First Look: Record of Grancrest War

Alternative title(s): Grancrest Senki
Light Novel Adaptation by A-1 Pictures
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Men of all ages compare and wage wars over the size of their crests. Our hero has great ambitions to serve as a lord and protect his people from monsters, something which the current rulers aren’t doing, but his crest is too tiny. Fortunately, a mage in a miniskirt helps him out.

Euri’s verdict: Crest waving contest

It’s a light novel adaptation featuring mages, so I have to admit that I was braced for the worse. You’ll be pleased to hear that it’s not a bottom of the barrel magical academy extravaganza, and that there’s some interesting stuff going on here, though Grancrest doesn’t quite go far enough to step away from similar, shittier shows.

Our protagonist is Siluca, a pretty capable mage and the only one quick enough to react to a demon showing up at the beginning of the episode. It’s a clever way of showing her abilities without having to say it; she prepares to intervene, is stopped by someone who hasn’t noticed as quickly and assumes she’s up to no good, and suddenly we have the premise of our show. So far so good at this point, with the only real complaints being some ham-fisted exposition and confusion as to why an important wedding is being held in front of a scary looking death orb.

We jump to a point in the near future where the guy who prevented protag from helping fight the demon has tagged along, as a way of atoning for their bad day at work. The short scene inside the carriage is another clumsy piece of exposition that is revisited minutes later when they’re talking to a rather generic group of baddies. Our chance to see her kick ass is foiled by the secondary protag Theo – a wannabe lord who wants to actually be a force for good – jumps in on the assumption that Siluca needed help.

I don’t personally care too much that Theo jumped in, I just wish they’d let Siluca do something. Both of her attempts to fight in this show have been thwarted, and not because there’s a legitimate reason to hide her combat abilities, either. Also she’s a woman, so before the fight she removes her robes to reveal a super protective top and miniskirt. It doesn’t look weird at all in this fantasy setting where everyone is wearing Obi-Wan cloaks or medieval armour. No cleavage though, so there’s something.

The rest of the episode focuses on increasing the size of Theo’s crest, which is when Record of Agarest Grancrest War starts showing why a tabletop RPG was developed alongside the light novel. The crest seems to represent a character’s level, the chaos cores that grow the crest seem to be experience points, and so on. Whether this is how characters work in the tabletop RPG or not is kinda irrelevant, but the show gets mechanical at this point in a way that really bogs it down.

We also don’t find out what the crests actually do for the owner. We see at the start that the two rulers have massive, impressive crests, but not much else. We hear from Siluca that Theo needs a larger crest before becoming a lord, but the only hint we get as to why that’s the case is a throwaway line about how many people can serve him at a particular crest size. Is this dictated by law, or is it some kind of magic? Is there something that would have prevented Siluca from jumping into the fight with the lord had he not had a large enough crest to form a contract with her? Without it being addressed it’s hard to know the significance of the two fights in the first episode, and I worry that the reason it isn’t touched is because reading the player’s handbook verbatim would make for questionable television.

Grancrest could be worse. Judging by the first episode, it’s trying to do some interesting things while also getting hung up by some of the typical light novel adaptation issues. I’ll keep an eye on this for a few episodes to see how it shapes up, but there are already shows this season that seem more promising.

3 thoughts on “First Look: Record of Grancrest War

  1. I had quite a bit of fun with this first episode even though I agree with all the issues you mentioned. I like fantasy and this felt like it was setting up a decent enough story and I really kind of enjoyed Theo and Siluca’s interactions so I’m hoping they build on that. I am however not getting my hopes too high as this may very quickly just become the usual generic story or a complete mess of unexplained terminology. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

  2. The director is the same guy who directed Rakugo, and perhaps more importantly, Sankarea, where he was somehow able to spin pure trash into something that was legitimately worth watching. That’s good enough to get me on board for this show.

  3. I think that they did a decent job of explaining the setting.

    Chaos pours into the world from another dimension leading to monsters and natural disasters.
    Things called crests appeared and began empowering individuals, most importantly giving them ability to stabilize regions by curbing the influence of Chaos.

    The Crest bearers soon turned from protectors to rulers, and because the power of crests can be bestowed a feudal system develops, with most crest-bearers being given their crests by and owing fealty to a stronger Crest bearer above them.

    The power of Crest can not only be given it can also be taken or surrendered to another. This lead the Crest Bearers to quickly turn on one another in a” Game of Crests”.
    Some modern crest bearers like Theo naturally manifest a crest as a result of some exemplary act;Theo got his crest after slaying a monster.

    The power of a Crest is synonymous with Noble Rank, after killing the Biberus Theo essentially underwent an in-universe level up. Since Crest-Bearers are supposed to be protecting the land that they rule from Chaos Born existential-threats and they fight among themselves for power and territory, Theo had every right to walk up to the castle and take it.

    There is a Mage’s Guild in the setting and it serves as a neutral power between the major faction. However the Guild is not without constraints since every Mage is supposed to be sworn to sever a Lord.

    Siluca Meletes was sworn to serve a Lord whom she wanted no part of, a most licentious man who only accepted young,nubile,female, mages as his contractees.

    Upon seeing Theo in action and finding his personality,temperament, and goals more to her liking. Siluca swears to him instead breaking her contract with the playboy, and making herself the woman behind the throne in Theo’s court.

    That’s episode one

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