Have you ever wondered what it would be like to watch a television series that has blockbuster quality action and special effects, yet still have fun and well written characters? Well, that is exactly what Rage of Bahamut: Genesis delivers. It is a 12 episode series that combines the fun swashbuckling adventure of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise with the epic scale of the Lord of the Rings.
Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, also known as Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis, or just Bahamut for the sake of brevity, is set in a fantasy world that combines the mythology of various western cultures, including the Greek and Norse, with a few real world elements like and Jeanne d'Arc and Biblical inspirations.
Rage of Bahamut, follows Favaro Leone, a flamboyant bounty hunter, who unknowingly makes a magical contract with Amira, a mysterious girl, who fell from the sky, with incredible powers and one wing when she changes into her true form, that he will take her Helheim for just a kiss. Of course, the drunken Favaro lied about knowing the way to Helheim, so he is stuck with a tail, which makes people believe him to be a demon, until he takes Amira to Helheim. Along the way, Favaro and Amira are chased by the honorable Kaisar Lidfald, who was friends with Favaro in their childhood, until he was betrayed by Favaro, or so he thinks. What ensues is an epic and entertaining adventure that matches just about any fantasy adventure in Hollywood.
Interestingly, the series is based on the popular social card game app Rage of Bahamut, which you can find in the Google app store and probably the Apple store. Usually, anime series are based on games that are exclusive in Japan, or at least difficult to find elsewhere, with around 10 million players, Rage of Bahamut is a popular game even in English speaking countries.
The Good: Unique yet stunning art style, Best action sequences of the year, Incredibly entertaining!, Fun and memorable characters, Engrossing fantasy world, Compelling character conflict and motivations, Western storytelling style, Blockbuster level adventure, Amira is cute, Satisfying conclusion, Epic scale, Rita is the best, Good sense of humor, Favaro and Kaisar's epic bromance, Unique tone, Zombies done right!,
The Bad: Convoluted plot elements, Some spotty CGI, Story meanders a bit for a few episodes,
Plot: 7.8/10- The plot is Bahamut's weakest aspect in some respects, while also being its most unique. The series' fantasy world is unique and full of every type of fantasy creature imaginable from dragons to fishmen to even zombies! My only issue with the world is the way it uses a few of the Biblical elements, although those aspects are not in the series much. Aside from that, the world it creates is amazing!
The series' tone is another strong aspect because it is so unlike almost anything else in anime. Even though Bahamut is an action anime, it is far from the typical shounen tropes, with it leaning more in the direction of a western Hollywood blockbuster. The series still features a few anime tropes, but its blend of east meets west storytelling is refreshing and unique.
As for the plot itself, it is relatively simple with the protagonists given a MacGuffin to advance the plot forward. It starts out as a small scale adventure and then turns into a Return of the King level fantasy epic with the world's fate at stake, and the series handles this aspect very well for the most part. Unfortunately, around episodes seven and eight, the plot becomes a tad jumbled and difficult to follow at times. Thankfully, the plot rights itself in the final episodes to make for an epic and satisfying finale that provides the proper amount of finality, yet still leaves enough open for a much desired sequel!
Characterization: 8.4/10- For series that is almost constantly moving forward with swashbuckling adventure, the characters have both entertaining traits and surprising amount of depth.
The cunning, and often a bit goofy, Favaro is the series main protagonist. He is kind of like Jack Sparrow combined with Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy. His antics are both humorous and surprisingly effective as he always goes for the craziest way out of tight situations.
Amira is the main female protagonist, and due to certain reasons revealed in her backstory, she is naive and cute, yet incredibly powerful when she changes into her true form. Of the characters, Amira is the weakest, but she is still a good character with plenty of fun moments, as well as a few emotional ones.
As previously explained, Kaisar is the childhood friend of Favaro, and after certain circumstances, he chases after Favaro to restore his family's honor. Kaisar's noble attitude makes him a little annoying at certain points; however, his motivations for his actions are surprisingly compelling. Also, his friendship turned rivalry with Favaro provides for some well written conflict between the characters, which is resolved in a satisfying manner.
Lastly, there is Rita, the zombie necromancer that ends up following Kaisar around. Rita is just the best. She is several hundred years old, yet, since she is a zombie, she has the body of a child. Also, her necromancer powers are just plain awesome!
The series only has two problems with the characters. Some of the background characters that move the plot forward are not all that interesting, particularly the king, and the main antagonists are not very memorable either. However, neither one of these problems hold the series back too much.
Action: 9.8/10- Bahamut is, hands down, the best action anime of 2014, unless you count the new Fate/stay night. Each action sequence is choreographed as if it was filmed in live-action, yet it utilizes the advantages that animation offers. The type of action is also varied with some sequences focusing on one-on-one sword duels, while others are large scale battles between armies of powerful fantasy beings.
Acting: 8.9/10- The series' Japanese cast is exceptional all around, particularly Hiroyuki Yoshino as Favaro and Miyuki Sawashiro as Rita. At this time, an English dub has not yet been released. However, since the series is licensed by Funimation, a dub should be released within the year, and I really do hope it is a good one because this is the type of series that non-anime fans would enjoy.
Animation: 9.6/10- MAPPA's art style is a perfect example of how to do something unique, yet still make it look amazing. While anime that go for western style designs often fail, MAPPA actually managed to pull it off brilliantly. At first, the art style animation is a bit jarring, but as you watch more, it becomes easier to see how much budget and quality MAPPA has put into the series in also every aspect. The character expressions are vastly different than the norm with more natural and realistic, yet still very animted, and it all looks fantastic. The action sequences are fluid and usually use realistic-ish physics, and the background art is equally impressive.
There is only one flaw with MAPPA's animation: the use of CGI with the 2D animation. While it is used more tastefully than most, during some of the big battles, it is jarring compared to the high quality of the 2D animation. The series also contains a little mild fanservice, although future uncut releases could make the series more mature.
Soundtrack: 7.0/10- Yoshihiro Ike's score is fittingly epic and adventurous for the series.
Humor: 8.1/10- Thanks to Favaro's antics and Amira's adorable naiveté, the series maintains a good sense of humor, especially during the early episodes.
Opening and Ending: 8.0/10- The opening song, "EXiSTENCE" by SiM, is a high energy hard rock song that goes along with the series relatively well, and the ending is a more slow paced song that is not bad either.
Non-Otaku Appeal: If you like dark fantasy adventures, you should watch Rage of Bahamut: Genesis. It is like a combination of Pirates of the Caribbean and the Lord of the Rings, and if you enjoyed either one of those, and want a more drawn out, albeit darker, story, then give it a watch. Also, the more western style animation and lack of Japanese tropes should make it an easy watch.
Entertainment Value: 9.6/10- Except when the series was meandering in those aforementioned episodes, Bahamut is one of the most entertaining adventures in recent anime. From the action to the fun characters, you will find something enjoyable!
Overall: 8.5/10- With its unique presentation, lack of tropes, and western influences, Rage of Bahamut: Genesis is a unique experience. However, it does not stop at merely being unique, with the series also featuring memorable characters, exciting adventure, and an inventive fantasy world. Unless you absolutely hate fantasy, you should give Rage of Bahamut: Genesis a watch.
Closing comments: Who knew an anime based on a social card game could turn out to be one of the best anime of 2014? Hopefully, we will get another season of adventure in the series' unique fantasy world!
Recommended for: Fantasy fans, Action fans, Dark Fantasy fans, Anyone (that doesn't mind violence),
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James Alexander's Review of Rage of Bahamut: Genesis
James Alexander's Review of Rage of Bahamut: Genesis
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