First Impressions – Grimms Notes The Animation

Grimms Notes the Animation (グリムノーツ)
Animation Studio: Brains Base Premiere Date: January 10th, 2019
No. of Episodes: 13 Airing Time: Thursdays at 01:58 (JST)
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy Airing Channel: TBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia, Grimms Notes: The Animation Official Website,

Major Spoilers Included

Once upon a time, there was a distant world that was created by a race of mysterious beings known as “Story Tellers.” Here, its inhabitants lived each of their lives according to magical books collectively known as the “Books of Fate.” These magical books of fate held written detailed accounts of a person’s life, from the time of their birth to the time of their death, and so people happily lived in accordance to them. However, some were not so happy with their predestined fate and so sought to change their stories by turning into “Chaos Tellers,” avatars of chaos who seek to not only rewrite their stories, but also write bad events into the books of others by turning its owners into “Villains (a creature that looks similar to a Heartless).” In order to stop them, those who were born with “Blank Books” use the power of Fairy Tale Characters like Snow White and Cinderella to defeat the Chaos Tellers and restore the various worlds back to normal.

Based on a mobile game of the same name, Grimms Notes the Animation follows the story of Ex (Jap: Ryōta Ōsaka), a young adventurer who was born with a blank book. Borrowing the power of Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Ex now travels as part of a group consisting of weapons loving Shane (Jap:Miyu Kubota) who uses Robin Hood, gentle spellcaster Reina (Jap: Reina Ueda) who uses Cinderella and the strong but boastful Tao (Jap:
Takuya Eguchi) who uses Goliath are going around trying to defeat the Chaos Tellers.

The series begins just after Ex has joined Reina’s group and the group has just arrived in a new zone. One night after rescuing a lost little girl from a Villain, Ex turns around to discover that the girl has disappeared. Searching for her, Ex notices the Villain turning back into a man when his friends arrive. Performing healing magic on the man with Cinderella, Ex, Reina and the others watch the man wake up barely enough to utter Little Red Riding Hood’s name. The next day, as the man recovers while directing them to his village, the man informs the group about the monsters plaguing the area before passing out. Arriving at the small village, Ex and his friends are almost attacked by the suspicious and panicked inhabitants when an elderly woman steps in and stops the crowd, much to the relief of Ex and his friends. Slightly reassured, the villagers then inform Ex and the group about the history of the town and how Little Red Riding Hood had gone missing right before the important Little Red Riding Hood reenactment ritual. However, before the group can offer their services though, the Hunter returns and declares that he will find her. Deciding to help out too, Ex and his friends join the Hunter in his search for her and during the search, the Hunter tells Ex and his friends of his fatherly relationship with Little Red Riding Hood.

Suddenly hearing a wolf’s howl, the Hunter shoots off in the direction of the sound. Chasing after the Hunter, Ex and his friends come across a waterfall where they are almost suddenly attacked by a wolf which runs off. Deciding to split up, Shane and Tao end up fighting and chasing off the wolf, while Ex and Reina find Little Red Riding Hood (the lost girl from earlier) trapped inside a cave behind a waterfall. Approaching the scared Little Red Riding Hood, Ex kindly greets her and asks why she ran off the other night and Little Red Riding explains that it was because she thought that they were the Villain’s allies. Reassuring Little Red Riding Hood, Ex explains the situation to her and praises her for her intelligence as the team regroups. Assessing the situation, Tao suggests that the Hunter was turned into the wolf by the Chaos Teller, so Ex and the group decide to take Little Red Riding back to the village and reassess their plan for finding the Teller, despite Little Red Riding Hood’s pleas to check in on her Grandmother.

On the way back to village, Ex bonds with Little Red Riding Hood who confesses her fear and worries about her fate to him. Ex responds by telling Little Red Riding Hood about his childhood friend and promises her that they will be there to save her if the wolf eats her. Arriving back at the village, the group is surprised to discover the village empty. However, before they can investigate, Ex and his friends are soon surrounded by the Villain-turned villages including Little Red Riding Hood’s mother. Making a break for it, the group heads into the forest. Catching their breath, Ex wonders about their next move when Little Red Riding Hood suggests that they head to her Grandmother’s house on the chance that it will be safe. The group agrees and heads to the Grandmother’s house.

Arriving at the cottage, Reina and Shane scout the area around the cottage. However, Tao just bursts into the cottage, much to Reina’s irritation. Finding the cottage empty, Shane figures out something and asks Little Red Riding Hood in classic Little Red Riding Hood fashion about her week old bread and the half-empty wine bottle. Little Red Riding Hood tries to feign ignorance, but Shane once again asks her about the reason she brought them here and a gleeful Little Red Riding Hood creepily reveals that she brought them here to be devoured by the wolf, before setting the cottage on fire. Escaping the burning building, Ex and the group is confronted by Little Red Riding Hood who confesses her original intention was to burn them alive since she couldn’t rewrite their Books of Fate and reveals herself as the Chaos Teller for the Story Zone before summoning more Villains.

Shocked, Ex asks Little Red Riding Hood about why she allowed herself to be possessed by the Chaos Teller and Little Red Riding Hood reveals that its because she believes that she is being treated cruelly by the other villagers because of the fate written in her book and reveals that she is aware that the Hunter has been using her to get closer to her mother. Little Red Riding Hood then happily confesses to turning the Hunter into a wolf for being a wolf and the villagers into monsters for treating her like a sacrifice, saying that they deserve it. Despite Ex’s cries that what she believes is wrong and that the villagers all care for her, a giggling but angry Little Red Riding Hood shakes off his claims as lies and suddenly transforms herself into a huge wolf creature. Seeing that they have no choice left now, Ex and the others use their Bookmarks of Guidance to connect and transform into their Fairy Tale counterparts before battling the Chaos Teller and her minions. After a grueling battle, Ex and the others manage to defeat Little Red Riding Hood who collapses to the ground.

