Series Recommendation: Granbelm – Mahou Shoujo Battle Royale

Does the world need magic?
Or is it a tool to manipulate the ignorant dolls?

The Mahou Shoujo genre is an extreme one, they can be super duper happy or just downright horrifying. That’s when Mecha came in. The majority of Mecha Mahou Shoujo shows have been uplifting (while there is still drama, but their overall tones was bright, like Rayearth). And that’s where Granbelm smashes down all the walls and open a literally new world.

Ancient mage families, fighting for a supreme magical power that can grant wishes in a battle royale (but there’s NO historical figures involve okay?). Innocent schoolgirl Mangetsu was enjoying her daily life when suddenly she got transported to the battlefield between the mages. There, she met Shingetsu – a participant of the battle royale and befriended her. After the fateful encounter, Mangetsu got drawn into the vicious battle between sorceresses from many noble families for the ultimate power. How will the duo deal with the war? What is their wishes? And what is actually at stake?

+ Plot: Reading the tagline probably make you feel ominous. And believe me, it is. The story is full of twists and turns that will shoot you up like an atmosphere cannon then drop you down like an orbital drop pod. The story is executed so well that all the plot holes are very minor and quickly forgotten to make place for the adrenaline rush. For a 12-episode series, Granbelm delivered a completely encapsulated story. It does not need any prequel, does not need a sequel (though it would be nice if we get one). Overall, story is one of the strong point of the series.

+ Animation: Beautiful. Studio Nexus showed us that Sunrise isn’t the only powerhouse when it comes to 2D mecha. The character animation is decent like other anime, but the mecha combat really shines. The Armanox (name of the mechs) move really fluidly and naturally. Thanks to it being SD-style, the animation is less complicated. But even so, seeing how the mechs move and the in-combat perspective switch is really breathtaking.

+ Mecha Design: courtesy of Jimmy Stone, a veteran mecha animator. The Armanox designs remind me of Wataru but less warrior-ish and more magical. Each design has a unique feel to it especially the latter ones. My favorite however is the flaming Aconite Gris. Jimmy is really great at making rounded, curvy design pop. The Armanoxes are both simplistic but also rich in personality reflecting their owner.

Music: Eir Aoi really delivered. The OP song is super good, and it hyped you up for the episode knowing you gonna get some plot twists soon enough. The ending is quite emotional as well, just like other Mahou Shoujo series.

+ Conclusion: Granbelm is a great series that came like a storm. It completely took over the best mecha anime of the season despite Symphogear XV airing at the same season. Granbelm contains everything for a good series: well-written story, nicely developed characters, awesome mecha designs, badass fight scenes and top-tier music. I really recommend this series.

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