Now, I was watching this show at the same time I was seeing “Kono Subarashii”, which made for a stark contrast, as everything “Kono” is, “Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash” (“Hai to Gensō no Gurimugaru”) isn’t, so things are played out far differently.
The story follows a group of people who suddenly find themselves in a fantasy world with no memories from before their arrival, and chronicles their struggles to survive and make a life for themselves. The fact that there are loads and loads of other people populating this world leaves the biggest question unanswered; that is “How did they get here?” We’ll worry about that later. Since these six came over at the same time, they are their own party. And who got invited to this party? Clockwise from 1 pm:
Haruhiro. The main viewpoint character and Thief of the group.
Shihoru. The Mage for them, she is shy, only opening up to Yume.
Yume. Brave and energetic, she is the Hunter.
Manato. He chose to become a Priest and ultimately assumed the role of the group’s leader.
Moguzo. As the tallest and heaviest member, he became a member of the Warrior guild.
Ranta. The Dark Knight of the group. He is brash, impulsive, and somewhat perverted.
This is the new world that they inhabit and there is a real consequence to things, in that you can be killed, whether by sword or starvation. They have to work together to find a way to survive, and this brings up the most worrisome aspect of the show: killing.
Admittedly, goblins and kobolds are not the most pleasant of folks, but, initially, they are merely an annoyance, as they are trying to live their own lives. Then, a bunch of people descend on you and kill you off for no other reason than that we don’t like goblins and kobolds. Now, it would have been different if there had been some kind of goblin uprising and they, in a sense, ‘threw the first punch’. That gives ample reason to start kacking them. But since everyone else is offing the brutish oafs, you might as well join in on the action. We do see the hesitancy in their activities: it is one thing to wipe out people in a video game, it is something else to kill someone, with your own hands, face to face, getting splattered with their blood as they put up a tremendous fight in the meantime.
And since there is no manual as to how this world operates, it is the worst kind of ‘on the job’ training there is. There is a major game-changing incident in Episode Four which drives home the new reality that they reside in. This is a grim, unrelenting world that we now live in and you had best grow a thick skin lest you lose yours. It is nice to see a bit of a change-up in these shows.
Many of them have the characters sail along (more or less) with few interruptions; this one requires you be on your best at all times. The ending means a second season and you want to come back for this. You want to see how they go from existing to surviving to getting ahead. The road will be bumpy and much will be asked of you, but you will come out better at the other end. And speaking of ‘coming out’, how do they get back to their original home? We’ll have to wait.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 8 (Marvelous, especially the backgrounds and splash panels)
Plot 8 (Good adaptation of the idea)
Pacing 7 (Gets sluggish in parts)
Effectiveness 8 (Strong concept and execution)
Conclusion 7 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 2 (A similar show would be “Okamisan”)
Overall 8 (Certainly pulls you in)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. It’s what he would have wanted.