Mysteria Academy is a prestigious magic school that teaches magic without discrimination to the three factions (men, gods, demons), who usually are engaged in battle with each other. Two of the academy's students are Anne, a princess and honor student, and Grea, a princess born from a dragon and a human.
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.
Genesis impressed me, Virgin Souls bored me, and Manaria Friends made me go full UwU.
Rage of Bahamut is quite mysterious. Despite seeing 3 anime series from the franchise, I still have no idea what the thing is supposed to be about. This time around all it has is cute girls doing cute things + cute monster girls doing cute things, spiced with fair slice of yuri undertones, over-the-top comedy elements and some sort of weird-but-kinda-cute remarks about being self-conscious over your dragongirl hybrid body. All this presented in the iyashikei (=healing anime) format.
Our "plot" itself is rather simple. Princess who feels she is somewhat
useless and who seems to go thru some level of solitude discovers that our dragongirl is in relatively similar spot, followed by them simply starting to develop a friendship and accept themselves/enjoy life via this relationship of theirs. Manaria Friends heavily relies on its atmosphere and its meaning in the story-telling is vital to comprehend what the characters are feeling. This approach has rather fresh feel to it.
The art heavily relies on waifugame, be it in forms of shaky legs and stockings, watery and sparkly eyes or awkward blushy dragongirl poses, details in art exist to to give value to the female body in somewhat pure and adorable manner. Occasionally just lewd, but most of the time much closer to 2pure4this world. Similarly, even the backdrops are used in purpose of reflecting our casts' emotions to a point that it could be said everything in the series exist in the purpose of our two main characters. The art itself is phenomenal, and one good reason to give this show a try is definitely its production values. These are literally the only times when I wish to go back to 16:9 aspect ration just to background image the shit out of these.
This might raise a question "is it any good tho?" And it is a good series in quite a peculiar way, but at the same time it does quite seem like a series that mainly pleases a niche audience. It's a simple story about simple problems that have a simple solution to them. Its execution doesn't do anything in a very in-your-face outstanding way, our characters' reactions are quite predictable once you get to realize what type of a series this is, not much of substance is to be found story-wise. The music is often following a safety route -- not that it doesn't work -- and many parts of the series are quite literally screaming "do this because this is how it is often done." But it has its own magic. Scenes where our cast leaves the dining table, walk away from it and start a dialogue whilst the camera is still locked on the earlier scene while sunlight starts to hit it, feel almost poetic. Other times, the incredible happiness that our characters witness is enough to carry most of the content. Those who notice these type of details like a good senpai would, will have their chances of finding certain levels of significance from them and being left with rather wholesome aftertaste.
Perhaps Manaria Friends is demanding a certain mindset from its viewers harder than most series do. It's even likely that I would have come to dislike it as whole if I had noticed it cons before its pros, but as it stands, the series is beautiful and I see no reason to release this review with a lower score for I enjoyed the show a great deal. Watching it simply made me happy, it's near soul-cleansing experience + these girls are just too precious.
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.
What if I told you that there’s a school for gods, humans, and demons? Mysteria Academy is such a school where these races can all unite together to study in peace. Cygames, known for their innovative game projects, bought the Rage of Bahamut social game into anime form a few years ago. Now it’s Manaria Friends’ chance.
Notoriously known for its production issues, the series was delayed for several years since its announcement. It’s a bit unusual considering the show isn’t even full length (12-15 minute length episodes). Yet, it took nearly 4 years for this to make it onto the TV screen. Given its context,
you really shouldn’t expect this show’s storytelling to be similar to the original Bahamut series. This is more of a fusion of supernatural, magic, school life, fantasy, and perhaps a little bit more…
Despite my experience with the previous Bahamut shows, watching Manaria Friends felt like a breath of fresh air. It’s known for its cheek humor, fan service, relationship development, and slice of life storytelling. Mysteria Academy itself has a rich history and we discover the depths of its secrets. However, what attracted me the most to this show are the main characters: Anne and Grea. As a human princess, Anne is known for her academics and social status at school; think of her as a role model. On the other hand, we meet Grea, a half-dragon girl with a mystique and peculiar personality. Throughout the show, it’s no secret that their relationship develops and reaches deeper levels that goes beyond than just fellow classmates.
It really isn't rocket science to figure out that Anne is attracted to Grea. Early in the show, she is fascinated by her beauty and ability to shed skin. The amount of blushing is also clear evident that Anne likes Grea more than a friend. Even when they’re not together, Anne is constantly thinking about Grea or adding her name into conversations. A more symbolic example occurs in one episode when the two are on a boat date. In one particular scene, the two gets intimately close that strongly builds the “ship tease”. As such, fans of shoujo-ai should be delighted about the direction of this show. However, anyone expecting a serious plot will be disappointed. Even with one particular mid-season episode that features a goblin/golems invasion, more than half the series consists of lighthearted slice of life. The comedy makes up a bulk of the series with its character interactions and goofy character cast. This includes clumsy girls like Lou who often makes a fool of herself with her klutzy behavior.
But as a fantasy slice of life, I should warn you to pretty much accept the anime as it is. What it advertised is what you’ll get. And despite the years of delay, production quality remains generally the same as I remember from some of the key visuals and early teasers. Don’t expect your mind to be blown away. For a 10 episode anime, there’s not much home to write about the plot in the end either. Treat this as a slice of life with doses of girls romance and mix of fantasy. Cygames’ meta verse world is complex and Manaria Friends has a spot in its place.