Hello, and welcome to my weekly article where I discuss currently airing anime in an effort to get you to watch them. Today’s topic is Grimoire of Zero (Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho), an anime about a beastly Mercenary protecting the powerful witch Zero as they adventure through the land to get back Zero’s Grimoire, a powerful spellbook with the ability to end the world.
You can find my specific thoughts on the anime down below the break!
Now, “adventure” shows in anime that actually go out on an adventure and explore the world that they’re set in are unfortunately few and far between. Anime like Is it Okay to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (DanMachi) or Konosuba, that take place in a fantasy world, rarely explore their worlds in any meaningful fashion, though DanMachi certainly gives it a good shot with the exploration of the titular dungeon. That’s why Grimoire of Zero is so remarkable in its ability to actually show what it’d be like to go on an adventure in a fantasy world.
A lot of this, I imagine, is down to the budget the show receives, as its easier to create backgrounds and reuse assets if you stay in the same place and rarely venture out. But Grimoire of Zero manages to do exactly what I want, and then some. Each location the show has shown so far in the first 3 episodes has been pretty different from one another, from two large cities, to a small village, and even heavily wooded forests.
All of the locations have also managed to have a pretty unique ecosystem, with the first town being extremely hostile to Beastfallen (that is, beast-men hybrids like the main character) and witches. The second location, that of a forest with gigantic, Redwood sized trees, was sparse of population aside from the witches that hide there to avoid the major cities. The third place, a small village with peasantry, showcased the fearmongering that goes on among those with less education as they first welcome Mercenary and the others but immediately turn on them when the situation turns even the slightest bit sour.
Accusations are thrown about and the characters are forced to run and make it to the last location that the third episode takes place in: the big city that allows Beastfallen within the walls. The atmosphere in this city is remarkable in that it actually feels just like tolerance of the Beastfallen, though there is a big undercurrent of fear and threat as a result of the nature of these beastmen.
And in these locations is one of the best parts about the show: its focus on the mundane problems and issues that come with actually having an adventure. Food, water, clothing, places to sleep, mistreatment by those who fear what they don’t understand; everything in this world that reacts to the main characters, and they way they react to the world, are impressive in their complexity. You can feel a sense of believability that permeates throughout the story, despite the huge beast-like shape of the main character and other fantasy elements like witches and sorcery.
On the note of sorcery and magic, the magic system shown in the show was perfectly showcased to be less telling and more showing, through the combination of the two ways of describing how things work. The way Zero, the loli companion of Mercenary, explains the difference between regular magic that most witches use and the sorcery that she created herself is expertly showcased as she talks about it by using it in battle. In a lot of ways, the way the magic in this show is described is similar to the way Dungeons and Dragons magic differs between the spellcasting classes.
Dungeons and Dragons is definitely a huge influence in most adventure shows, and Grimoire of Zero is little different in that regard. A lot of anime that tend toward the adventures prefer to stick to the classes and mechanics of D&D and other role playing games that have been released since, but few work the story and lore into their shows like Grimoire of Zero does.
In fact, the only other anime that I can think of off the top of my head that comes close to the same feeling that Grimoire of Zero has is Hitsugi no Chaika, which is also one of my favorite anime for its adventurous spirit and small party of compelling characters.
Though these features do attract me to the show, and let me get through the burden of disbelief that shows like this have to hurdle over, I can certainly understand why it might not be the case for those of you who feel like these types of settings are too unbelievable, especially with the main character being what amounts to a furry.
As well, with such a small cast of characters, a lot of people might not feel like the anime is that strong with its emphasis on a typical overarching story, which is to find the magical McGuffin that has the ability to threaten the fate of the world if used by the wrong hands. And it’s easy to misunderstand or be confused about how the magic system works even with the examples given and told through dialogue if you don’t have experience with Dungeons and Dragons or other types of RPGs prior to watching this one.
Even with all of these potential drawbacks, though, I would definitely recommend Grimoire of Zero as an anime to anyone who even remotely enjoys adventure through a magical world. The characters, at least to me, feel realistic beyond their physical appearances, and you definitely shouldn’t judge this book by it’s cover if you feel turned off by the furry appearance of its main character.
It’s rare that anime grab me from the get go, but this anime is definitely one of those, thanks to its expressive main characters, realistic world circumstances of a religious faction intending to wipe out magic and the witches who practice such devilry, racism against those considered cursed, and general inclusion of mundane scenes like finding food, changing clothes, and all things that people rarely think of when imagining those adventures they so wish for.
If you have an anime you’d like to recommend to me, or to your fellow commenters, be sure to leave your recommendation in the comments below so we can all see your own shit taste. It’s only fair, after I shared my shit taste.
And remember, enjoy the way you watch anime, because as long as you’re having fun watching a show, that’s the only thing that matters in the end.
See you in the next one.