Villar and Marrine face off. Who will walk away the victor? And where’s our main character, again? 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. With this being Villar Constance’s last episode of the series, I think it’s only right to make a final assessment on someone who was misunderstood almost from start to finish.
The character’s presence is felt from the beginning of Grancrest, with Siluca’s refusal to join him because of the rumors swirling around him the impetus for the entire show. She didn’t want to serve a man who only employed female mages and made them wear skimpy outfits, which…yeah, fair. Even when she said it, I pictured some cowardly, lecherous guy who kept perving on all the women who had no choice but to work for him, so I don’t really blame her. We got a brief look at the character in an epilogue early on, but his first real appearance is when he rescues Theo and Siluca after their plan to join the Alliance goes South and they wind up at war with Marrine’s forces.
Surprisingly, he reprimands neither Theo nor Siluca, and allows both of them to stay in his castle after Theo gives up his title and ownership of the lands of Sievis just to keep his contract with Siluca. Over the course of the next six episodes we learn a lot about Villar: he employs female mages because in the lands around his area they’re often looked down upon as witches, so working for him serves as protection. We learn that his bloodline has roots both in the Alliance and in the Union, and he wound up as one of the many victims of that, with his mother abusing him because his father joined the “wrong side”. Since then, he’s craved the love he never got from his mother, but has simultaneously been too afraid to accept it, leading to him and Margaret never evolving past their work relationship. Though it didn’t resonate as strongly as it should have due to the show’s pacing, it was still sad watching him send Margaret off because he chose duty over love.
After this, Villar got a reputation for being something of a war hawk, as he conquered several Alliance territories on the way to a meeting with other members of the Factory Union. Nobles pronounced the character as needlessly sparking the flames of war…though none of them were willing to acknowledge that Villar was simply reducing the amount of skirmishes that occurred around his borders because his lands were so close to the Alliance’s. Nevertheless, when offered the opportunity to be granted full control of the Union, Villar declined; he refused to directly fight the leader of the Fantasia Alliance because she was his family.
Ultimately, this refusal is what leads to his downfall. A man of contrasting beliefs, Villar’s inability to compromise on any of them is what gets him killed. He won’t just allow the Alliance to do what they want like Alexis, and yet he’s not war hungry enough to battle his own blood like Mirza has.
At this point, Villar is arguably a more developed and more likable character than even Theo, as we understand not only his goals and what drives him, but his flaws–something Theo doesn’t really have, yet. All his flaws are either superficial or balanced by Siluca’s presence. Villar proves himself to be as good a man as a universe like this can have, and it’s going to take a lot for Theo to not only surpass him, but do so without sinking to the levels of Marrine or Mirza.
2. One thing that’s been consistently surprising about Grancrest is how sexual it is. But I totally dig it. To be clear, this series could stand to dial back some of its fanservice: the weird outfits Villar gave his mages, the werewolf maid princesses…all of that was unnecessary. But my problem with anime is often how they want characters to be sexy, but never sexual. They’ll trot out all the characters (sometimes even the dudes) in skimpy clothing, but when it comes to actual relationships they chicken out.
Grancrest hasn’t had that problem. Siluca and Theo have confessed their love for one another and are seemingly properly together now. Villar and Margaret did the same thing, even if their story didn’t have a happy ending. Marrine is utterly unafraid to use her sexuality to convince Mirza to betray Villar and join her side. And then there’s Edokia, Queen of Haman, who keeps a literal harem of men for herself. Get it, girl.
Edokia’s men are all fiercely loyal to her, and after it becomes clear they don’t stand a chance against Marrine’s latest ally, Ururika and her Nordic fleet, they use their nation’s Palace of the Sea warship as a distraction while she escapes. This is probably the most frustrating thing about Grancrest’s truncated run time. This series could stand to be twice as long, because what little we see of these characters makes me like many of them. The Shakespearian King who fell in the last episode whose name I don’t even remember. The Queen of Edokia who runs what I’m assuming is some kind of matriarchal society where she’s capable of keeping a husband and several consorts. Even the idiot brother of Villar and his comedically nonchalant mage. They all deserved episodes to flesh out their characters and make us more attached to them before they were summarily killed off or otherwise dismissed.
3. Villar’s fall happens as a result of a single decision, but actually many factors play into it. Because of his unwillingness to face Marrine in direct combat, she was able to conquer a land just outside of Altkirk that allowed her ally Ururika to march her soldiers there and construct a massive naval force. This, combined with Mirza’s betrayal because Villar wouldn’t take over the Union, meant Altkirk had to resist two naval forces rather than one. Between that and Marrine’s already massive land forces, the nation never stood a chance.
But it doesn’t help that the Union basically sat there and watched him die. Villar was one of the strongest leaders in the Factory Union, but rather than send forces to back him up they came up with every excuse possible, ranging from blaming Villar for defending his lands in the first place to discussing potentially giving in to the Alliance and just surrendering. To an extent, Mirza is right. Everyone seems to be content to allow anything to happen as long as it keeps the uneasy peace that’s been going on, even abandoning their close comrades.
4. Abandoned by most of his friends and outmaneuvered, Villar and Castle Unicorn’s final fate happens in a single night. He and Margaret make up the last forces defending the castle after asking most of the remaining soldiers to leave, and we get quite the fight scene from them both. Margaret douses herself in oil and literally lights herself on fire, obliterating a sizable portion of the invading land force until she literally turns to ash from overuse of her powers.
Meanwhile, Villar lays to waste as many soldiers as he can before having an entire company of crossbow users attack him at once. He barely survives, but lives long enough to confront Marrine one final time. The true character test for Villar is here–instead of having a dramatic battle with Marrine, he stays true to his words from episode 8. He refuses to do battle with his own blood, and even wishes that she’ll one day find her way back to her true love Alexis, before willingly surrendering his crest to her and passing on.
The remnants of his soldiers fight on in a hopeless struggle, and even the mage who took over after Margaret left commits suicide rather than allow herself to be captured by the Alliance. All of this implies that his army and closest confidants apparently misunderstood him just as much as we viewers did. This was a character who was willing to fight to end the war, but only that. He never pursued senseless bloodshed, and set free as many of his people and soldiers as possible in order to keep them from dying, which made the deaths that came after his feel more tragic, as not only were they needless…but they weren’t even asked for.
5. With Villar finally down, the stage finally passes on to Theo. He’s got the loyalty of the people of the Black Forest, and off-screen he conquered a new land. Will he be able to carry on the legacy of Villar? Hopefully. I was complaining that his rise to the top was too easy, but at this point Theo seems like the most viable person to lead the Union with Villar dead–everyone else just seems to be a bunch of cowards, traitors, and idiots.
Next week is a recap episode. If there’s enough new footage in it, I’ll recap it. But if not, we’ll be back in two weeks with episode 12.
Record of Grancrest War is available on Crunchyroll and Hulu.