04 Nov 2019
From the mighty pen of Ryo Mizuno, (Record of Lodoss War), comes a new Record, that of the Grancrest War. It's more high fantasy drama, this time surrounding a young Knight named Theo Cornaro who seeks to improve life for all by gathering the Grancrest's (power symbols) of corrupt lords who have fallen into envious disarray. Inspired by Theo's genuine determination to help others, the young mage Siluca Meletes decides to join him on his quest.
Directed by anime veteran Mamoru Hatakeyama (Rozen Maiden, Sankarea) the show is sharp with a solid eye for dramatic angles and fight sequences.
The series moves quickly, with battles occurring almost straight away. They really ramp up with the introduction of magical powers courtesy of the Werewolf Clan and the Vampire faction in episode 5 - Yana the Black Witch is a powerful (and typically very sexy) villainess who promises to be a thorn in the side of our heroes for the remainder of the series. She might be a stereotypical baddy, but she's a good one!
Death plays a large role in the show, and plenty of characters die even in these early episodes - true, we get a few miracle saves for the popular characters, but significant losses start to occur from episode 4, giving the series an element of urgency and danger lacking in other fantasy shows (especially of the Isekei genre).
Protagonists Theo and Siluca do attract allies at a pretty rushed rate, which isn't surprising considering the density of the source material it's trying to compact into 24 episodes. It is a rich world though, and while the original may trump the adaptation (which is pretty common) the show has much to commend it.
Battles are intense, with genuine tactics on display that could conceivably work. The politics involved also make sense, which is vital for a show that places political drama on an equal footing to bloody violence. I was surprised at how visceral the series becomes, though it's a long way from Goblin Slayer or Berserk when it comes to shocking fantasy dismemberment.
The series does hit one particular note that I always appreciate, and that's moving relationships forward without dragging them out needlessly. With a few coy interactions to sow the seeds, our two leads are confessing their feelings before the halfway mark, which creates all the more tension when they're fighting together. It's also particularly well done, with the dub correctly placing tender emphasis on "I am so in love with you" to sell it, and the subtitles more detailed and playful overall (yes, I watched both versions in the confession scene- I'm an old romantic!) Whatever your viewing preference, you're well served with Grancrest.
This is a solid fantasy series to the halfway mark, with dastardly villains, a noble youth with lofty ambitions and a lot of skirmishes between the two. Fans of the genre should find much to like, the occasional slow moment aside.