Granblue Fantasy Episode 10 and Other Things

This episode is much improved: certainly the best episode since we left Albion and Vira. The pacing is much better than it’s been in a while as well. This was one of those episodes where look at the clock and think “how did so little time pass? so much has happened!”. Still, the arc isn’t over yet, and the episode isn’t without flaws.

We start out with the rest of the crew discovering what had happened at the end of the last episode. Rackam is of course shellshocked, but he is quickly roused back to fighting trim. Also, who else but Rosetta swoops in to help save the day! I actually like how the anime has portrayed her: she is a primal beast, after all, so it makes little sense that the crew would have been in so much trouble, so often, if she was there. (Also, she was with Gran’s dad’s crew, and thus knows all about Lyra and Vyrn; the fact that it all stays so mysterious in the game for so long is a major plot hole; here, she herself is much more mysterious, and much less involved, though always present if needed…much like Sierokarte…) So, Rackam and Rosetta team up to save Noa, while the rest go with Siero to save Gran and Lyria.

Meanwhile, Gran and Lyria get an audience with the PM herself, Freesia. She basically tells them everything is going according to her plan, which is to rewrite history so the Astrals never had any influence. I’m not sure if this is a change from the game, or if this is just a front she’s putting up. I mean, “I hate Astrals because they’re invaders” is a lot more impressive than “I hate Astrals because my girlfriend married one”. And I don’t really like the whole “just as planned” thing they have going on here. “Oh yes, I certainly assigned a new officer with a savior complex to watch over a cute girl (who had reached her limits in the lab), because I certainly expected said knight to abscond with said girl, and for them to go on wild adventures that lead to personal powerlevel growth, instead of just getting the hell out of Dodge, or going into hiding.” Yah, not really buying it.

Of course, the various rescues go off without a hitch. Though this scene really shows how incompetent, or weak, Gran is: he got beat right quick when the Imperials showed up earlier; but Io and Katalina just bash right though several mooks (it’s nice to see that Katalina is actually the combatant she was hyped up to be, even if it’s not portrayed very well (because anime can’t into effective armor); I don’t expect this to ever happen again). Noa is saved too (there’s a lot more exposition there), and apparently everyone gets away and the Grancypher is fixed, because that last scene seems to indicate that the crew is completely out of the Empire’s grasp at present…OR ARE THEY?

I don’t really know how they’re going to wrap this one up. I think next episode is the last “proper” episode of the season, with one more special episode (like the beach episode last season). But there might be one more afterwards. Sticking the Halloween not-rerun in there really threw things off. But as for this arc, I guess they have to do something with Mithra. I wonder if they’ll bring Orchis in for this like in the game, or just do it without her; either way works.

In other, BREAKING NEWS, the Mouse/Rat Zodiac character is NOT a Harvin. I feel robbed. Mouse would have been perfect for a Harvin (because they’re small, get it?), and there isn’t any real opportunity for a while. I mean, Erunes are easy for this, because they already have so many animal ears, and Draphs work for the zodiac animals with horns and tusks (so the next is Ox, obviously Draph for that). Then Tiger, another Erune, and Rabbit pretty much has to be another Erune. Not until 2024 is there an ambiguous one, with Dragon. Oh, and by pattern, it’s Harvin’s turn. Not only was I robbed a cute Harvin, but the Harvins themselves were robbed! This is a sad day, for sure.

And, it seems, Dragalia…Lost… Doomposters going to doompost, but things seem serious over this game. Even Reddit, the bootlickers of the century, not only let a series of doomposts through, but actually gave them upvotes. Of course, the big tell is that the new Christmas Dragonyule Malora is unvoiced. In a game where a large draw for the unit (at least for Japanese audiences) is the fully-voiced units and character stories (at least for the high rarities), having an unvoiced unit is terribly alarming. Having two unvoiced units, one of which has SEIBAH (Ayako Kawasumi) voice, who is BIG NEWS for the voice actor lovers, is pretty much a death flag. I’m going to reserve judgement until we at least see the next main story chapter and banner, but this is severely troubling. I’ve already curtailed my (admittedly limited) spending, just to see if it’s worth spending any more in this game. It might seem like a little thing, but this, combined with the garbage Megaman event (collaborations are usually huge deals), and the constant stream of rerun events, even for holidays, are deeply concerning.

