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GRANBLUE FANTASY The Animation – 01

OP Sequence

OP: 「GO」 by BUMP OF CHICKEN

「蒼の少女」 (Ao no Shōjo)
“The Azure Girl”

Somehow, there has never been a Final Fantasy anime. I’m not talking about some promotional prequel thing, or one of those CGI movies that Square-Enix likes to push out once in a while like Advent Children. I mean an honest-to-goodness adaptation. Just take one of the numbered games and turn it into an anime. We’ve turned all sorts of media into anime, videogames included, so why not a burgeoning franchise like Final Fantasy? You can imagine, say, a FF6 anime, and it would be awesome, right? Or perhaps it would be too much awesome to fit into a single series. Even a single cour of anime is a lot of commitment, let alone the several that would be required to contain a full-length JRPG, so maybe nobody ever thought it’d be a profitable proposition. But if the Tales series can manage regular anime series (or at least OVAs), then other JRPG franchises can, too? No?

Well, no proper Final Fantasy anime, but what we do have is Granblue Fantasy, which actually may be close enough. Or at least it looks close enough on first blush; I have never actually played the game—I don’t really play mobile games, in general—so I can’t really tell you what it kind of show an adaptation of it will turn out to be. What I can tell you about, and what you can see for yourself, are airships, evil empires, and dragon summons. Perhaps most importantly, I can tell you that Cygames, the company that developed the Granblue Fantasy game, house a few old Square refugees, so if you’re seeing Final Fantasy DNA throughout this pilot episode (these two are basically super-Celes and Terra-light, right?), you know where it came from.

It’s not simply a matter of Granblue Fantasy being a Final Fantasy derivative, though; all JRPGs, really, share a common heritage. One day I need to write more lengthily about this topic, but for now it’s enough to say that Final Fantasy also had to take its ideas from somewhere, and not only did it borrow from fantasy tropes everywhere, it also borrowed from Japanese media (as is the incestuous nature of Japan’s homogeneous culture). Before airships, steampunk and magitech were popularised in Japan by Final Fantasy, it was popularised by Miyazaki Hayao. And accordingly, you will find that an entire generation of Japanese gaming owes inspiration to Castle in the Sky Laputa, and Granblue Fantasy remembers that. Hence The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, the idealistic rural-boy who jumps at the chance to help her, and wonder twin powers that are powered by, I presume, fancy rocks. Combined with the other fantasy tropes (e.g. every adventure starts in the Shire), it does seem like we’ve seen it all before, right? Almost generic. The damsel in distress, her entourage of white knights, the definite good versus definite evil are so used by now that the characters don’t give the slightest pause to being thrust into those roles. ‘Oh, boy meets girl. Guess I’m helping you now. Oh, those guys look bad. Guess I’ll kill them.’

Of course, one viewer’s ‘generic’ is another’s ‘old school’, and one viewer’s ‘unsophisticated’ is another’s ‘uncomplicated’. And, ultimately, originality is nice to have but is also vastly overrated; more important is good execution. Thankfully, Granblue Fantasy gives a solid showing in this pilot. The art is clean and the character designs are pleasant enough (even though they seem to have only one costume so the main character’s going to have to chop wood in his gear). The action is lively enough, depending on how dazzles you are by blur and effects, even if the mooks didn’t really put up much of a fight. The CGI, while noticeable, is mostly tolerable. If they’re using the original game’s soundtrack they’re set for the score. And I’m anticipating quite a cast for Granblue Fantasy, what with the all-star voice talent they’ve got on board (with apologies to Kugamiya Rie, because mascot characters annoy me).

Not to mention that Granblue Fantasy has kept a few cards close to its chest, to keep things interesting, so let’s not dismiss its story out of hand. There’s a matter of mysterious powers and mad experiments and dragons everywhere (some for slaying, even). There’s potential here, and places Granblue Fantasy can go, and they may make for good watching this season especially if you dig the oldschool JRPGs. All of them start this way. The question is where they take things from there.

Full-length images: ED 04.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「ソラのパレード」 (Sora no Parēdo) by HARUHI

April 2, 2017 at 9:38 am
38 comments »
  • April 2, 2017 at 10:06 amzztop

    14 eps confirmed for Granblue, spread across 7 Blurays.

