Murphy talked this show up so much, I just had to check it out for myself. Now, I agree with pretty much everything he already said in his review, so I’ll just offer a few supporting thoughts…
The elephant in the room, of course, is that this show’s good despite its origins in mobile gaming (which would almost guarantee badness). Matt and I talk about this a lot during our Vice Pit segments, and I likened it to this spring’s BLADE & SOUL, as both series demonstrate that concept doesn’t matter as much as execution.
The characters sound like tropes on paper, but they’re actually mutli-dimensional characters on screen, and I’m seriously wondering if that might have had something to do with the show employing a more involved performance capture technique. Almost always, animation is limited by how much of the voice actor’s craft translates from the booth to the cel. Either they’re having to rigidly match their cadence to lip-flaps that’ve already been drawn, or their line-readings are being interpreted by animators who put more attention on making mechs look cool than on catching the subtle nuances of an awkward facial expression.
In this case, it feels like the recording sessions might’ve been recorded on video, with the actors even getting enough room to jump around and emote. There’s a realism to scenes like Favaro and Amira’s impromptu, drunk dance which makes me think of a more fluid rotoscoping, and that may very well have been the case. What puts a step beyond the trite/trope-y ‘scoundral’ is all the minute ticks and asides when he’s squiming around. We forgive him for being a dirtbag, because he seems so real. Likewise, I was really surprised at how quickly Amira shed the stereotypical ‘tsundere’ guise and let her hair down. It didn’t feel forced, because all her little girlish giggles seemed real; not an abstraction.
Also, given the way the prologues with the backstory of BAHAMUT are handled, I have to think this is another case where Stereotypical Anime works because the staff is fully aware of how ridiculous it is. Those scenes scream “THIS IS BASED ON A CARD GAME!” so loudly, it’s almost like the show’s parodying them, and then quickly moving away from them.