Granbelm Episode 13 – The Last True Mage

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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.

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I hate it when this happens

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.

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go home – you’re drunk

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!

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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.

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I’m gonna miss that little psycho


Closing Thoughts

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.

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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.

Granbelm Episode 12 – Puppet Masters

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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!

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they’ve really lt the groundskeeping go

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!

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don’t worry about Suishou – Suishou always wins

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.

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Shingetsu on the other hand…

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.

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this is probably what m brain looks like

Closing Thoughts

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.

Granbelm Episode 11 – Laid Back Granbelm

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I was going to make another “The Disappearance…” title but I think I’ve personally overused that formulation. Instead, I’m focusing on the camping part.

As Granbelm is getting ready to wrap things up, it’s looking pretty gawsh darn good. It was always a surprisingly pretty show. Why surprising? I’m not sure. I just constantly find myself going, huh, this show is actually very pretty…I’ve been watching for 11 episodes, I should have picked up on that by now. And I’ve been doing galleries, the latest one is here!

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me writing Granbelm posts

What I Thought Would Happen

Mangetsu had started out her long dark journey of the soul in the closing tab of the last episode, it was only natural for her to continue it. To wander the city in search of meaning and look within herself to find if there’s anything there.

Her friends, those few who remember her would need to rally by her side. Of course, first, they would need to find her and who better to do that than Shingetsu. In a way, she’s Mangetsu’s mother and all.

And of course, we have the magically awake Kuon’s sister who probably wants revenge on Suishou for just about everything. That revenge may best take form in helping Shingetsu win the Granbelm. As you can see I had this episode pretty well figured out.

What Did Happen

The writers disagreed though. Yes, Mangetsu did a bit of soul searching but it was over pretty quickly. She came to her conclusion that helping Shingetsu was really her purpose and for the moment, that meant cheering Shingetsu up and bolstering her moral for the coming fight.

What better way to do that then getting all their friends together and going camping. For general information, please no one ever take me camping in order to cheer me up. I will escape the first chance I get!

And so, every magical girl and forgotten family member that’s still around came together to have a nice little evening under the stars. It was cute!

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and pretty

What About the Characters

I wrote in one of my galleries that I found Singetsu and Mangetsu similar to Homura and Madoka. In that post, I meant simply by design. One is taller with long straight black hair, sharper features and purple coded costume the other shorter with short pink hair, more rounded features and a pink costume.

However this week, the similarities seeped into the characters themselves I think. We found out that stoic and seemingly cool Shingetsu is actually insecure and has always felt lonely and apart. Despite seeming aloof she’s actually profoundly attached to Mangetsu and quite emotional. This may even lead her to make a grave mistake.

On the other hand, Mangetsu is almost suspiciously pleasant and seemingly harmless while possessing a great power that’s not really her own. She wants to do good but it’s hard to tell what if anything is really her own will and what she has been manipulated into. Ironically her best friend who loves her dearly is the cause of her very difficult situation. She’s shy and a little overwhelmed but when she makes up her mind she can be a tower of positivist. She seems to have resigned to disappearing for the greater good.

I’m not saying it’s the same show but the parallels between the characters really jumped out at me. I liked recognizing them and enjoy seeing these similar characters in such a different situation.

Also, Kyubei is Suishou even though they are incredibly different and somehow both the best.

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maybe she could try a white onsie on

What I Liked

As always I liked Nene and her family! In fact, it was just kind of fun seeing everyone together like that. A nice little break in the tension. Sure you could call it filler but it was useful filler. This was a good spot to slow down and break everything up a bit before barrelling to the finish line.

The images were very pretty this week. Of course, I’m partial to non Granbelm episodes (as in episodes that take place in our world).

There was the glorious return of Mangetsu’s very average cooking running gag. Always cause for celebration in this house!

Although it was sad, I found it quite powerful that Kuon’s sister had forgotten her. It’s perfectly consistent with the story, yet somehow the possibility hadn’t crossed my mind and when that happened, I was rather shocked. Similarly, I knew Shingetsu liked Anna but I hadn’t realized how much. The episode drove home just how guilty Shingetsu is feeling right now.

What I Liked Less

There were a few moments of melodrama that I could have done without but it was fine.

Kuon’s sister was fantastic in the opening scene but to me, she seemed so out of place in the rest of the episode. Why would you invite this stranger and why would she go. It was off to me.

