Original Run: January 11, 2019 - March 29, 2019 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Based on the Video Game: Grimms Notes
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Grimms Notes The Animation. Reader discretion is advised.***
Within the fairy tales and fables we all know, people’s lives and fates have already been written by a nameless storyteller. Everyone has a purpose; everyone has meaning. However, when the same narrative is replayed over and over again for generations, the tiniest amount of chaos can bring a story’s world crashing down.
That is where heroes like Ekusu (voiced by Ryota Osaka) come in.
Ekusu and his comrades, Reina, Tao, and Shane (voiced respectively by Reina Ueda, Takuya Eguchi, and Miyu Kubota) have not yet had their destinies penned. With no plan in place for these four, the forces of chaos have no effect on them.
To help realign a threatened story, Ekusu and his friends call upon the strength and powers of the many protagonists they have encountered in their travels. Through their efforts, this group seeks to ensure every tale receives its happily ever after.
Let me start by saying the “Grimm” in Grimms Notes The Animation (Grimms Notes) is extremely misleading. Or, perhaps, it’s me who is the crazy one because when I hear a title like that, my first assumption is a show centered around the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.
Apparently, according to this series, “Grimm” is a blanket term to encompass every story ever written. Therefore, Grimms Notes not only included the Brothers Grimm, but also the works of Hans Christian Anderson and Robert Louis Stevenson (to name a few), as well as fables from Japanese folklore and even the Bible. In fact, if anything, the Grimms were largely underrepresented here. Amongst the four main characters – Ekusu, Reina, Tao, and Shane – the only prominent connection to the brothers was that one of the heroes could summon Cinderella.
Now, some of you may be asking, “Odyssey, isn’t this a simple semantics problem?”
To that, my response is, “One hundred percent.”
I mean, in the end, of all the aspects which bothered me about Grimms Notes, this was at the bottom of the list. However, it was at the bottom of a very long list. For you see, this show was pretty damn awful. With intentions of going into more details later in the review, all I will say for the moment is: This series’ biggest crutch was its infuriating logic. It’s never a promising sign when a story’s villain’s motives, actions, and justifications make them a better hero than the actual heroes.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
There was nothing about Grimms Notes which I would claim was a success. Nevertheless, there were positive points I can mention. For starters, the core idea behind this series was a fun one.
The notion of taking a bunch of familiar stories, settings, and characters, and mixing them into a single narrative speaks to my inner fanboy. After all, the classic fairy tales and epics we heard and read about while growing up helped form the foundational basis for our collective media-centric nerdom. And to Grimms Notes’ credit, this series used its source materials’ respectfully.
Or in other words: When this show had its Little Red Riding Hood episode, it felt like the plot was taking place within the Little Red Riding Hood story. This remained true throughout the series.
Then again, it should also be noted that most, if not all the tales showcased in Grimms Notes have been adapted, retold, and rewritten countless times over many centuries. Thus, the idea of this series “staying true” to these sorts of stories isn’t the most impressive.
Secondly, Grimms Notes the anime has gotten me a tiny bit interested in Grimms Notes the video game. Granted, I am not the biggest fan of playing on mobile devices. But having now watched this show, I suspect the game version could make for an interesting distraction.
At the very least, I have to imagine the game will be far superior to the series.
Unfortunately, I have no basis for thinking that. I’m simply hoping for the sake of hope because I don’t want to believe there is more than one lackluster product with the name Grimms Notes attached to it.
There is plenty I could talk about here. For example:
- The animation wasn’t great
- Character dialogue was irritating
- This series had the kind of over-detailed exposition that would make better sense for a video game but comes off as condescending in a television production
- The main heroes – Reina in particular – were incredibly annoying
- Grimms Notes believes the story of Joan of Arc is on the same level as a fairy tail
- Apparently, this show thought only one of the BrotherS Grimm was worth mentioning by name (and by extension, the brothers were also responsible for all fiction, period)
This series did a fine enough job at being a complete mess on its own. Although I won’t say Grimms Notes could be forgiven for its many, many mistakes (because it absolutely can’t be), there was one thing this show did that, above everything else, made sitting through it nauseating.
Our four protagonist – Ekusu, Reina, Tao, and Shane – were so stubbornly pig-headed, they either would not or could not entertain the thought that their actions and purpose were doing more harm than good. None of them had a stronger argument they were in the right other than, “You’re wrong.”
Ekusu and his team went around to all the story worlds to ensure everything stuck to their scripts. For instance, in Little Red Riding Hood, Little Red, according to her fate, HAD to be eaten by the Big Bad Wolf. She HAD to suffer the agony of being trapped inside a monster’s stomach. She HAD to sit and wait for the huntsman to, hopefully, come and rescue her in time.
It didn’t matter that Little Red thought this entire ordeal sounded utterly terrifying. Since her fate – which was written by a faceless author who only cared about telling a good story – dictated she needed to do something she didn’t want to do, she was required to suck it up and go through with the act anyway. Also, how DARE she feel any sort of resentment, fear, and other emotions that went against the plan which was shoved onto her at birth. No whining, no complaining, just do what you are told to do and let this cycle of pointless suffering continue for eternity.
And to assist Little Red in achieving all that, our four main heroes fought tooth and nail to ensure the narrative was stuck to.
And it wasn’t just Little Red:
- Long John Silver could never achieve his dream of becoming the greatest pirate ever
- Cinderella was destined to sit in desperate isolation upon finding her prince
- The Ice Queen needed to be left alone in her palace until the end of time
- Snow White had to come to resent her mother because of the whole poisoned apple situation (another event that was already predestined for Snow White’s mother to do)
Wait a minute.
Never mind that last one. It would seem our heroes, despite insisting every tale needed to play out as it was written, could simply choose NOT to do that because Grimms Notes’ Snow White never came to hate her mother. That story went completely off the rails, and Ekusu and company just moved on to the next mission without batting an eye.
No, show, you can’t do that.
Even if the rules a series sets out for itself suck nuts (like they did in Grimms Notes), those rules should still never be broken to suit a purpose that goes against everything else that has happened and will go on to happen in a story.
Doing something like that would make any show maddening to watch. But in this case, the problem was compounded because Grimms Notes was already garbage at justifying its heroes’ actions. So much so that it was only natural I would side with this series’ villains. At least they were trying to allow the people of the world to decide their own fates.
“But that would only cause everyone to suffer,” something hero Reina wanted so desperately to believe.
Don’t even start with that horse s@#$. Reina, Ekusu, Tao, Shane, they stranded every stories’ main character (except for Snow White because, again, why the hell not) in a perpetual loop that ensured inevitable pain.
Let’s assume that, yes, every story ever written was done by the Brothers Grimm. Well, have you ever actually read one of their stories? And no, I am not referring to the Disney-ified versions? Grimm fairy tales are brutal, violent, and downright horrifying.
Explain to me why succumbing to that – grim – fate is the better alternative to ridding the world of an indifferent storyteller. And allow me to finish this review with: Had this show tried its “respecting a character’s feelings” argument twice, I think I would have lost my damn mind.
No, I didn’t like this show. Could you tell I didn’t like this show? Because I REALLY DIDN’T LIKE THIS SHOW.
The heroes were annoying, everything was poorly written, the action (something I didn’t talk about) was boring, and the story – THIS SERIES’ STORY – was crap; pure crap.
It was only a matter of time before a 2019 show managed to infuriate me to no end. It turned out, Grimms Notes The Animation was that winner. You better believe I am not recommending this one. Frankly, the less you have to do with this series, the better.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Grimms Notes The Animation? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.