Spring 2017 Season Wrap: Grimoire of Zero, Anonymous Noise, & Granblue Fantasy

I finished this post while on the plane to Los Angeles for Anime Expo, and I’ve never before seen a plane so full of anime fans. Their energy was pretty infectious, and I felt more motivated than usual to write. Hopefully I’ll have another one of these while I’m out of town this weekend! 

*Rating system:

  • 0 dango – average and forgettable.
  • 1 dango – very good in its category.
  • 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
  • 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.

Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho

The first of three fantasy adventure series this season, and the second featuring witches, Zero no Syo used magic and those who wield it as the main catalyst to a country’s feuding. The group we follow is relatively small–at first a witch and the beastman mercenary she convinces to help her, then not too later a boy witch aiming for the mercenary’s head. With these three, we learn about a kingdom of humans, witches, and beastfallen who stand mostly at odds with one another. As serious as this all sounds, much of the show is lighthearted. The banter between Zero, the witch searching for her missing magic book, and Mercenary, the white tiger beastfallen, sounds something like a master and student, or a more experienced woman and unmarried young man. Their chemistry drives the show, and is the main reason why I enjoyed watching so much.

The clear goal of our group to find the book helps streamline the story, which paces well for a single cours of twelve episodes. We could have easily gone on a tangent about Mercernary or Holdem, another beastfallen our group includes near the end, but the show tells only what is necessary for the main plot line. In this way, we’re able to reach a peaceful solution at the end promoting negotiation between humans and witches. Unfortunately, beastfallen receive little resolution–this was another thread that could have gone on much longer than it did.

As much as I commend the series on finding common ground for its characters and remaining positive, I did find it too forgiving in a couple of areas. Holdem, a wolf beastfallen, first enters the scene as a villain who enslaves women for supposedly sexual purposes, claiming he is “saving” them as witches even though they are regular humans. Zero and Mercenary teach him a comical and painful lesson, but I see very little remorse from him for his actions. Later when he joins the group, it seems like we’re supposed to see him in a new light, as noble, even likable. I almost found myself falling for it. Then there’s the main antagonist, Thirteen. While, yes, he steps up for punishment and does what he can to right his wrongs, he, too, shows little sorrow for the chaos he has caused. He goes so far as to admit that he would do it all again if Zero lost affection for the world. We leave him with the hope that he will never have to keep that promise, but I just can’t sit right with him.

I doubt we will ever know what happens with everyone afterward–if Mercenary will ever become human again, if Albus will grow to become as revered and wise a witch as Sorena, if Thirteen will come to love the world and all its inhabitants–but that’s okay with me. There’s no hint of a continuation, and there’s no need for one.

Rating: 1 dango

Fukumenkei Noise

Anonymous Noise ended in a very similar place to where it started, on the starting line of a race to fame, only this time on a larger scale. Instead of a side-stage festival showing, In No Hurry aims for the top of the music world where the stage is bigger, the crowd larger, and their reach endless. They aren’t satisfied resting on their popularity and small but significant successes. This forward-looking stance positively affects two of our main characters, Nino and Yuzu, while also negatively impacting Momo’s life.

But these future plans don’t come about until the end. Until then, this show revels in standard shoujo fare of romance triangles, growing up, and finding oneself. It may sound familiar for those of us so inclined to the genre, but it’s actually been a while since I’ve seen a story that so well follows the tropes, and in mostly a good way: “What’s old is new again.” As cliche as love triangles are, I admit to finding them exciting in possibility. I usually support the underdog, the “nice guy” who more than likely fails–not all the time, but often enough to make me agonize.

Nino as a protagonist is stubborn and focused. She’s tangled up in childhood memories long past what’s normal; I don’t recall at her age having any strong ties to events from 10 or so years prior. Most people can’t even remember exact details from elementary school. Yet there she is, pining after a young love that taught her to sing loud and proud. Nino actually annoyed me for a good few episodes with her persistent singing of “Twinkle twinkle, little star.” The amount she wails it aloud annoys more than the other melody she sings with a singular “la.” The show does make it apparent fairly early on, however, that as gifted as her pipes are, she is unschooled in the art. We see and hear her noticeably improve as she practices with In No Hurry, grow my stronger lungs and better controlling her tone and range.

Yuzu and Momo are both composers and musicians, tending respectively toward rock and pop. They also both write with Nino’s voice in mind, her sound, her smile. Their popularity with listeners speaks well of their skills and devotion to their art and love. I’m not usually a fan of pop rock like In No Hurry, but I am easily sucked into each performance with Nino’s wild singing and the band’s overall look of face masks and eye patches. Standard art and animation aside, the show still infuses their songs with an addictive energy.

Again typical to the genre, no real romantic resolution can be found here. We end up back at separation and denial, so there’s plenty of room for a sequel should the chance arise. If that does happen, I’ll be there cheering on In No Hurry and Yuzu’s character.