And I’m going to predict an announcement of STO 2, perhaps as soon as the anniversary (at the beginning of February). Probably not that soon, but the dev team has definitely been working hard on something, and it’s not the game in its current state, that’s for sure. I figure that STO 2 is going to be the next major Cryptic project, after Magic: Legends. (For which I’ve already signed up for the beta.) I just feel it in the air: player counts are down, spending is down, player retention is down, vets are getting upset (who knew that going All STD All the Time would hurt player counts for a game primarily made of fans of the older shows, to which STD bears very little resemblance besides in a couple of spaceships?). And yet it persists. I guess we’ll see.

And then they kissed and lived happily ever after. Oh, wait. Not that. But it would have been convenient later.

Granblue Fantasy Episode 9 Mini-Review

This episode is…not so boring! An improvement! After all the garbage and adventures this crew has had to go through, it’s time for the Grancypher to get some repairs. So they go to Golonzo, where all the best facilities are. This is a Grancypher episode, so it’s a Rackam episode.

We finally get some backstory on Rackam, and a tiny bit more for Eugen. Both were on Golonzo in the past; it seems Eugen was a regular, but Rackam was there when he was a little kid. So of course we get all that “I remember when you were a crybaby milkdrinker” stuff, all the time. I don’t know how everyone remembers that, since it had to be about twenty years ago, and this is a big island with lots of visitors, but whatever. (In the game, Golonzo is a tiny backwater, only notable for the shipyard, and even then only by those in the know, so it made a bit more sense that everyone would remember this one kid.)

We get to meet the mysterious fellow from Rackam’s dreams, Noa, who turns out to be the primal beast…of building skyships. That isn’t much of a combat power, unfortunately, so of course he’s been captured by the Empire for their nefarious experiments. And all he can do, even with a dark essence boost, is make a bit of wind and apply a photoshop filter to the Grancypher (right when she was about done with repairs, too! the nerve!). Oh, and Gran and Lyria get captured too. Turns out all you had to do was hit them on the head!

I really hope this only stays two episodes. If it’s three, like the last over-extended arc, then that will take us to the end of the show. And leave with a cliffhanger, since the end of this is where Lecia and Monica show up, to take us to the first actually good bits of the main story, where things at last finally start to get explained (though it will be another hundred or so chapters before that beginning is over and we finally know a bit about what’s going on!). I don’t want to wait another two years for the first potentially good season to start.

Game Pommern would never be stupid enough to mess with Siero like that.

Friday Thoughts

-Black Friday is kinda a disappointment. I was hoping to get a PS4 or Switch on a big sale, but no dice. Still sad I missed them last year. PC game sales seem similarly dire. Though I still got two games: Star Traders: Frontiers, and City State. And I’ve actually given the latter a play (verdict so far: I don’t really get it)

-No Granblue Fantasy anime review this week. Not because I didn’t watch it, or that I don’t feel like reviewing it, but because there’s nothing much there. I didn’t even take a single screenshot. The Ferry arc is finished. Gran falls for the headspace attack despite explicitly being warned (and repeating that warning himself); I think the mirror match should have been Djeeta instead. More Gran/Lyria shipping. We get a tiny bit of backstory to Ferry, and Drang.

-Speaking of GBF, the new event is great. Whoever did the writing for this should really get into sports announcing – it’s very hype. Lyria is cute as usual, but also very, very dumb. I’m glad the new kid wasn’t some miracle wunderkind type. While I think it’s great that events are using more already-established characters, I think they went just slightly overboard this time (like, Cathrine wasn’t strictly needed).

Not that I’m going to complain.

-MegaMan event in Dragalia Lost is really lame. I mean, I get that the early games were rather…limited in the scope of the story, but they could have done a bit more here. And just rehashing the dragon fights is super lame.

-World Flipper is pretty fun. I don’t think it’s worth spending any money on, but it’s a fun diversion. I think it’s the first Cygames mobage that actually fulfills the idea of “spend a few minutes here and there playing”. But it’s definitely the D-team here: no co-op lobbies, no quick-join, not even voiced main stories. And of course, not compatible with my Chromebook. Good thing it has cute girls, or else it wouldn’t be worth even downloading and rerolling. But still, fun gameplay. Though I don’t think mixing pinball and bullet hell is the most obvious choice.

