I love Grimgar of the Fantasy and Ash. It brings me back to when I used to play DnD with my dude friends. The animation is beautiful. I’m obsessed with the theme song, I want to dance to it! Not only do the notes just sound good to my ears, but the lyrics are very charming to me. But the number one thing that makes Grimgar so special is the theme. Now, I don’t think Grimgar is about a bunch of kids playing DnD. It’s a show about Leadership, and Communication. The art of communication and leadership is especially glorified in situations where one specific person has to deal with difficult people.
When I first met Mary, she reminded me of a classmate who I’m having difficulties with. I don’t have a lot of patience for this person, but I feel like she insults me after I say anything. I don’t really have a lot of patience in general, and I’m not really willing to try and communicate better with this friend, because frankly, I have a very self centered personality. When I watch Grimgar, I see Haru’s frustration with Mary being very similar to my own, but unlike me, Haruhiro is patient and gentle with the person who brings him such woe. I root for Haru because he’s just such a good person struggling inside an awkward body. I am nothing like Haruhiro, that’s why I admire him so much and the way he handles rough social situations. I wonder if I could solve my communication error if I just tried to treat this friend the way Haruhiro treats Mary, a character I want to smack in the face.
Low and behold, I was surprised to find Mary was turning into a character I could identify with! I think of her like an onion (I know, what a great comparison) a person who just needed comrades to pull away all the rotten layers until they found the soft heart in the center. I was surprised that I was surprised by this. Of course the mean character was actually a good person who just needed a little bit of redemption. This is the part of the story where I wonder if it’s applicable to real life, because, this is such a classic overused story formula. Haruhiro was always kind to everyone, even when he was suffered because of his new leadership position. Are human beings really that strong when it comes to kindness? There are only once person I can think of off the top of my head who always choose kindness first. Cinderella, and Jesus. Now, one of these is fictional. The other, is a man who I greatly wish to inspire me with a kind spirit, and to help me work on my weak areas when it comes to communication.
As sad as it is, both Mary and Haru are characters who develop the most because of the death of another person. This seams to be a very common tool of growth in anime, kind of like the redeem the onion formula. Still, it’s very interesting to watch Mary and Haruhiro grow alongside each other as the battle the pain of their comrade’s death. Mary holds to herself and becomes cold, with the emotional level of a rock, but Haruhiro takes on a personality closer to that of Jesus’s grace. Even thought Haruhiro is hurting, he pulls in Mary and invites her to share her hurt with him. That’s mind blowing to me! How strong you must be to bear more then your own pain. Then I’m blow away when I remember that this example in Grimgar is just a small glimpse of the consent of the crucifixion. Why would a person take on my sin and pain as his own? If this is something Haruhiro can do for Mary as well as the others in his party, he is much stronger then he believes
Of course someone in every anime has to have a tragic past, and of course that someone has to overcome it. It’s a cliché but it’s a formula that draws that viewer in. (Like “Redeem the Onion” and “Character Development via Death”) Mary’s past certainly drew me in. It kind of makes you feel guilty for hating her in the first place. It was really powerful to watch Mary hurting, because nobody can really hate a character while they’re in so much pain. When introduced to her she has about as much emotion as a rock. But Mary’s personality was just a façade to cover all the hurt inside. She had lots of pain that brought lots of anxiety and social awkwardness.
Haruhiro: When Mary stayed at those dingy lodges, she was probably with her old party mates, with the comrades who are no longer here.
The moment when Mary started trembling because of the talk about going to the Cyrene Mines, was the moment I felt like I understood her, because I know I have been in that place. Pain is a universal language, everyone speaks it. It’s one thing that ties every single person together. For that moment, Haruhiro and Mary were connected because they knew each other’s pain.
Haruhiro: “If we go to the Cyrine Mine, Mary will have to step foot in the place where she lost her friends. That would be diffacult and painful.”
I found that in a matter of moments, a character can go from being one you despise, to one you want to love. This to me is a sign of masterful story telling.
When Mary runs away from the party, there comes Haruhiro, the hero who stumbles after her. He is everything praiseworthy I said above but he doesn’t understand it yet. It’s this element of humility, or mostly being oblivious to his own importance in the story, that makes Haruhiro such an attractive and intriguing hero. He talks so smoothly to Mary, not afraid to even shed a few tears when they make a connection of friendship.
Mary: I’m probably causing you trouble.
Haruhiro: “Your not. There’s no way we’d think of it like that.”
Haruhiro helps Mary’s character transform from an unwanted one, to one that belongs, a character the audience can enjoy.
Mary: I’d want it to be you guys. It’d make me happy if I could go with you guys… because you called me your friend.
When no one else would, or could, Haruhiro looked at Mary with the eyes of a comrade. I can’t help but be reminded of Jesus, and how much he loved us while we were still difficult people like Mary. He even still loves us when we act like a train wreck and have break downs like Mary. That doesn’t scare God, and it didn’t scare Haruhiro. It’s the quality of looking past the outside layer that makes Haruhiro a true leader. This quality about him, reflects the generosity and acceptance of Christ.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have already rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them, People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
I’m so excited to watch Haruhiro grow into the leader the party needs. I know that he will surpass Manato, and draw the party together in a beautiful… probably tragic way.