Certainty of death, *small* chance of success… What are we waiting for?

This is how you do a card game adaptation. Step 1: Take the basic mechanics and/or setting of the game. Step 2: Create an interesting cast of characters who work well together, even if they need to be original. Step 3: Use the setting as a jumping off point to tell a good story. That seems simple, but the key is to not remain shackled to the game. Use its assets, but always remember the most important thing: tell a good story. That’s what Shingeki no Bahamut GENESIS did, and it worked damn well.

Step 1: Take the basic mechanics and/or setting of the game

This was fundamentally a promotional effort for the Rage of Bahamut game, so they needed to use some the the basic mechanics and/or settings to do their job. The mechanics they used were, wisely, minimal … we saw some demon summoning that felt like it was out of a card game in the first episode, and bounty hunters captured people into stone cards, but that was it. Those the source material was a card battle game, this was absolutely not a card battle game anime, which is very wise, because those are always a bit silly. Some of them can work, but you can tell a much better story through conventional means.

As for the setting, it was all there. The three sides (Man, Gods, and Demons), and the neigh-invincible Bahamut. I don’t know if any of the environs were taken from the card game, but it doesn’t matter either way. In this case, the setting can be best understood as a D&D campaign. The world is already there, as are some common mechanics, but the important details—the story and all its characters—are up to the specific creator to decide. Too much dictation from the card game would strangle the story.

Step 2: Create an interesting cast of characters who work well together, even if they need to be original

Next, you need your characters. Enter Favaro, Kaisar, Amira, Rita, & all the rest. (Storytelling side note: Steps 2 & 3 are not necessarily done sequentially. Often they’re done at the same time. It’s easier to talk about them one after the other, though.) I checked into it a little, and it looks like Favaro and co were created specifically for the anime, which was a smart move. They could have plucked a few cards from the existing game and turned them into their heroes—which they did, to a degree … Jeanne D’Arc and others seem to predate the anime—but for the central characters, it’s better to make them up yourself to make sure they work. It’s easier to splice the new characters into the card game later on than to try to tell coherent story with ill-matched characters. Once again, let’s use the D&D comparison, or any RPG for that matter: It’s fun to have famous characters show up, but it’s better to start off your characters as interesting heretofore nameless schmucks, so you can tell a new legend about their adventures.

And let me just say that the main four are great characters. Favaro especially, with his “Screw fate!” attitude that masks a surprising amount of concern for others (Kaisar and Amira, especially), though he’d never admit it. (Well, he did with Amira, but never with Kaisar.) Him giving Kaisar a reason to go on (taking the blame for Kaisar’s father’s death) said so much about his character so quickly, and added such depth. It’s hard to infuse so much character in a single moment (trust me there), but they did.

The others were great too. Note that they’re not especially unique: Amira, for example, is the archetypal half-demon/half-angel, which we’ve seen plenty of times. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t work. She was crafted specifically for this story, so who cares if we’ve seen that kind of character before? She fit, which is more important. Plus, any show that gives me an antagonistic bromance like between Favaro and Kaisar is a winner in my book.

Step 3: Use the setting as a jumping off point to tell a good story.

As I said, the story is key. You’re not going to get anyone interested in this card game if you tell a crappy story. So you use the setting to tell an interesting story in its own right. Not one that’s intricately wrapped up in the cards, but one which uses the characters and settings found in some of those cards. The mechanics aren’t important! What’s important is making people go “I want to try this out. I’m going to play as Man and use Favaro and Kaisar!” to get them into it. It’s so that, when they see the Jeanne card, they remember what happened in the anime and smile. It’s so they want to visit that world again, and have their own adventures there.

Which is why telling an adventure story was such a good idea. An adventure/high fantasy epic. How often do we get these nowadays? Which isn’t to say it was perfect. The dream dragon, for instance, was shoved in there solely to give them the key to victory. But it doesn’t have to be perfect if it’s mostly good, and if it gets the feeling right, which Bahamut did. It was a romp, an epic adventure, and they even had the balls to (spoiler alert) let Amira die at the end. They embraced the tragic consequences of the characters’ actions. Had another show done that, I’d be talking about it with the same breathless admiration. This series prized the story above all else, and gave us a good one to the very end. A classic epic adventure, to be true. It didn’t break new ground, but it was damn, damn good. I’ll take that any season, in a hot minute.