Granblue Fantasy S2 E7 Review

Nothing much to say here, because nothing much happened. Lots of walking around. Not much dialog for all that walking around. And then it ends before anything actually happens.

This is just a filler episode, of the worst sort: making things up without adding anything new to the story, just for the sake of having an episode. Not to say that the actual episode itself was bad or anything, but it was just kinda there. (I suppose “worst sort” is a bit of an exaggeration: it’s not a clip show, or something along that line.). It is not necessary at all: this island was only a short stop in the game, so while fleshing it out makes some sense, I don’t think it needed three episodes, like Vira’s story did.

In fact, it almost seems like this episode is literal filler. A lot – but not all – of the character art looks like CG with cell shading – kinda like the gemstone anime from a year or two ago. Things were a lot more consistent scene-to-scene than the season has been in the last several episodes (which I’ve commented on several times). The shading looks different from what I’ve been used to seeing. But sometimes it’s all normal. Makes me think that they split up the last episode into two, and filled in the rest with CG. Maybe I’m just seeing things though.

I guess they did need to fit in the “Lyria befriends Orchis” stuff in there somewhere. In the game it happened in the Lumacie part, where we meet Rosetta and Yggdrasil, which was in the last season. Except that they completely skipped all that, making that part into some business with Lyria getting mindbroken by Pommern, then fixed with the power of love (and Yggdrasil). (Also, Pommern is less maliciously evil in the game, and more of a “ends justify the means” villain.)

But still, doing it like this wasn’t the way to go about it, I think. And it takes away from Ferry’s development – she’s supposed to be the point (and, as will surprise no one, is Drang’s point in being there). Ferry, in the game, is a lot more hostile and bitter, actively keeping the party away from her (siccing monsters on them while running away), because she thinks thinks the whole situation is her fault – she wished Celeste there, so she takes the blame and everyone hates her, etc. The doctor still is there (as Drang points out, it’s silly to think that a primal beast came because a girl was lonely), but Ferry didn’t know about it, let alone had gone through all his books. As such Lyria also did her thing, trying her utmost to befriend Ferry (since no one else was too inclined to be nice to someone attacking them), eventually getting through to her, and everyone was happy, the end. And I wonder if the show will have Ferry join the crew, or if it’s going to completely make up the ending to the arc: in the game, for various reasons Ferry has no reason to stay on the island, so goes on the Grancypher.

And that’s it. Nothing too exciting, for good or ill. Just a middle episode to fill out time.

I can’t believe Io is dead!

Granblue Fantasy Anime S2 Ep. 6 Review

Last week there was no review, because the episode was a “rerun” – it’s from last season, but wasn’t showed. Halloween episode, all that. Didn’t really feel the need. But it did spoil Ferry, for the few people that watch this only on TV and don’t play the game.

But this week we’re back to the main plot. Honestly, it was kinda meh to write about, just set-up for the next episode or two. There were some funny moments, some characterization, and slightly moving forward with the plot, but otherwise not much there.

The story starts out with the Grancypher being pursued by an Imperial ship, which has somehow been upgraded to LAYZORS weaponry. Normally this sort have thing has never been a problem – the crew is hunted by the Empire, but the Grandcypher’s whole shtick is that it’s really fast, so as long as they’re traveling, they’re safe from other airships. But whatever, they end up hiding in some misty island, crashing (as one does), but otherwise OK. The Imperials don’t pursue, because it’s CURSED! No one that goes in ever goes out…

The adults in the crew go to fix the ship, while the others go into town to get supplies. Somehow, this isn’t seen as even potentially a bad idea; Katalina feels that Gran is enough to protect Lyria, after all. There is some very small bit of light shipper bait between Rackam and Katalina, like in the game actually, but after the huge yuri bait the last few episodes you’ll not be surprised that this is nothing and goes nowhere. Lyria et. al. end up in the spooky haunted town, which is inhabited entirely by zombies, much to Lyria’s initial dismay.

