For some reason, I missed one of the anime shows I was eyeing on the Winter 2018 anime list. It was a great relief I was able to find a large amount of time to watch Grancrest Senki despite the toxicity that’s been going around with my profession. Any anime series that falls under the military label is a big factor for my preferences especially when it is blended with fantasy, good actions and exciting adventures. I know most military oriented anime shows are excessively dramatic during an intense battle scene, but some of them are based on real life historical references which add a little spice to the brain. Grancrest Senki easily caught my eyes because I could feel a little thrill in the entire thing.
The plot of the series doesn’t give some extreme hype as it typically centers on the impending battle between two powerful nations. It is another concept on sovereignty and leadership of different political organizations, conquering the lands of one another to gain large political and socio-economical interests, strengthen military power and to prevent foreseeable crisis. I couldn’t feel some strong vibes of military sensibilities because the fantasy element stands out rather. It is something you could label as generic. There’s a mage named Siluca who later on makes a good relationship with a lord named Theo. The plot revolves around the endless rage of different organizations to gain dominion from one another while lords continue to acquire various spellcrafts known as crest in order to produce the most powerful tool to overcome the chaos in the world, thereby making peace among these conflicting powerful organizations. By the overused term “chaos” in the anime fantasy, I felt like I wouldn’t be enjoying the whole thing.
The series seems to be plain and boring at first glance. It somehow scared me I would be dropping the show in the earlier episodes. It really seemed I couldn’t be any excited with the succeeding events and could barely internalize some important dialogues. Early episodes show some confusing terminologies which are not briefly explained what they are all about. Such terms are the ranks, positions and their respective hierarchy and how they fully manipulate in such organization. Despite the flaws, it was surprising I got to see a compelling imagery of the art of war as I went through the episodes. There are some big pictures of bloody battlefields, good swords fighting and a well-executed military operation. This was the exact moment I was able to keep myself on the edge of my seat because I particularly like this event in any military inclined anime regardless if it is labeled as fantasy or if isn’t based on real life figures.
The script feels like rushed and becomes chaotic in the second half. The chronology does not flow smoothly which turns out to be confusing, like when I was watching in the middle of the episode, it felt like I needed to go back to their previous whereabouts just to get invested what was really going on. The world building of the anime is undoubtedly a total lackluster and if this would have been developed in the early episodes, I strongly believe it would be fantastic as other anime shows of the same labels such as Arslan Senki and Shoukoku no Altair.
Aside from the fantastical elements, there is also a good romantic drama involved in the story. From friendship to romantic relationship, Theo and Siluca make a good couple to root for in the entire series. There are kissing scenes but not explicitly portrayed yet the lightheartedness of their relationship gives the audience so much thrill to ask for some deep romantic moments. Added to that, the classical romantic backstory of Alexis and Marianne is truly a remarkable one. I didn’t expect there would be a moment for Marianne to show her softest side despite being a competent and strong leader of the organization. However, despite her decent upbringing as a royal daughter, she eventually becomes the most hated character as she defines such realistic consequences of dishonesty and mistrust not only when dealing with her love interest but also with other prominent people from different political organizations. If not because of this romantic involvement, I don’t think the anime would gain a big attention it deserves.
There are a lot of characters introduced but most of them are forgettable. They have decent lines while providing significance to the story, but I could not completely feel their existence during a particular event. Though they can fully manipulate on the battlefield and show some good execution of action scenes, the anime allots a little amount of time for them to show what they are capable of. The characters that only stand out the most are Theo, Siluca, Villar and Marianne while others eventually become forgettable and seem to lack strong characterization which is a big disappointment. I am not sure if this is the case in the original source, but I really think that the overall impact of the series is way better in the light novel.
I believe Siluca deserves to be the best female lead when it comes to tactical brilliance, and her character allows Theo to develop his significance as the main protagonist in the series. She was able to show the importance of trust and having a good relationship with one another, thus making the best out of her character. Theo was able to show the audience what a deserving leader should possess, and I learned a lot from him watching him escalate his unique character. He is not overpowered in nature which is actually the best thing about him. I thought he would end up to be like those dumb-witted guys in harem series, and I was relieved he doesn’t have any pinch of such annoying character.
Another thing that I noticed in the anime that turned me off is the inconsistency in the animation. There are a number of times it becomes a little bit dull and poorly contrasted out of nowhere. However, in the brighter side of it, the actions on the battlefield impressed me in particular. I got the same feeling of excitement as watching other shows with brilliant tactical operations, and the well-articulated characters who are witty enough to solve some problems involving war are fairly good to watch out for.
The overall impact of Grancrest Senki is not something you should get hype with. The fantastical and military aspects are fairly satisfying and give a lot of interesting views on warship, but it lacks plot development and everything is rushed and distorted. I wouldn’t be surprised if negativity from the audience follows as they proceed with the succeeding events because it doesn’t really exert its own unique way to show a compelling flow of events. Nevertheless, this issue is properly compensated during a particular battle scene where everything has a high gore factor with well-executed scenes of the art of war. However, if you have read the original source, I believe the anime will totally disappoint you.