Final Impressions

There aren’t many people I wouldn’t recommend this series too. I think this will even enter my lexicon of anime I try to get my non-anime-watching friends to watch, because the lack of Japanese high schoolers, no random ecchi bits, a damn good epic adventure plot makes it approachable for all. This is one of the shows I wish I had blogged this season. With a few writers on hiatus + my having just gotten back from a month overseas, I was too swamped to even consider blogging an unknown show. More’s the shame, because this is a fun series, and I would have loved to talk about it more. But more importantly is that you watch it. Don’t let the lack of weekly coverage fool you. Watch this show. Watch it. Watch it right now! It’s a damn good time, and one I’m sure you won’t regret.

I wrote a book! My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now! (More info) My personal site has also moved. Last four posts: Mind meld, Interview with Little Red Reviewer, Sneak Peek: Wage Slave Rebellion prologue, and Action Politics—a FREE short story.


  1. So the studio made a great anime based off a shitty source material, while other studios make such shitty anime based on good source materials.

    The ending: Did Favaro kiss a 5-year old? ᶘ ᵒᴥᵒᶅ

    1. My guess is that the makers of the game dumped a lump of money to subsidize the production costs. The visuals are second to UBW for this season, and had many more production costly scenes than UBW.

      Great show. The end card said “SEE YOU AGAIN”; Does that imply second season? Lots of room for more world building!

    2. Yeah, but a 5 year old demon/angel, those things tend to be long lived to say the least. The age thing is awkward since she sprouted from her mother fully formed.
      To be honest I’d kiss her too, she’s one of the best looking MC this year (in human or demon mode).

    3. No, he didnt. At least thats how I understood it. All this “5 years old baby” was made up. She never had a mother and she never was a baby. She was a copy of this one angel, and as a copy, she is pretty much “ageless”. Young but old at the same time. But definitely not 5 years old.

  2. The writers deserve a round of applause for this one. The character interactions made the show enjoyable to watch; everyone complemented each other very well. Even the side characters were interesting and felt like “living” entities to me, which can’t be said about a lot of anime today.

  3. Without a doubt Bahamut is the dark horse of the season and a prime contender for the year as well. The show was nothing new under the sun in terms of fantasy, but it pulled it off near perfectly, showing–if not skill–the ingenuity of the writers involved to creatively formulate a story and make it interesting. More often than not these types of adaptations are brought down by the need to adhere to certain boundaries, but Bahamut is probably one of the first to try and limit game-specific mechanics to subtle references rather than overt story elements (a feature that WIXOSS suffered from as it moved forward).

    IMO the only real complaint against the show is how quick it moved. I’ve seen lots of rushing complaints and although a second season would have helped greatly in fleshing out and better pacing the story, it can be argued that the pace was enough to keep things interesting and the viewer in awe. For me Bahamut could be seen as the new age Lodoss-tou Senki, it’s not particularly deep or groundbreaking and sticks to well worn tropes and ideas, but it tickles a fancy and does so in style. Definite 8.5/10.

    Oh and that OP is awesome, especially that opening riff 😛

  4. This show was just fun as hell. One of the best sleeperhits of the year, and in terms of sheer overblown awesomeness it can tie with shows like No Game No Life, as far as I’m concerned.

    They could’ve made a show like this into something far simpler, but they decided to put effort into it and made a swashbuckling old-school Hollywood-style adventure. A type of show I wouldn’t actually minder seeing more of. And while the story had its hiccups, the character writing remained solid throughout. Favaro and Kaisar’s rivalry never got boring, Amira was an interesting artifact girl and Rita the snarky zombie loli was a bundle of awesomeness. Couple that with drunken gods (Bacchus), badass action girls (Jeanne d’Arc) and hammy villains, and you’ve got a recipe for a good time. Episodes zoomed by because they were always full of stuff happening, in the end leaving you with a feeling of ‘whoa, what a ride!’.

