What They Say:
Meet Favaro Leone, professional bounty hunter and casual scoundrel. When he’s not crossing swords with his arch nemesis and former best friend, Kaisar Lidford, he can be found at the local tavern spinning tall tales to anyone who will listen. After a one-winged demoness overhears his drunken boasts, she wrangles him into an unbreakable contract that will force him to make good on the promise he made.
With nothing but a destination in mind, the pair set out on their grand adventure – completely unaware of the dark forces working to fulfill an ancient prophecy that will bring about the end of the world. That is, unless a charming rogue, a clueless demon, a disgraced knight, and a tiny zombie can band together to change the course of history.
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track and the new English language adaptation, both of which are in 5.1 and encoded using the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless codec. With a solid design behind the mix, the results are really good as there’s a lot of motion in general and it has a very alive feel about it as the action ramps up. There’s some really good creativity to the action sequences as it moves about and the mix here brings it to life even more all while giving it more impact as well with the bass. The action is what will steal the show most of the time but there are some good design moments for the dialogue as well as the action expands. The mix covers the bases well in both loud and quiet pieces and with some really great music to accompany it, the encoding captures it all perfectly. We didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with a nine/three format plus the recap episode on the second disc with the extras. Animated by MAPPA, the show has a really strong visual design to it and the transfer definitely captures it beautifully. The look of the show is what helps to elevate the story in a lot of ways and the transfer gives it the life it needs. With a great range of colors and style used, and a lot of detail in both the standard animation and the CG pieces, it’s a release that should please the majority of fans in a big way with screens both big and small. It’s very easy to get lost in the design of the show with how it looks here.
The packaging for this release uses a slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray case to hold the four discs of the two formats included. With an o-card that replicates the artwork on the case, the front cover is a really nice stylized piece that showcases the designs of the characters well while adding the right kind of menace and curiosity to it with the background to make it engaging. I like the design though it’s one that definitely makes it clear this is more in the fantasy genre with some of the smaller bits. The back cover works the parchment approach for the layout where we get a good breakdown of the premise as well as the extras included with it. The character artwork is some amusing fanservice that normally would feel poorly done here but manages to work better than I’d expect. Add in a nice strip of shots from the show along the bottom and a clean and accurate technical grid for both formats and you’ve got a good looking package.
The menu design works the familiar Funimation style where clips from the show play in the background, though some of them aren’t the best at selling it with the logo placement as it is as it’s hard to get something that really comes across as striking or setting the mood in the right way. The navigation along the bottom works a mild parchment approach similar to how the case design is setup and that works well, though it’s not something that stands out really strong. The navigation itself is straightforward and easy to use and it works problem free both as the top level menu and as the pop-up menu, though you can’t access any of the extras during playback.
The extras for this release are fairly straightforward but there’s a good mix to things. Included as an extra is the 6.5 recap episode that gave the animators a little extra time to get things done. Frustrating during the simulcast to be sure, but it let the series continue with its strong visual design. So I’m glad they included it. We also get a couple of new English language commentaries, the preview for the first episode, and the standard clean versions of the opening and closings that I always love.
Based on the game Rage of Bahamut, this series aired in the fall 2014 season from studio MAPPA and brought out twelve episodes worth of familiar fantasy content. I’ve long been a fan of fantasy as I really got into it at the same time I got into Star Wars, digging into Dungeons & Dragons at the same time and all the other TSR games that came out back in the late 70’s. Fantasy anime shows, true fantasy shows, are few and far between so I’ve been glad to get the video game virtual world shows that we’ve had like Sword Art Online and Log Horizon over the years to touch on that niche a bit. With Rage of Bahamut, we get full on fantasy here that works within the world of the game – but doesn’t feel like you’re missing anything at all by not having played the game. There are a lot of layers to peel away from here but the show is very, very, accessible.
The series takes place in a fairly standard kind of fantasy land where there are various kingdoms, though our focus is on just one, and a definite difference of sides around them as there’s demons and angels. The demons are in service to some of the familiar names as we get Azazel and Beelzebub tossed around while the angels are envoys of the God Zeus. Both are looking toward their own goal in regards to the creature Bahamut, an overpowering dragon of sorts that when has been unleashed in the past has utterly destroyed the world. Bahamut is currently sealed thanks to a ploy that involves both the demons and angels leaders, and that has reduced their own power to some degree. There’s a delicate balance in play that works well for the stage setting and for the obvious end run where naturally Bahamut is brought back and everyone has to face what’s going to happen. What sets it in motion? A young woman named Amira steals the God Key that the humans were safeguarding, which when combined with something else will unleash Bahamut.
