Grancrest Senki First Impressions
“Didn’t I tell you before that I was going to help you realize the world you’ve envisioned?”
Grancrest Senki is a notably by-the-numbers fantasy anime. That may seem like a harsh criticism, but, in an oxymoronic fashion, by-the-numbers is actually kinda refreshing. In recent years, most of the prominent fantasy series have attempted to establish some particular factor that sets them apart from their traditional fantasy brethren. It’s this focus that has contributed to the tidal wave of “stuck in an alternate universe” and “trapped in a game” entries in the genre since it can be fun to have a main character who approaches their world with the same point of reference as the audience. However, Grancrest Senki aims for a tone and presentation that closer to Alderamin on the Sky, for better and for worse. The biggest problem the show faces is simply a general sense of confusion. Not regarding what is happening, that’s all pretty straightforward, but why it is all happening. It seems like there should be a text crawl at the beginning just for the purpose of hammering out a few details, because I definitely have a few questions.
The show follows a mage named Siluca who fails to stop the murder of two kings by a Demon Lord during a wedding intended to bring an end to a long running war between the Federation and the Alliance. I’m not entirely sure why the death of the kings prevented the marriage from taking place. It was their children who were getting married, not them, so I’m not entirely clear if one side blames the other for what happened or if there is another reason that prevents peace from being reached. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Siluca is to be contracted to some lord, because… that’s something that mages do in this world. I don’t know why yet. She’s being escorted by a man named Irvin who had prevented her from intervening when the kings were killed, and is attempting to atone. As they’re traveling to meet the lord to whom Siluca is to join in a contract with, their carriage is intercepted by the forces of a local noble. However, those forces are driven off by an aspiring lord named Theo who has a crest, which is a magical thingy. I don’t know what they do exactly. This leads to Siluca entering into an agreement with him to… end war, I think?
You see what I mean? There is a lot of lore that needs to be explained. I don’t get what crests are, I don’t see why peace couldn’t be reached, I don’t get why mages need contracts, and, most of all, I don’t get why Siluca will probably continue wearing that revealing uniform even though she spoke derisively of it and no longer has an obligation to wear it. Despite those questions, the core narrative is actually pretty simple, fortunately, because it allows the episode to function despite these lingering curiosities. The production is fine. It’s nothing spectacular, but A-1 Pictures wasn’t sleeping on the job with this one (I’m looking at you, Ace Attorney!). I’ll admit to finding that the character models didn’t match the atmosphere of the show. They just feel a bit off, like characters from Danmachi escaped into Alderamin on the Sky. They’re just a bit too colorful and cartoonish for the world that’s been shown. Ultimately, I think this show may live or die depending on how engaging the dynamic of this world, its magic and its politics prove to be. I wish I could make a prediction, from this first episode, but those elements are woefully under-explored. This first episode functions, but, without a greater sense of understanding, it can’t do much more than that.
Before I wrap up, a few Notes and Nitpicks:
- I think crests are something that makes a person powerful… That’s a particularly basic statement, but it is a proper encapsulation of my knowledge on the subject. They’re apparently given to governing officials and correlate directly to one’s rank, but, again, I can’t extrapolate much more than that.
- There is some force called Chaos that’s… around. It’s what allowed the Demon Lord to slaughter the kings, but I’m still not clear on how it works.
- On second thought, the ED does show Siluca in a different outfit, so maybe she won’t be sticking with the revealing attire she has in the first episode. Though, I’m pretty sure the promotional art I saw had her in it, so I’m unsure. I wouldn’t even give it this much attention if it wasn’t for the fact that the character herself complained about it.
Grancrest Senki functions. It doesn't do it exceptionally, and I have a lot of lingering questions, but nothing in this episode was outright bad. It leaves a lot of unanswered questions, but, honestly, I'm not actually all that curious. I'll probably still check out the next episode or two, but this first one ends up being just... fine.