Record of Grancrest War may have sufficed as an HBO or Showtime original. The reality, though, is that isn’t; it’s an anime from a big-time production studio, and so we must evaluate it as such.
Fearing a type of energy called “chaos” the inhabitants of Atlatan live in feudalistic kingdoms under the “protection” of Lords who wield the power of crests. They fight amongst each other for power, but along comes a young lord by the name of Theo who teams up with a mage named Siluca in an effort to finally bring peace to the world…or something like that. Honestly, the plot isn’t all that important. There were several writers involved in this production, and it feels like it. The narrative is all over the place to begin with, but the biggest issue, BY FAR, is how Grancrest Senki breaks its own neck with the speed at which it progresses through said plot.
I really don’t know what director Mamoru Hatakeyama (making his TV directorial debut) and company were going for here, but they seemingly skip across three or four seasons’ worth of possible content in just 24 episodes. Maybe it’s the fault of the producers too, but regardless, the end result is a fantasy/adventure/romance series with all of the pieces, but none of the magical feel.
The animation ranges from really good to really bad, sometimes even within the same episode. The music and sound is acceptable, thanks to Shinji Yamauchi (Eromanga Sensei, multiple seasons of Monogatari) and Yoshikazu Iwanami (SAO, Blood-C, Psycho-Pass). There are some moments that do actually come together well, but the series as a whole feels insanely rushed and consistent in both storytelling and overall production. So really, those moments serve more or less as reminders of how good Grancrest Senki could and probably should have been.
I initially expected better from the studio behind Your Lie in April and Erased, but then I remembered they’re also the ones behind Sword Art Online and Fate/Apocrypha, so I guess it’s always best to keep your expectations in check.
This is kind of a painful review to write because I did find the show somewhat enjoyable. The premise is fine, there are some likable characters, and there are some parts that truly are captivating. I won’t say the show is a trainwreck or anything, but I cannot forgive A-1 for wasting so much potential. Maybe we’ll just pretend the records of all those forgotten characters and sub plots were lost to time. What you see with Grancrest is what you get; definitely nothing more.
Music/Sound Design: 7.5
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