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Anime / Granbelm

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It had been nearly 1,000 years since all the magic in the world disappeared, and most people had forgotten it ever existed. Kohinata Mangetsu is a cheerful high school student who has a pretty positive outlook on life, but she has nothing to call her own — Because she wasn't good at academics or sports, she dreamed of having something she was good at. On a night where the full moon was shining brightly, she happens to meet another girl with the character for "moon" in her name named Shingetsu Ernesta Fukami. That was also when she encountered the mechanical dolls called "ARMANOX."

Granbelm is an original anime by Studio Nexus, directed by Watanabe Masaharu and scripted by Hanada Jukki, with music by Suehiro Ken'ichirō. It aired in the Summer 2019 season.

This anime is not to be confused with the similarly-sounding Granblue.

Tropes for the anime

  • Ambiguous Ending: The story ends with a transfer student joining the class Shingetsu is sitting in and the ethereal glow on Shingetsu due to being doomed to live forever but never exist disappears. While her narration and reaction hints that it may be Mangetsu reborn, the episode ends before showing the girl's face or if people can see Shingetsu.
  • Awful Truth: A two-layered one for the main characters. Magiaconatus was actually manipulating Shingetsu's life since her birth, and is responsible for most of the bad things that happened in her life. It also created Mangetsu, actually an Artificial Human able to live in the world because everyone else has been given Fake Memories, just because Shingetsu wanted a friend.
  • Badass Adorable: The participants of Granbelm are powerful mages capable of starting epic fights with their mechas, and thanks to Shinichirou Ootsuka designs, they all look utterly adorable.
  • Bad Moon Rising: The full moon appears blood-red when GRANBELM is about to begin.
  • Big Fancy House:
    • The Fugo family lives in a very nice mansion. Makes sense, since as far as mages are concerned they are effectively former nobility.
    • The Tsuchimikado sisters also live in big house for similar reasons, with the only difference that it’s a Big Fancy Japanese House, contrasting with the Western mansion of the Fugo family.
  • Big "NO!": Mangetsu, upon succumbing to her Superpowered Evil Side in her battle against Nene in Episode 5.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Shingetsu ended up getting rid of magic in the final episode, ending her long and tragic journey, but at the cost of being unable to revive those who died in GRANBELM with the current timeline forever locked in place and Shingetsu herself being stuck in limbo, not being able to die and unable to interact with anyone due to her presence being unstable. She seems fine with the result.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 11 serves as a breather for the climax, following Episode 10. This is Downplayed though as while the tone is definitely lighter than the prior episode, there are still several serious and sad moments throughout the episode and the ending is bittersweet.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: There is no tournament to decide who will be the sole mage of the world. Magiaconatus, the mechanism holding all the magic in the world, already decided who it wanted since the beginning of its candidate's life, and has been manipulating events and helping its heir secretly to prepare her. The tournament is merely a final exam.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: While there's a few serious moments, the anime starts with a mostly lighthearted and comedic, if somewhat slightly ominous tone. Then it proceeds to get increasingly dark, starting with Mangetsu's Superpowered Evil Side, and then Anna's tragic backstory and Ret-Gone, before completely dropping the lighthearted and comedic tone in Episode 10, although things soften up a bit in Episode 11.
  • Child Mage: All the participants of Granbelm, with the exception of Nene, who was one years ago anyway.
  • Color-Coded Characters: While their magic crystals don't correspond to their theme colours, each girl has a specific colour that her mech, weapons, battle outfit, and merchandise use: white (Mangetsu), black (Shingetsu), red (Anna), blue (Suishou), pink (Kuon), green (Nene), and teal (Rosa).
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Shingetsu dresses in black as a mage and her ARMANOX is dark purple, but she fights to erase magic and end the Granbelm fight for good as the magical tournament has brought nothing but misfortune and sorrow to the world.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Anna's mother will let her be a mage, but only because she has no other choice because Shingetsu ran away. She refuses to waste all but the family's smallest crystal on Anna and tries to tell her she's untalented and will only suffer in the life of a mage from a prominent family. Anna, of course, blames Shingetsu and believes that her mother would recognize her as a prodigy if only Shingetsu didn't exist.
  • Fiery Redhead: Anna is basically in a constant state of Unstoppable Rage, especially when in combat.
  • Floral Theme Naming: All the ARMANOX names have a flower, usually symbolic of the pilot.
    • WHITE LILY: White lilies signify Mangetsu's purity, innocence, and devotion, as well as the fact that she's pretty obviously in love with Shingetsu.
    • VIOLA KATZE: Viola is another flower that brings to mind innocence and modesty, underlying Shingetsu's commonality with Mangetsu. It also relates to spirituality and mysticism, and Shingetsu is a very talented mage, enough that Anna's mother claims she must be favoured by gods and she is favoured by Magiaconatus.
