Theo and Siluca have to save the queen of a nearby tribe from the mysterious Black Witch in the Forest of Eternal Darkness! Remember, if you like this article and 5 Point Discussions, please share it on Facebook or Twitter! It really helps. And if you’ve got any comments or questions, please hit me up @SageShinigami.
1. Grancrest delves more into the supernatural corner of its universe with the addition of a…werewolf queen and vampire king? I can’t even make the joke that this anime seems like someone’s D&D campaign made into a cartoon, because well…that’s what it is. At the same time, I’m a sucker for expanding a world into more than just it’s base elements, so it’s hard to dislike this.
Their existence seems random at first, but some timely exposition this episode gives us their origins: when the Chaos first appeared on the continent, humans found all manner of ways to tap into its power for their own use. Some became mages, others became Witches, others still became Artists like Aishela…and a few became werewolves and vampires. In this world, werewolves have high level regeneration, while vampires possess some measure of immortality, and both are able to fight on roughly even terms with the demon lords that rule the chaos.
Artuk’s relative closeness to the supernatural realm explains why the land has always respected mages and witches, which is likely why the Earl has always maintained such a friendly relationship to them. The geography not just informing the story but pushing it forward isn’t often something fantasy stories like this stop to do, so little details like this are appreciated.
2. Having said that, Theo’s still just narrowly avoiding turning into a typical “everyone loves him” kind of light novel protagonist. He’s now under the command of the Earl of Artuk, but the Earl’s kingdom seems to be running so smoothly that he doesn’t actually care what Theo does…so aside from being security if/when the Earl is out, he’s free to do whatever he wants. On top of that, in this episode he’s allowed to be present at a dinner featuring a foreign dignitary, presumably for no reason other than “he’s the main character”. Yeah, he’s proven himself trustworthy to the Earl, but that doesn’t explain why the Earl’s guest would be fine with it.
As much as I like Mizuno Ryo‘s works, I’d hate if by the end of this I couldn’t differentiate Theo from the lead in Mahouka. Especially since Theo’s story certainly can’t continue for very much longer as a Knight Guard if he’s going to return to his homeland Systina and defeat the royal family there.
The conversation between the Earl and his guest Lord Milza is mostly polite conversation mixed with thinly-veiled threats about how they’d like to conquer one another’s kingdoms, but they also point out the sheer ridiculousness that Theo still has not just the respect but the loyalty of Lassic, the Viscount of Savis despite being only a Knight. Gee, I sure hope nothing equally silly happens this episode!
3. In addition to Artuk’s lands being relatively close to that of the werewolf tribe and the vampire king, they’re also fairly close to the witches, mages who use magic to summon spirits and imbue them with special abilities. As it turns out, the outbreak of chaos on the lands isn’t viewed as a bad thing by everyone. One of the black witches (those who have become close to the demon world for greater powers), Yana, has spread the rumor that if the chaos is completely dispelled then all of them will become regular humans. For the Werewolf Queen, this is an acceptable loss as it would mean peace for her tribe and her daughters. But Yana’s unwilling to give up her power, and the Vampire King doesn’t want to lose the immortality that vampires have. Failing at her goal to unite them all, Yana tries to kill the Werewolf Queen and create an even greater war.
Her plan goes decently at first, as she kidnaps the Queen’s daughters in order to lure her back to the Vampire King’s castle. The Earl of Artuk learns of this and decides to send Theo and Siluca to take care of it. Now, on the one hand, you’d think a job this important, involving allies his nation’s had for decades, the Earl would handle himself. ….But on the other, Theo’s getting to enjoy all the privileges of living in the Villar’s castle and hasn’t done much of anything besides dust books, so why NOT send him to take care of it? He’s got to make himself useful at some point.
4. The climax of the episode plays out about how you’d expect. Theo and Siluca visit the land of the werewolf tribe, promising to bring the queen and the princesses back. They run into Yana, who makes it very plain she’s not interested in giving up her powers for the sake of “peace”, then tries to kill Theo and Siluca along with the werewolf ladies. Theo’s still a trash fighter but he’s learned to tank hits fairly well, so he tanks the blows that Siluca can’t handle, while she does most of the attacking. It’d still be nice if Theo got better instead of being rewarded mostly for existing, but he’s at least trying.
They chase off Yana, and we’ve finally got our first proper antagonist for the series. Yes, there’s also the Queen, but there’s been no outward sign that she’s evil yet, just her turning away from an arranged marriage, and she could’ve done that for any number of reasons. This isn’t the first time a Witch has posed a major threat in Sword World/Forcelia, as the Grey Witch manipulated things behind the scenes on Lodoss Island for hundreds of years, so Yana has a lot to live up to.
5. So Theo having saved the werewolf princesses from being killed by Yana results in the strengthening of the bonds between Artuk and the werewolf tribe, and more importantly, they have an allegiance to Theo. That’s a bit too much power for one Knight to boast without his superiors getting jealous, but say we let that slide. What’s impossible to let slide, though, is that instead of those princesses getting things in order in their homeland, the two of them decide to join Theo and Siluca as maids in the Earl’s castle.
Nitpicks aside, I actually enjoyed most of the episode until we got here. There was a bit of political drama, a decent fight scene, and quite a bit of exposition developing the supernatural corner of Atlatan. Yes, it’s unabashedly Dungeons and Dragons: The Anime, or a more modern day Record of the Lodoss War, but you knew that going in and it’s what I signed up for. But I could have done without the needless fanservice of furry maids. They don’t even make sense! If they’re the new heads of the werewolf tribe, they should be somewhere running those lands! If they need training for that, then wouldn’t the best place for that be their village? Shouldn’t it be an affront to their tribe to even serve in such a lowly capacity? Ugh. Maybe if I cross my fingers really hard these characters will spend most of their time in the background, or their development will go in a direction I’m not expecting and they’ll become forward-thinking statements on the nature of fanservice in anime.
…I think I just spun a more unlikely fantasy than Grancrest itself.
Record of Grancrest War is available on Crunchyroll.