GRANBELM is a thirteen episode original anime. The director for the series was Masaharu Watanabe, and the writer was Jukki Hanada. The studio that produced the anime was Nexus.
GRANBELM aired as part of the summer 2019 season of anime, and is available to watch on Crunchyroll.
GRANBELM brings together three different genres: mecha, magical girl and battle royale. GRANBELM itself is a tournament that mages compete in, where the winner becomes the Princeps Mage. A girl by the name of Mangetsu Kohinata soon finds out that she is a mage, and ends up participating in GRANBELM.Now to focus on the mecha aspect of the show. There are a couple of key points here, with the first being the designs of the giant robots, or ARMANOX as they are called. Compared to more traditional giant robots, they are on the super deformed – or SD – side. Some might even call them “chibi Gundams”.
It is a style that certainly helps GRANBELM stand out, though perhaps it may take some getting used to. However, that doesn’t really matter when the ARMANOX are in action; every GRANBELM battle that takes place is a visual treat.The second key point to bring up here is that the ARMANOX are animated in 2D. It is easy to tell that there has been a lot of passion been put into GRANBELM. The battle scenes are certainly a big draw when it comes to this show, but that is not the only area where it excels.GRANBELM‘s characters all shine pretty brightly, too. Mangetsu Kohinata and Shingetsu Ernesta Fukami play the role of the main characters, and plenty of time is spent on the two of them interacting with each other, and other characters outside of GRANBELM. A particular recurring highlight are the somewhat introspective conversations between Mangetsu and Shingetsu.
GRANBELM does a pretty good job of balancing out its fast paced action scenes with the quieter character moments. Whilst Mangetsu and Shingetsu are a highlight of that, the other characters all get their moments. In some cases, they are better served in supporting roles, rather than battling in GRANBELM.One of those said characters is anything but quiet. Anna Fugo is voiced by Yoko Hikasa, and she gives some incredible screams as the character. Anna is effectively a seething mass of rage, and Yoko Hikasa does an incredible job portraying that. Recording sessions for Anna must have been quite the endurance test for Yoko Hikasa.
There is also Suishou Hakamada, voiced by Aoi Yuki. Again, another incredible performance. Everyone gives great performances, but Yoko Hikasa and Aoi Yuki just happen to stand out – even more so when you consider their roles in Symphogear XV, which aired during the same season.To start, GRANBELM doesn’t exactly seem to have high stakes; those defeated in the tournament don’t seem to face much in the way of consequences. That certainly changes as the number of GRANBELM participants dwindle; the stakes grow higher, and revelations are made.
All in all, GRANBELM is an utterly fantastic experience. You may need to be a little patient with it at first, but once things really start to kick off, this show is easily one of the best that the summer 2019 season of anime has to offer.
Incredible, 2D animated ARMANOX battles, a brilliant cast of characters and some stellar voice acting make GRANBELM a pure joy to watch.