I had two alternative titles for this post. One was Well, That’s Over the other was An Impractical Swimsuit. I feel like these competently summarize my thoughts on this finale. It’s unfair that final episodes tend to have a disproportionate impact on our overall impressions of a series but for better or for worse, the last episode just counts more. Let me tell you what I thought of Granbelm’s
Or you can skip all the silly words nonsense and just go look at the pretty pictures! I’ve arranged them in a gallery right over HERE.
What I Thought Would Happen
Shingetsu would make the decision to become a mage girl, wishing to prevent all future mages from coming into existence. In doing this, Shingetsu would return to a world where Nene and Shisui (Kuon’s sister) are still alive while only Shingetsu remembers Mangetsu existed.
Shingetsu and potential future allies would continue to fight against powers other than magic that humanity creates in the future, but thanks to Mangetsu’s sacrifice, magical girls are purified and no longer forced to fight in the Granbelm.
What Did Happen
Well, kind of exactly that (if anyone picks up on the reference I’ll be impressed!) but with a lot more mechas. I figured we would have to wrap up the mecha battle but I honestly thought it would be a very quick scene. Instead it took up a good chunk of the episode and as usual I had a bit of trouble connecting to the scene.
This said, after finally defeating Suishou once and for all, Shingetsu finally get to talk to the Magicaunotus, in the form of Suishou again and make her wish. I think my attention may have drifted as at first I was under the impression that her wish would make her lose all her memories of the defeated mage candidates as well as Mangetsu but a few minutes later that didn’t seem to be the case anymore and I’m not entirely sure why.
The price for Shingetsu’s wish is that she would become inconsequential in the real world (invisible and unnoticed for all time) but the last scene leaves us with ambiguous hope as a new transfer student joins Shingetsu’s class and wishful thinking has us believe it just might be Mangetsu somehow.
What About the Characters
I wouldn’t say this episode did much for the characters but it sort of simplified the them if you will. Mangetsu became an actual symbol of hope, her hazy see-through image popping in to offer words of encouragement before disappearing again.
On the other hand, Suishou was defined mostly by her plot role. In the end, we didn’t really learn what she was, the supposition that she is just a manifestation of magic itself as she seems to disappear without a trace. Why did she want to be mage? I don’t know. At some point she seemed to say the Magiconautus itself created her to be a referee in Granbelm and I’m guessing at some point she decided humans were unfit to have magic so she would take it instead but why and what she wanted to accomplish with it weren’t really discussed. This was pretty disappointing to me as I was attached to the character and was really hoping to learn more.
And the there was Shingetsu. We didn’t really see anyone other than those three. Shingetsu’s character hasn’t really changed much. When we met her she was always a fragile yet powerful young woman who had a bit of trouble connecting with others and wanted to rid the world of magic because of the harm she believe it caused. She was dedicated to this and willing to go to any length to attain her goal and well that’s pretty much the exact same Shingetsu we saw in episode 13.
She did seem a bit more at peace in the closing tag though and looked fantastic with a ponytail!
What I Liked
I liked the closing tag. I’m a sucker for happy endings no matter how sugary they may be. This one had a bit of bitterness in it as Shingetsu seems more isolated than ever but she also seemed very content with it so maybe it’s all for the best. I do wonder why she kept going to school if no one knows she’s there. It’s not like she’ll be able to get a job in the future. Can she even take exams?
I loved seeing grown up Nene. It’s not like it was a big change but still it’s the sort of thing I enjoy.
What I Liked Less
As always the mecha battle was the low point for me and on top of it, it seems that there was a few shortcuts this time around as the animation wasn’t as smooth as usual and they even resorted to a few still shots.
This said, if you’re going to dedicate your climax and most of your finale to a mecha battle then you got to commit. There’s a point in the battler where Shingetsu is about to give up feeling completely overpowered, Magetsu appears next to her saying “You can do it”, then Shingetsu immediately goes “Oh cool, I can do it” and completely destroys Suishou. There’s no time at all for the turnaround, no struggle. For me, it pretty much negated the dramatic impact of the scene. Although it was kind of funny.
This isn’t really a negative but tonally this episode was a lot cheesier than Granbelm has been up until now, with loud swelling music and grand declarations. It also really revved up the Magical Girl elements of the show. Like I said, not a bad thing but there wasn’t enough time in this last episode to properly establish them and to me they ended up feeling a bit out of step.
Personally, I would have enjoyed a bit more exposition. I sort of left the series thinking “was that it?”. I think there’s another episode worth of material just to establish certain elements.
To me Granbelm has been a study in balance. It did some things extremely well and others not to my taste at all. Now that it’s all said and done, those two seem to have evened out and left me fairly neutral on the series as a whole. It should be said, I personally didn’t enjoy this last episode (or the previous one for that matter) and that is definitely weighing heavily on my impression. Had the series stopped at the camping episode, I would have considered it much more favourably.
But that’s just me, I’m sure there are fans out there that thought this finally was just pitch perfect and that Granbelm is the show of the season. Every anime has its die hard supporters. In any case, if you have been watching Granbelm, I do hope you enjoyed it.
Contributed by Irina
from I Drink And Watch Anime!
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Images from: Granbelm. Dir. M Watanabe. Nexus. 2019.