Grimm’s Notes The Animation Series Review

The quality of the story here is certainly grim.

Grimms Notes Series Review

In case it hasn’t become clear as I work my way through the anime I watched during the 2019 Winter Season, I’m jumping back and forth between anime I enjoyed a lot and anime that kind of had a bumpier ride. Last week was the slice of life delight My Roommate is a Cat so unfortunately this week we’re crashing down to the unintentional disaster of a narrative that is Grimm’s Notes. Admittedly, I am running low on anime I actually enjoyed last season, but I do still have reviews of The Promised Neverland and Endro to come out so there’s a few delights still in store.

Loki - Grimms Notes Episode 12

What should be obvious by now is that I don’t really want to write about Grimm’s Notes and yet I feel I kind of need to. I did in fact watch the entire season and while we had an intriguing premise and an entire minefield of potentially interesting questions to ponder about morality and the human condition and free will, the anime literally does nothing with any of that. Instead it becomes an exercise where the protagonist’s are right because they have to be and they don’t even try to convince the villains, let alone the audience, that they have any grounds for that conviction.

Grimms Notes Episode 1

Basically the story involves a whole bunch of story zones where every one living in them has a book that essentially tells them what is going to happen in their life and that is the script they follow. Our main characters are all characters who, for whatever reason, have blank books. They travel from story zone to story zone and stop chaos tellers from messing up the stories.

Grimms Notes Episode 10 Curly

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However, where that becomes problematic is that they set Red Riding Hood back on a path to be devoured by a wolf, set Snow White and her step-mother up to repeat a tragedy, and basically override any one’s objections that maybe the story shouldn’t be followed.

These are the characters we are supposed to support.

Grimms Notes Episode 9 Loki

I wouldn’t mind so much if they ever explained the consequences of not getting the story back on track. We get an ambiguous statement about story zones collapsing but are never told what that looks like or what happens to the characters in the story. Do they all die? In which case, sure, maybe keeping the story on track is a good idea. But it isn’t established, nor does anyone actually ask.

Alice - Grimms Notes Episode 11

Even the villains don’t bother to make their case for why giving characters free will might be a good thing. For once the villain’s actions are actually something that seems kind of logical even if there are dire repercussions, and they never even try to justify themselves.

Instead we get the heroes saying they’ll set the story right and the villains who stay in the shadows and make ambiguous comments but do little.

So the plot is a bust, and the characters are worse. Visually this is fine. Not good or great or particularly interesting, but I’ve certainly seen worse and some of the fights are actually kind of fun to watch even if the motive behind them is lacking. The music is unexceptional and honestly completely forgotten almost as soon as the episodes end.

Grimms Notes Episode 3 Young Ex

Honestly, this was such a great concept and handled so incredibly poorly. The biggest issue is the crushing disappointment of realising that the writers clearly had no clue what to do with their own idea when it came to the anime. I have no idea if the source (which I think is a game) did a better job or not, but I do know this anime is incredibly skippable.

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Karandi James
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This Story Is Getting A Little Grimm

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Grimms Notes Episode 9 Review

This week on Grimms Notes, Reina, Ex, Tao and Shane find themselves in a desert when Aladdin shows up to offer them some water. As you would expect, he also helps himself to Reina’s book and so they hunt him down so that Reina can deliver a suitable slap to the thief.

Grimms Notes Episode 9 Aladdin

Aladdin’s story is more or less what you would expect at this point given the way Grimms Notes has been unfolding. He found the magic lamp as his book of fate told him but then it was stolen from him and he was kicked out of the city. Determined to get things back on track they start crossing the desert but are soon attacked by villains and this is where something unexpected happens.

Grimms Notes Episode 9 Reina

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In the midst of battle, Aladdin steps in between a villain and a weakened Reina, and takes a lethal blow. With the main character dead you would think the story would be over and the story zone would collapse on the spot, but instead they point out that when they tune the world another person, similar enough, will just take his place. Wow, talk about disposable.

Grimms Notes Episode 9

The more I learn about story tellers and story zones, the more I think we should let Loki and the other chaos tellers just have their way. There seems little advantage to anyone in maintaining the status quo. Then again, there’s probably still something we haven’t heard yet about some kind of major consequence if we do in fact just let the bad guys win, but it makes it hard to get behind Reina’s tears as she tunes the world this episode. Part of me just wondered if perhaps things would be better if she didn’t.

Grimms Notes Episode 9 Loki

This series remains that little bit interesting, a lot confusing when it comes to what is driving the characters, and mostly I wonder how many episodes it has and whether we’ll get to an end point. Are the ‘villains’ making their move and if yes, why did it take them this long? What have they been waiting for? What move are they making? And do I actually want the ‘heroes’ to stop them?

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The Outlook Is Grimm

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Grimms Notes Episode 7 Review

I keep wanting the next episode of Grimms Notes to be the one that turns it all around. The one that reveals the motive of the heroes and presents the villains in an actual menacing light. The one that explains why story ones exist and who these mysterious authors are who are inflicting such pain upon their creations. And yet, seven episodes in and there’s still no sign of that.

