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RAGE OF BAHAMUT: GENESIS Review

Anime based on card games don’t have the best of reputations, much of it warranted. Fortunately, Rage of Bahamut: Genesis bucks the odds, giving anime fans a thrilling, 12-episode-fantasy ride.

Story

The story opens with bounty hunter Favaro, a rough-ish anti-hero, coming across the beautiful and mysterious Amira. Amira is searching the lands for her mother and pleads with Favaro to take her to Helheim, the place where her mother remains imprisoned. Favaro neither agrees nor disagrees; the two more or less fall in together, especially when Favaro’s childhood friend, Kaiser Lidfort appears, determined to kill Favaro for his part in a past atrocity.

From here, the show falls comfortably into a quest formula, but with a twist. Along the way, we learn that, despite his words to Amira, Favaro has no idea where Helheim is, that Favaro and Kaiser are actually good friends, and that the world sits on a knife’s edge. Angels and demons are renewing a centuries-old war, each side terrified that the powerful Bahamut, a creature more powerful than the gods themselves, will wake to destroy heaven and earth.

The episode count isn’t without its problems, however. Plot exposition suffers. At times, it’s hard to follow how the war came about, who started it, and what they’re trying to achieve. We learn very little about the gods and angels–many of them pulled unceremoniously from the Bible. We learn even less about the demons and primary villains. Typically, a show like this needs a good scene chewing bad guy to root against. All we have here is Bahamut’s overshadowing menace.

Characters

Favaro and Kaiser’s relationship plays against this lager backdrop with ease. The two banter and fight, though ultimately, they come together to help Amira and their world’s greater good. Add the show’s most interesting character, a zombie girl sidekick named Rita, and you have a set of complex players.

Favaro himself breaks the traditional anime hero mold. Instead of being initially clueless, he’s smart, clever, and self-reliant. Kaiser is equally well-defined–an honorable knight forced to defend the bounty and foe he’s set on brining to justice.

Only Amira suffers from typical anime clichés. She’s pretty and a touch too innocent, and her damsel in distress routine is a touch overdone. Fortunately, while a central character, she’s not as important to the overall story as Favaro and Kaiser.

Animation

At twelve episodes, the animation maintains a high quality throughout. One sequence in particular, a simple folk dance with Favaro and Amira, is stunning. You won’t find animation that good in big budget feature films. The battles are, if not equally good, will still take your breath away. A positive of its card-game origins, Rage of Bahamut has a good number of cool creatures to throw at you. Zombies, dragons, and giants are just a slice of what this anime has in store.

The art is equally impressive. Favaro and Kaiser have a nice retro quality about them. Favaro, in particular, could have come out of Aura Battler Dunbine, Crusher Joe, or any number of 80’s anime titles. The show’s best artistic touch come in how it presents its spiritual characters. Instead of the sharp, clear lines of the human characters, angels and demons have an ethereal look to them. Best of all, characters with feet in both the real and spiritual worlds–like Amira–are both sharp and soft.

Overall

Ultimately, the good far outweighs the bad, and the characters of Favaro and Kaiser keep the viewer glued and involved. The action sequences are simply amazing, and unlike too many shows, the conclusion is well done.

4 out of 5 stars

4 out of 5 stars

Rage of Bahamut: Genesis is available for streaming from Hulu and Funimation.

 

Cover image via

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Keith Yatsuhashi is the author of Kojiki, a YA fantasy that reflects his love of anime. His latest work, Torii, a short-story prequel to Kojiki is now available for free at http://www.musapublishing.com

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6 Comments on “RAGE OF BAHAMUT: GENESIS Review”

  1. 02/13/2015 at 1:40 PM #

    One of my favorite shows. I watched it all in one go and was like, yep, can definitely watch that again, which is saying a lot because I don’t watch hardly anything twice.

  2. 02/13/2015 at 5:49 PM #

    You made a pretty good and fair review here, Keith.
    Personally, this is one of my favorite titles of 2014 and even on my top 10 favorite anime of the year.

  3. 02/14/2015 at 2:30 PM #

    Thanks Mark and Shinashi. Question for each of you. What about the show stood out to you? For me it was Favaro’s roughish character. Granted, I don’t watch as mush anime as I used to, but I don’t recall many male leads as sketchy as he is. Maybe Cagliostro’s Lupin. Spike Spiegal comes close, but even he’s more–dare I say–noble than Favaro.

  4. 02/15/2015 at 12:53 PM #

    For me, it was the whole package of the action and the two leads Favaro and Kaiser and the way they interact with each other on the show. It was like a Pirates of the Caribbean movie but as an anime. It makes you feel so energetic from start to finish, especially at the opening theme.

  5. 03/23/2015 at 8:35 AM #

    A good comparison to Pirates. I think Favaro is a lot like Jack Sparrow. A true scoundrel. That’s what sets this anime apart from others. He’s interesting and complicated.

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