A review of the Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul anime series
The final ending card of *Rage of Bahamut: Genesis’ warned us: “I’ll be back”. For a time that seemed to refer to the indefinitely delayedManaria Friends (not to be confused with your Italian food research group: marinara friends), until that is, Virgin Soulwas announced. A direct sequel to Genesis with the same director - Keiichi Satou - and a returning cast of characters, would this new two-cour series be able to capture the same kind of adventuring fun that typified its predecessor?
an ambivalent desire for the original’s penny-dreadful-esque whimsy
Picking up ten years after the sealing of the Bahamut, humanity, under the new rule of King Charioce, have enslaved demons and begun to purge angels from their midsts. The fates of both Favaro and Kaisar are unknown and instead the impossibly cheerful and unusually brawny Nina takes centre stage. Unfortunately for her, she transforms into an enormous red dragon when coming into contact with a member of the opposite sex which has a detrimental effect on the buildings and people surrounding her when she does.
A review of the Rage of Bahamut: Genesis anime series
After three episodes of Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis (Rage of Bahamut: Genesis), I still wasn’t sure what I was watching. There’s nothing particularly abstract (yes Soultaker I’m talking about you) about the story of two feuding friends going on adventures with a girl from another world. Except, in the first few episodes there are so many different ways the series could have gone - monster of the week, Queen’s Blade journey into fan service, Escaflowne adventures in a fantasy world to name a few - but it seems bullheadedly determined not to go with any of them and instead play the whole series by ear.
Peculiarly, it works. And not just because it throws everything, kitchen sink and all, at you and to see what sticks. After all you have an Arabian deity (Bahamut) mixed in with Christian mythology (heaven, hell, angels and devils) with some added Norse flavouring (the heavenly god is in fact Zeus), some Pagan witchcraft and wizardry and some historical persons of note thrown in for good measure. Like the origin of the dragon personification of Bahamut then, Shingeki no Bahamut is a Dungeons and Dragons campaign in anime form. It has the overeager dungeon master cobbling together a piecemeal mythology with narrative abandon, the rollicking tales of a knight, a rogue and someone who wanted to play a female, and by the end of the campaign the adventurers are riding into battle on the back of a giant duck.
Casting Aya Hirano as the lead character is not the worst thing that Fairy Tail does, but it comes close. Her voice is so identifiable and her status so confoundingly overwhelming that it overshadows many of the other more accomplished actors such as Rie Kugimiya (Alphonse from Fullmetal Alchemist) and Tetsuya Kakihara (Simon from Gurren Lagann). The worst thing Fairy Tail does however is through a concerted and continuous effort, wringing all aspects of originality from itself; one would have a more rewarding experience staring at a beige rug than watching the first three episodes.
poor characters can't be rectified by multiplying the number of them
Lucy is a seventeen year old wizard whose uselessness is matched only by her peppiness. No back story is given to her, no parents or family members mentioned, a blank canvas to scrawl childlike motives on in crayon. Living in a world where every gawping twit can buy magically imbued items, she of course wants to join a most notorious and powerful guild, the titular Fairy Tail. After being duped onto a boat and subsequently kidnapped, she is saved by a powerful but sloppy member of the guild, Natsu, and by the end of the first episode she is unceremoniously inducted into the supposedly elitist group. The following two have her run errands for the group. Hilarity ensues.
Dragonaut's first episode is full of breasts. The second episode is full of dragons. The third episode has breasts and dragons. This is of course entirely unsurprising given the character designer's previous works: Love Hina, Gravion and recently Witchblade; the seminal Stellvia of the Universe seemingly an exception to Makoto Uno's otherwise top-heavy résumé. Abnormally buoyant female appendages aside, Dragonaut's opening episodes are filled with confusing events, terrible CG wyrms and a slow-but-steady introduction to the cold-clinical world the series inhabits.
supposed secret labs and bustling command centres are rendered with a yawn rather than any flair
"Competent" is the best way to describe the series. It bears all the hallmarks of a two season show that isn't prepared to tip its hand at the outset. The hook centres on a trio of creatures that came to earth from outer-space, destroying the protagonist's spacecraft and family along the way. Modi operandi set, time jumps several years into the future when Earth is threatened, people actualise/synchronise/ride mechanical dragons and the once young protagonist now has a barrel full of angst to carry around. Terminology such as "Album", "Dragonaut", "D-Project" and "ISDA" are scattered liberally throughout the dialogue to inject a kind of faux mysticism to the proceedings but fundamentally, nothing is meritorious.