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EP. REVIEW: Granbelm


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VerQuality
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 10:39 am Reply with quote
I think this episode's material with Mangetsu and Anna did a decent job at setting up stakes that have plenty of opportunity for drama without requiring the typical "you lose, you die" setup most battle royales get into. Most of the magic we see in the real world is basically parlor trick level (making flowers grow, wind, balancing matchsticks, etc. Heck, lighting some flowers on fire then freezing them is apparently a BIG DEAL). The really crazy magic stuff is only available to the winner of Granbelm, and there's only one. Especially for two mages in the same family, naturally the family would only support the one that has the best shot at winning (especially when it comes to unique magic items like the super-big family gem). Being good at magic isn't enough. It doesn't make sense for a family to split their support between multiple mages, and in a mage family, not being supported as a mage leaves you feeling second-class. Anna is kind of like Mangetsu, in that magic is the thing they've grasped onto as the thing that sets them apart from other people, except Anna has had that mentality reinforced since she was a kid. Both Anna and Mangetsu are building their identities around 'being good at magic' to an unhealthy extent, and that threat of losing that can really mess them up (Anna in this episode, and arguably Mangetsu in the previous episode).

It's also interesting how the series feels, to me at least, to be at least partly mirroring some of the crazy pressure to succeed in Japanese schools. It doesn't matter how much effort you put in, to constantly see yourself get put in second place (or lower) on the rankings despite putting in so much effort to succeed, and when society puts so much importance on being #1, has got to be pretty psychologically damaging.
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meiam



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 12:49 pm Reply with quote
zrnzle500 wrote:
No, they did not mistreat Anna, but her family loves Shingetsu as much as the rest of them, and in her mind they love Shingetsu more than her. She feels that Shingetsu has wormed her way into her family, stolen their love for her, stolen her rightful spot as the successor from her, even though she performed magic that her predecessors could not do alone (little did she know that Shingetsu gave her a helping hand in that), and her family still doesn't see how this wicked devil has bewitched them. Shingetsu saw how this was affecting her beloved adopted sister and left the family, but that still hasn't abated Anna's rage, jealousy, and resentment. Even though no one was mistreating Anna or Shingetsu, the contest to obtain all the magic in the world still caused a rift in their family (and between the events of the most recent episode and the next one will likely spell doom for the family), incited by Suisho though it may be. Sure Shingetsu could drop out without any problems for herself, but eventually Anna's iniquities would have been revealed to everyone and herself, and even if it wasn't her family, others would be harmed by the intrigue surrounding the chance to obtain all the magic in the world, like Kuon's sister who was cursed (probably by Suisho), or Rosa who was expelled from her (master's) home - and lost the privileges than come with being a part of a prestigious family, even as a servant - after she was defeated.

Also, given Anna's mother's warnings about using a bigger magic stone than you can handle, I think we're about to see a downside to using magic. I mean if Anna can't handle the big stone, I'm not sure she could handle practically all the magic in the world.


I don't have a problem with Anna going bonkers, people have gone insane over less. Crucially the show acknowledge that Anna is crazy (and at this point she's easily my favorite character, wish she'd defeat Shingetsu/Mangetsu just to see where the story would go from there). My problem is with Shingetsu goal being an overreaction to the events and nobody ever pointing it out, ie the show doesn't realize Shingetsu is just as a crazy as Anna (and potentially will cause far more harm than Anna if she gets her wish). Magic caused Shingetsu to get adopted into a loving family and gave her super power, the problem with Anna weren't specifically caused by magic, it was only incidental to it (and if Shingetsu does get her wish and remove magic, then Anna will lose what little magic she can do and would only be worse off). From Shingetsu experience, magic is a net positive, and if she's that worried about causing Anna to go insane, she could just use the magic she'd gain by winning to heal people. Say if she used it to heal 2 mental sick people there would be a net -1 person who would have gone insane because of the contest. I mean Harry potter has way more reason to hate magic at the start of the books (killed his parent, cause his adoptive family to mistreat him) and you don't see him trying to remove all magic from the world.

Let's say Shingetsu had won in episode 1 and erased magic, every magical family would have lost there magic, meaning plenty of people whose only real skill/training is to be mage would suddenly be skill/jobless. A pretty obvious use for magic would be to heal people, so no more of that. Anna would lose what little magic she posses and her family would fall apart, so she'd have gone nuts anyway. Rosa would still be kicked out (one way or another she would lose her only relevance). Kuon sister may or may not wake up (whose to say you don't need magic to wake her up) and anyway Shingetsu didn't know about her at that point. I fail to see how that's a better situation than Shingetsu just using the magic for good.

Also, funnily enough, as far as both Shingetsu and Anna know, if Shingetsu had given up at the start of the show, Anna would have won, since at this point the only known contestant where Anna group and Shingetsu.

