ANIME REVIEW: Granblue Fantasy The Animation

Granblue Fantasy The Animation (Season 1)
Producer: Aniplex, Tohokushinsha Film Corporation, Cygames
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Magic
Air Dates: Summer 2017
Episodes: 13
Status: Season 2 in Development. Release Date TBA
Sub Version Available: Yes
Dub Version Available: May 29th, 2018 & July 17th, 2018
Available on Crunchyroll

What You Need to Know:

Granblue Fantasy The Animation is an anime adaptation of the Granblue Fantasy video game series. It was animated by A-1 Pictures. It aired from April 2 to June 25, 2017. A second season has been announced. The English dub comes to Blu-ray with the full series to be released on 2 Blu-ray Volumes, with Volume 1 releasing May 29th, 2018, and Volume 2 releasing July 17th, 2018. Volume 2 contains a never-before-seen episode footage.

What You’ll Find Out:

This is a world of the skies, where many islands are found among the clouds. The story begins in Zinkenstill where a boy named Gran and a talking winged lizard named Vyrn notice a strange blue star plummet to the ground. After deciding to investigate the pair discover a girl named Lyria who fled from an airship, her only means of escaping from the Erste Empire, a military totalitarian government with aims to rule over this world using powerful military force. It’s not long before imperial soldiers arrive and though Gran is a strong fighter, he falls victim to a critical wound and dies. Lyria is devastated at Gran’s fatality and in a desperate moment uses her mysterious power to share her own power with him, reviving him and thus binding to two of them together forever. It also means that when Lyria summons forth primals; the native gods, goddesses, and legendary beasts who inhabit each location, all with their own unique abilities, Gran is endowed by their awesome power.

In order to escape from the Empire, Gran and Lyria head out into the vast skies aboard an airship, holding the letter Gran’s father left behind which reads, “I will be waiting at Estalucia, the Island of the Astrals.”

The party composed initially of Gran, Lyria, Vryn, and Katalina make numerous stops along the way. Usually, these stops are marked by quests typically assigned by Sierokarte which bring the group into conflict with the Empire and also provides the party with additional members.

325px-Gran_AnimeGran: The stories main protagonist, Gran’s dream was to become a sky traveler like his father. After his fateful encounter with Lyria, Gran is given the chance to finally achieve his greatest desire. Gran is an untrained yet skilled swordsman who is joined with Lyria once their lifeforce was joined. Gran is the captain and leader of the group and has a strong moral foundation and is driven to always do the right thing even when he’s left with only tough choices.

 

 

 

325px-Lyria_AnimeLyria: Gifted with the ability to connect with Primal Beasts through her powers, imbued by a blue jewel, Lyria was held hostage by the Empire for her ability and utilized her for their experiments to control Primal Beasts. Though she has little knowledge of the outside world, she is taught basic education while in captivity by her guardian Katalina and is genuinely appreciate when shown the kindness of strangers.

 

 

 

 

 

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Vryn: A lifelong and loyal companion to Gran, Vryn may well be the eldest among the group as generally the age of dragonkin is anyone’s guess. Vryn acts as the group’s comedic relief and also their main support in the event that a rally is required. Vryn behaves in a childish manner for the most part and is both excitable and quick to acknowledge a bad idea. Though he rarely participates in direct confrontation due to his limited size and lack of abilities, if nothing else, Vryn always knows his way to a hot meal and comfortable bed.

 

325px-Katalina_Anime

 

Katalina: Don’t be fooled by Katalina’s kind and motherly nature. Katalina is a highly skilled swordmaster with the ability to utilize basic combat magic. Katalina is fiercely protective of her ward Lyria and will do whatever is necessary to protect her from harm. Especially when it comes to the Erste Empire. Katalina is a noble knight gifted with the ability to utilize water and healing magic.

 

 

 

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Io: A young lass who loathes being treated like a child, Io eventually joins the group while in search of her master, who vanished without warning. Io is persistent and refuses to give up in the face of adversity, but is also a little inflexible. Io shows irritation when treated like a child, and can’t wait until she’s all grown up. Aside from Lyria’s ability to magically summon Primals, Io is the group’s primary mage with the ability to utilize a variety of spells.

 

Capture-4-3725243532-1526011181613Rackam: Once a famous captain who spent an illustrious career soaring through the sky on the airship Grandcypher, Rackam made a name for himself as a skilled helmsman before an accident the cut his career short and caused him to swear off the skies forever. His encounter with Gran and Lyria gives him a second thought about his decision. Witnessing their desperate aid for help leads him to take the helm once more and become a steadfast member of the party. Rackam is a skilled sniper who employes the use of a rifle in battle.

