Gran is an ordinary young man who lives on a floating island together with a talking lizard named Vyrn. One day, they see something strange falling from a flying battleship. Upon investigation, they discover a girl named Lyria, who is on the run from the militaristic Erste Empire. Some of the Empire’s soldiers find them; Gran tries to fight but is quickly overwhelmed.
The pair are rescued by Katalina, a powerful soldier and Lyria’s ally. Gran chooses to leave his peaceful village life behind in order to help Lyria and Katalina escape the island via airship. They are stopped by the Empire’s vicious Captain Pommern, who unleashes the dragon Hydra to face them. The dragon attacks and kills Gran. However, Lyria uses her mysterious power to save him. Somehow, this transfers some of Lyria’s power to Gran, and they are together able to summon their own dragon, Bahamut, to defeat Hydra.
In the second episode, Bahamut easily defeats Hydra and Pommern retreats. The island and Lyria are safe, and Gran recovers from his wounds. Katalina explains that Lyria is valuable to the Empire because of her rare ability to summon and control Primal Beasts – ancient monsters such as Bahamut. Gran now shares that power, but at the cost of dying if he becomes separated from Lyria. Having no other option, he joins Lyria and Katalina on their airship, hoping to use the journey to locate his long-missing father.
The three (and Vyrn) decide to seek the legendary “Island of the Stars”. According to the ancient tales, the island holds secrets about Lyria’s power, and hopefully the cure to her and Gran’s situation. Gran also believes it is where his father now lives, due to a letter he received long ago. With that goal in mind, the group sets off into the sky.
Granblue Fantasy has been getting a lot of hype, at least here in Japan. The cell phone game on which it is based is one of the more popular of its type, and is frequently praised for its engaging story and characters. Having been surrounded by months for advertisements for this anime, I was surprised how neutral my opinion towards it was. I expected it to be either great or terrible; instead, it’s basically the definition of “middle of the road”.
The plot is engaging enough, if not particularly original (it relies heavily on common fantasy tropes such as “mysterious girl falls from the sky”). The animation doesn’t stand out, but neither do I have any major complaints about it. The characters are fairly flat at the moment, though Gran is earnest and likeable and Lyria is at least a bit more competent in combat situations than your standard “mysterious sky girl”. In general, nothing really stood out, either positive or negative.
I did rather like the designs of the dragons and of the “mascot” type character Vyrn, although Vyrn’s personality is among the most one-note so far. The music is also very nice and relaxing, and the light color palette (which relies heavily on blue, befitting the title) is easy on the eyes. The show’s biggest flaw so far was probably the pacing of the second episode, which was extremely slow with a lot of talking scenes and exposition. I also wasn’t very fond of Gran’s village friend Aaron, who takes up several minutes of screentime having repetitive arguments with Gran insisting that he shouldn’t travel to find his dad, and then randomly gives up and is suddenly OK with it without really having any reason for his change of heart. I felt like Aaron’s screen time could have been better utilized in a variety of ways, such as a longer battle scene between the two dragons.
I predict Granblue Fantasy will be a pretty solid, fairly traditional fantasy series. I may or may not watch more of it, depending on how many other shows this season catch my eye. For a fairly pleasant show that practically defined “neutral” and “average,” there’s no other Dio score I can give but: