GRANBLUE FANTASY The Animation Special/Episodes 1+2 – Review
GRANBLUE FANTASY The Animation:
Original Air Dates: January 21st, 2017 – ???
Synopsis: A young man named Gran and a speaking winged lizard, Vyrn, come across a gril named Lyria after a sudden explosion from an airship in the sky. Gran discovers that Lyria has escaped from the Erste Empire, a militaristic government bent on taking over the world. Seeking to escape their pursuers Gran, Lyria and Katalina, a former Knight of the empire, set out to find the Island of the Astrals, where Gran’s father had set out to discover.
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Linny: Compared to other shows of its kind aka promotionals for games/game adaptations, Granblue does a somewhat better job than most, feeling like an actual show rather than just promo material. It’s no masterpiece but the use of an intriguing opening chase without going too over the top helps to pull the viewer in. However, like with most game adaptations, Granblue does suffer from poor story adaptation as it does a subpar job of laying out and explaining the rules and defining its in-story universe. Even two episodes in, the show seems more focused on having our heroes meet and set off on an adventure together than defining the background of the characters and their personalities.
Tom: Granblue’s trouble is really centered around that inability to engage us with the grander world within the series. We’re drip fed the story and world of Granblue in between all the action and flare, which, to be fair, is generally quite eye catching and engaging. But the story’s piece meal nature causes a disconnect, making events on screen feel uninteresting and unengaging without greater context to define them. That’s not to say Granblue should’ve opened with a big chunk of narration, but the way it drip feeds its information doesn’t do the job needed of sucking audiences into its world and caring for its characters.
Linny: It doesn’t help that Granblue’s protagonist, named Gran (shocker, I know) further dooms and lends to the show coming off as yet another game adaptation because of how generic he is. Like most video game protagonists, he is a kind hearted but somewhat stubborn young man who’s determined to follow a dream that most people in his life and village advise him against. He’s even got a catalyst in the form of an absent but idolized father whose steps he wishes to follow. which only further fuels his eagerness to accept when the opportunity for an adventure outside his village is presented. There’s even a cliche inspirational letter involved and I wouldn’t be surprised if experienced gamers experience some sort of dejavu during the show.
Tom: Gran is pretty ho-hum as leads go. He’s stalwart, determined, and a bit naive. But outside of those basic traits we really don’t learn a lot about him. Granblue is so caught up in churning out the action and drip feeding story, we rarely get any time to focus on his or anyone’s characterization. It’s only in the second half of the special, or episode two rather, that we learn of that motivation Linny mentioned. But outside of a flashback to delve into that, Gran goes largely unexplored, as does everyone else.
Linny: Like Gran, our main mysterious female character, Lyria, is left as a generic personality, innocent and almost childlike so there isn’t much hope of her winning you over unless you find yourself drawn to her character design or have a weakness for her archetype. Fortunately, our other female character, Katalina might win audiences over as she makes a big impact with her skills as a fighter, her costume being anything but exploitative and her moderate comedic notes.
Tom: Granblue’s art is bound to be a bit divisive. There’s a lot of ‘rough’ line work. It’s an artistic choice that sometimes really makes certain scenes look cool, but at other times give things an almost ‘unfinished quality.’ It’s going to be an acquired taste I feel and while I generally took to it, I can easily see others becoming completely turn off by it.
Linny: Like Tom just pointed out, the art could be a divisive factor as some viewers might like the unusual look it lends while others find it lazy and ugly. Overall, Granblue plays out better than the average game adaptation but not by much. It still suffers from common issues in its genre like ho-hum characters and humdrum story telling. It might have a saving grace in the form of Katalina… so long as you don’t mind its animation style.
Tom: Granblue is based off a Japanese Android/iOS fantasy RPG game. As game adaptations go, Granblue is hardly awful, and in fact perhaps one of the best we’ve seen so far this season. But being the best of something that traditionally turns out mediocre isn’t saying much, and indeed Granblue isn’t all that impressive, with ill-defined characters, a drip fed story that makes it difficult to stay engaged, etc. It’s worth a try if you’re starving for fantasy, but otherwise there’s still better content out this season more deserving of your time. It should be noted, however, that these two episodes are merely a teaser for the full series, which won’t air in full until next season.