  • April 2, 2017 at 10:14 amzztop

    http://randomc.net/image/GRANBLUE%20FANTASY/GRANBLUE%20FANTASY%20The%20Animation%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2033.jpg

    The source game allows you to play as a female avatar, Djeeta.
    http://vignette4.wikia.nocookie.net/granblue/images/5/57/Djeeta_2.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20170205153149

    Granblue’s anime producer said he was initially planning to make Gran and Djeeta co-leads for the anime, but the corporate overlords at Cygames refused – they wanted to maintain the “boy meets girl aspect of Gran meeting Lyria”.
    The producer is still trying to see if they can use Djeeta in some way.

    Although the game’s still a Japan-only release, apparently it also offers English-translated game menus and dialogue (with Japanese voices).

    • April 2, 2017 at 10:20 amWorldwidedepp

      sadly i can not find Granblue on google play..

      i would test it out out of curiosity

      • April 2, 2017 at 10:24 amWorldwidedepp

        nvm, i found the broswer game. thank you

      • April 3, 2017 at 7:10 pmPsyId

        it also has a chrome add on, if you wanna try that out…but i think you still need to sign up through your phone to make the mobage account.

    • April 2, 2017 at 6:51 pmPasserby

      That’s one of the things I wish they did for the Persona 3 movies as well. It would have certainly made for a more interesting experience.

    • April 2, 2017 at 9:53 pmblergh

      apparently it also offers English-translated game menus and dialogue (with Japanese voices).

      Yup. And it’s very professionally done (I can tell they tried really hard at localizing a lot of jokes/cultural stuff). Game’s addicting yo.

  • April 2, 2017 at 10:16 amWorldwidedepp

    Well, it got my attention while watching the new Animes this season, and this one here gave me “at Home” vibes. the setting reminds me of an old Dreamcast Jrpg (Show Spoiler ▼

    ) that i even import at that time. Lets see, for now it is looking promising. i have the warm feelings of old times. Lets see in how this Anime have arrive in the present

    1/3 Episode passed

    • April 2, 2017 at 6:50 pmPasserby

      Skies of Arcadia is another great example of the influence of Miyazaki. It is everywhere.

      • April 3, 2017 at 9:55 amWorldwidedepp

        Well.. you could say i grew up with Ghibli movies and “Heidi in den Bergen”… first that made an impact was Nausica from the valley of the wind (german dub). but with time i got it with original voices and englisch subtitles

        Perhaps thats where my “at home” feelings are coming from. But lets see in how much this adaption now has arrived in the present… i am curios

  • April 2, 2017 at 12:27 pmSeeStriker

    Square(Enix) has that twisted idea that their official FF games wouldn’t make good series, that’s why we got stuck with FF:U (incomplete thanks to the Spirits Within fiasco). Thanksfully, Granblue Fantasy turns into the classic way of the RPG instead of the overload of isekai stories. With Hideo Minaba’s original designs and Nobuo Uematsu’s music, here’s the Final Fantasy series that officially we didn’t have.

    • April 2, 2017 at 6:48 pmPasserby

      Squenix sometimes seems genuinely surprised that people enjoy the older styles of their games. I seem to recall them being actually baffled that Bravely Default sold well.

    • April 3, 2017 at 5:29 amZaiden

      There are two Final Fantasy games that I would love to see as an anime, and incidentally they are my favourite entires in the franchise:

      1. Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions
      2. Final Fantasy XII

      Inside my head, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance seems like it would translate well into animated medium, and I would also love to see an ‘I am Setsuna’ anime. Imagine the kind of synergy snow and piano have being brought to life by the hands of a reputable studio.

      At the end of the day, anime is probably not lucrative enough and potentially eats into the sales of the original source material from the perspective of the creator. For example, light novels don’t usually get second/third/fourth…etc seasons, which I would put down to the anime already generating the necessary publicity to kickstart some success. Putting it into perspective, if even startup light novel authors are not viewing anime as being particularly lucrative after a season or two, then an anime series would be something of a vanity project to a corporation with Square Enix level wealth.

      • April 3, 2017 at 7:01 amPasserby

        Final Fantasy Tactics would be the best anything ever. You’re now my second favourite Zaiden.

    • April 3, 2017 at 6:00 amLyfe

      I would love to see Final Fantasy X adapted into an anime, with X-2 as OVAs. I don’t think XII would work at all, I thought what story it had was awful, and most of the characters underdeveloped. Vaan was more an observer in the story and didn’t have an impact at all. Especially the way the final boss Show Spoiler ▼

      I know that won’t be a popular opinion, but I really disliked this game. I can’t remember caring about any of the characters either. Though Balthier was kinda cool.

