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GRANBLUE FANTASY The Animation – 02

「旅立ち」 (Tabidachi)
“Departure”

Remember how, last week, I was talking abut how all classic JRPGs owe their origins to Miyazaki? It turns out, that Granblue Fantasy takes the inspiration almost verbatim. Here we have our protagonist Gran, who dreams of following after his adventurer father, only to have others ridicule his father’s purported discoveries as myth and fancy. But he’ll show them! He’ll show them all! Conveniently, a girl falls from the sky and spurs him on his own journey. Then, flying machines!

The fact that Granblue Fantasy‘s opening act feels rather familiar is not, in itself, necessarily a bad thing. There’s a reason these structures are used so often is because they work. Coming of age stories requires the hero confronting a parent figure. They need something to kickstart their adventure and drive them out of their comfort zone, so we might as well mix in the boy-meets-girl here as well. And, of course, airships are awesome. If you have an excuse to work airships into your story, work airships into your story. And if you don’t, why not design your entire setting around airships? Forget about discovering a floating island, make everything floating islands. Humanity (sample: me) is completely in love with flying, so let’s be flying all the time. I’d never get sick of that.

Beyond establishing the setting and setting the hero on his journey, where will Granblue Fantasy go from here? These first two episodes are basically one single pilot, probably best to be viewed back-to-back as a single introductory chapter. They still leave the question of the overall direction of the series open. I suppose we could take a stab, and say that considering how all the villagers are still so friendly after coming so close to total annihilation, and how everybody comes out of it alive (even Herr Goatee, who I guess is going to get to be a recurring B villain now), Granblue Fantasy leans on the side of idealism, and it’ll exude more of the adventure spirit than anything too grim and cynical.

I actually took a peek at the actual game, to learn more for writing these intros, and from what I could tell, while Granblue Fantasy is rather extensive for a browser game, the main plotline is actually somewhat padded (random encounters, go here, fight that) and doesn’t really go very far very fast. It’s also rather thin, especially when it comes to the lead character (this Gran fellow, if you recall), since in the game he is a silent, first-person protagonist with no personality whatsoever. What I’m hoping this anime can do is trim back the padding and replace the more ‘gamey’ aspects with narrative. Encouragingly, it’s already doing some of that, giving the protagonist a childhood and personal connections, nailing down character motivations, and treating the summoning of the invincible dragon god thing as more than just a game mechanic. By which I mean collateral damage.

So, solid start. Not brilliant, perhaps, but solid, especially if you’re nostalgic for that old-school fantasy, and I know I am. Let’s give Granblue Fantasy the full three episodes to see what it does with itself now that the adventure is well underway. I’m not usually all that optimistic about game adaptations, but I’m open to the idea of Granblue Fantasy actually working out. I’ll be fine with ‘solid’.

April 9, 2017 at 7:57 am
11 comments »
  • April 9, 2017 at 8:00 amWorldwidedepp

    Granblue have a mix of (of my experience):

    Skies of Arcadia (This Islands also Story)
    Last Exile (Flying Machines also Story)

    Lets see.. But right now these two come into my mind

  • April 9, 2017 at 8:33 amzztop

    The game’s got a lot of characters – some are part of the main story like Lyria and Katalina, but tons are optional recruits each with their own backstory and motivations (ie. a dashing phantom thief ala Lupin, a free-spirited trio of cat-eared warriors whose leader loves Katalina, a morose teen brawler, etc.). They may not have time to cover everyone.

    • April 9, 2017 at 6:32 pmPasserby

      It may be useful, perhaps, to eventually compare Granblue Fantasy to Idolm@ster: Cinderalla Girls and Kantai Collection. They are all, arguably, waifu collecting games, and have different ways of juggling their huge cast (to varying degrees of success). I suspect that GBF will simply choose to omit most of them.

      • April 10, 2017 at 10:19 amWorldwidedepp

        Right now? A Boy is protecting an Girl that can summon Dragons

        Just at this point, it remember me more of Ar Tonelico

        A Hero is the Bodyguard for an Girl that can cast powerful arts with Songmagic, aka summon Magic

        Like i said, there are many “at home” vibes inside me, while watching Granblue. But also like i said, i am curious in how this Storytelling has arrived in the present. Damsel in distress? (Ghibli’s stuff. Or Princess Mononoke?) Lets see

  • April 9, 2017 at 9:04 amseltzermx

    Any changes between these new “airings” and what was made available on CR back in January? Liked what I saw back then, but don’t want to rewatch if I’ve seen it already.

    • April 9, 2017 at 10:17 amionpp

      It’s the same sadly but new episode on upcoming sunday.

