Record Of Grancrest War Part 2 (Episodes 13-24) (Cert 15)
2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: MVM) Running time: 285 minutes approx.
Release Date: December 9th
We return to the bifurcated continent of Atlatan where the long held peace between the Fantasia Union and the Factory Alliance factions has been disrupted following the Great Hall Tragedy, where a demonic force called Chaos interrupted the wedding between the heirs of the two blocs to unite the nations, killing both their fathers.
A student mage named Siluca Meletes then teams up with nobleman Theo Cornaro to restore unity across Atlatan via a mixture of political discussion and violence, winning over some territories and repelling others. When we left the story, Theo was hoping to free his home province of Sistana from a corrupt lord, but his progress was impeded by the revelation of a shock opposing force.
I must confess the above recap of the first volume of this fantasy series was more for my benefit than yours as it’s been a while since viewing it, and the story was such a disorganised mess, recalling everything and everyone in it is a Herculean task. Unless you have a photographic memory, it might be worth re-watching a few episodes from the first volume to get up to speed ahead of watching this one, a luxury I didn’t have.
Sourced from a light novel series and role-playing game, Record Of Grancrest War has a vast pool of adventures and outcomes to draw on to form the plot points of this anime adaptation, but chooses the random approach in making its selection. This was a notable handicap in following and enjoying volume one and it is fair to say this second collection isn’t much better.
Part two opens with Theo, Siluca, the werewolf twins, and somebody else whose name I’ve already forgotten, arriving at Sistana where the people refuse to side with Theo through fear of upsetting the ruling Rossini family. So, Theo deals with this by killing members of the Rossini family, encouraging the people of his home town of Marza to rise up against the Rossinis.
During this event, we learn a bit more about Theo’s past – more accurately. regarding his father’s death – yet we are still not fully sold on him as a character given the ease of his benevolence towards those who killed his father. It’s funny that someone who has no qualms going to battle for political gain can be so forgiving, especially as he is the chief protagonist of the story, but he is nobility so I guess that’s okay.
Having been revealed that Marrine Kreische, the bride at the Great Hall wedding, formed a coalition with the villainous Mirza Kooches to destroy the Union, by way of avenging her father’s death. She enlists the aid of the Nords, giant berserkers happy to rampage against Union forces, but neither is prepared for the robust opposition from Lady Eudokia of Haman, who rallies her troops and influences slaves under the Nords to real against them by stripping off in front of them. Yes, that really happens!
Maybe I’ve inadvertently piqued your interest with that last revelation but like most of the developments in this series, it feels totally random, let alone capricious in Eudokia being one of the many cast members who appear with little to no introduction, thus our investment in her (at least for the chaps) is purely aesthetic.
In the wake of this, more leaders join the fold, some getting to stick around for a while as third faction known as the Treaty is formed to operate within the Union vs. Alliance feud, others dispatched as quickly as they arrive. This becomes a huge problem coming into the final stretch as we learn of new antagonists to provide further obstruction for Theo and friends, who really should have been established much earlier in the series.
First is Pope Leone, who you’d think would be highly featured character given the tumult of the land, who apparently has declared himself to be the Holy Grail, when in fact that would be Priscilla Farnese, the quiet mage with healing powers on Team Theo. This ends in tragedy but would have deeper emotional ramifications had it been a more prominent storyline and the characters featured more regularly than they are.
Then there is the Mage Academy, who has ordered a purge of any mages supporting any of the lords in the three factions because reasons. Again, they appear out of nowhere in the latter stages despite their involvement in the Great Hall Tragedy, meaning Theo and his united front have a real battle on their hands. The outcome sees this show disappear up its own backside delivering a typical anime conclusion, clearly the product of an overworked writer existing on no sleep and cocaine.
Yet again, we are left with a series that has designs on being an epic fantasy adventure and has the episode count to achieve this, but sadly not the discipline, planning, and creativity to make it happen. The material is evidently there as flashes of a coherent plot surface from time to time and it is genuinely compelling and we become invested in the story.
Bur because the cast list is vast and regularly expanding due to the nature of the story being about uniting an entire continent, the problem is fitting too much content into one sitting. It seems reasonable that devoting one season to the first part of the story, then the remainder in a second would have sufficed in allowing the story to play out in full and for the audience to become attached to the characters.
At the risk of sounding churlish, Record Of Grancrest War started as it meant to go on – bombing through the opening episodes and sprinting through the closing ones, with a convoluted middle section. Maybe viewed as a complete piece might improve its worth, but as it stands, the narrative and pacing flaws are to its detriment, unless you know the source material.
Sadly not the epic saga it aspires to be.
English Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Japanese Language 2.0 DTS HD-MA
Disc 2 only:
Clean Opening Animation
Clean Closing Animations
Rating – ** ½
Man In Black