Grimms Notes Episode 7

We did get a slightly more detailed look at one of the ‘villains’ as she inserted herself into the story to meet with Ex and the others but even then, other than a cryptic comment or two she provides nothing in the way of new reveals. The story of the week is much the same as any other though as always you have to wonder if resetting things to how they are ‘supposed’ to be is actually the right things to do.

Grimms Notes Episode

Our heroes never question their actions. That is what bothers me more than what they are doing. But even when asked about their actions they don’t pause and reflect for even a minute. They seem utterly convinced that keeping stories on track according to the books of fate is the absolute right thing to do. Yet they haven’t provided a convincing argument to the audience to make us want to get behind that motive.

Grimms Notes Episode 7

Otherwise there is little to note here. The story is ongoing in much the same pattern it has been with no real ups or down in animation or any other area. This show kind of just exists at this point.

Grimms Notes Episode 8 Review

Alright, so by the end of this episode Ex actually does ask if they are doing the right thing but the question is quickly dismissed under ‘no choice’ and ‘too late’ comments so it doesn’t actually get explored.

Grimms Notes Episode 8

Outside of that, this week the focus is on Tao and kind of Shane as we visit their story zone. And this is a bit of an issue because it really does prove that these story zones are literally just looping round in circles which makes you wonder why anyone sees the point. I mean why defeat the oni if you know that as soon as that is done there will be a new hero and a new oni threat and the whole thing will just rinse and repeat.

Grimms Notes Episode 8

The other issue being that neither Tao nor Shane are particularly complex characters so the backstory on them and how they met and ended up deciding to leave their story zone is pretty weak, as is their resolution to keep a story on track that doesn’t exactly seem like it is doing anyone any favours.

Grimms Notes Episode 8

Grimms Notes continues to not really do anything particularly note worthy but nor is it unwatchable. All and all, this one isn’t showing any sign of improvement but it isn’t getting any worse.

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Are Destiny and Fate Really All Just Written?

Grimms Notes Post Title Image

Grimms Notes Episode 4 Review

I have to wonder if the source material for this, which is apparently a game, if the player gets to decide whether they want to set the stories back on track or let them fall into chaos? Or is it all just mandated that of course these story worlds will endlessly repeat and you have to be apart of maintaining a status quo so that character lives never change beyond what is written on the pages of their books? It is a little sad to think about really and it is probably the one thing that really bothers me about this anime.

Grimms Notes Episode 4 Tao

Episode one wasn’t great but it did enough to make me want to watch. Episode two was just kind of there and feels more and more filler like so I’m wondering about its placement. Three and four though give us Ex’s backstory and they did a great job of establishing his character and his personal motive for helping restore Cinderella’s story and really I wish this anime had started here. And yet, despite the character being interesting, the conflict personal and understandable, it does nothing to relieve the overall worry that this story seems to be all about making people play their role, whether they want to or not.

Grimms Notes Episode 4 Ex

Sure, we’re only four episodes in and maybe it will get to fleshing out some of these points and ideas and it might even explore them a bit, but so far we’re supposed to be behind the group that come in from outside and essentially force things back onto their predetermined path. For once the crazy villain’s speech about hope and liberation didn’t seem to crazy because I could actually see exactly where he was coming from and at least the characters were offered a choice.

Grimms Notes Episode 4 Loki

Then the heroes tune the world and everyone forgets what has happened. Not only is their choice undone but they are robbed even of the memory of anything outside of their books. It’s kind of hard to get behind that.

Grimms Notes Episode 4 Shane

Still, in the hope that eventually these ideas will be pursued and explored I’m watching on. These last two episodes were at least a little compelling and far better handled than the opening episode and little bits and pieces about their powers and the like are being revealed each episode. Still, I’m hardly jumping up and down to recommend this one.

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GRIMMS NOTES VISUAL BOOK
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In The Absence Of Direction, Make Your Fate

Grimms Notes Post Title Image

Grimms Notes Episode 3 Review

To say this is the best episode so far isn’t really saying much given the dull mess the first two episodes were in. Yet despite this episode explaining some things, like filling in Ex’s background and giving the audience some insight into what it means to have a blank book of fate, other things are still very vague. You know, the whole creation of story zone things where characters are assigned roles and play out the same stories over and over again. Why would such a thing exist and why do people in the zones placidly follow their books of fate particularly those who are suffering, know in advance they are going to suffer, and could probably find a way around it given they are pre-warned?

Grimms Notes Episode 3

Maybe they’ll get around to an explanation that justifies it but mostly this just feels like poor world building. Someone wanted characters to move between different stories and came up with the idea of story zones but then didn’t really think about what that would mean for the people living in them and how insane it sounds. It’s episode three; it might yet be justified but so far the reality here is not selling itself which makes it difficult to care.

Grimms Notes Episode 3 Young Ex
Ex was pretty cute when he was younger.