Rating: 1 dango

Granblue Fantasy The Animation

Granblue truly ended at episode twelve, with thirteen being a bonus episode re-imagining our crew with a female protagonist instead of Gran. I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was, given how odd I thought it that the penultimate episode felt so complete as an ending. When episode thirteen, “another sky,” began, I was thrown off guard by the girl warrior discovering Lyria just like Gran did in the beginning. This bonus episode is the swimsuit episode we never received earlier in the season, which I could have gone without, but I’m sure plenty of you would appreciate! I will admit that Katalina looks pretty awesome in a bikini.

This game turned anime could have so easily gone the blah route, but was surprisingly entertaining and well written. Like Zero no Syo, Granblue is a straightforward fantasy adventure with a clear path in mind from the start. We have a magical girl with the ability to calm mythical beasts, and a boy who dreams of following his father as a sky adventurer. Obviously Lyria and Gran will pair up, roaming place to place and calming beasts as they go. Although the direction felt scripted, the story maintained a resilience that stayed boredom and convinced me to care about our characters. I imagined what it would be like to be part of their crew, and what role I would take, just like what any decent role playing game would do.

Rating: 0 dango

6 thoughts on “Spring 2017 Season Wrap: Grimoire of Zero, Anonymous Noise, & Granblue Fantasy

  1. I enjoyed Zero no Sho, but also found that it kept itself very superficial. And rather than being superficial because there’s nothing deeper in the story (some stories are about as deep as a reflecting pool), it was more like it was superficial because that’s what the writers and directors wanted to do. Like there were times that you expected a deeper dive into a side character based on your history of TV watching, and it was like “Nope, let’s move on to this other part of the big story.” And while that did a good job getting the main story done and dusted, by the end it kinda left the characters feeling like plastic 3D models being pushed around – Not as flat as cardboard cutouts, but not really alive.

    I found Thirteen’s character to be consistent, and didn’t mind his heel-face turn as much as other people, because it felt in keeping with what his motivation really was. And it could have gone either way. If he had come out and said “I was tired of living in your shadow, and wanted to be the head honcho”, you’d have believed that as well.

    So I liked the show for what it was, and recognize that it could have been something different, but unlike some other shows, I don’t know that something different would necessarily have been better.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It would have been interesting to see how the producers would have worked Zero no Syo into a two-cours show, if there was enough material to cover that many episodes. If they could have elaborated further on the whole Beastfallen existence, or spent more time strengthening the bond between Zero and Mercenary, I don’t think I would have complained. It’s hard of course to say for sure, but there are times like these where I would be willing to go out on a limb of experimentation. None of the characters really resonated with me outside of Zero, with Mercenary mostly being a fluffy visual I enjoyed.


  2. For me the main draw of Zero kara was the character dynamics between Zero and the Mercenary. Other than that the story itself was just “only okay” for me.

    I also felt awkward about what they did with Holdem and Thirteen, but that could be chalked up to the source material, perhaps.Yetf rom what I understand White Fox only adapted one volume of the source material and stretched it out, though. Perhaps the awkwardness of the character presentations were due to the adaptation choices and the “extra” material added?

    Curiously though, in terms of fantasy series I enjoyed Granblue as a whole production more than Zero Kara, while the duo from Zero Kara interested me more than anyone in Granblue. Go figure! One small plus for me in Granblue’s favor as well were the OP (perhaps my fave OP of the Spring season?) and ED.

    Err … yeah … I am kinda biased to things like that, or rather, OST elements carry quite a bit of weight in evaluating a series as a whole for me. This is one of the contributing reasons why, for example, SukaSuka worked so well for me even though the OP and ED were sorta unremarkable for me – the OST on a whole was positively delightful for my tastes. ^^

    Fukumeki Noise … well … I dropped it after one ep, so not much I can say about that one.


    • I wonder why they only adapted the one volume…perhaps they weren’t sure if this story was enough to grip audience loyalty and make itself worthwhile over multiple seasons. It annoys me though, since we have so many magical school light novel adaptations with multiple seasons taking up the slots I think would best be devoted to more experimental works, say, a second season of Zero no Syo.

      Granblue really was a surprise to me. I even enjoyed the visuals, despite them not doing anything groundbreaking with animation or art style. What did you think of the extra last episode and the sex swap?


  3. I haven’t finished Fukumenkei Noise yet, I’m on about episode 10. It’s just so rich in teen melodrama that I can’t watch more than one at a time. But the thing I love about it is Nino’s singing. Like I’ve said before, I’ll listen to Saori Hayami sing just about anything, and I just love the way she sings these songs, raw and emotional. It’s not about tone, she can definitely do that. For these songs it’s about feeling it.

    The story of it is pretty mediocre. Not just one but two commercially successful teen bands? Momo’s a pain in the butt so far, but the rest of the characters are ok. And the “Yuzu can’t sing” thing is just ridiculous. But for overbaked melodrama, it’s all there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It doesn’t look like you had any takers on your blog for coverage on Fukumenkei Noise. I can completely understand why, though, since the show is almost all love triangle angst. Nino’s singing grew on me, but that’s probably because of her improvement over the episodes. I loved the way the show depicted her singing with all her being, putting all of her body into it. She’s not only entertaining to listen to, but powerful to watch.


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