Growing interested in Granblue Fantasy グランブルーファンタジー】from the announcement of Granblue Fantasy: Versus from Cygames and Arc System Works.  Though, you can read more about this from my “1st Episode Impressions” article!  For now, I think it is best we jump into the review!

 STORY IMPRESSIONS 

Lyria

From Episode 1 — Girl in Blue, we can tell that Granblue Fantasy: The Animation is going to circle around the mysterious girl who fell from the sky, Lyria.  She is met up by Gran after falling onto an island after Katalina tried to help her escape, and she moves forward to figure out who she is while simultaneously fulfilling Gran’s ambition to travel the sky to meet his father.

The beginning of this anime irked me a bit, seeing as how the main character (Gran) would get mixed up in someone’s business so easily without knowing whether they were right or wrong, even at the probability of getting his home village mixed up into a stranger’s problems.  However, it progressed in a fashion that made it clear that our MC made the right decision and justified his brash actions. I am happy that Granblue Fantasy: The Animation seems to make everything fall into place instead of hurryingly tying the story together assuming an audience knows already from the mobile game.

To be fair, most things in this anime are cliché and are predictable, yet that does not make things any less enjoyable. Yes, we have a pattern that seems to loop itself repeatedly as our group of rambunctious skyfarers dash headfirst into danger for various reasons, conqueror it, and prepare for the next challenge.  However,  I think good anime simply needs to entertain, make sense when the final episode hits, and create a feeling of wanting to see what happens next whether-or-not you have an idea of what is going to come.  I feel like Granblue Fantasy fulfills on all of these avenues in a delightful way I have not experienced for quite a bit with an anime this linear; the joy within simplicity is this series’ greatest strength.

The world is alive and breathing, the atmosphere they create is unique within each location they show, and the way of life of various races intertwine seamlessly across the series.  The atmosphere definitely helps to move the plot along, and I feel they did a great job in this department.

Overall, I feel like more fleshed out ambitions of some of the main side characters would have helped to understand more about who Lyria is, or rather, what she possibly could be.  The story was linear and not complex within the least, but it does not have to be as it is done well and is entertaining.  I also feel that Granblue Fantasy: The Animation is a good entry point to those who have an interest within the series and may want to begin the mobile game to find out more about the lore, characters, and the world they all reside in.

 CHARACTER IMPRESSIONS 

(From Left-to-Right) Io, Rackam, Gran, Vyrn, Lyria, and Katalina

Surprisingly enough, Granblue Fantasy: The Animation is one of the rare anime where I tend to like every single character that is apart of the main cast (though, to be fair, I did partially dislike Vyrn throughout the entirety of the series).  Characters are well thought out with their distinctive personalities that differ from one person to the next while keeping a universal theme of friendship, unity, and optimism.

Character development as far as depth occurs for each of them individually; whether it is conquering a long-time dream, realizing you have the strength to grow stronger alone, or realizing that dependence on others is not always a vice.  I feel a lesson can be learned here, especially from the perspective of “sometimes it is hard to see yourself as others see you”.

To be fair, I am disappointed in Gran’s development as a combatant.  While he is shown to be somewhat competent within the initial episode, and he was supposed to be given training by Katalina within another, we never have a true training ethic established for him.  Most leaders within anime are shown doing things to get stronger, working hard in order to justify the boost in strength necessary to overcome the next task.  Gran’s case is different because he is constantly gifted power from Lyria whenever an encounter is to happen and I feel this is a crutch which belittles the true strength of the character.

The main protagonist, “The Empire”, seems to be evil but no idea to what end.  While we have a motive in that they want Lyria and to control “Primal Beasts (Ancient monsters containing great destructive power)”, we have no idea what their end goal is and if they are actually as bad as they would seem.  Agents that come from The Empire seem to be ally, friends, and foes, so one does not know what to actually expect.

Great characters overall, but I wish development would have happened for the Gran as he since he seemed to carry the same mentality at the beginning as he did at the very end of this anime.  At the very same time, maybe Gran not having to change his thought process or viewpoints means that he was already fit to be the leader of the crew.

