5 Point Discussions – Record Of Grancrest War 22: “The Holy Grail”

by Sage Ashford

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1. The Order of the Crest has been a barely noticeable subplot in the background for the majority of this series. They made their first appearance with Priscilla knocking on Theo’s castle doors, asking if her and her followers could be let in. Siluca had a problem with them from the beginning, as they believe in taking the crests of Lords and mages alike for the sake of reviving their one god. As a woman of science (…or magic, I guess), Siluca didn’t believe in that at all, and wanted Priscilla as far away from Theo, the only decent Lord she knew, as possible.

But Priscilla turned out to be a staunch ally for Theo and his army, healing citizens and soldiers alike. She even healed Irvin and Aishela (twice), keeping them from almost certain death. Aside from that, she’s spent little time in the foreground of the plot, and the Order of the Crest has barely come up, aside from one mention a few episodes ago about a Pope pretending he was the so called Holy Grail in Priscilla’s absence. He pulled this off, despite Priscilla’s crest actually being a Holy Grail, somehow. At the time, the group was actually too busy dealing with Queen Marrine to do anything about it, but if you were wondering if that was going to come back to bite them in the ass, well…now it has.

With incredulously suspicious timing, just as the Imperial Army is about to try and put down the Mage Association and bring peace to the land once and for all, the Order of the Crest decides the Lords have gotten too out of hand. All they do ever do is wage war between one another for control of the continent.  The Pope’s response to that? He’s declaring a holy war on the Imperial Army.  Yep, he managed to put those two sentences in the same speech and didn’t spontaneously combust from absurd irony.

2. There’s nothing worse than having the most logical course of action somehow also feel like it’s the most stupid one at the same time, but here we are. Realizing the Order of the Crest is going to place their army in the way, Theo, Siluca and the rest of the Imperial Army weigh their options on what to do. You’d think the Order of the Crest wouldn’t have an especially large military force, and you’d be right–they barely number five thousand warriors if you count several thousand mercenaries who can just be bribed, but they also have seventy thousand followers–a number which includes women, children, and the elderly.

Now technically this is Theo’s karma coming back to bite him in the butt–time and again he’s repeatedly led ordinary citizens into battle against trained military soldiers, and to great success, otherwise he wouldn’t currently be the Emperor of the Imperial Army. But there’s a difference between leading citizens and slaughtering them, and it’s universally agreed Theo shouldn’t be rushing into battle to kill grandmas and kids. So Priscilla volunteers to go speak to the Pope, which sounds like the dumbest idea possible–the Pope usurped her position, and one would think would be eager to kill her so she couldn’t get said position back. Sending her to his location, where he’s got all the followers and army would seem insane, and yet…there’s no way they would have ever met with Theo, Marrine, or Alexis, nor would they have listened to them when they’re the Lords who are supposedly out of hand in the first place. Welp, guess we’re stuck doing something dumb.

3. I was all ready to say Grancrest’s world took a dim view of religion, given how the Pope wasn’t really a character from what we’d seen, but every negative stereotype rolled into one. But with Priscilla’s appearance this episode, I realized Grancrest might have the most balanced portrayal I’ve seen of organized religion in an anime in a long time, perhaps ever. The Pope is certainly a lot of bad things–overconfident, controlling, engaging in displays of decadence, demanding everyone follow his way or be put to death–all traits you’d expect to see in a character that’s a cynical take on what religion does to people.

But then you’ve got Priscilla–she’s kind, trusting, caring, and self-sacrificing.  She’s offered nothing but help to Theo and Siluca, saving their best friends and asking for nothing in return. The most annoying thing she’s done is ask Siluca to join the Order…once.  Other than that she hasn’t imposed her beliefs at once–she’s not afraid to tell you what they are, but she hasn’t threatened anyone or treated them as less than for not following them this entire series.

So what happens when two sides of the same religious coin get in a room together?

4. Well, one side kills the other, of course. Priscilla makes it to the center of the Order of the Crest’s home and successfully begins changing everyone over to her side except for the Pope and his army,  offering assurance Theo is a good Lord and wants to bring peace to the land. But the Pope isn’t willing to give up his power so fast, particularly not with the backing of a mage from Pandora on his side.

Despite Priscilla displaying her crest and showing it’s in the exact shape of a grail, the Pope remains unconvinced of her beliefs, and pronounces her a heretic as he takes her life with a hidden dagger. Led to believe her crest would simply pass into being a Chaos Core and prove she wasn’t who she claimed to be, it isn’t until they realize her crest isn’t transforming that it finally dawns on him he’s slain the prophet of his religion. Overcome with guilt at having committed the ultimate sin, he refuses to take Priscilla’s crest, causing the Pandora mage to turn on him and attempt to take his life before Irvin saves his life and causes the mage to retreat.

5. Most of the time this show manages to avoid making Theo seem like a Gary Stu sort of personality who everyone loves and everything goes perfectly for, but I’m kind of up in the air on how this ended. Priscilla died, and the world of Grancrest is poorer for losing such a kind soul–but really? It just means Theo got a power up. Turns out, Priscilla’s crest is the Holy Grail, and she intended to pass it to Theo all along to bring peace to the continent. After he learns she passed, he rushes to the Order’s cathedral and is the person who absorbs Priscilla’s crest. Now admittedly it was a long shot that Theo would believe in Priscilla enough to give up his crest, but having her die instead doesn’t feel like the best move.

On the other hand, she’s been reviving people from near-death enough times that I guess she had to go if the ending was going to have any believable drama to it.

Record of Grancrest War is available for streaming on Crunchyroll and Hulu.