OP: 「月を追う真夜中」 (Tsuki wo Ou Mayonaka) by Eir Aoi
「世界で唯一の魔術師」 (Sekai de yuītsu no majutsushi)
“The Only Mages in the World”
Anime originals have been getting a bad rap these past few seasons (and for many legitimate reasons), but as the saying goes keep on trying and eventually you’ll succeed because hey, not all paths lead over the cliff. Whether or not that applies to Granbelm remains to be seen, but with some impressive animation and one hell of a rapid fire plot, you can rest assured this one won’t be disappointing either way.
As the always mandatory RC Preview teases Granbelm is the latest anime original, and a mecha original to boot. Having those two labels alone doesn’t help mitigate initial doubts (Franxx says hi) and given the opener here it’s not hard seeing why. In between the all moeblob girl cast and cookie cutter archetypes we have a standard fare plot revolving around magic and obtaining control over the system governing magic’s use. Select girls capable of using magic are apparently summoned to a new world once every month (if that full moon is anything to go by) and there do battle until a victor is decided. What happens when a winner emerges? Is there more than one battle in this warzone to determine the ultimate victor? No idea yet, but backstory and ominous rainbow lights certainly hint towards a few choice possibilities.
Building on this as well are the aforementioned moeblobs and here there’s no real surprises either. Kohinata (Shimabukuro Miyuri) is your usual cute and dumb MC with apparently no skills except finding the winning card when required, while Elnesta (Tanezaki Atsumi) is about as big a Homura-Emilia fusion as you can get without going full fan fiction. Then we’ve got the current batch of anger issue antagonists who you know will be coming to blows before too long. Sure may all sound like a recipe for mediocrity, but I got to admit for these faults there’s still something to these girls, whether it be the voice acting or that very Re:Zero-esque artwork. Granbelm may not be pushing boundaries when it comes to setting or exposition, but it does have a few cards hinting towards greater things to come.
Where Granbelm does find a modicum of strength however is in its visuals. No beating around the bush here, for an anime original by a new studio this was some seriously impressive animation, especially with the lack of appreciable 3D CGI anywhere to be seen. While Granbelm’s stunded mecha designs are bound to be divisive (although that puppeteer-like control scheme gets points for originality), there’s no denying on this front the show is pulling out all the right stops. Of course it’s anyone’s guess whether this level of production can keep up for the rest of the season (and we all know which bet is more favourable in this case), but should Granbelm manage the improbable, it’s certainly going to make some interesting viewing later on down the road.
All we have to find out first how well the story to be revealed matches up to everything else Granbelm is so far throwing our way.
ED: 「願い」 (Negai) by Uru