Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions (Blu-ray) (2016)

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Released 19-Jul-2017

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Audio Commentary-Video Commentary x 1
Additional Footage-OVA 2.5
Trailer-x 6 for other anime titles
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 290:27
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ryôsuke Nakamura
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Yoshimasa Hosoya / Ricco Fajardo
Nobunaga Shimazaki / Justin Briner
Mikaka Komatsu / Jeannie Tirado
Hiroyuki Yoshino / Orion Pitts
Haruka Terui / Sarah Wiedenheft
Fukushi Ochiai / Jarrod Greene
Chika Anzai / Jad Sexton
Case ?
RPI ? Music (K)NoW_NAME


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Haruhiro (voiced by Yoshimasa Hosoya / Ricco Fajardo) wakes up in a medieval type world called Grimgar although he has no idea of how he got there and he has no memories of his past life. He is not alone and soon discovers others who also have no past and no memories. The only way to gain money in this world to eat is to hunt and kill goblins as part of a Volunteer Soldier Squad, so groups quickly form, the members joining Guilds of various professions like in a RPG. Money earned by killing goblins can also be used to buy additional skills. Haruhiro becomes a Thief in the group led by Manato (Nobunaga Shimazaki / Justin Briner), a Priest and healer, the other members being Yume (Mikaka Komatsu / Jeannie Tirado), a Hunter, Ranta (Hiroyuki Yoshino / Orion Pitts), a Dark Knight, Shihoru (Haruka Terui / Sarah Wiedenheft), a mage, and Moguzo (Fukushi Ochiai / Jarrod Greene), a warrior.

     The group are not initially very skilled at hunting and killing goblins, in fact they are quite inept, leading them into danger as well as poverty. As they gradually improve both their tactics and skills the group also learn more about each other’s characters. Yume is very shy, Ranta loud, arrogant and impetuous, while Moguzo, a big ox of a man who carries a huge sword, enjoys cooking and carving wooden models. He does not have a lot to say, but when he does it is worthwhile, and he often becomes the mediator between Haruhiro and Ranta. But just as they are starting to become proficient, tragedy strikes and one of the party is killed by goblins, for in Grimgar, unlike an RPG, characters can indeed die. This causes the remaining team members to re-evaluate their ideas and aspirations, especially after they are joined by new member Mary (Chika Anzai / Jad Sexton) a standoffish and unfriendly young woman with a tragedy in her own past. But as the group start to bond, and increase their skills, they take on bigger challenges and more deadly enemies.

     Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions (Hai to Genso no Grimgar, also called Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash) is based on the light novels of Ao Jumonji which were also adapted into a manga. The concept, a RPG type adventure in a world of magic and monsters, is nothing new or original but in Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions it works pretty well as the anime is more about the development of the characters and their interactions, seen through the eyes of Haruhiro, a decent person who initially does not see himself as a leader.

     Indeed, one of the themes that run through the series is the requirements and nature of leadership for this anime is not all about the action, but about the characters, their attributes and weaknesses. The pace within the series also varies; there more long silences than are usual in anime, cutaways to birds, insects or animals and also a number of insert songs with montages which provide insight into the mood and the characters. There is of course fighting against the goblins and other monsters, which intensifies towards the end of the series; these sequences for an anime are quite brutal including multiple stabbings and sprays of blood. As well, in another change from what is usual, the killing of goblins and other monsters is not depicted as heroic for the team seek out sleeping goblins or goblins that are alone to kill, including stabbing them in the back. And of course the death of a major character is both unusual and unexpected.

     Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions also, and perhaps to its credit, makes no attempt to explain how the characters got into Grimgar nor does it spend time explaining the world itself; it drops us right into the action, and the world, and takes it from there. While the premise may be nothing that we have not seen before in various guises, Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions delivers its ideas with a surprising depth and subtlety. The anime also looks different, almost brushed on watercolours with a beautiful depth of colour. This is one unusual series!

     Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions was shown on Japanese TV between January and March 2015. This Blu-ray release Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions – Complete Series contains the 12 aired episodes plus an OVA on two discs. Unlike many anime series, these episodes do provide a satisfactory and logical conclusion. Sure, there is room for another series, but this season is complete as it stands.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original broadcast ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

     This is a fantasy series and the backgrounds are generally soft, looking like watercolours with gorgeous, delicate colours. Character drawings are strong. Blacks are firm and shadow detail is fine. I noticed no marks or artefacts.

     The American English subtitles are in a clear white font. The subtitles are not burnt in when the Japanese dub is selected so they can be removed for Japanese speakers. I noticed no errors.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Like many Funimation releases, audio is a choice of the original Japanese in Dolby TrueHD 2.0 or the English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 dub. The audio selection (and subtitles) can be changed through the remote on the go; I listened mostly to the Japanese audio and sampled the English dub.

     The Japanese audio is surround encoded. Dialogue is clear and the surrounds did feature effects such as music, running water, rain, bird calls and voices in the tavern plus thumps during the action. The English voice acting was pretty good and the 5.1 provided more separation and cleaner effects. In the English dud the opening song is at a lower volume level. This is a closer call than usual, but I still think the Japanese voice acting is more intense.

     The score by (K)NoW_NAME is good and quite varied.

     It is anime so lip synchronisation is approximate in either audio track.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Disc 1

Start-up Trailer (1:46)

     On start-up a trailer for Dragon Ball Z Kai: The Final Chapters plays. It cannot be selected from the menu.

Disc 2

Start-up Trailer (0:54)

     On start-up a trailer for Divine Gate plays. It cannot be selected from the menu.

OVA 2.5: Staking Our Youths on the Bath Wall – One More Centimeter (11:58)

     To peep, or not to peep? The boys consider the morality, and desirability, of peeping at the girls in the bathhouse.

Episode 4 Video Commentary

     Rather different to other Funimation commentaries, this video commentary does not feature any of the US voice cast but three guys who work behind the scenes at Funimation. They are not involved in producing the series but in its promotion – coordinating the social media, producing the series’ trailer and the DVD/BD cover. Sometimes the episode is full screen with the commentators in a smaller screen in a bottom corner of the screen, sometimes the other way around. There is less silly mucking around than in many Funimation commentaries and they do discuss their jobs and aspects of the series.

Trailers (7:08)

     Trailers for My Hero Academia, One Piece Film Gold, Gangsta and Aria the Scarlet Ammo AA.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Our release is identical to the Region A US Blu-ray including the FBI anti-piracy warning.

Summary

     Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions sounds like nothing new but I was surprised at how different, and good, it is. While it puts us into a RPG type medieval world of magic and monsters, this world is not a game; characters die and the fighting is not heroic, indeed, one can feel a certain sympathy for the goblins and other monsters who are just going about their everyday business but are hunted and killed, their homes invaded. Grimgar, Ashes and Illusions also looks gorgeous. If this sounds of interest, check it out.

     The video is beautiful, the audio fine. The extras are limited but are the same as are available in the US.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, October 09, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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