D-MAIL ANIME REVIEW: RAGE OF BAHAMUT – GENESIS
Original text: January 2015
Editing and rewrites: March 2017
Genre: Adventure, Action, Fantasy, Comedy
Original year of release: 2014
Director: Keichi Satou
Writer: Keichi Hasegawa
Number of episodes: 12
Runtime per episode: 24 mins
Fantasy is one of my favorite genres, largely because of the many different subgenres that exist within it. From epic fantasy like Lord of the Rings, to much more lighthearted fantasy like Discworld. The series I’m going to be discussing here definitely verges more towards the . It’s a show about a bunch of heroes who go on an epic quest to save the world from eternal damnation. Or rather, that’s the idea - in theory. In reality, the main characters are mostly busy brawling with one another, and only occasionally - and usually by accident - manage to achieve something that could potentially be considered heroic. Does this mean the show is bad? Well...let's find out.
The story of Rage of Bahamut starts with Leone Favaro, a fun loving and charming, but also rather unscrupulous bounty hunter who traverses the medieval fantasy world of Mistarcia, hunting even bigger crooks than himself. The money he gets from these jobs is spent at taverns. Here he woos the local beauties with tales of his heroic quest to Helheim, the underworld of Mistarcia.
Unfortunately for him, one night he woos the wrong girl. To be exact: Amira, a half demon desperately searching for her mother. Amira begs Favaro to take her to Helheim, but Favaro outright refuses. As a result, she improves Favaro's appearance with an additional body part: a tail. Amira tells him she'll remove the tail as soon as Favaro has taken her to Helheim and not a moment sooner.
So, Amira and a very reluctant Favaro depart on a heroic quest to Helheim. However, completing this quest won't be so easy. Firstly, because Favaro has never actually been to Helheim and has no idea how to get there. Secondly, because he is constantly hunted by his arch-nemesis: Lidfort Kaisar. A knight fallen on hard times, Kaisar is determined to rescue the innocent young lady (Amira) from the clutches of the dreadful demon that has kidnapped her (Favaro) And if all that wasn't enough trouble, there are also dark forces hunting them down at every turn as Amira is in possession of an artifact with which Bahamut, the dark ruler who long ago subjected the world of Mistarcia to a reign of chaos and death, can be re-awakened.
So, I admit the premise isn’t exactly the most unique in the fantasy genre and even it’s more outlandish elements have been done before. But that's fine because what the show does have is tons of entertainment in the form of hugely spectacular action sequences, amazing banter between the lead characters, and laugh out loud comedy varying from Disney-esque slapstick to Douglas Adams-like absurdism. By the time the show gets a bit more serious in its second half, it shows itself to also be capable of top notch character drama.
The plot of the show isn't terribly complex, but it's solid all the way through and contains some unexpected twists along the way. The only thing that might put some people off is the setting. The world of Mistarcia is basically an amalgamation of various parts of Western mythology, religions, and history. In that way, we see Joan of Arc fighting Beelzebub while the Greek God Bacchus comments over the fight like some third-rate sports commentator. It's easy to imagine how this might seem very exotic and exciting for your typical Japanese, while on the other hand, can be confusing for the Western audience.
Despite the fact that this show has only twelve episodes, it has a fairly large cast and to talk about all of them would be impossible so I'm just going to stick to the three leads we meet at the start of the series and leave the other wonderful characters for you to discover on your own. First of all, we have Favaro, the reckless anti-hero of the piece in the best tradition of Jack Sparrow and Spike Spiegel. On one hand, he's rather sympathetic with his easy-going attitude, impulsiveness, charm, and charisma. On the other, you know he'd sell his own mother if it netted him some coin. The only time he will do anything morally righteous is when the situation forces him to do so, though he does develop quite a bit over the course of the series and over time, and becomes more serious and slightly less heartless.
His arch-nemesis, Lidfort Kaisar, is the straight man of the show. A noble knight fighting to restore the honor of his house. But this misplaced sense of honor and the seriousness with which he approaches the most ridiculous situations is actually what constitutes a large part of the hilarity in this series.
