Title: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Vol. 2
Author: Ao Jumonji (Story), Mitsumi Okubashi (Art), Eiri Shirai (Characters)
Publisher: Yen Press
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
The second volume of Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash copes with the loss of Manato, who died during their last attempted raid on the goblins in the city of Damuro. The party is in shambles and Ranta lashes out at Haruhiro saying that if Manato didn’t waste all his magic on healing him, he probably wouldn’t have died. This caused Haruhiro to second guess himself in all aspects. Just when they were about to give up, they get introduced to a freelance priest named Mary by Kikkawa, one of Manato’s friends. Mary “joins” the party, but is very cold and hardened towards all of them. Coupled with the loss of Manato, this puts an even bigger strain on the party that begins to divide them.
Eventually, Haruhiro tries to bring the party back together and tries to get Mary to open up about herself. That doesn’t happen until they run into Hayashi, a member of the Orion Clan and a former party member of Mary’s. He goes into Mary’s past which causes all of them to understand why Mary is the way she is. Haruhiro decides to use this to get Mary to open up. Once the ice begins to break, the party decides that they will return to hunting goblins with their goal of going back to Damuro to kill the goblin that killed Manato.
With a re-strengthened party, they do just that. While the battle was tough, they came better prepared with new spells, talents and armor. They were able to overcome the odds and gain a measure of revenge for Manato. With the money they earned, they were finally able to buy their badges, including an extra one to lay on Manato’s grave. With their goals accomplished, they wonder how they are going to move on. Mary suggests going to the Cyrene Mines, a place very familiar to her from her past, but Haruhiro decides to return to Damuro instead. When they get there, they find that the city is overrun with goblins that are geared far better than the one who killed Manato. Seeing this, they head to the mines instead where Mary is going to have to confront her past.
The majority of the character development is spent on our newest character Mary. A former member of the Orion Clan, Mary became a freelancer after she ran out of magic in the Cyrene Mines and let three of her closest friends die. After the remnants of her party escaped, they were all accepted into the Orion Clan, but Mary didn’t make the cut. Since then, she never smiled and lost her personality… becoming a very cold and close-hearted person. She blamed herself for letting her friends die so she figured that if she cut off her feelings and became a freelancer then it wouldn’t put as much strain on herself. While I’m not completely convinced that she has fully come around, she certainly warmed up to Haruhiro and the others. I have a feeling that she’s only doing so to get revenge in the Cyrene Mines. Who knows what will happen with Mary once this escapade is over.
Haruhiro had to do a bit of soul searching in this volume. Manato’s dying words to him suggested that he pick up the reigns and lead the party, but Haruhiro doesn’t feel qualified to do so… especially after what Ranta had said to him about being the reason Manato died. Haruhiro knew that nobody else was going to step up and be the leader of the party and that it was going to have to fall squarely on his shoulders. Despite these doubts, Haruhiro decided to just do it, but it didn’t come naturally right away. In fact, by the end of the volume, he’s still not completely confident in his leadership. He even asked Mary what kind of leader he was to which she replied “a delegator.” Haruhiro says that all of the party members, save for Ranta, are passive, but he doesn’t realize that he, himself, is the same exact way. It’s a nice way to begin growing him as a character. It’ll be interesting to see how he ends up after everything is said and done.
On a side note, I liked the little tease between Haruhiro and Yume. The seeds have been planted for a relationship, but it wasn’t really touched upon too much. I wonder if it was a one-time thing or if they will build upon it in future volumes!
This was a slow-paced volume of Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash as it dug into the feelings of each of the party members in regards to the loss of Manato. In addition, it opened the door for a new character, but the introduction wasn’t just a simple “here’s your new character… k thx bye.” The volume took the time to actually develop Mary AND show what kind of emotional impact she had on the group. Everything from confusion on whether or not they should replace Manato this soon to how they all initially felt about Mary to finding some sort of reasoning to like her. Every aspect of someone new coming into your life was explored and I think it really caused a deep connection between the characters and the reader.
Very few stories go out of their way to explore the impacts of characters in a world that’s either established or continuing to establish itself, but Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash did so and it was very refreshing to see it unfold. Aspects like this bring a certain realistic element to a genre which is nestled deeply in the realm of fantasy. It shows that while anything and everything can happen in a fantasy story, it doesn’t always have to be that way. Real elements such as life and death as well as emotions can still play an integral role in any setting.
There is a wide selection in the “Isekai” (Another World) genre these days. Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash adds to that genre with a sense of realism and emotion rarely captured. I hear it too often… that whenever another Isekai series comes out, people say “Oh, another Sword Art Online.” It’s understandable because Sword Art Online has garnered the most attention and mainstream acceptance in this genre, but series like Grimgar show that not every Isekai series is another SAO. Haruhiro certainly isn’t overpowered and certainly doesn’t solve big conflicts by busting out Starburst Stream. In fact, I would say the realistic approach that Grimgar takes is a great of example of how to do an Isekai series correctly!
After two volumes I, for one, feel this is a series worth picking up!
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This item was provided for review by Yen Press