LastPage 3 wrote:

Did you miss the part where Kuon mentioned that using magic makes people sick? Or what happened to Kuon's sister or Nene's mother or Nene herself?


They choose to use magic, they could simply not use it, this way they wouldn't suffer the negative side effect from them. If they deiced that the upside were worth the downside, that's there choice. When you go swimming in the ocean, there's always a risk you might drown, that wouldn't make it okay for someone to fence off the entire ocean.
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pengin senshi
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 3:46 pm Reply with quote
LastPage 3 wrote:
Wow, Shingetsu and Anna's mom are horrible. I don't normally sympathize with antagonists much, but this time is an exception.

Seriously, they continue to lie to Anna for years to avoid hurting her, yet every time we see them interact with her on screen, they're hurting her anyways through their dissmissive attitude.

Then there's Shingetsu's lecture to Anna. This person you claim to love is on the floor, broken to pieces, and you decide to tell her that watching her waste her life because of a lie you perpetuated was very useful to you, and that she should just give up and protect a house full of people that lied to her while you accomplish her dream for her.

What makes it worse is that Shingetsu lied to Anna again, because we know she has no intention of accomplishing Anna's dream, because she's trying to destroy magic.

I guess that explains why she's avoiding the family. I thought it was because of Anna, but it's probably because she's planning on betraying them in the end.

I'm honestly kinda rooting for Anna next week.



My guess is Shingetsu left once she felt remorseful enough about lying to Anna all of these years and decided on her wish if she won Granbelm. And it was this event that Shingetsu has been referring to when she was telling Mangetsu about mage politics.

I'm not entirely sure I would root for Anna, but the show just made it harder to feel completely sympathetic towards her after she offed her mother (but it's anime, so maybe she isn't completely dead...). Although, it would be an interesting twist to have Shingetsu exit early and leave Mangetsu in Granblem, but that's very unlikely.
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Chrono1000



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:38 pm Reply with quote
This show looks to be balancing between the message of hope and despair. At the halfway point I still can't tell how it will end and while that end credit scene made it look like Anna murdered her mother I suspect that she isn't dead. The episode started out with Nene pointing out that she was still alive since Granbelm isn't a fight to the death so it would be somewhat odd if a character was murdered at the end of the episode. While there have been several late night magical girl shows that waited a while before throwing in a huge twist Granbelm just seems too optimistic for that type of change.

MarshalBanana wrote:
I love how after she breaks in swinging a axe around, which taking into account that she swings it hard enough to smash a hole in the floor, makes it pretty certain that if she had hit Ernesta, she would be dead, they all forget about it. And then after the conversation they just leave like nothing happened.

There are two possibilities. The first is that they were under the incredibly optimistic assumption that Anna had let go of her envy and hate after hearing that she was actually a weak mage. It wasn't like her sense of self was based on being a powerful mage that would win Granbelm so they believed those negative feelings would simply disappear after she was told that it was impossible. The second possibility is that they knew that Anna was still dangerous but since the attempted murder was related to magic it would be difficult to explain that to the police. The rest of the family believes that Ernesta becoming a true mage would help Anna move on while Ernesta is hoping that getting rid of magic would be the answer.
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LastPage 3



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:20 am Reply with quote
meiam wrote:

They choose to use magic, they could simply not use it, this way they wouldn't suffer the negative side effect from them. If they deiced that the upside were worth the downside, that's there choice. When you go swimming in the ocean, there's always a risk you might drown, that wouldn't make it okay for someone to fence off the entire ocean.


I agree with you, but it is a clear downside to using magic.
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darkchibi07



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:27 am Reply with quote
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There's a kinship between Granbelm as a series and its depiction of Anna this week, as I feel kind of bad for both of them in their desperation to be noticed. Last week's shocking cliffhanger scene felt like it was engineered entirely to get people talking, yet I scarcely saw a peep about the show in my own social media-sphere.


No kidding. This show has probably one of the best animated and choreographed 2D mecha fights in long time that's not a Gundam show. And backgrounds are to die for! And yeah Anna's start to her decent to madness felt shaky, everything afterwords felt exhilarating.

It's really hard to pin down exactly why Granbelm is not making bigger splash among other anime fans besides probably bad timing in a crowded season filled with more anticipated, already well-known titles.
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Probablytomorrow



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 11:16 am Reply with quote
darkchibi07 wrote:

It's really hard to pin down exactly why Granbelm is not making bigger splash among other anime fans besides probably bad timing in a crowded season filled with more anticipated, already well-known titles.


Although the action is plenty fun and keeps me coming back each week, the main character hasn't felt like the main character, and it's distracting. I keep wanting to know why the story is being told from Mangetsu's perspective rather than Ernesta's, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.
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pengin senshi
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:17 pm Reply with quote
Probablytomorrow wrote:

Although the action is plenty fun and keeps me coming back each week, the main character hasn't felt like the main character, and it's distracting. I keep wanting to know why the story is being told from Mangetsu's perspective rather than Ernesta's, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.


