We're checking out all the newest pilots this season! Read our write-ups on other Fall 2014 offerings like...
- TERRA FORMARS *** TRIBE COOL CREW *** KAREN SENKI *** WORLD TRIGGER
- PSYCHO-PASS 2 *** WHEN SUPERNATURAL BATTLES BECOME COMMONPLACE
- YOU LIE IN APRIL *** PARASYTE *** MYSTERIOUS JOKER *** FATE/STAY NIGHT
- WOLF GIRL & BLACK PRINCE *** CHAIKA -- THE COFFIN PRINCESS *** CROSS ANGE
- GUGURE! KOKKURI-SAN *** CELESTIAL METHOD
It’s common wisdom that shows based off card games are crappy and meant only for the youngest children. We here at Anime Vice have also discussed at length the quality of shows based off of MMORPGs, and while there have been examples of a couple of good ones here and there they always earn a more skeptical eye.
So when I tell you that RAGE OF BAHAMUT: GENESIS (also known as SHINGEKI NO BAHAMUT GENESIS) is based off some sort of card collecting game you play on your phone, it would only be natural for you to snub your nose at it. There’s not a chance in hell that this show is even worth watching... right?
You would be wrong. Dead wrong. In fact, we may be looking at the best show of the season.
Everything starts off in media res on this show. After an epic prelude about a three- way battle against a gargantuan dragon, we’re brought into a slightly less bombastic but equally epic chase. Favaro (our rougeish lead) is hounded by Kaiser (a disgraced knight who blames Favaro for his downfall) as they race on horseback over an aqueduct and bound onto the rooftops of the city below. When they’re not squaring off with one another, they’re bounty hunters who capture monsters and sorcerous criminals.
What’s great about Favaro is that he’s a total snake and an archetypical rogue. He’s a bastard, and he’ll stab you in the back if he’d be able to profit from it, but damn if he isn’t likeable and fun to watch. It’s this very bravado that lands him in trouble, as the mysterious and beautiful Amira overhears him bragging/lying to some ladies about how he knows secret shortcuts to Helheim, a realm far to the north that Amira needs to get to. Favaro agrees to help her, thinking she’ll be an easy mark for a grift.
Turns out she’s actually an immensely powerful demon masquerading in human form, and everyone from demons to gods to Jean D’arc is trying to capture her. Unable to back out of his promise to her, he’s forced to journey with her to Helheim.
This story manages to balance high fantasy epicness with fully realized characters whose choices move the plot forward. Everything presented feels like it’s there for a story reason, and if that wasn’t enough they respect your intelligence enough to never resort to pandering. This gives it a real “old school” vibe – though maybe Favaro’s afro has something to do with that too.
And if engaging story and characters STILL isn’t enough for you, there’s the downright cinematic quality of the animation. Backgrounds are dynamically lit with the stunning colors of dusk or the rich blues of night. Everything from the raging Bahamut to Favaro’s afro moves organically and smoothly, and character design is evocative and memorable – even monsters that get killed off in less than a scene. You get an immediate sense for what these people and creatures are about, and yet none of that is betrayed when you peel back the layers to learn more about them.
This show not only achieves everything it sets out to do, it exceeds every possible expectation you might have for it. Nothing can really prepare you for the sheer shock of expectation versus reality of a show that is, I remind you, based off a mobile phone trading card game.
Surely, you ask, there must be something that’s subpar about this show? How can it achieve on literally every possible level? There must be something...
The theme song and opener are kind of lame. So, uh... there’s that.
About the Author
Matt Murphy is a freelance nerd who has contributed to many nerd websites. You can reach him by going to where the light meets the shadow, by sending out zeta-brainwaves or by following him on Twitter @Murphix.