Granbelm

Tagged: TV

Japanese animated tv series (2019). Nexus. Directed by Masaharu Watanabe. Written by Jukki Hanada. Voice cast includes Yoko Hikasa, Manaka Iwami, Yurika Kubo, Miyuri Shimabukuro, Atsumi Tanezaki and Aoi Yuuki. Thirteen 24-minute episodes. Colour.

High-schooler Mangetsu Kohinata (Shimabukuro) suddenly finds herself in an unfamiliar landscape where giant Mecha controlled by teenage girls are fighting. One, Shingetsu Ernesta Fukami, (Tanezaki), comes to her assistance but is surprised when Mangetsu acquires her own mecha. Shingetsu explains that a thousand years ago Magic was deemed too dangerous for humanity so the senior mages locked it in a floating island called the Magiaconatus. Young girls from the few remaining magical families now compete in a Mecha tournament, called Granbelm; the winner will become Princeps mage, able to control the powers of the Magiaconatus.

Shingetsu was adopted by the family of another participant, Anna Fugo (Hikasa): once close, Anna has become violently jealous of Shingetsu's powers. Also competing are Nene Rin (Kubo), a young adult who works with her sisters and Computers to devise tactics, treating the competition like a Videogame; plus Kuon Tsuchimikado (Iwami) and the series antagonist, Suishou Hakamada (Yuuki). Shingetsu confesses her intention is to eradicate all magic, putting an end to the hatred and jealousy it has caused.

The show is initially a straightforward story of the cast's lives in the real world, interrupted each full moon by their mecha battles – until the apparent villain, Anna, is defeated and all trace of her is erased from the real world (see Memory Edit). Later Kuon is erased too, whilst Mangetsu only avoids this fate because Nene works out what is going on and temporarily stabilizes her. Nene has also deduced that Mangetsu is not human: she is a doll, created with memories and emotions by the Magiaconatus. Suishou was also fabricated, but is aware of her state: for a thousand years she has fought and beaten all other candidates, expecting one day to become Princeps mage having proven no human is suitable for the post; but she exists only as a test, created to ensure only the fittest human can win. Though Shingetsu is victorious and orders the end of magic, there is a suggestion that Suishou's final words – that Shingetsu will betray herself because she is human – might have some truth.

A combination of two of the biggest Anime genres, Magical Girl and Mecha, the presence of the latter and Nene's analytical approach are the main sf elements in what is predominately a fantasy; though the landscapes the Magiaconatus creates frequently have an other-worldly appearance and magic itself is often represented by clockwork and geometric forms. The mecha themselves are undistinguished, the show's main points of interest being the characters, the events following the Conceptual Breakthrough and, in the last few episodes, some of the visuals. [SP]

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