    Definitely one of the shining gems of this season, and certainly a show I’ll rewatch in the future.

    1. It happens. I freely admit that I didn’t pick my shows as well as I woulda liked (I don’t regret blogging Chaika, though Trinity Seven didn’t end up being what I wanted it to be), but real life got in the way. Between being overseas for work + the beginning of the season + writer hiatuses + the run up to my book release, I was a taaaad bit swamped, lol

  5. If you told me at the beginning of the year that my favorite anime of 2014 would an internet card game adaption I would have outright laughed in your face. Yet by some miracle Shingeki no Bahamut did just that. Probably my favorite thing about it was how natural everything felt; the characters acted rationally within their own viewpoint, the world felt real, vast, and plausible, and while not explained in detail, the magic felt like it fit neatly in the world. Though the individual elements may not have been revolutionary, or even atypical, the sheer strength of their execution was more than enough to propel it to excellence.

  6. GREAT QUALITY! cool story…i even got used to hokey cgi used in this and their other show GARO….def better than A LOT of shows that are getting all the spotlight…now to watch the last eps of them both

    BROOKLYN otaku
  7. I got the impression that Amira had been sealed with Bahamut, which was my only major dissatisfaction with the ending. Though the “I’ll be back” end card also hinted that maybe that would be resolved in a sequel. I have somewhat mixed feelings on that possibility, as it feels like it would cheapen things, yet I’d really like to see her back with the gang. At any rate if there is a sequel in the works I will be looking forward to it since I liked this series so much.

    1. I disagree; not all stories get totally happy endings, and Amira coming back (or having been saved in the end) wouldn’t necessarily have made it better. That didn’t dissatisfy me, though yes, an unnecessary sequel could easily cheapen things.

      1. I’ve seen anime with bittersweet endings that I wouldn’t have any other way (Starship Operators and the Princess and the Pilot are the examples that immediately spring to mind) but the ending for Bahamut isn’t like that for me. Granted I’m not 100% sure what I’d like to see in straight up happy ending for this series, but I think a happy ending could have worked very well if it was handled right.

        Part of the point of my post was also to point out that a lot of viewers (myself included) interpreted the ending as Amira being sealed with Bahamut rather than being dead. Which provokes somewhat mixed feelings.

      2. Also got that idea man :p and with that ending line, where Favaro says that you can never really kill Bahamut while he touches his backside, hinting that the tail is still there, it sure feels like she is still alive and probably trapped inside Bahamut…
        Totally feel that a second season is on the cards, but i’ve got to say that the ending we’ve got is a really good one even if this was a stand alone season.

  8. Bahamut was a good show overall, but it had its flaws, like some things that did not live up to their full potential. It was pretty disappointing mid-way when Amira stopped being the badass she was introduced as, and was relegated to a living mac guffin… seriously, we hardly got to see that hot demon form of hers, and she never fought the heavy hitters like Azazel. Furthermore Lucifer never did anything except sit on his throne and drink wine (did he have a hangover that prevented him from showing up for the big finale?). Though when you look at it, the archangels and Belzy are dead, and Bahamut is sealed, meaning Lucifer is probably the greatest remaining power.

    Oh, and hurray for loli zombie snarkers with detachable limbs! Rita best character!

    Weird D
    1. Those were exactly my thoughts. I liked this show very very much. So much that I even feel bad for critizising it because it deserves so much more praise than critique. But Amira was by far the weakest character and sadly -at the same time- the character with the most screentime. And there was this break in her characterization – Amira in the first episode became a completely different character later on. Sure, Stilts is right when he says she fits into the story. But I was so disappointed how Favaro was so unconventional while Amira became the walking stereotype… Maybe she fits into the story even too much, everything seems to revolve around Amira. When she needs to be a badass, she is a badass, when she needs to be a crying child, she is a crying child. And when she needs to be mature at the end, she is mature again. Wile Favaro and Kaisar remained consistent characters, she had multiple personality disorder. Sad thing was that almost everything important revolved around her, so much that I enjoyed the last episodes far less than the first ones.

