Rage of Bahamut: Genesis
Favaro Leone -- bounty hunter, ladies' man and teller of tall tales -- finds himself being forced to honor a promise he made to a girl he met in passing named Amira. The girl turns out to be a demon, and to make sure Favaro keeps his part of the bargain, grants him a little appendage he can't just handwave away. But who is Amira really? Is what she's really looking for her mother? And why is she trying to eat everything she comes over?
Rage of Bahamut: Genesis is a show that made both kind of a good and a bad first impression. Of course, I don't really pay too much stock to first impressions, but the show started out with a pretty action-filled chase scene on horseback, so it certainly had my attention.
Problem was, its characters did NOT grab me by the feels at first, though. Favaro is a lie and a cheat, and in fact, when Amira entered into his life and made it clear she wanted him to take her to her mother as he had promised, he actually considered stabbing her to death to get out of it. The tail she gave him may or may not have played some part in that -- honestly, the opening sequence was such a chaotic sequence of shenanigans that I don't fully remember. Bottom line is; Favaro is not a good person, at least not at first.
Weirdly enough, Amira is -- despite her status as a demon -- honorable and sweet-natured, though kind of... mentally childish? Compared to Favaro and Kaisar, she is downright adorable, but despite her obviously mature adult body, she acts more like she's about five. The show isn't particularly fanservice-ish with her, so there's nothing necessarily wrong with that. Still, when Rage of Bahamut is trying to be funny centered around her -- and the show is almost constantly trying to be funny -- jokes tend to be limited to her being excited about almost anything, and then wondering if it tastes good. In fact, even outside of her antics, the show seems to favor comedic moments quite heavily, be that smartass remarks, slapstick comedy or even just odd situations that don't make a lick of sense. Not that I want to accuse Rage of Bahamut of taking levity for a joyride throughout most of the show or anything.
I... might have altered that picture. Slightly. Just a little bit.
Demons being honorable isn't necessarily unusual in our day and age; just watch High School DxD for one example of when angels and demons come to an understanding. According to legends, something similar happened this time around; the lords of the angels and demons chose to sacrifice themselves to save the earth, which was under thread of annihilation from the giant dragon Bahamut and his all-encompassing rays of annihilation. And yes, it sort of plays out like a certain well-known MMORPG, so much so that I got a pretty heavy feeling of deja vu from it.
As did Favaro's duel with his "friend", the ex-knight Kaisar Lidford, which took place on a giant mill water wheel that had detached from its fastenings and rolled down the town with our two duelants on top of it. Kaiser hardly made the best of first impressions either, coming across as a rather pompous fool with a huge hate-boner for Favaro. The reasons for his grudge are understandable, but he also uses that to blame Favaro even for things that couldn't possibly have been his fault to begin with. His (English) voice sounded really familiar to me for a reason, too, and a quick check on IMDB confirmed that he did, indeed, star as one of my favorite characters in Borderlands 2, from which point I started mentally adding lines like "EXPLOSIONS?!", "THIS IS AWESOME!" or "I WANT YOU TO BLOW UP... THE *random scenery in the background*!" every time he said something particularly pompous or got on my nerves in one of the many number of ways he has in his disposal.
As bad as that might sound, Rage of Bahamut: Genesis is still an exciting show. The character design avoids the more typical anime-like design with bland male leads and cynically cute girls.... with maybe one exception.
And yes, those puppies are real.
...the hand puppets, of course. They come off and can move around and talk on their own. What did you think I was talking about? Oh, that's Cerberus, by the way. I guess she figured two of her heads would serve her better as hand puppets. She's also quite fond of torture!
Her aside, the characters in this series are more human-like, for one, if you look past the whole "demons and angels are clearly present and doing manipulative stuff. Amira, despite her mental age of five, looks more like she's in her early twenties, which is also around the age I'd guess Favaro and Kaisar to be at. Even better, the animation is pretty good, all things considered, and more importantly, the focus on the animation is usually in the action sequences, where it's the most important. The only downside to the animation is that the CG is... not always as perfect. The dragons are made with the help of CG, and particularly shiny CG at that, and while it doesn't look terrible, it doesn't look quite right either. Thankfully, the set designs and animation more than makes up for that.