I’m never going to be someone who finds camping fun. It’s fine. I guess I would have enjoyed seeing them all go on a shopping spree and try on clothes. Heck bikinis even. Or go to an onsen. We haven’t had our fanservice episode yet

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Closing Thoughts

No matter how I look at it, to me this episode was filler. Filler that I was happy for but not something I have a lot to say about. It was a great calm before the storm.

Mood: relaxed

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.

Granbelm Episode 10 – Loved By Magic

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My alternate title for this post was “The Forgotten Girls”. It sounds a bit like a YA murder mystery. Having multiple titles for a post is usually a good sign. I don’t tend to have that much inspiration if the episode was boring!

And I have to say, this was one of the most visually interesting episodes Granbelm has aired. You can see exactly what I mean by visiting my gallery over HERE.

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pretty girl to start off the post!

What I Thought Would Happen

I figured Mangetsu would find out what she really is and freak out about it. (Low hanging fruit I know). Meanwhile, Kuon would have a setback, failing to defeat Suishou and save her sister so she would have to go to Shingetsu and Mangetsu for help.

Seeing Mangetsu distraught, Kuon and Shingestu would rally to her side and the power of love would prevail! Allowing the three of them to start coming up with a plan to defeat Suishou together in the next episode.

What Did Happen

Mangetsu found out what she really was and freaked out. And that’s about it for what I got right. Kuon had way more than a setback and she ain’t rallying to anyone’s side. In fact, Shingetsu has her own issues to deal with as Suishou has now turned her sights on her and she is doing a spectacular job at tearing poor Singetsu’s little mind apart. Suishou also hinted a few times that she may not be human, or entirely human, but we do not know what she is. Another doll perhaps?

With all of this happening, Mangetsu ended up going to Nene for comfort after finding out her own family didn’t know her and that she no longer had a reflection. Mangetsu»’s had a weird day… We find out Nene’s forgotten Kuon and that there are probably countless girls that have died n Granbelm and have been erased from history by the Magiconautus (?) which begs the question: why?

The girls are starting to suspect that there may be more to Granbelm than they had been led to believe. Kuon’s sister or her ghost or something is having a grand time while all this is going on.

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there are still so many questions

What About the Characters

I love the Mangetsu twist. It works so well with the character and really fixes all my issues with her. Clearly, this was planned out from the start because it fits with everything we’ve seen. Yes, she had no reason to attach herself to Shingetsu, to want to participate in Granbelm or give her wish away. It didn’t make sense because it wasn’t supposed to. Mangetsu was never operating on normal human logic. She already had a pre-established purpose. Honestly, I’m impressed by this bit of development. I don’t see how they could have done any better.

Nene continues to be charming. This week more than ever her presence is a source of comfort and a port in the storm. It’s a good way to keep her character relevant and a nice contrast with what has happened to all the other Granbelm losers.

Meanwhile, Shingetsu is completely unravelling. Of course, we were starting to realize that she had been getting undone for a very long time now but this episode sped things up considerably. I like stoic and efficient characters so I’m not sure I’m enjoying vulnerable broken Shingetsu as much. It is, however, the logical direction for her character.

Last be never least, Suishou is the best thing that happened to this show. Of course »I love a troll so I might be biased, but a focused and clearly irredeemable antagonist has been a great way to keep this story on track. And ramping up her character from bad girl to potential demon lord has only made her more fascinating. What if she actually wins? It won’t happen but….

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Suishou is just so …Suishou

What I Liked

Suishou. I did just put this point in as a reusable block. 🙂

Actually, this was one of my favourite episodes, and I’ve liked a few. The suspense was good, the balance was decent and keeping some of the budget for the finale was a smart production move.

The time spend with Nene was also used as a small info dump to get the audience up to speed before the final battle (I assume), and it was most welcomed. I am now perfectly clear on everyone’s motivation and everyone’s suspicions which is what is really driving the story at the moment.

The strong mystery element remains and my interest along with it.

What I Liked Less

I find it difficult to tell the robots apart or remember who is piloting which mecha. This is one of the main reasons I don’t enjoy the Grandbelm battles much. I have no idea who’s who and therefore don’t know what’s really happening.

The dramas were justified but a bit much for my taste. There were a lot of young girls crying in this episode.

As I mentioned last week, Luon’s cursed sister is, in my opinion, a weaker thread and the last scene makes me think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of her.

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we won’t forget you Kuon

Closing Thoughts

A strong episode leading up to the prefinale. If this keeps up, and it is promising, Granbelm will have turned out to be one of my most unexpected personal hits. It was a rollercoaster of a show mid you but let’s enjoy the upswing!

Mood: Tired but happy

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.