    • April 4, 2017 at 4:04 amTalamond

      Going by my year of experience with the game and some research, I would just like to add that the most prevalent music in the game (i.e. the tracks you hear most of the time in the game, and also the majority of what played in the released two episodes of the anime) is actually composed by Tsutomu Narita. Granted, Uematsu still made a good amount of tracks for the game (and I’d assume the anime) but this is another case of his name overpowering the actual work put into the game.
      (Note: I’m actually a die-hard Uematsu fan (in fact, my favorite track in the game is his composition), but this issue occurs too much in Uematsu-involved media (another example is Fairy Fencer F) for me to let it pass.

  • April 2, 2017 at 4:47 pmStormyAngel

    I also found this fairly good, although not anything super special. Definitely potential though.

    But those SWORDS. Forget lightsabers, I want to get me one of those. Somehow they manage to cut through armor and cloth without leaving a mark, and there’s never any blood on them! All in a single blow! That’s some genuine magic right there.

    • April 2, 2017 at 6:46 pmPasserby

      They’re fighting mooks. Mook armour is basically as worthless as their lives.

      • April 2, 2017 at 10:31 pmStormyAngel

        Yeah, but somehow, these mooks have the special armor that acts like a hologram. It’s not even cut after they’re stabbed!

        Take for example Gran’s shirt being cut open. The look armor maintained its integrity even after supposedly being cut right through. I was blaming this on the protagonists swords, because who would wear such useless armor on purpose?

  • April 2, 2017 at 11:03 pmWilliam drummond

    >wonder twin powers

    Um, how old are you? An oldster like me :) remembers the wonder twins from the Superfriends tv show, is this an allusion? (The WT were pretty lame IMO)

    • April 3, 2017 at 6:54 amPasserby

      I don’t know what you’re talking about. The Wonder Twins were hilarious. Though perhaps not intentionally.

  • April 3, 2017 at 3:41 amdrunkenveggie

    Currently in Shinjuku, the department store Lumine is running a promotional Granblue Fantasy-themed cafe. I think after watching the anime, I’ll decide if I want to go or not. Well…I’m at least a bit curious.

    • April 3, 2017 at 9:33 pmKei

      Honestly give it a shot, I think you’ll like this one. Maybe. I’m just jealous and wish I could go to that themed cafe.

  • April 3, 2017 at 3:44 amcryum

    >Somehow, there has never been a Final Fantasy anime
    but there has? Even discounting the many OVAs out there, there was a sequel anime to FFV.

    • April 3, 2017 at 4:46 amSeedStriker

      We did have animation projects for FF, but not the ones we needed. Legend of the Crystals was supposedly what happened some 200 years after FFV, but in a weird turn of events, the animation from Madhouse was sub-par. Then FF:U just was another AU. Only the proyects from FFVII has been somewhat true to their source.

      • April 3, 2017 at 6:09 amLyfe

        I remember reading that Final Fantasy Unlimited was cut short, likely because of under performance. It was meant to be like 50 episodes I think. The story just came to an abrupt conclusion. I didn’t think it was a bad show, but It was kinda clear that they were trying to aim this show at a younger audience too.

  • April 3, 2017 at 10:59 amAex

    Reason #302 Miyazaki Hayao can’t stay retired.

  • April 3, 2017 at 11:41 amfatalblue

    Haven’t had the chance to watch yet (eps are d/led and ready to watch on job commute)but yes, to good excucution > originality. I’ll take well done ‘generic’ over poorly excuted originality any day.

    Hopefully whatever path gransblue takes it’ll be an entertaining one!

  • April 3, 2017 at 2:33 pmdaikama

    There were two episodes released back in January (Feb?). I assume that the anime is just airing those exact same two episodes again now. Sure seems that way. I watched both available episodes already, and I’ll be honest. This was underwhelming. I like fantasy (incl. “high fantasy”), but this was not good IMO. Frankly, I’m not 100% sure I would call it average. :/

    “Of course, one viewer’s ‘generic’ is another’s ‘old school’, and one viewer’s ‘unsophisticated’ is another’s ‘uncomplicated’. And, ultimately, originality is nice to have but is also vastly overrated; more important is good execution.”

    I agree with this sentiment. I do like complex stories/plot lines, but IMO sometimes “simple” or “uncomplicated” can work just as well if not even better – just depends on the type of story. For GranBlue specifically, the (so far) “uncomplicated” premise is fine, and don’t anticipate any issues with that.

