What do you get if you crossed Samurai Champloo, Pirates of the Caribbean and any generic fantasy story you wish to name? You would get Johnny Depp breakdancing on the back of a dragon. You might also get Rage of Bahamut, the new anime by Mappa based off a digital collectable card game. You can have fun doing what I did and assume every character introduced is a card in the game and imagine every character yelling Yu-Gi-Oh style as they appear on screen. Or you could just watch the anime normally and enjoy it that way too, which is a perfectly acceptable alternative because Bahamut is off to a pretty good start.
Rage of Bahamut does pretty much everything right. The animation is great with plenty of moving parts and CG animation that doesn’t look out of place and actually adds to proceedings (protip other animation studios: Until you figure out how to do character animation in CG, just stick to what Bahamut does and leave the CG to giant dragons and armoured knights). Mappa really delivered on that front. Visually it’s a treat with varied character designs that are instantly recognisable. This seems like such an odd thing to praise but with so many anime suffering from sameface syndrome, having ginger afro face off against poncy knight with a pompadour is a really nice change of style. Its music is a little overly bombastic, but it definitely adds to proceedings and I prefer music getting overexcited rather than too low-key to being practically non-existent.
Each character has clear distinct personalities. Our ginger afro lead is a quick-witted, sharp-tongued good-for-nothing who is the type destined to be executed medievil style when he boasts too much and ends up trying to steal the Queen’s skimpy underwear. His buddy/enemy is an upper-class knight down on his luck but much too gentlemanly to ever stoop to the levels of ginger afro. Their exchanges are funny while giving each of them character. There’s a touch of Mugen and Jin from Samurai Champloo to them, although that may just be the afro vs well-groomed blueish hair. Again it seems like an odd thing to praise ‘having an actual personality’ but if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’re fully aware of how much I talk about Yuji Everylead the Bland and his numerous appearances every season.
The writing is excellent, managing to keep the tone perfect by balancing the humour with the hints of something more serious. The action was entertaining with a giant water wheel rolling down through the streets, which was fun when Pirates of the Caribbean did it and is still fun here. I even liked that the random female characters in the background were kinda ugly as ginger afro drank with them. Any nitpicks I have are so minor (the big action scene at the beginning was a lot of flash that told us nothing, the demon girl suffers from Fantasy Lady Power Armour in that it sure was tit-tastic) that they barely amount to anything. This was a very solid intro to an adaptation of a digital trading card game.