Granbelm Episode 9 – It Feels Like You’re Falling Forever

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For me, Granbelm went into a bit of a slump a couple of episodes ago. Anna’s character arc felt rushed to me and was rather unsatisfying considering Anna was my favourite character (well second favourite but they were vying for the position at the time). On top of that find the action/plot-driven episodes weaker than the character ones. The universe and rules of Granbelm are just a little too vague in my head for me to properly appreciate those stories. But Nene is always delightful and her recent input has really renewed my interest.

Naturally, I took a whole bunch for screencaps. I think the mecha designs are, for lack of a better word: miscast. They aren’t, in fact, bad but the clash with the very dramatic tome of those fights and because they are somewhat small and bluntly details, epic moments of mecha evolution are hard to see and don’t pack much visual punch. It brings down those scenes a lot in my opinion.

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look at the cute little killing machine

What I Thought Would Happen

I thought Kuon would go rogue, going after Suishou on her own and endangering everyone else in the process. Maybe she would get herself cursed as well and the Getsu girls would have to save her, probably curing her sister in the process! This would be in later episodes though.

Meanwhile, Nene would be subtly questioning the younger Mangetsu, trying to find out what exactly is the cause of the enormous magic signature around the house.

What Did Happen

A version of my predictions played out. Surprisingly (to me) the front half of the episode was dedicated more to building Shingetsu and Mangetsu’s intimate friendship with a training sequence. It was by the book innocent female bonding stuff with soft touches and meaningful looks that are pretty standard in the not exactly yuri series. I expected this type of sequence to show up way earlier in the show, to be honest. It was a’ight.

Nene did find out something very important about Kohinata (great name) but whatever it is, she’s only telling Shingetsu and not us! Shingetsu had been planning to take it easy next Granbelm and she had taken quite a bit of damage last time, hence training Mangetsu to take the lead. But whatever she learned seemed shocking.

For her part, Kuon is indeed quite frazzled by Suishou, as such, when the Granbelm begins she immediately goe for her and it becomes apparent that she is woefully outclassed. Suishou didn’t get where she is on pure bad*ssery alone! Girl’s got some skills. At the last minute, the power of sisterly love saves Kuon but Mangetsu rushes in and it seems we’re finally going to find out what her deal is and roll credits.

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But I want to know!!!

What About the Characters

I can’t say much about the characters this week to be honest. It was more of the same and no one particularly stood out to me.

By now all the girls’ personalities have been pretty well established, it’s not odd that we don’t find out something new each episode. And the episode really was more plot driven this time.

I will say though, Despite Kuon and Suishou being my favourite characters, I find their arc oddly boring. It just doesn’t draw me in as much as everything else that’s going on. It’s a very odd situation. I prefer the characters out of the context of their own story.

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don’t be sad, I like you!

What I Liked

Suishou. I did just put this point in as a reusable block. 🙂

I would have liked to see more Nene but the mystery that she brings is great. It invigorated the story that was becoming a bit of a tragedy of the week. As frustrating as it was to be kept in the dark, I kept yelling at my TV to just tell us already, it was also stimulating. I got the old conspiracy theories rushing around it my brain and made for a fun watch.

They keep insisting of Mangetsu’s insecurity that she is “nothing”. That her presence has no impact. Maybe she really is an illusion but then, why would Shingetsu care so much about her feelings. It’s hinted that Suishou knows exactly what’s going on, because of course she does! But how does she know? Does anyone else? What’s going on??

I’m one of those people who really likes the what’s going on here feeling.

What I Liked Less

I touched on it in the opening paragraphs. There are lots of elements in the Granbelm that are supposed to be grandiose and visceral but for me, the art style of the mechas simply doesn’t invoke those things very well. I end up either confused by the fact that the visuals aren’t what I *think* they should be or the illusion is completely shattered because no suspension of disbelief is going to fix this.

There’s A LOT going on in Granbelm and it can make individual elements feel a little shallow. For instance, it seems we’ve moved on from Anna this week. I don’t know if the other Anna is still living in her place. I don’t know how the little sister is doing. They may go back to it and weave it into future events. I’m sure they’ll at least mention Anna in passing or something. But the quick turnaround and lack of lasting impact makes her entire arc feel sort of pointless. If she had never been there in the first place, would it really change where the girls are now?

To me, there’s a weightlessness to events and I’m not connecting as much with the story as I would otherwise.

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I never noticed the thigh highs

Closing Thoughts

General gripes aside, the episode itself was generally enjoyable. To me, the mystery of Mangetsu’s existence remains the best part but it was also great to see Kuon come into her own.