    “Old-school” or “traditional” themes/elements can also work, but you need something more. Good execution definitely helps – important for any story really, but so can avoiding throwing in as many tropes/clichés as possible which can be counter-productive. The line where “traditional” crosses over into “generic” territory is subjective. Personally, GranBlue falls on the “generic” side with a lot of trope/cliché boxes being checked off left and right. Rather than the review’s opinion GranBlue “gives a solid showing in this pilot”, in terms of execution I’d call it “adequate”.

    Problem for me is that so far there’s nothing in particular to latch onto.
    - Characters: Relatively speaking, I probably liked the knight woman (didn’t bother to learn names) the best. I’m fine with that type of character though frankly even for a straight, stand-up type she felt a bit too “cardboard cut-out” for my tastes. ML? Meh. Fantasy ML #2463. Buy 2 now and get 1 free! That’s nothing new for anime, but would help if he’s doesn’t check all the trope boxes (including potentially obliviousness). Can’t say for sure at this point, but yeah, looking like a lot of trope boxes will be checked. :/ The super-nice blue-haired FL “princess” (certainly a special snowflake) at least avoided total damsel in distress and does have some power/ability (dragon summoning).

    I agree with Passerby that the (IMO) awful Not-Lizard mascot was annoying (and thus deserves its own paragraph). I’m not against mascot characters per se (though they are often superfluous). If they were going for “cute” (IMO it’s really not) and funny, then a lot could learned from Megumin’s cat. It’s certainly not a “cool” type mascot IMO. Strongly suspect that thing is going to annoy me the entire season if I stay with the show.

    - Battles/Action: Meh as well. Perhaps/probably average, but nothing exciting IMO with a lot of bloodless single sword-swing one-shots. You do NOT have to go nuts with this, but a little bloodletting beyond the one special case would add some grit and perhaps even some illusion of drama/tension to the battles. And yes, the action was kind of blurry at times. Regardless of whether on purpose or not, didn’t help matters. In general, I found the battles kind of just there.

    I have at least another issue, but that’s more Ep. 02 relevant so I’ll skip it for now.

    That leaves me with…??? Only two episodes (for me), so not dropping yet. I may in fact give it 4 rather than 3 episodes. Still, at this point I have some serious doubts about sticking with the show.

    • April 3, 2017 at 5:43 pmdaikama

      Oops. Forgot to add this. Another issue I had with the show is IMO bad visual quality/CGI integration at times. Totally got the “green screen in the background” type impression which is not good. Visual quality wasn’t great in general, but these were quite noticeable dips. :(

    • April 3, 2017 at 7:30 pmLyfe

      You’d make a good anime blogger. If you don’t do that already ha. I thought your analysis of the episode was a good read :).

      • April 3, 2017 at 11:31 pmdaikama

        @Lyfe: Thanks! That’s a very nice compliment! :D Don’t anime blog. Too much time commitment for me. Have enough issues just keeping up with shows at times (and I don’t watch that many shows these days). :/

  • April 3, 2017 at 10:27 pmRedRocket

    Enjoyable but nothing special, I will watch if I have the time.

  • April 4, 2017 at 1:42 amFlappy

    There was Final Fantasy:Unlimited in 2001.

    It was an average anime, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

  • April 4, 2017 at 8:36 pmDavid

    It was mostly average, until Katalina started talking while not in combat. Now I’m in love. Her voice is just gorgeous, and I’d be happy if they got rid of the other characters (especially the lizard that sounds like the little brat from Airmaster) and just had Katalina reading her memoirs or something.

    • April 5, 2017 at 5:58 amowq

      P.S. Miyuki Sawashiro voices the same character in the actual game. She has quite a bit of lines

  • April 5, 2017 at 10:28 pmhjerry

    IMO, for a game-based show to really thrive, it needs to either fully embrace, or fully discard its game type roots, at least usually. With this, it felt like they were trying to have their cake and eat it too. The whole thing just screamed turn based combat to the point where I was saying out loud when they met Katalina, “Katalina has joined your party” and I felt like I could actually see the point reductions coming off each of their bodies after each attack.

    Oh, and the lizard thing reminded of Navi/Fi in the worst way.

    • April 5, 2017 at 10:52 pmdaikama

      @hjerry: Interesting take because I forgot this was game based while watching to be honest. (Very) Cliche/generic “high fantasy” – yeah, but as for “turn based” action, nothing more than what a normal high fantasy anime might show IMO. JMO, but if one didn’t know it was based off a game, I’m not sure that would come to mind for viewers. Nothing in terms of stats, skill levels & such like some other series. DanMachi isn’t based off a game, but feels much more “gamey” to me. Didn’t think much of the first two episodes, but I’ll give the adaptation that much.