Hai to Gensou no Grimgar – 09

hai91

This week wasn’t under any illusions about what it was: a day off, slowing the life of Haruhiro and his party to a crawl as they all take to the day in different ways. Ranta is off early to fish; Moguzo makes breakfast like he always does, and plans to see to his armor and sword maintenance; Shihoru feeds the birds (like Manato used to do); Yume sleeps in.

Haru is a little restless. After all that fighting and action and the routine they had established, he’s not sure what to do with this sudden glut of free time. So he visits Mary, who he finds resplendent on the balcony of the women’s lodgings, where men are okay to be.

hai92

Mary recommends if the party members move out of the ratty default volunteer lodgings, the girls should come live with her. It’s hard to argue; it’s a sweet place. But she still thinks fondly of the old lodgings as the place where she started out with her previous party.

While waiting for a bite in the river, Ranta spots a figure on the cliff face: Yume is mountain climbing. Is this a skill she picked up as part of her hunting job, or is this a relfection of a hobby she had in her previous life? Regardless, Ranta looks spellbound, and along with Haru’s newfound comfiness with Mary is more evidence of how the couples would pair off.

hai93

After wordlessly admiring the sun setting into the sea, Mary and Haru join the rest of the party at Sherry’s Tavern to plan their next move. Demuro is out for various reasons, and Haru is worried too much of the same thing could breed boredom and carelessness.

He’s thinking like a volunteer soldier: don’t get too comfortable, don’t get soft; find new challenges and become stronger. However, the place that comes to mind as a suitable new hunting grounds is the Cyrene Mine, and the mere mention of the place gets Mary upset to the point she has to leave.

hai94

Whereas many times before he would have let her go, Haru is now in the habit of following Mary, not letting her think she’s alone in anything. When he comes, she’s clearly glad, but worries she’s become a burden to the party. Like Haru with the place where Manato was killed, a part of Mary wants to forget the mines ever existed.

But she also wants to move forward and face the mines, for herself and for the party. She just doesn’t think she can do it alone. If she had help from others, she might be able to do it. And she wants it to be him and the others. When she says she’s just causing trouble, Haru actually starts tearing up, though not, he thinks, because he’s sad.

Rather, he’s happy Mary wants the same thing he does, and she’s only mistaken if she thinks it’s not possible. When he brushes the tears away and says he feels stupid, Mary tells him he’s “fine just like that,” and thanks him for his support. Sorry shippers, no hug or kiss.

hai95

The bulk of Haru’s physical contact this week, rather, comes from his master, Barbara, who beats the hell out of him in order to teach him her Spider technique. In the process of all the wrestling (and while sitting on him even as he takes a breather), Barb tells him to make one of the girls in his party his, preferably all of them.

Haru changes the subject to his ability to see enemies’ weak spots, and perhaps out of frustration from his inability to candidly talk about love, she goes at him even harder. Presumably some time passes and he masters the Spider skill, because the next we see the whole party in the mountains, poised to enter the Cyrene Mine.

8_mag

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar – 01 (First Impressions)

hai11

This is a tale of six young people who suddenly find themselves in an RPG fantasy world with no other memories other than their own names. It’s a gorgeous, painterly RPG fantasy world, by the way, rougher in texture but just as lush as Norn9’s setting.

The show quickly separates itself from both SAO and OverLord by maintaining the mystery of what exactly the world of Grimgar is and how everyone got there. It could be an elaborate game or a world as real as the one everyone presumably came from, judging from their normal clothes at the outset.

hai12

There were actually twelve “new entrants” to this world in the beginning, as protagonist (and our guide to what’s going on) Haruhiro harkens back to a couple days ago. Once they learned the rules—join the Volunteer Soldier Squad for Ortana’s Borderland Brigade, and basically root out baddies for cash—the strongest of them, Renji, took the next-five strongest and went their own way, leaving the six least-strongest.

But while the focus is on the “misfit” party, the show doesn’t cartoonishly overplay their incompetence as anything that wouldn’t be natural for any group of kids in their situation. They’re not that good, but they’ve only been at it a few days; they just need to get their bearings.

hai13

The party consists of Haruhiro, who has chosen the role of thief; Ranta, a dark knight who, appropriately, goes on the most rants and is a bit of a self-involved jerk; Yume, an athletic hunter; Moguzo, a big brawny warrior with a gentle, polite personality; Shihoru, a warm but shy mage with a negative body image; and the priest/white mage Manato, who seems the oldest and most mature of the six and their de facto leader.

