The Fall 2019 Anime Preview Guide
Granblue Fantasy 2
How would you rate episode 1 of
Granblue Fantasy the Animation (TV 2) ?
What is this?
The journey of Gran, Lyria, and the rest of the Grandcypher crew continues on, this time with Eugen along for the ride as well. Another request from Seirokarte takes them to a small, bucolic island on the off chance that a primal beast might be involved. There they discover a populace unsettled but not exactly threatened by strange, recurring sounds, ones which Lyria determines do belong to a primal beast. An encounter with the cattle-horned martial artist Aliza leads them to a cave where Pommern has been collecting data on the imprisoned primal beast Tezcatlipoca, and he thinks nothing of setting the beast to rampage to cover his getaway. But with Lyria around, primal beasts are a problem that Gran and crew are well-equipped to handle. GRANBLUE FANTASY The Animation Season 2 is based on a mobile game and streams on Funimation on Thursdays.
How was the first episode?
I'll be frank: I found the first season of this franchise to be bland enough that I lost interest in it around episode 7 during its initial streaming run, so I never finished it at the time and didn't feel like I was missing anything. I have recently gone back and finished out the series in dubbed form on Netflix, but that hasn't changed my opinion much. If anything, the second half of the first season threw out a problem that had not been as evident in the first half: the plethora of characters who seemed to pop up only to be little treats for people familiar with the game. (And let's not even get into the oddity that was episode 13.) Because of that, I wasn't expecting much out of the second season. The first episode of the new season does not challenge that notion much. For better or worse, it can be simply described as “more of the same.”
In fact, I cannot escape the impression that the production team is just playing it safe on the storytelling front. More than two years having passed since last season at least warrants a brief recap, but beyond that the first episode is just another one-off adventure where the gang investigates a possible primal beast, encounters the Empire bad guys causing the problem, and then have to deal with said beast until Gran can free it from corruption and Lyria can absorb it, which allows for the episode's feature action scene. Along the way they meet the martial artist Aliza, yet another colorful character whom we can probably expect to see maybe once more this season, and that's it. The episode ends with Apollo scheming like she's manipulating the Grandcypher crew into some great plan, but nothing is unusual about that, either.
At least the technical merits are good, to the point that they may even be a bit improved from the first series. The visuals in general are a little sharper and the animation effort seems smoother and more active. Not every production decision works here, such as the dizzying 3D effect applied to the opening scene of the crew on the Grandcypher, but in general this is a pretty good-looking episode.
But that's not enough. The job of the first episode of a sequel season is to renew enthusiasm in the title and this episode doesn't do that. It's just there.
Granblue Fantasy is one of those shows that I didn't realize I missed until I got to watch it again. Although it's based on a game, it has a low barrier to entry (but you do need to have seen season 1 to watch this season) and just has the feel of good old sword-and-sorcery fantasy set in a world where the sky is the sea. This second season's first episode also deserves credit for deciding not to dedicate itself to a flashback, but instead to organically remind us throughout who everyone is, what they were up to when last we saw them, and only resort to the bare minimum of recapping, mostly courtesy of Siero at the restaurant. I still think Siero's annoying, but this was a good use of the character.
Essentially the plot just picks right back up where it left off, with Gran, now captain of the skyship, and his friends continuing to head for the sky island where his father presumably awaits and where Lyria can learn more about herself and her power from non-evil people. Naturally they need to do quests to give themselves the cash to get there, which is really the only clear evidence of the series' game roots. Of course this leads them to the discovery of secret base of the (evil) Empire under a remote island, where Lyria manages to save a primal beast named Tezcatlipoca from the influence of dark energy. Some viewers may recognize that name as belonging to the Aztec god of, among other things, time and ancestral memory, which I'm hoping will become important later on, because I'd really hate for the show to be grabbing gods at random because they liked how the names sounded.
The most impressive part of this episode is the fight against Tezcatlipoca, which showcases the amazing teamwork between Gran and his crew. Even more striking is that this time they've got an extra helper who has never worked with them before – Aliza, a draph girl who was injured fleeing the Empire's secret chamber after she stumbled upon it. Aliza quickly adapts to Gran's fighting style, and the two work really well together to drive the primal beast towards Katalina and Lyria; I love the brief moment where she springboards Gran over the flames both in terms of a nice quick visual and the skill with which they collaborate. Although they leave Aliza on the little island, I'm hopeful that she's going to meet up with them again and maybe join the crew.
Despite this sort of stand-alone episode, I suspect that Katalina and her relationship with the Empire is going to be the focus of the season. She's an interesting character, and Pommern is such a one-note mustache-twirler of a villain that this could really work to broaden the story's world and scope. I'm definitely looking forward to where this goes, even if it means another season of wondering why Vyrne has wings if he just hovers in the air.
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