Here’s a little bonus coverage for you. Granblue Fantasy is actually scheduled to air in Spring 2017, but the first two episodes were previewed online this weekend. To be honest I normally prefer to wait until the season itself to watch the premiere of a series if it’s previewed this far out, because I prefer the story to be fresh in my mind when the series begins. But this season is so threadbare and I have nothing to blog on Sundays, so I figured I may as well cover these eps now.
Granblue Fantasy comes to us from Cygames, the same company that produced the game that was adapted into Shingeki no Bahamut. Bahamut makes an appearance here too, but seems to be a good guy this time around. I confess I know next to nothing about the games at the root of this franchise – maybe it’s like Godzilla, where he’s a friend in one movie and an enemy in another? I honestly have no idea, but I do know that I rather liked Shingeki no Bahamut. In a genre where anime has become very uniform in recent years, it was definitely not a mass-produced model. In fact, that series (from MAPPA) never really seemed like a game adaptation, but something created specifically for anime.
My early take on Granblue Fantasy (this time it’s A-1 Pictures in the saddle) is that it’s way more conventional. Fantasy RPG adaptations tend to follow a very predictable pattern, and there’s really no element of these episodes that we haven’t seen many times. The young farm-boy hero with surprising skill and valor, the best friend/brother he’ll leave behind to go on a dangerous journey, the missing dad, the magical loli being exploited by an evil empire (here it’s even called “The Empire” and the local mid-boss literally fondles his devil-beard when he cackles), the powerful female knight. Sawashiro Miyuki and Kugamiya Rie play roles in which they’re utterly typecast to boot.
Still, for all that, I thought Granblue Fantasy was pretty decent. While the animation was a bit dodgy at times (lots of CGI, too) the background art and music were quite lovely (there are obvious nods to Last Exile here). It’s an exceedingly familiar premise but the execution is solid – none of the characters are especially annoying (though I imagine Rie’s flying
lizard thing might annoy some viewers), the pacing is steady and the narrative flows well. I’ll give this series a chance when it airs for real, though if it turns out to be anywhere near as interesting as Shingeki no Bahamut I admit that will prove a surprise.