What brings this down to the accessible level is when we’re introduced to Favaro, a lanky bounty hunter in the vein of Lupin the 3rd in all the right ways. Favaro is working his gig of dealing with various demon bounties and reducing them to cards that he delivers to the god Bacchus, who is looking to bring some sort of peace between copious drinks. Favaro’s attempts at this work well as he does have skill and a whole lot of luck, but things have been problematic since Kaisar has been trying to take him down. Kaisar’s a fellow bounty hunter but not by choice as he was the son of a Lord that Favaro ended up getting killed. There’s a big grudge there that Kaisar is holding and the opening sequence chase between them is fantastic, and just the first of several back and forths that these two go through. There’s a great dynamic here with the rough and tumble but elegant Favaro dealing with the downfallen Kaisar that’s just looking for revenge for his father and family that lost so much. And naturally we see this evolve into a respectful friendship of sorts as the show progresses. It’s slow and natural but works surprisingly well.
What draws them into this larger story that’s going on is when Favaro ends up pretty much stumbling right into the young woman that stole the God Key, a demon named Amira. Amira is naturally quite attractive and that gets Favaro suckered into getting a kiss from her, which in turn seals a contract between them. Amusing, he gains a mini demon tail out of it and that just complicates his life from there on out, essentially bonding him to her since only she can eliminate it either be ending the contract or dying. Amira really won me over in this show because she’s doing all of this to find her mother through use of the God Key but it’s her personality that did it. With some utterly fantastic design work with her face and expressions, she really runs the gamut of emotion throughout that completely and utterly charmed me. I rarely really feel much of anything for a lot of characters but this one just clicked for me so well that it felt like she has a true personality underneath the mystery. Whether it’s her eating and drinking in the pub, dancing, or just the curious looks she gives, she totally won me over.
Rage of Bahamut: Genesis largely works a familiar path from there as Favaro sets off to help her, Kaisar becomes kind of a tagalong adversary/friend as needed, and they visit a range of places all while we see elements of danger from the demon side lurking with their own plans to revive Bahamut. That’s not to discount any of this because the team really put in some great work here in pacing, the animation with its detail and fluidity, and the overall atmosphere of it. It’s the kind of work where even though it’s familiar to anyone who’s dabbled in fantasy that it really becomes engaging. There’s a confidence of skill here that really just hits the ground running from the start and carries it through the entire production. And that kind of confidence helps to really drive things as we watch this group go forward and deal with all the little pivots and twists along the way that force them to cope with an increasingly dangerous deal that’s larger in scope than they realized.
If there’s an area that left me a little cool it’s the introduction of the companion for Kaisar since they can’t just have him traveling alone. Well, they could, but it seems like nobody knows how to write that kind of material in anime material for the most part. He ends up saving a young girl in a village of zombies along the way only to discover that she was animating them for two hundred years in order to have a pretense of her life from when things went bad. When things go bad here she ends up becoming a zombie herself and opts to journey with him. As a character, she’s a lot of fun in the later half as she takes more control of her part of the story, but I really wish they didn’t go with the cute little girl design and instead made her the same age as the others. It’s just such an obvious and uninteresting “moe” attempt to draw in people that it really feels out of place in comparison to everyone else. Yes, it works in the back half because of her interactions in the action sequences and the way she uses her abilities, but I think it would have been a lot more fun and interesting if she was adult aged.
Rage of Bahamut: Genesis was an utter delight. From top to bottom I just had a really great time with this show. It’s a straightforward fantasy series but it’s one that delivers beautifully in its execution. A lot of the appeal is in the cast as it should be as they inhabit this world really well. Favaro is such an engaging character in the Lupin-esque mode that he’s just a delight to watch and his interplay with Kaisar is spot on. The real winner for me was Amira as her story unfolds but more so because of how she presents herself through so much of it. There’s a lot to like here and it’s the kind of series that really does benefit from marathoning in at least chunks if not the whole thing. It’s a rip-roaring adventure with great action, characters, and animation that hits all the sweet spots I wanted it to.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode Commentaries, Textless Openings, Textless Closings, Preview for Episode 1
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: April 26th, 2016
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.