Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment
Title: Record of Grancrest War Volume 1
Anime Studio: A-1 Pictures
Publisher: MVM Entertainment
Genre: Action / Fantasy
Released: October 28th 2019
Language: Japanese / English
Fearing disaster brought about by chaos, the people live protected by “Lords” with the power to suppress chaos. However, the Lords abandon their posts and fight against each other. Siluca, a lone mage who despises the Lords, and Theo, a vagrant knight make an oath as master and retainer, with hopes of bringing reform to Atlatan, the land ruled by chaos.
From the Record of War series written by Ryo Mizuno, author of the highly acclaimed Record of Lodoss War with over ten million copies in print, the Record of Grancrest War is brought to life in full animation. Lauded as the Game of Thrones of anime, the greatest Record of War fantasy unfolds!
This was an interesting experience for me because it’s an anime that actually knew absolutely nothing about going in. From the cover art, I figured that it was fantasy-based, and the title made it sound like a sweeping epic. I mention this because I feel like it’s important to note that the series did actually live up to what appeared to be marketing.
Visually, the series does, unfortunately, feature some moments of CG animation against traditional backdrops. It’s jarring to see in action in most instances. Thankfully, this was used sparingly. Instead, what we have is a series that is more than competent in how it executes visuals. Most of it sits comfortably above some of its contemporaries, but with some nice little touches thrown in. Case in point, during the first episode, we see scenes with the colour drained, signifying the feeling of being around the Demon Lord. Little things like that really stand out for me.
Audio-wise, the series is definitely onto a winner. The score is nothing short of epic, which is exactly what it needs to be in this sort of series. On top of that, the opening theme is one of those songs that you hear and instantly think ‘this is an anime theme’, and that’s really not a bad thing. The dub cast sees a mixture of established and newer voice talent take on roles too, and everyone seems to be working really hard to make the series sound right.
From a story standpoint, the opening scenes do a great job of setting up the general premise of the magic in play. That then moves swiftly to the key point of the story: the tale of Siluca and Theo, and the war that plays out around them. What made them interesting as a driving force for the story was that I’m used to finding things set up as the capable male lead and his love interest. Here, the roles are almost reversed, with Siluca feeling more like the one pushing things forward, with Theo playing the honourable partner who has noble intentions but knows that he’s out of his depth if he tackles the world alone.
In a way, the series seems to make a point of subverting some common roles like that. It’s not without fan service – and when it does appear, it feels really out of place – but the female characters are mostly treated well. They’re strong, and you need look no further for examples that the Werewolf Queen Clara, and Princess Marrine. Marrine, in particular, was fascinating as she has a Romeo and Juliet love story going on with Prince Alexis, but is far more steadfast in terms of her attitude towards her duties than her would-be lover is. They have their ambitions and motivations, and that’s awesome to see.
Throughout the release, we see plenty of battles taking place, and these are exactly what you’d hope for. From military tactics to brutal – but not overused – gore, the fights feel both realistic and high stakes. Throw in a smattering of silliness to balance the serious battles and romance, and what you have here is a well-executed first half of a series.
Overall, the inconsistencies with some of the animation, and the often out of place fan service prevent this from getting full marks. They aren’t enough to ruin the show though. Record of Grancrest War Volume One is an enthralling series that knows how to balance politics, romance, action, and humour well. This gets a 4.5 out of 5 from me.