Granblue Fantasy the Animation
Episode 4

by Rebecca Silverman,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Granblue Fantasy the Animation ?

One thing you can say for General Furias – he really does enjoy being a villain. It's over the top, to be sure, and I'm fairly certain that his excuse for why he killed Lyria instead of retrieving her (“But I wanted to destroy an island!”) wouldn't go over well with the top brass, but damn if he isn't having an amazing time being evil. Of course, he doesn't appear to have any solid reason for his actions, which is a problem; it's as if the show simply needed a new threat for Gran, Lyria, and Katalina to overcome, and Furias' weird obsession with destroying the island they just so happened to arrive at is a convenient one. Not only is it an immediate danger, but it also gives the gang a chance to show off Lyria's powers (coming next week!) and reconfirm that they're the good guys. When the townsfolk are too frightened to come up with a solution, Katalina is there to organize them to action.

More importantly to the plot, Rackam the helmsman/shipwright/mechanic is also there with a beautiful vessel in need of sailing. We saw his ship last week, the Grandcypher, and this time we learn about his obsession with her – she's been wrecked since his childhood, and he's been fixing her up over the years with the firm intention of captaining her through the skies again someday. Over the course of his life, Rackam's become infatuated with this ship to the point where he can't bring himself to helm any other vessel, which is why he initially refuses to help Gran and the gang get off the island. But in a very nice twist, Rackam proves himself not nearly as stubborn as many others in similar (anime) positions, getting over himself enough to offer to pilot another ship if it means that he can help save some of the islanders.

Given how tied his relationship with the Grandcypher is into his own personal sense of honor, this feels like a major piece of character development for Rackam – rather than stick stubbornly to his self-imposed rules, he's willing to put aside his own issues for the sake of others, which is a natural direction for him after he saves Gran and Lyria twice through the use of his tunnels. He's been increasingly less passive when it comes to helping, from simply showing the group escape routes to shooting Furias off his throne (still a great moment, even in the recap), to putting aside his own wishes and offering to captain a different ship. This all makes the moment when he actually gets his boat in the air feel even more triumphant: it isn't just the culmination of his childhood wishes, it's actually something that he's earned through his actions.

Rackam really is the star this week, with Gran, Lyria, and Katalina largely taking a backseat and following his orders. In Gran's case, this does make sense – he's still an inexperienced kid, and Rackam's expertise allows him to focus more on protecting Lyria. Lyria, however, is gearing up for some more screen time and hopefully more focus; she offers to use her powers to subdue Tiamat, the beast Furias has somehow released to destroy the island via tornadoes. Tiamat, mythology fans may know, is a Mesopotamian goddess associated with the primordial chaos of creation, which makes her a good choice here, although she's also the goddess of the sea, which is a bit odd in context. In any event, the episode ends with Lyria sailing into battle, so not only should next week be exciting, but it should also shift the focus back to the original group.

As has been true of the show thus far, the imagery is really beautiful. The design for Grandcypher is notably more ornate than the other ships, perhaps indicating her age, and the attention that's paid to how the ship actually flies is neat. Gran often looks a little simple in the face when he's just standing in the background (an issue the ladies don't seem to suffer from), but the scenes of the clouds and the wind are gorgeous, and the use of detail for armor continues to be impressive. Vyrn the puppy-dragon is still a sticking point, mostly because he seems to be there just to give commentary on what's going on right now, feeling unnecessary to the story. Hopefully that will change as things go on, because he's the biggest piece of the show that's not working as well as it could right now. But if there are enough scenes of majestic vessels bursting through the clouds, I just might be able to overlook his irritating voice.

Rating: B

Granblue Fantasy the Animation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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