I have completed Grancrest Senki, and with that I have many thoughts about the anime. I love fantasy anime, and while I enjoyed Grancrest Senki, it definitely has some issues that I want to point out. It also fell into the same trap that many other fantasy anime fall into..
Naturally, there will be Grancrest Senki spoilers ahead.
I ended up writing quite a bit about Grancrest, almost entirely ripping on the anime haha (hence the clickbait title). If you want to avoid spoilers, you can skip to the end, to my overall conclusion for the tl:dr review, as well as my final thoughts! 🙂
But first, how did my predictions hold up?
So these were my predictions:
- The seals are a source of power; but they are also the source of power for evil (the demon king / demons). Trade-off exists, empower seal to become stronger but also empower demons in the process. In the end, seals as we know them (at episode 1) will have to be abandoned in order to truly stave off evil.
- Male protagonist constantly relies on people around him to make decisions for him. Eventually, he is faced with a situation where he has no choice but to make his own decisions.
- The Alliance and Federation are both corrupt. Some good characters exist within these two factions, but do not be fooled – they are closely tied to the demons. At some point this will be revealed.
And here is how I did:
- I was correct about the whole trade-off, and seals needing to be abandoned. BUT, I was incorrect in my belief that demons would actually play a role in the story. Turns out vast majority of the story is just between humans. So in the end, I was correct, but contextually not correct.
- I was correct about Theo being the type who never really decides anything for himself, the harem anime protagonist type. I’m not sure that he really was faced with a situation where he had no choice but to actually make his own decision? I feel like it was less of an ultimatum, and more of his character just sort of changed when he returned to the mainland from Sistina. I’d say I was not correct, but not incorrect either.
- I was wrong about this one, but only wrong about WHO was corrupt. Unlike my first prediction, this time I had the context right, but the key players wrong.
So I had the right ideas, and was just a little short. Still, not bad considering these were all based off episode 1. I think this goes to show how cliche much of Grancrest Senki was in it’s overarching story.
And with that, let’s get some headers going and start some discussion.
The Fantasy World Trap
I don’t know what to call this, but we’ll just call it the fanatsy world trap for now. Grancrest Senki did what many other fantasy anime do, which is allow the fantasy world to dominate the story. Or in other words, the story is just not compelling enough to compete with the world it takes place in. So what happens is the world itself becomes more interesting than the story / characters.
I’m sure not everyone feels this way, but as someone who loves fantasy anime (and fantasy settings), it’s something that I feel happens quite often. Made in Abyss is a good recent example of this, although many would probably debate that one. Fantasy settings just bring another element to the table that draws the viewer’s attention. I genuinely believe that Made in Abyss went too fast in exploring / descending the abyss. The abyss was such an interesting mystery that I wish it had spent more time on. I felt like the anime rushed through the abyss, and as a result I became more fixated on the abyss itself (and not missing any interesting details) than the actual characters / story.
Overlord is an example of an anime that does a great job in slowly expanding the world around the protagonist, without overwhelming the viewer – the story and environment advance together at a nice pace. Compare that to Grancrest, where the protagonist is conquering kingdoms and traveling across the continent in a matter of episodes. Characters representing leaders of all sorts of kingdoms, factions, etc. are introduced very early on, and constantly throughout the anime. How can the story keep up with this?
Here is another example of a fantasy anime that did it right: Lord Marksman and Vanadis. I mentioned it in my halfway post on Grancrest, and I’ll mention it again because I believe it is the closest anime to Grancrest that I have seen. Lord Marksman doesn’t fall into the fantasy world trap because while the world is large, the entire story takes place within or just around the borders of the protagonist’s domain for majority of the anime. Only later on does the anime venture further outside this area. It just feels more organic. There’s no confusion as to where we are now, or what is happening.
And that’s the fantasy world trap. It can be tempting for an anime to want to show off it’s world, show the viewers just how amazing the setting is. But when the story / characters fall behind the setting, it creates this disjointed experience where the viewers may find themselves more interested in the setting. At least, this is how it often happens for me.
Going to keep this short, because I already mentioned it in my halfway post. But I wanted to bring it up again, because I genuinely believe that the lack of maps showing us what is happening in the world (especially while characters talk about their military plans) was the biggest issue with Grancrest Senki. Just showing us some more maps of the world, the factions, and whatnot would have made the anime drastically more enjoyable.
See these two screencaps I just grabbed from Lord Marksman below. I really can’t repeat it enough, Lord Marksman is the perfect example of what Grancrest should have done in terms of maps.
The second biggest problem with Grancrest Senki was the distinct lack of chaos. We are told time and time again that if all of the seals are united, then the Grancrest will form and the chaos can be stopped. But here is my question: why do we care if the chaos gets purified or not?
It’s not like the anime has actually shown us anything bad about the chaos. Was it really dangerous? The anime didn’t exactly show me that it was. In fact, the anime did the opposite. The talking cat, the werewolves, magic – all of these things are also due to the chaos, and we see them way more than we see any downside to the chaos. I actually didn’t even want Theo to purify the chaos. The anime didn’t show me any reason to want it gone. Instead, they just said “people are suffering because of the chaos” a few times. But I never saw anyone suffering because of the chaos, I saw more people suffering because of war. And the war had ended with the formation of a new empire.
