“The Masked Cypher Descends! / A Tale of St. Albion Girls’ Academy”
Luchador Gran faces off against Titan in a pro-wrestling match. Djeeta has entered Albion Academy and can’t help falling for Katalina-senpai, like literally every other member of the cast.
The Granblue Fantasy OVAs have been exactly what everyone wants: frivolous side stories that give the creators an excuse to animate Djeeta, making an attempt to right the wrong of not picking her for the main story. The fourth edition leans even further into the series’ sense of humor and I think it works well enough for me to forgive them for using Gran for half of it.
The first segment of the episode does indeed use Luchador Gran and I’m not entirely clear why. I guess Gran’s design is closer to an “actual” luchador than Djeeta’s, but either one would have worked here. That aside, it’s a pretty fun pro wrestling bit that goes about exactly the way you’d expect. It’s a loud, intense match filled with big shifts in momentum and a dramatic final pin to win the match. Not bad.
The second segment does bring back Djeeta, and I don’t know why it took me so long to realize this was one of Lowain’s fantasies. It’s an original premise with the Albion academy setting, but it goes the same as any other Lowain & Bros daydream. Vira gets jealous of the attention Katalina is getting, she turns into a giant robot, everyone eventually dies. I do appreciate Djeeta standing up for Vira in the end, as the series has done their best to move Vira away from the stereotypical psycho lesbian stalker that she started as. But maybe that’s just coming from me, the guy who actually collected all the Viras in the game, including buying a volume of the anime just for her promo version…
MOVING ON, I also appreciated the super robot battle (nice End of Evangelion reference) but that part in particular reminded me how much the visual quality of the series dropped when they moved production to MAPPA. It looks fine, but it doesn’t quite “feel” like Granblue Fantasy. I’ve had the same little voice in the back of my head for all of season 2 telling me “this would have looked so much better if A-1 Pictures was doing it”. Season 1 looked so good and did such a great job emulating the mood of the game that I will never get over this.
Overall this was a pretty fun episode, but perhaps the most important thing it does is whet our appetite for the upcoming Grand Blues! anime. While the main game can get silly sometimes, Grand Blues! goes to the next level. It is essentially the Carnival Phantasm of Granblue Fantasy, perhaps even a bit weirder the more I think about it. So there is at least one show I am looking forward to next season.