Grimoire of Zero – Mid Season Anime Review
Synopsis: When a half-beast mercenary teams up with a witch who is in search of a magical tome that can destroy the world, a grand adventure ensues. Despite his hatred of witches, he enters an agreement that she will make him human once she reaches her goal. (Official Anime Strike Synopsis)
Mid Season (6 Episodes) Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Let’s get this out of the way: Grimoire of Zero’s biggest weakness is its art. The series isn’t ugly, but it’s never a looker. Colors are a tad drab, art is lacking definition and detail at times, and it just doesn’t have the fluidity to be a stand out for the season when talking about animation. Serviceable is the best way to describe it.
Linny: When it comes to the story, Grimoire is a mix of drama, action and mystery set in a period where witch hunting is the flavour of the week. The story can feel a bit slow at times as our three wandering protagonists seem to be doing exactly that, mostly just stumbling around to new towns or villages and into new situations that don’t seem to get them much closer to their original goals. That’s not to say they’re a pain to watch as their numerous adventures are still entertaining. It’s just that the show might not move in a pace and manner that would appeal to those who prefer a compact plot.
Tom: Part of what’s making Grimoire of Zero perhaps feel so slow is this is a much more thorough adaptation compared to other Light Novel anime. Having taken a quick look at a fan translation for comparison, Grimoire of Zero is six episodes in and still smack dab in the middle of its very first volume. Most Light Novel anime move considerably faster, either concluding the adaptation for the first volume in episodes 5 or 6, or moving as fast as Akashic Records and condensing one volume into just 3 episodes. But the good news for Grimoire of Zero is that this gives a lot of time for the characters and world to breath, making everything feel so much more real and meaningful. This more in depth adaptation then greatly benefits big dramatic reveals and moments, like in episode six, making them feel so much more powerful.
Linny: Grimoire of Zero has a strong vein of comedy running throughout its otherwise more serious theme, which unfortunately doesn’t always have the smoothest transition. For example, there’s a big and serious showdown between Zero and another powerful magician which gets randomly put on hold because a bell tolls and they both realize its lunchtime. It’s not all bad news, as some of the comedic moments are funny, though some viewers might grimace (or delight) at the fact that there’s a meme reference dropped in the show (This could potentially have been done intentionally by English translators rather than the original Japanese script. Any Japanese speakers out there who can confirm the dialogue from the gif above?) Also, while the show doesn’t really offer much fan service, there are a few slightly perverted jokes in it, such as a shopkeeper who gets a bit too obsessed with Zero after seeing her strip to change, or Zero and Albus pretending to be the Mercenary’s sex slaves in order to hide their true identity during an inspection.
Tom: The Mercenary and Zero are great together, fostering a fun and engaging dynamic. The two characters feel deep, with multifaceted personalities that keep their relationship interesting. The show is also squarely focused on these two, often making sure events occurring are tied closely to them, their experiences, and offer meaningful character exploration and development. They are the stars of the show and the greatest reason to watch.
Linny: The Mercenary is most likely the character that most viewers will latch on to as his tragic backstory and heart of gold make him most likeable though Zero herself might just as easily appeal to you with her being the super talented, somewhat vain and extremely eccentric prodigy. Albus is the least interesting of the three as he seems a bit like your generic starry eyed young one who’s about to get several ugly and harsh truths revealed to him.
Tom: Albus is indeed a less interesting, less engaging character, but with recent developments it feels like he’s destined for a larger plot, especially after, as Linny said, he’s forced to confront darker truths. His character also helps us to learn about some of the greater injustice plaguing Grimoire of Zero’s world.
Linny: If you like shows that take their time exploring characters and setting up its story, and you don’t mind bland animation, Grimoire of Zero deserves a spot on your watch list. While it may not exactly be mind blowing per say, its story and characters keep you engaged, invested and happy to be along for the ride. Its supernatural notes keep things mysterious and exciting and while its comedy could do with a bit more polishing, it works more often than not. If you’ve been looking for a light novel adaptation that thoroughly adapts its source material, Grimoire of Zero may be one of the first or few to do it at such a pace.
Tom: Grimoire of Zero’s animation isn’t exactly the best we’ve seen, but it’s unimpressive nature is outshined and made up for with an engaging duo of leads, a gripping world, all brought to life by a deeper, more in depth adaptation than Light Novels normally get. While it will end up a shame if Grimoire of Zero never gets additional seasons, as few Light Novels tend to get, what’s here sucks me into its grim world and makes me eager to at least hear that there’ll be an official light novel translation announcement around the corner.
Grimoire of Zero is available for streaming via Amazon’s Anime Strike Channel