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Granblue Fantasy The Animation Collection 1 Blu-ray Anime Review

7 min read

Danger falls into Gran’s life and a new adventure awaits.

What They Say:
Gran and Vyrn live on the sleepy, far-flung island of Zinkenstill. Their quiet lives are rocked by the sound of a sudden explosion and the sight of a battleship in the sky. They follow a light that falls from the battleship into the forbidden woods, where they encounter a mysterious girl.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo along with the English dub, both of which are done in the uncompressed PCM format. The series is one that works a decent balance of action and dialogue to keep it flowing well and so that both sides of the story are well served. The dialogue is a little more straightforward in general with some decent placement from time to time but otherwise has a center channel design for a lot of it. There are some good nods to the surrounds at times to give it a bit more life but it’s the action side that plays with it all more since there’s ships flying, magic, and other creatures in the mix. This lets it ramp up a bit with a bit of bass to be had from time to time to give it more impact. Overall, both language tracks handle things solidly and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2017, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The seven episodes are spread across two discs in a four/three format, giving it plenty of room. Animated by A-1 Pictures, the series has a good clean look as it adapts the designs and ideas from the game in a good way here with a lot of detail at times, especially on the mechanical side, and some solid character designs. The encoding brings all of this to life in a very good way with bright and solid colors that are free of issues such as blocking and noise, resulting in a smooth and well-animated work that draws you into it all easily enough. It’s a clean looking transfer that will delight fans of it in giving them a high-quality presentation.

Packaging:
The packaging for this release comes in a soft slipcase that holds the clear oversized Blu-ray case. The slipcase uses the Japanese artwork with LYria from the first disc off-center a bit with lots of text to the side and the “wordy” logo, all of which is set to the white background that lets the colors and details really shine here. The back of it has a small summary of the premise and a few other details to draw you in but it’s fairly simple overall. The wraparound on it has most of the details for how the set is put together that covers it all clearly and accurately. The clear case inside uses more Japanese cover artwork to good effect while the show discs are on a hinge and the CD against the back wall. We do get some artwork on the reverse side but the main left panel shows the episode breakdown plus the tracklist for the soundtrack CD that’s included. The set includes a couple of postcards with it that are definitely appealing but the big extra pack-in is the square bound book that showcases a lot of character roughs and details before moving into the landscapes and other elements to show what went into the design of the series.

Menu:
The menu design for this release gets things done in a very simple way where it uses the Japanese artwork, such as the front cover to this slipcase, as its main piece. Unlike the text-heavy cover, however, it’s a clean piece that’s laid out better with the logo to the left and a wider sense to it all that gives it a very good feeling in setting things up. The white background again draws most of the attention to the artwork and even the fanciness of the logo doesn’t detract much. The navigation along the bottom is simple and easy to use with the main selections and it functions well as both a top-level menu and as a pop-up menu during playback.

Extras:
The only extras included with the release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the game series of the same name, Granblue Fantasy is a twelve-episode TV series with two OVAs that were produced for it in 2017. This set brings us the first seven episodes of the TV series with A-1 Pictures handling the animation, which means it’s a good looking show with its production quality. The game to anime adaptation route is one that has a lot more variety than when I got into anime back in the day as it was most relegated to fighting games. With Granblue Fantasy, this is how we get our taste of fantasy and this one avoids blending it with SF concepts and the like, sticking with some mechanical elements but mostly a proper fantasy piece. Those kinds of shows are still few and far between, which is unfortunate since it’s still such fertile ground.

The premise, for better or worse, is still largely standard fantasy material. We’re introduced to Gran, a young man living in a village who wears his limited armor even while chopping wood. With his friend Vyrn that’s a little flying lizard that says he’s a dragon, the two have a simple life but you know Gran is longing for more and Vyrn is pretty much just content with how things are. Things won’t stay as they are, however, as an Empire ship overhead is dealing with a problem that causes it to land nearby. The ship was transporting LYria, a young woman who has a seemingly rare or unique ability to interact and connect with the Primal Beasts of the land. That makes her valuable to the Empire as they want to expand on it but she gained an ally in Katalina, a knight of swords who has abandoned the Empire in order to help Lyria.

This sets them on an adventure to find out more for Lyria about who she is and get her more help. There’s also a background subplot with Gran wanting to find his father but the initial reason he tags along is that in defending her against the Empire he ended up dead. Quite dead, in fact. But she used some sort of magic to bring him back to life, which Katalina says can’t be done, and now the two are connected in a new way. That bonds them together well enough for the journey and creates your most basic of groups. Which, naturally, expands along the way as well. The “party” grows with some familiar additions like Rackam, an airship pilot that helps out with what the group has to get around in and then later others that star to filter in. The way most series are structured, especially those that come from manga but also games like this, involve the addition of new members in this way so that everyone gets a bit of time and then the interactions grow and shift as it progresses so this one is no real surprise here.

What this does is make the initial adventures feel like they have much weight to it because it’s more about bringing together the characters themselves before moving into more settings and places to go to understand the bigger picture. This is even more so with this release because it’s not the full season but rather just the first half of it, taking us through seven episodes. What we do get is pretty nicely done with some fun adventures as we see what the lands are like, which is fairly standard human oriented fantasy material without much in the way of other races, but also some fun mechanical elements with the airships that gives it a little something more to work with in getting around. And, naturally, there’s a bit with what Lyria’s able to do that feeds into the mission, such as wanting to find Tiamat since that may have answers for her while the Empire searches for them.

In Summary:
Granblue Fantasy does all the setup and foundation work with this set and that’s fairly enjoyable overall. While there are some of the usual tropes associated with fantasy that frustrate me to be sure, what we get here is the start of a solid journey with some interesting locations, decent characters, and potential for some good payoff in the back half of it. With a second season announced as well there’s definitely more to look forward to and I’m curious to see if the can capitalize on this world in anime form. Aniplex’s release is solid throughout with a good package (even if I prefer heavy chipboard boxes) with a soundtrack included and a great book. Fans of the show should be pretty pleased by the end result here.

Features:
Japanese 2.0 PCM Language, English 2.0 PCM Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Deluxe Booklet, Original Soundtrack 01, and Exclusive Illustration Cards.

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-

Released By: Aniplex USA
Release Date: May 29th, 2018
MSRP: $99.98
Running Time: 165 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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