Like a lot of "in medias res" shows, Mangetsu's perspective is to kind of stand in for the audience. Although, I have been feeling that the perspective of the show has been more ensemble than just specifically Mangetsu's. Or maybe that's just been the case for these last couple because of the emphasis with Anna and Ernesta.

As for the episode itself, I did find myself feeling sorry for Anna at the end, as well. So I guess the show was at least successful for that, seeing how after the last episode, I didn't think I would feel for Anna after what she did to her mom.
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meiam



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 2:54 pm Reply with quote
There's probably a lot that contribute to the low popularity, at least in western sphere (no idea in japan, but I doubt it's a big deal there)

1- Chibi/superdeformed mech. Those were traditionally used either to reach younger audience for mech show or to sell variation of popular mech show (ie people who already bough a gundam can now buy SD gundam). Neither of these apply now so I don't really know why they went with this aesthetic, but I can't see it helping.

2- Stakes couldn't be lower. No one is at risk of dying, there's no terrible cataclysm that need to be stopped, no wish is important and the bad guys don't have any kind of horrible wish that need to be stopped. It's not a slice of life show but the stakes are lower than for some of them.

3- Kinda related to 1/2, the show is stuck between tone. In some way it borrow from dark magical girl show, in other way it's more like regular magical girl (low stakes, no real danger). This way it kinda lose the main advantages of either tone.

4- Main character is completely incidental to the story. Madoka was on the sideline most of the show, but she was still an integral part of the story. Mangetsu is completely pointless in her own story. She doesn't even have a wish, even something as silly as "I want a mountain of candy!" would humanize her a bit, but now she's just... there.

5- Story clearly dictate what happen in the fights. Mangetsu is inexperienced, yet she won both fight she was involved in by just randomly shooting giant laser, because she's the main character and wasn't supposed to lose. Shingetsu was sometime barely capable of holding her own against Anna, but now apparently the entire time she was way stronger than her, because before it wasn't her time to win but now it is. This episode, blue chick apparently completely dominated Mangetsu and the other girl, yet she didn't finish off either of them (or finish off Shingetsu in her weakened state) because it wasn't the time for those fight to happen. It makes the fights hold very little weight. At that point they should have just made fight duel instead.
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zrnzle500
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 8:18 pm Reply with quote
meiam wrote:
There's probably a lot that contribute to the low popularity, at least in western sphere (no idea in japan, but I doubt it's a big deal there)

1- Chibi/superdeformed mech. Those were traditionally used either to reach younger audience for mech show or to sell variation of popular mech show (ie people who already bough a gundam can now buy SD gundam). Neither of these apply now so I don't really know why they went with this aesthetic, but I can't see it helping.


I think they are rather fitting within the context of the show, as full sized mechs would have drawn a bit too much of a contrast with the magical girl elements. Though I agree that it is a factor in its limited popularity in the West (though more on MAL are watching it than the other magical girl series this season, Symphogear, though those numbers may go up after CR finishes AXZ). Those designs probably aren't selling many model kits if at all.

meiam wrote:
2- Stakes couldn't be lower. No one is at risk of dying, there's no terrible cataclysm that need to be stopped, no wish is important and the bad guys don't have any kind of horrible wish that need to be stopped. It's not a slice of life show but the stakes are lower than for some of them.

3- Kinda related to 1/2, the show is stuck between tone. In some way it borrow from dark magical girl show, in other way it's more like regular magical girl (low stakes, no real danger). This way it kinda lose the main advantages of either tone.


I would disagree that there are low stakes. Death and destruction aren't the only things that can be the stakes. Even putting aside the practically all the magic in the world prize, Kuon wants to remove the curse on her sister and Anna wanted to prove to her family that she was worthy of leading the family and becoming the most powerful magician in their society (and putting Shingetsu through the ringer in the process). Shingetsu sure thinks her wish to effectively put an end to the competition (and thereby the intrigue surrounding it) is important, and is not uncommon in these kinds of stories. We don't know what Suisho's endgame is, so I wouldn't rule out "villain has horrible wish that must be stopped". No, the competition does not automatically dole out lethal consequences for losing, but there are still casualties caused by the intrigue surrounding it. Kuon's sister was cursed, Rosa lost the status and privileges that came with serving a high ranking family in their community, Anna's mother was hospitalized when she got in the way of what she felt she needed to win and their family has been torn apart. To bring up another show this one is compared to by some, the Holy Grail War doesn't require that any currently living person dies nor does it impose any penalty upon the losers or pose a looming threat of catastrophe (at least at the beginning), but there are nonetheless plenty of casualties because of the contest, so I disagree that the contest itself not imposing the consequences means there are low stakes.

