Complexity in layers.
This is my first journey through the “100 Days of Anime” Challenge, an ambitious project that I’ll be taking. For the full list of prompts, click here.
“What current anime are you watching?”
I’ve got a thing for fantasy. It’s a genre that almost never fails to immerse me in a world, even if the formula is all too familiar. I just can’t help it. Well-written fantasy stories strive to engage us with either an engaging plot, balanced character tropes, or both. Some fail spectatcularly at this.
Unfortunately, Grancrest Senki falls into the latter.
When I initially jumped into the first episode, I was hooked. It rang every bell on my grand fantasy checklist: a naive and idealistic protagonist, a heroine that’s meant to keep that idealism in line, and cool character designs that made up a somewhat interesting cast. Couple that with an easy to understand conflict and you’ve got yourself the tried and true formula of fantasy – one that I can’t resist. Yet by the start of episode three, I was all for dropping the show. Without going into a full review, I’ll pick out the most glaring issue.
Character development; particularly Theo’s.
Fantasy is commonly filled with trope-ridden characters, and that’s not a bad thing. Because character development isn’t just giving our cast complex motives, obstacles, and upbringings. If that were true, we’d wipe out fantasy as a genre altogether. No, what this genre exceeds at is taking a simple, stereotypical character and making him complex. How? By allowing the character to grow. An idealistic knight wants to save his village. What does he learn along the journey? Does he make new companions? How will those companions affect his end goal? Fantasy is defined by its tropey characters, sure. But the journey is also what defines the genre.
The show ignores this theory altogether, instead focusing on the game of thrones that revolves around our main character. Filling every episode with a battle scene is fun. But that’s about it. We’re given a reason these various no-name lords are fighting. But by the end of it, why should we care? Theo’s most defining moment was when he stated his goal; to free his village from a greedy lord. It’s a singular moment of identity before he falls back to being an uninspired hack. This motive is brought up once or twice, but it’s seemingly swept under the rug in favor following a convoluted plot that we just don’t give a damn about.
Character growth and plot pacing; it only works when we care.
Grancrest Senki is showing the true strength of a bland protagonist, and though it teases Theo’s potential growth, they’re not really acting on it yet. I’ll still continue to watch, but with an uninspired protagonist and a plot that’s equally boring, I’ll mainly be here for the battle scenes (I’m a big sucker for mass battles, haha).
But honestly? This moment is the only reason why I got past episode two.
I ship it.