What They Say:
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
We have a trademark 5.1 English release and a 2.0 Japanese release – a standard set up with no real issues throughout the track in terms of synching with the video, and the general settings didn’t need to be changed. There were no issues with the synching, or with the audio quality as no adjustments has to be made on my stand settings even with the Japanese 2.0 set up – very general and acceptable.
Similar with the audio, the video is set in full-screen format via NTSC transfer to PAL format but the combination of how gorgeous the show is with the CGI and more standard designs, managing to combining a spaghetti western feel with something straight out of a Final Fantasy game is a joy to behold – the package is definitely one of those shows you just have to admire and with no real problems with the subtitles, the sound synching in either language, no pause lag or in general, it is a quality release.
There was no packaging for this test release, however, there is special edition packaging in the Blu-Ray set.
The menu consists on both discs clips from the show – on the bottom there are your selections of Play All, Episodes, Set Up and Extras. All are easily selectable and like most Blu-Ray releases have no time delay when selecting a new menu – and again like most Blu-Rays they have a popup menu that you access during your watching (though you can’t select extras) – overall easily accessible though it seems the clips are a little misleading as you just get the western side and not the fantasy side through it which could surprise you when going in without knowing what the series was about like I did.
There are a few extras with this release – on Disc 1, we have a commentary on the first episode featuring Sonny Strait (director), Ian St. Clair (Favarro), Tia Bullard (Amara) and Chris Raegar (Kaiser) – with it being Sonny’s first commentary as a director it divulges into a fair bit of fun, comparing the animation being on Disney level at times and how it was influenced by the spaghetti western, hence why it can throw you for a loop when you get the fantasy elements and the fact it was based from a card game. They do mention it was a series that was difficult to dub in comparison which was interesting – but also go into silly stories like Sonny telling how he got involved in a Dragon Ball Z card tour (he told the story when some of the action sequences were playing in the background…)
On disc 2 we get a commentary on episode 12 with the same cast where they talk about the characters a lot more (with praise given to Apphita Wu as Rita which I definitely agree with) and the fact that the point of the show seems to be how much Favarro has to sacrifice between the first and last episode. They do get a bit more engrossed in the show but at times it gets more of a hang out between friends – they do talk about some of their background (theatre connections) and such but it definitely has more of a fun vibe despite being the last episode.
Also on the extras is the recap episode (6.5) and a preview for that and episode 1, the textless opening and ending, a special full closing for episode 12 in full screen, the US trailer and standard trailers for Tokyo Ghoul A, Ghost In The Shell- The New Movie, Assassination Classroom, Tokyo Esp, Terror In Resonance, Black Butler: Book Of Murder, Psycho-Pass and Eden Of The East.
Rage of Bahamut is another series I’m going into without any prior knowledge so a little research was needed – the thing whilst watching the anime after knowing the big thing that it is based on a card game, will really surprise you as the actual cards themselves are barely showcased/acknowledged in the series and you can just see it as a very unique fantasy show crossed with spaghetti westerns.
And as strange as that sounds, it does actually work.
The first scene you see is an epic mash of CGI and animation as we see Bahamut being sealed two thousand years prior to the current day. Cut to the town of Wytearp (yes, we get the pun too) where we see a bounty hunter Favaro being chased by someone named Kaiser, a knight who seems prone to humiliation from Favaro – after escaping and enjoying some of his earned bounty money, a woman overhears him saying that he knows how to get to somewhere called Helheim quickly. This bragging comment is what starts trouble for our hunter as she confronts him and demands him to show where it is. However, after revenge is being sort after by a bounty who has demon powers, the woman shows that she is no slouch either revealing demon like powers of her own. The two work together and she apparently kisses him…but when he wakes up, he now has the tail of a demon…cue awkward.
Basically the woman named Amira, won’t remove the ‘curse’ until he takes her to Helheim – which considering he lied is a bit difficult. Not helped with the fact Kaiser now thinks Favaro is a demon and the help of the Knights of Jeanne D’Arc, a spiritual knight with godly powers also doesn’t help (and the fact Kaiser believes Amira to be innocent and he is obviously attracted to her as well) – Favaro at first is rather unhelpful (in fact trying to ditch her, sell her out or even kill her at times) the two seem to be stuck together…
And whilst initially episodic the plot starts to come together. Amira has taken the God Key which kept the links between gods and demons separate and now the boundaries are crumbling, even potentially reawakening Bahamut – it leads to what initially seems episodic as they need to get money to continue their journey, but the two and Kaiser get into a town where Kaiser is befriended by a family – however their young daughter seems to be a lot less like them. It showcases the town is actually zombie filled, and the daughter, Rita, is in fact a necromancer – yet the two have a connection and when Favaro and Amira stop it, Rita isn’t killed – she is in fact turned into a zombie but because of her powers, isn’t hungered so is now an undead comrade for Kaiser, which helps his character out, and she helps with exposition and a few snarky comments here or there (usually accompanied by the visual comedy of her throwing her arm at either Kaiser and/or Favaro)…
As it begins with their luck is changing with a ship leading to Helheim, it is definitely more of a trap and the crux of the plot slowly comes into play now all the characters are here – Favaro and Rita have to try and find Amira and Favaro who get taken by demons, the one of focus here is Azazel, but thanks to a character who seems to have some connections with everyone, a man named Bacchus (who appears to be a God), the pieces come together as Heaven is holding off the seal whilst the key is still in Amira’s possession – with the fact that Azazel is also responsible for other things (namely Favaro’s father;s death), it gets rather interesting and heated in a short period of time.
