Granblue Fantasy the Animation – 01 (First Impressions)

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The Gist: Granblue Fantasy is the story of Lyria, a abused special magic weapon on the run from The Empire, and Gran, a friendly knight, who comes to her rescue in the woods. Gran is killed along the way and Lyria must resurrect him and unleash the power of Bowmut to defeat the evil-face villain and escape.

I literally spent 40 minutes laughing with hatred at this show, which contains exactly zero drops of joy, artistic expression, nor professional craft.

It may be tempting to watch Granblue to witness its profoundly generic and overwhelmingly slow structure, which are impossible to capture in stills. It may be tempting to watch if you enjoy the game, which has lovely character designs, with vivid color and shading, absolutely not captured here.

Please, in the name of the 40 minutes of life I can never get back, do not. This is a profoundly terrible show.

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There is an unfortunate dialog convention in Fantasy RPGs, which I refer to as “Question, answer, answer repeated as question, answer.” (QAARAQA for short) It is usually reserved for the protagonist, to reinforce information that absolutely does not need to be reinforced for the viewer/player, which results in a mentally limited protagonist and disrupted narrative flow.

“Who’s chasing us?” “The Empire.” “The Empire!? They’re dangerous!” “Yes. We must escape them!” “Escape them!?” – Oh just shut up!

GranBlue Fantasy the Animation QAARAQAs frequently, often while characters are standing around before and after its brief action scenes. Not only does this result in a repetitive cycle that adds nothing to our understanding of the world or the characters, as they are only restating obvious plot points we’ve seen or can infer without emotional nuance, it totally derails the flow of action.

Of course that would matter more if GranBlue contained action in the first place. While characters do run around, occasionally launch shimmery attacks, and there are 2 CGI dragons, the animation is lethargic or lacking narrative tension or hilariously adherent to RPG battle conventions, or all three at once.

In one scene, after a few seconds running away from a long conversation, Katalina stops and walks up angrily to four imperial knights harassing villagers in the forest …and swats them to the ground with her rapier. She doesn’t run, she just walks up to them and splat, they fall over, with exactly the same sword-swing and fall-down impact you would expect from a broad sword. The only thing missing was red damage point numbers appearing above the knights’ bodies.

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While the character design is quite detailed, that level of detail limits shading. The result looks flat, lacking volume, and the line quality, which is best described as ‘sketchy pencil’ looks sloppy, unfinished. Other visual notes like Vyrn not flapping her wings, rather bobbing up and down in the frame, and that 20 minutes of the episode are spent running aimlessly through the same muddy-colored forest, gives an overall feeling that no effort was put into the production of this show.

Certainly, nothing compared to the lovely rich colors and bold shading in the game. (Don’t even get me started on the audio, the generic high-pitched girl voice dragon, or the laughingly evil faced villain who also has a generic high pitched voice/laugh.)

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The Verdict: Fantasy tropes aside, GranBlue‘s structure is terrible. Scenes are interminably long, often featuring characters standing around expositioning content we know or are smart enough to infer.

11 minutes in, Gran and Katalina spend 4 minutes next to a fallen tree re-explaining the current story. This is immediately after running away from a group of soldiers, without a sense that they’ve ‘gotten away’ or are hiding. They’re just here, nonchalantly talking about the plot. No tension, nothing.

“Gran! Please use my power.” “Your… power?” “Yes” – ARGH!

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Golden Time – 19

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Is Tada Banri really The Worst? Nah, but he’s certainly quite fallible. This week he keeps his friendship with Linda a secret from Mitsuo, doesn’t tell Linda that Mitsuo would be at festival club filming, doesn’t even know what Linda is mad about, and later disgusts Chinami, who happens to catch him being all too friendly with the girl Yana-san likes. He even jokes that he doesn’t know who Koko is when she rushes to his arms upon his return to town, and…all right, we’ll admit that was pretty funny. But it wasn’t very nice.

So yeah, Banri messed up here and there this week, but one can’t place the blame entirely on him. After all, when you’ve decided not to run form your past anymore, difficulties and missteps come with the territory. Doing what he’s decided to do was never going to be easy, especially he isn’t even sure he can coexist with his past self; it could come back and take over at any time. It’s all to easy to shrink in the midst of existential fears, and thus it’s understandable he’d overlook the affairs and feelings of others now and again.

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That being said, his actions have consequences. Mitsuo is really into Linda and wants to make a go of it, while Linda is unsure of how to react to his interest in her. She’s a lot of fun to watch this week, as we get many a hilariously angry-face and scary voice out of her. It’s a little goofy, but her tangled emotions are strongly felt.

As for Chinami, we’ve never seen her so pissed off, and while it’s true she was being a bit nosy and doesn’t have the whole picture, she’s not wrong that Koko would not have liked the scene of Banri and Linda she witnessed. Linda and Chinami form a tag-team of punishment on Banri, and it’s oddly satisfying to behold.

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Speaking of Koko—she’s decided it’s time for her and Banru to become one. Her gift of the Eiffel Tower sculpture (which beyond its obvious phallusy bears a resemblance to many an ancient fertility statue), and its subsequent role in the failure of her mission (along with her full stomach) are all brilliantly dorky, cute, and very Koko. It’s also notable that she presents him with the tower as he’s debating whether to give her his mother’s ring.

He tells himself and Koko they have plenty of time, but what’s so agonizing is that we simply don’t know if that’s really the case. When we saw that ring, we immediately considered the possibility that it may never see Koko’s finger. We hope we’re wrong. In any case, Banri can’t be careless with his secrets, his omissions, or his time. This is his golden time.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)