Despite mobile RPG Granblue Fantasy not being available on iOS and Android devices in the UK, the series still has a cult following behind it. With this in mind, it should be no surprise to see the popular series’ anime adaption come to our shores! Today I’m here to find out what all the fuss is about for this promising fantasy series.
The story begins on the island of Zinkenstill, where we met a young boy named Gran and his talking dragon companion, Vyrn. Currently Gran spends his days peacefully on the island, but he dreams of one day leaving Zinkenstill and exploring the sky, chasing after the father who left him behind – until the day he comes across a young girl called Lyria. Lyria was being held captive by the Erste Empire because of her power to control “primal beasts” but was freed by Katalina Alize, an Erste soldier who was originally tasked with protecting the girl but wished to see her free. Now on the run from the empire, Lyria and Katalina’s airship crash-landed on the island while being pursued by their enemies. The two’s situation seems dire, but when Gran gets wrapped up protecting them, it seems the adventure he’s been waiting for could be right around the corner!
The set-up for Granblue Fantasy is sure to sound familiar to many of you. It’s a fairly generic idea, where hero meets mysterious girl/traveller/enemy and has their life changed forevermore. However, while I may call it generic, there’s a lot of heart to the world and cast in this series which more than makes up for its premise. The starting point may be something we’ve heard a thousand times over, but the world that Gran and his new friends travel through is stunning. It’s filled with fantastical creatures and places that excite the imagination and leave you wanting to explore the world for yourself.
This set is made up of the first seven episodes of the Granblue Fantasy anime series, and within this batch of episodes we get to see Gran encounter many different people and hardships. Being chased by the Erste Empire means Gran has to do battle with a number of enemies, which is one of the areas where Granblue Fantasy really shines. Battle scenes are, for lack of a better term, awe-inspiring. They’re by no means the best fights I’ve ever seen in an anime but they’re fun to watch and have certainly had a lot of work put into them. Weapons shine and leave trails of light after being swung, and sparks fly as swords collide between our gutsy heroes. For a fan of RPG games and fantasy stories like me, these battles stirred up my long-held love of adventure and ensured that I was never bored.
Not everything about Granblue Fantasy is perfect though, sadly. One of the biggest weaknesses with the series lies with its characters. Although I grew fond of Gran over the course of these seven episodes, it’s difficult to pinpoint anything that sets him apart from any other fantasy protagonist. Likewise, Lyria is cute and has a kind personality, but she’s not dissimilar to other secondary female characters. My favourite of the three, Katalina, has more going for her but ultimately also falls short in terms of having anything interesting behind her. She obviously cares for Lyria, almost in the same way an elder sister would, and her heart was in the right place setting the girl free – but what’s her motivation? It’s the small but still important details that Granblue Fantasy, so far, hasn’t given us, and it’s a disappointment in the face of what’s an otherwise fantastic journey.
The other problem I have with the show, surprisingly, comes from the animation. Handled by A-1 Pictures, the world Granblue Fantasy is set in looks great but there’s something strange going on with the characters. Although the character designs look great, they often look blurry against the backdrop and I haven’t been able to figure out why. It might be a byproduct of the lineart being weirdly inconsistent in size, or maybe the fact the characters are just drawn in a different style to the world itself, but regardless it’s very noticeable and often distracting. I double-checked the videos on Crunchyroll to see if it was an isolated problem with MVM’s release, but the problem is also present there as well. It’s a shame because overall I really do like the animation, but this issue is sure to put some people off watching it.
Music for the series has been handled by Nobuo Uematsu, Tsutomu Narita and Yasunori Nishiki. Together the three have composed a variety of tracks that feel like they’ve came straight out of a Final Fantasy game and offer a perfect companion to the on-screen action. The opening theme is “GO” by Bump of Chicken and the ending theme is “Sora no Parade” by Haruhi. Both songs are good fits for Grandblue Fantasy and it’s always nice to hear more of Bump of Chicken.
Where voice actors are concerned the cast for both the Japanese and English audio are great. In Japanese Gran is voiced by Yuuki Ono (Isami Aldini in Food Wars!, Tetsu Sendagaya in Servamp), who gives a charming and likable performance. Likewise, Gran’s English VA, Kyle McCarley (Aoba Kuronuma in Durarara!! x2, Ryota Watari in Your Lie in April), plays the role well; no doubt thanks to his work in voicing video game characters over the the past couple of years. For those of you who choose to watch the show in Japanese, it’s also worth listening for Rie Kugimiya (Taiga Aisaka in Toradora!, Happy in Fairy Tail), who plays Vyrn. While she voices him just like Happy, that makes the performance all the better for me as a Fairy Tail fan. Vyrn’s personality is not dissimilar to Happy’s either, so Kugimiya is a perfect fit.
This release comes to the UK thanks to MVM Entertainment and is only available as a Blu-ray. This part includes the first seven episodes of the twelve-episode series with both their Japanese audio and English dub. On-disc extras include clean opening and ending songs.
Overall Granblue Fantasy is off to a good start. Admittedly the show has a few faults, and these are liable to drive some viewers away, but I believe that the impressive action scenes can overcome the problems. Existing fans of Granblue Fantasy, as well as fans of the fantasy genre as a whole, will no doubt find a lot to like here.