Turns out the town was experiencing a plague a century ago, but then the ghost ship Celeste showed up and everyone died and became zombies. The island became covered by a mystical mist which makes navigation out impossible – this is what broke the Grancypher, and this is keeping in the other recent arrivals, Sturm, Drang, and Orchis

This is apparently the place Drang wanted to go after the last episode. Well, now we know that it’s because there’s some treasure here that Drang is after, or at least that’s what he claims. How he heard about it, nobody knows. And, he somehow knows that Celeste isn’t a ghost ship, but a primal beast, which makes it pretty fortuitous that Gran and Lyria are on the scene.

Despite the absolute fishiness of Drang’s story, they all go out to look for some doctor who might have a clue about it. Lyria tries to befriend Orchis, just like she always tries with the weirdos, but Orchis isn’t having any of that, putting on her best emotionless doll impression. But then Lyria finds another weird girl, who only she and Orchis can see, who is totally not a ghost (SPOILER: she’s a ghost). As soon as Lyria reaches out to her, everyone can see her, which is apparently quite shocking. This being, who Drang names Ferry, doesn’t remember anything about herself, but has been to the location of the doctor they’re all looking for. The doc isn’t in, but all his books and such are, all of which Ferry has read in the past century.

Turns out this doctor came to the island a hundred years ago to do something with Celeste in the hopes of immortality. As these things tend to go, it involved human sacrifice, and turned out different from how the doctor thought – the spooky ghost ship look for Celeste should have tipped him off. Ferry is on the case – she’s been looking for the human sacrifice – a girl and her father – and won’t stop looking even if it takes a hundred years more! Oh, and all this exposition apparently was boring Celeste, who takes this moment to attack.

As I said, pretty much setup for what’s to come. I don’t know if this arc has enough meat in it for more than one more episode. MAL has this show listed as 13 episodes, but I don’t know if that counts last week’s episode, and I don’t know if it counts the inevitable Djeeta episodes that probably won’t air, but will be in the blurays. But next week we have the big fight with Celeste, and more stuff about Ferry.

Friday Short Thoughts

Me too.

I just don’t know what to think anymore. With all the paid shills, bot shills, and blind fans, mixed with blind haters, counter-shills, and general cynicism of the internet in general, I can’t figure out what to think about most any game, but the new Pokemon main games in particular. I wasn’t fixing to get them or anything – I don’t even have a Switch, for starters – but there’s a whole lot of opinions out there, with completely contrasting views. Some are easy to get – Pokemon has been getting more casual lately, which is somehow possible, so I get those complaints with those games. And I get the graphics complaints, and general cut corners complaints seem to be almost universal. But whether those matter, in the end? I can’t figure it out.

It doesn’t help that people in general compare the Pokemon games to other Pokemon games, and not contemporary games in general. Some of that is, again, understandable – people who’ve liked previous games in a series want to know how new ones stack up to what they know. But even general purpose reviews do this too, for their final analyses, which are what the marketers and general audiences actually seem to base their decisions on.

I’ve never actually used her at all.

It greatly amuses me when people get all mixed up between fictional characters (especially cartoon characters) and real life. Recently, GBF got a new playable character, Kou. He showed up in an event last year, and he was pretty popular with certain segments of the fandom, for various reasons. Of course, as an anime boy, he’s portrayed with a certain attractiveness, like 99% of all non-joke anime characters. He even has a somewhat sensual artwork (which I’m not going to link because I don’t have a proper screenshot I made, and it’s an IntPiPoMo post), with a potentially provocative implication behind it. So far so good, right? Well, with these new characters comes a profile, which often includes the age. And Kou is twelve! The twitter/reddit fans got all sorts of indignant, claiming how gross this all is, etc. As if liking this one picture suddenly makes one a pedo or something. And it isn’t as if that hadn’t been Kou was about that age from the first event, let alone this one – his look and actions fit a lad about that age, in both events, even if he is a bit more serious than usual. But no, now it’s unacceptable, as there’s a number.

