Note: Review copy supplied by MVM Entertainment.
Title: Granblue Fantasy Part 1
Anime Studio: A-1 Pictures
Publisher: MVM Entertainment
Genre: Adventure / Fantasy
Released: November 12th 2018
Language: Japanese / English
Running Time: 175mins
Extras: Textless OP and ED
Into the blue and beyond!
This is the Sky Realm, a sea of clouds and floating islands. One mystic island, Zinkenstill, is home to the boy Gran and his winged friend Vyrn. Gran and Vyrn one day encounter Lyria, a mysterious girl who fell to Zinkenstill when fleeing from the militaristic Erste Empire. Gran, Vyrn and Lyria set off into the skies to escape from the Empire. Serving as their guide is a short missive from Gran’s father, who waits in Estalucia, Island of the Astrals.
Originally airing in Japan last year, Granblue Fantasy is an adaption of the video game series of the same name. Having not experienced the games, I cannot say for certain whether the show is a good representation of the source material or not. As such, I came into this fresh in terms of knowing what to expect. Now, this release covers the first half of the first series, taking us up to and including episode 7, and if this half is any indication of the overall quality of the show, it’s certainly going to be worth picking up both parts.
The opening sequence genuinely feels very high octane to watch, and helps create a sense of excitement right off the bat. So much so that when the opening theme kicks in, it feels rather out of place tonally. Outside this little misstep though, the first episode does exactly what it needs to in terms of setting up the main plot points and introducing some key players. While the remaining six episodes don’t really achieve the same high, there are still plenty of positives to take from it.
As far as the characters go, the main trio of Gran, Lyria and Katalina are fine as leads. They aren’t anything you haven’t seen before, but they fit their roles well enough that it isn’t going to be a major sticking point. Vyrn, Gran’s dragon-esque companion, fits the cute mascot role perfectly, and has a beautifully Digimon style design to him. By far, it’s a couple of characters from the supporting cast that really stood out for me though. Empire Operatives Drang and Sturm are used fairly sparingly, but reminded me a lot of Pokemon’s Team Rocket, working as pseudo-antagonists with the occasional lovable comedic edge. It’s air ship pilot Rackam that gets the most shine though, feeling fairly well rounded from the get-go and proving himself an interesting character whenever he’s on screen.
Speaking of the air ships, these are beautiful in design. They help create an almost steam punk edge that pushes the design work beyond the normal swords and sorcery style you often find in fantasy pieces. When it comes to the art side of things, the show is generally very good. The animation is smooth enough to stand alongside most modern series, and as you may expect with A-1 pcitures, the action sequences provide some consistent flash moments to break up the more dialogue-laden scenes. Meanwhile, bar the opening theme’s feeling off when set against the scene that first preceded it, the soundtrack is a delight. The music immediately screams ‘fantasy’ at you, and always fits well with the on screen antics it accompanies.
As far as the story goes, this being the first half of the first series with a second run on the way, we aren’t getting near a real conclusion here. The disc does leave us off on a satisfying point, but we do clearly have a long way to go yet. What I found interesting here is that the story has done a decent job of building up some intrigue as it goes along, or certainly enough to keep me interested, but it does feel like we could have been given more than we have in terms of the overarching plot. Or, at the very least, giving us a little more progression for our lead characters.
In all though, the first half of Granblue Fantasy Season One has plenty going for it. It’s technically decent, the action is strong, the cast is fairly likable, there are some cool dragons, and not much in the way of fan service. Despite some flaws, the show is thus far very enjoyable. As such, I score it 4 out of 5.