    • SETSUGETSU BAIKA: Baika, or plum blossoms, bloom in winter and thus symbolize the kind of perseverance and hope that Kuon is known for. They also symbolize mono no aware, or the idea that nothing is permanent. Kuon joins GRANBELM after every other mage, over a year into the fight, and is killed in action and erased from history.
    • JI GUAN LONG: While this is the Odd Name Out (it just means "laser dragon"), it's also a pun in Chinese: ji guo lan, which sounds similar, is a Tinospora root commonly used in herbal medicine. Something overlooked compared to flowers reflects a sniper that keeps to the shadows, and Nene is also seeking a cure, being cursed not to age as well as having lost her mother to a family takeover that either erased her memory or made her pretend it had to protect her children.
    • ACONITE GRIS: Aconite is wolfsbane, a toxic plant that symbolizes hatred and death and is used in floriography to warn of enemies. Anna is consumed by hatred and a wish to destroy Shingetsu above all else. "Aconite" is kept when her ARMANOX is reconstructed; ACONITE RENATA simply means "wolfsbane reborn," and everything the flower signifies is magnified just as much as Anna's power is when she absorbs the stone.
    • CREST ANTHURIUM: Anthurium symbolizes luck, long-lasting friendship, and hospitality, which Rosa wanted but never got; when CREST ANTHURIUM is destroyed, Rosa loses GRANBELM, is shunned by Anna (whom she wanted to respect her), and can no longer stay in the mansion. Lucky for her, all that is reversed when Anna is Ret-Gone and Rosa takes her place, able to appreciate the love Anna threw away.
    • DROSELA NOCTURNE: Drosera, or sundew, is a deceptive carnivorous plant, so its traditional meaning is "surprise" because it's not what it appears. Suishou goes from a Brilliant, but Lazy Enigmatic Minion who puts on a cutesy, unassuming act to backstabbing Anna, manipulating her and Kuon to their deaths, and revealing herself as the Big Bad.
  • Foreshadowing: In Episode 6 Suishou sings a lullaby about a theater of puppets. It's not until much later that it becomes clear that she was referring to Granbelm, since all the participants are being manipulated by Magiaconatus, with their "roles" having already been decided: Shingetsu is meant to surpass all the difficulties and win, Suishou herself is meant to be the Final Boss, Mangetsu is meant to be Shingetsu's friend and partner in battle, everyone else is just there to test Shingetsu.
  • Gamer Chick: Nene and her two sisters treat the whole battle like a video game, complete with detailed stats on the mechs involved. In episode 4, she stays up late playing something similar to Tetris.
  • Genre Mashup: Magical Girl plus Super Robot.
  • Genre Throwback: The ARMANOX being Super-Deformed brings to mind all of the Humongous Mecha Anime with Super-Deformed mecha in the 90s, like the Mashin Hero Wataru Series, NG Knight Lamune & 40, Lord of Lords: Ryu Knight, Mado King Granzort and RPG Densetsu Hepoi.
  • Humans Are Flawed: Suishou reveals that humans were the ones who not only came up with magic in the first place but also ended up sealing it away due to the harmful potential it possesses. She even notes that even if magic were to disappear, humans would find another way to create something similarly destructive, which is something Shingetsu acknowledges but claims that she'll trust humans to learn from their mistakes.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Episode 6 ends with Anna seemingly mending her ways and finally opening up to Shingetsu and Mangetsu after a lengthy pep talk from both her mother and Shingetsu. Then come The Stinger, and we see Anna has clearly gone off the deep end...
    • There's another in Episode 10. Kuon seemingly overpowers Suishou in combat and defeats her by stabbing her with Shisui's sword, only to have Suishou calmy pull out the blade and stab Kuon with it, killing her.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Goes back and forth like this multiple times in Shingetsu and Anna's big showdown. Subverted at one point when it seems that Shingetsu has summoned a second giant familiar, which Anna thought impossible, but it turns out to be a literal mirage made to distract her.
  • Improbably Female Cast: Aside from men occasionally showing up in the background, there are no male characters at all.
  • Inconsistent Spelling: The Fugo and Rin families are occasionally spelled as Hugo and Lin in official sources, but they mostly go with the former. Same with Clare/Claire (while she's probably intended to be Clare after St. Clare, the patron saint of psychics, one character sheet called her Claire). DROSELA NOCTURNE and SETSGETS BAIKA are the official spellings of those ARMANOX, even though they are named for Drosera and setsugetsu.
  • Jumped at the Call: Mangetsu feels insignificant to the point that she feels that the world could care less if she existed or not, she takes on a lot of the unwanted duties from her classmates and makes them bentos every day to give her life a meaning. She downplays the jump in that she was so utterly shocked and surprised that she is a mage selected to fight in GRANBELM that she almost gave away her magic stone to Shingetsu. Ultimately, Mangetsu holds onto it and decides to continue fighting because, deep down, she finally has a chance to become somebody special and would have regretted letting it pass.
  • "Leave Your Quest" Test: As a last resort, Suishou gives Shingetsu a preview of the "reward" she'll get if she goes through with erasing magic from the world—she would end up only halfway-existing, unnoticed by anyone and unable to die, for the rest of time. She could just become the Mage like Magiaconatus wanted, and that wouldn't happen. This threat doesn't faze her, though. Whether the actual result is truly this tragic is unclear.
  • Light Is Good: Zigzagged. Mangetsu's ARMANOX is white and gold but when she powers up, huge demonic eyes appear on it, and she loses control of herself as she goes on a berserker rampage of doom.