Get the same sort of reactions, from the same sorts of people, whenever this happens. It’s just a cartoon mate, no problem (especially if there’s no porn). Same thing with any other anime character. Ryza’s age was recently revealed to be 17, and some wag went on /v/ to see if they would react the same (never mind the fact that “she has to be 18 or it’s pedo” is a very California/New York thing, not even true in most of the US, let alone the world). Of course, it being /v/, that bait was not taken, but instead reversed: what an old hag! can’t like her anymore! etc. That’s the proper seriousness with which one should take their animu waifus.

That’s why you wait until you’ve seen them, duh.

Man, I really want a pizza. I’ve had maybe one pizza since my surgery back in September (I can’t actually remember), when I used to have one about once a week. But what I want is a Detroit deep dish, not just any pizza. There aren’t any places around here that do that, at least not that I’ve seen, and not at 10pm for sure. Well, there’s Little Caesars, but that’s it, and understandably not what I’m rally going for here. But I guess it will have to do. There used to be a place right by my house, that was pretty cheap, actually pretty good, and had a good variety, including this style (though I think most people call it “pan” pizza, but that also seems to mean different things to different places). But that place got bought out by a more boutique joint (which I think went under itself, since there’s a new name). What I really would like is a Shakey’s around here – I know people are down on it, but I like that style. Obviously not a pan pizza, but it would be a frequent stop of mine in general, if there happened to be one around here.

I also see that I already have a Pizza tag. Nice.

Granblue Fantasy: The Anime: Season 2 Episode 5: The Review

Gran, trying to get free gacha unit.

Here we have the end of the Vira arc. And what an end it was. It’s pretty much wholly anime-original, yet still leaves things at the same state they would be if following the game more closely.

This will be shorter than the last couple of reviews, since most of the episode is action. We left off the last episode with Vira taking out General Furias’s ship. Well, the rest of the Imperial forces didn’t really take too kindly to that. Too bad their cannons were no match for Vira chargin’ her layzor. This was actually a nice touch: at no other point do we get the feeling of the true power of a primal beast: sure, Tiamat and Leviathan are big guys, but we just get the feeling that they’re powerful because they are big. CheVira, on the other hand, is just herself, but is able to take care of things impressively, and no sweat. Good thing Chevalier is a guardian…and as a guardian, once pointed back at the island, the damage was kept relatively low.

And then there’s a sword fight, Lyria does something besides yelling, and the rest of the crew get to participate in important ways too, coming in clutch at multiple times (Io especially). Very nicely directed all around. Too bad it looks not-good for the most part: that cheap-looking feeling from the first three episodes is back. Really brings things down a notch or two from what it could have been.

Then people get stabbed, Vira cries, everything works out, the end. Might sound a bit simple, but this episode is really the action climax to the whole arc; this could easily be made into an anime movie. Nice to see a rebuilding scene – usually in these sort of situations, the heroes bugger off to their next adventure, while the place they were heroing in still smoulders (and/or is fixed up nice and quick for the next episode).

Armor? What’s that?

This whole arc, but especially this episode, really is carried by Vira. She’s the one doing most of the talking, screaming, and so on. And Asami Imai nails it. The dialog itself works, as well as any other anime, but as usual the acting is what has to sell it. There were times I was taken aback by the sheer weight of emotion coming from the screen. All of the other performances are good, but Vira is great.

I’ve really been liking this show so far. I just watched the last season out of a sort of duty: it was the anime of my game, and I was going to buy it anyways (dem codes man), so might as well watch it. But I actually look forward to this show. Sure, it’s not the best show ever, but the writing and acting is pretty good. This episode was a good example of that.

It’s cool, let’s stand around celebrating; this hoodie gives +12 DEF so I only got a little stabbed.

Granblue Fantasy: The Anime: Season 2 Episode 4: The Review

I have half a mind to make this the site picture.

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.

The high stats in everything…
…vs the min-maxing martial.

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.

Isn’t it sad, Vira?

Granblue Fantasy: The Anime: The Second Season: The Initial Review

I was originally going to do a review of each episode, starting from the first. You know, when I got to it. When I got the pictures together. And so on. Then the second episode came out, and I was going to do a review of the first two. I had the pictures, but I didn’t put them on THE CLOUD, so I couldn’t do them at work or school, so it was hard to review. Then the third episode came out, and I figured I should probably actually get on that. So, now we have a review of the first three episodes of the second season of the Granblue Fantasy anime. So the three-episode rule applies: watch the first three episodes, to see if it’s worth it to continue.

