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Anime Essentials: Grimgar – Ashes and Illusions Review

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After waking up in a strange new world surrounded by people who can’t remember who they are or where they came from, Haruhiro finds himself drafted into the service of the Volunteer Soldiers. Together with a ragtag party he must set out to make a name for himself in a world where magic and monsters are a part of everyday life.

Anime Essentials

Grimgar was re-released in the Funimation Anime Essentials line. Along with the classics line, these are equivalent of Funimation’s previous S.A.V.E. line of products. The tag line is Collect More, Spend Less. With the essentials line of anime, you can pickup these titles at a reduced price on Blu-ray and Digital. So if you didn’t pick it up before, you should now. You can pickup the complete series of Grimgar over at Funimation.com.

Review

The series changed names, or at least varied by translation from Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash to Grimgar Ashes and Illusions. Honestly both work. The studio behind Sword Art Online brings us into this fantasy world with a group of young teens who wake up in a new world with no idea how they got there. In fact none of them know each other either, at least none of them can remember who they are.

The setup for the story is rather simple for a fantasy series but Grimgar sets you up almost as though you are in a game. Now you hear that and then read the studio who did Sword Art Online made this and think “Its another VR series”. Sure you have a team that consists of a healer, a leader, the brute force guy, the dark wizard and the sniper. But the SAO comment couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, even at the end we never really understand how they got to this world or why. Was it a parallel dimension? Is it a game or an illusion? The enjoyment of this series is in the survival and struggle of a group of young teens who were thrown into this world unprepared and untrained.

The vague answers on the how or why can be annoying but by the time you get a few episodes in you forget about that. You get vested in the characters and their struggle to survive. You even get vested in the Goblins they are trying to kill. Famously during Funimation’s Dubbletalk series one such Goblin was given a name and shall live in infamy: Bob Goblin. You will have to watch to find out why but check out this Dubbletalk recap of the episode with Bob.

The animation quality alone makes this series a worth while watch. The emotional toll that the characters face in this world is also well thought out and executed on screen. Like most anime they manage to slide in some fan service and funny moments to cut the tension. The series is based on a series of light novels.

Robert Prentice