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 first half of Grancrest War saw a steady balance of conflict, political intrigue and some welcome character development, especially between the young, reluctant leader Theo Cornaro and his mage Siluca whose progression as lovers is one I wish anime series would take notes from.
Theo had also amassed himself a group of supportive allies including Siluca’s guardian Irvin, top-tier fighter Aishela, a priestess/healer in Priscilla and even twin Werewolf sisters, Emma and Luna.
Moving into the early episodes of this second half, we witness Theo and his companions trekking to Sistina, the area where he was born and raised, to free the citizens from the oppression of the Rossinis, evil noblemen who work to control everyone beneath them.
Naturally, folks are reluctant to turn against their masters for fear of the consequences but luckily, Theo’s hometown, Marza, welcomes his party’s support and the cogs of conflict quickly grind into action as the Rossinis retaliate and another battlefield skirmish occurs, with sacrifices made in the process.
Though Theo is triumphant and recognised for his efforts, the victory isn’t savoured for long as news arrives of the ruthless Milza terrorising the nearby territory of Altirk. Naturally, Theo doesn’t take this lying down and vows to finish off the intimidating warrior.
Without giving too much away, the second half of Grancrest War may feel similar in tone to the first half early on, as our heroes continue building their supporters and side-characters get some progression.
However, Grancrest War soon enters its last arc, which centres around the final battle. This battle is preceded by a truce between the Alliance, the Union and The Treaty, as they find a common enemy in the Mage Academy and the treacherous Order of the Crest who play their hands.
These final episodes really do feel like a culmination of our heroes’ journey to bring peace, and the numerous losses along the way lend a real poignancy to the proceedings. This is a series that isn’t afraid to shed some blood and there’s often a gravitas to skirmishes that lends more weight and consequence.
The final moments of the story are also pretty satisfying in the sense that there is hope for the future of the characters and their world now that new opportunities have emerged.
The final episodes also offer some insight into how the magic system within this world works, and there’s even this universe’s version of the Holy Grail which the aforementioned Order want to get their hands on – a plot which ends badly for one of our heroes.
Looking at character development, Grancrest War still manages to give time to its expansive cast, albeit with it being whittled down as time goes on as we sadly lose several in the quest to end the various conflicts and the devastation they’ve created.
Throughout the second half, Theo continues to grow as a leader – uniting and fixing broken bonds along the way but also facing losses which leave him determined to succeed. Siluca, meanwhile, takes a role as a close companion and the two work nicely together, without any ‘will they won’t they’ tropes to hinder their dynamic.
Other characters like Marrine, however, failed to intrigue me as much in their maintenance of power, despite the sacrifices they made to maintain it. Some of the antagonistic forces also felt somewhat limited in personality at times.
A-1 Pictures continue to do a solid job in the animation department, as does Mamoru Hatakeyama as Director. Grancrest War maintains the visual identity established before, portraying a medieval not-Europe aesthetic with many a green and blue backdrop for skirmishes and struggles. It also uses its visuals to highlight key story themes, an example coming early on as we witness the Rossinis’ luxurious living quarters and their juxtaposition with the humble adornments of the peasant villages and abodes. It highlights the wealth/power gap that Theo and his friends are trying to balance out in an effort to bring and maintain peace for all the territories around them.
Now onto the Blu-ray itself. Record of Grancrest War comes housed in a standard-sized Blu-ray case holding two discs with six episodes each. The artwork displays Theo Cornaro alongside his travelling companions as they sail off to secure further allies. As with Volume 1, the discs offer both Japanese with English subs and English dub options with the Japanese option being my preferred version overall. The Japanese voice actors delivered suitable performances, with some highlights from Natsumi Takamori (Priscilla) and Reina Ueda (Aishela) during some character-centric scenes.
Music-wise, the score for Grancrest War is again provided by Yugo Kanno and served well enough whilst we’re also given a new OP, “Rin” (“Frigid”), performed by ASCA, and ED, “Shoudou” (“Impulse), performed by Mashiro Ayano. Both are returning artists who had provided the ED and OP before and the songs are listenable enough.
The Blu-rays contain no special features outside the usual textless OP/ED and some trailers.
To conclude, Record of Grancrest War Volume 2 presents a satisfying enough finale that continues to develop its characters and world as it provides some great action and decent story beats, building to the final climactic battle that will determine the fates of our heroes and the world they’ve sacrificed so much to save.