I mentioned just a while ago that Grancrest Senki, butchered the manga in episode 2. I will now expound upon that to explain why episode 2 has signaled the failure of the adaptation to me. The biggest reason is: Characters.
I’m not sure what farce the anime is trying to pull, but it seems to be following a rule that Theo must look as mediocre as possible and Meletes must be made to look amazing at the expense of everyone else rather than her own merits.
Let’s get into what episode 2 of contained as spoiler free as possible.
First we see Theo marvelling at his new territory before getting shoved into reality by Meletes. Meletes gives some orders, then introduces us to her two allies and they prepare for battle. Meanwhile we get a glimpse of the opponent Lord and his mage prepare for battle. Meletes and her allies split their forces on three fronts and engage the enemy. Theo later joins the battle.
Do you see the problem here? How many times did I have to type Meletes.
The manga however is vastly different, and much better for it. I will try to limit the spoilers but if you’ve read this far then you’ve probably already watched Grancrest or no longer plan to. In either case you should read the manga.
I won’t go in exact chronological order of the scenes, but will mostly place emphasis on the order of character importance.
The first is Theo, in the manga he plays a much larger role in what would be episode 1.5 or so. Theo convinces Meletes to allow him to accompany her on the village inspections. Where we see a lot more about him as a charismatic peoples person who truly cares for others, earning the heart and loyalty of his people to Meletes surprise and somewhat annoyance. Shortly after Theo realises that in order to protect these people he needs greater strength and begins training, where the others realise despite his low ability he has an aptitude for defence and high capacity for endurance. He’s also lucky enough to get an eyeful of Meletes’ softer side which lowers his wariness of her and opens him up to appreciating and trusting her more. I will come back to Theo later, but it is clearly shown here that he has talents beside being a useful tool for Meletes.
The biggest problem I have with episode 2 though is the way it deals with the would-be antagonists of this so-called arc. The rival lord, and his mage.
In an all-so important flashback NOT in the anime we see a lot about these people which fleshes them beyond being run of the mill antagonists to be beaten.
The first thing to know is the Lord is actually somewhat like the protagonist, he has a goal and is scouting talents to support him. His status and ambition is a means to and end, and he is far from corrupt and malicious.
The second thing is the mage, who is portrayed as a generic egotistical womaniser in the anime, however the manga shows that while he was overshadowed and below Meletes while training as a Mage, he had a much more solid grasp of reality. Fully aware that he would have to fight on the frontline with his future Lord he put time and effort into practicing practical skills and swordsmanship because the world doesn’t work like a book. This is the exact opposite of our paper based Meletes. This explains Meletes later trouble when she is forced to duel him.
The last thing is a nameless character in the anime, the young boy commanding one of the flanks. His ingenuity and loyalty is barely shown in the anime, let alone explained. He was picked up, saved and trained by his Lord as a commander and is highly talented and hard working. Really just go and read the manga, he’s one of the crucial supporting characters and the anime only showed him out of compulsory requirements.
NONE of this is shown in the anime, what’s with that?! Is this some generic shounen?
The icing in the cake is the finale of the battle, so spoilers ahead.
Meletes is backed into a corner when her lack of practical training rears its ugly head, until Theo, who blatantly disobeys her orders charges in at the last second and protects her from a fatal blow. He instantly takes up the mantle and continues the duel in her stead. What’s important here is two things he defends her from a fatal blow, and disobeys orders. Two things not displayed in the anime, and two things crucial to developing the currently onesided relationship the two of them have with Theo being a puppet. Theo’s defensive ability eventually tires his opponent enough for capture, which ends the duel. The anime however gives all the credit to Meletes for tiring him out before Theo arrives.
But I’m not done yet! The lord then surrenders to Theo after the mages capture. Something that goes against his gambling and ambitious persona, that is only explained via the comradeship the two display in the flashback. With a crucial quote being the two promising to achieve their goals together. The anime cuts out all this world and character building in favour of the express-way to combat scenes. Reinforcing the vision of a pathetic Theo dragged around by the grand Meletes. That is not what this story should be about.
Well, I have probably ranted enough, and if I haven’t convinced you to yet, you should read the manga and make your own comparison. At the very least my end review of Grancrest probably won’t be pretty.