Hai to Gensou no Grimgar is an anomaly in the group of shows I’ve chosen for 12 Days of Anime. It’s the only show of these that I respect and understand what it’s doing, and I don’t think it’s a terrible show by any regards, but there are plenty of aspects that left me with a sour taste in my mouth, unrelated to the actual topic of this article. I feel that I have to say this up front, as this article may glorify the show perhaps a bit more than how good the show actually was, but I definitely think it has valid points regarding this topic.
Progressing past the discussion of the less gratifying portions of the show, the topic of death really comes up quite frequently in the story-line of this show, whether you’re following the anime or the light novels. Death itself is obviously not a comfortable topic for anyone to discuss, but Grimgar portrays death in a semi-realistic fashion, both showing the fallout that can be caused over a death and also how people can come closer and grow to be stronger because of one.
A prime example of this in the story is when the group leader, Manato, ends up risking his life by using himself as a sacrifice in order to save the lives of his party members that he’s known and worked with for some time. But it’s not necessarily the action of the death that was tough for the group to deal with, although it definitely didn’t make it any easier for them to deal with, as expected from a sudden death of someone close to you.
The hardship that followed was arguably even more traumatic than the death itself though; the healing process was even more brutal for them. As Manato was their leader, they had lost all sorts of logical reasoning, cohesion, and camaraderie between group members, and ended up driving their work ethic to a halt. This became problematic, as no one else had expected the death to happen to quickly and early on, but also no one was prepared to step up and replace someone that close to them as the leader of the group.
Haruhiro ends up becoming a sort of saving grace in this regard, as he pretty much self-nominated himself as leader in order to keep the tensions low between the party and also to make sure they had some plan in order to draw in income for them to carry on with their daily lives. Haruhiro begins the story as someone that’s very unsure of himself and very passive, but Manato’s death and taking leadership of the party because of that was only the beginning of his development. As a leader, he ends up having to make a lot of tough decisions to keep the party moving, which is something that he would have never considered doing had Manato not passed away.
As the story continues on with Haruhiro as the leader, he has to experience some very difficult decisions, such as immediately replacing Manato’s crucial role with a healer named Merry soon after his death. This is one of the first instances Haruhiro himself ends up disrupting the harmony of the party himself, instead of playing a passive, neutral role with the party’s relationship dynamics. Not to mention he replaces Manato, known for his grace and politeness among the party members, with someone that’s universally considered to be cold and hateful to everyone in the party itself.
This created even further issues, as the party needs a healer to continue having funds, but also wants to be friends among themselves, so the problem continues to manifest itself among the group, which stirs up many fights and arguments about Haruhiro’s decisions.
Haruhiro continues to work with Merry, as while not knowing much about her, decides to sort of “fulfill” the role that Manato left them with and figure out how to work with her, along with finding a way for her to fit in with the rest of the group. Haruhiro manages to do this and progressively learns more about her, learning about her similar situation to his as she once was close to a group of friends that suffered a tragic accident she indirectly caused through party hunting, similar to what Haruhiro experienced with Manato.
Once there was a mutual acceptance with Merry’s situation among the group, the party relations became better and more effective between all of them. Merry ends up also being a good example of someone that ended up facing the death issue even though it was later on, and her character becomes a lot more personable, cheery, and friendly when she manages to work through those issues.
The key factor here is that both Merry and Haruhiro had both suffered from the same sort of incident, Haruhiro decided to take charge of the death and use it as a growth experience, while Merry continued to blame herself for the incident that happened to her friends. One chose to work through their issues; one chose to continue reflecting on those experiences. This isn’t to say one approach works over the other or that everyone can do it so soon after a tragedy, as everyone has different points in terms of when they feel like they can finally move on and work through issues, but it takes a particular sort of person to take a painful experience such as death and use it for a reason such as personal growth.
With an incident happening like this in life, there’s not exactly a real reason to follow these sorts of progressions exactly as they happen in this story, but I think we can learn something from this happening of events within Grimgar. It shows us that while the issues of death should not be forgotten, especially if you learn valuable lessons or gain life experienced from them, we can use those to move on, as it’s only as eternal as we make it out to be. Friends can make those issues easier to deal with as well, as having people close to you “share” the burden is definitely an effective way of dealing with tough emotions like that as well.
Death is not an unstoppable wall; only an obstacle in which we should try to overcome at our own pace.