Lastly, we have Amira. Despite the fact that she is a half-demon she behaves, for the better part of the show, like a big kid. When she’s not busy with the search for her mother, she’s busy with the equally heroic quest to try as much food as the world of Mistarcia has to offer. At the same time the show never truly forgets that she is indeed a half-demon and when push comes to shove she can be pretty damn terrifying, and definitely not someone you want to mess with. What’s remarkable though, is just how seamlessly she transitions from an overgrown kid to a terrifying demon and vice versa. Like the tone of the show itself, her character constantly fluctuates between serious and lighthearted without it ever truly feeling like a tonal shift.
Besides these three, the show is filled with lots of other wonderfully quirky characters, such as a god who’s trapped in the body of a duck, a zombie who moonlights as a necromancer, and a demon who exhibits her split personality using her ever bickering twin puppets. I swear I am not making this up.
ART AND ANIMATION
Visually, there’s not much I have to say about Rage of Bahamut – Genesis besides that everything looks freaking gorgeous! Both the character designs and backgrounds are quite simply astonishing. Though to be fair, that was kind of expected as the show is produced by Studio Mappa, who also produced the mind-blowingly good-looking Terror in Resonance among others. However, one thing that Terror in Resonance lacked, which Rage of Bahamut has in abundance, are incredibly spectacular action sequences, on par with a well-directed Hollywood blockbuster.
The soundtrack is just as fantastic. The only tracks that I didn’t particularly care for were the opening and ending. The ending was just unremarkable and the opening, while being a kick ass song in its own right, didn’t fit the lighthearted nature of the series at all.
Since at the time of this review there is no DVD and BD release for the series yet, I haven’t had a chance to listen to the English dub for this show yet. However, the Japanese original was terrific. That being said, given the more Hollywood-esque style of this show and the fact that it will have a Funimation dub, which tend to be really good, I’m almost inclined to recommend that over the sub in any case. Either way, I’m sure I’ll have a lot of fun with it once I actually pick this show up. (D-mail: yes the dub is really good, better even then the sub. Watch it dubbed.)
Rage of Bahamut – Genesis isn’t anything highly innovative or highly intelligent, but what it is, is top notch entertainment! If you like action and adventure with a good deal of comedy then there is nothing I would recommend more than this show. It’s a wonderfully lighthearted series that doesn’t require too much thought on the viewer’s part and personally, I enjoyed every second of it. If I had to describe the show in one sentence, I’d say it’s a mix between Pirates of the Caribbean and Discworld. And if you like at least either of those, then I guarantee you that you will surely enjoy this show as well. A second season of this series will start airing this spring so if you haven't seen this show yet and feel like doing so, now would be a perfect time to catch up.
Rage of Bahamut – Genesis has been licensed by Funimation Entertainment and can be streamed legally on their website. As far as home video releases go, the show has been released on DVD and Blu-ray by Funimation in the US while Anime Ltd has released it on DVD and a special collector’s edition Blu-ray in the UK.
Age recommendation: Episode 3 is fairly dark and intense and there’s some violence here and there but nothing terribly graphic. Anyone above the age of 12 should be fine with this.
RECOMMENDATIONSIf you like this kind of more lighthearted fantasy adventure I highly recommend checking out Demon King and Hero. It's a thoroughly entertaining series with lots of comedy and cool action though with a focus on trading. Which might sound boring but trust me when I say this show is anything but.
Second recommendation goes to a long-forgotten gem that really needs to be watched by more people: Rokka – Braves of the Six Flowers. While Rage of Bahamut takes a lot of the fantasy tropes and uses them to perfection, Rokka actually turns them completely on their heads while still being a thoroughly entertaining fantasy adventure. This one is definitely a bit more dark and violent though, so be aware of that.
Until next time!
Special thanks to @Tonto-banchou, @Kuze, @Novaire and @Scruffie for proofreading and feedback.