 

What Just Happened?

Granblue Fantasy: The Animation is yet another example in which wildly popular RPG games lead to an anime adaptation, a popular practice in the Asian market and in time is licensed, this time by Aniplex of America, a subsidiary of its parent company Aniplex, for the North American consumer.

The anime itself follows a basic formula of your typical fantasy based RPG game similar to the earlier Final Fantasy game installments and other games along the same vein. Fighters and casters partner up with one another and go on a variety of quests to attain various rewards and propel the storyline forward to its climax.

Granblue is a decent anime if you are able to understand its intent prior to watching. First, though the anime is touted as a PG13 rating, aside from a few skimpy outfits on female characters, there is virtually no oversexualized content in the show itself. Considering the current landscape of anime and trends is rather remarkable. Additionally, though there are numerous combat scenes, the level of violence and gore is innocuous. Very little blood is displayed and certainly not to the extreme of other shows within the same troupe where each battle is saturated with it for shock value. I would suggest that this anime is more than suitable for young audiences and really should have been rated within the PG system.

However, the PG13 rating works as a double edge sort for Granblue. Though visually pleasing from the illustration and animation standpoint, the storyline and characters will certainly be a disappointment for those that are seeking a show with an edge. There are really no serious developments that engage a sense of maturity through events or character development. Coincidentally I would criticize the concept and behavior of the characters most of all. Each of the characters performs a job system just like your standard fantasy game. While that’s all well and good, the personality traits for each falter into dull cliche’.

Gran is the eternal optimist who rarely recognizes the plight of his ordeal and without the trials essential to any primary heroic figure, he lacks the fundamental depth to carry the story with any real significance.

Further criticism can be applied to Lyria and Io who both suffer from insipid demeanors which is most certainly due to the plague of the current fanservice trend which for the life of me I cannot understand. Though Asian culture, certainly in Japan, is different than our own, it astounds me that the depiction of females in anime which renders young women and girls in weak roles and victimized by way of their misogynistic creators is barely tolerable and most shockingly seemingly not only acceptable but endorsed. As such, Lyria is presented in the all too common damsel in distress role who only has brief moments of true strength if and when she stands alongside Gran, who acts as her physical vessel, safely placing her well out of combat and most glaringly in the back of everyone else. While that in itself is frustrating, Io’s presentation is even worse. Frankly, she’s a brat with brief, (and I really would use that application sparingly,) moments of any real affinity to anyone with the exception of, surprise, Lyria. I guess because they’re both girls and girls love girl things. Coincidentally and for no real apparent reason, Io constantly fights with Rackam because he’s male who recognizes her youth and limitations apparently that irritates her enough to conduct herself during their interactions entirely devoid of respect. Sure there are momentary nods of acknowledgment between the two as the latter part of the initial 13 episodes reach the climax, really by that point the damage is done.

Vryn is downright annoying. His voice sounds like a toddler being squeezed. It’s the only visual I could use as a comparable visual with regard to his dialog. He’s entirely useless and employed for the sole purpose of leaning on what producers inject in most new shows to garner a positive reception from a young audience.

However aside from the aforementioned criticisms which I so often employ on numerous other anime shows, Granblue does have something to offer so long as you keep my statement at the onset of the review in mind. If you’re expecting a deep storyline rooted in emotion to pull at the heartstrings, you will be better off looking elsewhere. Granblue does not provide any gritty undertones or shocking developments or plot twists. It does, however, provide a number of visually appealing scenes and exposure to an entirely imaginative concept in which each scene is developed with careful planning and plenty of detail. In addition, the fight scenes express a measure of action that rivals other anime in the same genre developed within a comparable timeframe. The employment of CGI is done with methodical accuracy which aids the vivid scenes as opposed to detracting as so often it does with its peers.

In the end, your enjoyment of Granblue will boil down to your personal taste. For all the missteps in terms of lacking character development, I feel that the beauty of the animation and art do makeup for it. And for all I know, the part 2 could well incorporate further depth into the overall plot especially with regard to Lyria, the empire, and the doll, her dark counterpart.

Rating: 6.5/10
Final Thought: Granblue Fantasy the Animation is best taken after acknowledging its intended audience. Though not an epic thrill ride, Granblue does succeed in providing a visual illustration that keeps you engaged and likely willing to overlook its shortcomings in one-dimensional plot and shallow character development.

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