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Granblue Fantasy The Animation Collection 2 Blu-ray Anime Review

9 min read

The journey continues with new mysteries coming to light!

What They Say:
Gran and the crew land in the beautiful Auguste Isles. But they are immediately greeted by foul-smelling slime on the shore and a disquieting mood in town. They meet Eugen, an agent and old acquaintance of Rackam, who explains that the Erste Empire is responsible for Auguste’s current state. That’s when Lyria begins to hear the faint call of a primal beast…

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 three/four 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 the main two players and the show mascot 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:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of this two-cour season of Granblue Fantasy was one that worked well enough for me but didn’t quite nail down something distinctive. I liked the general ideas that were put into play and certainly the animation, but it lacked that oomph it needed to be really engaging. With this batch of episodes it gets us a bit closer to that with a more thought out arc and then some plain bonus OVA silliness that delivers the kind of goofy fun that’s a nice way to close things out while waiting for the next set. Granblue Fantasy does give me some of what I’m looking for overall though with a fantasy series that avoids being from another world or really overplaying the fanservice and all. In the end, however, it’s no Record of Lodoss War and the search continues for me.

The show spends a little standalone-ish time at first here with the group doing a resupply run on an island but end up split up for a while. This has them taking on a job and helping out a few folks along the way but it’s a largely forgettable episode. Mostly it just works to continue furthering the bonds that exist and how tied some of them are to each other as well as the generally good natured aspect of their personalities. These are important episodes in creating that overall persona for the cast even if the actual story material is pretty light and simple. It works in that way but it’s easy to see why they tend to not stand out. I did like seeing some of the magical aspects of it unfold as the animation for it is good and an underground dungeon-ish adventure is always fun.

What dominates the rest of this set in terms of the main episodes and not the OVAs is the journey to the Auguste Isles as they continue their larger journey. This place is definitely appealing as it’s a massive city that’s done up like Venice but if it was more like twenty stories high or so. It’s visually appealing all around and it introduces us to Eugen, a leader there that knows Rackam. This makes for some fun bonding between the two to be revisited as they hang out and we see the somewhat more grizzled leader in Eugen amused that it’s Gran that’s leading the group when he figured it would be Rackam. It’s a nice way of looking at how Rackam has changed over the years and that he’s not really interested in that kind of position, for a range of understandable reasons, and is just working the journey and enjoying the company.

The dispersal of the group at first is familiar but I like that io ends up spending her time helping in the infirmary with a lot of wound people dealing with the problems of the area as the darkness created by the Empire is threatening them. We get Gran and Lyria going off to shop for supplies and explore the city with some sightseeing while, amusingly enough, Katalina ends up putting in to cook. Suffice to say, that does not go well, but I liked that it left time for Eugen and Rackam to talk and just to reinforce that kinds of things a magical healer should be doing in areas like this in helping out. It cements a bond between all of them and many residents as well and it helps them to feel more connected to the city, which is important because you know that the Empire is going to be all over them again soon enough.

There are a few stories that take place across this arc and a lot of it focuses on Lyria as she gets kidnapped by the Empire along the way and put into a bad headspace because of how everything in her life has gone down. The reinforcement of her just being a tool really undercuts the progress that she’s made and it has Gran and the rest doing their best to remind her that they’ve all been better for knowing her, not worse. The action amid it all is good, particularly with the sea dragon that gets involved and ties to the darker things that the Empire is doing, but just getting into Lyria’s head and understanding more of why she’s in such a bad place and has spent as much time as she has refusing to look back at her own past is understandable. Gran’s good for being able to try and get through to her with some of this because he is simple and honest and the connection they share shines nicely here.

This release does come with the two OVAs, one of which was broadcast and the other that was tied to the Japanese home video release. Both are full-length episodes that serve as side stories, filler in some ways, that expands on the nature of the cast. They’re just as well animated and it was the kind of light and fluffy fun that delighted me more than I expected. The first one is an all-beach episode which means lots of swimsuits and fanservice but it avoids being really perverted, which is nice. Seeing the cast together like this is fun since they’re unguarded, outside of Katalina, and with a sense of freedom that’s infectious. The second OVA plays up the Halloween aspect of things with the group visiting a place just as that’s happening, which means lots of costumes, lots of fanservice, and lots of trick or treat comedy bits. It does lean into an area where they help a kid whose dealing with the loss of his father and the way they resolve it is kind of creepy since it presumes every ghost that revisits will be happy to see people, but they cover it with just enough of an angle so that it sidesteps all of those problems.

In Summary:
Granblue Fantasy has a pretty solid run of episodes in its main storyline here as it continues the journey for everyone and it’s pretty enjoyable. It’s still lacking a certain something to take it to the next level and part of that is that the whole thing, even when working the action elements, feels too relaxed. It doesn’t have the tension it needs to be exciting, which is problematic. The OVA episodes are a delightful treat and the main storyline works better than I thought it would after the first set. Aniplex USA has put together another really great looking release that will please fans with the packaging and pack-ins while also putting together a solid dub and a great looking encode.

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: July 17th, 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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