Review for Record Of Grancrest War Part 2
One Aniplex fantasy show managed to turn things around recently, when its Part 2 was released here. I found Fate/Apocrypha’s first half to be really disappointing, and I didn’t have high hopes for it all, but I was happily surprised by how it ended. I say this, as Record of Grancrest War, another Aniplex fantasy show has failed to thrill me with its first half. Not quite as poor, this show had a few issues with its storytelling, failing to really get me invested in the characters, while only redeeming its piecemeal narrative with plenty of scheming and plot twists. It’s a show that wants to be Game of Thrones. Now that its second half is here, I hope that just like Fate/Apocrypha, it will pull something magical out of the proverbial hat for its conclusion.
It was supposed to be an epic celebration, the sealing of a lasting peace through the marriage of the heirs to both the Union and the Alliance, and the creation of the Grancrest. But only the trainee mage Siluca Meletes sensed the Chaos Convergence, and even she was too late to prevent the disruption of the ceremony, the deaths of the leaders of the two states.
Now, the two nations are back at war, and the newly qualified mage Siluca is on her way to her new posting, a contract with Villar, a reputedly lustful Count who rules over Union territory. He only contracts with young beautiful women, and Siluca isn’t enthusiastic at the idea of offering her services to such a man. When her carriage is confronted by Alliance soldiers, she’s eager to let off some steam, but before she can act, an errant knight named Theo rides to her rescue. He’s inexperienced and naive, but he has a noble heart, and a pure vision. He’s the kind of person that Siluca would much rather contract with, someone easy to manipulate. She may be wrong in that assumption. So begins their adventure towards glory.
The concluding twelve episodes of Record of Grancrest War are presented across two Blu-rays from MVM.
13. To The Homeland
14. The Liberator of Sistina
17. Two Heroes
19. The Awakening of a Noble
20. Pitched Battle of the Three Forces
22. The Holy Grail
23. Castle Walls
Record of Grancrest War gets a 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer across two discs. The image is clear and sharp, colours are strong and consistent, and the transfer is unmarred by visible compression and aliasing. About the only issue might be a smidge of digital banding, but it’s hardly significant. The animation is smooth, and the HD transfer makes the most of the detail. This is a rather generic fantasy world, although it does dwell in more than one historical era when it comes to its inspirations. The character designs are well thought out and appealing. But as so often happens with these historical fantasy anime, massive battle scenes look decidedly CGI, and this is one of those shows where they don’t know how to animate horses.
You have the choice between PCM 2.0 Stereo English and Japanese with translated subtitles and a signs only track. I went with, and was happy with the Japanese audio for the show. The actors give performances that fit their characters, and the action sequences come across robustly on the stereo format. The music drives the pace of the show, and reflects the emotion without become obtrusive. The subtitles are timed accurately and are free of typos. There are no lyric translations for the theme songs however.
The discs show their content with static menus. These discs have been localised for Region B by Madman Entertainment.
The extras are all on disc 2, and amount to the textless credits, 3 Openings and 1 Closing, 8:19 of Web Previews for the episodes, and trailers for Made In Abyss, Granblue Fantasy, Fairy Tail Zero, and Tales of Zestiria: The X.
In the end, Record of Grancrest War ends the way it began, rattling its way through the story at a devil’s pace. There’s no reprieve, no sudden twist in the tale that makes it ascend to a higher level. And really, I’ve made my peace with that. As the show comes to its natural and definitive conclusion in this collection, I realise that Record of Grancrest War is an epic saga, a recounting of the trials and triumphs of heroes. Not for this tale the trivialities of character, motivation, and relatable human behaviour. Two armies might have been slaughtering each other the day before, the battlefield littered with thousands of corpses, drenched in blood. But that night there is a peace treaty, and the Lord and Lady of the respective nations agree to marry, and the next day, both sides celebrate this engagement together, all grudges forgotten. Look to your Greek legends, your Arthurian myths, a bit of Lord of the Rings to understand where this show is coming from, and you’ll do fine.
The story is about the rise of a Lord from relatively humble beginnings. When the mage Siluca encountered the itinerant Theo, it was an opportunistic decision to contract with him, instead of the Lord she was assigned to, with the thought that she could manipulate the comparatively naive would-be noble and the two of them could ascend to greatness. But it turned out that Theo had high, if selfless ambitions, not least the liberation of his homeland of Sistina from a cruel Lord, and the two were perfectly matched. It didn’t take long before Theo established himself as a canny and able ruler, taking a domain in his name, knowing when to relinquish it in exchange for making the right alliances, and Siluca was by his side all the way.
In this collection of episodes, he manages to achieve his ambition of freeing his homeland, but it’s a sign of this show’s lackadaisical approach to character, motive, and emotional depth, that it’s all done with comparative ease, and in the space of two episodes, rather than the penultimate, and challenging battle that it should have been.
I say penultimate, as the raison d’être of the show is the Grancrest itself, the ultimate symbol of power, which will manifest once a Lord has had all others pledge loyalty to them, or has taken all the other crests by force. At the start of the show, the Grancrest should have been formed when Lord Alexis, and Lady Marrine, heirs to rulers from opposing sides had married, but the intervention of Chaos brought the wedding to a penultimate and tragic end. The two sides are practically at war at the start of this collection, with Marrine determined to gain the Grancrest by force of arms, bringing peace to this world by driving Chaos out once and for all.
Theo and Siluca realise that someone has reasons to keep the status quo, keep Chaos in the world, and that faction has been manipulating the Lords to keep them at each other’s throats, rather than uniting to form the Grancrest. Theo determines that this faction is their true enemy, and through these episodes he tries to find a third way. Record of Grancrest War really does touch on the mythological and even the biblical in its storytelling. There is an honest to goodness battle against a Cyclops in one episode, while another requires the sacrifice of a true believer to defeat the machinations of a false priest. There was a moment in the previous collection where the combination of sex and violence (it was an 18 rated release) seemed to push the show towards Game of Thrones territory, but this collection dials the sex back a bit. It’s still gory though, with plenty of faceless CGI minions dying in the name of an epic adventure.
The character arcs never serve to inspire, while the story often makes little emotional sense. But as a heroic saga, a rote retelling of spectacular events, The Record of Grancrest War is an agreeable watch. It’s rousing and triumphant without being the slightest bit believable and it manages to hold the attention. That’s as long as you aren’t distracted by just how poorly the horses are animated.