Granblue Fantasy the Animation
by Rebecca Silverman,
How would you rate episode 5 of
Granblue Fantasy the Animation ?
If there's one thing that GranBlue Fantasy is lacking, it's urgency. The story itself is interesting and the characters enjoyable, but everything just sort of seems to happen, at least since Gran's death in the introductory episodes. Need a helmsman? Why look, here's a guy with a ship! His ship needs to be fixed? Well, it just so happens that he's only needed a compelling reason to finalize repairs! The Wind goddess' brain has been hijacked by an evil imp general? No worries, Lyria can imbue Gran with Bahamut's power to break the spell! It's all just a little too smooth and convenient, and while it does keep the story moving, it's also taken us only five episodes where other shows might have taken twice as long to give us more investing details.
Interestingly enough, it's not the pacing itself that feels like an issue. Although things happen quickly, they don't really feel rushed, and in the case of the fight against Tiamat, the speed with which it happens works in its favor, given that this whole battle takes place in midair. (We only need one physics-defying character in this show, thank you very much.) We get enough shots of Tiamat herself to fully appreciate her design before the final reveal – her size came as a major shock – so the relative tidiness of the battle was less of an issue than it might have been. It's just that the technique used to save Tiamat came so out of the blue that, along with the group's fortuitous meeting with Rackam, it feels more like the show's navigating between default plot points than following an organically unfolding story. This may be the result of the show's mobile game origins, but it brings the spectacle aspect of watching a fantasy show down when just as the ship's about to hit the skies, a quest randomly appears that will take them to the country Tiamat's magical gift showed them mere moments before. It's fine entertainment – just not terribly exciting.
On the plus side, Gran's mad leap into battle and scenes of Rackam actually helming the ship are much more interesting, if only on the visual side. The careful detail of Gran climbing up on the gunwale preparatory to jumping ship is tenser than any other moment in the episode, and the moment he flexes his ankles and his friends realize what's about to happen is beautifully done. Likewise the mechanics of the airship are fascinating and clearly draw inspiration from traditional sailing vessels not just in design, but in how the wings and masts function; the wheel Rackham adjusts as he steers appears very similar to how a captain adjusts the sails on a sailboat. Rackam's assertion that he can talk to his ship is also in line with the sailors I know – there are some lobstermen who know their boats better than their families.
The sailing scene does bring up a few questions about Vyrn, whose seated floating position is starting to grate on me. How is it that the winds don't seem to affect him unless the ship is diving downward? Does he have an invisible anchor? As a character, he seems to have evened out and will likely be an important source of information about Gran's father, as we see in the final scenes of the episode, but there's just something about the puppy-dragon that isn't fitting in with the rest of the series.
At the five-episode mark, GranBlue Fantasy is still fun, still pretty, and still has music that I love more and more each week (especially the opening theme), but it really feels like something you just watch without getting involved in. Despite its decent plotline and characters, everything just happens without any emotional involvement for the viewers, merrily clipping along without urgency or even any major worries. It's fun, but if it ever wants to move beyond that, GranBlue Fantasy had better figure out how to make us worry that something isn't going to work out for its heroes.
Granblue Fantasy the Animation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
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