Hopefully, they’ll let us in on the secret next week!

Mood: Impatient

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.

Granbelm Episode 8 – Kuon Gets Around

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Let me just say, this episode was rather Suishou heavy. I think that should tell you all you need to know!

If you rather see Suishou than hear about her, I have a gallery here. Although I really think you should do both. After all, it’s not like it’s possible to have too much Suishou.

good morning!

What I Thought Would Happen

I thought Anna could miraculously be kind of o.k. Maybe in a coma or something. Being in a coma is not o.k. but you know, there would be hope for a full recovery.

I also figured Shingetsu would be a bit shaken up and would spend the episode moping around until Mangetsu went all out and cooked a feast for her. Like went out and spent a fortune on ingredients then spend an entire day cooking with some super advanced techniques. Then Shingetsu would tell her the food is “alright”. I’m not sure that’s so much what I thought would happen as what I hoped would happen!

What Did Happen

Anna is not o.k. In fact, Anna’s entire existence has been erased and only those who were in Granbelm at the time seem to remember her at all. As far as Nene is concerned the Fugo family had been eliminated ages ago. But why are the other girls remebering it differently.

Anna’s disappearance has left the stage wide open for a new mean girl to step in and what a magnificent mean girl it is. Trying to seize some type of advantage for herself. Suishou decides to go on the offensive, transferring to Mangetsu’s school and  sowing some seeds of doubt in her mind as well as Kuon’s. I’m not certain how powerful Suishou is. They are strongly implying that she is responsible for Kuon’s sister’s curse. And she does seem to have a easy time swaying people.

Mangestu is saved by her strong bond with Shingetsu. Actually they kind of saver each other, I was right about the mopping around bit, but Kuon isn’t so lucky and I’m not sure how things are looking for her in the next fight.

In the meantime though, we have my other favourite Nene, playing detective. Trying to find some race that Anna had existed, she seeks out remnants of her, let’s call it magical signature, to no effect. And then she figured out that something is cancelling out not just Anna’s trace but everyone’s magical footprint. When she manages to see through it, we find out that Mangetsu is unbelievably powerful (we kind of already knew but it’s treated as a reveal) and her little sister has powers too.

I believe it’s implied that Mangetsu may be the one that caused Anna’s de-existence. Possibly unwittingly.

imagine sinister music here

What About the Characters

Well duh Suishou is an absolute delight. I mean if you’re delighted by twisted and evil. I am! Beyond the character itself though, having a clear nemesis is great for the story in my opinion.

I am thrilled that Nene’s role didn’t end with her elimination from Granbelm. She has become friends with the rest of the girls, something that is obviously new to her (having friends on her level I mean), and we are seeing her put down her defences a bit.

Nene is very much a supporting character but she is one (of not the) of the more developed. As such, seeing her progress like this is very rewarding. On the other hand, now that her personal arc is not directly tied to the Granbelm, it once again makes me think that the magical side is the weakest aspect as characters flourish once they are removed from it.

I know this is very unlikely, but I would really like Mangetsu to pull a heel turn. You have to really strain but there are a couple of moments that could be used as hints for such an outcome. Her steadfast devotion to Shingetsu for no real reason beyond not getting quickly murdered in episode 1 could be twisted into the origin story of a Yandere. The way she has worn down suspicious Shingetsu through her kindness and all. The odds are pretty much nil, but I think it would be a delicious twist.

Suishou is always what I liked

What I Liked

Suishou. I should just put this point in as a reusable block. 🙂

I liked this episode as a whole. I generally enjoy when a narrative injects a puzzle or mystery for us to solve. They rarely stick the landing and the solutions are often unsatisfying but until everything is revealed, I find that it’s a very effective way to get me immediately more interested in a story.

And Nene is a great choice to play detective. Her no nonsense approach couple with her logical mind ensures that the audience doesn’t get infuriated by a character that doesn’t follow up on clues or asks irrelevant questions. Plus Nene is just fun. Not Suishou fun but that a one of a kind type of fun.

Having Anna “erased” is the first real stakes we’ve seen in the series. Unless you count Kuon’s sister’s curse. Coupled with a clear antagonist, the fights now become much more engaging. Smart move.

Maybe it’s a mere reflection of my enjoyment, however the art and animation quality which I thought had slipped just a bit in past weeks seems to be fully back on track!

What I Liked Less

How token the Yuri scenes felt. There’s a kiss between Suishou and Kuon (actually Suishou hits on people a lot) and well as a sharing the bed naked scene between Kuon and Mangetsu. To be fair, the scenes themselves were fine, the bed scene was even pretty funny. But it was so shoe horned that I could almost picture a producer putting a neat check-mark next to the word “yuri” on his checklist.