Still, they did at least get me a bit more interested in Ex this episode. Without a role he was kind of an outcast and so he found his own path. He decided to help a friend get to their happily ever after and that was enough to keep him going. However, on the eve of his friend, Cinderella, going to the ball, Ex is left wondering just what he can do next (because clearly nobody in the universe ever thinks about the future given it is all preordained).

Grimms Notes Episode 3 Ex transformed

Fortunately for Ex, or unfortunately I guess, the story zone is attacked and he meets Reina who gives him the magic bookmark thing and he transforms into some unnamed hero. But they realise Cinderella is probably the centre of the story and that she’s going to be targeted and race to save her as the episode ends. I’m going to assume they succeed next week all things considered and then Ex goes on a journey with Reina, but none of that explains why people want the stories to continue on their path and why there are people messing with them. Or what anybody stands to gain from saving or destroying a story zone.

I did mention though that this was the best episode so far so it kind of feels like this might find its feet even if I never get anything resembling a satisfactory explanation for why any of this exists.

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The Fine Art Of Not Explaining Things

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Grimms Notes Episode 2 Review

Another episode where we go to a story world, meet some characters and then some how tune everything back to the way it is supposed to be so these characters can go about following some predestined plan without the interruption of chaos. I’m not entirely sure if that is actually a good thing still and given the motives of the main characters are not explained, nor have I been convinced these endlessly repeating story zones are actually a good thing, I can’t say I’m really invested in their success.

We do feature Don Quixote this week. Kind of. Maybe. There’s windmills and enough generic references that if you learned about his story by reading the cliff notes version it more or less works.

Grimms Notes Episode 2 Don Quixote
Seems legit.

However, they started this episode with our group of four wandering through some fog with the blonde girl claiming she could sense an agent of chaos in a story zone ahead. The way it was kind of explained is this fog just kind of goes on and on and in it there are story zones where characters play out their stories.

So, why?

Then we’re told that only people with blank books of fate can move between story zones.

Again, why?

I mostly just wondered at that point if they were born in a story zone and how did the people around them react to their lack of book of fate. More importantly, how did their very unscripted existence not disrupt the story zone to the point it collapsed. How are they any different from agents of chaos.

Grimms Notes Episode 2 Ex

Basically two episodes in and I don’t really know who the main characters are and they’ve exhibited almost zero personality between the entire group. I don’t really get what they want or why though I get what they are doing. I don’t really understand the villains or what their goal is. So this is just kind of happening and I guess I can keep going along with it but it isn’t very good.

More importantly, why did Ex turn into Red Riding Hood after turning into Alice. Can they just become anyone? Do they have to have met the character? What determines their power? Or are these all questions I am meant to not be asking as I just kind of go along with it all?

Honestly, if the episode was actually exciting I might let a lot of these questions go and hope for future explanations but it really does feel like we’re just getting walked from place to place and stuff happens and then we go to the next place. I can’t say this is something I recommend at this point.

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This Fairy Tale Oozes A Lack of Imagination

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Grimms Notes Episode 1 Review

Fractured fairy tales are hardly a new thing and retellings of these old tales have occurred forever as they first got passed down orally before being committed to paper and spreading even further. We’ve seen modern franchises use an array of fairy tale characters in new and interesting ways to produce shows and movies that are fun and kind of inspired. And we’ve also seen the hack jobs where people think just throwing a standard character at us with a minor twist counts as a stroke of genius.

Grimms Notes Episode 1

Unfortunately, Grimms Notes in episode 1 seems like it is going to fall into the latter category as we have a Cinderella who apparently casts magic spells by some poor jiggling on glass slippers, an Alice that is a front line sword fighter, a Robin Hood who so far has only exhibited one definable personality trait and that is an obsessions with guns, and lastly a Goliath for whatever reason. They aren’t all Grimms characters and even if they were they are more or less re-imagined by someone who only had the vaguest of notions of what the character was like in the first place so outside of the name you may as well just chuck the rest of the reference off a cliff.

Grimms Notes Episode 1

However, a lack of authenticity, creativity, or decent innovation (as opposed to just changing the heck out of something) on an old property probably wouldn’t be enough for me to have walked away from this episode with such a sour taste in my mouth. No, that taste was reserved strictly for the banal dialogue and illogical plot. When about two thirds of the way through the episode you realise who the villain is, all I could think was, I hope she wins. Honestly, her motivation makes perfect sense and the idea that somehow all these characters should adhere to their books of fate strictly and without variation is just kind of problematic as a theme. While the reason for it has yet to be explained, it just makes the team we’re supposed to think are the heroes seem like a bunch of pedantic jerks.

Grimms Notes Episode 1
And I’ll do it even if she didn’t need to get eaten in the first place.

On top of all of that, it is just dull. As I said, we’ve seen fractured fairy tales many a time so without bringing anything particularly new or interesting to the table, this one needed some really solid execution and while it is ‘fine’, it isn’t exactly noteworthy. While I will watch another episode and hope that perhaps the actual main characters find a way to make me believe that they are actually doing something worth doing, this one isn’t getting off to a great start.

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GRIMMSNOTES ORIGINAL GAME SOUNDTRACK
GRIMMSNOTES ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK