- 灰と幻想のグリムガル — Hai to Gensou no Grimgar — “Grimgal of Ashes and Illusion” — Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
- Author: Ao Jyumonji — Artist: Eiri Shirai
- The novel: Amazon.jp — Books Kinokuniya — YesAsia
- The fan translation (by “TOM”): NanoDesu Translations
- MAL Entry — Forum
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This was one of the fan-translated light novels people voted for to read in the summer 2016 reading program (the other being The Empty Box and the Zeroth Maria, which I had already read and reviewed.) Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash gained a bit of popularity thanks to an anime adaptation in winter of 2016. Nobody commented on this light novel during its time in the summer reading program though, so perhaps its popularity has since waned.
It is one of many light novel series about characters who find themselves trapped in a fantasy world (a la Chronicles of Narnia), and one of the many light novel series intended to feel like a video game. The characters are more or less in a kind of Dragon Quest world.
To be honest, I didn’t think this story was good. Somehow the author is able to go on for page after page about all sorts of banal things, and still I feel like I learned nothing of significance about the world. Everything came off as quite plain to me. Generic medieval set pieces, bland dungeons, uninspired monsters, and blank-slate characters who all have amnesia. The characters at first don’t want to be monster hunters, but they decide to go along with it anyways because the plot calls for it. To me it felt like a missed opportunity for the characters to try fighting the system that had been forced upon them. But instead they simply follow the dots: train -> kill level 1 goblins -> train -> kill level 2 goblins -> train -> kill level 3 goblins… and so on.
In the second half of the volume a new character is introduced whom I found somewhat interesting (Mary), but there isn’t enough done with her to make me want to try reading more volumes. The rest of the cast is just too dull, with the exception of a boy named Ranta–but I’ve decided he is my least favorite character in all the light novels I’ve ever read. Ranta is loud, obnoxious, whiny, and rude in just about each and every page he has a line of dialogue, which is almost each and every page. I kept hoping for him to change, but he never did. Maybe in a later volume.
For at least a couple positives: I did like the artwork (which I think captured the tone of the story quite nicely), and I did appreciate how the characters had to really struggle to improve. But that’s about where my compliments end. Is there a chance you might like Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash? Of course. If you are a big fan of “trapped in a fantasy world” and video game-like stories, feel free to give it a try. Otherwise, I think there are better entries for that subgenre to be had out there.
Cho’s Rating: Maybe Recommended