My favorite character “Siero”, owner of the Knickknack Shop
 EPISODE 13 

(From Left-to-Right) Vyrn, Io, Lyria, and Djeeta

It should be noted that Granblue Fantasy: The Animation actually ends on Episode 12 — Showdown on the High Seas, and that Episode 13 — Another Sky is actually not part of the main continuity.  I find it weird that this episode even exists, considering it could have been used as a way to further the plot of Episodes 1-12 through use of a timeskip (as they did in Episode 13, but the way they did it makes it irrelevant).

What we have here in “Another Sky” is a synopsis of the entire story from Episodes 1-12 by Lyria, but instead of it being Gran that finds her during the events of Episode 1 — Girl in Blue, it is instead a girl named “Djetta”.  This girl is essentially the “what if Gran were a female”, and is done for the sole purpose of having a typical anime “swimsuit episode” in Granblue Fantasy: The Animation.  While they could have easily made it where Gran was wearing trunks and being shirtless, they decided they wanted a cute main heroine for maximum fanservice.  I find this to be grossly unnecessary because this is not what was shown originally; even if it is a parallel universe, I feel it was a poor decision to even bring a parallel universe into this story.

This episode introduces brand new characters to the main crew aboard their airship “Grandcypher”, some of which they met throughout the first 12 episodes and shows a substantial increase to the initial group’s reach.  Also, Djetta (alternate universe Gran) seems incredibly skilled when dealing with enemies she encounters within the episode, while Gran seemed to have skill but was still fumbling with his technique when not assisted by the power that Lyria has.

To be fair, this episode was not bad, and shows what probably happened to Gran after the original 12 episodes ends…but it just felt unneeded.  Fanservice episodes are fine as long as they can effectively continue the plot, having a vacation after the events that the crew went through makes sense and we did not need Gran to turn into a girl to make it enjoyable.  Not to mention they kept the very same opening as the original episodes which showed Gran, yet they changed the ending to instead show Djetta (which is even reflected in the group’s silhouette at the end of the ED).  If you are going to change something, please make sure that you change it all to be uniform.

 MISCELLANEOUS 

Cover of the Granblue: Fantasy Graphic Archive, an example of Hideo Minaba’s art style.

If you look at the cover of Granblue: Fantasy Graphic Archive above, you will see the the art of Hideo Minaba is replicated closely by Granblue Fantasy: The Animation.  This is what I had hoped to see, and they did it wonderfully with on-model animation.  Sure, it would be difficult to do this coloring style for the entire anime, but even with basic cel-shading they managed to emulate the most important things, which are the eyes in proportion to the head and the hair.

Official music video of “Go” by BUMP OF CHICKEN

The OP of this anime “Go” by “BUMP OF CHICKEN【バンプ・オブ・チキン” has really grown on me.  I absolutely love the vocals accompanying the myriad of images and animated scenes that makes up the opening sequence.  Definitely one of the most catchy openings I have seen in a bit (though I am watching JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 5: Vento Aureo and “Fighting Gold” is pretty catchy).

 THE VERDICT 

Silhouette of the Crew during the ED
 RECOMMENDED 
 STRENGTHS  — Nice aesthetics, Likeable characters, Good action sequences, and Story is entertaining.  WEAKNESSES  — Episode 13 is a waste, Plot is easily figured out by Episode 7, and No real background story on Katalina’s life to make it worth risking it all to help Lyria.   IMPRESSIONS  

I was pleasantly surprised by Granblue Fantasy: The Animation, I did not expect to like this anime nearly as much as I did.  While it started off wonderfully, a lot of animes do not usually keep that same tone and keep you invested.  I found myself more-and-more wanting to see how the story would unfold and how it would play into learning more about the core characters and bring about new ones.  The simplicity of the anime did not hurt it in the least as the overall experience was a pleasant one.

Animation was great during action sequences, they managed to really nail Hideo Minaba’s art style, and they were able to tell the story in a way that made sense to someone who never touched the mobile game for Granblue Fantasy.  

To be fair, the only glaring weakness is Episode 13, but even that can be overlooked if you just skip it or keep-in-mind that it is a bonus episode with no bearing on the first 12 episodes you watch in the series.  

Granblue Fantasy: The Animation has made me want to learn more about this world; I am looking forward to learning more about this wonderfully crafted series through the mobile game, which I have heard continues the story and is being updated regularly.  

Thanks for reading!