The whole magical trace could have used a bit more exposition. It’s the backbone of the mystery solving trip we’re taking with Nene and it’s still a bit vague for me.

I like Kuon as an independent character but I find her arc rather weak. I think they should have done away with the cursed sister and kept Kuon as a secondary supporting character.

what even was that blonde girl’s name

Closing Thoughts

Fun episode! Very fun. It set up everything nicely and left us with just enough questions to really want to see the next episode. And yeah, there was no visit to Granbelm this week so that may have something to do with it!

Mood: Intrigued.

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.

Granbelm Episode 7 – A Bog of Despair

Graanbelm ep7 2 8

I love using quotes from the show as post titles! Short of having themed titles like I did with The Promise Neverland and Given, it’s my favourite way of naming posts. Mostly because I’m horrid at coming up with titles. Almost as bad as creating written banter for opening paragraphs. So let’s talk about Granbelm.

Want to see what the episode looked like? You can do so right here on my gallery post!

Granbelm ep7-3 (3)
one of the best Granbelm mecha pics I have taken

What I Thought Would Happen

I thought Anna and Shingetsu would hug and Anna would now be helping the main to win Granbelm just like Nene is. Maybe the adorable little sister would be coming in and out of the show being adorably delighted that her family is reunited once more.

I also hoped that this would mean Siushou would be picking up the slack on the villain front and we would get to see more of her.

Also, as I figured we would need a new focus of dramatic tension, I thought the cursed white-haired sister would get worse and a race for the cure might start. Potentially even pitting old allies against each other as ends vs means becomes an issue.

What Did Happen

Anna’s little sister was indeed adorable though it was in an anguished way instead of a delighted way. Shingetsu is super talented and powerful which has been a source of constant torment in her life because people are mean and also feelings.

Meanwhile, it seems Dawnstorm was right and Anna is far from OK, instead, she’s gone off the deep end, forsaken family, Granbelm and everything else just for a chance to hurt Shingetsu. Feelings! And they decide to settle the score like two mature adults by fighting with huge yet chibi looking mechas in Granbelm.

On intense and emotion robot fight later (which takes up most of the episode), and things are “settled”. I’m not sure actually, the resolution is a little open-ended. It feels like a conclusion to Anna’s episode arc but I’ve been wrong about that before. Heck I was wrong about precisely that last week.

Graanbelm ep7-2 (10)
it’ o.k.

What About the Characters

I understand what Anna’s progression is and although I’m not exactly thrilled about the jealousy as a motivation thing (I guess you could read into it and assume that the huge Fugo family crystal is putting some type of spiritual pressure on her which is driving her a bit crazy), I still understand it as a concept.

The execution of Anna’s character arc is what I’m less than thrilled about it. Probably due to a lack of time, there’s a lack of transition in her evolution so a lot of her shifts are too sudden for me to emotionally engage with. I haven’t had time to sympathize with her emotional state before she overthrows it.

For her part, Shingetsu turned out someone whiny this week. She brought down her stoic facade but what was underneath was so so in my opinion. I think they should have pushed it more, made her out to be a self-righteous spoiled brat. In my opinion that would have been more amusing than the victim of her circumstances archetype, they are painting her as.

The rest of the characters stay firmly in the background and pretty much true to themselves. Nene is back for a bit and as awesome as ever. Suishou also shows up to be equally awesome but in a very different, very trollish, sort of way.

I’m having a bit of trouble connecting with Mangetsu. She’s a lot like me which to me is one of the most boring things you can be. I do really enjoy the running gag of her putting all this effort into cooking for people and everyone else being rather indifferent about it. It’s a great character moment even if it really doesn’t tell us much.

Granbelm ep7-3 (2)
I always like the same thing

What I Liked

Suishou. I should just put this point in as a reusable block.

To be honest, I think this week’s mecha battles were one of the best. It was fairly easy to follow and everyone’s goals and motivations were clear from the stat so that viewers can pick a side and sort of understanding when the tides are shifting.

Nene’s return and her adorable golden piglet communicator were a bright sprinkle of good humour. I’m happy to see that she wasn’t completely written off the show.

What I Liked Less

The attack on Anna’s mom did not serve much of a purpose other than add yet more tragedy. It seemed excessive to me.