On the ground, Little Red Riding is approached by Ex who gently asks her to go back to the village, but Little Red Riding Hood refuses on the belief that she is a bad girl now. However, Ex reassures her that this is not true and that Reina will restore everything to how it once was. Though Tao quietly mutters to himself that everyone’s memories of their time there will vanish too. Reina then uses her power to return everyone and everything in the story zone back to normal as if nothing had happened with everyone losing their memories of the time Ex and the group were there.

The next day, Little Red Riding Hood’s mother is preparing her daughter for the fated day tomorrow. All of a sudden, Little Red Riding Hood’s mother hugs her and reassures her that she can do it. Later that day, Shane mentions to the group that the Hunter is going to marry Little Red Riding Hood’s mother, causing Tao to suggest that maybe the Chaos Teller was playing on Little Red Riding Hood’s anxieties about the remarriage. Thinking a bit, Reina reminds them the story should play out like it should now that they have defeated the Chaos Teller, though Tao thinks that Little Red Riding Hood’s story isn’t exactly a great one. Suddenly, Ex and his friends come across the Hunter reassuring Little Red Riding Hood that she doesn’t have to accept him as her father right away, but that his affections for the both of them are real. Little Red Riding Hood replies that she can’t accept it immediately, but she’ll give it plenty of thought and asks if that is okay with the Hunter. The Hunter agrees and Little Red Riding Hood makes their agreement a promise. However, on the word “promise,” Little Red Riding Hood begins to remember something, but then shakes it off. Watching the display, Ex becomes happy and after some cheerful banter with his friends, the group heads off for their next adventure.

Okay, so that was how the first episode played out. In Episode Two, the plot then focuses on the story of Don Quixote and the introduction of our first main villain, Loki. There is a lot more world-building in this episode, where the audience finds out that all Story Zones exist within a realm called the “Fog of Silence” and that within each Story Zone, the same story is played out over and over again. Episode 3 then continues with this explanation by explaining how Story Zones are spaces that are based on reiterations of old myths, legends and stories. So once a tale has reached its happy ending, it starts over from the beginning again with the next generation of descendants (in Little Red Riding Hood’s case). The only ones who can travel between these zones are those who have a blank Book of Fate.

Now, while this is interesting plot device, it must be horrible for some of the inhabitants to have the same story play out again and again with the same ending, especially when that person ends up with the same terrible ending. It makes one sympathize a little with some of people who are forced into antagonist roles and kind of reminds me of Shrek 3, when the fed-up villains rebelled against the statues quo and tried to get their own “Happily Ever Afters.” Though, I did like how the Hunter declared that he would still save Little Red Riding Hood, even if it wasn’t in his Book of Fate. Episode 3 and 4 then continues with Ex’s backstory where it explains how Ex is originally from the Cinderella world and that the childhood friend who he mentions in the first episode is Cinderella. The episodes also cover his first meeting with Reina, Tao and Shane and how Reina obtains Cinderella after Cinderella is targeted by her Chaos Teller possessed Fairy Godmother who is saddened by her fate because all of the other previous Cinderellas have ended up unhappy after marrying the prince.

Now, structure-wise, the show does a really good job with setting up the world-building and explaining all of the game mechanics like the Books of Fate and the Bookmarks of Guidance. The explanation of the mechanics are nicely paced and evened out across the episodes, so we don’t get a huge info-dumping session all at once. The action sequences are very heart-pumping and exhilarating too, though some fans might a bit disappointed with the tame creepiness factor of the show which is most likely aimed for a more early teenage audience. Despite this, however, the creepy drawings of the Chaos Teller monster designs more than make up for this flaw. The animation and character designs are also incredibly well-drawn, despite being a little plain in some cases. But, the colours are overall bright and cheerful which provides a nice balance between the fun and creepy aspects of the show.

With the writing, the plot-writing for the show plays out very nicely and carries a nice, natural moderate pace where there has not been a lot of rushing so far. Though the script-writing does occasionally come of as a bit cliched and blends into standard RPG tropes, the audience does get a decent sense of the different characters and all of their colorful personalities and does show-off all of their unique quirks, which balances out so it works. Tao though takes first place as my favorite character so far. Ex’s relationship with Cinderella is also really fascinating and I really like how he places Cinderella’s well-being over his own romantic feelings for her, despite possibly having the ability to change her fate.

As for the music aspect of the show, the background music is expresses the medieval setting and action~y nature of the show quite well. The opening theme song, “Innocent Notes,” by Ayana Taketastu is both heart-pounding, energetic and resounds amazingly with the show, despite falling into the standard fantasy anime opening music category, while the two ending theme songs, with “Endless Notes” the main one by i☆Ris come off as sweet and charming. Although I prefer the first one, ” Eiyū no Shihen” that played at the end of the first episode. Since most of the Japanese voice casting is pretty much the same as the game, I can’t really speak much on seiyuu choice. But so far, all of the Japanese cast has done a wonderful job at voicing their characters and bringing out each of their character’s individual strengths and flaws. The audience can really believe Reina’s ditiziness and Shane’s love of weapons and I even find Ex’s kind nature to be rather fun.

While Grimm Notes: The Animation doesn’t exactly carry the exciting thrill of a dark anime show like Madoka Magica or Death Note, it is still a fun fairly entertaining show. The bright and cheery atmosphere of the characters and the settings mixed with the more darker aspects of the show will be sure to draw in audiences of all ages. But if you are a lover of Fairy Tales or fantasy-type shows, then this is most definitely the show for you!

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