Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Vol. 3 Review

Title: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash Vol. 3
Author: Ao Jumonji (Story), Mitsumi Okubashi (Art), Eiri Shirai (Characters)
Publisher: Yen Press
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 242
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action
Publication Date: February 6, 2018

The Story

Through an error on my part, I was completely shocked that this was the final volume of Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash. To explain, I use MyAnimeList to track my progress on series that I watch/read. When I found Grimgar on there, it was listed under the manga section, so I was tracking my progress on that entry. When I received volume three, it stated that it was the final volume, which confused me because it said it was still publishing on MyAnimeList. Turns out MAL listed the light novel under the manga section and it was the novel that still publishing. I found the actual manga entry and, sure enough, only three volumes were published. I wanted to state that because it’s really going to affect my thoughts on how this series ended.

Haruhiro and company are in the Cyrene Mines. They decide to venture down further into level four where they run into Death Spots, the kobold that killed Mary’s party during her backstory. The party runs and decides to stealthily take down kobold after kobold until they get a little too careless and end up getting spotted. They quickly become surrounded with no way out… with one exception. Ranta uses himself as a sacrifice and tells the others to run, leaving him behind to die. While Haruhiro gets his party to safety, he can only wonder if he made the right choice. We end up seeing that Ranta survived, but became cornered once again. This time, Haruhiro and the party return and rescue him at the last possible moment. With victory in hand, things turn a bit dark.

Mary’s former party shows up in undead form. It was previously explained that if a person dies and is not given a proper burial, then they will be risen as an undead. It’s party vs party in which Mary breaks their curse and turns her former friends into ash. This ended up being the real reason as to why Mary suggested that the party hunt and level up in the Cyrene Mines. She wanted her chance to put her friends to rest. When the deed was done, the party was about to leave, but Death Spots returns and this time they have no option but to fight. Roles are reversed with Haruhiro and Ranta as Haru uses himself as the sacrifice so that Ranta can get the party out of there, but Death Spots is too clever and gives chase anyway. Right before Death Spots is about to hunt them down, Haru sees a mysterious line on Death Spots’ back and aims for it, slaying him.

The party makes it out of the mines and the celebrations of Death Spots’ kill and Haru’s recovery takes place. Before the party heads out on their next mission, Haru visits Manato’s grave and tells him about his decision to take full responsibility as the party’s leader… and then the series abruptly ends.

Because of my error, I fully understand that the light novel is still publishing and the manga is not a complete adaptation. Before, I said that this would affect my thoughts on the ending because had I not known that the novel was still publishing, I would have stated that this was one of the worst open-ended endings to a series that I’ve seen. I would have gone on a tirade about how the series left so much unresolved, undeveloped and unfinished, but I can’t because I know that this is not meant to be a complete adaptation. I’ll offer up more in the Final Thoughts section about this.

Characters

There was some nice character development all around in this final volume!

Mary’s development came to a close, per se, when she released her friends from their zombie curse. With that deed done, she has become indebted to Haru and will follow him anywhere. Her attitude has completely changed in the span of one volume and what used to be a silent and cold person is now a caring friend. Since her backstory stated that this was her original personality, you could attribute Haru to breaking her out of the shell she put herself into, bringing her back to her original mental state. Haru taught her to trust people again and that it’s okay to have friends.

Speaking of Haru, his development came towards the end when he was speaking in front of Manato’s grave. Even in the mines, Haru was still the same Haru. He was conflicted and felt like he wasn’t ready to fulfill the role as party leader, but after the events with Ranta and Death Spots, he finally realized that people do depend on him and he needs to become stronger so that they can continue to lean on him, much like Manato did for the party. This realization became his growth, but sadly, the series ends before we can see if any of that comes to pass.

Ranta got some development as well. While he left alone in the mines, he began to reflect on just how lonely he really was. He wanted people to like and accept him, but he already understands that people hate him and that it may be too late for people to like him. Despite feeling this, he still doesn’t change once he rejoins the party. He’s still foul-mouthed and obnoxious. For someone who wants to be accepted, he’s not doing a great job of turning over any new leaves. Maybe he feels that it truly is too late so the best thing he can do is continue to be the Ranta that everyone knows and loathes. I don’t really think that should be an option as anyone should have a chance to change who they are, but if that’s Ranta’s wish, so be it… even though it doesn’t make much sense.

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed the story that they told in the Cyrene Mines. I felt that it really told a lot about the characters themselves by showing us what their inner thoughts were through their actions. My biggest qualm was how open-ended the story felt at the conclusion.

How will Haruhiro fare as the party’s leader from here on out? What is the next destination for our team? Will Haru’s team ever get as strong as Renji’s as they made an obvious comparison between the two in the final chapter? And most importantly… how or why did they ever end up in Grimjar? Who summoned them there? What is the purpose to all of this? None of those questions are answered in the manga.

I appreciate the fact that the light novel received a manga and an anime adaptation, but I just felt so bothered when series can’t get adapted fully because the source material hadn’t been finished at the time of the adaptation. I get the whole marketing thing through… give them an anime.. give them a manga, but don’t give them everything so that they can buy the light novel and find out what happens. Anime is there to sell manga. In this case the anime and the manga are there to sell the light novels. I get the idea behind it and it is evilly genius, albeit basic in principle. Still, as someone who loves to read manga and watch anime, it’s easy to feel like you get the short end of the stick and even though I understand that this wasn’t meant to be a complete adaptation, I still feel like I’m holding the short end of that stick.

Despite me feeling that way, it doesn’t make Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash a bad series. I enjoyed it from beginning to end because I just love sword and magic fantasy stories. Despite the abrupt conclusion, this is still a series I think people should check out. It’s a grounded fantasy series where the character have real emotion and deal with complicated moral decisions all while trying to process this new world around them. A lot of stories choose not to venture down this route in favor of overpowered main characters or to see how many tropes they can squeeze into each chapter of their story. Grimgar doesn’t really do that. They give you a sense of growth as you progress through the story and they approach it with a down-to-earth style despite the fact the setting is fantasy.

Still gets my recommendation!

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This item was provided for review by Yen Press

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.

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