The story of Hai to Gensou no Grimgar is a simple soldier’s tale. The world of Grimgar is about young people who find themselves in a foreign land with no memory of who they are except for their first names. A new arrival to this world is given a choice: join the Reserve Army or die, not by the army’s hands, but from starvation and exposure. The only job available for anyone new is to fight in the slow slog of a war against the Goblins and other beasts threatening the peace.
Manato, Haruhio, Yume, Shihoru, Mogzo and Ranta -- complete strangers -- join the reserves and form a party as they band together for survival. The world has each newcomer join a guild, warrior, thief, hunter, mage, priest, or dark night, in order to learn skills useful in this new world. Grimgar is a harsh world painted with the simple beauty of soft watercolor tones which reflects the often-emotional struggle of these young soldiers as they face the cruel reality of war. The battles they face are often hand-to-hand, so they feel the blood and see the desperation in the eyes of the enemy as they hold them close and plunge a dagger into their heart. The newcomers who survive and in some cases thrive in this world can only be called heroes. So, we give you a top ten list of heroes of Grimgar.
Caution: Spoilers ahead.
10. The Unnamed Goblins
Goblins are supposed to be the villains of the series. The story says the Goblins and other creatures invaded the lands of man and they have been at war ever since. We see the newly arrived young men and women in this world given no choice but to fight them, kill them, and earn a bounty for each kill in order to survive.
We also see the Goblins use tools, fight with weapons, use strategy; all elements that point to intelligence in these green, pointy-eared villains. The goblins fight to survive just like the humans. We see them struggle to survive in combat, clawing, running and desperately trying to live. We can’t point to one specific goblin but as a whole they must be recognized as acting heroically in battle, for they may be foreign but they are warriors.
Barbara is one of the leaders of the Thieves Guild and the sadistic trainer of Haruhiro. At first she seems to be a calm person, the respected leader of a guild. She is a well-endowed woman who seems to be older than the most of the characters we meet. Her age is a sign that survival is a possibility and that there is a way to move up in the society.
We see that Barbara is almost manic with mood swings that take her from calm to hyper and sadistic. She is a skilled thief and trainer to members of her guild. Barbara must care for her guild members, or at least sympathize with their plight, because she’s apparently gone through it herself. Her heroism comes from her ability to be the rock for her students to stand on to keep their heads above water as they acclimate to the violent, bleak world.
Shinohara is the leader of the powerful Orion party. He is a calm, centered individual with a reputation as a trustworthy leader. He seems to serve as a guidepost for a lot of the newcomers to the world of Grimgar. Shinohara doesn’t coddle the newcomers, either. He is willing to dispense some advice, but believes there are many things they have to figure out for themselves.
The stories that are told about his party are filled with heroic deeds. You don’t get to be one of the strongest parties without heroic accomplishments. He is heroic for his leadership ability and his mentorship of those who need it.
Manato is another member to the core cast, and he plays a pivotal part in the story. He helps form the original party and becomes the leader. We never see him chosen as leader; he’s one of those people who people naturally turn to for leadership. He becomes the priest of the party despite being a capable fighter. He is able to cast spells of healing on his comrades while fighting in the fray with them.
Manato also risks a lot by exposing himself to danger to save his party members. The goblins they fight know that the priest is the one who heals the others, and that makes him a target. The self-sacrificing nature of this born leader eventually becomes his downfall. He gets shot with an arrow and ignores the pain, not wanting to worry or burden the party. Manato dies because of his need to ease the burden on his party members. Manato leads battles from the front like a true hero.
Mogzo is a warrior and a cook. He is by far the most soft-spoken of the party, but is also the largest and strongest member. He fights the vanguard position clad in heavy armor and wielding a large sword. He feels that his size and strength naturally puts him in the role of warrior, knowing the more of the enemy he can take out as the vanguard, the fewer his party mates will have to. We also find that he likes to carve wood into shapes of things he remembers, things we haven’t seen in this world.
Mogzo is the first into the fray. He is the one, though heavily armored, who is the most exposed to the dangers of combat. He takes this role without losing his humanity. He never uses his strength and power for his own gains. Mogzo could also join a larger party, one with more experience and resources, but chooses to stay with his comrades (living in what appears to be a stable) due to a sense of responsibility. His heroism comes from putting himself on the line for his friends, even when he would have the option to play it safer with a more talented party.
