Book Review: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash by Ao Jyumonji (Volume One)

Title: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
Author: Ao Jyumonji, Eiri Shirai (illustrator)
Released: June 06, 2017 (Paperback)
Series: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
Rating: ★★★★☆

Description: The light novel fantasy epic that inspired a critically-acclaimed anime!

Haruhiro awakens to darkness and amnesia, among a group of strangers who can only remember their own names… and nothing else. When they make it into the light, they discover Grimgar – a fantasy world that’s like something out of an RPG game. Without apparent skills or knowledge of their surroundings, Haruhiro and his newfound friends band together to form an adventuring party. Only by cooperating, using their wits, and learning new skills can hope to survive in this dangerous land of monsters and magic.

Please keep in mind that this review contains spoilers for the entire book. Read with caution. If you click the “Read More”, it is under the assumption you either don’t care about spoilers, you’ve already read the book, or you’ve seen the anime.

This is my disclaimer that I haven’t seen the anime and while I do plan to, I want to read at least the first two volumes for comparison’s sake.

When certain authors write isekais, the characters don’t go through any strife. They seem to naturally fit in and some of them actually take some dominance over the “lesser” and the “NPCs” and everything is treated like a game.

Another thing too is that it’s usually only one person who travels to a different world.

In this light novel, it’s multiple people who come from the same world. The only thing they remember is their name and whatever modern clothing they have. For plot convenience, they all seem to be Japanese but also seem to speak the same language. But that’s neither there nor here. The thing about it is that this group of people happen to band together and start training to become volunteer soldiers – all for the sake of survival and to eat. And what’s interesting to me is that it’s not easy for them. They struggle, bleed, starve, and then there’s the comrade they’ve developed over the course of time. Not only that, you can see how grueling their training is in their respectful fields. I also like that the main character that’s focused on isn’t a typical hero with the typical heroic job. He’s a thief.

And then, there’s death.

When Manato dies, you can absolutely feel the emptiness they feel for him when he does pass and the desperation of trying to save him. I like that while they do grieve, they don’t linger. They have to move on and are forced to hire another priest who experienced loss of her own. And another thing I liked, especially is that Merry the priest isn’t automatically open to both Haruhiro and the rest of the group, considering what happened to her in the past (or what’s assumed that happened), and instead, the characters are still forced to have to work together through their pain.

However, and this is big, this story isn’t all grim and dark and “realistic”. Thankfully, there is quite a bit of levity and some of the parts that I truly love about an isekai fantasy – the exploration of this world from the point of view of a complete non-native. It does feel as though the world becomes a bit more video game-esque than I would’ve liked but I just liked it. The fact that the female members of the group are treated with as much trust and dependability as their male counterparts is also really nice. Granted, Haruhiro is pretty much the de facto leader even though he’s a thief but I can accept it.

One thing I didn’t like is that there are times where the guys peek at the girls during their bath. It’s such an annoying trope and I really don’t understand why these scenes are absolutely needed. Maybe it’s because of the author’s “intended” audience but doesn’t it get old? Doesn’t it get old to have those scenes over and over? There’s more than enough media out there that have scenes like this and, surely, there are hundreds if not thousands of ways to have those certain scenes together. Ranta is really annoying and really grating with his misogyny. Literally, because of him, I almost dropped this story multiple times because he’s just so grating to me. I don’t see the appeal of him – it is possible to create an abrasive character who puts everyone off without including misogyny, homophobia, and other isms to have people be put off by them. I know I lauded that I enjoyed the fact that I liked the main characters getting their elbows dirty and it is good to see characters see their hard work pay off. But the -isms of characters make it too real. And I’m supposed to be rooting for guys like Ranta? I’m worried there might be a plot point where Ranta will eventually betray the group and I’m supposed to care about that. I want to care about him but give me some room on that, please.

Regardless, the fact that I finished this first novel shows that, in the end, I still enjoyed this. I really want to keep reading this series further to see how this team managed to get through everything. Also, I want to learn more about the mystery of their pasts, why they were all sent there, and where they go after they die.

About Lily

A fujoshi who won't shut up about anime, manga, video games, BJDs, nendoroids, and anime conventions. She apparently can't stop writing either.

Posted on February 16, 2021, in ★★★★☆ – 4 Stars, Book Reviews, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, Light Novels and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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