Granbelm – Anime Preview
Synopsis: It had been nearly 1,000 years since all the magic in the world disappeared, and most people had forgotten it ever existed. Kohinata Mangetsu is a cheerful high school student who has a pretty positive outlook on life, but she has nothing to call her own– Because she wasn’t good at academics or sports, she dreamed of having something she was good at. On a night where the full moon was shining brightly, she happens to meet another girl with the character for “moon” in her name named Shingetsu Ernesta Fukami. That was also when she encountered the mechanical dolls called “ARMANOX.” (Official Crunchyroll Synopsis)
1st Episode Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: You can tell Grandbelm’s story is going to be weak when the best excuse the show can come up with to place our protagonist, Kohinata, in an empty school late at night is because she has to retrieve a lunchbox she forgot. From a logical POV, it’s hard not to wonder why she couldn’t just have waited for the next day to retrieve it and just used a spare Tupperware or similar to pack lunch for the time being. There’s not even an attempt to make it convincing by including say a throwaway line about her wanting to retrieve it because she’s worried about it going bad and stinking up the room. Speaking of which, it seems like maybe the lunch wasn’t even touched seeing as she opens it, sniffs it and goes ‘still good ‘ as if she’s planning to eat it. When the episode has all these questions popping up within the first couple of minutes and exposing contrivances, it’s clear that it doesn’t have the most solid writing chops behind it.
Tom: From there we jump right into things, with little Kohinata getting transported to another world, right in the midst of a magical girl/giant robot battle. Despite hitting the ground running, going all in on action to try and suck audiences in, the whole thing feels generic and predictable. There’s no surprises to be had from when our lead is sucked into the magical ‘illusionary world’ to when she turns out to be a secret power house of magic, with a Mech that stands up to more seasoned magical girls. Rushing into events without context is always a dangerous play. Either you’ve got to be good at drip-feeding the audience little tidbits of knowledge so they can piece together the world, offer up such captivating action that they can’t look away, or the characters need to shine in their dialogue so much that you immediately take to every character participating in the mayhem on screen. The truth is Granbelm accomplishes none of these, making its choice to rush right into the action a poor one.
Linny: Because of that lack of engaging and deep storytelling, Grandbelm feels generic and disengaging. If you don’t immediate take to the visual elements aka moe girls and magical mechs, there isn’t much else to gravitate to. Even the girls feel paper thin as the episode spends so much time showcasing a battle and then dishing out basic story set up, leaving little to no time to establish these girls as fleshed out and poignant personalities. It shouldn’t surprise most to hear that Granbelm is an original work, a branch of anime that’s often notorious for being all about style over substance. Seeing as Grandbelm’s opening episode falls so squarely into that category, it’s safe to assume this won’t win over a large crowd of fans.
Tom: Granbelm eventually stops to set the stage, filling in both the audience and our thin, character-less lead on the greater details, but by then it’s too late. You’ve sat through over ten minutes of contextless action, without a drop of creativity to impress. Granbelm is disappointing, especially so for its status as one of only two original anime works, not based on any other media. Sure, Linny’s right that there’s plenty of original anime that are just plain bad (The Lost Village anyone?) but there’s always a chance for a Kuromukuro or Kabaneri, and it’s disheartening when you end up with something so half-baked and bland. This is one of Summer’s easiest passes.
Granbelm is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.