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.

Granbelm ep8-7 (5)
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.

Granbelm ep8-5 (11)
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.

Granbelm ep8-1
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

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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.

Magical Girl Raising Project Light Novel Review Volume 1

Magical Girl1

Death and Magical Girls

I’m going to be honest and point out that even now I still haven’t finished the anime of this story. As much as the concept appealed I just found the anime too abrupt and that I didn’t have any time to get to know the characters or care about them before they died. So, I decided to check out the light novel and see if it told the story in a more appealing manner. Admittedly, I made this decision a fair while ago and then the book that I received from another blogger as a prize ended up in one of my travel bags and was only unearthed during my recent work trip. How that happened I’m not quite sure but the book has now been read and I’m ready to review it.

Read each and every death in Volume 1: Available from the Book Depository
Magical Girl Raising Project, Vol. 1 (light novel)
Affiliate Link

I think the first thought I have around this book is surprise. I’m surprised by the fact that the whole game plays out in the one volume and we meet the characters very quickly before they are consequently knocked off. In that respect it is very much like the anime. I am however really curious about how there is a whole series when the story seems pretty concluded here. Admittedly, there are ideas that could lead on to future stories, but for all my interest in this story things are nicely wrapped by the last of the 192 pages here and so my overall desire to go onto volume 2 is fairly low.

The characters are perhaps the weakest part at play here though. It isn’t through any fault of their own but there are just too many magical girls, too many scenes to write and too many deaths to play through for any of them to have any real impact. At times I was left confused as to where a certain character came from and whether we’d encountered them before or if I remembered anything about them and before I really had time to reconcile those thoughts the character would be dead.

It also doesn’t help that a lot of the characters end up coming across one note because of how little time they get. Each one seems to have one defining trait or characteristic that is repeated in the narration whenever they appear as if to try to make us remember them but that is about all we get from them in terms of character. It makes any connection with them difficult and it makes it difficult to really emotionally invest in the game they are playing. Even Snow White has appearances scattered throughout the pages and it is really difficult to get any kind of feel for who she is as a person.

The story though kicks off and doesn’t really stop until the end. While death matches are nothing new, and magical girl stories seem to be very fond of taking cute young girls and crushing their spirits through edgy disasters, there is something compelling about this journey. The characters are granted powers and use them in a variety of ways but it is interesting learning about Fav and the magic kingdom and all the behind the scenes aspects that underpin these characters killing one another.

With stronger or more developed characters this plot and the way it rolls out would be incredibly compelling. As it is, it is very bingeable and I found it hard to put down for a break as the events flow from one to the next with a sense that we are driving toward something.

The writing itself, at least in the English translation, is nothing special but nor is it intrusive. The chats and online conversations are a little awkward at times but otherwise it is unremarkable. Likewise the few visuals scattered throughout the book, which are usually a highlight of light novels.

Want more? Try Volume 2: Available from the Book Depository
Magical Girl Raising Project, Vol. 2 (light novel)
Affiliate Link

This probably wouldn’t be my first recommendation if someone said they wanted to start reading light novels, but at the same time I didn’t actually dislike it. The book was a quick and simple read, told a decent story, and didn’t feel overly bloated. While I wanted more from the characters and felt that this didn’t get me emotionally invested enough, I still enjoyed the read.

Have you given this book a go? What did you think?


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


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.

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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.

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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.

Granbelm-ep8-3-11
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.

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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.

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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 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

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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 6 – Suishou Rising

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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)
kinda

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.

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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

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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 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.

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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

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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 4 – A Ministering Angel Shall My Sister Be

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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.

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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

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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 3 – Magical Mecha Melee at Moonrise

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Granbelm and I are back with another week of adorable girls and somewhat questionable mechas. Granbelm has a lot of moving parts and they don’t all work that well together. I think the lack of cohesion was on best display this week.

You may even be able to see it through the pictures of the episode. Which continue to be quite pretty, the gallery is HERE!.

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close enough!

What I Thought Would Happen

Last week ended on a mild cliffhanger/revelation as our feisty redhead antagonist Anna called Shingetsu a demon. Obviously there’s some unresolved issues there so I thought we were going to go for a mostly flash back episode showing us what went wrong between the two girls. Maybe a bit of fighting at the end to and our main characters would have a minor setback but Mangetsu would hug an upset Shingetsu and help her get over the wounds of the past.

