For those who are already watching Hai to Gensou no Grimgar, we all learned about the unexpected death of Manato several episodes ago. Several episodes later, Manato is still very much present in the series, in the hearts of his beloved comrades.
When it comes to death in anime, I can’t help but being reminded of the many deaths in Akame ga Kill. Unlike Grimgar, the characters in that series seem to be dying for shock value rather than as plot device. And the characters who died are easily replaced by another new member and quickly vanished from the minds of viewers.
I believe this is where Grimgar excels.
I don’t know what to call Manato’s friends since they don’t officially carry a team name, but let’s call them Haruhiro and gang. It’s easier to refer. From watching Haruhiro and gang making their first goblin kill, it’s evident that death in the world of Grimgar carries a sense of heaviness.
When they made their first goblin kill, Haruhiro and Ranta were visibly shaken by the fact they just took the life out of a living creature. This reaction is quite different from the many series I saw in which characters are found rejoicing in killing a monster. I mean, Bleach’s Kurosaki Ichigo didn’t even flinch when he sliced his first hollow. The guys at Grimgar certainly don’t take deaths lightly.
So when Manato unexpectedly died, they didn’t handle his death too well too. Watching them dealing with the reality of Manato’s death is especially painful. Haruhiro was angry and confused. Shihoru was despair and cried loudly. It was a tear jerking, heart wrenching scene.
While Mary was quickly invited as a replacement for Manato’s position as priest, but she wasn’t invited to replace Manato himself. Haruhiro and gang are still coping with the loss of their leader. Shihoru being the most affected.
Personally, I like that Mary is a girl and has a completely different characteristic compared to Manato. She was cold and unfriendly. For this reason, I miss the old dynamics of the original team even more. And when Haruhiro struggled to lead his team, I miss Manato being in charged. The direction of Grimgar made Manato irreplaceable. With this heart of heaviness, viewers are able to relate to the extended mourning of Manato’s death.
Besides that, Haruhiro is often found having conversations with Manato inside his head. He’s still figuring it out. And this habit is a reminder of Manato’s lingering presence in Grimgar. He’s gone but not forgotten. His comrades are still mourning for him. It’s touching to see that Manato was even given the badge of Volunteer Soldiers after his comrades finally made it there.
Precisely because of Manato’s death, Haruhiro and gang became who they are today. Without his death, perhaps there will never be growth. Haruhiro is slowly stepping into the shoes of being a leader while Shihoru is slowly opening up to her team and is now stronger and a little more useful. Ranta, Yume and Moguzo changed as well.
I’ve watched death being tackled in many series and in many different directions, but I particularly find death in Grimgar is painted a little more realistic. It doesn’t really send out messages like don’t take life for granted as sometimes seen in Death Parade or tackles survival as seen in Tokyo Ghoul. Heck, it doesn’t even talk about how to get over the pain of Manato’s death.
Haruhiro and gang simply get by by remembering Manato. It’s a painful journey, but it’s something everyone has to go through at some point in their lives.