Now, I come to this as someone who has played the game. I know, generally, how it’s going to go. There may be some surprises along the way, some anime-original stories, or side-stories from the games, thrown in there, but I basically know the plot. I also saw the first season, so I have that as a base to go on, even if the director, writer, and even studio are new this season. So I’m a bit biased as a reviewer. I already have my opinions of the plot. But, what I don’t know is how they’re specifically going to go about it this time.

I’m pretty sure this wasn’t in the game.

I guess it would be helpful to give a short review of the first season. In short: it wasn’t that good, but it wasn’t that bad either. Its main problem was focusing on the worst part of the story. As an adaptation it’s pretty true to the source…to its detriment. It’s a very basic RPG story at this point: small-village boy and mascot have a mysterious girl come to them, needing protection from the evil empire, and then they are on the run, and have to gather the elemental thingys to go to their ultimate destination. Along they way they gather a crew with various skills at various places, solving various problems and fighting various bosses. Occasionally, an anime-original story would pop up, showing the normal day-to-day adventuring, which were the best parts of the show. They did deviate a bit at the last city visited, and showcased some of the other gacha characters, which was neat. But they also added a ‘boy-meets-girl’ romance that’s kinda-sorta hinted at in the game (at least the girl likes the MC, who can be a girl or boy (most players choose the girl)), but really played up here, which no one but the creators asked for. (That’s one of the troubles with adaptations of popular stuff – there’s an audience expectations aspect to it, that is only ignored at the creators’ peril.) There were a couple of extra episodes that featured the female MC doing holiday type stuff with a bunch of the gacha characters, which were both the best episodes, and the most popular. The art style was controversial: it had a kinda sketch feel to it, which was supposed to invoke traditional hand-drawn animation, but instead just clashed with all the digital and CGI elements.

As for this season so far…I have to say the same thing. Not so bad, not so good. Oh, it could be good. The story in general is also more interesting, just because they’re finally getting to some of the more interesting material. The writing is also better than the last season, even with just the little bit we’ve gotten so far. The first episode, wisely in my opinion, gave the audience a ‘filler’ episode (in both senses of the term, as it’s both an anime-original story, and is outside the main plot). It shows both how a standard skyfarer crew operates, and what makes our heroes special. Even in the first scene, it gives a good summary overview of the characters, for those that have forgotten. It even gives a glimpse into the world – how normal people live their lives on floating craggy islands in the sky. And to top it all off, it also features a fan-favorite side character, in a way that doesn’t have to do with her story, but fits her into the story of the episode.

He didn’t fall on her chest or crotch? This isn’t like my Japanese animes!

The following two episodes return to the main plot of the game, and do a good job filling out 10-20 minutes of dialog from the game into what is probably going to be three 20-minute episodes. There is a bit of mystery and intrigue going on, which leaves me wondering how exactly they’re going to make things play out, even though I, as someone who played the game, know about what’s going to happen. As far as the writing goes, it’s about as good as one could ask for with this sort of adaptation.

So, what exactly makes it “not bad, not good”? Well, the thing with visual media is that the ‘visual’ part matters too (otherwise, just read a book). And here, there’s a lot to be desired. A LOT. While the animation itself isn’t too bad (unlike the last season), here it’s the art style itself that’s bad. It’s as if they forgot to do key frames, but instead everything is in-betweens. Off-model? How can you be off-model if you don’t have a real model to base it on? Genius!

Pivotal emotional moment without a lot of movement? Let’s make the MC look like something else!

So basically, it looks cheap as hell, and very bad in general. And this isn’t just a cheap move, but a very intentional one, as even promotional stills look like this. It occasionally looks nice, when they feel like it. But apparently only girls get to look good: Gran looks silly in almost every scene, and Eugen looks like a little kid’s drawing of a muscle man.

This is the best it gets.