Yume is funny with an outgoing personality. She took the role of hunter in this world. She fights with a bow and (at first) is a terrible shot. She adapts by learning to fight with a knife, often partnering with Haruhiro who also fights with a knife in close quarters. She commits herself to practicing hour after hour, understanding how important her ranged attacks will be in the future.
Yume seems to be the moral center of the group. Her ability to be outspoken for herself and others is one of her best traits. She also brings a positive vibe to the group; in a bleak and depressing world she is a ray of sunshine. She lifts everyone up. Put simply, her words are heroic.
Shihoru is a short, shy girl with purple hair and purple eyes. She is not very strong and the least sure of herself in the party. Shihoru took the role of mage, learning how to use magic. We find out that she also had little experience with dealing with males. She barely talks to the male members of the team, instead using Yume, the other girl, as her conduit for communication.
Shihoru is probably the most overwhelmed with the world she has been thrust into. She must have been absolutely terrified. She hasn’t learned protection magic yet, only offensive spells, leaving her completely vulnerable in battle. When you face situations that scare you and force your fears down like Shihoru you are heroic.
3. Merry (Mary)
Merry is a member of the party who comes along to replace a fallen member and serves as the priest. She is depicted as having long navy blue hair and blue eyes. She is quiet and seems disinterested in other members of the party. Merry is the only member to of the team who lives on her own. Her personality is reserved, hesitant and reluctant to get close to others. She also plays the role of priest very differently than Manato; she sees herself in a supportive role and uses her healing powers only to treat severe wounds.
Merry was once very different from the Merry we’ve gotten to know. She was a cheery, outgoing member of her previous party, fighting much like Manato did. She’d use her magic to heal any cut or scrape to keep them in the fight. Her need to help ease the even slightest pain of others was her downfall as she used too much of her magic and didn’t have any left when it counted. She has fought alongside and lost members of her party. She has picked up and moved on. She has faced her PTSD and pushed forward. The ability of the traumatized to continue on and face the heartbreaking past is truly heroic.
Haruhiro is rather nervous and unsure of himself. Haruhiro is also a thoughtful person, sensitive to others’ emotions. He is also a classic introvert, sitting in the back, studying situations and weighing his options carefully before acting. He is average height, with brown hair and brown eyes. He joins the thieves’ guild and gets the nickname “old cat” because of his tired (though we would say thoughtful) eyes.
Haruhiro shows his heroism in stepping in and becoming team leader after a tragedy. He takes it upon himself to bare the mantle of leadership even after the loss of his best friend. He never imagined himself as the leader of anything. He doesn’t have that natural charisma most leaders have. On the other hand, he does have the respect and trust of the people around him. The party trusts and respects him to make the best choices for the welfare of the team. We think the act of stepping outside of your comfort zone and leading well, especially in a crisis, is very heroic.
Ranta is a bit of a hothead. He is loud, thoughtless, and a bit full of himself. You might even classify him as a tsundere. He took the role of Dread Knight or Black Knight and seems to revel in the role. In this role, he must take a trophy from his kills for a demon that aides him. He also seems to have a problem with girls as he seems to go out of his way to insult them. He isn’t nearly as big as Mogzo, yet takes one of the vanguard roles. He uses his agility and the terrain to gain advantages over his opponents, finding opportunities to slash and stab.
We also see a different side of this Dread Knight as the story progresses. He understands that he is not well liked by the party. Ranta once says he does that intentionally so the others have something to bond over. We also see a very heroic moment when they are down in the mines fleeing for their lives and he has to make the choice to fight the rearguard action and possibly die to let the others escape. Ranta tells Haruhiro that the team can’t afford to lose him as their leader so it would be better if he fought the lycanthropes and the monster Death Spots to buy time for their escape. In his willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of others, Ranta is truly heroic.
The characters on this list all have their heroic moments. The world they have been thrown into leaves each of them with a bleak outlook on the future, in a world in which fighting and killing seems to be the only way to survive. You need to either step up and face each day with purpose and slog through the fight or die. Grimgar is a simple tale of war and the determination to survive, and in this world survival itself is heroic.
We recommend this series for the understated beauty of the art and story. We don’t get massive battles with people shouting out their finishing moves, well except for Ranta. Grimgar is a beautifully animated with stunning watercolor backdrops and amazing character development. We said in the open that this is a soldier’s story, a simple story about those who fight in the trenches without the accolades, princesses, or grand quests. The soldiers who simply rely on each other and fight every day because that’s the only option they’re given.