Really? We’re ending on a beach episode?
What’s the Story?
In a world where the islands float in the skies, a young man, Gran, dreams of setting sail out into the wide blue yonder to follow in his father’s footsteps and maybe even discover the fabled island of the Astrals. When a girl drops out of the sky it’s the beginning of an adventure (isn’t that always the way), teaming up with a knight on the run, a helmsman who only wants to fly one ship and a pushy little magic user, Gran sets off. Along the way he’ll battle ancient monsters, the evil empire of…evilness and unresolved plot threads! Let’s go!
If I was to look at this anime analytically I’d have to say that it’s characters are fairly one-dimensional, its plot ranges from predictable to generic and it’s pretty much just an advert for some mobile game I’m never going to play. So I should probably dislike or at the very least be apathetic towards this series. In actual fact, I love it. This show hits a cord with me. It feels like an old-fashioned adventure, which it pretty much is. Yeah there’s lots of elements you’ve seen elsewhere, sky ships, mysterious characters who help out the main heroes, saying something ominous and then disappear until their next meeting and girls that fall out of the sky (Is it just me or does that happen a lot in animes like this? I can think of a couple of examples just off the top of my head). Despite all of that though, this series just goes to prove that it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s how you do it.
The characters, though they don’t have very much depth and tend to stick to their archetypes, are all charming and I really feel for them. I mean when Gran was trying to convince Lyria that she wasn’t the monster the Empire thought her to be and then everybody else turned up to stand by her, I was tearing up. I like these people. I care about these people and I want to see them be happy, I want to see them go on wacky adventures and laugh and joke together. The characters feel honest and genuine, yes this anime was most likely conceived as a way to boost sales for the game, but you never get that feeling watching the show. This is just a group of people having adventures and I love that.
I’d be happy if the show was just that, but there is more to this. For one, the show is absolutely gorgeous. A lot of the characters drawings have this slight roughness to the line work that makes it feel like they’ve just been drawn and they move so fluidity. Seriously there are some outstanding action scenes, I don’t have the words to properly describe how good a lot of this looks (I should probably stick in some sort of meme about sending in a poet, but in all honesty I think the poet would struggle too). Also I really like the amount of detail in this show from the characters to the world around them. I mean, sure, some of those costumes are just ridiculous, but I admire the detail in them and animating that couldn’t have been an easy thing.
The show does have some problems, outside of the ones I mentioned. The main one being that this is clearly only the beginning of the story. It’s 12 episodes (I’ll come that 13th episode in a minute). There are a tonne of plot threads unresolved, including the mysterious Rosetta, who is she and what’s she up to, same goes that armoured black knight and the girl similar to Lyria. Heck episode 12 adds a new character to the roster with seeds being sown for his back story (that we’ll never get to because there’s no more episodes). I mean at the very least the series goes out with a certain bang, with a huge battle and while there are a lot of new characters thrown at us (I’m assuming these are the other characters who we’d get to know if the story carried on, or we played the game). It has a suitably epic feel to it and we do get some pay off on the bit of character development Lyria received in the previous couple of episode. Sure it’s annoying that we’ll probably never get answers to a lot of questions, but I’m just happy to spend time with these guys.
Speaking of that, on to Episode 13, which in all honesty I have never seen an episode like it in any other series. It’s the only episode of the series where I could feel the ad executives willing me to buy the game and that made it rather off putting. I’ve never played the game, but from this last episode I take it that when you play you get the choice of either playing as a male or female character. So, instead of the final episode working as a capstone to the series so far, to reflect on what came before and maybe make some promises about what’s to come, no instead we get the series recap, but with the female version of Gram instead. Not only does this mean that the last episode is confusing as hell as it starts back the beginning with an entirely different character, with no explanation whatsoever, but it also means that the episode is part recap, part beach episode. Also, who the hell ends on a beach episode, they’re the filler, the bit of fun crammed full of way too much fanservice before we move on to something better, except there’s nothing to move on to because this is the last episode! Honestly I do not understand this last episode, why would I want this after spending the previous 12 episodes getting to know and root for a completely different character? Episode 13 is entirely pointless and I’d just skip it altogether.
Granblue Fantasy: The Animation is a fun series. Sure it’s not deep or meaningful, it’s not even that original, but it doesn’t need to be. This series is an adventure and that’s all it ever has to be, fun times with likeable characters. The animation is great, the world is vast and beautifully designed and the characters are all people I enjoy spending time with. This show knows what it is and never really tries to break away from that, and it shouldn’t. Outside of Episode 13, I’d definitely recommend this. Set sail for an adventure!
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.