Hai to Gensou no Grimgar – 02

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HGG makes another strong case for continued viewing, in an episode that chronicles the trainees’ first kill, what they went through to get it, and what it does to them. Yet we’re not thrown into the heat of an ultimately futile battle like last week. Instead, we get an wonderful scene of Haruhiro and Manato having some tea in the middle of the night, just shooting the breeze.

In the morning, their task would seem easy: for the six of them to take out a single, isolated goblin unaware of their presence. They got the tip about the location thanks to Manato frequenting a tavern (and drinking to make friends and gather intel). What we quickly learn, however, is that even with superior numbers, it isn’t easy to kill the goblin…because as much as they all look the part, nobody has ever killed anything before.

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The goblin isn’t some gamehen or rat, it’s a humanoid biped with clothes, weapons, and formidable combat and survival skills. The long range girls miss their marks while the short-range guys don’t cut deep enough when they get the chance. They only do real damage to the goblin when he stabs Haru in the shoulder and pins him down.

Just when the gang thinks they’ve got the goblin beat, he gets back up and doesn’t stop fighting, despite his injuries. Finally Ranta has to go a little nuts and continually stab the shit out of the goblin until it stopped moving. It’s a gorey, nasty business that has everyone shaking, crying, even fainting, in Shihoru’s case.

This is the gritty realism HGG brings that sets it apart from similar recent fantasy rpg-style anime. There are no gimmies, no lightweight foes, and no victory fanfare. There’s only physical and emotional trauma, along with a wolf fang and a silver coin, enough to keep everyone fed a little while longer.

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Not only that, HGG deals fully with the consequences of the ordeal the trainees had to endure, along with the weight of the knowledge that while it may get easier, this is how it’s always going to be, and it will change them.

After the battle everyone breaks off and simply relaxes in town. There’s no dialogue for the better part of five minutes, only a soothingly bittersweet insert serenade about how it’s going to be alright. As Haru walks about on his own, he sees both joy and despair, and it makes him go check on a brooding Ranta.

Yume has fun shopping with Shihoru, but later she catches Shihoru and Manato looking like the perfect couple, and her face is a mixture of sadness and acceptance. Finally, once Moguzo finishes repairing and cleaning his gear, he whittles an airplane—something from his past life that doesn’t exist in this world—out of wood. That gave me goosebumps.

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The gorgeous, painterly fantasy setting and the bustling town are beautiful and engrossing because they’re basically the same kind of things we can see everyday in our own world, which makes them resonate more. And the day of wandering around, observing others, and pretty much doing and thinking about anything other than slaughtering other living things, has a healing effect on the group.

We return to the straw beds of the guys in the last scene, as it turns out no one is really sleeping. Haruhiro has so many questions for Manato, but nothing comes out, and once Ranta announces he’s going to crash the girl’s bath session (an action that gets him tossed and yelled at by a furious Yume) Haru realizes he doesn’t really need answers from Manato just now, even if he actually had any.

He doesn’t know what will happen tomorrow—it could be better or worse than today—but he and his five companions will learn and draw strength from one another, and face it together. That’s sufficient comfort for him to look forward to tomorrow.

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Author: magicalchurlsukui

Preston Yamazuka is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

4 thoughts on “Hai to Gensou no Grimgar – 02”

  1. Great episode. The battle was done very well. It was dark and messy and you could feel how traumatizing it would be. Here, HP isn’t a number, it’s a blade stuck in your shoulder. And killing an enemy doesn’t explode into sparks, you take his thinks and if you need a body part you cut it off yourself. That’s messed up.

    The day of rest scenario was amazing as well. They continue to just build everything quietly. I didn’t even catch the airplane till you pointed it out, but that is very weird. I like the little nods towards potential romance, hopefully Haruhiro gets in on the game (maybe with the hunter girl?). What can I say? I like romance and I’m always disappointed if the lead isn’t in on the game.

    The show is just gorgeous and very soothing, but not in a way that treats the viewers like children and/or gamers. It’s not going to set the world on fire, but it’s not trying to.

    1. the airplane, the feeling the red moon wasn’t from their home, the thought that drinking at a pub was something he used to do, it all flowed pretty well without hammering the ‘there’s a great big mystery we need to solve’ into the audience

  2. One part Ronja, one part SAO, HGG’s deliberate pace, charm, pretty visuals and moments of grizzly medieval combat brutality combine for a unique experience. My only questions are:

    1. will that slow pace prevent the show from addressing a greater mystery or purpose (like Dungeon God Dating rpg* did a few seasons back) and if so, will it feel inconsequential in the grand scheme of things?

    or

    2. will the mystery’s reveal feel abrupt or forced (like clutzy clone-princess sniper magic corpse collection* did last year) and make the journey feel wasted

    I am hopeful here. Despite the feeling that not much has happened in the first two eps, we’ve seen tons of details about the characters, the wold, and the challenges they face. Relationships are forming, character traits are (sometimes) quietly shown, and the characters’ nagging sense that the world isn’t right — isn’t theres — is always at the edge.

    But it’s a lot to tackle in a single season. So we’ll have to wait and see. I just hope half the cast gets killed in a morbid twist as soon as things are looking safe and settled.

    *I have a terrible memory for show names

  3. I was quite critical of Hai To Gensou’s first episode but I thought this episode was much much better. Until it hits baka Ranta’s hi-jinx of peeping on the girls that is. That scene felt both unnecessary and heavy handed and not at all funny. Like I said last week, the sooner they kill him off….

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