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Yume and Shihoru try to welcome Mary into the party, which goes about as well as you’d expect. When it turns out she used to party with one of Grimgar’s most famous guilds, the boys hope to find an explanation for her standoffish behaviour.
It’s strange how interesting of a show Grimgar is for being both so uneventful and oddly formulaic. Every episode up until now, save for the very first one, has largely revolved around an awkward situation in the group, sometimes big and tragic, sometimes petty, but almost never fleeting. In that regard, Grimgar is more like a workplace drama than a fantasy story — it’s a show about doing the same thing over and over again just to survive and the toll that risking your life every day takes on one’s psyche. More than a warning about how being trapped in a video game wouldn’t be much fun at all, it’s an almost spiteful reflection on how, above everything, being trapped in a video game would be boring as hell.
The fact that the video game in question is an RPG only further drives this point home. RPGs are supposed to be all about progress, about getting more powerful over time and strengthening your bonds with your party members. But Grimgar‘s cast doesn’t seem to be growing at all. While all the other parties around them seem to be living the virtual dream, Haruhiro and co. just keep screwing up, and no matter how hard they try, they’re utterly incapable of negotiating their conflicting personalities into something even remotely workable. It’s almost as if Grimgar is a takedown of the RPG genre as a whole, showing that if you strip away the superfluous rewards, all you’re left with is a perpetual spiral of monotonous violence.
Mary, on the other hand, all but points out the absurdity of our party’s insistence on risking their lives in order to survive. She knows the best way to stay alive is to play things safe, picking off weak enemies and saving magical energy for emergencies at any given time. Despite the fact that she already has her license, and seems able to fight much stronger monsters than the goblins Haruhiro and co. keep fighting, she nevertheless chose to team up with these losers in stead of a more experienced party because the enemies they fight are the least risky. Mary actively rejects the basic RPG credo of killing monsters so you can get stronger gear to kill stronger monsters, because she knows how pointless it is. Her goal is not to explore more of the world, to become top of her class or to advance the story — her goal is to survive and make a living for herself in a harsh world. She’s experienced firsthand the risk of ‘playing’ Grimgar like a video game, looking for better loot and venturing into uncharted territory to hunt down exciting boss monsters, and paid the rather predictable price.
Yet no matter how infuriating this attitude might be to our heroes, Mary may be exactly what they need. Manato was a dreamer. He fought heroically alongside his friends in stead of staying out of danger like a medic should. He eventually ended up actively pushing the party into ‘playing’ the video game like a fun adventure. He provided them with new challenges, enabled their dream of getting to live a life of luxury like Renji and his party, and we all know how well that went. Mary, on the other hand, is here to remind the party of their priorities. First and foremost, they need to survive, and the easiest, least risky way to do so is by grinding weak goblins. She knows that as long as Moguzo still can’t properly fight on the front lines, Yume still can’t fire her bow, or Ranta still can’t bite down a tiny scratch without expecting to be healed, this party is not ready for anything more than that. No wonder the other characters are having such a hard tim accepting that fact. They’re still struggling to cope with the fact that life in a fantasy world is dangerous, but now they have to accept an even harsher truth as well: It’s boring.
- We finally get to see the proper opening sequence this week, with Mary added to the group. It’s a bit of a bizarre affair, what with these skintight spandex bodysuits everyone seems to be wearing and all the leering camera angles that come with them, but at least the male and female gaze show up here in somewhat equal measure.
- I’d prefer Manato and Mary’s class be translated as ‘cleric’ because that is both a gender-neutral term and covers the load far better. We don’t see either of them presiding over any church services, right?
- I like how the show makes it clear that Mary is more experienced than the others by having her wear fancier casual clothes.
- Funimation launched the first episode of their Grimgar ‘simul-dub’ this week. It’s a fairly standard affair as these things go, a bit rough around the edges and starring a bunch of rookie voice actors, yet the overall product is pretty enjoyable. I like Ricco Fajardo as Haruhiro simply because he doesn’t use the generic Yuri Lowenthal/Bryce Papenbrook main character voice, and Sarah Wiedenheft does a good job at making Shihoru sound painfully shy and high-pitched without doing the annoying squeaky voice thing that just doesn’t work in English.