      And in this minor point I dont agree with you: I didnt like Rita either. She was too much Ms Know-it-all. If you need the perfect strategist, just ask Rita -_- Were did all her knowledge even come from? She didnt seem to be the globetrotter-type to me. But Im also a bit biased cause I just didnt like her character.

      Still, it was a very good series, and music, animation, the other characters, an intriguing story-line made more than up for these flaws. Really such a pity that it wasnt blogged here.
      Oh, and I liked the misleading opening;)

      1. To be fair, Rita was 200 years old, and she had a tome of eldritch lore. It’s also implied that Kaisar wasn’t the first visitor to her village. I suspect that she must had learnt even more from other visitors. If some of them were intellectuals, philosophers or wizards, she probably learnt a ton from speaking to them. Then add in the fact that she had slightly less than 200 years to absorb all that information, she’s bound to be very well-informed about the lore of the world.

      2. LOL I’ll agree she was too much of an hypercompetent sidekick and her necromancy was an instant solution for many situations, but what I really enjoyed was her snarking – it made her a great foil for Kaisar and Favaro. And that falcon punch to Kaisar in episode 5 was domnright hilarious, someone should make a gif of it.
        Yep, I hope we’ll get the OST soon.

        Weird D
      3. Definitely agree. I liked Amira a lot at first, but later on not so much, because she didn’t really do much. Where are you my badass Amira T_T But I really do still love the show and the characters and while it’s flawed I don’t know if I would want to change anything, since it’s not always possible to make things better without making something else worse. There were predictable and unpredictable parts but even the predictable parts I was able to enjoy without thinking too much. I feel like Shingeki no Bahamut genesis took me along for a ride, and I had fun every week.

      4. Yeah, Amira wasn’t the most compelling of characters. Or rather, she didn’t possess much agency—she was a windup pawn that the baddies sent out to end the world, and she never really transcended that. She was more plot point than character, which isn’t the ideal perhaps, but it’s not a grave sin either. They served the story above all else, and her sometimes erratic personality did fit with her unique circumstances.

        Really though, I agree with ZJZJ:

        I don’t know if I would want to change anything, since it’s not always possible to make things better without making something else worse.

        The story worked, and worked better than it had any need to, so I wouldn’t change too much without a complete re-working of the story … which could end up being fatal.

    2. “Furthermore Lucifer never did anything except sit on his throne and drink wine (did he have a hangover that prevented him from showing up for the big finale?).”

      Um, Lucifer did show up (veeeery briefly!) for the final fight against Bahamut.

      Check in episode 13 after Favaro remarked about needing to have Bahamut stop moving in order for them to get near it. During the sequence showing the angels reforming the barrier around Bahamut, we then get to see the various gods come in to help out, as well as Lucifer with his hands lifted up to form one of the hexagons of light. A bit later in the sequence we then get to see Azazel and the dog-hand lady forming their own hexagons.

      But yeah, Lucifer did not do much at all, except look pretty.

      1. Actually, that might not have been so bad. Not as good as what we got, sure, but possibly not bad either.
        We are talking about the people who made this series from cardgame, after all.

      2. I’m not normally a big fan of mage academy type series, but that actually looks pretty decent to me. I’d be inclined to give it a chance if someone were to turn it into an actual TV anime.

  9. Most of the cast was pretty good but above all, it felt like Favaro’s & Kaisar’s show as they definitely shined the most. It started with them fighting each other and ended with them on friendly terms, ridding together towards wherever the wind blows 😛

    While I’d definitely want to see more of this world but perhaps with a different cast. Favaro’s, Kaisar’s & Amira’s stories feel complete but they could like, there could like be references to them or a few appearances in the case of the former two. The events that took place here shouldn’t be forgotten and mentioned whenever possible, maybe even build another story from this point, but make it someone else’s story.

    Anyway not bad MAPPA, not bloody damn bad. Now I gotta check out their other show this season that I put on hold after the 1st ep and see how it fares. I liked it quite a bit and but was put off when the main characters did the power-rangerish transformation that felt really out of place in what looked like to be an intriguing, mysterious and maybe even a little grim fantasy setting.