Aside from Amira, Favaro and Kaiser, our party of "heroes" also gains the addition of the necromancer Rita, whose introduction is... strange, to say the least. It's mildly amusing, because Kaiser is the one who ends up having to deal with it, and he literally has to eat a huge piece of maggot pie to get to the bottom of this mystery, and even then, her addition to the party takes an unusual twist. It's probably not a stretch to say that she's the smartest character in her team, but then, her partymates are Favaro, Kaiser and Amira, so the bar isn't set very high to begin with. Favaro is clever, granted, but he's not quite as smart. Amira is mentally a five year old, which will actually be explained later on, and as for Kaiser... well, he obviously didn't queue up when God handed out the brains, which probably explains why he's mostly safe in Rita's introduction episode.
The story is completely original too, since the show is based on a card battle game. Well, maybe not original in the strictest sense of the word -- just compared to the franchise, which I assume doesn't HAVE a story -- but it's a pretty good story. You have to be tolerant to some pretty heavy-handed JRPG tropes while watching it, though. Thankfully, Rage of Bahamut understands that you can't spend any length of time if your only goal is to kill something, so it takes a big bucket of politics and paints all of its towns red. I mentioned earlier of the oddness of having devils play saintly parts, especially since this show plays that part otherwise pretty straight. The angels live on human worship and loyalty, while the devils reside in their lava-drenched hellscape while planning how to best corrupt the humans. The angels, however, are only marginally better, as they consider humans beneath them for the most part and a convenient tool at best, though they also seem to be the only race that is actively keeping Bahamut contained. Adding to that, we have the concept of fallen angels, one of which has something to do with the pasts of Favaro and Kaisar.
Adding to Amira's quest to find her mother, there also seems to be a faction that would very much like to reawaken Bahamut from his slumber. There's a power struggle going on in hell, which fits neatly into its chaotic nature as a region worshipping the more hedonistic pleasures in life, as opposed to the more structured region of heaven and its general lawfulness. Thankfully, the characters in this show isn't as obsessive about roles as that; while the residents of Hell tend to range between "destroy everything" to "fight the angels and humans", and even to "leave them alone", Amira being a whole chapter of her own, of course. The angels certainly differ from the devils, though they tend to vary between "humans are expendable, let's use them for our amusement" to "they put their lives on the line for us. We really should value their sacrifices more". If there is one downside to their presence in this show, then that would have to be that, outside of the handful of people who move the plot along, very few of them are particularly important.
The biggest downside -- at least initially -- of Rage of Bahamut is that, once we learn that "releasing Bahamut from his bindings is a very, very bad idea", you just know it's going to happen. It becomes a question of "when" and "how, and so, it's not entirely unwarranted to worry about how the show will go about making it happen. Are our heroes going to have to walk into some blindingly obvious traps so that the plot can progress? Will the show just introduce new characters just to make things happen the way it wants to? The show actually avoids the first worry quite valiantly, mostly because it keeps its main character in the dark for the most part. And given the general lawlessness and the characters' tendency to swing between grey and gray morality, it's easier to overlook -- or even buy -- that someone would either betray our heroes out of the blue, or maybe even not do so when you sort of expect them to.
It's not a perfect show. Once everything is said and done, you'll still sit with a sense of having been through this story before. For all it's worth, though, the characters are fun enough -- initial irritations aside; there's just so many times you can look at Favaro's smug face before wishing someone would put a fist through it -- that you can get through the show without feeling like you're being lectured somehow. The character also don't grow in unnatural ways, because every once in a while, we do get an action adventure that values sneakiness and smarts more than raw power. The show has visuals that can do the action scenes credit, so... as a fantasy, Rage of Bahamut: Genesis works quite well. It's a standalone show too, so you don't have to worry about it turning all "that's your lot. Stay with us for the next season" at the very end.
Traditional enough to feel familiar, unpredictable enough to be fun. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: The show isn't excessively violent, but it also doesn't shy away from what kind of damage you'd take from swords, arrows or other instruments of war.... while riding on top of horses that can jump off cliffs and highrises and be perfectly fine when they land. It's severe enough to be somewhat realistic, but not nasty enough to be unsettling.
Version(s) Viewed: Region A Bluray, bilingual.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Rage of Bahamut: Genesis © 2014 MAPPA, Cygames
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