Whilst things looks to be safe when the heavens rescue them (despite the King wanting to kill them at first, a prelude of things to come) – things such as Jeanne getting more character development, Amira meeting a mysterious man who has the same pendant as her, and the demons ready to attack Heaven – it crosses into the territory of a few things happening at the same time, but the crux of it is that Amira wishes to find her mother as the reveal is she is in fact half angel, half demon, leading to wonder who the father is on Hell’s side (it was suggested it was the man who had the pendant Lavalley, but due to the reveal he helps them out though later in the show you realise there are more intentions with him…) and if Amira gets in contact with Bahamut, well…let’s just say bad stuff could happen. One of the biggest scenes both animation and story wise is in episode 9 when they get transported into another world and free a dragon from a barb of Bahamut in its foot – the dragon gives a lot of exposition with Bahamut and before they leave, tells Favaro if Amira does get in contact the only way to stop her is to kill her – giving Favaro even more conflict and way forward thinking…
For such a short series, they cram in a lot of story, exposition, and subplots. Jeanne for example becomes much more important in a short space of time, when she is accused of trying to assassinate the Mad King but she is convinced/brainwashed by a demon because she has been forsaken by the Gods to well, turn to the dark side. It all binds into a battle between gods and demons with still a few surprises on the way, as the demon who cause Jeanne’s downfall Martient tells them who Amira’s father is, turns Favaro into a demon and prepare to resurrect Bahamut. With revelations, the return of Azazel, Jeanne’s attacks of the gods, Lavalley’s true intentions, and the return of Bahamut forcing the gods and demons to team up, and the question of Favaro and Kaiser to rescue Amira or stop her. A lot happens…
…this is both its greatest strength and downfall. In terms of story, it actually keeps up quite well – they link everything in it, it gradually makes sense of why Amira took the key (to find her mother) to why she needs to be stopped as well – you get a sense of sympathy for both sides because one is an innocent young woman with incredible powers who is just on a journey, whilst on the other side you have the Gods who need the key back to make sure Bahamut doesn’t get brought back, and they aren’t even wanting to harm Amira (bar the mad King) – but then things get hectic, manipulations happen, and the whole world is in trouble. The characters are quite memorable for the most part – Favaro seems to be in a completely different anime at times with his unique look, hobby and location, same with Kaiser – yet Rita and Amira who do seem to fit the environment do play off them well – and the little subplot with Jeanne feels straight out of history (one of the people is also revealed to be Gilles de Rais so yes, there are obvious connections) despite the way it turns.
The problem though is that whilst they cram a ton into 12 episodes and actually do connect it really well, it still feels very rushed. Pretty much all the cast, including the main ones bar Amira, feel like they don’t have enough development as characters – sure, they are fun and interesting, but there doesn’t seem to be enough on their backstory – we know that Favaro and Kaiser were childhood friends, there was a betrayal but it was in fact to help out Kaiser (which he acknowledges as the series progresses) and some of the demons were involved in their family history, but these are things which are quickly forgotten because of how much action and story it crams in. It feels you are starting to learn and then bam, something else happens and the focus is on that. This isn’t the series that does it the worst because it does synch everything together, but it is still very noticeable. When the main male lead in Favaro is mostly known for a lot of comedy instead of his surprisingly good back-story and his morals (the idea is that Favaro has sacrificed the most throughout the series) seem to take a backseat to his antics, and it isn’t until the final episode when you see what he truly has to sacrifice.
Amira’s plot at least does give closure and you do learn a lot about her – it is strange but obvious considering her childish tendencies there would be a bit of magic and alchemy around her character, but the reveal of her mother and father is quite intriguing combined with her powers as she is the true powerhouse of the group, yet almost feels like a damsel in distress because of what she wants to do. It is sad when you get to the end of the series and what she has to do regarding Bahamut especially as Favaro has to make a choice as well, but fortunately it goes through from episode 1 to the end and her arc is the contributing factor throughout. This combined with moments from the villains (Azazel is a popular one, a very charismatic demon who seems to have screwed over the good guys but he’s the lesser evil compared to the main baddies, which leads to a comic team up later), some good secondary characters (Rita is a fun one playing the straight man even more so than Kaiser) and some stunning music and animation, the fact the show originated from a card game is pretty much forgotten – you would not have known this if like me you were a newcomer to the show, it stands out a lot more than a cash-in to sell a product.
The show is very entertaining, and the combination of CGI with animation works very well for the most part (sometimes it is distracting and a little out of place) – the fact the plot can be followed is good despite how much is thrown at you, which is also a problem if you wanted some deep character development. There is enough there, though, so you can definitely follow everything and with the unique atmosphere and setting, with the sympathetic characters, you will be pleasantly surprised by how this is.
And yes, I made it through the review without one reference to Final Fantasy.
Bahamut is one of those series that catches you off guard – you hear it is an offshoot from a digital card game, you would think something of the lines of Yu-Gi-Oh or Beyblade – instead it is this epic fantasy genre combined with westerns that actually works – the plot whilst a bit rushed does connect and make sense, the characters whilst not fully developed are developed enough for you to either feel for them or enjoy them, and the way it comes together is actually well done. A pleasant surprise.
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: June 6th, 2016
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.