  • Little Miss Badass: The girls participating in the magic tournament featuring magical robot fights are at high school or even younger. Nene is the only adult among them, and she is stuck with the body of a child.
  • Magical Girl Genre Deconstruction: The Magical Girls summon mecha instead of frilly outfits, but Magic is clearly a subversive and malevolent force that has ruined many girls lives for generations.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: They're called ARMANOX and are powered and controlled by magic.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Apparently, not concentrating properly when leaving the dream dimension tends to deliver you to Shingetsu's bed... naked. This becomes especially awkward when it happens to Mangetsu and Kuon on the same night.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Anna's Sanity Slippage could have been avoided if her mother and Shingetsu had been upfront with her about her lack of talent in magic and how Shingetsu was secretly helping her when they were kids. Sadly, by the time they decide to be honest it's too late to do anything, and Anna ends up being erased from existence.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Both a heroic and a villainous example. On the heroic side, we have Red Oni Mangetsu, very friendly and open about her emotions, contrasting with Blue Oni Shingetsu, who is calmer and more reserved about what she feels. On the villainous side, Anna, the obsessive Screaming Warrior, is the Red Oni while the manipulative and coldhearted Suishou is the Blue Oni. Coincidentally, Anna and Suishou even have the appropriate hair colors.
  • Rose-Haired Sweetie: Mangetsu has pink hair, and is a nice girl who makes lunch for her classmates.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Suishou runs for the hills after Shingetsu incapacitates Anna, leaving Rosa alone.
  • Secret Test of Character: Pretty much everything bad that happened in Shingetsu's life was part of a test by Magiaconatus to mold her into a mage with both great powers and a fitting character to inherit all magic in the world. Even Granbelm is just another test.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The End Card, which Mangetsu and Shingetsu on the shoulder of an ARMANOX recalls the most famous Key Visual of Magic Knight Rayearth.
    • In the last two episodes, Shingetsu awakens a new magical power that allows her to predict where the next attack from her opponent will come from, symbolized by a flash of lightning passing through her head. In other words, she basically became a Newtype. To make it even more obvious, she uses it to dodge Attack Drones.
    • Suishou's death scene is virtually identical to Scirocco's death in the last episode of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.
  • Signature Headgear: Interestingly enough, all participants of Granbelm (except Rosa, who is an Advertised Extra anyway) wear something in their hair.
  • Solemn Ending Theme: Episode 7 ends with "Scenery", which plays during Anna's final defeat. It also plays again in Episode 11.
  • The Stinger: Episodes 6 and 9 end with one.
  • Summon Magic: Mages can form a bond with spirits and call for their help during battle.
  • Super-Deformed: The ARMANOX, which have more scrunched designs than typical Humongous Mecha.
  • Super Robot Genre: The first episode leaves no room for doubts. The mecha of the anime are created and attack with magic, and the characters control them with their imagination.
  • Tarot Troubles: Anna's sister Clare does a reading in episode 6 that has all kinds of red flags, topped off with drawing "Nothingness," which ties into the show's common refrain of characters having nothing or being nothing.
  • There Can Be Only One: The whole (stated) reason for GRANBELM is to decide—via magical combat—who gets to be the sole magic-user in the world.
    • Played with. There can be only one, but the winner is chosen since the beginning and the "tournament" is just a trial in disguise to test the chosen one's determination.
  • The Thunderdome: An entire pocket-dimension where mages can fight at full strength, unlike the normal world, where magic is highly suppressed.
  • Tulpa: Mangetsu, created subconsciously by Shingetsu.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 8 brings a lot of surprises for the viewers: Anna gets Ret-Gone after losing to Shingetsu, adding a dose of lethality to the tournament. Kuon confirms that Suishou was the one who cursed her sister, and she may be on the way to become the next victim. And Nene discovers large magical readings that should not exist in the modern world coming from Mangetsu and her younger sister Kibou.
    • Episode 10 is also this, with Mangetsu being revealed to be a doll created to be Shingetsu's companion by the Magiaconatus, and her then being partially erased from existence. It also has Kuon being killed by Suishou, which results in Shisui not being comatose in the new timeline. On top of all this, Suishou is implied to be some extremely powerful being with the ability to teleport and stop time.
    • Episode 12: Mangetsu is completely destroyed by Suishou.
  • Wham Shot: In The Stinger of Episode 9. After White Lily is impaled, the skin of Mangetsu's hand starts peeling away, revealing the hand of a doll.
  • Wrong Assumption: When she suddenly finds herself in an unknown place where girls are fighting using magic (and robots), Mangetsu assumes she is in a Trapped in Another World situation. Shingetsu quickly corrects her wrong idea. The girls are in an "illusory" world and are transported there only when it's time to fight each other.
  • Wrong Context Magic: Mangetsu's magic is relatively normal in and of itself, but the others can't understand how she has magic without a mage's bloodline. This is because she is actually an Artificial Human created by the Magiaconatus to help Shingetsu win the Granbelm.