This is by no way Granbelm’s fault however, at the 15-minute mark or so, Crunchy started seriously lagging, freezing and loading every few seconds. I watched 5 shows that even, Granbelm was the only one with issues. Since I wasn’t that vested in the mecha fight I simply let it play, picking up this adorable Yuri webtoon to read while it’s buffering.

Guys, I loved that webtoon – I’m going to tell you about it if you like. I’m currently operating on 4 hours of sleep because of that webtoon!

Granbelm ep7-3 (5)
I might…

Closing Thoughts

I don’t think I can properly assess Granbelm due to the unique technical difficulties I experienced. However, I am noticing that in  the early season I seemed to be alone watching this and I was surprisingly enthused by it. Recently a lot of bloggers seemed to have picked up on it and are singing it’s praises while I’m a little over it. Am I a reverse sheep (just as bad – maybe worse than sheep)?

Mood: wary

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.

Granbelm Episode 6 – Suishou Rising

Granbelm ep6 3 2

I tried to make my Dr. Stone review shorted this week and I failed. But I’m going to try again with Granbelm… We’ll see how it goes. It seems I don’t have the succinct gene.

I do have a gallery for the show though. And if you wanted to, you could go see it HERE.

Granbelm ep6-3 (1)

What I Thought Would Happen

Honestly, the last episode knocked me out a little. I didn’t really know what would happen this week, I was just really hoping it wouldn’t be another battle royal.

I guessed they would tell us what happened to Nene a bit. Last time a girl got knocked out, we did see her also get kicked out of Anna’s place!

What Did Happen

Well, we saw Nene again! She’s taking it really well. I guess we don’t have to feel bad about the Granbelm losers. Also, she really is older than she looks, as she’s the oldest of the three sisters, but her best friend is still Mangetsu’s little sister so I’m a bit confused. Best not to overthink this one.

They tried to explain Granbelm a bit better and I will give them credit for at least attempting it but the explanations all boiled down to “the magicaunotus (sp?) did it” and they didn’t tell us what a magicaunotus is. So although they tried explaining everything, I’m not sure they succeeded.

Something similar happened with the rest of the episode which was mostly dedicated to Shingetsu and Anna’s backstory. They grew up together but we don’t find out why they aren’t together anymore or why they don’t like each other. We do find out that Shingetsu was adopted by Anna’s mom because of her magical power and that Anna is in fact quite weak, something that’s apparently very unpleasant for the champion of a famous mage family. But how the mom found Shingetsu or why Anna hates her remains a mystery. Is it just jealousy?

Meanwhile, Suishou having found out that Anna is not as powerful as she thought promptly betrays her in a deliciously Suishou move.

In the final moments Shingetsu and Anna reconcile…maybe…

Granbelm ep6-2 (3)
little Suishou is so cute

What About the Characters

I was happy to see Nene but I think she may be gone for a while now. We saw a bit of everyone but not enough for it to make much of a difference. Except for Suishou who was barely a minute onscreen and managed to upend everything. The girl is just boss!

The only character that had some good development this week is Anna. You could say that was the entire purpose of the episode. You would be right about it. Unfortunately, it wavered wildly and way too quickly from one extreme to another and made her seem crazy, or just not that well written.

Ana has always been prone to anger but I figured she was, in fact, a decent person who didn’t handle frustration well and was carrying around some type of deep trauma. But from what we saw this episode, she’s this angry at Shingetsu simply because the latter is better at magic? That’s a bit lame. And this jealousy burns so deep and bright in her heart that she actually attacks her with a battleaxe. That’s downright unhinged. She has a breakdown when her mother tells her the hard truths (i.e. she lacks magical talent) and then one a dime, less than a second later, is fine smiling and loves Shingetsu again.

The change was too quick and the catalyst to weak to make the scene hold together. Unless they go back and fill in some backstory, Shingetsu just seems completely irrational and potentially homicidal now.

What I Liked

Whereas Anna losing it was messy and incoherent, Suishou pulling the old switcheroo fit her character perfectly and was super fun to watch.

I generally enjoyed the fact that we stayed in the real world.

I liked the running gag of Mangetsu cooking for people and them telling her her food is o.k. Not great or anything but you know, fine. You never see that. It’s usually the best thing ever or completely uneatable. Somehow, this seemed more insulting.

Granbelm ep6-2 (7)
Anna always has the best eye closeups

What I Liked Less

With such a short “What I Liked” sections you may think I didn’t in fact like the episode at all, but that’s not the case. I thought the ending was way overblown and came out of left-field but otherwise, I didn’t dislike the episode at all.

It was a fairly neutral episode.

