Episode 2 of Grimoire of Zero brought with it more info dumps and world-building jargon, but at least they were coupled with an interesting story about a witch who was also a mother, a role model, a little too unafraid of fire and of sacrificing herself. Also, Mercenary is good with puns and the writers are playing western style RPGs. This is a good show so far.
Japanese Title: 魔女狩り
The episode starts with a visually impressive info dump on the story behind the witch group known as the Sorcerers of Zero. It’s only been 24 minutes and I already feel a little overwhelmed with all the in-anime terminology that keeps on popping around. The cult, or paramilitary organization of witches if you want, stole Zero’s book to ensure the safety of their kind. No wonder the kingdom is in the middle of a civil war. When everyone is at each other’s throats a few are bound to open.
We can rebuild our homes. But we can’t heal the deep wounds in our hearts
Albus is a great supporter of their cause. A true believer who joins the group only because he assumes that Zero is on their side. Quite naïve if you ask me, but the series needed a way to get the little boy (why did the mayor say that he is a girl, though?) to join the group and have him play a little with Mercenary through silly jokes and some boob talk.
At first, I found the lost ring in the river kind of cheesy, but the rest of the episode brought my doubts to rest. The Sorena story was good and highlighted the main theme of the episode: people are quick to judge and even quicker to kill for what they perceive as righteous and just. The group pleas against an unforgiving crowd that doesn’t want to hear; it only wants to accuse. And so it does for the theft of the ring, of the tomatoes, a slaughter they had nothing to do about and the mere fact that they exist. Thus, they are forced to become the game in a new witch hunt.
Foolish witch, falling in love with a human, give this ring to your beloved
That the sweet grandma was a witch was but the cherry on the great story of Sorena. She had to hide her true identity out of love for a human. She doesn’t expect that the villagers will ever forgive witches for what they did to the village, nor does she think that witches will ever be able to forgive the village for killing Sorena. But maybe one day they will just understand each other and at least try to make a new beginning.
Albus: The real question is this: Is Albus a boy or a girl? If he is a boy, then he is the only one we‘ve seen so far, as all witches seem to be women. The boob joke and the ‘men don’t wear rings’ nonsense are not indicative of his real sex.
Themes & Trivia
Western Meme: It seems that the writers of the anime (or Kobashiri Kakeru, the author of the original light novel. I don’t know if the quote was taken directly from the book) know their western memes. The mayor of the witch-hunting village declared to Mercenary:
I used to be a mercenary like you, but then I took an arrow to the knee
Replace ‘mercenary’ with ‘adventurer’ and the quote is from one of the default guard conversations in the game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. It had such an impact on gamers that they started coming up with various memes where they substituted the same word with everything you could imagine to create meme-like pictures.
The exact phrase from the anime, just for reference:
Ore mo mukashi wa anata mitai na youhei kagyou datta ga (俺 も 昔 は あなた みたい な 傭兵 家業 だった が) hiza ni ya o ukete shimatta na (膝 に 矢 を 受けて しまった な)
Memes out of western games, a medieval setting, a division between sorcery and magic. I don’t think we need more proof that we live in a globalized world where our popular cultures coexist.
Anachronistic memes or not, however, I have to admit that the terminology bored me. Mooncaller witches and cults and sorcery and how many years it takes to make a ritual. No, just no. The characters are great, no doubt about that, but there is something about extensive world-building that makes my skin crawl.
Leaving that aside, the episode focused on the morality of the civil war between witches and humans. If the massacre of a whole village was because of a misunderstanding, I don’t even want to see what the story will reveal about the motives behind the war. Misunderstanding or not, however, Zero and Mercenary make a good point in that the massacre of innocent individuals is not justice. It just reinforces a circle of hate and blood that seems to have no end. Vendettas are usually self-fulfilling and no amount of revenge can ever quench that insatiable hunger that comes with it. I am intrigued in finding out what role the Grimoire of Zero is going to play on this particular theme.
Quick to Judge and Quick to Hate
Two episodes in the series and we still haven’t seen much of plot advancement. This felt more like a side story, but we need to see some of the main story before we take any stray paths.