Grancrest Senki just needed to show us more of chaos hurting people or being a destructive force that needed to be stopped. I thought Sistina was ravaged by chaos? We don’t see any chaos in Sistina at all…
In a world that had giant spiders and all sorts of other creatures, surely it wouldn’t have been that difficult to incorporate events with them into the story? Maybe a clan of chaotic beasts attacks someone, or something. Anything would have worked really. The anime just fell short here. I guess the anime tried to do this with the witch and the vampire king. But the witch didn’t seem to have any real goals, she just caused a little trouble. She should have played a larger role I think. And the Vampire King wasn’t even that evil really – he was just acting to protect himself.
Speaking of which..
Why was the vampire king the “final boss”?
We see him in one episode early on, then he disappears. Until we see him again at the very end of the anime where he is the final barrier keeping Theo from forming the Grancrest and purifying chaos. Really? Why don’t we see more of this guy first? How about some buildup?
You could even kill two birds with one stone here. Use the vampire king as a force for chaos, terrorizing people and giving us a clear reason as to why Theo needed to form the Grancrest and purify chaos. It would make sense for him to be the final challenge in this situation. Instead he just disappears and reappears, which was anticlimactic.
The 3 Year Wait
This part almost drove me crazy. Theo confronts the leader of the Mages Association (or whatever they are called) and gives the clear definitive answer that he is going to cleanse chaos from the world, no matter what future dangers that may bring. And then the anime decides to put that on hold for 3 years until ruthless girl and pretty boy get married. I thought they loved each other, why wait 3 years to get married? I thought that chaos was terrorizing people and causing suffering, why wait 3 years to purify it?
You could argue that they needed 3 years in order to establish the empire properly first, to prevent any unrest and whatnot. I’d completely understand that argument too. But the anime doesn’t say anything about this to my knowledge, so I guess it’s maybe just implied?
I guess it’s not a huge deal, I just thought it was odd that they play up cleansing the chaos, and then don’t do it for 3 years.
Possible plot hole?
In the first episode of Grancrest, we see Theo strengthen his crest by defeating a demon that Siluca summons. After this, the only way to power up a crest is by defeating someone else with a crest. Why is this concept abandoned? We see that demons exist in the world at various points in time throughout the anime. The anime also basically tells us that demons will continue to exist as long as chaos exists.
The idea of powering up by defeating demons feels like a loophole to me. Theo (or anyone else) could just summon and defeat demons over and over until their seal is incredibly powerful. Or you’d think that demon bounty hunters would exist in the world, hunting demons to make themselves stronger.
Should demons even be a threat in this world then? I feel like humans would all go nuts trying to kill demons and strengthen their seals. Rulers would lead their armies to conquer demons, to strengthen their seals.
So not only does the anime fail to show us why the chaos is bad / dangerous, but it actually provided a reason for why the humans would have been thriving on killing demons; making chaos seem even less dangerous.
I’ll show you all some screencaps I took while watching the anime of moments that made me laugh. Either because they didn’t really make sense or due to the animation.
Grancrest Senki spoilers end here.
I still enjoyed Grancrest Senki. I think that it’s rating on MAL right now (7.23) is fair.
From a purely fantasy perspective it has a lot of good points to it. The world is still interesting. Seals are a very neat concept. It has magic, armies, kingdoms, and conflict. It also has demons and chaos (although we don’t see much of them). It has all of the typical pieces that you’d need to make a good anime – everything is pretty standard fantasy except for the seals. And the seals are an interesting enough concept to build the story around.
But the anime just squandered it’s potential a little too much. I can’t enjoy the conflict between kingdoms because there are no maps. I am just unable to properly visualize a map of the world with the major factions battling it out. I don’t even know what the world map looks like after finishing the anime. Demons and chaos may as well have been non-existent. And the characters just jump kingdom to kingdom too quickly (which wouldn’t have been so bad if I at least was shown a map of where they were!). The cherry on top was the anime throwing the final challenge being a character we only saw once previously.
I don’t rate anime, but those are my overall thoughts on Grancrest Senki. It had potential, but made too many mistakes. In the end it’s just another average fantasy anime.
And with that my final, final thought about Grancrest Senki…
Just watch Lord Marksman and the Vanadis instead
In all honesty, if you haven’t watched Lord Marksman and the Vanadis, I’d recommend it. Especially if you have seen Grancrest Senki. It just does so many things better than Grancrest. Both are military, battle focused fantasy anime.
Unlike Grancrest, Lord Marksman is also a harem anime, although it’s not that “in your face” about it. Somehow Grancrest’s protagonist manages to be more of a harem anime protagonist who can’t make his own decisions than Lord Marksman’s, which is ironic.
Excellent use of maps to not only show us the world, but the layout of troops and tactics employed in battles. And the battles are much better as well, with more action. Grancrest more often just shows us a tiny piece of action, and then tells us the outcome of the battle. Lord Marskan shows us way more of the battles.
The characters in Lord Marksman felt much more real as well, with real purposes and reasons behind their decisions.
Lord Marksman’s opening song is also awesome. It really sets the mood for the anime! I remember listening to it every single episode, because it’s just that good (normally I skip openings unless the song is excellent).
So yeah, my final thoughts on Grancrest Senki are to just watch Lord Marksman and the Vanadis instead. I’m even tempted to re-watch it after writing all of this (and listening to the opening song again)! Funny how that turned out huh?
That’s all for this post!
Until next time.
Thanks for reading. 🙂