「風の出会い」 (Kaze no Deai)
“Meet the Wind”
I won’t hide it: it doesn’t take much to bribe me. As far as anime goes, I can be cheaply bought and easily pleased. Basically, if there’s steampunk airships, it’s a good show. I basically can’t remember anything that happened in Last Exile, except that there was airships, so I know I enjoyed that one. Since Clockwork Planet is not nearly as steamy and punky as we require, this season we need to get our fix of improbable pre-Industrial technology from Granblue Fantasy. You hear that, Square Enix? Airships. Give me back my airships.
Perhaps I’m biased towards this show, then, since it definitely knows what I want. At the same time, though, I wonder if we’re overindulging. It’s evident, by this third episode, that Granblue Fantasy is in no hurry to go anywhere at all. As you may have read in the comments, episodes 01 and 02 were, in the videogame upon which this anime is based, the tutorial chapters, and indeed in the adaptation they seem to have been almost a prologue, and only in episode 03 are we arriving in chapter one. Granblue Fantasy takes its time here showing off the set, playing around with quirky character humour, and shoe shopping, when you would have expected a tighter show to have already dived into the plot. Not that there’s not progression, but it’s still mostly orientation, building the world and introducing characters—characters that we already know will join the party anyway, because they’re in the ED. When it’s episode 03 and only now does a show want you to know that its world is infested with squeaky hobbits, you can tell that it’s taking things step by step.
So yeah, still sort of setting up, but at least Granblue Fantasy is setting up some potentially interesting things. A few more B villains have been thrown into the mix, and while they didn’t really do much except explode things, at least they made our heroes run around a bit to keep everyone on their toes. And it also adds some nuance to the plot. Nuance, you ask? Even when one of them is theatrically evil? Well, mostly the extra antagonists show that there are multiple parties interested in Mysterious Blue Girl. Some of these folks want our merry band off the island asap, while others are still bent on the recapture directive. While the Bad Guys so far have all been lumped under the banner of The Empire, the different motivations implied suggest that there’s more going on, and perhaps when Granblue Fantasy is done with its initial worldbuilding we’ll get to see some sort of powerplay behind the scenes. That’ll help the story avoid being reduced to a one dimensional good vs evil struggle.
For now, though, since Granblue Fantasy is still setting up, your judgment of these first three episodes will depend largely on whether the stuff its setting up looks interesting to you. My experience with JRPGs is that they tend to be expansive in scope and can go very long. While Granblue Fantasy has 14 episodes this season, which is a bit more than most, considering the current pacing I can’t really imagine it being done in just one cour. Either it stops at some arbitrary point, or it’s going to have more in store for the future. So there’s some potential here for a grand, old-school adventure to unfold. As I said last week, perhaps not brilliant, but definitely solid. As long as you have a bit of patience.