While it’s a party of clashing personalities (with much of the clashing being done by Ranta) the show is also very delicate and understated (again, aside from Ranta) in how it portrays the little interpersonal conflicts they have. Their mutual amnesia, shared plight and need to work together to maximize resource income, serves as an equalizer.

hai14

Despite each character’s well-worn archetype, the character interaction is this show’s quieter secret weapon, as is its overall restraint. Nobody is too good too fast at what they’re supposed to do, but nor do things get too dangerous too fast. The goblins that are supposedly the weakest enemies to hunt aren’t hunting them.

No one is utterly overwhelmed by the weight of their situation. Everyone tries to keep a cool head and make the best of a very odd but unavoidable situation. The show also uses music and silence effectively. It’s definitely a less-is-more treatment to this kind of show (aside, perhaps from ample fanservice), which serves it well in terms of gently guiding its viewers into its milieu. I’m in, and I like what I see!

8_mag

Golden Time – 17

gold171

When they got in the car accident, Banri and Kaga felt like kids. This week, after their heated argument and reconciliation, they prove they’re really adults. Tense as their row was, and as tenuous as their relationship seemed to be in the darkest moments of said row when they couldn’t get through to one another, it ultimately strengthened their relationship. The fact that Banri seemed content with burying his past mad Kaga constantly fearful he’d do the same to her.

At the same time, she felt jealous and vulnerable for not knowing that past Banri who others like Linda knew. Now Banri has resolved to stop running from his past, and Kaga is 100% supportive, because it means she gets to see the “whole” Banri. She’s resolved to not obsess over what parts of Banri she never knew or doesn’t like, since they’re all a part of him, even his struggle with his lost past. She’s vowed to let Banri explore his whole self, and she’s vowed to love him for it.

gold172

They decide to put their resolutions into immediate practice the first time they cross paths with Linda, who is understandably taken aback not only when Banri asks about the past he had asked her not to bring up again, but when Kaga is totally fine with her getting into it. For a moment we were worried this was all too much for Linda, but she handles it admirably, while showing just how well she knew Banri by showing him the bottle rocket scar on his leg he didn’t even know he had.

That intimate knowledge might’ve upset Kaga before, but she’s no longer as threatend by Linda as she was. Part of that is because she trusts Banri (and has no reason not to in light of their new understanding), but we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s also because Linda is with someone else now, namely Mitsuo. We finally get to see the gorgeous new couple alone together, but their meeting turns unexpectedly sour when Mitsuo learns she and Banri are both from Shizuoka.

gold173

Mind you, it isn’t Mitsuo that starts the sourness: he’s there because he likes hanging out with Linda and probably would rather she leave for home. It’s Linda who gets upset, when she realizes how ignorant Mitsuo is to her past with Banri. It’s not so much she’s been caught in a lie, but caught in a omission—one that’s not so bad if you’re just friends but rather a big deal if you have designs on dating someone. In a way, Linda’s in the boat Banri and Kaga very overtly jumped out of before her eyes: suddenly she’s the one hiding her past.

And Linda does end up lying to Mitsuo about not seeing Banri in Shizuoka, something we’re sure she felt bad about doing and thus left in haste, feigning annoyance at Mitsuo snatching her ticket. But the ticket didn’t cause this mess: not bringing up Banri to Mitsuo did that, which she’d had no cause to do, since Banri told her to forget about the past. Now Banri’s gone back on that, and she’s on the spot.

gold174

Understandably suspicious, Mitsuo gets far more info out of 2D-kun (who brings up the cult escape when he learned what he learned: excellent continuity!) which irks him even more: why would Banri and Linda keep him in the dark about this? We should note, it’s good to see Kaga hanging out first with Oka (helping her move in and spending the night) and treating 2D and Mitsuo to ice cream as an apology. She probably misses Banri, but is no longer obsessing over him and keen to maintain her other friendships.

But when Mitsuo confronts her about Banri’s head injury, she feigns ignorance; though if Mitsuo saw the momentary look in her eyes, he’d know instantly she’s hiding something. That makes two girls he made look like that in the episode. Like Linda, Kaga’s unready/unwilling to let him in on the truth. Now all of a sudden Mitsuo, who had endured/ignored Kaga’s advances and stalking for so long, is the one beseeching Kaga, but all she has to offer—for now, at least—is a spoon.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)