Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions (Season One)

A group of rookie adventurers stranded in an unfamiliar world band together and try to carve out an existence for themselves, but survival is far from guaranteed.

What did you watch?

Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions is a series I’ve had my eye on for a while now although I had no idea what it was about. Sometimes I see an image and instantly know that it’s something I’m going to enjoy. Sometimes, I’m wrong, but this was not one of those times. This is also the letter G in my A to Z Anime Challenge.

What’s it about?

The series opens with a group of adventurers attempting to defeat a goblin and they’re not doing very well. In the end, the have to retreat. Soon, we learn that a short while back the adventurers woke up in a dark tower with no memory of where they came from or where they were. They are informed that if they want to survive in this new world they must join the Trainee Volunteer Soldiers.

The stronger members of the group form a party and quickly rise up the ranks, the ones left behind are the group we’re following. They live together in the barracks and go on quests to earn money and improve their skills. Money is tight and the skills are not forthcoming.

What did you think?

So this is an isekai, although it’s never really confirmed and only vague hints at their past lives emerge from time to time. I loved that we followed a group that was not doing well. We had to see them scrimp and save, trying to make their money stretch as far as possible.

They are not the most athletic or successful, but that also makes them endearing. In truth, it’s the characters and their potential growth that really grabs you. That and the absolutely stunning animation and cinematography. This really is a fantastic series and something that I will rewatch again soon.

What was your favourite moment?

This is a massive spoiler, so read on at your own peril. Haruhiro is the thief in the party and a couple of times he had managed to activate a skill that guides him in battle. When he follows it’s directions, victory is guaranteed. Towards the end, they are fighting their way out of the mines, pursued by a very powerful kobold.

They’ve almost escaped when Death Spots, the kobold ambushes them. Without thinking, Haruhiro races towards him and pulls him over a ledge, allowing his party to escape. He climbs to his feet and stares up at the hulking form of Death Spots. Then, when his doom is almost certain the skill activates. It seems so simple, but it was incredible and thoroughly entertaining. I don’t think I breathed for the whole scene. That’s how you foreshadow and deliver. Great storytelling.

What was your least favourite moment?

There was one moment that was needed to progress the story, however, I don’t think it was handled in a natural way for the characters. With the goblins getting more dangerous, Haruhiro suggests that they go to the mines and hunt kobolds instead.

Mary who recently joined the party had been in another party that had died in the mines. She was one of the only survivors and couldn’t handle the idea. It was the right idea from Haruhiro, but I think he handled it in a way that was most unlike him.

Who was your favourite character?

I liked all of the characters but there were two that really stood out and no the thief training instructor wasn’t one of them. I am of course talking about Haruhiro and Yume. I thought the scene where the two of them finally talked about Manato’s death was incredible and really well handled. If I’m honest, I thought they would have ended up together.

Who was your least favourite character?

For the longest time, this was an easy answer and that was Ranta, however, towards the end of the season he really stepped up and proved himself. He’s probably still my least favourite, but I do like him, just not as much as the others.

Who needs more screen time?

I’d love to give them all more screen time. This series was outstanding and has quickly become one of my all time favourites, so I’d like another season or two. I know that I’ve really enjoyed something when I start thinking up ideas for my own story in that genre. If I really enjoyed it, the ideas don’t going away.

Is it similar to any other anime you’ve seen?

It’s an isekai so there are some similarities, however, rather than having an overpowered hero like in Overlord or How Not to Summon a Demon Lord we have the absolute opposite and it really worked. They also barely acknowledge that is an isekai, which was a nice touch. It could just be a fantasy story.

Would you like another season?

Yes, yes, yes. A million times yes. I’ve been lucky enough to watch some fantastic series lately, but this one could be the best of the bunch. I can’t heap enough praise on this, but I will try. There is an episode where the group take a day off from adventuring and just do whatever. I thought that it was going to be boring, but even when they did nothing, it was compelling and interesting. If you haven’t seen it, you absolutely must.

Other reviews in the series

Animercise

The numbers are starting to add up fast now and it’s only going to keep going as several more of the seasonal shows come to an end. Sadly, there were only twelve episodes in Grimgar.

Episode Count: 12 (256)

Push-ups – 120 (1,970)

Sit-ups – 120 (1,980)

Squats – 120 (1,970)

10 Comments

  1. Definitely the most realistic and gritty take on isekai out there. To be able to watch the characters as they grow and become stronger, taking on more and more powerful enemies (with that same dangerous feel) would be a great experience. Not sure what the deal is on production side but a sequel would be awesome.

    • Lynn Sheridan

      Yeah, a second season would be great. Be nice to see them grow stronger and like you say still maintain the danger and sense of peril.

  2. I’m with you, a million times yes to a second season. I’ve settled on reading the novels and the story has been brilliantly continued after the point where the anime left us. I would love to see it animated though I’ve more or less given up on a season two at this point.

    • Lynn Sheridan

      And now I need to find the novels… I’ve not given up on Highschool of the Dead and I’ve only just started to hope for a second season of Grimgar. Basically, I’ve got a long way to go before I’m ready to admit defeat.

    • The novels are a gray read. If you want paperback check the book depository.

    • Lynn Sheridan

      Thanks. I checked out my library last night and they didn’t have any. Found them on Amazon which was fairly expensive. I’ll save that as a last resort.

    • It was pricey even with the discount I had. I still found it worth it but it is more expensive than a standard light novel.

    • Lynn Sheridan

      Cool. I will search around and see what I can do. Amazon has digital versions for less but I think I’d rather have the paperback.

  3. […] say there are some similarities to Goblin Slayer! or Grimgar, maybe even a little bit of Sword Art Online. Bell operates as a lone adventurer for a while […]

  4. […] and should have that finished any day now. As a part of my A to Z Anime Challenge, I watched Grimgar: Ashes and Illusions and Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens and enjoyed the […]

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