I put too much thought into these things.

What Did Happen

Well, not that. Apparently there is past beef between the two but we’re not really told what happened. Instead, we get to know the other magical pilot girls a little better. One has white hair and wants to win to help her sister that seems to be in a sort of coma. Another has two younger sisters that help her at a distance and at the last minute we find out she’s fighting for her mother somehow.

Throughout the interspersed magical girl scenes we get a lot more world building info dump but it’s honestly a bit hard to follow and to me, just not that interest8ing. The part I liked was the little we learn about Shingetsu and her background. At some point Mang and Shing are heading home when a car stops and Anna’s mother and younger sister jump out hugging Shingetsu and telling her to come home. It was confusing but very interesting and I am far more curious about what will happen with this story thread than any of the magical battles taking place.

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that’s the sister’s hand… you guessed that

What About the Characters

We did get some development on a lot of characters and they all seem to have distinct personalities and their own very personal reasons for wanting to win Granbelm. Oh and trauma, lots of past trauma. It’s following the “dark magical girl” template but I’ve got nothing against that. When done right, I think it can create compelling characters, although I personally think it works better in plot driven stories.

Mangetsu took a step back this week. That was o.k. too. She’s better in smaller doses and I’m glad we have a larger cast to bring some variety.

What I Liked

The new characters were all promising which is a feat. However, as I mentioned, the set up for a family drama with Shingetsu and Anna’s family was the strongest part. I hope we get to explore it more.

The magic in this series is some of the most practical and useful I’ve seen. Simply cross your fingers and people believe your stories or can’t hear you talking to your friend. It’s awesome. Usually, in order not to break the plot, magic is super convoluted and has all these weird rules and limitations, Not in Granbelm, no wonder you’d want to learn all about it.

The show remains quite good visually and I’m surprised I’m not seeing it praised more on that aspect.

What I Liked Less

Again, I’m not feeling the magical and mecha side of the plot. Actually, I also am not crazy about the chibi mecha designs. The battle scenes have failed to get me very engaged at all in these first 3 episode and as far as I’m concerned, the fewer of these battles we get, the better. 

It’s a little sad that all the elements that are more unusual in Granbelm are those I dislike. Maybe I just wanted to see a cgdct show.

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then again, maybe once I actually figure out what’s going on

Closing Thoughts

My feeling form last episode is pretty much confirmed now. Essentially that Granbelm is a show that’s trying to do a lot of things but can only manage a few of them successfully. The magical mecha aspects are too messy to be compelling so far. However, the dramatic slice of life aspect holds a lot of promise and the narrative seems to have taken care to develop the characters beyond recoloured copies of each other.

Not sure how I feel.

Mood: Less Mechas please

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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 2 – Well This Was Unexpected

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It seems I will be taking over the Granbelm reviewing for Karandi. She’s still going to be watching the show so I’m sure she’ll be reading the posts along with you! I hope I don’t disappoint!

I’m also trying out this review layout. Feel free to give me your comments on it! Oh and of course you can see the full gallery HERE!

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let’s start with a bang

What I Thought Would Happen

After last week, I honestly thought we were going to get some more difficult to follow magical exposition mumbo jumbo, intercut with some more mecha battles. Maybe a flashback scene to how the previous girls became magical pilots. Something along those lines.

What Did Happen

After a out of the blue but quick naked scenes, the episode actually settled into a school based Slice of Life. After pushing her newfound magical powers to their limit Mangetsu had been completely exhausted and ended up spending the night at Shing’s place….without warning her parents….who reasonably called the police! When’s the last time we saw fit parents in anime??? After this, we got some more magical world building exposition. It was still a bit garbled but the jist of it is that Magical Girls are all decedents of Magicians but only one of them can claim the title for herself so every ten years, when the stars align or something, they fight to see who will become the next hokage. That sounds about right.

Why our girl Mang is suddenly involved is still nebulous but moving on. To help her out keep an eye on her, Shing transfers to Mang’s school. No one shortens the names like that, purely my initiative. Meanwhile. Magical girls all over town are on the move and all of them attend the same school. Who knew?

