, but it really does apply here. Everything is the natural, organic progression of what came before, and weaves together so effortlessly, it’s amazing.
The folks doing the writing for this are really good.
I’ve seen a few people call the show out for the fan servicey nature of the camera angels, and I can’t disagree. We do get a lot of shots of Yume’s ass. While she’s got a nice ass, sure, we don’t need to be reminded of it weekly. Still, the animators do their best to try and keep even this as natural as possible and not put her, Shihoru, or Mary in absurdly contorted positions, so while the fan servicey nature of the camera angels is a bit distracting, I’ve seen a whole lot worse, and get the feeling that the animators really are trying to keep it to a minimum.
I am aware that fan service is considered almost a must in the anime industry in order to sell dvd’s of shows, thus insuring they pay for themselves, especially with projects like this that aren’t as well known. Which is to say I know the studio will want one thing, even if the director and animators feel it detracts from the story, so the fact that they are trying their best to keep is as minimal as possible says something about how the people behind the scenes feel about this project.
It can stand on it’s own, without tricks or gimmicks. I have to say, I agree with them completely. This is a strong story, and it doesn’t need any help.
We’ll find out if the same holds for our heroes when they go to face the Goblin party, which I suspect will be next week, in “In My Memories With You.”