For a show about a psychotic lesbian stalker and her oblivious victim/pet, Manaria Friends turned out to be a lot more mellow and hollow than I would have wanted or liked. Manaria Friends is a show about nothing, it is a show where princess Anne and Grea say each other’s names to themselves at least 3 times per episode and yet is too afraid to commit to an actual confirmation of their relationship beyond subtext and teasing.
Coming into the show expecting to see the relationship of future Empress Anne and Grea is a task in its futility. As said earlier, beyond some occasional psycho lesbian stalker moments, the show never really has a full grip on what it wants to call the duo’s relationship with each other. Are they just very good friends? Who knows. The show apparently isn’t interested in knowing either.
Even with such weak characters and plot, Manaria Friends does excel in one regard. Relaxation. The slow pace and focus on the environments as well as long drawn out shots of either of our protagonists soothes the mind and is the perfect remedy for a hard day in the office. Background art is vividly detailed with just the correct lighting and color palette so that it doesn’t overstimulate the senses. The brilliant soundtrack too, immerses one fully in the world of Manaria, inviting the viewer to join in.
Despite its misgivings I still thoroughly enjoyed my time with Manaria Friends. But I’ll have to look elsewhere to get my yuri cravings. It’s an alright show if you know what you’re getting into, a relaxation aid with the occasional scene here and there to tease on potential romantic developments with Empress Anne and her pet Grea that will never come. Oh well.
Yes, Manaria friends is a short series but can we like it? If you pay any attention to some critics, social media and other types of voluble anime enthusiasts will tell you that “Manaria Friends,” a side story of Shingenki no Bahamut, is a bad anime. What a boring aberration, they will say. They will tell you that it is a big disappointment and dishonors Bahamut series, I disagree.
Manaria Friends is set in the Shingenki no Bahamut world. Cygames used a gaming social event to create a manga/anime where we can appreciate the relationship between Anne, a human princess, skilled and genius with the magical powers and Grea a dragon princess, shy, with high physical strength. Since both personalities contrasts, the characters can shine in an unusual manner. For example, Anne’s loneliness is filled by Grea who sees her as a friend and not as part from royalty. We follow these two characters in the school life; they can get ill, they can get angry, they can cry, the typical student life. However, the story mixes those events with magic and other pleasant moments such as the delightful classical score. Also, the plot plays with the Yuri boundary. Sometimes we can have the impression that Anne is seeking a higher relationship with Grea, but I think that is called friendship. Loving a person does not mean that you want to have sex or to have a personal relationship, that means that you care for that person and we can observe that kind of involvement in this anime.
Another impression that you will have is the lack of plot. This issue is understandable because there is not enough source material for the animation, so Cygames recurred to some life events and created small stories condensed in short episodes. I do not see that as a problem; the series does not have the typical length, it does not need to follow the familiar series structure because they want to show some essential facts of the characters and they did it very well. Furthermore, this allows the series to have acceptable pacing from episode to episode.
On the other hand, it is hard to understand the reason for hate towards this series. The event in the game was trendy, and it was taken into a manga (2 Vols) and then into an anime. However, for the main anime series followers, the plot will be awful because there is no relationship with the previous series. The fans who are expecting to see characters from those series will be highly displeased because Manaria Friends is a side story and not sequel.
The sound and art are marvelous. The drawings can have few ugly spots, but in general, the art is gorgeous combined with one of the best scores of the season. The camera movement and the angles are good and focus the most impacting moments of the series such as the face emotions and or special events.
Finally, can we like this series? I like it. I understand several spectators can't feel any empathy for this kind of shows. The lack of a consistent plot or action sequences in a fantasy world is very negative. In general, the show delivers a beautiful relationship where the main characters express their emotions, and they focus on the meaning of friendship in a simple way that isn’t dull.