  • April 9, 2017 at 2:30 pmdaikama

    Per my Ep. 01 post, already watched Ep. 02 so of course my opinion of GranBlue anime remains the same as last week. Again, I do like fantasy (incl. “high fantasy”), and while JMO, I cannot call this a “solid start”. More like a very standard, by-the-book with a lot of tropes, average start. Honestly, maybe a bit worse than that. Couple new items.

    The “comedy”, practically mustache twirling villain isn’t helping matters. Certainly didn’t help my impression of Gran when there are lines like: Gran: “What’s this dragon?” Lyria: “Bahamut. It helped us”. Gran: “Helped us?” Me: Dude, WTF!? Last episode you helped summon Bahamut (shouted its name) for the specific reason of helping you, and this episode you just now watched it help you. How is this even a question? This may seem like nitpicking, but when (to me at least) Gran already comes across as Fantasy ML #2463, this doesn’t help because it makes think he’s kind of stupid.

    Got more exposition this time around. Again, quite standard IMO in terms of execution delivery and quality. There are some other things as well, but I’ll leave it at that.

    FYI – some non-spoiler comments I’ve read from a game player. The first two episodes are from the tutorial. That person described the game as “light-hearted”, “all ages” (aimed primarily at a younger players). I’ll leave that out since rest of it had some minor spoilers.

    I did want to mention those two items because they did have some impact on me. OK, tutorial stuff so I’ll give a couple more episodes rather than one per “3 Episode Rule”. The latter does pretty much confirms what we already saw, but for me it does alter my expectations a bit because for some reason or another, I did expect the game to aimed a bit older audience (say “teen” and up), and thus not quite as light in tone. It also explains things like the lack of any bloodshed and the “comedy” type villain, etc. Certainly fitting for an “all ages” type game.

    • April 9, 2017 at 6:41 pmPasserby

      ‘Standard, by-the-book’ is plenty capable of being a solid start, to me. Perhaps you have higher standards than I do, or perhaps you have more requirement for originality, but if an anime does what it set out to do in a competent manner, that’s already a level of success.

      (To play devil’s advocate, we can nitpick your nitpick too! Recall that Lyria was the one who asked the dragon to help them. Gran’s first reaction to it, on the other hand, was, ‘What the hell is this?’ (or, er, words to that effect). Obviously one of them knows more about what they’re doing than the other. Let’s not judge them too harshly quite yet.)

      • April 10, 2017 at 12:20 amdaikama

        Well, I think it depends upon the connotation one has for “solid” here. To me in this context it’s positive/”good” as well as consistent, strong, etc. That’s how I would use it for a “solidly” written book. The book is consistently good throughout. If you mean “solid” simply as consistent (which is not how I took it since you wrote “Not brilliant, perhaps, but solid”), then I agree. Show’s consistent so far. JMO, but consistently average.

        As for “devil’s advocate”, I’ll play devil’s advocate and nitpick right back. Yes, it’s Lyria who asked Bahamut for help… out loud and right next to Gran. Dude’s not deaf and they speak the same language so where’s the puzzle here? The answer to his question was already spoon fed to him on top of what should be obvious even without that line. They both summon a dragon to fight for them, it shows up, fights for them and wins. The result is clear – it helped them. Again, how is this a question?

        Now sure, Gran may be “What the hell is this?” in terms of the summoning (e.g. his line of “what’s this dragon?”), but the help part is crystal clear – should be at least if one has decent intelligence. Is this a huge deal? No, but it is IMO a bad line because again I think it gives an unnecessary negative perception of Gran. Maybe I’m wrong here, and Gran isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer and thus the reason for that dialog. Otherwise, just have him nod & say a quiet “soka” and move on. Problem solved.

        Honestly, I think it’s a simple as you like the show markedly more than me so far – which is totally fine. Not the first time we’ve had different opinions on shows in general or specific aspects of shows. To each his/her own as the saying goes.

        Just to be clear, I’ve been critical of GranBlue, but I don’t hate it. “Average” isn’t the harshest of criticism, and I’ve watched worse. However, I AM surprised at how average, stock, generic this is to me. I guess I did have some level of expectations here. Yes, a “traditional” or “classic” story can work. IMO originality (in large or small part) is nice, but original/different does not automatically = better. But so far this is so very much “just there” to me, and that I didn’t expect. Like I wrote, right now there’s nothing for me to latch on to.

        Now it certainly can improve – hope it does. I haven’t dropped this yet. Furthermore, I’m adjusting approach to a more light-hearted “all ages” atmosphere (which is fine) per above.

  • April 10, 2017 at 5:15 pmPsyId

    especially when it comes to the lead character (this Gran fellow, if you recall), since in the game he is a silent, first-person protagonist with no personality whatsoever

    in game he/she is described as softies person, so expect something along the line of can’t-refuse-people-who-need-help kind of protagonist.

  • April 15, 2017 at 11:20 amWorldwidedepp

    Ep 03:

    It passed, i got hooked. But more on my “at Home” feelings

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