I honestly thought that this week was the last episode so when it ended on a black screen with “to be continued” I was ready to throw a shoe at my T.V. What can I say, I’m pure grace! Thankfully there is one more episode left.
I did end up taking quite a few screencaps of course. You can see them here if you would like!
What I Thought Would Happen
I thought Shingetsu and Mangetsu would unite to defeat Suishou. I mean there weren’t really that many places left for the story to go. I knew they would have to face her in Granbelm although it would have been hilarious if they just like pushed her down a flight of stairs at school and that would be that.
I’m actually a little disappointed now that they didn’t end up creating a completely mundane and anticlimactic end for Suishou. It would have definitely subverted all my expectations.
What Did Happen
Shingetsu and Mangetsu united to defeat Suishou in Granbelm.The episode was pretty much exactly what anyone would expect (aside from the fact that it ended in the middle of the action because there’s another episode to come). All the action was entire in Granbelm which as you may know is not my favourite but it was one of the most intense fights we’ve seen.
And as expected Mangetsu did sacrifice herself for Shingetsu. I don’t know if the sacrifice will stick or if she’ll end up Disney ending alive for some reason next week. Either way, the grand gesture will have been made so it’s fine.
The one unexpected bit for me was the sudden development we got for Suishou. Apparently, she’s been alive for 1000 years and winning Granbelm after Granbelm without ever being awarded the prize. At face value, the narrative seems to be telling us that she was a mage candidate at some point but has lost her humanity over the centuries. I still think she might be a doll-like Mangetsu which is why she can’t become the mage. I guess we’ll find out next week!
What About the Characters
I kind of let the cat out of the bag in the previous section. Oh well. So Shingetsu is still herself. All fragile and conflicted but efficient and naturally gifted. Mangetsu is also still herself, cheerful and helpful. Selfless to a fault.
But who is Suishou. Aside from what she is, her characterization got a little shaken up as well. We do see that the years and countless battles have clearly taken a toll on her. She seems to be suffering from some type of PTSD. I’m also not entirely certain that she actually wants to win the Granbelm. It’s possible that after all this time, she’s simply exhausted but is going on out of habit and because by now it’s the only thing she knows.
There was definitely something deeply lonely and sad about the Suishou we met this week. That’s not like her at all. But I guess, we all have our crosses to bear.
What I Liked
I liked the opening flashback. Both visually and narratively, it was very touching. It also brought us closer to the main antagonist so that we can get some conflicting emotions at her inevitable defeat.
As I mentioned, this was one of the most exciting Granbelms I have seen and it was coloured coded in pink which is consistent with the idea that the Granbelm takes on the colours of the looser.
What I Liked Less
I still have little to no connection to the Armanox and unless I’m seeing the girls in the cockpit or inserted at the corner of the screen I have trouble remembering which robot belongs to which pilot and really caring about what happens to them.
Moreover, since the powers of the robots have never been properly established, I don’t actually know what they can do. They seem to be able to do new(different) things every episode. I have no clue what the limits of their powers are. I never know if a blow actually did damage or not until they show the robot explode or something. It’s another element that makes the fights more difficult to follow for me and just more difficult to get invested in.
Although I know I said I liked the flashback, I’m not entirely sure I needed Suishou to be sympathetic. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually dislike this turn it’s more like I’m not sure how I feel about it. Suishou is a truly wonderful troll in my opinion and I was A-o.k. with embracing her dark side. I don’t think it’s bad to have unambiguous villains. We’ll see how this softening of her character plays out in the end.
This episode was a part 1 so I don’t think it’s fair to judge it before I see next week’s. It’s a good set up though as it ended before I even noticed how much time had passed and I really want to see what happens next.
Mood: Slightly surprised
Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!
Want to see more thoughts from Irina on Granbelm?
Images from: Granbelm. Dir. M Watanabe. Nexus. 2019.
7 thoughts on “Granbelm Episode 12 – Puppet Masters”
This was maybe my least favourite episode since the first one. I was not so fond of Shingetsu calling Mangetsu’s name near the end, and it’s not so much the scene itself as all the set-up, too. The fake-out with Shingetsu being still in the granbelm was disappointing: Shingetsu being defeated, leaving Mangetsu alone would have been wildly interesting. But the fake-out ruined that for something more conventional, and to boot I’m not sure how to parse Mangetsu’s reaction (since I’ve never thought of her as a good actor). Add to that a whole lot of robot figthing I can follower no easier than you, and well… you end with my reaction to the episode.
