A dark venture into morality, and what it means to kill…
You stand at the center of the clearing, calmly watching as the three would-be bandits approach you, knives and swords in hand, their wicked laughs filling the air with the thought of an easy kill. Before they know it however, you’ve dashed past the first grunt, delivering a lethal slash before smoothly parrying the following two blows. They shout in rage, as their slow attacks seemingly pass right through you, before meeting their quick ends to the blade of your sword.
Or so you’d imagine.
I’m sure almost everyone has dreamed of scenario’s comparable to the display you just read above. A quick and intense battle full of perfectly timed parries, dodges, and expertly delivered strikes, a seamless transition between one opponent to the next, almost as if it were a stage. And to many of our favorite anime protagonist’s out there, it’s mostly true.
In reality however, the opposite may be true, especially for our protagonists in Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash.
Right off from the very first moments of the episode, we get a glimpse of the party’s struggle when it comes to combat. The fighting is chaotic, intense, and nowhere close to being called elegant, even when it’s a fight against a single lowly goblin.
And why’s that?
It’s almost comical to see the entire party of six repeatedly struggle to kill lone goblins; creatures that are commonly referred to as being weak mobs in many RPG’s. The characters themselves almost seem downright incompetent until I put myself in their shoes. Fear, terror, inexperience, all of which, are reflected by each of the characters as they begin to fight.
Hell, even during their very first fight, their lack of communication and teamwork almost cause Yume to shoot her own teammates. Or how about when Ranta finally landed a hit on a goblin? The feel of his sharp blade cutting through flesh, sinew, and bones, almost causes him to drop his weapon in disgust. And you can’t really blame him either. Watching someone deliver a mortally wounding cut is not the same as delivering it yourself.
Each of the characters have their own little quirks that further impact the way they fight, such as Moguzo. Though he is supposed to fill out the role of the tank, a class that focuses on distracting the enemy head on, and preventing the monsters from overwhelming the back line, the lack of armor makes him much less likely to pressure his enemies. The fear of suddenly taking a fatal blow to the head is very real, and even that aspect of the combat is shown in Grimgar. It’s a little detail that may be missed in the earlier episodes, but becomes apparent later on. This seemingly small detail is also the one that further develops Moguzo as a character. He’s not some invincible and immovable object of destructive power, nor is he some generic muscle-head. The fact that he knowingly puts himself between the enemy, and his party, knowing full well that a single well placed blow could end him, fleshes his personality out more than scenes upon scenes of him fulfilling his role as a bland and cliched tank.
I do love the personality and character growth of each of the individual characters as the episodes go on. Character development or not however, one thing that Grimgar excels at is being able to make me feel for the Goblins.
Yes, that’s right. I actually love the goblins in general. They’re not your average vicious and dimwitted killing machines, but also express some personality of their own. The goblins themselves have an attribute in them that almost make them seem human. Sure they do the usual eat, sleep, and patrol, but at other times, they can be seen playing chess, or gathering by the campfire with friends and family. I can’t help but feel pity for the goblin that goes about its day, only to be ambushed and cut down.
Fights with these surprisingly human creatures also beautifully express their carnal instinct of survival. The way the single goblin desperately scrambles away from the party, or the fear shows in the goblins eyes when its struck by a party member. It really does show the gritty reality of combat, and how not every kill will be a clean execution. Even the goblin attempts to feign death, before going for a surprise strike at a party members knees.
The fighting is definitely a major part of why i enjoy Grimgar so much. These fights always have me thinking to myself. Strange thoughts that really, I have not thought of before. What if that kobold you just slayed had a family, or friends. Are you really the hero for murdering an innocent goblin just to collect its ears and craft a new necklace? Every RPG has you doing grind quests and various other combat related task. Slay twenty of this or that, and the like. However, would we be more inclined to murder them if they were human?
I know I’d think twice.
And that’s exactly why I’ve come to fall in love with Grimgar’s way of handling their fight scenes. Action, punctuated by psychology and thought. It really does make you think twice before deciding whether to outright slaughter every mob in the area on your quest to “grind the next level”. Forcing us to question common traditions on an already saturated genre, allows it to stand out from the crowd and gives Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash its own personality, a welcoming change to the usual “death game” formula.