The anime adaptation of the popular mobage Granblue Fantasy was detailed back in August 2016 as a TV series due winter season 2017. No actual information about it surfaced until Christmas, when they revealed that the winter date referred to a special one-time broadcast of an arc, and that the show proper would air next spring. A brave attempt at damage control, but hiding the truth isn’t easy.
Let me start by saying that this isn’t even being acknowledged as a delay. The news post a mere 3 weeks ago talks about the broadcast date having been established for April, with the exact same wording you’d see for any normal reveal – including Granblue’s original January broadcast one, still up on the site. This isn’t particularly surprising for a big Aniplex title; Cinderella Girls was quite obviously planned to air as two consecutive cours, something made obvious by the bluray release, and yet never mentioned when it was announced that it would be split in two halves between an Idolmaster rebroadcast as quite literal filler. Is there any proof of this or are we going to be left with the sneaking suspicion? Digging around a bit you can find the answer.
This is the Twitter profile of the always fantastic Masashi Ishihama, whose directional career is strongly linked to A-1. It mentions that he’s finishing the production of an opening sequence for spring.
And this was his Twitter profile until very recently, stating that he was working on an opening for January. With all shows where he could feasibly show up having already featured their openings and his work not having surfaced, plus his bond with A-1 being as strong as it is, this is just a matter of putting 1 and 1 together. Considering how late both the announcement and his profile change were (both during late December), the decision to postpone Granblue seems to have occurred at the very last-minute. This is further supported when you look at Saekano’s also late rebroadcast announcement, outside of the network it belongs to and with a lineup of channels that looks more like a new show premiere than a quick reair decision – chances are that those were the timeslots originally allotted to Granblue. Seeing these production issues hit this show in particular is also no surprise; Akira Takata was planned to be its chief animation director alongside Asami Komatsu, but she’s so busy (also acting as Chief Animation Director (総作画監督, Sou Sakuga Kantoku): Often an overall credit that tends to be in the hands of the character designer, though as of late messy projects with multiple Chief ADs have increased in number; moreso than the regular animation directors, their job is to ensure the characters look like they're supposed to. Consistency is their goal, which they will enforce as much as they want (and can). on Blue Exorcist on the current season, all while still having Natsume Yujincho work!) that Yuki Imoto has been sneakily added to the list of series supervisors. It seems like Granblue’s is a story of poor planning spanning beyond the show itself.
I don’t want this post to seem harsh on delays. Au contraire, if anything that’s a desirable development for anime. In an industry where lack of time wrecks projects and hurts creators who were already working under poor conditions, TV shows getting pushed back is something positive. Of course that a solidly planned, sane project would have scheduled this show for spring to begin with, but having arrived to this point this is definitely the lesser evil; if you’re impatient and think you wanted a winter Granblue with 20 animation directors and more key animators than they could list per episode, let me tell you: you didn’t actually want that, for many reasons. That said, I’m also not particularly comfortable with big companies like Aniplex getting away with hiding production problems like this. It’s perfectly understandable that they try to for PR reasons, but if their job is to appear fine then I’m going to make it part of mine to let fans know when things go wrong.
Not the brightest times for A-1 and Aniplex, who recently also saw the director Ryohei Takeshita recruiting animation directors and key animators for his project next season. Takeshita’s got respectable experience, but his major roles have been at Dogakobo where he would be surrounded by a fair number of strong animators. Having to lead Eromanga Sensei at the freelance-heavy A-1 and considering many acquaintances of his are busy, it’s easy to see how he’d struggle. One of anime’s many tales of hardships!
I suppose that the mystery now is whether the arc being broadcast ‘early’ will feature Ishihama’s opening sequence or not. He planned to finish it for winter after all!
EDIT: The special does feature it after all! Perhaps some unfinished cuts around the end, but it’s there. They went out of their way to prove this post right which is very kind of them.
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