As for the tone, given the many complaints about a number of dark magical girl shows imposing extraordinary amounts of suffering, tragedy, even outright torture on their characters, I don't think that adding in a bunch of death and leaning into the sort of tone many in the subgenre are known for would make it better. If anything, I'd say it is a welcome reprieve. I do agree that while it borrows some elements from the dark subgenre, tonally it is closer to traditional magical girl shows and those in the Nanoha vein.

meiam wrote:
4- Main character is completely incidental to the story. Madoka was on the sideline most of the show, but she was still an integral part of the story. Mangetsu is completely pointless in her own story. She doesn't even have a wish, even something as silly as "I want a mountain of candy!" would humanize her a bit, but now she's just... there.

5- Story clearly dictate what happen in the fights. Mangetsu is inexperienced, yet she won both fight she was involved in by just randomly shooting giant laser, because she's the main character and wasn't supposed to lose. Shingetsu was sometime barely capable of holding her own against Anna, but now apparently the entire time she was way stronger than her, because before it wasn't her time to win but now it is. This episode, blue chick apparently completely dominated Mangetsu and the other girl, yet she didn't finish off either of them (or finish off Shingetsu in her weakened state) because it wasn't the time for those fight to happen. It makes the fights hold very little weight. At that point they should have just made fight duel instead.


I think it would be unwise to write off Mangetsu's part in the story at this point, given the unresolved mysteries surrounding her and her participation, but that is probably a discussion for later.

During those times, Shingetsu had been weakened due to damage she took defending Mangetsu when she first arrived in the competition, and I'd say that her still being able to hold her own against Anna in that state goes to show that Anna, as she said from the beginning, couldn't defeat her. For Suisho, while she was doing well against Mangetsu and Kuon, it was still 2 on 1 and enough to keep her hands full without going all out (and she probably wants to save her trump card for when things have been narrowed a bit more).

Frankly, beyond the first point, your list seems less like the reasons it isn't more popular and more just your personal hangups about the show, which you are of course free to have, but aren't necessarily representative of the community's opinion at large.
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Probablytomorrow



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 10:02 pm Reply with quote
I agree that the stakes are there, but the weird thing is Mangetsu isn't really a part of them. Her distance could still pay off later on, but in the meantime Mangetsu's presence keeps fooling me, at least, into feeling the overall stakes are lower than they are.
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1idd0kun



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PostPosted: Mon Aug 19, 2019 11:13 pm Reply with quote
Mangetsu is also a possible pitfall in the sense that they made her so powerful and special (so much so they even put special markings on her eyes when she goes all out!!), that they need to provide a very unique and satisfying justification for this. Saying that she's a new mage or that she didn't know her family were mages won't cut it. They will have to get creative and provide a really good explanation for her existence or it will hurt the show.
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Yuvelir



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PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2019 11:34 am Reply with quote
I wouldn't count Ana off as dead yet.
Blood pooling into the cockpit is a powerful visual, but she wasn't literally impaled - Aconite Renata and her astral body were - and it doesn't seem to be in Ernesta's character to kill Ana off even if it costs her own life. There was a lot of blood last episode too.
But then again, the stone was impaled, Ana supposedly fused herself with it and there's this thing in the preview where Suishou is supposedly trying to curse Kuon... through her astral body (and if she did that with her sister, it definitely worked).

They love playing with this ambiguity but ultimately it's too soft/positive to burden any of these characters with murder before the finale... other than Suishou I guess.
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NeverConvex



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PostPosted: Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:22 pm Reply with quote
This latest episode was pretty mesmerizingly beautiful. I wish they had .. punched the writer in the head .. who thought yelling random neurotransmitters counts as emotive dialogue, though. In those seconds, Anna randomly transformed into an obnoxious psychology undergrad overly excited about her biopsych textbook's first chapter, and I can't imagine why anyone would think that was appropriate in the middle of her 'swan song'.

Compelling from beginning to end, with that mild complaint out of the way, though. I loved them showing Ernesta's sense of isolation and loathing of her own gifts; much of the show is about accepting your in-born limits, and I've shared Chris's .. concern .. over that message becoming irresponsibly overwrought. But, showing also that a person born to great talent can find it serves as a curse, alienating them from friends and loved ones, was a very appreciated, poignant nuance.
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pengin senshi
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 22, 2019 12:46 am Reply with quote
NeverConvex wrote:
This latest episode was pretty mesmerizingly beautiful. I wish they had .. punched the writer in the head .. who thought yelling random neurotransmitters counts as emotive dialogue, though. In those seconds, Anna randomly transformed into an obnoxious psychology undergrad overly excited about her biopsych textbook's first chapter, and I can't imagine why anyone would think that was appropriate in the middle of her 'swan song.


I don’t know why, but I thought it worked for some reason. Maybe I finally bought into Anna’s descent into madness and was ready believe anything.
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