Record of Grancrest War is a 2018 fantasy anime series based on the light novels of the same name, written by Ryo Mizuno and illustrated by Makoto Yotsuba.
The series ran for 24 episodes and today we’re reviewing the first 12, released in the UK courtesy of MVM Entertainment.
Grancrest War immediately kicks its story off with The Great Hall Tragedy as a vicious attack on a wedding destroys any hope of peace between the Fantasy Alliance and the Factory Union, factions caught up in frequent conflict. The attack is witnessed by a young mage, Siluca Meletes, who is one of the main characters in the story.
Conflicts frequently occur due to the presence of Crests, instruments used to leverage power and authority that can be levelled up – something that is seen as another lead character, Theo Cornaro, takes on and defeats a demon.
These conflicts have also become more prevalent ever since the forces of Chaos were overcome. In the world of Grancrest War “Chaos” used to reign supreme and is a concentrated malice of sorts which distorts the world around it and has caused an array of disasters and an uprising of supernatural threats.
Early on, the story of Grancrest War focuses on Theo and Siluca protecting Theo’s territory from a neighbouring nation looking to take their land as their own. The action is brisk and the character introductions quickly showcase individual fighting styles and abilities on the battlefield.
Eventually, Theo conquers the entire region of Sievis and a request is made to join the Factory Alliance as a means to aid Lady Marrine Kreische who now leads the Alliance, following her father’s death during The Great Hall Tragedy.
This, unfortunately, doesn’t go according to plan as Theo is now seen as a threat due to his territorial strength and this results in a battle intent on forcing more favourable terms.
Without giving too much of the story away from here on, we get further political intrigue and betrayal as new alliances and positions of power push the story into new territories. I’ve found Grancrest War’s storyline so far to be fairly intriguing and I’ve appreciated that it has given its ever-expanding cast opportunities to develop.
Said cast of characters aren’t the most original in terms of personality and goals but are likeable enough and have, so far, seen some decent development, especially the leads Theo and Siluca whose relationship has, so far, actually gone somewhere which is a nice change of pace from the many will-they won’t-they romances in anime.
When it comes to the story itself, I was concerned that it would be weighed down by the frequent battles. Thankfully, enough time is given in-between major battles to allow the cast to breathe, fulfil duties for their regions and in some instances grow closer or receive back story that fleshes out their personalities.
A notable example of this is seen in Episode 5 which sees Theo and Siluca attempting to resolve a conflict between Vampires and Werewolves in a nearby territory – something that leads to them making new allies.
Visually, the world of Grancrest War appears to take place in a sort of Not-Europe that is an ever-familiar setting for fantasy media. The series was animated by A-1 Pictures and directed by Mamoru Hatakeyama who also directed Shôwa Genroku rakugo shinjû and the recent Kaguya-Sama: Love is War.
Grancrest War comes in both Japanese with English subs and English dub options with the Japanese being my preferred version overall. The voice actors for Theo (Kentaro Kumagai) and Siluca (Akari Kito) have some nice chemistry, whilst another highlight comes from Takahiro Sakurai who voices Villar and gives them a suitably suave and confident delivery.
The score for Grancrest War was provided by Yugo Kanno and acts as a good backdrop to the action on-screen. The OP, “Starry” by Mashiro Ayano and the ED, “Pledge” by Asca, are also decent listens.
Record of Grancrest War is being released in the UK by MVM Entertainment in two parts. It comes in a standard Blu-ray case, although something to note is that Episode 11.5 is not included on this release.
The picture quality is fine, with some nice detailing like reflections in marbled flooring and the more fluid battle sequences. The Blu-rays contain no special features outside the usual textless OP/ED and some trailers.
Overall, the first half of Record of Grancrest War provides enough action and political intrigue to entertain, with a sense that events will be gearing up during the second half.