Finally! An anime of a game adaptation that is actually good!
Bahamut broke out of the gate both guns blazing with a battle scene on an epic scale. There were armies of horsemen fighting a gigantic CG dragon, flying sorcerers casting magic spells and summoning a colossal demon, and a human paladin summoning a mighty avatar on horseback, all firing laser beams in a grand spectacle that had me saying “I have no idea what is going on but this is awesome!” I am sure the actual story relevance of this battle will be made clear later but I thought it worked very well as a bombastic cold opening.
I really liked how they just dropped the viewer into the world without any form of exposition. They let the environment and the character articulate the backdrop. In particular the setting seems quite unique, combining the obvious fantasy influences with Wild Western elements. The music, featuring trumpets and tambourines, during the opening horse race across tiled roofs had a Spanish feel. The main characters were introduced with animated labels which felt purposefully reminiscent of classic Western movie styles. There are even masked bandits hog-tying women, I assume to carry off to trail tracks somewhere. Even the main heroes feel more similar to swashbuckling cowboys than the generic badass bounty hunter trope. And I especially loved how naturally they introduced magic to the setting as simply something to be expected in this world.We got an introduction to the three main heroes of the story. Favaro Leone seems to be a suave, street-smart bounty hunter who is really a scoundrel. Favaro has some kind of competitive relationship with Kaisar Lidfort, a disenfranchised nobleman who has taken up bounty hunting work and has a tendency to give in to his vanity. And finally we have Amira, a mysterious white haired woman who fell naked from the sky. Amira is the only one driving the story for the moment, as she must get to Helheim in the north and requests Favaro’s help to take her there. Admittedly, Amira’s character is definitely designed to titillate the viewer, particularly in the last fight scene where Amira reveals that she is actually some kind of demon. (As a personal aside: this is exactly my kind of fan service and holy hell is it working). All of the characters were defined naturally through their interactions showing at least some nuance to the writing.
On the production side, Bahamut boasts shockingly high production value. It features vivid environments and character designs as well as an impressive amount of fluid animation and well integrated CG. This dynamic animation used throughout the swordfights as well calmer dialog scenes and really brought life and energy to the episode. The composition of the combat is both energetic and visually intuitive without the need for expository dialog. (Except for Favaro’s first bounty fight which briefly faltered with a Jojo style “explain the mechanic” exclamation). Overall with the energy of the swordfights, the grand scale of the aforementioned laser dragon battle, and its apparent staggering animation budget Shingeki no Bahamut promises to compete with Fate/Stay Night as the Action Adventure anime of the season.