I was fine with Suishou’s development and flashback, since at some back-brain level I’ve always expected something like this. I mean, she said something like “make me a mage,” when she tried to “recruit” Mangetsu over to her side, so there’s that. The precise nature of her derangement is interesting: her orders are to proof that there can be no Princeps, but that’s a neverending process, really, since you can never be sure. Just defeating mage after mage prooves nothing. It’s a self-defeating job. I suspect a Popperian falsification thesis at work. She’s actually supposed to proof the opposite, but the only way to do it is to disprove the null-hypothesis. And on some level she knows this.
A lot depends on how they’re going to treat magic in the resolution. Maybe they’ll rescue this episode, or maybe they’ll mess up the entire show. Or, you know, anything inbetween. At this point I’m not convinced I’m entirely on board.
I don’t disagree and yes leaving Mangetsu alone would have been amazing. I personally never thought she had been defeated in the first place so it wasn’t as disappointing to me but now I wish she would have. Again, a huge issue for me is that the Granbelm rules aren’t well enough defined. Heck for all I know Mangetsu is fine as well. Maybe all the mages are. This makes consequences sort of shallow. Like you said, we need to see if they stick the landing.
Ernesta getting defeated wouldn’t make sense plot-wise. They’ve been building up the idea the she’s the chosen one loved by magic since forever. They have no choice but to stick to it.
It might be predictable but well-foreshadowed writing is always somewhat predictable. Jumping the shark just to surprise the audience is not worth it.
That’s an interesting point worth examining in more detail. I actually bought her defeat. Irina didn’t. So, there’s two immediate takes right off the bat.
Now my problem was never predictability. I’m fine with it. My problem is that so far the fake-out was entirely pointless, or not quite pointless, but a structural way to get her out of commission long enough to get Mangetsu out of the way (if she’s out of the; who knows?). If they’re going for predictable, I’d prefer they’d do away with the fake-out and play it straight.
I agree that they set up Shingetsu for a long time now, but they also made sure we know that Suishou has been at it for 1000 years, and even if Shingetsu is special among the chosen ones (I think Suishou said something to that effect), it would not actually be a stretch for Suishou to defeat her. That would be plausible, too. The reason we think Shingetsu will win (and I’m no exception) is that this is a story. The question is this: why do we tell this story, rather than any of the other stories?
The answer might be as simple as: “Because this is the one that’s won.” Shingetsu wins, story over. But another answer might involve lateral thinking. Because people figure out what’s really going on? Because Mangetsu’s involvement changes the rules from then on out (maybe it’s just a 1000 year cycle, and Mangetsu [berserker form?] replaces Suishou?) I find the writing so far open enough to allow for such an ending: a defeated Shingetsu likely still lives on in the real world, and she still has her connection to Mangetsu. Depending on how they treat magic this could make for an interesting finale. Maybe worthiness isn’t about the power to defeat enemies? Nene definitely remained useful even after dropping out, for example. For me, there’s enough complexity in the set-up to allow for a defeat. So for the show to bring it up only to then not follow up is a disappointment:
My plea is this: if you follow the straight path don’t complicate it via a fake-out.
The way I see it, the ending has to provide proper pay off for the ideas and themes the show is dealing with. That narrows down the number of possible endings.
This are some of the plot points and themes I can remember from the top of my head:
1) Shingetsu is the chosen one loved by magic and the Granbelm exists specifically to test her. None of the other participants are actual candidates. Only she is.
2) Magic is a crutch for humanity. It needs to disappear so that humanity can walk on their own two feet.
3) Mangetsu is the crystallization of Shingetsu’s feelings. She might have a will of her own, but that will is a reflection of Shingetsu’s will.
4) Don’t try to do the impossible. Some things are simply out of your reach and you run the risk of becoming obsessed and losing yourself if you don’t realize your limits.
The last one was specially clear this episode, as we find out Suishou, despite all her powers, is the same as Anna. She’s just trying to achieve something that is simply out of her reach and ended up becoming obsessed. The healthy approach for both of them would have been to let got and focus their attention on something they can actually achieve.
Anyway, there a lot of others ideas, plot points and themes the show is dealings with. These are just the few I can remember right now. The point is, the ending has to provide a pay off to all this. When I think about it from that perspective, I think the only possible ending is that Shingetsu has to erase magic. I don’t think anything else will provide proper pay off and closure.
The only thing that is still up in the air is whether Mangetsu will survive or not. I’m wondering if there is a loophole that will allow Shingetsu to erase magic but keep Mangetsu alive at the same time. Maybe if Shingetsu gives her life away in exchange for Mangetsu’s life, that would do the trick. We’ll see.
If we go off my crazy theory that Suishou is a doll Mangetsu surviving could mean her winning and taling Suishou’s place perpetuating a neverending cycle. You have to strain to see it but there are narrative elements to support it. It goes with your point 4. Ultimately magic isn’t for humans to control and Granbelm is a cruel joke to really drive that point home.
It’s very far fetched mind you but I wouldn’t say completely at odds with the story so far.