Last season it was pretty blah all around, but here there’s a mix of good and bad that kinda averages out to blah. Which is really sad, because they had everything they needed to make it good, with lots of feedback from fans, and no shortage of funds: the first season was one of the best-selling anime of the past two decades, thanks to the power of in-game prize redemption (and I was one of them, paying hundreds of dollars in total to import the blue-rays). This season will sell well, too, regardless of quality, though I figure it will do a lot less, since the in-game prizes aren’t nearly as good.

As far as the translation goes…it’s functional. But they’ve decided to stick with the game’s translation conventions, which I feel is a bad move. The early game was translated pretty poorly (by people who had trouble with both Japanese and English), but the current, competent translators of the game have stuck with it, and it looks like the anime is too. This is rarely a problem at this point of the story, but it still really bugs me when names and such are changed.

Though, there is one major, HUGE issue that’s come up in the last two episodes. In Japanese, Vira calls Katalina “Oneesama”. Literally translated, this means “most revered older sister,” which is of course awkward in English. As usual, this is merely translated as “Katalina”. However, “Oneesama,” when used by other, younger girls/women, is often a huge red flag for PSYCHO LESBIAN AHEAD. You know, the kind that would do any and all sorts of unacceptable things to get with the target of her affection. “Katalina” just doesn’t have that same connotation.

Definitely the look of a sane individual.

In the end, will I continue? Yes, of course. I can get over the bad art, even if it does make me mad. But what about someone who isn’t already invested in the universe? Well, I don’t know about that. I’d show this to a friend, at least.

An Update

I have been playing games. Really. I’ve been playing ESO almost religiously. It’s just, there’s not a lot to write about here. I’ve been mostly going through the faction story areas for the Ebonheart Pact, and am just cleaning up Eastmarch right now. Not a lot to blog about there, though I have gotten some amusing screenshots, at least. (The above isn’t mine, because I’m not at my PC, but I have one identical to it, because of course you take a screen of Naryu being cute.) I also did the Clockwork City DLC quests, which were a nice break from the main stuff.

I hit the “max level” (Really for reals this time!) again, meaning CP 160. So now I can max out my gear and stuff. I’ve been trying to improve my builds and play, so I don’t embarrass myself out there in dungeons. But I’ve discovered that I don’t really like that aspect of the game, and that the gear I can get that’s good for my build isn’t in the dungeons (there’s some in trials, and some from crafting). I’m going bow/bow, like a chump, but it’s pretty simple for my casual brain. Not the ideal setup for dps, but I like to actually fit into my role and class (which is apparently what the devs want too), and five active abilities doesn’t really do that for me. I still need a better self-heal than what I’ve got, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

Granblue Fantasy got a new event, and in short, it’s kino. It’s also somewhat amusing how some people miss what little subtlety and literary merit is in these mobage stories – they say it sucks, when it’s clear that they are the problem. Not to say it’s going to change anyone’s life, or get any sort of writing award, but it’s not bad in the slightest. Now, there were some missed expectations – some were hoping for an All Siegman All the Time flashback event, when it was instead the usual fujo/yume-pandering Dragon Knights event, but that should have been expected. Lancelot got another skin, but at least it’s free this time. And no deus-ex-Siegman this time (though they accomplished this by making him part of the problem…).

And the Dragalia Lost 1st Anniversary is upon us. No event at all, but lots of free stuff. Euden got the gala this time, as expected; and he’s not broken, which was somewhat unexpected: I guess Cleo was just a fluke. (Though looking at the actual history of the game and genre, that much powercreep was really out of the ordinary, and it’s kinda a surprise that she hasn’t been even slightly nerfed yet.)

Oh, and part of what kept me from writing is that I finally had my gallbladder surgery a few days ago. (I do have a picture of what they took out of me, but I’m not going to post it, since that’s probably what would be the Twitter post picture…) Probably the best-case scenario, as far as recovery goes: I was up and at ’em five hours after walking into the surgery center, and haven’t had any additional pain medication needed; indeed, I’ve actually used less (fewer?) painkiller than I normally do! Still sore – feels like someone(s) punched me in the gut a few dozen times – but not painful unless I do something that uses my core muscles. There was one uncomfortable complication, but I hear that’s normal with general anesthetic, and it seems to be resolved at this time. But this basically gave me another weekend to play games (ESO), which was nice.