Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis [Impressions]

It seems easy to dismiss an anime series with a name similar to the famous Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan), but this is definitely no copycat. Shingeki no Bahamut has its own charm and flair, and it actually does do well to impress early on and promises to be a lot more later on. The name in English is “Rage of Bahamut: Genesis”, which is better to go with to avoid confusion with the other show. I’ll stick to the Japanese title though since it’s not one of those really long ones.

It’s based off a Japanese card battle game that came out in 2012, so it’s a lot like Yu-Gi-Oh! but with a more fleshed-out storyline (as opposed to kids with crazy hair playing children’s card games for a few seasons). It’s nice to see actual lore that was written with some care being fleshed out, which could help make the game grow.

This is a blog entry expressing initial impressions on Shingeki no Bahamut after watching its initial episodes. There are spoilers here for the purpose of analysis, so please be warned.

UPDATE (2015.01.05): The series has concluded, and the review can be read [here].

The First Episode

The introductory scene is grandiose, which made me think for a moment that the show was going to be something like Record of Lodoss War. But after that, it’s ten years later in a town and the show takes on a cowboy western vibe, right down to the introductions of the main characters. (Aside from the fact that Favaro’s last name is an obvious reference to the late great spaghetti western director Sergio Leone.)

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It did a very good job at introducing the audience to the protagonist, from his personality to how he did his job as a bounty hunter. Favaro Leone is basically a tiefling rogue in Dungeons & Dragons, complete with a tail that grew out at the end. He’s very sure of himself, cunning in combat, and has other likable and not-so-likable traits.

On the other hand, Kaisar Lidford seems to be the heroic type, but can come off as unlikable at first due to his boy scout attitude. He is of noble blood and acts like so, even though he himself is a lowly bounty hunter like Favaro. His pursuit and distrust for Favaro emphasize a moral divide between them, especially later as Favaro and Amira become wanted themselves.

The girl Amira has not grown on me just yet, but maybe because she is a powerful demon. Revealing more about her right now would make the show less interesting for later episodes. She’s pretty, but little else is known other than her abilities and her need to reach a place called Helheim. Here’s to hoping that she does show more personality and reasons for viewers to relate to her, despite her inhumanness.

Perhaps it does try a bit too hard in introducing important characters with name captions and freeze frames, but it adds to the atmosphere and does its job well enough. From the scenes of demonic war and how these characters converged in the first few episodes, it has done well in pitching a compelling story to viewers.

Succeeding Episodes

Favaro gets forced into playing tour guide for Amira, and they go on an adventure while being followed by Kaisar. The second episode is mostly about Favaro trying to get out of his new predicament and dealing with Amira, who is starting to show more of her personality. They seem to have good chemistry together, and Kaisar serves as a pretty good foil.

The third episode does more to develop Kaisar as a character, putting him in a morally ambiguous situation that tests his resolve. He tells more of his story about his family and how he ended up being a bounty hunter. The setting and situation where he decided to do this is an unfortunate one, especially with him desperately clinging on to his long-faded knightly status.

I might as well talk about the fourth episode as well since it came out just before I finished writing this. Most shows would make their first big shockers around this time, like what Puella Magi Madoka Magica did in its third episode. A lot more of the main characters’ backgrounds get fleshed out here and a major event shakes things up even more.

I’m now wondering how the show will proceed from here, and this episode has made that hook sink even deeper than before since it has become bigger than just an eventful trek from point A to B with the forces that have come into play.

What I Like and Don’t Like

It gets a lot of things right, which is a bit uncommon for shows tied in to products. There’s an actual storyline that doesn’t involve the direct hawking like with Yu-Gi-Oh!, Beyblade, Crush Gear, and Gundam Build Fighters. The allusions to the card game are subtle, mainly the cards that the bounty hunters turn their marks into, and this show seems to be more about deepening lore rather than just reference.

The pacing and character development have been what got me into this series. There is little to no blandness, from the voice acting to the transitions between action and quiet scenes. There is rarely a dull moment even when it’s supposed to get dull, thanks to how Favaro is as a character since there’s always a trick up his sleeve and a chip on his shoulder.

There isn’t much that I don’t like in the first three episodes, but there is still so much ahead and I fear that it will jump the shark somewhere. My gripes are fairly minor, like the tacky-looking name captions in character introductions with a shine effect that I really don’t like. I also have some reservations for the voice acting of Bacchus and Hansa.

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The opening credits also irk me, with a color filter that’s more for an Instagram video than a proper intro, and a song that’s basically the Japanese rendition of 2000’s pop punk, which I’m not into. But then again, I’m not really into openings of most anime anyway, and it might change into something better mid-series. I kind of like the ending credits music though, so it’s no biggie.

Is it worth watching further?

Yes, it is going to be worth it.

It hopefully escalate beautifully to an awesome climax and a wonderful conclusion while not totally jumping the shark. There have been other shows in the past that have dropped the ball hard midway, so the worry looms for this series. From the word that has been going around so far regarding Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis though, seems like it’s heading towards a positive direction.



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