Oh, I also think that the more they try to explain Granbelm, the more they confuse things. At this point, they should cut their losses and just pretend magical mecha battles are a normal thing everyone should already know about.

Closing Thoughts

It’s not like Granbelm doesn’t have anything to offer but it’s quite clumsy in places. Unfortunately, two episodes in a row have been less than stellar, although I much preferred this one.

I’m really curious to see what Suishou will do next!

Mood: unconvinced

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.

Granbelm Episode 5 – This. Is. GRANBELM!

Granbelm ep5

Guys! that was actually the last line of the episode! I’m not kidding. Just like in 300! Humm, ok maybe some of you didn’t get that reference. It’s an old movie. You can probably google it…

In short, it’s an over stylized and ultra violent ode to classic ideas of masculinity and a lot of fun when you’re in that type of mood. Now, I’m not implying that Granbelm and 300 are basically the same thing. But that is what Granbelm said!

It’s always easier to follow along when you have some images in your head. You can get a whole load of them by visiting my Gallery HERE.

Granbelm ep5-3 (4)
galleries are great!

What I Thought Would Happen

I thought Nene would also form an alliance with Shing and Mang and we would get the roots of a sort of revolution. Where all the magical girls would come together against this cruel system pitting them against each other to finally free the world of whatever Granbelm is. That part of the story is still super murky.

And I also thought we would learn a lot more about Kuon’s sister and what the impact of magic is on the muggles around you. They don’t actually call them muggles but I think it’s the official word now.

What Did Happen

On super long Mecha battle. I have so much difficulty focusing on the show during those battles that I can barely tell you what in fact happened. Nene did not form an alliance, instead it was more akin to an open declaration of war and everyone was pretty much gunning for her during the fight.

Despite being almost taken out last week, this week Nene was super duper strong so she got rid of a lot of the competition and ended up one on one against Mangetsu. Meanwhile, Anna and Shingetsu were working out their own issues through robot fighting. You know, the usual.

Granbelm ep5-1 (1)
I still don’t know what this thing is

What About the Characters

Not much. Maybe we did learn something. Like I said, I have a really though time focusing during to battles. To me, this episode was very much a status quo as far as  characters went. Everybody just went on being themselves.

One thing they keep insisting upon as that your mecha and your power in Granbelm is based on (as powerful as) the wish you make. They are all competing for a chance to get their wish granted and the more they want it, the stronger they become. Kuon wants to cure her sister, desperately. Nene want her family reunited and her mother back. In a heartbreaking flashback, we saw just how much this means to her. Shingetsu wants Granbelm to end as it is hinted that it has cost her all her most precious relationships.

We are not sure what the other girls want but we know at least Anna seems to also have suffered. But Mangetsu just kinda wants to do something cause she wants to leave a mark on the world. OK. However, this vague wish of just winning something and defeating a bunch of girls is way stronger then people who are trying to save their families? Are they that callous or is she a bit of a sociopath?

What I Liked

Not that much. I suppose what I enjoyed most was the idea that we just had a very mecha heavy episode so the next one might be focused a lot more on the girls and their regular lives. That would make me happy.

Of course Suishou does remain a bright spot of trollish sunlight. Her brief contribution to Granbelm this week was not only delightful as per usual but also brought up one of the only intriguing plot points. Kuon, as I mentioned, is trying to save her sister. However, Suishou tells her that her sister “is not the one that’s cursed”. That single line of dialogue contains so much information. First that you can get cursed. Second that Suishu knows about the situation. And of course, she could have been lying just for fun, seems like it would fit her character, but if she wasn’t, then what did she mean? I would like to find out.

Granbelm ep5-3 (1)
I hope she gets her own spinoff!

What I Liked Less

I told you guys how much I liked Nene and what a good foil she is. How I look forward to seeing her interact with the others. Pretty sure she’s out now. Yay

Needless to say, most of the episode falls into my liked less category. As far as I’m concerned it was boring and didn’t add anything of value to the narrative. I think I could have skipped it altogether without much loss.

I am really not a fan of the new kid who is better than everyone because reasons. The actual definition of Mary Sue. If you want to know exactly what I mean by that, the ending of this episode is a good example. To me, it feels like lazy writing.

Closing Thoughts

After spending weeks telling you ball that this series is much better than most people think, I fall on an episode like this and feel like a liar. This is what I feared the show would be like after the first episode.

This said, the series has build up enough momentum to get me back in the seat next week. I’ve sort of accepted that this aspect of Granbelm will never be my favourite but I’m hoping the rest will make up for it.

Mood: Mildly annoyed

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.

