Rage of Bahamut: Genesis has quickly become one of my favourite shows. It has the whole package. The art direction is great, as is the animation that propels it forward. Not to mention, the engaging plot, and rich lore of the world it all exists within
This being said, the main attraction for myself is the character design, aesthetic style, and development; there’s something truly wonderful about it – something brilliantly unique that we don’t have the pleasure of viewing all too often.
Anime naturally contains many styles, spanning a wide array of distinctive aesthetics.
There are the more exaggerated and esoteric visuals, like those seen in popular shows such as Fairy Tale and One Piece, My Hero Acedemia (review!) . And more grounded styles, such as those of Studio Ghibli and Satoshi Kon’s Paranoia Agent.
Much of this difference in style also translates to genre. For example, Shonen (anime for a ‘younger’ male audience) typically has a more stylised approach. Whereas Seinen (anime for older audiences) tends to be somewhat more true-to-life (realistic) in terms of character design. Though, of course, these are only generalisations, and exceptions will always apply. I’ll use the word ‘realistic’ relative to the traits of anime.
Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, being a show for those that are more mature, takes a step further towards reality. (both in style and content) As far as anime can go, anyhow… I feel this change allows for a far more diverse selection of characters that the artists can produce. We’ve all seen what I like to call the ‘Kirito Effect,’ where character stereotypes in anime have gone… somewhat too far. With this in mind, Rage of Bahamut: Genesis isn’t afraid to step slightly out of the box in terms of being original. Obviously, it isn’t ground-breaking in any true sense of the word. But it is done extremely well, so it has no need to be. Innovate that which we are already familiar with.
Characters, Done right
I’m a person who cannot get behind a story (of any type) without three-dimensional, well-worked characters. It is the back-bone of narrative. I desire for the characters to impact the world around them, and forward the plot with their actions; not for the world to be on one constant well-paced line, and for the people who populate it, to be nothing but passengers on a one-way-trip to inane predictability.
Too many times have I experienced this… flatness. I think anime is guilty of it more so than any other medium. It’s so easy to get distracted by the visuals, the appeasement and reliance on tropes… the fanserivce. Characters are almost forgotten; pushed to the side-lines, and often regarded as nothing more than mere tools.
I greatly dislike this way of storytelling. No matter the genre, or the target audience, a story has no excuse to be centimeter-thick and utterly watered down. A 10-year-old can enjoy brilliant narrative in the same respect as a 25-year-old – even if they don’t realise that is what they’re enjoying. Characters are the foundation of this, the bricks and the mortar. Everything else follows suit.
So… Rage of Bahamut: Genesis – an anime that I regard highly. How does it do it?
Favaro, the main character; he’s brilliant isn’t he? We know and understand his back-story, and it’s one that holds back on filling it with useless drivel and endless unneeded exposition. Favaro is in some respect is a simple person, if not a simple character. He’s a bounty hunter, a lark, and a ladies man. One thing he never does is take life seriously. He’s the humour in Rage of Bahamut: Genesis. The person keeping things afloat through the dark and hopeless moments.
Secondly, his nemesis, his enemy… his friend, the one and only Kaisar. The relationship between the two of them is the main driving force between much of the character interaction. And the development of them as characters rides on this notion – as they fall in and out of being ally or foe. Coming from a once noble and respectable family which was stripped of its status after an incident with his father, Kaisar puts himself on a high pedestal – expecting a little too much from the world and the people around him. It’s this which creates conflict, considering it is the polar opposite from what Favaro was and is.
Last, but not least; the half-demon, half-angel Amira. She truly gets through to me as a character. Not only because of what she represents, but in the way she handles the often immeasurably high hurdles that seem to always stand before her. She is the glue for the relationship between Favaro and Kaisar – pulling them ‘closer’ together, as they realise she is what they are both fighting for, the common ground, their motivation and inspiration. Her resolve is diamond-strong, even as her world comes crashing down.
After all, Amira, is in some sense, nothing more than a child. This is evident through her actions, and through her desires. It is in Amira where we see much of Rage of Bahamut: Genesis‘s boundless emotion, as it cascades through her, following revelations that are far less than desired.
Emotion above all
Coming through the eternally dark, fantasy world of Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, is the raw emotion that all of the characters experience at expense… and occasionally, at joy. Very few times have I seen anime accomplish such ‘humanity’ it its cast. It’s pure, and it truly is heartfelt. The characters experience ‘real’ things, and they act, not in falsely composed manners, but in real, uncalculated ones; products of their ongoing pain and despair.
Too often, I feel nothing for characters; for the empty husks they represent (in a broad sense). In Rage of Bahamut: Genesis I experienced the exact opposite. There is weight behind their laboured actions, there are real things at stake. For example: the decision Favaro has to make when he is faced with the problem of Amira’s life; does he kill her and prevent the revival of Bahamut, or are the irrational feelings he has for her and her out-of-character innocence, enough to overcome even the even the thought of it? What would you do? Save the world? Or save the girl? Throughout these questions, and in the morality behind them, a unique sense of identity is crafted.
It is in the personal conflicts where the true value of Rage of Bahamut: Genesis lays. Where the commitment to high-class character design breaks through the ocean of sludge that overpopulates the industry.
In part, it is the stylistic choices that play into the show having such an abundance of emotion. For it is the inherently more ‘realistic’ art style that allows the animators to have a wider range of potential expressions and emotions to explore. The characters have noses, and they have defined lips! Noticing this, we also notice their increased sense of humanity that lingers within them. In comparison to many other designs with are intentionally much more ambiguous, and intentionally lacking in ‘human’ traits.
Onto the second
Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul has premiered this season. (Spring 2017) I have yet to watch any episodes. I have wanted to wrap my head around the first season before delving into more of its beautiful madness.
I won’t be doing a review on this one in particular. Though, I will mostly likely after S2 has finished airing, and it will be compiling both the seasons. So, look forward to that!
Also, I’d just like to mention the animation quality in Rage of Bahamut: Genesis. It’s a mix-up of 2D and 3D. We all know how awful this can look. Not to mention the die-hard fans that are vehemently against 3D animation of any kind, and of any delineation and frequency. I do think this is an understandable position to take. Traditional animation is one of the saving graces of anime, and we haven’t seen a massive implementation of its more modern counterpart – and I hope it remains this way. Yet, the use of 3D in Rage of Bahamut: Genesis is perfectly complementary. Even the ‘ordinary’ animation is top-notch – one of the reasons for my focus on emotion is the unhindered quality of the animations themselves – this is especially noticeable in the facial movements. And, as much as I hate to say it… Amira’s crying and utter heartache.
I look forward to Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul. A binge-watch could potentially be in order.
What do you think of the character design in Rage of Bahamut: Genesis?
As always, thanks for reading!
-Chris (Follow me on Twitter and consider supporting Peach’s Almanac on Patreon!)