In the winter season last year, light novel series Record of Grancrest War received an anime adaption. Although the production had various issues, which often led to subpar work, I was invested enough in the story to stick it out through all 24 episodes. Now, publisher VIZ Media has brought the manga adaption (based on the original light novel series) to the West, so I decided to check it out and see how it compares!
The story follows 17-year-old Siluca Meletes, a mage who spends her days wishing that the noble elite would spend less time arguing and more time bringing peace to the world. Her world was once ruled by chaos, but after it was eradicated by a mighty lord wielding a powerful crest, humanity divided and each faction claimed their own territories.
In the present, these factions spend most of their time fighting each other in order to claim the world for their own, but a wedding between the Fantasia Union and the Factory Alliance offers a glimmer of hope for those wishing for peace. However, tragedy strikes during the ceremony. The chaos returns and births a demon lord, which murders the two archdukes belonging to the Fantasia Union and Factory Alliance.
A month later, Siluca is approaching the end of her final exams at the mage academia and is told she’s being sent to enter into a contract with the Earl Constance. Siluca is furious about this, knowing that Constance has a history of taking in female mage graduates for their bodies, but has no choice but to go along with it. On route to her destination, Siluca is attacked by knights who are about to go to war with Constance but manages to fight them off with the aid of a passing knight – Theo. Sensing great potential in Theo (and a way out of working for Constance!) Siluca partners up with him in a bid to raise him to be a mighty noble with the ability to unify the world once and for all.
At the beginning of this article I mentioned that the powerful lord used a crest to defeat the chaos. Crests still exist to this day and every noble has one of varying strength. Defeating demons and other crest holders is the best way to raise their power, but if one person were to unify all the crests then they’d create the ‘Grancrest’. This is what people had hoped would come about from the marriage of the Fantasia Union’s and Factory Alliance’s archdukes’ children, which would further unify their factions through the birth of their child. In Theo’s case his crest wasn’t an inheritance from being born to noble blood. He gained it from defeating a demon, which makes all the difference to Siluca. With a down-to-earth leader on her side, she believes he won’t waste his time on stupid disagreements like the other crest wielders and is better served to bring the world together.
I’ll be the first to admit that the plot of Record of Grancrest War is very complicated. It’s also very politically driven, something I usually don’t find myself interested in because my eyes gloss over at the sheer amount of detail to keep track of. However, for every info dump the story features there’s a tremendous action scene or cute character interaction to pull me straight back in.
This brings me to my next point: this manga is outright adorable in places. If you watched the anime adaption of Record of Grancrest War like I did, cute is almost certainly not going to be a word you’d associate with it. As I flipped through this volume of manga I found myself gushing over it more than once, due to how attractive and lovable mangaka Makoto Yotsuba has made these characters and the way they interact. It’s nice to have such a contrast between the more serious scenes, where the cast are battling or engaged in complex discussions, and the almost slice-of-life scenes, where Theo’s causing Siluca all means of trouble by wanting to be friends with everyone. Theo’s almost like a puppy in how he interacts with the world, which more often than not leads to Siluca scolding him. These scenes are drawn in such exaggerated and cute ways that you can’t help but fall further in love with the cast. I never thought I’d find myself describing Record of Grancrest War like this, but here we are.
Makoto Yotsuba’s adaptation of the series has so much charm that I’d recommend this manga over the anime for newcomers. The contrast of humour vs drama just works better than the anime’s approach, and I like the character designs a lot more. Their designs are softer around the edges and less bulky than the designs the anime used, as well as far more expressive. It all comes together to make Record of Grancrest War itself more likable in manga form, which is definitely something I wasn’t anticipating going into it.
Having said all that, if you’re someone who didn’t enjoy the anime because of its story or if you just don’t like politically driven stories in general, this manga isn’t going to change your mind. I’m not even sure it’s doing anything wholly original for the genre, but I haven’t read much like Record of Grancrest War so it’s difficult for me to comment there.
This release comes to the West thanks to VIZ Media and has been translated by Satsuki Yamashita, delivering a translation that reads smoothly. Also, for some clarification, although the series has an explicit content warning on the front, this appears to come from the violence throughout the story rather than from any kind of sexual content or nudity.
Overall, the first volume of Record of Grancrest War offers a satisfying entrance into a compelling story about war and demons. Newcomers to the series will probably prefer this to the anime adaption and returning fans of the franchise should find plenty to like here.