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if I had a nickel every time someone said that about me!

What About the Characters

Actually, I liked them. I can’t say they improved much. It’s not like they got more complex or interesting really. In fact Mang went from being a Mary Sue to being a Pollyanna and a Mary Sue. But they have decent chemistry. Shingetsu got a few humanizing moments that were very fun and therefore her character seemed more fun for them, even though she really hasn’t changed much. And although the antagonists (I have to learn her name at some point) is pretty one note “bad”, she did have this warning in the very last scene that made it seem like there’s more depth to her than expected. That warning wounded sincere and that’s intriguing.

What I Liked

I really liked the mundane moments. I think if they skew the show to 80-90% CGDCT content and leave the magical girl and mecha stuff as a bit of background flavour, Granbelm may in fact have a lot of promise. If you had told me this last week, I would have called you a liar…under my breath.

Shingetsu’s backpack scene was a brilliant sight gag. It managed to be funny yet sweet and relatable at the same time. And as I mentioned the show looks pretty good.

What I Liked Less

The overaching magical mecha plot just seems to bring the series down. I sometimes get the impression that the writers haven’t figured out all the details yet so they’re keeping it vague on purpose. But even the stuff we do know if pretty lacklustre. We’ve seen very similar done way better. I think there’s a missed opportunity to go in a bit deeper on the macha side of things.

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there may have been a lot of pictures of lilies at some point….

Closing Thoughts

Granted, at this point I was expecting almost nothing out of Granbelm so I may be a little skewed in my perception. This said, although not necessarily impressive on any level, I found this episode enjoyable. It had some sweet moments, a few laughs, a very convenient magical power! Basically I had a good time with it. If this keeps up, I might even recommend the series.

Looking forward to next week.

Mood: Pleasantly surprised

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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 Review Episode 1

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This anime got my attention.

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Granbelm Episode 1

Magic girls fight in an imaginary space using giant robots that are actually a materialised version of their heart? Okay, Granbelm, I’ll bite.

Admittedly outside of the giant robots we’ve essentially got another magical girl battle royale going on which have kind of become a dime a dozen in a post Madoka era. That doesn’t mean these kinds of stories can’t be fun, particularly if they have a bit of energy behind them and Granbelm certainly has that. About the only time this episode took a pause for air was when Shingetsu sat down with Mangetsu to try to explain the basic origin of what was going on and that didn’t last long before a formerly downed enemy got up and went back on the attack.

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And, no.

As an anime original there’s a definite novelty here in that no one will really know what to expect and there’s no sneaking a peak at the end of the story. While we might compare elements of Granbelm with other magical girl stories, there was a definite feeling of freshness about this one as Mangetsu scuttled about what used to be the school building trying to evade attacks by robots.

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Of course the standard tropes are there. The heroine’s transformation has her in pink and white and despite not having a clue about magic or how to use her giant robot thing, after being told to envision what she wanted to happen she suddenly becomes super powered. We’ve also got a number of mages that look like they missed the boat for Magical Girl Raising Project in terms of personality. Then the crystals the girls have strongly remind me of the crystallised souls the girls were given in Madoka Magica. About all we’re really missing is a cute mascot animal but I guess that’s hard to squeeze in when we’ve also got giant robots in play (though I won’t be surprised to see one turn up later).

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I kind of think this looks like a giant frog. How about you?

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However, there’s one undeniable fact about this first episode of Granbelm and that is that it is really fun to watch. It draws you right into the action and you learn enough about the characters and the world on the way with only a minor exposition dump to bridge a few gaps that passes quickly. The music is amazing with the soundtrack while the robot fight was going on reminded me of an old school sci-fi as did the noises the robots made as they moved and attacked. Visually it is rich in colour but not an eye-sore.

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About my only worry here is that next week when we return to the ‘real’ world this will become a stock standard school anime only occasionally broken up by the kind of content we saw this week. Hopefully that isn’t the case, but it is definitely a possibility.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


Want to see more thoughts from Irina on Granbelm?

Images from: Granbelm. Dir. M Watanabe. Nexus. 2019.