March 31, 2020

GranBlue Fantasy (Season 2)




After the first season of GranBlue Fantasy (from 3 years ago) was so much better than expected I was wary of looking at what current year produced. 

My trepidation was about half justified. 

The first episode is one that could have been from the first season, except that it seems intended to introduce a new character to the crew. About 7 minutes into episode 1 I was like: "So THAT'S where that character is from!"I don't know much about the game this is based on other than it is popular and has several former Square Enix people working on it, but I do note that Alizia, appears to be a real fan favorite, because unlike the previously introduced characters, her fan-art is all over the place. 



Probably because she knows Kung-Fu.

Aliza is a Draph, this IPs equivalent to dwarves at 4 and a half feet tall, she's easily underestimated. However, after discovering that she's about the most formidable  hand to hand fighter they have ever encountered and after Aliza finds herself being genuinely impressed with the heroes idealism, and courage...and discovering that they have not identical, but overlapping goals and motivations and that the superpowered shortstack only lacks for transportation...they go their separate ways, making the episode essentially a pointless throwaway which doesn't actually advance the plot at all. 

The next actual arc starts off dumb, with everybody acting dumb and saying dumb things while forcing the audience to flash back a decade to Katalina's training...which was exactly like a Japanese high school except for the trial by combat part. 

However, this weird four episode (!) flashback to high school angst does end up advancing the overall story in spite of itself and it is kind of poignant towards the end.

The episode between 5 and 6 is a Netflix adaptation. 

Allow me to explain:
Apparently, in the Gacha game this is based on you can play one of two characters, either Gran or a girl in the same village with a similar backstory named Djeeta (on the left). 



Between the two seasons, Djeeta has had 3 episodes dedicated to her reality and apparently she's much better at this than Gran is. 

Djeeta possesses fashion sense and commands a larger, hand-picked  crew of snappier dressers than Gran does and it can be assumed that she's been waltzing all over the map rolling critical successes because her ship and crew does not have any of the money or maintenance problems that drive much of the decisions made in the main show*. The episode between five and six is a light hearted Halloween episode where Djeeta's crew discover a mystery involving animated dead people and everybody has a good time. 

In stark contrast the actual episode 6 involves Gran and his smaller, fashion challenged crew stumbling upon a mystery involving animated dead people and it is a genuinely scary and fast moving three episode arc in which they come very, very close to dying while dealing with some very grim things, with nothing but their wits. 

Despite being rather dark, it's in this second arc that the show actually regains its footing and from that point on GranBlue Fantasy is back up to its old standards.

This is a very atypical pattern nowadays with the first half of the series being an incoherent  dumpster fire and the two arcs of the second half being quite solid. 

The characters remain likable and the show's production values remain high. In fact, here's no noticeable change in look aside from a slight increase in quality despite switching studious from A-1 to MAPPA. That may account for the rough start in the scripting though. 

CyGames has their own animation studio now (Which also did Manaria Friends, set in the GranBlue universe) and they've been very fastidious about the quality of their animation adaptations.  I wonder if the sharp increase in script quality midway through was due to an intervention. 

In any event, while I can't fully recommend the series given its rough start, I can say it gets better, and left me still interested in the story and hoping for a sequel. 

* Though it is possible that the expense of her crew's solid gem and bronze armor caused them to skimp on the abdominal plates. 

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 02:18 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 715 words, total size 6 kb.

1 Djeeta has earned her way into about a dozen of my cheesecake roundups, based on her extensive Pixiv portfolio ("all ages" link, which is not the same as SFW...).

-j

Posted by: J Greely at Tue Mar 31 14:52:16 2020 (ZlYZd)

2 Heh. I wasn't aware of her until the bonus episode (#13) last season where they took half an episode explaining who she was before shoehorning in a rather incongruous beach episode, because, reasons.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at Tue Mar 31 19:58:47 2020 (5iiQK)

3 The joke is that Djeeta is playing the same game, but has money to roll on the gacha a lot.
(Playing the actual game, they're identical - you pick Gran or Djeeta, everyone calls you "danchou" anyway, and any time you feel like a gender change you just mash a button. Only difference is around Valentine's Day, where Gran gets a lot of chocolate and Djeeta gives a lot of it.)
Draphs definitely aren't dwarves - the guys range from "beefy" to "extra beefy" to "the difference between a meteor and a meteorite is if I punch it before it lands!" Just really extreme sexual dimorphism. Au Ra in FF14 except even more so.

Posted by: Avatar at Wed Apr 1 01:13:26 2020 (v29Tn)

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