RAGE OF BAHAMUT is certainly one of the most captivating titles in recent history. It commands at the very least a second glance when scanning the shelves in search of a new quality anime to check out. Genesis is based on the online card game of the same name, which was recently shut down in the United States. The show combines quite a few different elements. It has the genres of a western, action, fantasy, and a conflict between angels & demons. The first half suffers from a few problems, but picks up greatly during its second half. Because of the first 4-6 episodes, one can’t call it a “fantastic” anime like the first season of Psycho-Pass but the second and final acts are epically engaging enough to still call it a “very good” show.
Two thousand years ago, the black-and-silver-winged dragon, Bahamut, terrorized the magical land of Mistarcia. The humans, god, and demons that inhabited the land united forces against the fiend and sealed its power into a key which was split in two, one half protected by gods and the other protected by demons. Now, Mistarcia is a peaceful realm – until a human woman steals the god’s half of the key. Based on the immensely popular digital card game, Rage of Bahamut: Genesis is an exciting blend of action and fantasy.
The big question of course is what makes the first half of Genesis not particularly that good. The prologue is fantastic and sets the tone. We have a flashback to when the angels, demons, and humans united to seal Bahamut. It’s a Lord of the Rings style epic and the perfect way to engage the viewer. The problem is when we jump to modern day. It seems to be rare that anime/manga starts out with a noble character such as Kenshin. Rather, it appears a majority starts out with them as either a punk or obnoxious person. (Such as in Naruto.) Favaro is the latter. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, but for the first half he is just too annoying to watch. His ongoing conflict with Kaisar also quickly became an annoyingly comical thing than something to be taken seriously.
It’s understandable what the show is going for here: Favaro going from carefree bounty hunter to somewhat noble being. To be 100% fair, by the final episode he is certainly better off than 11 episodes earlier. This doesn’t justify the in-your-face writing however. It’s a little disappointing to think how much better the first half could have been if the writing had gone a different direction with him. Now, if you’ve seen the trailers then it’s evident a large amount of the focus is on Amira. She is the driving force of the story. Her arrival sparks a great mystery that the plot slowly unravels. Her story arc might be one of the most emotional I’ve ever seen in an anime.
At the core, her story revolves around one thing: finding her mother. Once the viewer realizes this, the ending theme takes on another dimension. Every time that song played I was reminded how much love and care Amira had for her mother, even though she hadn’t spent much time with her. (The ending theme is also a nice contrast to the rock n’ roll opening.) The fist half of the show has two plot points. We have Favaro taking Amira to Helhiem and the angels attempting to hold Bahamut. At first it seems like the two have nothing to do with one another. By the second half they finally start to intertwine.
Often in this show the side characters are the most interesting. For example, there seems to be dissension in the demon ranks. Beelzebub wants to become ruler of all, negating Lucifer while another demon, Azazel, is left out of the equation. This was fun to watch, and it’s hard not to think why we weren’t seeing more of these characters rather than Favaro being intolerable. Since we’re on the subject of the demonic beings; almost all the named ones were engaging characters. Azazel gets the most screen time, and has some excellent lines. (Especially when he battles Favaro in the castle.) Beelzebub appears far too little, but in every scene he’s in he commands a presence. Lucifer interestingly only appears once. This was shocking since he’s constantly referred to as “Lord Lucifer” yet he does nothing of absolute importance. In fact, he’s completely absent during the final battle. It seems like the writing couldn’t find a way to utilize him.
There are quite a few other notable characters and questionable writing. Rita was by far one of the best; every scene she was in she stole. Her debut could have been handled better however. The viewer could see the emotion on Kaisar’s face when he had to stop her from destroying some of the cast. Later we’re shown that she had become a zombie and decided to tag along with him. This happens rather randomly and kind of takes away from the emotional scene earlier. Again, she’s a great character to have around but that scene could have been better so it didn’t have to feel rushed. We also have Bacchus and his duck partner Hamsa. Bacchus’s entire thing is that he drinks a lot. He gets to fight in the final couple of episodes, which is good, but ultimately his trait was more annoying than funny to watch.
Jeanne D’Arc and her loyal devotion to the angels brought a sense of true nobility to the cast. It’s impossible not to like her and it wouldn’t be a stretch to call her the best character. That’s why the viewer is shocked when she is transformed into a demon as she is about to be burned at the stake. It feels like this plot point should have been longer since it’s over in the very next episode. Speaking of plot points, the show late in the second half does a good job at catching the viewer off guard. The realization that Favaro would have to kill Amira after beginning to genuinely help her on her quest made for an unnerving cliffhanger.
The climax doesn’t disappoint. After 11 episodes of hype, we finally get to see Bahamut wreak havoc. The dragon is an awesome focus as we see him annihilate all that stands in his way. He is definitely one of the best antagonists in recent history. The ending before the epilogue is a little anti-climatic however. At the very least, there is some emotion and closure. The epilogue helps cement a finisher to a 12 episode journey. A second season titled “Virgin Soul” is coming, but unlike GARO or Tokyo Ghoul, Season One of Rage is complete. The soundtrack is very good, though the same themes are used frequently. Of course when the themes are that good it’s hard to complain.
Overall, RAGE OF BAHAMUT is a solid anime. The first 4 to 6 episodes are a little jarring to get through, which is mainly due to Favaro’s annoying antics, the un-comical conflict between him & Kaisar, and the two major plots seemingly (at first) having nothing to do with one another. But once we reach that second half the show becomes an excellent watch. We have great (though some unexplored/underused) characters, fun fights, and very good dialogue. There’s an emotional touch to the story as we see Amira at her core is just a little girl at heart in search of her mother. (As stated earlier, the ending theme perfectly portrays this and is a song that truly speaks to the heart.) Bahamut himself lives up to the hype. Even though Genesis ends with closure, I am definitely looking forward to Virgin Soul.