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Back in the early '90s, Ryo Mizuno's RPG sessions-turned-light novels-turned-anime Record of Lodoss War had a big impact on the still-burgeoning Western fandom. Mizuno's approach to high fantasy struck a chord with fans, leading to characters like the noble elf Deedlit becoming longtime faves. The series was a hit in Japan too, of course, spawning several manga, anime, video games and other spin-off projects. As time has gone on, the series has been fondly remembered and Mizuno's influence on subsequent works in the fantasy genre has been keenly felt. Now, Mizuno is back in the mix with Record of Grancrest War, a tale drawn by Makoto Yotsuba and featuring designs by Miyuu.
Record of Grancrest War is complete in seven volumes and is set in a world that is rife with Chaos. This otherworldly phenomenon causes natural disasters and spurs monsters to rampage across the land. The people lived in fear of these horrors for ages until a hero appeared, a man who became known as a Lord. Like the Lords that followed in his footsteps, this hero could harness the power of Crests to quell the Chaos, restoring peace to the land and giving humanity a chance to thrive.
But peace never lasts. Over time, Crests turned into yet another way for the nobility to engage in pointless power struggles. These struggles led to war spreading across the land once again. One final attempt was made to broker peace—a marriage between two heirs of rival factions, the Fantasia Union and the Factory Alliance. This endeavor ended in tragedy, with the attendees of the wedding massacred as a result of a sudden explosion of Chaos.
Siluca Meletes is a young mage with a frightening amount of talent, a true prodigy. She intervenes during the massacre and saves the life of a noblewoman, making a bit of a name for herself. She wants to sidestep the nobles and all of their petty squabbles so that the land return to a time when Lords were heroes and Crests were used to improve the lives of common people. She soon meets Theo, a young knight with a Crest of his own.
Theo is adventuring alone with the goal of bringing peace to the land. He earned a Crest not by birthright or political machinations, but through battle. He defeated a powerful monster on his own, and his heroism resulted in a Crest. Theo is pure of heart in a way that many nobles aren't, and Siluca sees potential in him herself.
Before he knows what's hit him, he finds himself in a partnership with Siluca. She declares him her Lord and sets her plan in motion: using Theo as a way to force peace upon the land. She draws up battle plans and suggests tactics, and things go swimmingly at first. They squeak through a couple of close battles and gain the attention of the very nobles they hope to replace. And then...things get difficult.
Record of Grancrest War is a really remarkable story. It's a good twist your standard fantasy story, with a couple of plucky underdogs fighting against both the society they live in and the monsters that threaten it. Theo and Siluca have an odd bond for a pair like this, with Siluca's trickery and cunning providing a great contrast to Theo's open-hearted kindness.
Their relationship makes the fights more fun too. Siluca pushes herself harder as a mage to live up to the standard set by her Lord, and Theo puts it all on the line to defend her. This pushes both of them to new heights and propels their mission ever forward. The warriors, nobles, villains and monsters they meet feel fully-realized, as if they could carry a manga series of their own.
Makoto Yotsuba's adaptation of Record of Grancrest War was a fun ride, with some sharp art and clean fantasy storytelling. If you're in the mood for some sword and sorcery, this is the book for you!
Read a free preview of Record of Grancrest War, Vol. 7, Original Story by Ryo Mizuno, Story and Art by Makoto Yotsuba, Character Design by Miyuu here.
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