Another week, another episode of Granblue Fantasy anime. And this time it’s a good one. Like, actually good. All that crap I complained about before? Mostly absent. This is one of those times that we can see how an adaptation can go beyond the source material while still staying true to the bounds set by that source material.
And it starts out with this right off the bat. Everything I’ve seen before of the “Katalina saves Vira from the monsters” scene gives the impression of Vira facing off against a single monster, outmatched and facing her doom until Katalina shows up. What they do here actually makes it fit within that “Vira was better than everyone else” vibe we’re supposed to get from her: many monsters slain, without breaking a sweat, until one gets a lucky break on her.
(And aside: you might wonder why there are a ton of monsters in a city where there are a lot of knights and stuff in training. Well, that’s on purpose. The whole island is completely dedicated to the Academy. The monsters are there to toughen up not just the trainee knights, but all the auxiliary citizens as well. What happens when the baker gets ambushed by monsters while on delivery? Well, sucks to be him I guess. It’s really rather silly. Of course, the out-of-character explanation is that the devs wanted to have a reason for battles to randomly happen in a city without hostile human enemies, since we can’t have a story node without a trash mob battle!)
Then there’s the usual flashback montage of Vira getting closer to Katalina, with the typical shoujo “girl tries too hard to get the oblivious guy’s attention” thing (cleaning, making food, all that stuff). Then we’re back to what we saw last week, with Vira deciding to make Katalina’s dream of becoming a knight come true, while Vira can’t leave the island ever again. Adds a bit more humanity to the psycho stalker from four years of the game.
Of course, lest we forget, Vira is actually the bad guy here. One of the few missteps of the episode is how forceful Gran is in wanting Katalina back. Lyria, sure, that’s understandable. And of course she just wants Katalina to be happy, no matter what she decides. But it’s Gran that does a whole bunch of stupid stuff to try to get Kat back. Tearing up the pardon was strictly unnecessary (well, not for the overall plot – we still need to be on the run from the Empire for another season or two (or three at this pacing)) – they could have done the “rescue” without that little bit of drama. Then going into the room yelling and fighting the barrier was again unnecessary, and unhelpful. It’s almost as if Gran is saying that, once you’re part of the Nakama, you’re always part of the Nakama. No getting out of it. I guess they needed a reason for Gran to have some presence and lines (since he’s supposed to be the main character and all).
Of course, Furias decides that’s the time to use his big gun Adversa. What, never heard of that before? That’s because the anime (last season) skipped that part. Not that it matters so much, since Vira goes crazy, powers up, and takes out Furias’s battleship in one shot. So much for that whole chapter in the game. But next episode she has to get taken care of, somehow.
I gotta say, taking the focus from the Empire stuff, and making it more of a character drama, was a great move. The anime doesn’t have the luxury of all the side stories, journal, and character stories (with several alts for Vira in particular) to tell all the good parts of the overarching story. Best to skip some of the less good stuff to put the good stuff in. And unlike last season, they’re managing to do that in a good way, that doesn’t push other good stuff out for their own original content.
Another good thing was that the art was a lot more consistent this episode. Really what it should have been doing the whole time. There are a few goofs here and there, but they aren’t as obvious or as bad as in the past, particularly last episode. Still nothing to write home about, but not distracting.
I do wonder what the next episode will bring. In the game, at this point we’ve already beaten Vira (she attacks the crew (the whole crew -including Rosetta) is there, instead of just Gran and Lyria), at the point she shoots the layzor here), and Chev/Lumi leaves her and now possesses Adversa. Can’t do that now. Or can they? I hope not. It wasn’t very personable: the enemy is a now-sentient cannon, not a crazi(er) lady. Of course Vira will be freed from her prison sentence, and Chev…goes without a host I guess? Or Vira still has her, but can also leave? In the game it’s clear that primal beasts can split themselves into independent pieces (it’s how those pact-bound to islands can also leave to join the crew – Tiamat, Yggdrasil, etc.), but I don’t know if that would even come up in the anime, since it doesn’t have to bother with the gacha game conventions.
What I’d really like to see is Vira joining the crew after next episode, maybe even taking Rosetta’s place (since apparently she’s off being mysterious or something). It’d definitely change the whole dynamic of the cast, let some original writing shine through, and add some humor. And, give something for Katalina to do from that point until the where we are in the game story now, since she’s pretty much irrelevant. I don’t think that’s going to happen, though. In the game, and probably at the end of next episode, Vira says she’s free to follow Katalina at some point in the future…but she never shows up in the (main) story again, as far as I recall (she’s in a side story or three, and has the most alts of any character). And it’s a real shame.