    1. They could potentially do a Borderlands 2 kind of situation, where Favaro & co are referenced and show up occasionally, but are secondary characters (like Jeanne & co were this time) rather than the main ones. Though I do feel like Favaro would end up overshadowing most people, lol

      And bear in mind that, outside of studios with strong personalities like SHAFT, KyoAni, & ufotable, for most studios it’s far more important to look at the staff than the studio. I didn’t watch Garo (that’s the one you’re referring to, right?), but one MAPPA anime doesn’t necessarily say much about another MAPPA anime.

  10. Imagine if this was a 2 cour anime. We’d probably get even better character development and a better adventure story. I kind feel it lacked the “adventure part” after they left the capital but who could blame them, they had to fit everything into 12 episodes. We could have probably seen more badass Amira as well. And of course, more FAVAROOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Show Spoiler ▼

    The Story You Don't Know
  11. This was so entertaining and enjoyable – it was truly amazing epic fantasy adventure that I so looked forward to.
    This is what drew me to anime in the fist place, this level of entertainment.

    The fantasy world and characters were so much fun, this team needs to do more amazing stuff like this.

    Pretty much my new favourite fantasy anime world, it actually got me genuinely interested in fantasy again. 10/10.

    Absolutely no complaints, this is a benchmark for orginal anime adaptations.

  12. Absolutely loved this anime it was my most anticipated show for this season.

    I think this will even enter my lexicon of anime I try to get my non-anime-watching friends to watch, because the lack of Japanese high schoolers, no random ecchi bits, a damn good epic adventure plot makes it approachable for all. This is one of the shows I wish I had blogged this season

    Yeah this show was a godsend for folks like myself who are looking for a show in a fresh setting. It’s so darn tough to find series not set in a high school setting. Thank goodness MAPPA delivered strong with this one

    Rick Anime
  13. The thing that sold me on this show as probably my favorite of the year was the fact this was a freaking card game anime and I never felt it was about a card game; just an awesome story.

  14. So.. this holiday season I found myself needing a binge anime fix. That said I burned through Haikyuu(remembered some of the comments made from last season about this show ). Needing more, I went and looked @ November impressions(SO glad this was written up !). This lead to be downloading the batch for this day before yesterday.. I finished this morning. I wish Ih ad done it sooner, I wish it had hit my radar @ season launch. It was fun- I would have voted for it in this years top 5 for sure(had I known).

    I hope we get another dark horse crowd pleaser this season.

  15. First few episodes had me on the edge of dropping it: The wanton destruction of a city with zero repercussions and Joan of Arc. For the love of all that is good why do the Japanese LOVE Joan of Arc!?

    Besides that I thought everything about the show was pretty damn good: Design, World, Story, Backgrounds, battles and the protagonists. Man Favaro and Kaisar make the show rip roaring fun and Amira and Rita add to the boys dynamic. Not sure I’ve ever loved a snarky Necromancer/Zombie girl soooooooooooo much. Those detached arm haymakers always came at the right moment.

    The finale even induced a mosit eye reaction from me. Fava and Amira <3

    1. Easy, Joan de Arc. Strong Woman, Leader, First and Only Female Knight in that Time. and then after she done her Mission, she was feared of the People that needed her. She was sacrifice because they do not needed her, or she was to powerful, and they betrayed her

  16. I watched the first episode when it first aired. And it was a good decision for me to pick it up the other day from episode 2 to its last. Never thought that it would turn out that great! ^^

    Actualy I haven’t really decided to continously watch it because it wasn’t covered here. Good thing really coz because of this holiday break, I was already looking for more titles to watch and this is what I picked up next!

  17. I loved Bahamut so much, I was actually cheering for it. That dragon is my favourite in Final Fantasy games so when I watched this show I was blown away how it ended up! ESPECIALLY THE OPENING OH MY GOD IT WAS SO GOOD! I kept looping it! The first few episodes I actually thought I was watching an anime version of Pirates of the Caribbean haha. Favaro was just too good and I loved all the characters, even some of the baddies!

    All in all my favourite anime of 2014!

    Jason Isenberg

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *