Episode 4 of Grimoire of Zero fell into a weird paradox. It has the least action and yet managed to be the most interesting episode so far. Limiting the info dumps to a minimum and instead focusing on the protagonists, the road to Latette turned me from an apathetic viewer to someone who actually cares for anything that will happen to our cute trio.
Japanese Title: ラテットへの道中
I think that I made the wrong call for Grimoire of Zero. I thought that it would be an action-packed series full of magic and swords clashing, but instead it’s more about feelings than clashing. And I don’t mind. There is a plot we can follow, real stakes for at least one of the characters, and good-enough dialogues that are trespassing from the domain of silly to the kingdom of seriousness.
That doesn’t mean that Mercenary, Albus, and Zero won’t have the chance to flex their muscles, but the show is not going to focus on that. The road to Latette was more of a declaration: this is what Grimoire of Zero is all about. A trio of weird and lovable characters who slowly form their own little family in a world full of hatred and prejudice. If you can’t see the relevance to our world, then you are not paying enough attention to the news.
You don’t need non-stop actions if the characters are fleshed out so well and their interactions click. I never imagined that I would enjoy a fishing sequence so much as I did this one, and I am really looking forward to seeing how their newfound bond is going to play a role in the coming events.
Rainbow: I love rainbows and the way it was portrayed in this episode made my heart break a big, happy smile. The road to Latette was similar to a rainbow. There was no treasure on the other side, but the journey is what matters.
Themes & Trivia
Prejudice: Many preconceptions we have are created in our childhood. Like Zero, we are bound to the point of view we are allowed to have as children, and it is from that POV that we judge the world around us. Zero has no feelings of shame when she appears naked and she is unable to judge the amount of money she needs to make even the simplest transaction. She is also oblivious to the mere concept of kiss (I am still trying to forget that she made the comparison to BJing a demon). Similarly, the children that spy on the bathing tiger are quick to judge Mercenary as bad and Zero as his slave. Mercenary, who knows that even if exceptions exist, the truth is not far away, makes no attempt to correct their prejudice. After all, it may one day save their lives.
It is man who creates the monsters
Kindness: On the other hand, though, only kindness is capable of breeding more kindness. It’s like an epidemic that can start with only a smile. ‘Smile and Help Others’ says one of the most commonly used Buddhist mantras, and in turn those whom you helped will probably go and help someone as well. Hurt someone and their hatred for you might lead them to hurt someone else. We are mimetic animals after all.
I’m glad you are a nice beastfallen
Hatred: On occasion, a traumatic past event could lead to a nobler path that strays from revenge, depression, and the like. Albus had every reason to hate humans for what they did to his witch mother and his human father. His grandmother must have been an amazing person, however, because he grew up with an understanding of the world that is rare. There is no reason to hate anything but hatred itself.
I don’t hate humans. I hate thinking that all witches are evil.
Many would argue that the purpose of a story is to be entertaining. Others many add that the purpose of a story is to be both entertaining and instructive. Now, a few could also claim that a story needs to be able to tell a truth about the world we live in and a way to deal with that truth. Ask a few industry experts and they will also tell you that a story needs to sell merchandise. All valid reasons, and that’s why Grimoire of Zero mixed the fan-servicy comments with a couple of info dumps and a few deeper dialogues about prejudice and kindness.
I am still not sure where the series is going and how the plot is going to advance, but for the time being, this episode was enough to make me care about what happens to Albus, Zero, and Mercenary. I want to see the old tiger in his human form, having his own tavern and cooking for Zero. I am a sucker for endings like that.
‘Sorcery is Science’
‘And sorcerers are academics.’
This could have been an article in its own right, but if you think about it, sorcery is science. The research of magic can be compared to the research of any other discipline. Yet, I am still amazed by the way both the book that Zero made found a connection to Mercenary’s cooking. It’s all about food, after all.
The question now is this: Who ‘cooked’ all those poor people in Latette?