Granbelm Episode 4 – A Ministering Angel Shall My Sister Be

Granbelm ep4 4 2

Granbelm is such a riddle of a show. There’s not that many people talking about it so I’m not getting the community’s pulse on this series. It’s got a pretty poor MAL rating but no reviews and let’s face it, MAL ratings can be rather random.

The show isn’t perfect and I wouldn’t blame you for dropping it but it’s got more going for it than is obvious at first sight. For instance, it can be quite pretty as evidenced by the screencap gallery I put together over here!

My title refers to Kuon who I’m curious about. She has good taste in hairstyles.

What I Thought Would Happen

I am having a bit of trouble figure out where Granbelm is going. The last episode ended right as a mecha battle began so I felt pretty confident we would see that play out but other than that, my only clue is the mysterious drama behind Shingetsu and Anna’s relationship. Since I thought it was a bit soon to dive into that I figured we might actually get a little more character development for Mangetsu (she really needs some) but I had no clue what form it would take.

What Did Happen

The mecha battle continued and took a bit longer than expected, for a while, I thought it would actually take up the entire episode. We did get to know the three sisters that fight together a bit better during the battle. It seems the one actually in the mecha is called Nene and her two sisters help with strategy from outside the field. Aside from a lot of flying around and finding out that the new white-haired girl seems quite powerful, the battle ended at a stalemate with no clear winners and no one getting disqualified either.

The second half of the episode concentrated on Nene’s past and her current situation. Turns out she’s Mangetsu’s little sister’s friend and ended up doing recon at their house while Shingetsu, Mang and Kuon (the white-haired girl) were negotiating an alliance. An alliance whose main purpose is to take out Nene. It ends with Nene revealing herself voluntarily to Mangetsu and Shingetsu.

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Nene is pretty awesome

What About the Characters

Aside from Mangetsu who is a bit of an empty vessel, I quite like the characters. We were more intimately introduced to two of them this week. Nene who is a rational straight man despite being much younger than the rest and who bears the responsibility of putting her family back together on her shoulders. Her sisters are older and a bit more free-spirited. All three of them are quite fun and possibly my favourite character group so far,

We also got to know Kuon a bit better. As already hinted at, she is taking care of her older sister that seems to be suffering some type of deep trauma. I’m assuming wining Granbelm is a way to help her sister somehow. Kuon is cool and collected. She’s very driven for understandable reasons but seems wound so tight that a set back could push her over the edge. Still her skills are undeniable and her instinct to find the other mages in the real world and negotiate an alliance is pretty interesting.

What I Liked

Suishou I love Suishou. She’s Anna’s blue-haired servant(?), follower(?), hanger-on(?), friend(?)… Their relationship is not entirely established but Anna treats her like an underling while Suishou is generally amused by it. She is a huge troll thoroughly enjoying herself and was a breath of fresh, sarcastic comic relief air! I didn’t mention her much in my synopsis or character section because she isn’t very present and so far hasn’t been narratively important but every time she had a few minutes of screen time, it was delightful!

Granbelm has essentially set up that every character has a good, generally selfless reason to want to win and they keep insisting that there can only be ONE winner. In fact, the only one without a great justification for wanting victory above the others is our main character Mangetsu who just wants to win cause she can and it looks like fun. This spells some potentially difficult moral decisions down the line which makes the story a little “deeper” than I thought it would be.

Nene’s covert spying operation was just a ton of fun and she’s a good foil character to throw in the mix.

Granbelm ep4-4 (2)
the colours are pretty awesome here!

What I Liked Less

My bias remains clear although my justification for it is getting cloudy. I prefer the real world events to the actual Granbelm competition by a mile. This week’s mecha battle was actually pretty good. There was some strategy involved so it wasn’t just two robots crashing into each other or batting away projectiles over and over again. We also had some fun communication between the magical mecha pilot girls. Objectively it was a fairly good battle scene but I just couldn’t wait for it to be over.

I think they should stop introducing new characters now. As I mentioned I find Mangetsu rather underdeveloped for the moment and I don’t think the series can support a much bigger cast without getting lost along the way.

Closing Thoughts

Granbelm has its limitations and it’s probably never going to be my favourite shows. There is also a lot of genre and style biases it has to work against which may make it hard for it to find an audience (something I could also say for Given). But there are a lot of actually good elements in this series and for what it is, I find it to be an above-average showing.

Once again this a week, I was expecting to be bored or disappointed but the episode turned around at the midway mark and became rather charming. And this has consistently been my experience which I think is praiseworthy.

Mood: Pleasantly 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.